The 39th annual Natural Products Expo West, hosted by New Hope Network, Boulder, Colo., revealed trends to watch in organic and natural foods.

  1. Sugar vilified. Sugar is at the root of many modern diseases. Natural innovation features low- or no-calorie sweeteners and completely unsweetened products that add sensation with carbonation or unexpected flavors, such as bitter or savory. 
  1. Healthy fats. The fat-free era has passed and healthy fats (of both the monounsaturated and saturated kind) have made a big comeback. Full-fat dairy such as ghee, coconut oil, avocado oil and butter will appear in snacks, beverages, desserts and more.
  1. Eat more plants. As more consumers begin to understand the benefits of eating plants, natural brands offer solutions designed to trim meat consumption and boost the attractiveness of plants ranging from fruits and vegetables to legumes, mushrooms, nuts and more.

  1. Healthy microbiome. Building a healthy microbiome extends well beyond simply adding probiotics to finished products. From prebiotic fiber to microbiome products beyond food and beverage, the connection between the gut and overall health was reflected at the show.
  1. Endocannabinoid system. The promise of CBD, hemp and the endocannabinoid system drives growth, experimentation and innovation across categories in the natural industry. USDA organic-grown hemp is particularly exciting within this category.
  1. Nutrition meets convenience. Whether it's incorporating functional ingredients into staple foods or infusing time-saving products with the latest adaptogenic herb, innovation in convenience-focused brands is bringing nutrition back to quick and easy eats (and sips).
  1. Responsible sourcing. Working to mitigate the extractive tendencies of the food system, many brands operate with greater sourcing intention, forming transparent and direct trade relationships.
  1. Responsible packaging. The natural industry has always cared about the ingredients that go into products. But, with single-use plastic packaging receiving scorn from industry stakeholders and consumers, reusable and compostable packaging is gaining more traction.
  1. Updating stale categories. New brands are launching products in stale categories in response to consumer demand for improved trust, quality ingredients and transparency—and they are cannibalizing sales from legacy CPGs. These products are often modern takes on classic pantry items.

“The halls of Natural Products Expo West are filled with standout products that are changing the way we shop, eat and live,” says Carlotta Mast, senior vice president of content and market leader. “Natural and organic is now nearly a $220 billion industry with consumer sales expanding by more than 6% a year because consumers trust the brands bringing products to the marketplace that support the health of people and the planet. We are proud to host an event that supports the industry’s growth, so that these healthy products continue to be available to more people in more places.”