There were many show-stoppers, with numerous being dairy based. There were also many that were not, but still provide inspiration for innovation. Come explore with me.
But first, the morning kicked off with Carlotta Mast, senior vice president of content at New Hope Network, providing insight to the state of the natural industry, which grew 6.5% to $207 billion in 2017. Natural, organic and functional foods and beverages are 70% of sales. These sales are growing about 10-times faster than total food and beverage sales.
This supports data from The Hartman Group that shows across all regions of the U.S., consumers agree that the two most important attributes when shopping for foods and beverages are what’s good for my heart and what’s locally grown or produced. There is no doubt that consumers continue to view food and beverages as the linchpin of achieving a health and wellness lifestyle. They seek food-and-beverage products with recognizable ingredients and minimal processing as cues for fresh, less processed.
Mast identified five food trends driving inspiration at Expo West 2018. By far, the leader is the Plant Revolution. There was everything from new meat and dairy alternatives, to condiments and smoothies, including frozen desserts, cultured products, burgers, nuggets and frozen meals.
Lifeway Foods is in. The nation’s largest kefir manufacturer debuted dairy-free Plantiful Plant-Based Probiotic. Available in 24-ounce plastic bottles in chocolate and vanilla, with other flavors to be decided soon, the live-and-active cultured beverage is made with organic ingredients, namely organic pea protein. An 8-ounce serving provides 11 grams of plant protein.
Honest Stand debuted a line of refrigerated dips based on blended potatoes, cashews and carrots with vinegar and seasonings. They were tasty! Varieties are: Cheddar-Style, Garlic Parm, Mild Nacho, Smoked Cheddar-Style and Spicy Nacho.
Another trend identified by Mast is Regeneration, also often referred to as Biodynamic. This is a nod to farming and manufacturing practices that restore vitality to the earth. Grass-fed falls into this category.
New Know Brainer Ketogenic Cream is based on medium-chain fatty acids and organic grass-fed butter. The creamers come in two varieties, either made with grass-fed milk and cream or made with almond and coconut milks. The no-sugar-added creamers are also enhanced with collagen protein and are described as “brain boosting, metabolism moving.”
There are a lot of new products designed for the keto and paleo consumer. This speaks to the third trend Mast identified: Having it Your Way. Some of this trend has to do with customization, but it also includes products that address specific dietary needs.
New vegan Cake Shake is a line of ready-to-drink no-sugar-added coconut milk shakes enhanced with medium-chain fatty acids. The single-serve glass bottles are intended to be shaken and consumed as a sweet treat, just without the added sugar. They are low in carbs and gluten free. Flavors are: Chocolate, Coffee, Strawberry and Vanilla.
The two other trends identified by Mast are The World Traveler and Waste Not. Examples of innovations supporting these trends include cold-pressed juice made from the lettuce leftovers that don’t make it into bagged salad, seasoned plantain chips made from rescued fruit and nutrition bars made with flour produced from the grain byproduct from beer production.
There were a number of innovations that showed everyday foods in a different format. Innovation knows no limits.
One that really stood out was EggLife wraps. Appealing to those on keto diets, these wrap are almost all egg white. They are free from dairy, gluten and sugars and contain less than 1 gram of carbohydrate, only 25 calories and 4 grams of protein per wrap.
Riding the gluten-free protein trend, there’s new Pork Panko crumbs, which are made from pork skins. A half-cup of this breadcrumb alternative provides 5 grams of fat and 9 grams of protein.
Schuman Cheese is growing its wildly successful Whisps Cheese Crisps snack line with Bacon BBQ and Tomato Basil varieties. These join Asiago & Pepper Jack, Cheddar and Parmesan. Made with pure cheese, one serving of the gluten-free snack provides 10 or more grams of protein.
Sonoma Creamery is taking this baked/dehydrated cheese concept into a bar format. The new Cheese Crisp Bar is a crispy, savory snack bar baked from real cheese and simple ingredients. Varieties are: Bacon Cheddar, Everything Cheddar, Parmesan, Pepper Jack and Savory Seed. High in protein and low in carbs, there’s 0 grams of sugar and only 110 to 120 calories per two-bar pack.
Here are two prototype concepts to consider from BENEO. The first is Pro Carb Yogurt, which is an all-natural cultured dairy product loaded with protein while being packed with balanced carbohydrate energy. The product is designed to meet the current “sportification” trend, as well as serving as a nutritious breakfast or satisfying snack between meals. It is packed with dairy proteins and Palatinose for a balanced energy supply, so it keeps you going longer without a sugar rush and dip.
There’s also a concept for dairy-free almond lattes.
Over the next few weeks I will be featuring the many new dairy products making their debut at Expo West. The concepts range from extra-high-fat cream-on-top milk to no-curd cottage cheese snacks.
On a closing note, it’s great to see Gary Hirshberg, co-founder of Stonyfield Farm, actively back in the industry. Stonyfield is a company that grew from humble beginnings as a small organic farming school in New Hampshire 35 years ago into a leader in organic dairy. At Expo West, the company started a new chapter in its storied history with Gary’s return in the newly created role of Chief Organic Optimist. He will help accelerate Stonyfield’s long-standing mission of healthy people and a healthy planet through new products, partnerships and initiatives that embody Stonyfield’s, and Gary’s, innate activist spirit.
“Although we’ve never stopped working for healthy people and a healthy planet, everyone at Stonyfield agrees that the planet needs stronger voices now more than ever,” says Hirshberg. “Of course, just the daily act of supporting over 1,400 organic family farmers stewarding millions of chemical-free acres and helping tens of millions to enjoy delicious organic foods is meaningful, but in today’s policy and political landscape, all of that is not enough. It doesn’t matter to our children how much organic yogurt we produce, if their air, soil and water are seeing increased chemical contamination and climate change is causing massive damage to our communities and to agriculture.”
At Expo West, Stonyfield is arming attendees with tools and resources to get out to vote for this year’s mid-term elections, with the goal of encouraging consumers to vote for candidates who will help protect the environment. Expo attendees can visit one of five onsite Stonyfield “voting” booths, where they can select a postage paid postcard to mail to friends and family across the country that will connect them to online educational resources about the environmental issues at stake--and where the candidates stand on them--this November. Stonyfield is also encouraging attendees to pledge onsite to vote for candidates who will protect the environment and challenge recent EPA decisions such as the announcement this week to dissolve the Unit that tests the effects of chemicals exposure on children.
Hope to see you on the show floor the next couple of days!