New Innovations at Expo West
Expo West – the Natural Products Trade Show, which wrapped up on Sunday in Anaheim, CA – is the biggest trade show for CPG innovation. Virtually every large company – General Mills, PepsiCo, Kellogg’s – now owns one or more of these companies. And the innovations keep coming. Here are our picks for Top 10 Cool Innovation Trends from the show:
1. Probiotics for the Skin. Healthy microbes are expanding in a big way. More new probiotic foods and drinks are on the way, including Obi Probiotic Soda, Flapjacked muffin mix with probiotics and Melt organic spread with probiotics. But probiotics are also coming to personal care. Mother Dirt is a new line of body cleansers, shampoos and deodorants that contain probiotics that feast off the ammonia in human sweat – so your sweat won’t stink, and they support the natural microbes on your skin to keep your skin and body healthier. Developed by a team of MIT scientists at AOBiome, the company has already received significant VC funding. Probiotics are also coming to dental care. Spry Dental Probiotics is a spray that uses good bacteria to crowd out the bad bacteria that cause bad breath, tooth decay and gingivitis.
2. Cricket Protein. Bitty Foods, a San Francisco start-up dedicated to commercializing insect protein, has launched Cricket Flour and Cookies made from Cricket Flour. Exo, a company started by two Brown University students, is selling Cricket Flour Protein Bars. The crickets are all raised on cricket farms in the US and Canada and exceed USDA nutrition and safety requirements. In addition to being a healthier source of protein than red meat and being raised with no chemicals, crickets are more sustainable – requiring significantly fewer resources per pound to produce than meat. The United Nations recently published a report concluding that edible insects may be the key to stabilizing the global food supply – so this may be just the beginning.
3. Seaweed Snacks. Seaweed is poised to become the next big healthy snack. Seaweed is packed with nutrients, and now has more flavor than ever. Some new noteworthy new products include Annie Chun’s Seaweed Crisps (baked seaweed and brown rice chips in 3 flavors), Ocean’s Halo flavored seaweed (sheets of seaweed with Texas BBQ, Siracha or Sea Salt flavors), and Seaport Farms Seaweed Crisps and Seaweed Pops.
4. Kite Hill Cheese. Founded by Stanford Biochemist Patrick Brown and run by Clorox Alum and GC Combinator participant Matthew Sade, this company has found a way to make great-tasting cheese and yogurt from Almond Milk. The cheese is amazingly smooth and flavorful – and difficult to tell apart from the real thing. All products are dairy free.
5. New Types of Water. Many companies are looking to add a new twist to water. Some of the new entrants this year included Steaz Cactus Water (made with prickly pear cactus), Vertical Maple Water (made from Maple trees with 3 gm of natural sugar) and Verday Chlorophyll Water (a zero calorie drink with 100 mg of chlorophyll, equal to the same amount of green pigments found in 4 cups of spinach).
6. Meat Snacks. As consumers look for more protein in their snacking, more companies are launching meat snacks. In addition to an ever-increasing array of premium jerky companies (including Krave, Chef’s Cut, Golden Island, 3 Jerks), meat bars are also on the rise. Players include Epic Meat Bars (recently acquired by General Mills), Bricks Bars made with Grass Fed Beef, Warrior Bars made with buffalo meat, Omni Bars made with beef plus carbs, Mighty Bars made with organic beef, and Wild Zora meat and veggie bars.
7. Bean Foods. As more health-conscious consumers look for vegetable-based replacements to less healthy foods, beans are getting more and more attention. Bean-based pastas include Ancient Harvest, Tolerant and Modern Table Meals. Beans and Peas are used as meat replacements by Neat Foods, Beyond Meat and others. Hope Foods even has concocted a chocolate ice cream made from hummus.
8. Kids Cereal Reinvented. Pre-sweetened kids’ cereals have been on the decline due to a variety of factors, including health concerns. Denver-based Love Grown Foods has a new line of kids cereals that look every bit as indulgent as their sugar-laden predecessors, but are made with beans, brown rice and only 7 gm of sugar per serving. Flavors include Chocolate Comet Crispies, Blueberry Vanilla Polar Puffs and Fruity Sea Stars.
9. Bone Broth. Bone broth, made from steeping and slow cooking bones, is on the rise, due to its high levels of calcium, nutrients, collagen and amino acids – not to mention the Paleo Diet. Osso Good, KOL Foods and Pacific Foods are all featuring new Bone Broths this year.
10. Pickle Juice. Pickle Juice has long been known as a hangover cure, but now it’s gaining traction as a way for athletes to stop muscle cramps. The Pickle Juice Company is launching Pickle Juice Shots, a 2.5 oz. Extra Strength shot for athletes. The company also sells 8oz. and 16 oz. Pickle Juice Sports Bottles.