By Lindsey Wojcik
Natural Products Expo East returns to Baltimore, bringing with it the latest in natural trends and cutting edge products to retailers. It is no secret that natural products have charmed consumers, and attendees at this year’s Natural Products Expo East show—which will be held Sept. 16-19 in Charm City at the Baltimore Convention Center—are likely to be charmed by the new natural product innovations displayed on the show floor. The 2015 show is expected to reach record numbers with more than 1,800 exhibitors scheduled to showcase natural, organic and healthy products in a variety of categories, including specialty food and beverages, supplements, pet, natural living and beauty. In addition to browsing for new natural items, attendees can expand their knowledge through the Expo East conference program, which is broken into six themes this year that include: Natural in the Media, Ingredient Reform, “Future of” series, Non-GMO series, Trends & Growth series and Conscious Leadership. The event’s keynote speakers will also offer insight to attendees. Dylan Ratigan, a New York Times Best Selling author, sustainability entrepreneur and former MSNBC host, will be joined by Joel Salatin, a third-generation farmer in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley and Michele Simon, a public health lawyer who has been writing about the food industry since 1996. Show goers can also explore Charm City’s nearby farms, retail stores and restaurants through the show’s new feature “Farm-to-Market Tour,” which will enable attendees to sample local fare and learn more about how suppliers, retailers and restaurants can work together to successfully support local economies while meeting customer needs. From the farm to the show floor, there is no question that Expo East will not have any trouble charming attendees. Here is a preview of what exhibitors will promote at the show: Alvarado Street Bakery Booth #1114 Veteran Expo East exhibitor Alvarado Street Bakery is celebrating 35 years of baking Certified Organic whole grain breads. The Petaluma, Calif.-based company, which specializes in sprouted grains and flour-less breads, sees great value in exhibiting at Expo East, says president Michael Girkout. “We’ve been exhibiting at this show since its inception,” Girkout says. “And we continue to see great value in being here and connecting with our current customers, large and small, while at the same time, meeting new potential customers and pursuing opportunities that present themselves.” Alvarado Street Bakery will introduce several new product concepts and recipes, along with sampling its breads and bagels. The new items include Sprouted Wheat Artisan Breads (baguettes, boules) and Energy Squares, a fruit and seed bar, which is great for athletes and active lifestyles. Bakery on Main Booth #2213 Bakery on Main’s goal at Expo East is to connect with buyers that understand the shared responsibility of delivering the highest quality product to the consumer, says marketing manager Lisa Brown. The East Hartford, Conn.-based company, known for making premium gluten-free products, will be highlighting its newest products. “For Expo East, we are launching an Instant Oatmeal Variety Pack, Nut Crunch Snack and Happy Oats,” Brown says. The Oatmeal Variety Pack features two bags each of the Maple Multigrain Muffin, Strawberry Shortcake and Apple Pie flavors. Made with certified gluten-free oats and ancient grains, the entire product lineup is certified gluten-free, Non-GMO Project Verified, free of trans fat, cholesterol, dairy, casein, artificial flavors and preservatives. Offering an excellent source of fiber and a good source of protein, Bakery On Main’s Happy Oats are available in three varieties: Happy Rolled Oats, Happy Quick Oats and Happy Steelcut Oats, say company officials. Available in a stand up re-sealable pouch, each variety is low in fat, calories and sodium. Bakery On Main’s Nut Crunch Snack clusters feature a sweet and salty mix of cashews, almonds, pecans and walnuts, certified gluten-free oats, and sweet fruit bits or chocolate. Blount Fine Foods Booth #408 Organic soups, sides and entrées will be the main attraction at the Blount Fine Foods booth. A variety of organic soups, including Tomato Bisque, new Harvest Bisque, Vegetarian Chili, Chick Pea & Lentil and Ancient Grain Minestrone, will be available for hungry show goers to sample, along with the company’s newest products. “Our entire Organic Meals line is new this year,” says Bob Sewall, executive vice president of sales and marketing for the Fall River, Mass.-based company. “We are introducing that line at Expo East with the 12-ounce Chicken & Ancient Grain bowl, which has long grain brown rice, quinoa, and kale that make for a filling meal you can feel good about.” The company will also feature four organic sides that are available in 12-ounce packages: Lentil & Chickpea, Butternut Squash, Spinach & Kale and Organic BBQ Beans. “Because Expo East happens at the start of the Autumn season, we will also showcase our 12-ounce organic poultry gravy,” Sewall adds. Eden Foods Booth #2016 Show goers can expect Eden Foods to serve some tasty delights. The Clinton, Mich.-based company will host sushi demonstrations at is booth Sept. 17-18 from 12-3 p.m. Two sushi chefs visiting from Japan will create vegetable sushi rolls featuring the company’s sea vegetables, soy sauce, wasabi, pickled ginger and more of its specialty-imported food. In addition to the sushi demonstrations, Eden Foods will serve grain and pasta salads daily, made with the company’s quinoa, wild rice, whole grain pasta and beans. The recently expanded bean line, which features four new 29-ounce beans and a new foodservice size Navy bean, will also be showcased. “We will spotlight ceremonial grade Eden Matcha powdered green tea, Eden Müesli cereal, three varieties of Eden Mochi and Eden Grape Butter, which are all organic and GMO-free,” says Demian Potter, vice president of sales. Flax4Life Booth #1832 Flax4Life will shine a spotlight on its three new gluten-free brownie flavors and two gluten-free sandwich buns. The new brownie flavors include Cappuccino, Twisted Coconut and Dark Cherry. The Bellingham, Wash.-based certified and dedicated gluten-, dairy- and nut-free bakery produces flax-based baked goods—which include muffins, buns, granola and cakes—made from all natural, high-quality ingredients. “With the number of people going gluten-free because of Celiac disease, gluten intolerance or choosing a gluten-free lifestyle, our goal is to make a line of products that not only taste good, but are good for you,” says Kasondra Shippen, general manager. She adds that all of the company’s products are high in omega 3s, protein, fiber and lignans. The products are also preservative- and cholesterol-free, Non-GMO and are low in saturated fat and sodium. House-Autry Mills Booth #PS22 House-Autry Mills, founded in 1812, is known for making Southern-style seasonings and breadings that enhance the flavor of fish and chicken. Over time, the line has been expanded to include hushpuppies, cornbread, biscuits, corn meal, yellow and white corn grits, and complementary tartar, cocktail and chicken dipping sauces. However, at Expo East, the company will be touting its Our House brand of gluten free baking mixes. “Having invested two years and more than $4 million to build a dedicated gluten-free facility, we recently placed Our House in more than 1,000 grocery stores and have seen increased repeat sales,” says Michael Ganey, vice president of marketing for the Four Oaks, N.C.-based company. The seven-SKU Our House line includes gluten-free pancake and waffle mix, brownies, cookies, all-purpose flour, all-purpose baking mix, bread and cornbread. “Our House is quickly becoming a consumer favorite, not only among those who must eat gluten-free, but also for those who seek whole grain, vegan and kosher foods made from non-GMO ingredients,” Ganey adds. Namaste Foods Booth #226 Namaste Foods will debut its Raw Goods line. The line features value-priced raw ingredients for today’s scratch baker. “There are traditional and organic varieties with many whole grain options, and all are Non-GMO Project verified,” says Daphne Taylor, founder and CEO of Namaste Foods, based in Coeur D’ Alene, Idaho. “These are perfect pantry staples for today’s health-conscious consumer who is looking to get more nutrition out of their diet. All are gluten-free and free from the top eight allergens, so they are perfect for everyone in the family.” Namaste Foods will also showcase its mixes, along with its savory items. “We offer excellent savory items that make dinner time a snap,” Taylor says. “Our pasta dinners and seasoned coating mixes are quick, easy and really delicious. And our instant soup cups are perfect for people on the go.” The company will also reveal its recently redesigned packaging. “Retailers are just loving it and making room to place more of our products—it’s that beautiful,” Taylor adds. “We have exceptional new packaging that makes our products jump off the shelves.” Nature’s Bakery Booth #848 Best known for its signature line of stone ground whole-wheat fig bars; Nature’s Bakery will enter a new bakery category with the introduction of its latest innovation—brownies. “Our goal at Expo East is to introduce our gluten-free fig bars and brownies to East Coast consumers and retailers,” says Sammy Eggers, marketing and events coordinator for the Reno, Nev.-based company. The company’s gluten-free Fig Bars come in four flavors: pomegranate, blueberry, raspberry and fig. The Non-GMO Project verified bars are made with ancient grains and are soy-, dairy- and cholesterol-free. The Fig Bars do not contain high fructose corn syrup, or artificial flavors or colors. NOW Foods Booth #1627 “Our food team has been working tirelessly to embrace emerging food trends, sourcing the highest quality ingredients and developing great-tasting, innovative products,” says Bryan Morin, food category marketing specialist at NOW Foods, based in Bloomingdale, Ill. “At Expo East, our goal is to introduce these high-quality products and surprise and delight retailers. Our mission is to provide great tasting, affordable, high-quality foods to help people live healthier lives, and at the Expo, we’ll be looking for partnerships with retailers that share this passion.” The company will introduce its Living Now line of gluten-free, organic quinoa pasta. The pasta is made from three simple, clean, organic ingredients: rice, quinoa and amaranth. Just like all of its Living Now products, the pasta is produced in a dedicated gluten-free, allergy-friendly facility. Living Now pastas include penne, macaroni and spaghetti, all of which have the authentic texture and taste of traditional pasta, Morin adds. NOW Foods will also feature its Ellyndale Foods product line, which includes gourmet oils including the popular Avocado and Macadamia Nut oils. The company has added Coconut Infusions to the Ellyndale Foods line. Coconut Infusions is a pure, organic, unrefined coconut oil infused with enticing flavors: non-dairy butter and savory garlic. It is gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan and makes an excellent cooking oil or non-dairy spread. Partners, A Tasteful Choice Company Booth #336 “Our goal at NPEE is to share our story with attendees and spread the word on our newest introductions of our gluten-free line, Free For All Kitchen,” says Cara Figgins, executive vice president for Partners, A Tasteful Choice Company, based in Kent, Wash. The product line is made without corn, rice and soy, and it includes snack crackers, deli crackers and snack pack crackers. The company recently added Double Chocolate Brownie Thins to the Free For All Kitchen line, which are also available in snack packs. “We use a cassava root and whole ancient grain blend to create a specialty gluten-free cracker true to our core values,” Figgins adds. “We are happy to announce that we are also gluten-free certified by the Allergen Control Group.” Perfect Sense Foods, A Division of Hodgson Mill Booth #8014 Perfect Sense Foods will introduce its Lifeside side dishes. Every item in the product line can be prepared in 20 to 30 minutes on the stovetop or in a rice cooker, say officials for the Effingham, Ill.-based company. Each dish offers high fiber, protein and low sodium made of superfoods like sorghum, quinoa, chia, kamut khorasan wheat and sprouted rice, and healthy legumes like lentils and split peas in six flavors. “Perfect Sense Foods products meet all the highest certification standards,” says Mike Bondio, national sales manager. “All are certified USDA organic and verified by the Non-GMO Project, and three are verified gluten-free by the Celiac Support Association. In addition, these products are produced in a dairy- and peanut-free facility.” Smart Flour Foods Booth #323 Following the success of its original lineup of frozen pizzas and crusts, which won Best New Product at Expo East in 2013, Smart Flour will return to the show with three new natural and specialty varieties, and a pizza line designed for conventional grocery stores. Smart Flour’s frozen pizzas and crusts are made with the naturally gluten-free ancient grains sorghum, amaranth and teff. The Austin, Texas-based company’s three new natural and specialty varieties include Tuscan Inspired Uncured Two Meat Frozen Pizza, Chicken Sausage Two Meat Frozen Pizza and Sundried Tomato and Escarole Frozen Pizza. Each natural and specialty pizza is free from preservatives, synthetic hormones and antibiotics. The crusts are currently going through the Non-GMO certification process. Smart Flour Foods conventional pizzas are made with the same ancient grain crust, but are larger and sold at a value price. Each pizza is 16-ounces versus 10-ounces (natural and specialty) and are available in the following varieties: Classic Cheese Frozen Pizza, Uncured Pepperoni Frozen Pizza, Garden Margherita Frozen Pizza, Italian Sausage (new variety for conventional) and 2 Pack Frozen Pizza Crusts (same SKU as natural and specialty). “We will be cooking samples of and demonstrating all of our SKUs, but there will, of course, be a special emphasis on the new SKUs, especially the natural and specialty line,” says Sameer Shah, vice president of marketing for Smart Flour Foods. Toufayan Bakeries Booth #1154 Toufayan Bakeries is taking its focus on gluten-free innovations to new heights with the introduction of its Gluten-Free Pita Chips, say company officials. “Toufayan’s new Gluten-Free Pita Chips are a game-changer for those seeking gluten-free snacks,” says Karen Toufayan, vice president of marketing and sales for the Ridgefield, N.J.-based company. “Perfect to dip in hummus, pair with soups or salads, or eat right out of the bag, Toufayan’s new Gluten-Free Pita Chips are all natural, Non-GMO, vegan and OU Parve.” The Pita Chips are available in a variety of flavors including Sea Salt, Salted Caramel and Chili Lime. In addition to touting its Pita Chips, the company will also introduce a new item in its Smart Pocket line, Sprouted Grains, which are organic sprouted whole wheat.