Expo West 2022 Recap: 5 Trends We Spotted on the Expo Floor

March 16, 2022
by David

Innovative Brands Are Appealing to a Wider Audience

On March 8, for the first time in three years, Natural Products Expo West was back in person!  The SPINS team joined an estimated 2,700 exhibitors and 57,000 registered attendees in Anaheim for the largest trade show in the industry, where we saw the latest innovative natural products around.

Although the show covered a wide range of products from food and beverage to body care and supplements, we noticed that the main theme of 2022 is bringing natural products to every shopper. The diversity of the products—not to mention the size of the show—proved that brands are investing in natural products in every aisle for every shopper.

If you weren’t able to attend or just want to refresh your memory, we’ve put together a list of our favorite discoveries from the show.

1. Plant-Based Branches Out

From milk alternatives to proteins, plant-based was everywhere. We sampled animal-free milks, ice creams, supplements, chorizo, pizzas, chips, cookies, and more. On the surface, these options aren’t that new, but the fact that the primary protein source came from peas and non-whey isolates was. Not to mention some items, like Brave Robot’s ice cream, which opts for the “animal-free” label thanks to an innovative production process that replicates cells without actually using any animal components. Plus, all of these products resembled their animal-derived counterparts in texture and flavor, which make them potential draws for everyone from vegans to meat eaters.

a product image of plant based ice cream

2. Functional ingredients Are Everywhere

The snack aisle and beverage coolers are starting to resemble the vitamins and supplements shelves. Nearly every drink we tasted while walking the halls of Expo West was infused with a functional ingredient meant to boost immunity, make your skin glow, or promote gut health. Meanwhile, mushrooms were common ingredients for snacks like chips and jerky thanks to their nutrient-dense composition and overall versatility. Functional ingredients have been increasingly popular during the last two years, and they are going to ramp up even more as more of these products hit stores.

https://drinkprotein2o.com/a product image of plant based pretzels showing snacks with functional benefits

3. Sustainability and Upcycling Are Selling Points

Climate change, excessive waste, and preserving natural resources are top concerns for many shoppers, and brands are doing their part to help. Packaging is one of the leading causes of landfill waste, so it was exciting to see so many items with minimal or waste-free packaging. Manufacturers, like Bamboo Nature, are also using environmentally friendly items like bamboo, which showed up in bandages, toothbrushes, and diapers.

a product image of diapers made with bamboo reflecting sustainable packagingg

4. New Forms in Vitamins & Supplements

While there always seems to be a new vitamin or supplement you can add to your routine, the delivery method rarely changes. You’re usually stuck with a tablet or a gummy. Innovative brands, such as Coromega and Frunutta, are changing that with dissolvable vitamins and squeeze packs. These newer forms still deliver dietary mainstays like Vitamin B and omegas, but they give you a new—and possibly more effective—delivery method. These options are especially great for anyone who has difficulty swallowing pills. These manufacturers also claim the vitamins and minerals hit your bloodstream sooner and absorb better.

5. Comfort Foods Go Natural

Even with new brands filling the aisles in the expo hall, many of the items looked so familiar we had to do a double take. Brands have found natural (and even nutritious) ways to bring us the hearty entrees we grew up on, candies we love to buy at concessions stands, and sweet drinks we often feel guilty about sipping. We saw keto boxed macaroni and cheese, gooey rice crispy bars, and rich French toast that hit our nostalgia sweet spot.

product image of a snack bar that is naturalproduct image of mini pancakes that offer nutritious benefits


For even more insight from Expo West, watch our show guide and daily recaps:

SPINS' Exclusive Guide To Expo West:

Ahead of the show, we put together an overview of the hottest industry trends driving growth in today’s health & wellness industry. Watch SPINS’ experts, Scott Dicker, Haleigh Resetar, and Jessica Maniscalo, dive into the trends and highlight the top brands to watch for in 2022.

Day 1: SPINS Kicks Off With The State Of Natural

SPINS’ CCO, Jay Lovelace, recaps the first day of activities at Natural Products Expo West where our very own Kathryn Peters joined the opening keynote session, and the momentum SPINS is bringing as the show starts.

Day 2: The Rise Of Functional Ingredients

SPINS’ VP of Channel and Retail Partnerships, Brandon Casteel, and Director of Channel Partnerships, Caroline Davidson, discuss what they saw on the floor today including functional foods, new positioning for meat alternatives, and an interest and curiosity in e-commerce.

Day 3: Prioritizing Sustainability in Products

SPINS’ Retail Solutions Manager, Jeff Crumpton, and Corporate Communication Specialist, Haleigh Resetar, discuss functional beverages that are making a splash, sustainable practices from brands hoping to eliminate waste, and personal care trends hitting the market.

Day 4: Smarter Sweeteners, Mission-Based Products & Innovation in VMS

On the final day of Expo West, SPINS’ Senior Retail Insights Manager, Jessica Maniscalco, talks about trends in no/low/alternative sugar, mission-based products, and changes in the Vitamins and Supplements category.