After 2 years of virtual shows and events, it was exciting to be apart of the hustle and bustle of Expo West in Anaheim again this year. The show was packed with people, including over 2,700 exhibitors…600 of them being first time exhibitors!

Lyndsay Stone (On-Site Design Manager) and I walked the show together, visiting clients and friends along the way. We were inspired by all the new packaging innovation as well as product trends. We had the opportunity to see Numi Tea’s compostable tea bag (developed in conjunction with OSC). We loved seeing Moon Shot’s new climate friendly crackers…the first time we’ve seen “climate friendly” take center stage on the front of the pack!

Many years ago, the “better for you” category focused on just the basics…supplements, bread, soy milk, etc., and then we started to see the category expand toward the $274 billion industry that it is today. N&O consumers have been shopping “better-for-you” for nearly everything except candy, treats, and a few other outliers. But now, we’re seeing the pursuit of wellness enter the last of the junk food categories like candy, soda, and ice cream.

As we heard in the State of Natural & Organic Keynote, “Plants are at the heart of 2022 innovation”. The plant-based category keeps expanding due to health concerns, animal welfare, dietary limitations, and concern for the environment. It seemed like every few booths was another plant-based chicken nugget! We saw expected vegan foods like plant-based meats and cheeses, but we were surprised to also see vegan caviar, vegan bacon, and plant-based whipped cream! We learned there are over 30,000 plants that have been identified as edible, but we are only using 170 in our industry – lots of room left for plant-based innovation!