Last weekend, I accompanied our Van’s team to Expo West – the Natural Products Expo in Anaheim, California. The weather was gorgeous, the Expo was full to bursting, and there were more brands than one can easily imagine – everything from foods to supplements to beauty supplies . . . even organic pet foods.
It doesn’t take long to realize that ingredients are the name of the game for this crowd. The first thing an Expo West attendee does when considering sampling a product is to look at the label. Big draws this year (no surprise here): organic, gluten-free, non-GMO, whole grains.
More surprising? The email I received before the show saying krill (yes, the teensy crustaceans that whales eat) was going to be huge this year. I have to admit I was relieved when I encountered zero actual krill at the show. I did, however, come across cricket powder – and lots of information on what a great protein additive it can be.
Odd as those options sound now, we may be scarfing down krill, cricket powder and who knows what else in a few more years, as the demand for sustainable protein sources grows. What’s nascent at Expo now is often mainstream a few years later – just look at kale, ancient grains and gluten-free everything.
Expo is a great opportunity to glimpse tomorrow’s food trends today. It’s also a great chance for brands to interact with the consumers who care the most about what they’re offering – to hear what they love, what they’d like to see, what concerns them and address it in person.
That’s one of several reasons why we’re already planning for next year.