Thoughts On The Natural Products Expo East 2013 In Baltimore

Last March, when I heard the Natural Products Expo West was going to be in Anaheim, I jumped at an opportunity to work for a media company doing trend spotting. Trend spotting is essentially going around to different booths at the expo and finding out about their newest product, where it will be sold, when it debuted, etc. It is a lot of fun, and in the meantime, not only do I get to see a lot of cool new nutrition products, I also get to do a little networking of my own. Image 3

When I left Expo West, I told the woman who had hired me to keep me posted on future events. I wasn’t sure when I would hear from the company again, but they kept me in mind when this years Expo East hit Maryland, and asked me if they could fly me to Baltimore to work as a trend spotter for the September venue.

This venue was held at the Baltimore Convention Center, which is smaller than the Anaheim Convention Center, but also had a lot less vendors than Expo West. I was lucky enough to score the Organics and Supplements section. So what this meant was I got to sample all the cool new organic foods and products on the market and see what is “hot” in supplements.

I was able to get through about 80 vendors in the two eight hour days I was there. This is also given the fact that I took breaks to rest (believe me, there is a lot of walking to and from different booths…some are at completely opposite sides of the expo!) and also check out booths that were not on my list that I wanted to get samples from anyhow.Image

So people want to know, what are some of the hot new products for the upcoming year? Well, some of them take something old and put a new spin on it. For example, coconut is in. EVERYTHING COCONUT. Coconut oil, coconut chips, coconut dipped in chocolate, coconut ice cream, coconut milk, flavored coconut milk. One of the coconut products I really liked was Earth Balance has a new peanut butter that has coconut butter mixed in it. It is a really good balance of the two, and I can see it being a real hit. I also really dug the new flavors of ice cream from Coconut Bliss. IMG_2666The flavor shown here is chocolate peanut butter, but I thought they did a really good job with their salted caramel and brownie ice cream. The coconut milk flavor doesn’t overpower the taste. They were handing out little scoop size samples at the show, and that was also a big hit for those looking for a reprieve from all the chocolates and gluten free-pizzas and bread items.

Another hot new trend is red palm oil. Red palm oil is taken from the fruit of the oil palm tree. It comes from the same part of the palm tree as regular palm oil, but it is less processed and retains the red color from its high concentration of carotenes. It’s rich in vitamins A and E.images-8Apparently, the process of creating regular palm oil strips out the carotenes along with other nutrients. I cannot say for sure that this oil is the end-all be-all in weight loss or nutrition supplement, but the booths that were showcasing it sure made it out to be. I might consider trying it to see how it works for me. No guarantees.

Another big trend in the nutrition world, and it may be to stay, is digestive enzymes. When I spent day two of my trend spotting in the supplement section, I saw lots of new fish oil supplements, collagen boosters and green juices, but the number one item that was getting attention was companies who were selling digestive enzymes. I actually had a doctor chat with me for about 20 minutes on the American diet and how our bodies no longer can break down enzymes in food the way they used to. I won’t bore you with too much of the science, but in some ways he is right. Although with the right diet, a diet high in more raw, plant based foods, these foods should have the enzymes to make digestion easy. DRB-00047-1But considering most people do not eat a highly raw, plant-based diet these enzymes have become (or are considered) necessary for proper digestion. I was given many samples of them, so I cannot say which are the best. I know that Bio-K was one of the booths I spent some time at, and they are a well-known probiotic that can be found in the refrigerator section at Sprouts. They came out with a travel enzyme packet that is good for people traveling for long periods of time or to other countries for extended periods of time. This is a great idea, as I see many people going on long trips and coming back ill ( or even worse, getting ill during their trips!)

Some of the other popular items for Expo East were raw chocolate, spicy raw chocolate, hemp seeds, hemp protein powder, vegan desserts, raw nut butters, maca and items with maca in them, flavored coconut oils, paleo-based foods, flavored fish oils and as always, anything with kale. One of the booths I fell in love with, Brad’s Raw Foods, had the winning bag of the expo in my book. One side had the company name and the other side said, “Kale is Kool.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

I left the expo this morning still full from a variety of random samplings and a smile on my face from all the bliss based supplements I ingested. This is such a cool event to attend. It is fun to be in the know on nutrition products. Even if all of them are not perfect, it is nice to know people are still attempting to get nutritious and healthy things to be “kool.”