Natural Products Expo West. It’s the largest trade show in the industry. It’s the place to meet and see the rock stars of the natural and organic industry. We’re talking about the John Mackeys, of the world, (co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market). The Justin Gold’s, founder of Justin’s, or the Blair Kellisons, the CEO of Traditional Medicinals (which is now a $100 million dollar tea company). It’s also the place to meet the biggest up-and-coming stars, like The Stanley Brothers, which produce Charlotte’s Web. They’re creating a whole new category around the biggest consumer product trend - CBD (cannabidiol)
It’s the place to go and be if you want to mingle with the disruptors and changemakers of what used to be a niche industry that has now gone mainstream. Each year the show grows by exponential digits. This is its 39th year, with over 90,000 attendees, over 3,600 exhibiting brands including, 700 first timers.
The entire CPG (consumer product goods) industry as we know it is being disrupted. For years Big Food laughed at the small and upcoming natural and organic food brands being bootstrapped by passionate entrepreneurs that had the courage to put a stake in the ground and say, enough is enough. I’m tired of eating and feeding nutritionally deficient produce to my family that’s grown in a cocktail of toxic chemicals. Or, I’m tired of snacking on processed foods that carry a laundry list of unpronounceable mystery ingredients that are nutritionally bankrupt and wreak havoc on the human body.
Today, these passionate entrepreneurs that listened to consumers like you and me are winning. They are being snapped up by Big Food because they've created and captured market share that the big brands refused to listen to. And now those big companies are the ones that have to catch up. The quickest way to do that? Acquire them. And Big Food is being forced to clean up their acts and their supply chains too, as they acquire small brands and learn from them. Consumers have put them under a microscope to examine their values and ethos that drive their brand to determine if they will invest or spend their hard earned American dollar on that brand.
Today, the conventional market run by Big Food is declining. According to Carlotta Mast, senior vice-president of content and insights at New Hope Network, which produces the Expo, “The conventional food and beverage category actually began to shrink last year . . . Last year conventional food and beverage sales totaled $634 billion, but the growth was negative 0.2%.” She further states, “It’s no new news that natural, organic and functional is growing at a far faster pace than conventional food and beverage,” she told Food Business News,
From the Organic Authority Files
If you want to know what product innovations are trending in the natural food and wellness world today and what you’re likely to see on your local grocery, natural food markets shelves, or in your favorite e-commerce nutrition and wellness source, read on.
Here are the nine biggest marketing trends and innovations that brands think you care about the most, according to data from Next Data & Insights, that they think will encourage you to buy their natural and organic products. And this is not necessarily a bad thing because it’s forced brands and manufacturers to innovate! Big business is making progress toward becoming more socially and sustainably conscious and aware of the impact the production, processing, and consumption of their consumer products have on human health and the environment.
- Waste Reduction - Maybe perhaps the most innovative trend in CPGs today and the biggest trend you care about most. Natural and organic brands know you care about our polluted oceans and land. Brands are looking at production and material optimization, efficient ingredients that don’t require a lot of resources like water to grow (think moving from almond milk to oat milk, almonds require much more water to grow than oats). They are looking for ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle and crafty solutions to eke out the most value from ingredients and materials.
- Cultivating Trust, Transparency and Authenticity - Brands know you’ve been lied to by the big CPGs, and they know you want a transparent supply chain, which is great! More and more brands have pivoted from the aggressive push advertising model, which is in decline, to engaging the consumer via an authentic narrative that tells the story of what’s inside the bottle, bar, or piece of fruit or veg you’re about to eat from seed to shelf.
- Sourcing Responsibility - Big food has commoditized cheap labor, cheap supplies, and cheap ingredients. They’ve placed too much emphasis on cost and convenience to the detriment of values and respect for sourcing partners. Which has resulted in the creation of an unsustainable supply chain that rapes the land, suppliers, farmers, and growers creating terrible working conditions while paying rock bottom prices that create wider margins for Big Food that aren’t sustainable.
- Regenerative Agriculture - Consumers know the natural environment and land is being lost to Big Food and Big Ag. More brands are making agriculture commitments that are solution-oriented with commitments to rebuild, repair and replenish our natural resources through ecological practices that go beyond preventing further loss.
- Sugar vilified - Consumers are fed up with being fat and lied to about the health effects from sugar. They are wise to the high sugar content of packaged and processed foods and understand it’s making them obese. They are seeking out products that use whole food sweeteners that are low glycemic and have other nutritional and functional benefits.
- Winning consumer trust back through verification - Slapping an unverified claim on a product isn’t enough anymore. Certification or verification from reputable third parties strengthen the integrity of a brand’s commitment.
- Healthy Microbiome - Consumers understanding of health is expanding and going beyond the traditional western world’s definition of health. Consumers are becoming wise to the evolving research that the makeup of a person’s microbiome may be driving the quality of their overall health and is expanding far beyond traditional immune boosting properties and traditional gut health.
- Craft and Artisanal - Big food has figured out that you love heartfelt, lovingly created craft and artisanal products. Thus, you must be careful of any unsubstantiated claims that can easily be thrown onto a package. Verify claims and get to know your source ask the tough questions of a brand about their sourcing and supply chain.
- Healing Diets - Because of America’s health crisis, more and more people are overweight, clinically obese, sick and tired now more than ever. They are starting to become wise to using food and nutrition as fuel and true health care and are looking to diets that heal. More and more consumers are discovering food intolerances and allergens as the source of their health issues and are turning to healing diets for a complete lifestyle overhaul to heal a lifetime of health issues that western medicine simply can’t solve without creating further unhealthy side effects that cause more problems including obesity, gut issues, heart and high cholesterol issues, inflammation, low energy, emotional issues, insomnia, anxiety, depression and more.
How can you use this information as a smart educated consumer? Start looking for and investing in innovative and disruptive brands that are doing the tough work that’s driving change and disrupting the market. Ask the tough questions about their sourcing and supply chain and engage with them on social media. The ones that are doing it right will gladly strike up a conversation and openly share answers with you!
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