2023 Trends We Noticed at Natural Products Expo West

Natural Products Expo West (also known as Expo West) took place at the Anaheim Convention Center the week of March 6. Expo West is one of the food and beverage industry’s largest shows and is the place to see new and exciting trends.


In case you missed our booth, we showcased all ofi’s capabilities across food and beverage applications. We shared how our ingredients such as nuts, cocoa, coffee, dairy, and spices work together to create delicious concepts like vegan brownies, quinoa salad, and Mexican hot chocolate. In addition, we debuted our very own U.S. consumer research on the plant-based trend. If you’re interested in learning more about ofi, partnering to make it real, or want to learn more about plant-based applications contact us.


So, what trends did we see at Expo West?

Snacking throughout the day

Bite-sized, puffed, and mochi snacks were everywhere at the show. Brands embraced the wide variety of snacking occasions that now exist.

According to research conducted by Mondelez, 64% of global consumers said they prefer to eat many small meals throughout the day instead of a few large ones.This is up 5 percentage points compared to 2019. Consumers are snacking more frequently, which has created the need for snack variety to meet various occasions. There were snacks designed to provide a boost of energy for the morning, snacks as breakfast replacements, snacks for indulgent afternoon pick-me-ups, and even snacks meant for before bed.


We saw puffed snacks and light snacks, as we have in previous years, fitting in the better-for-you space. Something that is not new but is expanding its reach in snacking is mochi. There were many mochi concepts that provided an element of new excitement to the category. Brands have expanded refrigerated snack innovation as well. A personal favorite snack of mine is almond butter filled dates, so I was very excited to see them in a ready-to-eat format at the show. It is an indulgent snack that you can feel better about eating. 

Plant-based continues evolving

This year at Expo West, plant-based continued its evolution to better fit changing consumer preferences. The plant-based products on display increasingly leaned vegetable forward, away from the more common meat analogues and dairy substitutes. What we saw flipped the narrative toward new and interesting, plant-forward, and flavorful products, not just those that mirror the original versions.


The show reinforced what we’ve been hearing from consumers. They want to hear about what’s new and innovative in this space and how it complements their diet. Our plant-based research found that 66% of American consumers eat plant-based products to try something new. It’s no longer just about substitutes. One product that stuck out to me was a brownie packed full of vegetables and another indulgences I can feel good about.

Agricultural and process practices

Agricultural practices were on full display at the show. Regenerative Organic Certified was everywhere. So, what exactly does that mean? According to the Regenerative Organic Alliance, “regenerative organic agriculture is a collection of practices that focus on regenerating soil health and the full farm ecosystem.” They state that practices can look like cover cropping, crop rotation, low-to-no-till, compost, and zero use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Regenerative Organic Certified uses the USDA Certified Organic standard as a baseline and then adds on a requirement to promote holistic agriculture practices.


Many brands went above and beyond displaying the Regenerative Organic Certified logo and brought the farm to Expo attendees. Organic Valley showed off its dairy farms with an interactive, fully immersive video room, while Lundberg included small scale versions of rice fields to highlight how they farm their rice. According to Innova, 69% of consumers globally say that they prefer products that mention the benefits of their sourcing/farming method on the pack.2 It all goes to show that brands are listening to consumers who say that they want to know more about where their food comes from.


Upcycled also was common amongst the products displayed at the show. The Upcycled Food Association had its own booth where we had the opportunity to demo our upcycled pepper purees. Watermelon seed flour, cascara and ofi’s pepper purees were just a few of the many upcycled products we saw at the show. With 62% of consumers willing to pay more for a product that fights food waste, and upcycled products sales continuing to grow, expect to see more innovative ways upcycling can be done soon.3

Shareable experiences: To share and be shared

When asking my colleagues about the show, one word came to the forefront: “pink.” Instead of just leaving the trend at “the color pink,” I want to cover a broader aspect of the show: the creation of shareable experiences, both shareable on social and sharing culture.


Brands utilized their packaging and booths to create experiences that would be shared across social media. Bright colors, neon signs, and matching outfits all were used to stand out in the crowded Expo halls. Not only did this tactic work within Expo, but it also carries over to the broader brand positioning in stores and online.


Many brands positioned themselves to share a part of their cultural heritage at the show with global flavors, especially Asian and Mexican ones, featured prominently. From a salsa matcha to a Japanese tea ceremony, the show had it all. We also saw brands taking global flavors and repurposing them in more accessible formats like Churro flavor, new applications incorporating boba, and an instant pozole.


Look for brands to lean in further to shareable social media experiences and opportunities for unique flavors via an authentic, shareable experience.



The functionality of food and beverage products has been on trend for years now. The COVID-19 pandemic has only appeared to help accelerate this trend. This year, we saw more brands show off functional products in new ways. Multiple brands displayed claims around menopause and how they can help women during that time in their lives. For example, offers bars that help women manage sugar cravings, energy levels, and weight gain during the stages of menopause.


Another new claim I saw was a product’s impact to blood sugar. General Mills showed their Good Measure bars which claim to have “little impact on blood sugar.” I’d expect to see more related claims in the coming years as more science is dedicated to how blood sugar spikes impact our health.


Your stalwart functional claims were there in full force as well: protein, immune health, and gut health. I made sure to consume as many immune health products as possible because of being in contact with so many people. A personal favorite of mine was a cold-water infusion for immune support. We also saw new fermentations to help with gut health, like fermented almonds.


Clean Label, Transparent, Simple Ingredients

Consumers have been saying that they want to understand what the ingredients are and that they prefer shorter ingredient statements with ingredients they know and understand. According to Innova, 85% of consumers say that information about what is in their food is of major importance to them.4 Brands have been working on formulations that better fit this consumer need. There were many options at the show boasting the low number of ingredients in their products.


Building on clean ingredients, there were a large number of natural sweeteners such as honey and maple syrup. Expect to see more products with fewer ingredients and more recipes and products with honey and maple syrup as their primary sweetener.


We’re Excited to Help Create What’s Next

It was great to be at Expo West among the thousands of attendees. There was so much to see that it was impossible to discover it all. These six trends stood out to me at the show but are not exhaustive. If any of these trends resonated with you, please use our contact form to get in touch with our team and together, we can co-create the future of food and beverage. We’re excited to see what the future has in store and of course are here to help you create it.



Mondelez’s State of Snacking
Innova Trends Survey 2023
Innova Trends Survey 2021
Innova Trends Survey 2021


Kyle Neu |

Market Insights Manager