Respecting the Farmer, Staying Power, and Packaging Innovation: Expo West Day 1

March 7th, 2019

From seeing a myriad of examples of personalized nutrition in 2017 to clean label caution in 2018, it’s clear that consumer preferences are rapidly shifting,  so we are back at Expo West to track the trends. Read our key takeaways and check out a few of our favorite products from day one on the floor. And, if you want to follow along, subscribe to get our daily updates plus the full trend report!

Staying Power

Nicholas McCoy of Whipstitch Capital talked about the numbers behind the natural and organic industry from a VC perspective, but dropped some hard-hitting consumer insights:

“They aren’t coming into the [natural and organic] sector because they got a raise. They’re coming because they’re experiencing a health issue or real pain point that natural and organic is addressing.”

“When consumers experience the benefits [of natural and organic products] they don’t go back.”

Overall, the natural and organics category grew 7% in 2018, showing strong traction compared to conventional.

Respect the Farmer

Phil Taylor, a farmer himself, from Mad Agriculture shared statistics that farmer suicides have reached their highest since 1983 while net income for agriculturers has dropped dramatically in the same time period. He shared with urgency and conviction about the opportunity Bigco brands have to partner with farmers at the ground level. Some of the biggest struggles farmers face are “getting off the BigAg superhighway” and learning new farming practices, all while having little margin to take massive risk of switch.

Regenerative is the Most Profitable

Ethan Soloviev from HowGood shared that brands pushing the furthest forward on the conventional to regenerative spectrum are not only the most breakthrough but are garnering more sales increases. While it may be risky for Bigco brands to make the leap towards things like organic, grass-fed, regenerative agricultural practices and treating employees well, HowGood’s data indicated that brands willing to do this are getting the most consumer traction.

Packaging Innovation

Lara Dickinson of OSC2 shared the pain point driving the rapidly increasing pivot in packaging: “It had been bugging those of us in this [natural and organics] industry that there was a massive disconnect: it doesn’t make sense to put a regenerative agriculture product in a package that is going to the landfill.”

PRODUCT SPOTLIGHTS

New Barn Organics – This single origin coffee comes in a renewable and compostable package. Just add water to the tea bag-style format to steep. We mentioned Steeped Coffee in our lead up to Expo West, and this looks to be a collaboration between Steeped and New Barn. We love this product because it hits on the consumer need for high-quality, third-wave coffee on-the-go.

TCHO – Realizing that most cacao bean farmers had never even tasted chocolate, California chocolatier TCHO implemented its Source program to work directly with farmers to produce the best beans possible. TCHO helps supply the tools and training needed for bean growers to become experts at both flavor analysis and cacao production. And with TCHO’s support and resources, their partner farmers also earn a better living.

All in all, day 1 was filled with new learning opportunities, connecting the dots between consumers and industry shifts. Although it may be the several coffee samples, there’s lots of excitement and energy moving into day 2!

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