- Great taste, authenticity, and uniqueness are ways to spark consumer interest.
- Beverages and snacks are going functional and healthy.
- Brands have a new approach to plant-based alternatives and sustainable packaging.
This year’s Expo West showcased functional beverage innovations, new sustainable packaging, brands laser-focused on authenticity, and much more. Here are the 2023 Natural Products Expo West trends and themes that caught our eye.
Natural Products Expo West 2023 brought together more than 3,000 exhibitors at the Anaheim Convention Center in California to showcase what’s new in natural and healthy products. There was a tremendous turnout, with over 65,000 registered attendees for the March 7-11 event.
One theme we saw that reached across categories was a strong awareness that consumers expect healthy products to taste great. We saw brands double down to deliver the best taste experience, especially through delicious, craveable flavors, even with formulation challenges like functional ingredients and low sugar.
Authenticity was another key theme, showing up as a commitment to a mission, a founders' story that resonates, or the belief that the benefit provided to the customer is what matters most. There was also the perspective that a brand’s unique tweak on a product is what sparks interest and growth.
The functional beverage category was as exciting as ever. Besides a number of new functional coffee and water launches, we saw a variety of energy drinks (especially with natural energy) and mood elixirs. One innovative example was Hiyo sparkling social tonics, which contains a blend of ashwagandha, l-theanine, ginger, turmeric, and functional mushrooms with multiple benefits to “help you feel your very best.”
Learn more about creating a functional beverage for the 2023 consumer.
It was clear that functional beverage companies have been busy strategizing on how they might differentiate their products, whether through packaging, ingredients, claims, or flavors.
Healthy snacks were another area showing a lot of innovation this year, particularly in functional and plant-based snacks. We saw bars with benefits, including protein plus, microbiome/gut health, and cognitive support. Mindright nootropic-infused protein bars featured a nootropic blend of MCT, coffee fruit extract, and magnesium, while CORE refrigerated oat bars with adaptogens used reishi and lion's mane mushroom extracts.
See our insider tips on formulating the perfect bar.
We were also inspired by the delicious, better-for-you bakery products—from muffins to cookies to cookie doughs with lower sugar, higher protein, and no artificial colors or flavors. For savory snacks, there were plenty of puffs, chips, and crackers (especially vegetable- and bean-based), as well as plant-based and seafood jerkies. Better-for-you frozen desserts ranged from hemp-based vegan ice cream to mochi in new flavors like ube and passion fruit.
For sustainability trends, we noticed a new take on plant-based alternatives. Rather than trying to replicate animal-based products, we saw brands highlighting the natural flavors, textures, and health benefits of mushrooms (especially functional mushrooms), algae and kelp, and plant proteins from pea to pumpkin seed. Upcycled ingredients were another standout sustainability trend this year.
Sustainable packaging was also in the spotlight at the 2023 Expo West. Recognizing that consumers are influenced by sustainable packaging when they choose a product, companies are choosing bottles over cans and pouches instead of canisters. Some are even using upcycled packaging for a more appealing approach to sustainability.
Additional trends to watch include a new positioning for collagen protein , with messaging that suggests it’s a healthier option to animal proteins (despite most collagen products being animal-derived). There is also an emerging focus on healthy female brands and a fun trend underway in better-for-you nostalgia, which includes healthier versions of pop-tarts, rice crispy bars, and other childhood favorites.
Healthy and better-for-you foods and beverages continue to grow more popular and relevant to consumers’ needs. As your trusted ingredient partner, we offer you the ingredients you need—from plant-based proteins to baking ingredients to custom premixes for energy and mood—to make your product a success.
Contact Glanbia Nutritionals to learn how our nutrition solutions for beverages, bakery, bars, and savory snacks can help you meet the latest trends.
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