Trade shows are one our favorite places to discover new products and scout the latest trends. This year’s Natural Product Expo East Show (the final one!) proved to be no exception. Here are 5 of the hottest trends shaping the future of food, beverage, packaging and more:

1. Upcycled Food
At MBD, we are proud members of the Upcycled Food Association. Upcycled foods use ingredients that otherwise would not have gone to human consumption, are procured and produced using verifiable supply chains, and have a positive impact on the environment. In short, upcycled food uses ingredients that normally would be discarded, reducing food waste. Companies such as Uglies Kettle Chips, Misfits Market and The Daily Crunch are finding innovative ways to incorporate upcycling into their business models. We even got to try Uglies Kettle Chips on the plane – a great product!


2. Sustainability
Consumers are actively seeking out more sustainable options and brands in turn responding with both new product and packaging solutions. Tetra Pak, renowned for its aseptic packages, now includes an option for caps made of sugar cane instead of plastic.
Bottle manufacturers such as Pretium and Amcor are delivering more sustainable options by incorporating as much as 100% Post-Consumer Recycled (PCR) material into some of their packaging solutions.

Tru Earth is another brand noteworthy for its sustainability efforts. This company produces jug free detergent and toilet bowl cleaner strips. The products resemble sheets of paper, packaged in compostable cardboard envelopes. I was skeptical how well these products might work, but after testing them at home, will buy from now on!


3. Regenerative Agriculture
Climate change is driving this approach to farming and agricultural practices to improve soil health. Regenerative practices reduce greenhouse gas emissions by drawing carbon out of the atmosphere and into the soil. It also increases crop yields and recent data shows it improves the nutrient density of foods. This is significant because of its powerful potential to both reduce global food insecurity and improve health.

The Regenerative Organic Alliance, which includes partners like Rodale Institute, Dr. Bronner’s, and Patagonia are raising the bar on how food is grown through a relatively new Regenerative Organic Certification. Did you know that over 157 Farms and 753 products have been certified to date?

4. Multicultural Flavors
Gen Z is the most ethnically and culturally diverse generation in the US. While they may not yet have the highest purchasing power, food companies are paying attention.  Brands like S'Noods and Wildbrine are creating bold, adventurous flavor profiles with a multicultural influence that appeal to changing demographics. Korean, Southeast Asian, Mediterranean, and Mexican influences are among cuisines on the rise.