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How Expo West Was Won

Expo West provided retailers with plenty of better-for-you products for retailers to consider.


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Where am I going to find room for all of these products?” one grocery retail buyer blurted out in the middle of the crowded Natural Products Expo West, held last month in Anaheim, Calif. “There is just too much here and too much that we need to get onto our shelves if we want to capture the interests of consumers who want these products.”

Expo West continues to grow as consumer demand for healthy, natural and organic products skyrockets. With more consumer interest, there are more companies trying to gain a piece of this burgeoning and extremely profitable industry. 

Here is a look at what some companies showed off and are offering the retail trade this coming year. 

Bella Gluten-Free

Bella Gluten-Free showed off colorful new packaging and its new sugar cookie and waffle mixes. The company, with headquarters in Boulder, Colo. and Austin, Texas, boasts mixes that go from “cup-to-table in minutes” and was highlighting its Italian Pizza Crust at the show. Cecilia Ciarlo, partner and vice president of sales said one of the best things about the company’s mixes is that they are really versatile and easy to use. 

“We want Millennial moms to be able to come home and have something simple to make,” she said. 

Black Jewell Popcorn

Black Jewell Popcorn introduced two items that expand its offering of specialty popcorns into the Ready-To-Eat (RTE) category: Null Hull Sea Salt and Null Hull White Cheddar. 

The new Null Hull branded products have smaller, thinner hulls when compared to the typical yellow popcorns. When popped, the hulls shatter and practically disintegrate when chewed. The result is fewer pesky hulls that get stuck in teeth and can be difficult to digest, say officials for the Columbus, Ind.-based company.

“The addition of these new products and the Null Hull brand underscores the company’s commitment to being a market leading provider of colored kernel, specialty popcorn products that taste great and are truly unique,” said Barry Johnson, president of the company.

Carrington Farms

Carrington Farms highlighted a range of new products, including Organic Clarified Ghee Butter, Organic Coconut Flour and Organic Coconut Oil & Ghee. Officials for the Closter, N.J.-based company were especially excited about the launch of its ready-to-eat Organic Ancient Grains, which they said can be added to salads, soups, yogurts and other foods.

 “This is an exciting time to be a part of the natural and organic food space,” said Debbie Shandel, executive vice president/CMO. “As the industry continues to grow, Carrington Farms is innovating and evolving as well. We are so excited to debut our newly rebranded products, and to further solidify and showcase our brand’s mission of making organic and natural better-for-you products accessible to nutrition conscious consumers across the country.”

Ciao Bella

With a branding and packaging overhaul underway, Boston-based artisan sorbetto and gelato-maker Ciao Bella had a bright display at Expo West. 

While the new brand design maintains some familiarity, it also brings back its iconic “C” swirl, reminiscent of the company’s early days. Along with the new logo, Ciao Bella is replacing its current 14-ounce jar with a larger, cylindrical shaped 16-ounce container.

“We were excited to launch our new branding and packaging,” said Kevin Riveroll, vice president of sales and marketing. “Not only did we redesign our labels to be more on trend, in an unprecedented move, we increased the size of our jars from 14-ounce back to a true pint of 16-ounce without increasing our price. Our goal was to evolve the brand to be more on trend, and of course competitive at retail on a price per ounce basis.”   

Evolution Fresh

Evolution Fresh debuted its Coolers, available in three varieties, and nutrient-dense Organic Superfoods Juices, available in four varieties. 

“The No. 1 and No. 2 things consumers say they are looking for in cold pressed juice is a healthy snack and refreshment. These lines meet those needs,” said Jimmy Rosenberg, founder and chief juice officer of the Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.-based company.

Evolution Fresh’s Coolers, available in Tropical Hibiscus, Raspberry Citrus and Blueberry Mint—which joins its currently available Watermelon Juice—hit shelves in March. The Coolers blend real cold-pressed, high-pressure processed fruit juices, and cold-brewed tea.

Inspired by Evolution Fresh founder Jimmy Rosenberg’s morning smoothie routine, Organic Superfoods Juices combine cold-pressed fruit and vegetable juices with coconut milk and at least seven superfoods in each bottle.

The Organic Superfoods Juices, available in Thriving Greens, Cocoa Spice, Tropic of Ginger and on-trend Goldenmilk, will hit shelves in June. 

Lärabar

Lärabar, a brand of Minneapolis-based General Mills, launched Nut & Seed Crunchy Bars and added two flavors to its line of Bites. 

The new Nut & Seed Crunchy Bars combine nuts and seeds with honey and maple syrup. They feature sprouted chia seeds and are Non-GMO Project verified, gluten-free, soy-free and kosher. The bars come in three flavors: Maple Cinnamon; Honey Almond Cranberry; and Dark Chocolate Almond. Lärabar’s bites are made from a few simple ingredients, rolled together and dusted with coconut flour. The Bites now come in new Caramel Sea Salt and Chocolate Hazelnut flavors. 

Mason Vitamins

Mason Vitamins showcased its new Sugar Free Probiotic Gummy, which Patricia Jones, senior manager, new business development for the Miami Lakes, Fla.-based company, said is “dramatically” different from other gummy vitamins. 

“Mason Vitamins creates a point of difference via a pectin base—as opposed to the standard, gelatin-based products—and a unique orange/strawberry flavor,” Jones said. 

She added that one Sugar Free Probiotic Gummy delivers 2.5 billion CFUs per gummy versus the four to five gummies needed to get the same dosage in competitive products. Each gummy contains only 10 calories.  

“We also utilize bright call-outs on our label to indicate points of difference from our competitors,” Jones said. 

Natural American Foods

Natural American Foods is offering Buzz & Bloom Honey, a line of honey sourced from six countries around the globe and designed to offer consumers a better tasting, healthier product. The 14 SKUs in the line include: organic, raw, single-serve and spreadable honey products. Suggested retail prices range from $2.99 to $5.99. 

“There is tremendous duplication in the honey segment,” said John Rzeszut, vice president of marketing for the Onsted, Mich.-based company. “But not all honey is the same quality, even for a single-ingredient product. We get honey from around the world to diversify the taste and enhance the flavor. And, we process it at a lower temperature than other companies that overheat it and strain it, not filter it. This process leaves in more of the natural pollen and we can offer honey that is much closer to the way it exists in nature.”

Nature’s Bakery

The on-the-go snacks and food brand launched the first part of what Nature’s Bakery officials called, “a multi-phase brand re-invigoration” and introduced two certified organic offerings.

The new Certified Organic Honey & Oat Soft Baked Bars and Certified Organic Brownies are individually wrapped, non-GMO, dairy-free and meet the school nutrition guidelines for calories and sugar.

And, for the first time, the Reno, Nev.-based company revealed its newly refreshed logo, which is the first in a series of consumer-facing brand upgrades that were outlined by founder, Dave Marson. 

The new logo, packaging and other external branding is part of an effort to better position the brand to Millennial moms and young families that are especially interested in looking for organic, allergy-friendly snacks, Marson said. 

​Pharmacare US

Pharmacare added gummies to its portfolio of Sambucol black elderberry products and was showing them off on the show floor. The gummies are vegan-friendly and enriched with Sambucol, a black elderberry extract rich in immune supporting flavonoids, which are considered to be powerful antioxidants. 

“We want our products to be appealing to all consumers and palatable for everyone,” said Kimberly Weld, vice president for the San Diego-based company. “We’re bringing a delivery system for every consumer with these new gummies.” 

The highest concentration of anthocyanins are found in black elderberries—nearly double the amount found in any other fruit, Weld said. The presence of these anthocyanins gives black elderberries twice the natural antioxidant capacity of blueberries and significantly more than cranberries, she added.

The Seaweed Bath Co. 

The Seaweed Bath Co. was exhibiting a range of new products, including Purifying Detox Body Washes, Exfoliating Detox Scrubs and Firming Detox Creams. The Austin, Texas-based company’s products contain sustainably harvested bladderwrack, which company officials said works to detoxify and improve the appearance of skin. It also contains powerful antioxidants and more than 65 vitamins, minerals and amino acids. 

“We really saw a void in the market for natural items and for more products like these,” said Allison Grossman, co-founder, who added that all products in the portfolio contain seaweed cut off the coast of Maine.

TH Foods 

TH Foods is emphasizing new branding and gluten-free products this year. The Loves Park, Ill.–based company’s Crunchmaster line features a new logo and packaging design, and a website and advertising campaign to build consumer awareness. There are two new products, three line extensions and one new seasonal product for Crunchmaster, while the Harvest Stone brand is adding four line extensions. 

The new products in the Crunchmaster line are a protein snack cracker and a Tuscan Peasant cracker. The company is adding multi-seed artisan cheesy garlic bread, multi-seed signature buttermilk ranch and dill and multi-grain Applewood smoked barbecue flavors to its multi-seed and multi-grain lines. It is also adding a seasonal pumpkin harvest cracker in the fall. 

The Harvest Stone line is adding organic sprouted hummus and organic native grains crackers to its line of crackers. 

“Gluten-free is headed toward mainstream,” said Kim Holman, marketing director. “As interest rises among those with celiac disease, other gluten allergies and the general public, we want to keep expanding our better-for-you cracker options with new products and exciting flavors.”

Wyman’s of Maine

The 140-year-old family-run Milbridge, Maine-based operation, which calls itself the second largest frozen fruit company in the U.S., has 15 SKUs in its line. Company officials said the fruit is from a naturally occurring root system indigenous to Maine, the Canadian Maritimes and parts of Quebec. Product is picked fresh and frozen within 24 hours and there are no sugars or preservatives added.

“In a declining category, we are the only company that is doing well,” said Natalie Ranalli, a sales and marketing associate with Wyman’s. “We are growing because we offer a good product that is a convenient way for moms to give their kids a healthy, nutritious snack.” A 3-pound resealable package in the line, which includes raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and mixed berries, has a suggested retail price of $10.99.     

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