From the multi-tasking mom to the time-crunched professional—today’s organic consumer is looking for conscious convenience. They want to grab and go without going off their diet and satisfy their cravings without sacrificing their principals or health. With all this go-going, we have become a snacking society, but organic shoppers want more—they’re looking for snacks with superpowers (or at least superfoods).
Brands have responded to this need in a big way. At Natural Products Expo West, conscious convenience drove much of the innovation. Over 80,000 people snacked their way through over 3,100 booths at America’s largest organic and natural trade show held in Anaheim, CA this past March.
"Based on our annual survey, the organic snack category has grown in the double-digits for the past five years—and from what I saw on the tradeshow floor, I’d expect this trend to continue,” says Angela Jagiello, associate director of conference and product development for the U.S. Organic Trade Association. “People seem to be moving away from the traditional three square meals a day and are instead looking for quick and easy options that offer functional benefits to meet their needs.”
From supersnacks to other super easy ways to boost health in a hurry—here are some of the trends we spotted and our “best of show” product picks:
With a busy lifestyle, our guts often suffer, so it’s no surprise to see a lot of probiotic innovations on the floor. This year, however, probiotics popped up in the most unlikely of places—from chips to lollypops. It used to be that these gut friendly “bugs” couldn’t survive most food processing, but nowadays there is a new super probiotic. GanedenBC30 has a protective layer, much like a seed, which keeps it dormant until the perfect conditions are in place. When it reaches the gut, it comes to life and is ten times more likely to survive digestion than probiotics found in yogurt.
A total of 125 new products featuring GanedenBC30 were launched this year at Expo West, many of which were organic. Farmhouse Culture, known for its kraut, usually gets its probiotics solely from the fermenting process, but this year it branched out to create Kraut Krisps, a tangy, tasty chip made from ground cabbage, corn and brown rice with added GanedenBC30 probiotic. Meanwhile, Uncle Matt’s, which has its roots in traditional fresh organic citrus juices, debuted a hip new refreshing line of 10-calorie probiotic waters with essences of fruit, as well as the GanedenBC30 probiotic.
NurturMe, an organic baby food company whose slogan is “the tummy friendly brand,” now includes GanedenBC30 in most of its products, from its Yum-a-Roos fruit and veggie snacks to its cereal and cookies. NurturMe products are also free allergens like dairy, egg, soy and gluten to ensure a happy tummy.
Additionally, Ora, a newer plant-based supplement company, showcased “Trust Your Gut” probiotic powder with prebiotics. Ora created its unique blend of freeze-dried probiotics, which have been clinically shown to survive stomach acid. With a chef-designed organic apple-raspberry flavor, they can be mixed into smoothies or water and feature 20 billion probiotics and 4400mg of organic prebiotics per serving.
Plant Protein Power
Plant proteins were flexing their muscle on the tradeshow floor—showing the world that they don’t need animal products to get plenty of this macronutrient. One surprising plant protein heavyweight was watermelon seeds, which boasts 30 grams of protein per cup. At Expo West, Go Raw debuted Sprouted Grow, the first protein bar made from watermelon seeds. This bar has 12 grams of protein, plus the seeds are raw and sprouted for maximum nutrient bioavailability. Ona also launched a new line of plant protein bars, which have 11 grams of protein and 1 billion CFUs of GanedenBC30 probiotics per bar to help digest all that protein.
Beyond the bar, there were a ton of plant-based protein shakes shaking up a category which has traditionally been dominated by whey-based protein. One of these is Orgain’s new SLIM shake powder, which has 20 grams of plant protein, 2.5 billion probiotics, chromium from moringa, and green tea and cinnamon to boost the metabolism. And for added convenience, Orgain just launched the first ready-to-drink, plant-based protein shake with 20 grams of protein, zero sugar and only 1 gram of carbohydrate.
We also saw “Plant Powered Protein” proudly displayed on baby and toddler food packaging. Sprout’s slogan is “leading the plant powered movement in baby nutrition.” Its new plant-based blends include protein from beans and lentils, offering a protein-rich alternative to meat- and dairy-based baby foods.
Even pasta—usually known for its high carb count—got a plant protein makeover. Seapoint Farms’ Organic Edamame pasta tallied a total of 24 grams of protein per serving while Chickpea Pasta, a new garbanzo bean-based product, topped that with 27 grams of protein per serving. Ranking highest for sustainability was Seamore Seaweed’s “I See Pasta,” made from organic wild-harvested seaweed. Seaweed doesn’t require fresh water, arable land, pesticides or fertilizers, making it one of the most sustainable foods on the planet. I See Pasta has 10 grams of protein, a whopping 30 grams of fiber and key nutrients like vitamin K, calcium and iodine (essential for a healthy thyroid).
People are still nuts for coconut. This year we saw a lot of claims about “MCTs” or medium-chain triglycerides. MCTs, found in abundance in coconut oil, are the buzz because they are said to help with heart health, obesity prevention, and brain health, too. This year, Nutiva showcased an organic MCT oil dietary supplement with 93% MCTs, perfect for mixing into shakes and coffee. Or consumers can get a dose of MCTs in their morning coffee with Laird’s new Superfood Creamer, created by famous surfer, Laird Hamilton. This deliciously creamy and convenient powdered non-dairy alternative is made from coconut milk, coconut oil, red palm oil, coconut sugar and aquamin, which is loaded with calcium. It comes in three flavors—original, cocoa, and turmeric (another trend we saw exploding at Expo West due to its anti-inflammatory properties).
Another new coco-creation that has a huge following is Nuco Coconut Wraps. Because these delicious wraps have only three ingredients which all come from coconut (coconut meat, oil, and water), they can fit into just about any diet—from low-carb and Paleo to gluten-free, dairy-free and soy-free. In addition to the original flavor, these wraps also come in cinnamon, turmeric, and moringa.
Bringing together two significant trends, Harmless Coconut debuted its new organic, fair trade Probiotic Coconut Water, which contains 12.5 billion CFU of the GanedenBC30. This product also uses a “zero waste ingredient model.” While many coconut water companies toss the fruit after they have harvested the water, this new product includes the meat, preventing waste and adding healthy fats and fiber.
Junk Food Makeovers
Even though they shun pesticides and artificial ingredients, even the most dedicated organic shoppers still get cravings. Brands responded by creating healthy alternatives with all the yum and none of the junk.
Fans of Rice Krispy Treats can now opt for crispy, chewy Rice Delights from Lotus Foods instead. Made from organic, heirloom black, red or brown rice, these treats pack in more nutrients and fiber and leave out the GMO corn syrup. Plus, Paul Hawken, environmentalist, author and speaker at Expo West, named Lotus “one of the most climate-friendly companies” due to their “More Crop Per Drop” program, a rice farming system that uses 50% less water yet yields three times more rice.
For those who crave Cheetos, Luke’s new Cheddar Lightening Bolts are a dead ringer, but without the deadly GMOs or artificial colors and flavors. And people who love puffs can now choose Hippeas, a new organic crunchy baked puff snack made from chickpeas, which made a massive debut at Expo West. For onion ring lovers, there are tasty fresh Tavern Style Onion Rings from Made in Nature, which are “dried not fried” and have a crispy Paleo breading made of raw cashews.
There were plenty of organic options to satisfy the sweet tooth as well. Barnana launched a crispy Banana Brittle made from “upcycled bananas” (bananas that would have otherwise been wasted). Or for pure indulgence, there is the new Sundae Cone from Three Twins. It’s like the Nestlé Drumstick, but instead of highly-processed conventional whey and corn syrup, it uses organic milk and organic cane sugar. Plus, with each purchase, Three Twins also protects six square feet of eco-sensitive land through its “Ice Cream For Acres” program.
Those who love salty and sweet together can get their fix with Miss Jones’ fabulous Organic Salted Caramel Frosting or a new novelty ice cream, SaltiSweet—a crunchy, salty pretzel stick, wrapped in organic ice cream and chocolate. And there’s an eco-bonus to this treat, too. One of the partners, Tom Cherrey, noted that if all existing wooden ice cream sticks on the U.S. market were replaced with one of its SaltiSweet edible stick creations, it could save up to 475,000 trees a year!
Secret Agent Veggies
Getting in enough vegetables is challenging for those who are on the run or have picky eaters, but organic brands are finding ways to sneak them in unsuspectingly. Happy Family’s Love My Veggies Chickpea Straws are a crispy snack made from 75% vegetables, and their Superfoods Puffed Ancient Grain Dino Snack has spinach, kale and 25 grams of choline, an essential nutrient.
And, while it may resemble some tater tot, Hillary’s new crispy Broccoli Casserole Bites sneak in veggies, ancient grains, beans and psyllium husk (for added fiber). Meanwhile, other companies are incorporating distraction techniques. Bitsy’s Brain Foods’ new Smart Crackers are not only a snack— but they are also a game! Each packet of these veggie-fortified crackers forms a puzzle.
For even younger palates, Wutsup Baby came out with quinoa baby cereals that are mixed with fruits and veggies and come in smart single-serve packets that make it easy to toss in a diaper bag. Quinoa contains the amino acids for a complete protein and omega fatty acids, which are great for eye and brain development. And for those who would rather drink their veggies, Bonafide Provisions created Drinkable Veggies, a blend of its signature bone broth (another significant trend at the expo) and a variety of organic veggies.
Many people like the idea of cooking but want some of the guesswork taken out of the equation. If you have ever used the wrong oil with high heat and ended up with a smoky kitchen, you’ll appreciate Kaila’s All-Perfect Oil Blends. With its new Sauté Oil, Stir-Fry Oil, and Deep Fry Oil, they set out to “simplify life for consumers—both in the store and in the kitchen.”
Another company doing this is Simply Organic. Its new Southwest Simmer Sauce packets are an even more user-friendly version of their favorite spice mix packets. No measuring. Just add your meat and veggies and stir.
Next New Big Trends?
While these products are still in their early stages, we think they may be the start of something big.
Tapping into Tasty
Over the past couple years maple water (from maple trees) has begun to get a following, but there is another sap we highlighted last year that is continuing to show big potential: birch tree water. At Expo West, we discovered Treo, a new deliciously fruity, 10-calorie beverage made with birch water. Birch sap is a natural source of xylitol, a low-calorie sugar that is also good for teeth and gums. Treo, which was developed by the son of one of the founders of Snapple, is also naturally full of electrolytes, so it hydrates better than water. Who knows, maybe birch water is the next coconut water?
Something to Go Nutty About
At the Organics Brasil booth, we discovered a new supernut—the baru nut from Cerrado Superfoods. It has the same amount of protein as peanuts, but only about half the fat. Plus it has three times more fiber and almost seven times more antioxidants. And, unlike other nuts, which are very water intensive, these wild-harvested nuts require no additional watering. We expect to see the baru nut in a lot of products soon!
Got a new product you want to tell everyone about, let us know. O.W.N. is always looking for great new products to tell the world about!