Can you really do Natural Products Expo East, the natural foods trade show, in one day? In a word…no. But can you see and taste tons of incredible things and meet many, many, amazing people? Absolutely! Here are the key (and completely random) takeaways from my very speedy 6-hour tour.

Snacks are BIG business

All the latest consumer surveys show that snacking is a way of life for a larger and larger segment of consumers and the natural foods industry has taken notice. There were healthy versions of just about everything you can think of, and I think I sampled most of them. I can confirm that healthy eating can most definitely be delicious!

Let your packaging tell your story

There were lots of incredible packaging and booth designs on display. The natural foods industry has really raised the bar on innovation in both design and structure in the CPG space. But the products that really stood out are the ones that let their packaging tell their story. Some brands I couldn’t miss were Flow alkaline water, Honey Mama’s, and Airly, the carbon neutral cracker brand.

For Airly, reversing climate change is their reason for being. From the brand name, to the logotype, to the package design, to the product shape itself, all tell the story of cleaning the air with every handful of crackers. Flow’s vibe is cool, refreshing, and chill, with functional ingredients and eco-friendly packaging (kind of, but that’s the subject of a different blog post!)

Smell sells

Like a moth to a flame, the wafting smell of slowly roasting chicken led me by the nose to Cooks Venture Heirloom Chicken. Which got me to thinking how the sense of smell isn’t always considered when it comes to branding and packaging but when it comes to food, it’s one of the most important. When choosing packaging, make sure the scent you catch upon opening is a good one! The type of packaging or method of opening can have an impact on the “unboxing” experience. And when your product has an almost universal primal attraction (vegans and vegetarians, not included!), use it to your advantage at a trade show to get the attention of everyone passing by.

Natural foods ARE the mainstream

Everyone better get on the bus! Given the explosive growth of Caulipower, and how the brand dominated the floor, it’s clear that better-for-you has gone mainstream.

According to SPINS, The U.S. natural & organic products industry sales grew 7.7% to $272B in 2021. Consumers are shifting from just getting the bad out to putting the good in and a whopping 86% of consumers look at the nutrition label when purchasing.

And the natural foods industry is driving the trends in sustainable packaging, reduced packaging, clean label, functional foods, and on and on. So get on board and stay ahead of the CPG pack.

If you have more questions, we’re here to help and tell you more about our thoughts on the natural foods industry, the challenges of sustainable packaging, and recycling.