Natural evolution

Non-GMO, gluten-free, certified organic and a host of other natural products will be on display at Expo West. 

In the natural industry, March means one thing: Expo West. The event returns to Anaheim, Calif. for the 34th annual Natural Products Expo West show, March 6 – 9. Everyone from newly born start-ups to the pioneers of the industry will be on hand, featuring and talking about all things natural.

expowestphoto“Every year at Expo West, the combination of new products and new relationships; along with legacy brands and longtime partnerships, creates an energy that resonates throughout the Anaheim campus and drives the industry forward,” says Adam Andersen, show director for Natural Products Expo.

This year’s show is expected to attract more than 60,000 attendees and feature more than 2,500 exhibitors across natural and specialty categories including organic, supplements, health and beauty, natural living and pet products. Below is a sampling of what can be expected.

INBalance Health Corp.
Booth #681
At the beginning of the year, INBalance Health Corp.’s INBar snack bar received full certification from Natural Food Certifiers as non-GMO, gluten-free, vegan and kosher. The Wayland, Mich.-based company is celebrating that news with the release of two new flavors of its better-for-you snack bar: Chocolate Butter Crunch and Cinnamon Swirl.

“This verification adds another level of transparency in a market saturated with a surprising number of flimsy health claims and highlights our continued commitment to using the highest-quality ingredients possible,” says Dr. Don VerHulst, chief science officer.

In order to accommodate all six INBar flavors, INBalance has created a new floor-ready display shipper. “We’ve found that in addition to buying our bars individually, consumers really like to buy them in bulk by the box. This new display allows for an extra box of each for bulk sales,” says Bob Serulla CEO. INBar’s existing flavors include Strawberry Banana, Chocolate Mint, Chocolate Fudge and Chocolate Cherry. 

King Bio
Booth # 839
King Bio will be showcasing its topical Skin Tag Remover, and its Anti-Aging & Wrinkles taste-free oral sprays, with distinct formulas for men and women. The Skin Tag Remover product is available under two brands: Safecare for the mass market and Dr. King’s Natural Medicine for the natural products market.

“In addition, we will highlight our rebranding of Dr. King’s Natural Medicine with our new clean logos and packaging,” says David Gerhardt, executive vice president of sales for the Asheville, N.C.-based company. Formerly called King Bio Natural Medicine, this new brand speaks directly to the public’s desire to know the person behind the products. Dr. Frank King founded King Bio 25 years ago, and we now offer six brands in multiple markets, including pet.”

Eden Foods
Booth # 2342
Eden Foods has the ability to satisfy many consumers’ natural needs with just one booth. The Clinton, Mich.-based company will be showcasing its 100% whole grain organic hot and cold cereals and organic healthy snacks, in addition to traditional Japanese foods. Attendees can get their sushi fix during demos at the booth on Friday afternoon, says Demian Potter, vice president sales.

Another featured product will be Eden’s new Grape Butter, made from 100% Concord grapes. Immediately after harvest the grapes are crushed, flash frozen and shipped to Eden’s Michigan fruit butter facility. The grapes are thawed and steam jacket cooked into a thick puree, then kettle simmered. The end result is a 45 brix Concord grape butter with a deep purple color. Available in 8-ounce jars, the grape butter is organic and gluten-free. 

quepasaNature’s Path Foods
Booth # 2404
Providing organic and non-GMO foods is not enough for Nature’s Path Foods. The Richmond, B.C., Canada-based company is now growing its inventory of gluten-free products. The products include Q’ia, EnviroKids and Sunrise cereals and its newest venture, Que Pasa Mexican Foods.

Nature’s Path will showcase its new hot oatmeal varieties of Q’ia. Featuring whole grain oats and chia seeds, Q’ia hot oatmeal will be available in Original, Coconut Chia and Cinnamon Chai varieties.

“We are witnessing the rise of conscious consumerism, so it is not surprising to see that organic foods are outperforming conventional in terms of growth year over year,” says Arjan Stephens, executive vice president of sales and marketing. “Retailers can really optimize this trend and maximize their sale of our products by merchandising our organic products alongside their conventional counterparts to give consumers the opportunity to decide which option holds the greatest value to them.” 

Booth # 2778
RiceSelect will be sharing three new products at Expo West. Joining the Royal Blend product line is Royal Blend with Chia, which features Whole Wheat Orzo and Texmati Light Brown rice. The Houston-based company has also created two new Arborio Blends in Jalapeno and Mushroom varieties. Like all RiceSelect products, the three new blends are all Non-GMO Project Verified.

“These are all products based on ancient grains, with just the simple addition of our U.S. grown products,” says Robert Andrade, marketing manager. “We’re very excited to be offering a hearty, healthy, all natural product with on-trend ingredients like ancient grains.” The three new varieties have suggested retail prices between $7.99 and $9.99.

Saputo Specialty Cheese
Booth # 2807
Want a rich back story with your artisan cheese tasting? Then be sure to stop by Saputo Specialty Cheese’s booth.

“At this year’s show we’ll be highlighting three of our top brands: Organic Creamery, Great Midwest and Salemville,” says Kristy Klug, marketing communications specialist for Richfield, Wis.-based Saputo Specialty Cheese. The brand’s Lincolnshire, Ill.-based parent company Saputo Cheese USA, is the U.S. division of Saputo, headquartered in Montreal.

Organic Creamery features handcrafted, certified organic cheeses from family farms that practice humane animal management and pasture grazing. The Wisconsin-made, Great Midwest line consists of small batch Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses. Salemville cheeses are sustainably produced by an Amish community in Cambria, Wis. Cows are hand-milked twice daily and milk is delivered to the factory in traditional 10-gallon milk cans. 

American Roland Food Corp.
Booth # 2862
American Roland Food Corp. is debuting its Truffle Mac & Cheese. Available in Regular and Whole Wheat pasta varieties, the Mac & Cheese is packaged in 6.5-ounce boxes with three servings each. They will have a suggested retail price of $2.49 to $3.99. Lisa Kartzman, director of public relations for the New York-based company expects the Mac & Cheese to be a big hit. “No one can resist the scent of truffle oil,” she says.

American Roland will be sampling its quinoa and pastas and will have all its spicy condiments available, including the popular Roland Sriracha hot sauce. Made from sun-ripened chile peppers and garlic for a hint of sweetness, the condiment is made in the traditional Thai style and then imported to the U.S. 

Hodgson Mill
Booth # 3459
Hodgson Mill will be presenting some of its newest gluten-free products including an Almond Flour/Meal, Coconut Flour, Whole Grain Thick Rolled Oats, Whole Grain Quick Rolled Oats and five flavors of their Quinoa & Brown Rice blend. They will also be presenting their Ultra Grain with Quinoa pastas, which are available in Spaghetti, Penne, Elbows and Thin Spaghetti varieties.

If attendees have not gotten their fill of Hodgson Mill grains on the main show floor, they can head up to the NEXT Pavilion where the Effingham, Ill.-based company will be sampling its new gluten-free Long Grain Brown Rice and White Rice. “Our chefs have been experimenting behind closed doors to come up with the best recipe to introduce our new products,” says Carol Calkins, project coordinator.

Booth # 3527
Natracare has been busy repackaging its products with a bold design full of blue daisies.

“The daisies have even made it onto the tampon wrappers,” says Theresa White, senior executive officer for the Greeley, Colo.-based company. “It’s the same reliable, high-quality protection as before, just packaged a bit more beautifully.”

The packaging upgrade includes Natracare’s organic cotton intimate wipes, organic 100% cotton tampons and its newest product addition, the individually wrapped Panty Liner. The Panty Liners are chlorine-free and do not contain any plastics, perfumes, dyes or fragrances. Styles in the Natracare Panty Liner range include Curved, Tanga, Ultra-Thin and Mini. Each comes individually wrapped in paper pockets, ensuring discretion for the consumer. White says the Ultra Pads will likely be next to receive the new look, but in a green daisy design rather than blue. 

GO Veggie!
Booth # 3674
GO Veggie! is introducing a new booth this year in celebration of its new campaign, Welcome Back. “The campaign is all about empowering those who cannot, should not or do not consume dairy to enjoy the cheesy foods they love again with GO Veggie! cheese alternatives,” says Jamie Schapiro, director of marketing.

GO Veggie!, a division of North Kingstown, R.I.-based Galaxy Nutritional Foods, specializes in vegan dairy alternatives with its Lactose Free, Dairy Free and Lactose Free Rice product lines. More than ever, consumers are adopting plant-based diets to help prevent and manage a variety of health conditions, in addition to those who follow a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle on principle, says Schapiro.

“GO Veggie! will continue to help ease that overwhelming feeling these people experience when trying to navigate the food scene by catering to a variety of tastes, dietary restrictions and health goals with cheese-free products for everyone,” he says. 

EVOL Foods
Booth # 3781
EVOL Foods entry to the frozen foods scene was with the burrito. Since that introduction, the brand has expanded from the single-serve, handheld set to include multi-serve, single-serve bowls and snacks in the frozen foods categories. With so many products to share, founder and senior vice president Phil Anson has formulated a unique game plan for Expo West.

“We’re taking a categorical approach to communicate how our brand has spread its wings into all four of these categories. It becomes a bit of a challenge to organize your booth and messaging when you have so many products, but we think this strategy will serve us well,” he says.

At the end of January, EVOL, a division of Boulder, Colo.-based Boulder Brands, expanded its categorical offerings with the introduction of MultiServe Skillet Meals and Lean & Fit single serve meals. With 300 calories each and a low fat content, the Lean & Fit meals are designed to show consumers that eating healthier does not have to mean sacrificing convenience. 

J.R. Watkins
Booth # 3832
Consumers looking to turn back the clock below the neck should take note of J.R. Watkin’s new Anti-Aging body care line.

“Consumers using body care products weekly are seeking anti-aging claims and natural products,” says J.R. Rigley, president and CMO of the Winona, Minn.-based company. Available in a Cream Body Wash, Serum, Body Cream and Hand Cream, the line aims to hydrate, nourish and protect skin from damaging irritants.

“We’ve harnessed the antioxidant powers of grape seed and blackberry oils with their pure plant-based moisturizers plus nourishing vitamins A, C and E to help keep skin soft and supple, naturally,” Rigley adds.

The company will also be showcasing the new Pomegranate and Acai body care line in its various forms: Hand & Body Lotion, Bath & Body Oil, Sugar Scrub, Moisturizing Hand Soap and Hand Cream. 

Enjoy Life Foods
Booth # 3978
Rather than showing attendees what is new, Enjoy Life Foods plans to tell them what is happening. “We’re taking a different approach this year,” says Carolyn Wiesemann, marketing associate for the Schiller Park, Ill.-based company. “A lot of companies launch new products but we’ve decided to change up the conversation.”

Enjoy Life has been making great strides recently with couponing programs especially via the digital approach, says Wiesemann. The company is utilizing apps like Ibotta to make it easier for consumers to find their products in store, and providing discounts on the way.

“Our consumer is pretty unique,” says Wiesemann. “For those living with celiac disease or food allergies, the Internet is their main source of information. They’re very digital and are already accustomed to using their smartphone in store. We want to utilize that trend and reward customers in store when they buy Enjoy Life.” 

Crunchies Food Co.
Booth # 4038
After introducing its line of Lil’ Crunchies freeze-dried fruit at Expo West 2013, Crunchies Food Co. had a change of heart. Shortly after the show, the Westlake Village, Calif.-based company decided to revamp the line to be 100% organic. “We’ve received numerous demands for organic options and the kids line was the perfect vehicle,” says Jessi Brennan, director of marketing.

Featuring Warner Bros. iconic Looney Tunes characters on-pack, the organic Lil’ Crunchies will debut in four flavors: Strawberry; Strawberry and Banana; Strawberry and Mango; and Apples and Bananas.

The line will be packaged in a 1-ounce grab-and-go pouch, as well as a variety box containing five 0.33-ounce Munch Paks. “Moms are going to love having the option to buy one box with a variety of flavors all perfectly portioned for the lunchbox,” Brennan adds. 

Better For You Foods
Booth #5159
Better For You Foods will be showing its new sprouted grain pizzas and expanded gluten-free offerings. The Delray Beach, Fla.-based company has rapidly expanded upon its desire to create a healthier pizza the whole family can enjoy.

“We recently launched personal sized 7-inch versions of Better4U Foods Gluten-Free varieties of pizza, and a shelf stable Gluten-Free Pizza Crust for a do-it-yourself pizza topping experience,” says Amy Lotker, owner and executive vice president, sales and marketing.

Lotker adds that the company is currently experimenting with new flavor combinations for its dairy-free and vegan fans, along with options for health-conscious meat lovers. “We firmly believe that we’re just scratching the surface on feeding the growing consumer demand for healthier, great tasting frozen foods,” she says.

Mountain Valley Spring Co.
Booth # 8413
After a long day of sampling all the best foods the natural industry has to offer, attendees may be parched and desperate for a refreshing beverage. “That’s where we come in,” says Collins Speed Pugh, director of marketing for Mountain Valley Spring Co.

The water company, based in Hot Springs, Ark., is prepared to quench consumer’s thirst with its new Mountain Valley Sparkling Essences. The sparkling water carries a light, fruit essence of Lime or Blackberry Pomegranate flavor. The Essences will be available in four-packs of Mountain Valley’s .33- and 1-liter glass bottles.

“Our Essences are much lighter than a lot of similar products you might come across in the marketplace, says Pugh. “The sparkling aspect of the drink and its flavor are not overwhelming.”

Mountain Valley’s antique, 1920’s truck will also be on display. 

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