Ah, Natural Products Expo West: The land where even the water is labeled gluten free. If you’re looking for prebiotic skincare or dubious Ayurvedic supplements, you can find a free sample with your name on it somewhere on the show floor.
But in all seriousness, Expo has been known to feature the best new and upcoming product innovations that define trends for food and health for the year to come, and this year’s Expo in Anaheim, California, brought together a record 80,000+ professionals to explore just that. While I can’t help you discern the best kombucha or cold brew, I’ve got you covered on what you need to know in food. Which brings us to agenda item number one:
1. New Products
After picking up my badge and hitting the Expo floor, stop number one was obvious: Miyoko’s Kitchen. Upon arrival, I was blessed with a perfectly cashew-buttered, crispy, melty, mini panini full of Miyoko’s new Smoked Mozz.
Miyoko says: "Go plant-based!"
You can find Miyoko’s Smoked Mozz in retail stores this summer!
Silk had so many new milks and creamers that I didn’t even feel bad drinking nearly an entire urn of coffee in order to sample them all. I was jazzed about the new options, and not just because my caffeine levels were approaching the danger zone. Here’s what coming down the pipeline: more protein per swig with fantastic new flavors.
Don’t worry, I’ll be following up with a full review of the plant-based dairy options, which totally dominated the show floor. Until then, onto some fun in plant-based meats!
The folks at Upton’s are as kind as they are creative. Seriously, when I kept coming back for samples with different pairs of sunglasses, they always played along and spared my dignity. As for the creativity, Upton’s is releasing fourteen new products in the U.S. and abroad, including Sriracha Jackfruit, Pad See Ew, and two new Macs! Buy an extra box of the Cheesy Bacon Mac. You’re going to need it.
Tofurky debuted a new beer-glazed ham roast that has already received rave reviews, but for me, the most exciting innovation was Tofurky’s new packaging for its hamburger and sausage products.
The important change isn’t within the visual design, it’s in the functionality. With unformed plant-based meat to work with, home chefs can use Tofurky’s base and mix in their own desired ingredients and spices to make meatballs, lasagna fillings, Bolognese, or virtually any dish their creativity inspires. This sort of innovation gets us even closer to a world where plant-based meats fulfill all of the culinary purposes of animal-meats. That’s right animal ag: You’re becoming obsolete.
[The Company Who Must Not Be Named]
One category was miserably under-represented on the show floor: plant-based seafood. With our oceans in crisis and public health suffering because of it, this sort of absenteeism is unconscionable. Luckily, I was able to preview a soon-to-launch company that is going to blow the market wide open. I have to keep quiet for now, but you can expect this much: by the time you’re having summer cookouts, you’ll be able to have seafood without sacrifice.
2. New Stats
A rising tide lifts all ships, and the tide is riding for the plant-based foods industry. Just look at how many ships docked at the Plant Based Foods Association reception:
The Plant Based Foods Association also presented new data from SPINS on growth in the natural products market over the last 52 weeks:
- Plant-based cheese: 31.4%
- Plant-based meat: 13.1%
- Plant-based milk: 8.2%
And perhaps what's more exciting is to see sales of these products growing rapidly in mainstream markets!
3. New Conversations
– around the way we produce and consume food. This year, thanks to the Dr. Bronner’s team, Expo hosted the first-ever conversation on “Eating Animals,” which looked at the realities of conventional animal agriculture and explored how we think about sustainability on our plates.
The panel included David Bronner, Cosmic Engagement Officer (CEO) of Dr. Bronner’s; Michele Simon, executive director of the Plant Based Foods Association; Aaron Gross, founder and CEO of Farm Forward; and moderated by Leah Garcés, director of Compassion in World Farming USA.
David Bronner is cool. I am not cool. He still took a picture with me. #honored
After watching a sneak peek of the upcoming film "Eating Animals," which features the Good Food Institute’s executive director Bruce Friedrich and is based on Jonathan Safran Foer’s internationally bestselling book by the same title, the panel critiqued industrial farming and discussed solutions. Notably, the panel talked about how we can harness market forces to move our food system away from this devastating system and toward one where meat, dairy, and eggs are made from plants, not animals.
If I gained anything from this year's Expo (other than some extra pounds), it was the knowledge that the plant-based foods industry is a powerful force for positive change, and that the plant-based life is only getting more and more delicious.
To learn more about how GFI supports the growth of the plant-based foods industry, check out what we do!