If you’ve been following us, you know that we are very attuned to trends in the natural and organic products space. We couldn’t make it to Expo East this year in Baltimore, but tracked online to see examples of trends that we’ve been following for the past few years.
One-third of the exhibitors were first-timers, reflecting an entrepreneurial spirit and the continued robust growth in a food & bev category that is outpacing growth in the industry as a whole.
Natural & Organic food & beverage industry grew 7.3% in 2018 and generated $219 billion in sales, while conventional food & bev sales dropped 0.2% (Source: New Hope Network).
Less is more when it comes to sugar
Less is more when it comes to sugar, and consumers feel tension around balancing taste and health in their efforts to reduce their sugar consumption. Consumers are looking for sweetening options that provide nutrients and/or are low/no glycemic impact to adhere to diets like Keto, Paleo, or simply avoid diabetes risk, but fake alternative sweeteners have been demonized for years.
CBD in the Spotlight
As we denoted in our 2018 Expo West Report, NEXT Data & Insights previously mentioned that 65% of brands New Hope surveyed were planning to add a hemp/CBD product to their lineup. Many legacy brands are moving into this burgeoning space which is growing because of the variety of benefits CBD addresses, from pain to sleep to anxiety. It should be noted that many American consumers lack understanding of the functions and benefits and the differences between CBD and marijuana, creating opportunities for brands to engage and inform.
At Expo East, CBD exhibitors had a dedicated space for the first time, The Hemp Pavilion, in which to exchange ideas, showcase products, and educate retailers and consumers. The fact that the Expo East Hemp Pavilion exists demonstrates the proliferation and growing popularity of hemp and CBD products.
Forms for delivery of CBD were widespread and included:
The way people think about consumption has fundamentally changed and they want their choices to reflect their values holistically. Startup brands in the natural and organic category tend to be passionate about their missions, visions, and values, and consumers are responding with their hearts and wallets. One example of this coming to life at Expo East is that OSC2 announced its JEDI Collaborative, with a vision of Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion as core, guiding values for the natural and organic products industry.
If you want to dig in more in-depth on these trends and areas, check out our in-depth 2019 Natural & Organic Products report, which includes flavor and ingredient themes, business model impacts, consumer needs, and claims insights.