At this year’s Natural Products Expo East an inspiring amount of new products, trends and news emerged from the show floor. In particular, what stood out was the “next generation” wave of several product types, most prominently baby food, jerky and squeeze pouches.
Enjoy the Project NOSH video roundup of the show below, and stay tuned for more interviews and explorations of some of the trends that turned up in more videos to come.
Baby food has undergone a significant reinvention in the past few years. Baby food 2.0 saw organic and pouch offering becoming the market standard. In a 2013 interview with The Associated Press, Hain Celestial CMO Maureen Putman stated that while only 4 percent of U.S. total food sales were organic, baby food represented 21 percent of that category.
A couple of years later, suppliers believe that parents want more than just organic, and they’re marketing what they say are nutritionally sound, well balanced, creative options in unique flavor combinations. In short, foods that parents would eat, minus the need to have teeth.
With Krave’s recent acquisition by Hershey’s, jerky is more popular than ever. Given its high protein, single ingredient focus, jerky appeals to several lifestyles and food tribes including paleo and gluten-free diets, satiety, and the broader health and wellness trend. It’s this broad appeal that’s helped the category see so much success. That said, it’s a crowded space, so differentiation is key.
Brands are focusing on cuts (Three Jerks filet mignon jerky), quality indicators (Teton Waters Ranch grass-fed jerky), animal welfare standards (The New Primal jerky) and unique flavors (Lawless Japanese Curry jerky) to differentiate themselves.
Squeeze pouches have become so popular in the baby food category that retailers are even rethinking their merchandising strategies — installing “hanging” racks that hold the pouches by their necks. According to a Wall Street Journal article, in 2013 40 percent of new baby-food products or flavors were launched in a pouch form, up from 2 percent in 2017.
But the form factor is all grown up. Even baby food giant Plum Organics has turned to adults, launching their Plum Vida line about a year ago. This year’s Expo pouches targeted outdoor enthusiasts and busy young professionals. Given their portability, the pouches are great for an on-the-go lifestyle.
That said, consumers are concerned about the environmental issues with pouches — and the need state for adults has not yet been fully established. Still, apparently, marketers believe in the form factor and utility.