Live from Natural Products Expo East in Philadelphia…The vibe is amazing at this in-person, mandatory mask (being enforced) and proof-of-vaccination or negative-COVID-test result exposition. The event kicked off with a keynote presentation on “The State of Natural & Organic,” with the theme of “increasing sales mean the natural and organic industry can have a bigger effect on reducing poverty, promoting equality and protecting the planet.” It’s the kind of messaging that makes one proud to be involved in the better-for-you food and beverage industry. And dairy is doubling down in this space!
Sales across the natural and organic products industry increased significantly this past year and there’s tons of room for growth and innovation. During the keynote address, which is available for viewing by linking HERE, the speakers highlighted the industry’s accomplishments, weaknesses and possibilities. (Thanks to my friends at Chicago-based SRW Agency for sponsoring the keynote.)
Nutrition Business Journal predicts that sales will continue to grow from 2020’s $259 billion valuation to $423 billion in 2030. Dairy processors cannot afford to ignore the opportunities.
Sales of natural and organic foods grew three times faster than sales of conventional foods, according to SPINS. The segment continues to thrive with many consumers trading up for health and wellness by purchasing natural and organic rather than conventional. A growing awareness of sustainability and social responsibility is also fueling growth.
“People tried new brands [during the pandemic] and stuck with them, especially in the food and beverage categories,” said Carlotta Mast, senior vice president of New Hope Network, during the keynote.
Natural and wellness continue to lead growth across the store, according to SPINS. Conscious consumers are placing a premium on ensuring their health and well-being and increasingly looking towards social responsibility and sustainability. Opportunities exist for farmers to adopt more sustainable and regenerative practices and for ingredient suppliers and food and beverage manufacturers to work closely with them in communicating these efforts.
“While we know there are definitely headwinds with plant and lab-grown proteins, we all have a responsibility to get behind telling the powerful story of dairy proteins,” said Daragh Maccabee, chief executive officer of Idaho Milk Products, during a session on value-added proteins at the joint annual conference of the American Dairy Products Institute and the American Butter Institute, which took place virtually in August.
Those efforts were in full force at Expo East, where more than a dozen dairy companies took on the dozen or so alternative brands by emphasizing sustainable practices, social responsibility, nutrient density, and yes, deliciousness.
You can read more about dairy proteins HERE in an article I wrote for Food Business News titled “Dairy protein fueling functional food innovation.”
The Expo East keynote speakers emphasized that shoppers are making more holistic choices by seeking out maintainable diets featuring whole, minimally processed foods to construct a strategy that works for their health goals. This demand is driving nutrition-focused innovation. (This is dairy!)
McCoy said that the world’s most pressing problems revolve around the Earth and its people. That’s why it should be no surprise that plant-based products continue accelerated growth. While consumers initially sought plant-based foods for their health benefit, the positive impacts to the environment are undeniable, he said.