Natural Products Expo West 2018 was held from March 9-11 in Anaheim, California, with over 3,000 companies exhibiting. With 80,000 plus industry professionals from 120 countries, the industry gathered at the Anaheim Convention Center to find new products, catch up with suppliers, and learn about the latest natural products trends and innovations. This article highlights four hot trends seen at the Expo.
Collagen will be 2018’s hottest ingredient
While collagen has been historically used as a beauty ingredient, it was clear that this year collagen is set to be an increasingly popular ingredient in supplements and vitamins to support joint health, bones, nails, skin, and hair health. Throughout the Expo, many firms highlighted the benefits of their collagen based products; prominent examples included collagen protein bars by Bulletproof, bone broth grass-fed collagen protein teas by Reserveage, Marine collagen peptides by Sports Research, Matcha collagen peach from Vital Proteins, Anti-Aging Collagen by YouTheory, and bone broth chocolate collagen powder by Ancient Nutrition. The last company received a lot of attention at the Expo because on March 8th 2018 it was announced that Ancient Nutrition got USD103 million from over 100 investors, making this firm one of the hot companies to watch in 2018.
Many firms at the show agreed that collagen’s popularity will just keep growing and many more collagen-based supplements are expected to be launched during 2018 that leverage the trend “beauty-from-within” and emphasise the fact that beauty is not only about external factors but also good nutrition. The ingredient is gaining traction to support nails, skin, hair, joint health and healthy ageing, and Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ) preliminary estimates that collagen sales went up 7.2% over 2016-2017 reaching USD1.1 billion in 2017, with sales projected to continue growing at a similar pace. NBJ even named collagen the supplement’s hot ingredient in 2018.
Formats will increasingly include on-the-go options such as powders, collagen bars, and RTDs for busy millennials.
CBD oils, a lot of potential but future regulations are still uncertain
Another trendy product development involved CBD (cannabidiol) oils and supplements and snacks infused with CBD extracts. A number of CBD brands were exhibited at Expo West such as the new Tree Below Zero functional beverage with 25 milligrams of CBD for wellness derived from hemp oil extract (by Acme Naturals), Colorado Hemp honey by Frangiosa Farms, Green Gorilla with organic CBD hemp extract supplements, and Weller Coconut Bites, made with hemp extract.
While it is expected that hemp-based CBD products sales will keep growing, potential legislation around CBD use in supplements could either boost sales or have a detrimental impact. This is so relevant that Expo West held a whole day summit dedicated to discussion about the future of CBDs, and the US is still divided about it, with more than half of the country legally allowing its production.
Provided that CBD hemp oil extracts can continue to be commercialized under current regulations, many more launches incorporating CBD oils are expected from the Vitamins and Dietary Supplements (VDS) and Health and Wellness industries. The popularity of the ingredient as a pain reliever, anti-inflammatory, anti-stress, nausea reliever, and cardiovascular health agent will continue to grow.
B corporation certifications are popping up
Many firms at the Expo highlighted the fact that their fastest growing customers are millennial moms who make purchasing decisions at home. Firms recognize this consumer demands more in terms of transparency and sustainability, and is also more educated. In order to match this customer’s needs, firms such as MegaFood, The GFB: Gluten Free Bar, and Garden of Life showcased their B-Corp certifications with big signs on their booths.
This B certification means they meet strict standards of social responsibility, specific environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. The B-Corp’s website highlights “B Corp is to business what Fair Trade certification is to coffee or USDA Organic certification is to milk”. Currently there are over 2,100 Certified B Corps from 50 markets across 130 industries.
Another interesting and new certification seen at the show that could potentially complement a B-Corp certification in the future was Glyphosate Residue Free (GRF). This was showcased only by MegaFood. The firm emphasized that it was the only company with this certification in the US. MegaFood calls its strategy the “Big T Transparency”, with the company fully committed to clean label, transparency, safety, and health.
B-Corp certifications are on the rise, and more VDS firms are trying to obtain it. However, it is still too early to suggest that GRF certification will become a legitimate trend.
Plant-based ingredients and on-the-go nutrition will continue to rise
While plant-based protein powders and RTDs were trendy at Expo East in September 2017, during Expo West 2018 this trend went a step further. Products like 100% Fermented Organic Plant Based Protein & Greens by Natural Factors, Clean Green Protein by Clean Machine with Lentein (an ingredient based on water lentils), plant based omega 3 by Nature’s Way, and new plant based Vega Sport protein bars with 20 grammes of protein and 3.5 grammes of Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) were among the plant-based spotlights at the show.
When talking to these firms, many agree that plant-based products will continue to rise in the supplement industry, especially in the on-the-go (or portable) nutrition space. This demand comes mostly from millennial moms, but in other cases demand comes from bodybuilders tired of whey protein, or from consumers who have become flexitarians, looking to reduce animal based ingredients but still interested in supplementing a healthy diet with plant-based options.
Looking ahead, we expect that not only more VDS firms will launch new innovative plant- and collagen-based products but also Sports Nutrition and Health and Wellness companies will do so, while they will increasingly incorporate more transparent labels and B-Corp certifications to appeal to millennial consumers.
In 2017 we saw how firms like Nestle acquired vitamin player Atrium Innovations and Kellogg’s bought RxBar. Not only will more food and beverages firms continue entering this space but we also expect that beauty and personal care firms will be more interested in M&As with supplement and health and wellness firms in order to meet the increasing demand for beauty-from-within products.
As for the next big M&A after RxBar? It could probably be a company like Truvani, launched in November 2017 by Vani Hari “the Food Babe”. She is a millennial mom with millions of engaged followers who highlights on her company website “Our priority is complete ingredient transparency”.