Our top takeaways from the show floor
At the end of September, we attended the final Expo East in Philadelphia and got excited about the launch of Newtopia Now next year. Once again, we joined thousands of attendees and exhibitors for a first look at innovative new products, explored updates on classics, chatted with inspiring new brands, and enjoyed more samples than we care to admit to.
Although it’s impossible to distill the full Expo experience into a few highlights, we wanted to share some of the trends that caught our eye. Some of the products we saw on the show floor signaled new and emerging trends, and others solidified themselves as part of the current natural landscape. No matter what, they’re meeting the needs and values of today’s consumer.
Here are the Expo East takeaways we think you should know about:
1. It’s A Good Time to Have a Sweet Tooth
Candies, baked goods, and other desserts are always popular at Expo East, and this year was no exception. Brands stayed true to their better-for-you mission while still delivering treats that satisfied our sweet tooth and didn’t feel like substitutes for their conventional counterparts. From low-calorie and vegan candy (Blobs) to gluten free cookie dough (Cappello’s) to non-GMO frosted animal cookies (Must Love), attributes for every dietary need and preference were on display.
2. Alcohol Free Beverages Keep Climbing
Every year we’re impressed by the evolution of non-alcoholic beverages. From the “alcohol” types to the flavors to the packaging, 0% ABV drinks exist for every preference. There was even an entire aisle lined only with non-alcoholic brands offering spirits, bitters, beers, wines, and rosés. This is reflected in SPINS data, which shows 25.8% sales volume growth compared to 2022 (which saw 18.3% growth over 2021). (You can hear more about non-alcoholic beverage trends and more industry insights in the show’s keynote.)
3. Lunchbox Options Have Never Been Better
Packing lunch for the kids or just keeping them fed at home can be a challenge when you’re trying to be mindful of their nutrition. Many brands have caught on to the fact that even when parents want convenience, they still want quality ingredients. Chubby is an example of how mixing a classic food with the right attributes can appeal to parents. Their PB&J snacks have the look and feel of a crustless sandwich but come prepackaged and are high protein, high fiber, and plant-based. That same combination of attributes appeared in fruit snacks, drink pouches, and kid friendly chips, as well.
4. Regenerative Products Expand Their Reach
Regenerative products have been increasingly popular over the last several years, with meat and dairy being the most common samples handed. This year, however, regenerative popped up in even more categories, from grains to sweet. One noteworthy entry was Dr. Bronner’s oat milk chocolate bars, made with Regenerative Organic Certified cocoa, cocoa butter, and coconut sugar.
5. Guilt-free Snacks Are A Hit
Although you should never feel bad about enjoying food, a handful (or bagful) of chips can sometimes leave you feeling less than great. Snack brands have stepped up their game with twists on classics that contain better, natural ingredients and still have plenty of flavor. Lesser Evil’s Space Balls are an update on cheese puffs, a perennial favorite. Similarly, we saw even more jerky options than ever before made from everything from mushrooms to salmon to plant-based meat alternatives.
6. Pre- and Post-Party Hydration Creates Its Own Space
For those who do enjoy a cocktail (or many), preventing and treating hangovers can be a top priority. This growing segment is avoiding coded language and giving consumers an unapologetic alternative to traditional sports hydration and electrolyte drinks. BYS is an herbal supplement with turmeric and ginseng roots that you take before or during a night out. No Days Wasted offers a next-morning detox to help you feel better before your early appointments.
7. Nature Lovers Can Enjoy Natural Products
Although you go outdoors to enjoy nature, the products you use around the house or for a day in the sun aren’t always natural. This year, we spotted more better-for-everyone options that aren’t meant for the pantry. For example, Flourish offers organic, natural plant foods that are also sustainable (see their use of “fish and corn discards from the food system”). Lemongrass Farms offers insect and fly repellents that use all natural ingredients and are sustainable and cruelty free.
8. Supplements Are Finding New Audiences
Supplements have evolved from being the purview of athletes and gym goers. While performance nutrition and hydration are still driving much of the growth in supplements, there are other options attracting new audiences. Today they’re also go-to resources for shoppers who want the convenience of meal replacements, need digestive aids, and are focused on reproductive health. You can get a deep dive by watching the Expo East Supplement Symposium.