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Growth of Natural Foods is Impacting Every Category – Takeaways from Expo West

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Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Natural Products Expo, otherwise known as Expo West in California. The growth of natural foods and the movement towards healthier alternatives is making waves in food retailing today. It is important for brands to find their key differentiator in a world where ‘natural’ and ‘non-GMO’ is no longer something that sets you apart, but a necessity.

Sharing our top five trends observed from this year’s show:

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  1. Dairy-free Alternatives Expanding Into More Categories: Dairy-free milk is still popular, but this category has exploded further into foods. Frozen pizzas, yogurts, sandwiches, ice creams, cheeses and dips are a growing category filled with dairy-free options.
  2. Functional Beverages are Blowing Up: CBD-infused, kombucha for gut health, matcha, hydration beverages, aloe drinks among others are growing. Beverages that serve as more than just a way of hydration, but a function purpose to fuel your body is a strong, and exploding category.
  3. Healthy Alternatives to “Chips” On the Rise: Elevated snacking is here with grain-free, gluten-free, and vegetable alternatives are now in the mix. Siete Foods (a Stripes Group recent investment), Avolov, and Rhythm Superfoods among innovators in the category.
  4. Food Conglomerates Continue Growth in Better For You Food Investments: Conagra is just one to name among some of the largest acquisitions in health foods including brands like Udis, Boom Chicka Pop, and Frontera. These companies are continuing to acquire small health-focused brands to grow their natural portfolio.
  5. Focused Innovation to Improve Frozen/Refrigerated Options: From bone broth and miso soups to paleo meals, innovation is present in this category. Less preservative-heavy and artificial flavors than before.

    Photo Credit: McMillanDoolittle

    Photo Credit: McMillanDoolittle

It will be interesting to watch the brands that thrive in the competitive environment and the trends that grow in the industry influencing the change in food retailing all together.

By Alex Kaufmann


McMillanDoolittle is a premier international retail consultancy bringing deep experience with world class clients. Our partners have extensive experience interpreting the retail marketplace and converting insights into successful strategies. We help clients develop innovative solutions in strategy development, the customer experience, new concepts, brand performance, retail performance improvement and retail intelligence services.

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