Exploring the Future of Food at Expo East 2023: Top 10 Exciting Trends

Published by Amy Davis, RD, LDN
October 23, 2023

This year’s Natural Products Expo East was a showcase of innovation, sustainability, and flavor. From zero-proof drinks to regenerative certified brands, we noticed several trends while tasting our way through the expo floor. Let’s dive into the 10 major trends our team spotted at Expo East 2023! 

Zero Proof Drinks

Who says you need alcohol for a good time? Expo East featured an entire aisle of zero-proof beverages perfect for the sober curious crowd. From alcohol-free craft beers to botanical-infused mocktails, brands like Mockly, Dry, and Seraphim are delightful alternatives for those looking to avoid alcohol and still savor the experience of an adult beverage. 

Reduced Waste Packaging Innovations

Sustainability took center stage as brands showcased their commitment to eco-friendly packaging. Of course, many brands offer recyclable packaging, but we especially loved how Drought packages multiple wellness shots into one bottle, and how Sayso launched the first-ever cocktail tea bag. It’s great to see these unique and innovative ways the industry is reducing its environmental footprint.

Upcycled Ingredients

The commitment to reducing food waste was strong at Expo East! Brands like Matriark and Uglies are using produce, like potatoes and tomatoes, that are not “pretty” enough to be sold in their fresh form and transforming them into delicious foods. It’s not just good for the planet; it’s a treat for your taste buds.

Plant-based Dips, Cheeses, and Meats

The plant-based movement is still going strong with more delicious options than ever. We saw countless alternative proteins, cheeses, and veggie-based dips at Expo East. Some standouts were Good Planet Goods olive oil-based cheese, Toom garlic dip, and Growee Foods veggie dip.

Global Flavors

We were thrilled to see so many products with bold, adventurous global flavors debuting at Expo East. Brands like Chutni Punch spice blends and AAJI’s seasoned tomato dip offer an exciting twist to your everyday meals. Kimchi was also a trending flavor profile and presented in a unique way with Atlantic Sea Farm’s Sea-Chi.

Gut Health

Consumer interest in gut health is at an all-time high, and so is the availability of products focused on supporting the gut. Some of our favorite probiotic-packed snacks included Bubbies Spicy Bread & Butter Pickle Chips and WildVINE Escabeche Pickled Vegetables. 

Functional Beverages with Adaptogens

Gone are the days when drinks were simply a  way to quench thirst. Consumers expect more from their beverages, and there were several new functional drinks with mood-boosting ingredients that launched at the show. Some favorites included Rowdy Mermaid Good Mood Soda infused with Ashwagandha and Juni Tea, made with green tea, reishi, and lion’s mane, and also founded by Jay and Radhi Shetty.

Hydration in Many Forms

There have never been so many ways to stay hydrated! Expo East revealed a plethora of hydration options, from enhanced water options to Plink tablets and Nuun powders, there’s an option for everyone.

Regenerative Certified Brands

Sustainability has been a buzzword lately, but the Regenerative Organic Certification is looking to clearly define this new claim to avoid greenwashing. Brands including Wildway, Simpli, and Lotus Foods highlighted their commitment to the environment and supporting ethical farming practices with this certification. 

Kid-Friendly Better-For-You Snacks

Expo East introduced a range of kid-friendly snacks that are both delicious and nutritious. Some new options include Happy Wolf Bars, OLYRA low sugar, high fiber breakfast biscuits, and Goodpop Sparkling Water + Fruit Juice, these lunch box-friendly options ensure parents can feel good about the snacks they give their little ones.

 Whether you were seeking better-for-you options, sustainable packaging, or simply wanted to explore new flavors, Expo East 2023 had it all. The natural foods industry continues to evolve, and it’s clear that it’s headed in a direction that’s better for our health and the planet. Let’s raise a glass of zero-proof goodness to the exciting future of food! 

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