Expo West 2024: Insights into Innovations & Hot Picks

April 5, 2024
by SPINS Marketing

Expert View: Show Favorites and Trends From Expo West 2024

With Expo West fully behind us, we caught up with a few experts on our team to see what they found interesting at the show and what trends they spotted as they walked through the numerous aisles.  

From food and beverages to vitamins and supplements and even the personal care category, our experts pick out their favorites and give an insight into how the show was for them. 

[PDF] Expert View: Show Favorites and Trends From Expo West 2024

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The Prominence of Sea Greens and The Expansion of Sustainability

Page 1/2 - Brittany Moore, Program Manager, Product Intelligence, Show Favorites. Access the full report for page 2.

In the evolving CPG landscape, a few trends stand out, painting a future that’s as sustainable as it is flavorful. Sea greens are taking center stage, not just for their environmental benefits but for their nutritional punch, signaling a broader appetite for sustainable eating. Meanwhile, the Gen Z crowd is chasing after more complex, nuanced flavors, pushing boundaries beyond the simple binaries of sweet and hot.  

The concept of optimizing dayparts is redefining health and wellness, moving past biohacking to embrace products designed for every moment of our day. In the non-food arena, sustainability isn’t just a buzzword but a design principle, with innovative packaging solutions shining on the show floor.  

Fungi, with their versatile application across categories, continue to fascinate, driven by the sustainable and innovative possibilities of mycelium and koji. And as the world grows smaller, the quest for authenticity brings heritage right to our store aisles, offering a taste of culture that’s about more than just new, global flavors—it’s about connection. Together, these trends don’t just forecast the future of consumption; they sketch a vivid picture of a world where taste, health, and sustainability intersect in exciting new ways. 

What was your Expo West experience like? 

My expo experience was busy, fun, and a great learning experience. Each time I go, I learn more and more about our industry. And I leave with a grocery list a mile long of new products I want in my own pantry! 

What trends did you expect to see and which ones surprised you? 

I expected to see a lot of innovation around flavors, mushrooms, and women’s health. But what surprised me was the number of conversations I had with women on the Expo floor about progress in regard to women’s health. The sheer number of women’s health products made women feel seen in a way that was inspiring to many. 

What are some tips you’d give to a first-time Expo West attendee? 

Take your time, take notes, and snap pictures. This is a massive learning opportunity and you simply can’t remember it all! Most importantly – lean into the dad shoe trend and break out your New Balance shoes. Your feet will thank you. 

Meatabolic Health Taking Center Stage and Women’s Health at The Forefront

Page 1/2 - Clare Rebhun, Sr. Manager, Best Practice, Show Favorites. Access the full report for page 2.

In the ever-evolving landscape of consumer health trends, savvy shoppers are setting their sights on products that not only satisfy their taste buds but also bolster their well-being. A notable shift towards metabolic health is underway, and though demand for products that support gut health is still strong, we see consumers gravitating towards products that minimize blood sugar spikes, hinting at a broader understanding and appreciation for the intricate balance of bodily functions.  

Meanwhile, the humble mushroom, once overlooked, has emerged as a superstar in the natural supplements arena, echoing the success of ancient remedies like Ashwagandha and becoming a staple across grocery store aisles. Women’s health is also garnering unprecedented attention; brands are actively responding to the diverse and dynamic needs of women, offering tailored solutions ranging from stress relief to menopausal symptom alleviation.  

In the snack world, the era of empty calories is being ousted by a quest for high-protein options that promise lasting satiety. This collective pivot towards health-conscious shopping reveals a deepening engagement with personal health and a desire for products that nourish the body and mind. 

What was your Expo West experience like? 

My Expo West experience was energizing and rewarding. It was a one-of-a-kind experience to be surrounded by thousands of like-minded people who are passionate about the Natural industry. It was also exciting to have the chance to meet with the brands I work with every week face to face! 

What trends did you expect to see and which ones surprised you?: 

I expected to see gut health, plant-based, and alcohol alternatives at the forefront. While those trends were certainly visible, I also saw multiple products that tackle women’s health concerns, mushrooms in seemingly everything, and high-protein snacks that promise satiety. Overall, there was a “back to basics” trend that I think will resonate with a lot of Shoppers. 

What are some tips you’d give to a first-time Expo West attendee? 

This was my first Expo, and a lot of the advice I received beforehand rang true: wear comfortable shoes, develop a tentative plan for each day, and focus on making connections. I would also say to give yourself at least a couple of hours with no plans so you can walk the floor, attend a lecture, or even take a breather outside. And of course, have fun! 

Protein in All Forms and The Evolution of Plant Based

Page 1/2 - Rahul Roy, Sr. Retail Insights Manager, Show Favorites. Access the full report for page 2.

In the whirlwind of wellness and sustainability trends sweeping through the market, it’s clear that brands are innovating at every turn to cater to our evolving lifestyle needs. With a surge in functional beverages, such as sparkling waters, hydration packets, and water-activated vitamins, staying hydrated has never been easier or more beneficial. Women’s health is getting a much-deserved spotlight, with products designed to support wellness across all life stages, from nutrient-rich vitamins to protein-packed bars.  

The protein sector is experiencing its renaissance, extending beyond traditional powders and bars to include high-protein snacks, chips, and even bread to satisfy cravings at any time of day. Sustainability is shaping the future of packaging and household items, with a shift towards materials like cartons, biodegradable cutlery, and bamboo products as part of the effort to protect our planet.  

The multifunctional benefits of mushrooms are being harnessed in adaptogen-based products to enhance cognitive function, reduce inflammation, and boost immunity. Meanwhile, plant-based food innovations continue to astonish, moving beyond soy to offer bacon alternatives made from mushrooms, raw food fries, and pea protein burgers, proving that the future of food is both exciting and environmentally conscious. 

What was your Expo West experience like? 

It has been an amazing experience to continue to follow the evolution of the industry. It seems like just yesterday shoppers and retailers were looking for all things organic and non-GMO, and today, organic, and non-GMO are the standard for products, with shoppers looking for products that adhere to earth-friendly sustainability practices and are positioned towards health and wellness through functional ingredients or alternative ingredients. We have seen the shift from ingredients we normally find in the vitamins and supplements industry translate over to wellness bars, functional beverages, and packaged on-shelf foods. 

What trends did you expect to see, and which ones surprised you? 

I expected to see brands take steps/highlight how they are moving towards sustainability. Many brands had the Regenerative Organic Certified wooden placard in their booths and were proud to explain how they are supporting sustainability through ingredients, packaging, and farming. 

I also expected to see how VMS trends translate and shift into food and beverage but was really surprised to see the depth food and beverage brands are increasingly utilizing functional ingredients, from mushrooms, amino acids, and vitamins, there has been a large shift towards making food and beverage more functional for everyday health. 

 What are some tips you’d give to a first-time Expo West attendee? 

Prioritize: Expo is a massive show with over 3000 booths and over 65,000 attendees, it is easy to get lost and lose yourself while walking the floor. Research beforehand what your key category focus’ are and prioritize which sections you want to hit first. 

Plan: Booth/brand lists are available online beforehand, take a browse through the Expo West website, and utilize SPINS Expo Guides which are made by our team and refreshed every year. Hitting the Hot Products floors is a must, but when the floor opens, you want to be able to meet the brands that are on your list before it gets too crowded. 

Prepare Physically: As you walk the floor, comfy shoes are a must, you will be walking for miles and miles to, during, from, and after the show floor closes. Every brand wants you to try their product, and be cognizant of what you are eating and drinking, you do not want expo stomach sickness. 

Have Fun: The show floor opens at 10 am and closes at 6 pm, utilize your 8 hours efficiently and make the most of your time at Expo with your peers. Meet new people in the industry, and network as much as possible. You are in a place where everyone has the same interest as you, making the natural products industry the best it can be through innovation in and out of the packaging. 

Mushroom Madness and The Prominence of Purple

Page 1/2 - Jessica Maniscalco, Sr. Retail Insights Manager, Show Favorites. Access the full report for page 2.

As noted by many, the industry is buzzing with excitement as mushrooms emerge as a surprisingly versatile ingredient, popping up in everything from breakfast options to energy drinks and wellness supplements. Moreover, consumer interest in the gut microbiome remains high as consumers discover its impact on overall health, sparking a wave of creative product innovations.  

In branding, the most memorable companies are those that communicate their ethos through high-quality products, straightforward messaging, and eye-catching packaging. Sustainability continues to be a major focus, with many exhibitors showcasing their commitment through various eco-friendly certifications. Additionally, authentic Asian brands, particularly those founded by minority entrepreneurs, are making significant waves, introducing unique flavors and products.  

A striking visual trend on the show floor is the rise of the color purple, influenced by natural ingredients like ube, beets, and berries, which add a splash of color to the scene. Chickpeas and cauliflower, previously thought to be fading from the culinary limelight, are making a comeback, innovatively used to enhance dishes with extra protein and fiber. 

What was your Expo West experience like? 

Amazing! This event transcends the typical industry show experience, offering much more than just networking and trend-spotting. It’s a convergence of old friends and colleagues, where the ambiance is charged with discovery, fun, collaboration, and a palpable sense of anticipation for what lies ahead. It’s as if the uncertainties of the past few years have dissipated, leaving behind a collective optimism and eagerness to embrace the future with our best selves. 

What trends did you expect to see and which ones surprised you? 

I expected to see a lot of mushrooms, plant-based forward products, regenerative agriculture, upcycled, organic, and Ube flavors at the show. While those trends were certainly present- some of the less mainstream ones I was surprised to see were the number of sustainability certifications brands were standing behind (vs. marketing claims only), clean/concise brand messaging, Asian flavors across aisles (especially frozen) and the resurgence of Chickpea and Cauliflower. 

What are some tips you’d give to a first-time Expo West attendee? 

Prepare thoroughly! By knowing your objectives for the show, what you need to complete by day, and identifying who you want to connect with the more successful your experience will be. You also don’t need to sample in real-time; booths won’t be offended if you don’t partake. Consider bringing an extra suitcase to fully enjoy samples after the show; saving your stomach and allowing you to savor each brand without rushing or mixing all the functional ingredients offered across booths. 

Soda’s Renaissance and The RTD Tea Showdown

Page 1/2 - Liz Cress, Director, BI Solutions, Product Intelligence, Show Favorites. Access the full report for page 2.

The beverage space has seen an increased number of new items, many of which were on display at Expo West. To truly quantify this, we used our Innovation Rate metric which is a simple calculation of New Items divided by Total Items. Looking at the data at a category level, we found that the Ready-To-Drink Tea category had an innovation rate of 13.1%, more than 4 points higher than the overall total store. 

These RTD brands are bringing new items that aren’t just new flavors but also products that range from zero sugar, to ones that contain adaptogens and even ones that are organic & fair-trade.  

Soda is also another category where we’ve seen innovation, led primarily by brands like Poppi and Olipop that brought prebiotic soda to the forefront. The category is seeing continued innovation with 6 more brands entering the functional soda space compared to 2 years ago.  

From adaptogens to the continued addition of all things biotics-related, we saw this display of innovation being enjoyed by many as they perused the aisles of the show floor. 

What was your Expo West experience like? 

Three words: My feet hurt. By the end, I felt exhausted, but it was all worth it. I made new connections, strengthened old ones, and all around had an absolute blast. 

What trends did you expect to see and which ones surprised you? 

I expected to see a ton of functional beverages across sparkling water, soda, kombucha, etc. However, the most surprising trend was beverages touting metabolic health. In fact, the #1 most interesting product I tried was by the brand “Good Idea” which helps prime your metabolism before eating, so you can balance your blood sugar levels throughout the day – they were even wearing continuous glucose monitors to prove it! 

What are some tips you’d give to a first-time Expo West attendee? 

Do not, under any circumstances, wear new shoes 😄 

[PDF] Expert View: Show Favorites and Trends From Expo West 2024

Access the full report

Embracing Innovation at Expo West 2024

Expo West 2024 showcased a whirlwind of innovation and excitement in the natural products industry. From sea greens to mushrooms, women’s health to sustainability, the trends unveiled at the event offer a glimpse into a future where taste, health, and sustainability converge.

As attendees reflect on their experiences, it’s evident that Expo West isn’t just a trade show—it’s a hub of inspiration, connection, and progress. With each aisle explored and conversation had, industry professionals reaffirmed their commitment to shaping a healthier, more sustainable world.