If you love, make, buy or sell natural foods, supplements or personal care, then chances are you were at the Natural Products Expo, Expo East, last week. After a great first year, I was invited back again as part of the New Hope Network’s Influencer Summit. (See last year’s Expo East recap here). I met up with Erica from Erica Finds whom I met at last year’s show (she’s a pro) and we had fun exploring the show together. She’s an extrovert and a networking expert – which came in handy when meeting Justin from Justin’s!) whereas I’m more introverted so we make a great team. We had fun geeking out on all the products and were both excited to see what’s trending this year in food – here’s what I found to be the top five food trends from Expo East 2018.
One // Collagen + CBD. Collagen was big last year and it still is! I found collagen in everything from nut butters to bars. If you’re looking to reap the full benefits of it, you’re probably better off with bone broth or adding a scoop of grass-fed collagen to your smoothie or coffee, but I’ll admit the idea of it in everyday snack foods is enticing. Likewise, CBD is in everything from water to honey and it’s not going anywhere! I don’t have much experience with CBD products but I’m looking forward to learning more and delving deeper into the topic in future posts.
Two // Kids. Another food trend from Expo East was kids versions of some of my favorite snacks. For instance, Perfect Bar launched Perfect Kids and This Bar Saves Lives has one too. At first, I thought these were smaller version of the adult bars, but I learned that they have less honey and hidden veggies. This was true of other kids products I saw – most contained hidden veggies, smaller servings and less sweetener.
Three // Mushrooms. Mushrooms are going mainstream for more than just their umami flavor – they’re a powerhouse of nutrients too. I found quite a bit of mushroom jerky which had incredible texture and flavor (Pan’s). Medicinal mushrooms – reishi, chaga and lions mane are having a moment. These are the superfoods of mushrooms and I’ve seen them added to products like bars (Purely Elizabeth) and drinks and lattes like matcha, tea and hot cocoa (Four Sigmatic). Used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, medicinal mushrooms support healthy aging with cellular regeneration and liver detoxification. They may play a role in prevention of some diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Four // Puffs. When it comes to snacking, if it’s puffed, you could find it at this year’s Expo East. While there was quite a bit of popcorn, I saw just as many puffs (think cheese puffs, only healthier made with chickpeas, seaweed or edamame). These snacks are healthier than traditional fried potato chips but beware, they’re not very filling which means you’ll likely eat more than a serving and although they’re healthier, they’re still processed.
Five // Bars. There was no shortage of bars at Expo East this year. The majority were protein bars but there were plenty of breakfast bars also. While bars purport to be convenient, they aren’t always a smart option because they have hidden sugars and other ingredients. A few that I like are Nuttzo, RxBar and Perfect Bar.
Attending Expo East as an influencer made the epxerience even more valuable. Many of the influencer events I’ve attended are hyperfocused on how to grow your following and secure brand partnerships, but the angle of this year’s summit was refreshing and focused on how to use influence as a “force for good”. This is certainly what drew me to blogging and pursuing a career in this industry – to be in service of anyone who needs to hear my message and I hope that comes through in every post.
If you’re curious about my favorite products and top picks from this year’s show, check out today’s Instagram post for more from Expo East.