There are few things I look forward every year- birthdays, July fourth, Halloween and Christmas; NATURAL PRODUCT EXPO EAST AND WEST are two of them. Though I have been attending these shows for a few years, this year’s Expo West has probably been the best years so far.
Natural Products Expo West continues to be the leading trade show in the natural, organic and healthy products industry, attracting over 60,000 industry professionals and 3,000 exhibits to the Anaheim Convention Center. Rated as one of the top 200 trade shows in the US by Trade show Week, Natural Products Expo West continues to help attendees reach their business goals and positively change the way the world eats.
They are the food and products meccas of the natural products world, where the latest and greatest products — many of which have not even been released yet – come out to shine. International companies specializing in organic foods, non-GMO foods, gluten free foods, vegan foods, Paleo foods and any possible sub-genre of these categories are represented at this food and drink event of massive proportions.
This year, all three floors of the convention center could barely contain this year’s event, not to mention every single one of its parking lots nearby (hour long search for super far parking anyone?). This is probably due to the fact that this billion dollar industry is growing by a large percentage each year because people are changing the way they eat and businesses want a slice of that sweet gluten free, vegan, BPA-free, sugar free etc. business pie.
If you’re the type of person that eagerly looks forwards to grocery shopping and spends time reading labels before buying food, consider this a marathon made just for you! This is basically the place where your favorite almond milk, soy free veggie burger and vegan cheese… cold press juice line or steamed dried fruits or salt free hummus… got their start and this is your one chance a year to taste the future of nutrition and natural products in one place.
Oh yeah, over 3 days you only have six to seven hours per day to taste everything so the key is going hungry. So start practicing nutrient rich eating, prior to next year so that you going in primed for the event.
This last weekend I attended, for the second year in a row THE NATURAL PRODUCT EXPO WEST. Before leaving I had promised myself that I would not sample every power bar and gluten free pizza thrust into my hands. I failed. I did a lot of sampling. But for the sake of you, our readers, I ate every known power bar, sports beverage and processed soy/hemp/chia /low sodium products so you won’t have to. I washed this massive amount of food down with a hundred different “natural” beverages, all variations on a combination of hemp or soy flavored with the latest, weird rain forest berry. I may never have to eat again.
Rise of plant based proteins:
Proteins derived from grains, seeds, nuts and beans are not new to the natural foods industry. But the phrase “plant-based protein” popped up often as a value proposition, often alongside paleo and/or gluten-free claims. Love Grown Foods blends beans into its brown rice-based O-shaped cereal. Kind Bar makes “plant-based” a key message in its Strong line of savory nut bars featuring Jalapeno and Hickory Smoked flavors.
Ground-Based Nutrition’s Superfood Protein Smoothies were one of our favorites. The meatless meats segment had a strong presence, particularly in Mexican flavors. The Beyond Meat booth offered samples of tacos made with “beef” crumbles made from pea protein and amaranth. Soy-free Neat uses pecan meal and garbanzo beans in its gluten-free meatless mix. Hodo Soy aims to sway meat-lovers over to the vegetarian side with its spicy organic tofu-based sofritas, which Chipotle restaurants offer as a vegetarian option in its burritos.
Our only recommendation for them is try to bring the sodium content more down and some of these entrepreneurs were interested in hearing us. And one to our surprise finally didn’t add any additional sodium to perhaps one of the most adored natural products there is – hummus. See below.
Craze for Gluten and GMO free
Most of the products at the expo are highly processed. Just because something is labeled “gluten free” or “Non-GMO” does not make it healthy. Only 1 or so % of the population is gluten intolerant, even less has celiac disease, so you while the product may be better than the SAD Standard American Diet fare, you do have to be careful navigating the natural products market place.
Matter of fact, one of the facts revealed at the Expo by several of the speakers was that the most meaningless word in the industry is “natural” itself, surpassed by more meaningful descriptors such as organic…
There is always a challenge when it comes to natural products. People in general are so used to eating foodstuffs with so much refined and added salt, oil and sugar that natural product developers, who no doubt create better food product, still load them up with added salt, oil and sugar.
Out of the hundreds of products I tasted and reviewed at the expo there were several superfoodie ready products that were amazing! Most were made by small independent entrepreneurs willing to take a risk on something new.
OUR FAVORITE PRODUCTS FROM NATURAL PRODUCTS EXPO WEST
Premium Rezealiant Living
Rezealiant Living has stepped up and already good game with the release of their premium line of 100% plant based, nutrient rich products including a new protein powder that will give you the ability to change the flavor.
We have been promoting Rezealiant Living products for some time, and even we are impressed with how many great new advances our company had made.
I think we offer one of the most advanced, modular nutrition systems in the market, enabling people to completely customize their nutritional experience with products that surpass all others in how they are produced using a geothermal heat drying process to maintain nutrient integrity, and the way the product line has been developed.
You are going to love em’
This is a really cool company, offering not just plant based nutrition, but “ground-based” nutrition. What a cool concept. After all, plants come from the ground.
They put out a superfood protein smoothie in a convenient all in one nutritional shake which contains a blend of plant based proteins, greens, fibers, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and digestive enzymes.
They had a bodybuilder out in front, that gives a whole new look the kind of muscle mass people are used to seeing at a booth promoting plant based protein. This was good and was reminiscent of a front man you would see at the ARNOLD Expo, not Natural Products Expo. But the message was clear; you don’t have to consume whey, or animal protein to put muscle on.
All Protein comes from plants!
In Europe, it is easy to find delicious dried fruit snacks, with no added sugar. Here, not so much. Which is why Susan Leone—and her Turkish husband—decided to launch Fruit Bliss, plump little pouches filled with delicious organic apricots, plums, dates and figs (our favorite!), sun-sweetened and lightly rehydrated with water, which makes these juicy snacks perfect for lunchbox or travel.
What’s so unique about this products is that the dried fruits are steamed, leaving them rich in moisture. Have you ever had dry or super sugar rich dried fruit and afterwards your mouth feels anything but refreshed?
Well, Fruit Bliss uses a steaming process that leaves the dried fruit moisture rich and literally you feel refreshed after you eat them.
Raw Organic Coconut Water by Harmless Harvest
I am no stranger to drinking green coconut water right out of the coconut. I was pleasantly surprised at how this coconut water had that SAME taste. You may find that many of the different brand coconut waters are very sweet. If you have not had fresh green coconut water then you may not realize there is a BIG difference in the taste. After tasting this coconut water I was sold and grabbed a couple bottles.
The 100% Raw Coconut Water is the original product from Harmless Harvest, a company that prides itself with its ability to create unique, innovative and healthy products while sustainably sourcing ingredients from small, agroforestry eco farms. The coconut water is pure, raw and USDA certified organic for optimum flavor, texture, fragrance and nutrition.
When they ran out at the end of show, we refused to leave (lovingly) without one to go. And they delivered. Once you taste raw coconut water you will chase it down whenever you can. It’s that good.
Do you love all things Mediterranean? Why not try DIPIN Dips which are packed in a handy 4 oz. retail tray offering ‘all natural’ deli-style dips including a hum-believable Hummus; added Salt FREE.
I can’t tell you how excited I was to see this. Most commercial hummus adds hundreds of mg of sodium to their recipes and this one didn’t and you will love it!
This truly is classic hummus.
Named after its founder Shanaii, Nii bars are organic energy bars that are loaded with high-quality ingredients, such as raw organic nut butters, raw organic hemp seeds, organic sprouted quinoa and organic rice protein.
Furthermore, the bars are sweetened with coconut nectar, and not processed agave. This makes for an incredibly nutrient-dense bar, high in omega-3s, low in sugar, high in fiber and protein, making for sustainable energy.
OK, granted this is not something to eat or drink but this product has not only won the award for pitch slam but is one of the new emerging companies that is promoting social movements to improve the world.
Great product + Great Mission = makes it a Great Company in our books.
“Righteously Raw” is a decadent line of raw chocolate treats by Earth Source Organics that will have you feeling like royalty–they’re that amazing. Not only do I love Earth Source for making the most delicious (and healthy!) raw treats of your dreams, but I also love that they stick to their ideals and beliefs and are putting out truly good chocolate without compromising standards, health, or taste! Earth Source Organic’s standards are as important to them as it is to you, which is why they maintain allergen-free products and impressive certifications over every process of production; certified Organic, certified Kosher, certified Wheat & Gluten Free, and certified Vegan.
What you won’t find here is preservatives, chemicals, dairy, soy, gluten, nuts, or refined sugars. What you will find is a delightful explosion of flavors, chocolate in its pure form, sweetened only with sugars from fruits, and superior health benefits.
Of course we Nutrient Rich Superfoodies tend to go after only those foods that are micronutrient rich, don’t include any substantial amount of what we don’t need that are as close to their natural state as possible at least 80-90% of the time or more.
So, while we followed the basic rule in the book, Switch to Rich, which is to make real food your health food and health food your junk food, let’s just say we ate allot more “health” food than usual this trip. And it was fun!
We expect by the next Natural Products Expo you will see the Nutrient Rich® brand in full form. But I will need to leave you with that tease. You’ll see soon,