Coconut, Yogurt and Other Innovations at the Natural Food Expo

Savory Yogurt

We are in Anaheim California for Expo West, a natural food trade show that seems to be growing in popularity from year to year. Besides various educational sessions, the big draw is the expo hall where hundreds of food companies show off their latest products. Since we’re talking about food, this means a lot of tasting…Yes, it’s a hard job, but someone has to do it!

Walking around the expo floor for a few hours, several trends quickly became quite clear:

Non-GMO – many companies had signage that their products are Non-GMO certified or in the process of getting certified. It seems like the Non-GMO Project has achieved escape velocity.

Gluten-free – besides the fact that an entire pavilion is dedicated to gluten-free foods, many manufacturers are using GF as a talking point in their signage and product packaging. While this may be good for people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, one can’t help but wonder if all these new products are really necessary. Some of them seem extremely highly processed.

More yogurts – The yogurt category is growing, and more companies are trying to get in with twists and innovations. We sampled savory yogurt creations from Blue Hill, Icelandic yogurt from Smari, and yogurt from grass fed cows made by Dreaming Cow.

Vegan – we are seeing more and more companies offering at least some products in their lineup as vegan. There is virtually no product or flavor today that cannot be emulated and formed from plants.

Coconut products – in the natural food circles, coconut products have been a hit for years, but it seems like coconut oil has become a more mainstream product in recent years. Now prepare for a slew of new products to hit the market.

  • GiGi Eats Celebrities

    I went to the Expo yesterday! I couldn’t agree more with you! Gluten Free is a huge one too but I do believe vegan and coconut products took up most of the hall!! A lot of “superfood” chips and crackers were there too. I didn’t even get to 1/2 of the booths I am sure! Still wound up taking home a small grocery store though!!

    What else I noticed? ALL OF THESE PRODUCTS HAD SUGAR IN THEM! A huge disappointment!

    • Danielle Robertson

      So you only got to half the booths and you’re confident proclaiming that every single product at the show had sugar? Sorry you missed all the Low GI and no-sugar products, there were a lot when I went on Friday.

  • Ellie Taylor

    More highly processed, highly packaged junk foods. What’s wrong with plain old fruit, veggies, nuts, whole grains? Doesn’t anyone think about climate change or our landfills when they design these crazy processed foods? Oh, that’s right — it’s all about the profits and WE buy the stuff. Even vegans are not purists – they end up eating designer foods that are not whole foods from a plant or grown in the Earth.

    • Danielle Robertson

      No one is denying that whole fruits and veggies are the epitomy of a healthy diet but you’re forgetting the importance of the convenience factor. Convenience is in the top 5 aspects consumers look for, according to Sloan Trends. Some of the other top 5 attributes include whether the product is fresh, and non-GM. Answering that consumer demand is what Expo West is all about. Many of these products are raw or minimally processed so I think if you went to the expo next year you’d find plenty of products you would enjoy.

  • Danielle Robertson

    I took notice of all the “natural” claims vs “No ~” claims. I think as consumers grow more skeptical of the word “natural”, more products will try to empasize the absence of gluten, added sugars, GMOs, or artificial colors/ingredients.