ANAHEIM, CALIF. — Nearly half of U.S. consumers are buying natural and organic products, signaling a significant growth opportunity for the food and beverage industry, said Deanna Pogorelc, senior content producer at New Hope Network.

“We really are at a critical moment as we’re seeing all of these new players express interest in our industry,” Ms. Pogorelc said during a presentation at Natural Products Expo West, held March 9-12 in Anaheim. “We know the sales growth of natural and organic foods is outpacing the growth of conventional foods, and that will probably continue, so there is still plenty of growth to be had in this industry.”

A cultural force driving innovation in the natural and organic marketplace is the increasingly busy consumer lifestyle and the demand for convenient, healthy meals and snacks.

“The ways consumers live today are different from how we lived even 10 or 20 years ago,” Ms. Pogorelc said. “We have more technology, we’re busier, we have more decisions to make, and we have more choices when we go shopping at the grocery store. All of these factors are bringing with them many advantages but also many challenges.”

Product developers are addressing these challenges with the introduction of functional beverages and nutrition bars, which may be consumed on the go and feature such nutrient-dense ingredients as pumpkin seeds, turmeric and apple cider vinegar.

An example comes from Suja Juice, which is introducing a line of organic drinking vinegars featuring vegan probiotics and cold-pressed fruit and vegetable juices. Health Warrior, the company behind Chia Bar, is launching a line of pumpkin seed bars with 8 grams of plant-based protein.

Another popular theme in product development is free-from, seen in new grain-free debuts from Simple Mills and Pamela’s Products and non-dairy beverages from Califia Farms.

Click for a slideshow of new products featured at Natural Products Expo West.