Health, wellness, community building and sustainability—all missions promoted at the 32nd annual Expo East, held September 13th-16th at the Baltimore Convention Center by New Hope Network. New Hope is a network which offers a robust portfolio of content, events, data, research, and consultative services through its mission of growing healthy markets to bring better health to more people and help businesses identify the people, products, partnerships, and trends that make for better opportunities and connections. Makers Nutrition is proud to have been among the 451 first-time exhibitors at this year’s exciting Expo.
‘Organic’ was the key at this year’s Expo, and it is likely that ‘organic’ will continue to take the stage as healthy alternatives and substitutes are gaining much momentum. Innovations were seen from more than 1,500 organic and natural companies. Among the many products on display, The Maple Guild won “Best of East: Press Award” for its organic Vermont maple syrup. Deanna Pogorelc, senior content producer at New Hope Network told Food Business News “one trend we saw…was an evolution of meat and dairy substitutes. There’s a ton of activity in that space right now… (with companies) filling empty spaces where there aren’t currently good non-animal alternatives” (foodbusinessnews). This year, Expo East showcased many alternatives to fill those empty spaces.
As Expo East proved to be true, today’s consumption is increasingly pointing towards plant-based products and natural eating. Dairy alternatives, for example, include nut-based milk. Elmhurst Milked, formerly Elmhurst Dairy, is now embracing its new identity as a plant-based beverage brand after transitioning out of dairy production in October of 2016. The company displayed six new varieties at Expo East with two new whole grain-based beverages—Milked oats and Milked Brown Rice (bevNet). Coconut water sure did pave the way for water’s plant-based possibilities. DRINKmaple, which has built its brand around a maple water line, displayed its organic maple water SKU (raspberry lemon) at Expo East, and will be available at Whole Foods through December. Lastly, members of Expo East witnessed how probiotics are continuing to develop in its own distinct category. Lifeway, known for its kefir products, is progressing with new types of beverages. In particular, Lifeway showcased Plantiful, its new organic pea-based protein drink made with probiotic cultures and 18 grams of protein per serving that is set for an early launch at retail in 2018. Why all the plant-based products? Vice President and Innovation Manager of Mattson, a Foster City, California-based food and beverage innovation firm Barbara Shpizner reported to Food Business News that “the quality of plant-based products is far superior than it was even a couple of years ago. The supply chain is increasingly improving. We have more tools in our toolbox” (foodbusinessnews).
Up Up and Away
Two new research reports, Accessibility of Organics: The Blurring of Channel Lines In Delivering Organic Products from Nielsen, and the second, from the Organic Trade Association, convey what is to come for all brands and retailers. The first shows that organics continue to grow across all retail categories (warehouse club, conventional grocery, supermarket mass and value grocery). Consumers in the Nielsen study gave input as to which organic products are most important to them:
- Baby food: 40%
- Yogurt: 15%
- Milk: 8%
- Ice Cream: 4%
The second study conveys that a large demographic bringing natural, organic, and alternative food choices to the forefront is the millennial crowd. When millennials become parents, the organic industry “will see a surge of new organic eaters and consumers-the millennial parents of tomorrow and their children,” says CEO of Organic Trade Association Laura Batcha.
Since consumers are clearly interested in buying more organic products, it is a good thing that prices are coming down in this area of the grocery store. Foods with an organic claim on their labels have been up 9.8% from a year ago, and they do not seem to be going anywhere any time soon (forbes). If costs remain lower, making healthier foods more affordable, consumption can only continue to rise from here. Michele Simon, executive director of the Plant based Foods Association, San Francisco, projects that “by 2020, global sales of plant-based dairy and meat alternatives are forecast to reach $19.5 billion and $5 billion, respectively” (foodbusinessnews). As health, animal welfare, and environmental concerns continue to gain traction, over a third of Americans are buying plant-based meat alternatives and a bit above a quarter of consumers say they have eaten less animal meat in the past year. In that time, based on data commissioned by the Plant based Foods Association, plant-based meat and dairy alternatives in the United States have grown by 8.1%, hitting over $3.1 billion in sales. Separately, milk alternative sales went up 3.1%, while cow’s milk declined 5%.
Plant-based yogurt grew by 56%, plant-based ice cream by 26%, and cheese alternatives by 19%. Sales of plant-based meals altogether rose 18%. With the rise in not only the production of plant-based and organic foods, but also in the consumption of those goods, the future is looking healthy!
Of course dietary supplements are a staple of the Natural Products Expo and there was no shortage of innovation on display in the supplement field. All of these trends are especially exciting for Makers Nutrition as we currently manufacture organic and plant-based supplements for several hundred clients throughout the world and this sector of our business continues to grow.
Our team had the chance to form new relationships with many other cutting-edge supplement companies in what turned out to be a very successful venture for Makers Nutrition and our clients. As new orders pour in, we are already looking forward to the Natural Products East and West Expos of 2018.