Our visit to the Natural Products Expo West last week provided a fantastic, high-level view of current trends in the natural food and beverage products sector. Most prominent was the proliferation of products geared towards the changing eating habits of millennials and Generation Z. Gone are the days, for example, of three square meals, as studies show that millennials are eating smaller portions with greater frequency—as often for some as eight to ten times a day. Their preferences, too, have shifted towards socially conscious, more healthful, high-protein, sustainable, eat-and-go snacks. Categories within this trend include meats (jerky and sticks), seeds and nuts, popcorn, and sweet treats. A complimentary ride on a sponsored bike taxi even came with a sample of a nut and beef jerky blended Power Bar. On the meal side, we are seeing a growing focus on flash-frozen ethnic-inspired meals featuring natural ingredients and sustainable packaging.
Claims of non-genetically modified formulations were widespread on packaging—as was seen in last year’s Expo with Non-GMO Project Verified labeling—but these claims were highlighted less. Perhaps natural products now have to go the extra step: functional, fairer-trade, environmentally friendly, energy-packed (but still natural), and “cleaner labels,” featuring fewer and more recognizable ingredients.
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