ANAHEIM, CALIF. — Sales of natural, organic and functional food and beverage products in the United States surged to an estimated $134 billion in 2016, up 8.1% from the prior year and compared to 0.5% growth of the total food industry, said Carlotta Mast, executive director of content at New Hope Network.

“After decades of being on the fringes of culture and commerce, the natural and organic products industry has really arrived and, from my perspective, has reached a tipping point,” Ms. Mast said during a state of the industry presentation at Natural Products Expo West, held March 9-12 in Anaheim. “We have penetrated into the mainstream, and the mainstream increasingly wants to be us.”


Citing preliminary estimates from Nutrition Business Journal, she said the natural and organic food and beverage category grew 8.5% to nearly $75 billion, while functional food and beverage sales increased 7.6% to $59.7 billion in 2016.

“If you look at how that compares to total food sales, you see a picture of why this industry is so exciting and why it’s attracting so much interest from entrepreneurs and investors and retailers and large food companies,” Ms. Mast said. “The day is coming when this industry — natural, organic and functional — won’t be viewed as niche categories. It will simply be viewed as the food and beverage industry, and that’s already happening.”

She added, “The money flowing into natural and organic food and beverage from investments and M.&A. deals … certainly is not slowing down and is helping to drive growth in this category. Danone’s $12 billion purchase of WhiteWave Foods, Hormel’s $286 million acquisition of Justin’s and Dr Pepper Snapple’s snap-up of Bai beverages for $1.7 billion are among a few of the big deals that happened in 2016 and really changed the landscape for food and beverage.”

Drawing an estimated 85,000 industry professionals, the 37th annual Natural Products Expo West, which is produced by New Hope Network, featured the latest natural and organic innovations from 3,000 exhibiting companies. Food Business News scoured the show floor, discovering scores of innovative and on-trend food and beverage products.

Click for a taste.