The rise in healthy priorities has made Natural Products Expo West & Engredea one of the most hotly anticipated and watched events in the food and drink industry. In 2016, the show featured more than 3,000 exhibiting companies and 77,000 attendees, according to show producers.

In anticipation of the 2017 event that runs from March 8-12 in Anaheim, California, Mintel highlights four key trends that will likely be emphasized by the food and drink products on the show floor.

1. Power to the Plants

52% of vegetable buying consumers say products containing vegetables are a great way to meet daily vegetable intake

More consumers are interested in packaged products that contain fruits, vegetables, herbs, botanicals, grains, seeds and other plants, according to “Power to the Plants,” one of Mintel’s 2017 Global Food & Drink Trends. The addition of plants to packaged products is appealing to more consumers who prioritize “clean,” or recognizable ingredients in their food and drink. Plant-enhanced products also offer convenience, with half of US adults who purchase vegetables agreeing that products containing vegetables are a great way to meet their daily vegetable intake, according to Mintel’s Vegetables US 2016 report.

Exhibitors at Natural Products Expo West have traditionally featured many plant-based innovations, and the 2017 show will likely be no exception. In 2017, look for even more products across categories that feature formulations centered on plants and the flavors, fortifications and functionalities they can add to food and drink products.

2. From the Inside Out

Products fortified with the natural goodness of plants also reflect one of Mintel’s 2016 Global Food & Drink Trends, “From the Inside Out.” This trend observes that more consumers are recognizing that their diets can connect with the way they look and feel. Nearly two-thirds of US adults agree that what they eat impacts their physical well-being and the majority agree that what they eat impacts their emotional well-being, according to Mintel’s Better-for-you Eating Trends: Spotlight on Real US 2016 report.

The more holistic view of food and drink is creating a market for products enhanced with natural ingredients that reflect ancient philosophies, such as Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda, as well as functional ingredients, including collagen, probiotics and ginger. Natural Products Expo West is a great event to keep an eye out for emerging functional ingredients, such as mushrooms, turmeric and cascara.

3. In Tradition We Trust

Launches of US food and drink products with “ancient” as a claim have grown 77% between 2012 and 2016

Interest in ingredients that are featured in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda also connect with another one of Mintel’s 2017 Global Food & Drink Trends, “In Tradition We Trust.” This trend finds consumers looking to the past for products with history, authenticity and nostalgic connections. Another trending claim is “ancient,” such as ancient grains, ingredient sources or production techniques. According to Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD), launches of US food and drink products with “ancient” as a claim have grown 77% between 2012 and 2016.

At Natural Products Expo West, products likely will not only feature ancient, heirloom and other historic ingredients, but also offer products that are made with traditional production techniques, such as fermentation, stone-grinding and “age-old” recipes.

4. Be The Change

In addition to formulation, Natural Products Expo West is likely to feature many companies that have philanthropic commitments built into their corporate structures. The charitable business elements align with Mintel’s 2017 North American Consumer Trend “Be The Change,” which notes that consumers are frustrated by the action – or lack thereof – by government and other officials to pass policies or regulations. This frustration with “the system” finds some consumers open to companies and brands that help to make a difference in society. In return, companies that have ethical or environmental policies built into their business models or brand communication could see more consumer loyalty, which is especially important in the fast-moving natural and organic food and drink sector.

In addition to monetary support of charities, some purchases could be fueled by emotional benefit as 65% of US adults aged 22+ who purchase alcoholic beverages agree that purchasing products with environmental claims on the package makes them feel good, according to Mintel report Beverage Packaging Trends US 2017.

Jenny Zegler is the dedicated trends analyst on Mintel’s Food & Drink platform, blending Mintel Trends expertise with food and drink specific topics, such as health and wellness, formulation, sustainability and premiumization. In addition to contributing analysis to Mintel Food & Drink, Jenny has been part of the team that creates Mintel’s annual cross-category trends since 2014.

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