Trends We Saw at Natural Products Expo West

Danielle Ohl

NPEW_logo_2016.jpgWith more than 77,000 attendees, Natural Products Expo West experienced another record-breaking year, with a 6.9 percent increase in attendance over 2015. The NEXT Forecast 2016 projects strong growth for the natural products industry. U.S. consumer sales of natural, organic and healthy products are forecasted to expand 64 percent from $153B in 2013 to $252B by 2019, including growth of 9 percent per year driven in part by new and emerging brands.   

According to Carlotta Mast, Executive Director of Content for New Hope Network, the natural, organic, and functional food industry has never been stronger. “More and more consumers, as their trust in the products they buy wanes, are paying more attention, reading food labels and scrutinizing their purchases,” Ms. Mast said. “They’re looking for products that get back to a simpler way, a pre-industrialized food system that focuses on whole nutrient-dense ingredients and a closer-to-nature approach to processing.” As consumers get back-to-basics with their food choices, manufacturers and suppliers are following the trend as well.

Don't Fear the Fat

Butter_1.jpgFrom full-fat butter to whole milk to avocados, natural fats are increasingly being regarded as friend instead of foe. As natural-fat-loving Paleo and Ketogenic lifestyles are embraced by more consumers, this trend toward diets including natural fats is expected to rise. “What I think is most exciting about natural fats is it’s an emerging trend and yet scaling to mainstream really quickly,” said Eric Pierce, director of business insights at New Hope Network, during a March 10 presentation at Expo West. 

Savory Veggie Snacks

When the typical American thinks snacks, we think of food items like potato chips, pretzels, and cookies. What we don't often associate with snack time is vegetables. Beets are the emerging star in this category, with beet chips and flavored freeze-dried beets making their debut. Onion chips and vegetable fries also made an appearance, giving health-conscious snackers many more tasty and savory options when a crunch craving hits. 

Sustainable Packaging

Companies are serious about sustainability and taking the concept to a whole new level with packaging. Sustainable packaging is on the rise, with one company introducing a fully compostable pouch. “We’ve never had a fully compostable pouch like that, and it’s paving the way for the rest of the industry to get on board with that, also,” said Jenna Blumenfeld, senior food editor at New Hope Network. These pouches are usually premade, and can can be efficiently and reliably filled on the Rotary Premade Pouch Machine that was live in our booth at the Expo.

Upcycling and Ugly Food

“The whole food waste story is continuing to gain traction,” Ms. Blumenfeld continued. “There are so many companies trying to utilize ingredients that would normally be thrown away." As a rule, consumers prefer to purchase "pretty" food. We almost subconsciously steer away from irregular or imperfect food, and so it follows that farming operations often toss produce that isn't up to strict physical standards. Some companies are utilizing this food waste to upcycle and make beautiful, delicious foods out of "ugly" raw materials.


SimplexPouchPackager_THL.pngAs the natural and organic markets continue to grow, so will the need for packaging that is in line with eco-conscious values. Viking Masek machinery is durable, rugged, and requires minimal upkeep. Our customers often say our machinery "just keeps running." What this translates into for our clients is a sustainable, reliable packaging process that requires minimal intervention. More accurate package filling methods can also greatly decrease food waste that may occur when hand packaging. Via partnerships with film suppliers that offer eco-friendly packaging materials, we can also point you in the right direction when it comes to your package film choices.

Interested in sustainable, efficient packaging automation for your natural or organic product? Contact the packaging experts at Viking Masek for a complimentary consultation today.

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