5 products that catch the eye of Natural Products Expo East

Among the more than 1,100 brands exhibiting at this year’s Natural Products Expo East in Philadelphia from Sept. 28 to Oct. 1, there were hundreds of innovative product offerings, many of which capitalize on growing trends in wellness. -being and functional foods. that their founders hope to find an audience. These products ranged from plant-based dairy alternatives to reimaginings of staple foods containing unique ingredients.

Some of the products on the floor were new, while others have been around for a few years. In an industry with an increasing number of options for consumers to choose from, natural and organic brands aim to stand out from the pack based on taste, health benefits and functionality.

Here are five brands that caught our attention:

A hot cup of figs?

Andy Whitehead loves coffee, but the feeling isn’t mutual. He can’t drink that much before the acidity and caffeine get too overwhelming. Although the former tech entrepreneur hasn’t touched the drink in years, that’s not the case due to his recent discovery.

After reading a magazine article about how figs were used to stretch coffee rations during World War II, he bought some at Costco and started grinding and roasting them at home to see what happened. would happen.

“I was literally blown away by how close the cafe was,” Whitehead said.

The revelation led Whitehead and his wife Marianne to launch FigBrew, which makes a coffee-like drink from figs, a year and a half ago. The Alabama-based company sells its drinks in pods and ground. It uses a similar brewing process to coffee and tastes, smells, looks and feels nearly identical, Whitehead said. It also contains antioxidants, vitamins and minerals not even found in coffee, he said.

“It’s more of a kind of taste experience. You don’t get the caffeine spike and then a crash, but due to the health properties you get energy all day long so it’s longer lasting. And it’s healthier. And that’s right in the wheelhouse of a coffee connoisseur,” Whitehead said.

FigBrew, which sells its products in about 50 grocery stores, offers its lands in flavors such as pumpkin spice, cocoa, beetroot, chai and, of course, coffee for “the addict who can’t give it up altogether.”

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Christopher Doering / food diving

Food for the future

For Tyler Steeves, his inspiration for plant-based products like carrot bacon, beet jerky and onion crackers comes from an unexpected place: space.

“If we ever go to space and live there, we can’t bring pigs to Mars. So how can we make plants taste better now?” Steeves said. “Our total mission in life is to create amazing vegan snacks with some really cool stuff for pedestrians.”

Steeves founded the Plant Bacon Corporation in 2019 with this mission in mind. Its goal is to take the natural characteristics of the plant and then enhance them with flavor. Its nutrient-rich carrot bacon, for example, includes the vegetable — but adds ingredients such as olive oil, spices, maple syrup, onion and garlic powder.

In addition to its bacon, jerky and crackers, the company plans to launch a line of chews in the future with products such as boneless watermelon ham and mango steak.

Steeves is careful to note that Plant Bacon is not trying to replace any of the meat products on the market. He wants his products to be close, but not exactly the same.

“There’s a place for meat, that’s fine,” he says. “The idea is how to take this opportunity and have a replacement. It does it without trying too hard to be so exactly the same.

Acai roots

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Christopher Doering / food diving

How do you pronounce that?

The word acai may be hard to pronounce, but that hasn’t scared off a San Diego company from putting the berry in a growing number of foods.

Acai Roots incorporated the fruit found in Central and South America in bars, fruit juices, kombuchas and other products particularly popular with young Americans, including teenagers and college students looking to eat healthier.

“We’ve grown year after year after year, and right now the popularity of acai just keeps growing,” said Melissa Bailey, senior sales manager at Acai Roots.

The acai berry, a purple-red fruit that looks like a grape, has been shown in studies to have more antioxidants than blueberries. While people eat acai berries to treat various health conditions, WebMD noted, they haven’t shown any different health benefits from similar types of fruit.

Acai Roots, which was started by two people from Brazil in 2005, imports frozen acai puree from Brazil which goes into most of its products. Its bars use a freeze-dried version.

Acai Roots is looking to expand, with the company planning to launch a frozen offering for children.

“There’s not a lot of competition” with other acai companies, Bailey said. “I see it continually growing, especially with the younger audiences really into it.”

Three Spirit

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Chris Casey / Food Dive

Adaptogenic alcohol-free wine taps

While some consumers who choose to avoid alcohol may simply want another bubbly alternative, others may want a drink that has more definitive functionality. Three Spirit believes it can capitalize on the latter.

The brand was launched in 2019 in London, and soon was on the menu of more than 50 British restaurants. Co-founder Dash Lilley said the brand makes its products with world-class bartenders and conducts blind taste tests with alcohol consumers to fine-tune the taste profile.

“People drink alcohol for both the flavor and the way it tastes, it’s not just one or the other,” Lilley said. “We wanted to make non-alcoholic drinks that could make you feel something.”

In his wallet, the brand currently has three spirits, hence its name. They are Livener, a pick-me-up; Social Elixir, an anti-stress that you can drink all night long; and Nightcap, for the end of the night. The latter is its bestseller, and Three Spirit claims it can help people relax or fall asleep with its lemon balm and hops.

Adaptogens are a trendy ingredient in the wellness area because of their health benefits, including increased immunity and relaxation. Three Spirit’s beverages contain two: ashwaghanda and lion’s mane mushroom.

“A lot of people try to cut down on alcohol and improve their sleep. Nightcap is a great place to help people do both,” Lilley said. “It helps people avoid the latter or both. last drinks of the night, which can often go too far.”


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Chris Casey / Food Dive

Chickpea milk substitute

Over the past five years, chickpeas have made a significant mark in the food space, appearing in a range of products as consumers seek more protein in their daily lives. YoFiit thinks its product could make the legume a staple in cafes.

The Canadian company said its chickpea milk, containing 10 grams of protein per serving, offers a more functional alternative to other plant-based dairy options. By comparison, oat milk contains 3 grams of protein per serving, while almond milk only contains 1 gram.

YoFiit’s main dairy product also contains flax seeds and contains 1 gram of omega-3s, which can reduce cardiovascular disease risk. Co-founder Marie Amazan cited recent data from SPINS, which shows almond milk sales are slowing while oat and pea milk sales continue to grow.

“What this tells me is that there is a change in terms of taste: people like oat milk for the sweetness and pea milk for the nutrition,” Amazan said. “We taste good and we have high protein content, so we will adapt to both trends.”

YoFiit aims to launch its product in the United States in early 2023 and hopes to expand its portfolio to creamers and yogurts. The brand participated in PepsiCo’s acceleration program in 2018.

Along with the health attributes of chickpeas, YoFiit also promotes the ingredient as a more sustainable alternative to nut milk.

“Chickpeas only require 20% of the water that walnuts do,” Amazan says. “The change we’re trying to bring about isn’t just for plant-based consumers, but for the planet.”

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