Beyond the individual product finds, it’s always exciting to see what tasty trends are stirring in natural foods at each Expo West. For 2015, we saw the beginnings of what looks like many exciting dairy-free foods to come in the following consumer categories:
- Seedy Resurgence – Wholesome hemp showed strong promise in natural food several years ago, but then its glory fizzled, making room for the almond frenzy and the current chia craze. But thanks to sprouting pro-pot laws, companies are talking cannibas again and priming their products for the budding potential of this plant family. Found in: Daily Greens Hemp Milks, Tempt Hemp Yogurt, GoodBites Raw Chocolate Truffles, RawFoodz CheeSauce.
- Soothing Infusions – Inflammation fighters may seem like old news to long time natural foodies, but this subtle spice and brilliant hue of turmeric is heading to the mainstream with pure blends in everything from bars to beverages. Found in: Temple Turmeric Elixers, Matt’s Organic Turmeric Orange Juice.
- Spreading it on Thick – Nut butters take on “Nutella” appeal with new indulgent varieties using healthier ingredients. Chocolate was a common theme, with fruity, seedy and nutty bases, but we also spotted some cacao-free flavors. Found in: Artisana Cacao Spreads, Pascha Chocolate Fruit Spread, GoLo Spreads.
- Even Greener Energy – Consumers want more than a straight-up boost, they are now demanding nutritional value, too. Snack and drink companies are responding with massive matcha makeovers to the energy food sector. Green tea is stepping out beyond its traditions, becoming a key flavor and base for more natural get-up-and-go. Found in: Sencha Naturals Green Tea Lattes, Third Street Iced Green Teas.
- Making it Milky – The juice cleanses of last year have taken a new focus toward their fresh-pressed plant milks. Where we previously saw just a single hand-crafted almond milk in their arsenal of beverages, we are now seeing full flavorful lines of nutritious milks, smoothies and horchatas. Found in: Genius Juice Smoothies, Organic Gemini Tigernut Horchatas, Naked Nut Milks.
- What’s Old is New Again – Not surprisingly, paleo was popping up everywhere at Expo West. It wasn’t quite as rampant as expected, but creative entrepreneurs are doing their best to come up with convenient snacks and sweets for this simplistic diet. Found in: RxBar, You are Loved Foods Cupcakes, The Paleo Diet Bar.
- The Age of Transparency – The pride of purity was everywhere at Expo West. Founders and exuberant staff leapt at the chance to tell us about their ingredient sourcing, product testing, and many were boasting traceability straight to the farmer right on their packages. Found in: Gaia MeetYourHerbs® program, One Degree Organic Ultra-Transparent Flours, FishPeople Source Tracker.
- Mixing it Up – The decade-long tradition of smooshing a variety healthy ingredients into a convenient bar format is being deconstructed. Chefs are channeling their hippie roots, with clustered trail mixes, bites, and unique blends. Found in: Pure Crispy Clusters, KOOEE! Jerky Trail Mix, 180 Snacks Nutty Rice Bites.
- Toastable Tummy Tamers – Special new formulations of heat-stable probiotics are allowing for so many more applications. Expect to see “healthy” bacteria as the new buzz words throughout our food supply – from frozen foods to fresh brewed tea. Found in: Enjoy Life Baking Mixes, Yogi Probiotic Tea, Sweet Earth Vegan Cultured Wraps.
- Rolling in the Dough – Manufacturers are finding that past mixes weren’t quite convenient enough for freshly-baked cravings and busy schedules. We spotted many new “just add water” boxes and pre-made dough products ready for retail and already prepped for the oven. Found in: Hampton Creek Cookie Dough, Feel Good Dough.
Note that all of the products we mentioned above were ones that we personally sampled or talked to the company about their products / programs. For more examples of this year’s tasty trends, see my round-up of the 23 Top New Dairy-Free Foods from Expo West 2015!