Natural Expo East was held at the Baltimore Convention Center September 21-24, hosting more than 1,400 brands and including 450 first-time exhibitors. This was the largest show on record with more than 28,000 attendees.
For us, the city of Baltimore was also a highlight with its unique harbor area and endless restaurants and historical landmarks. From convention center employees to taxi and Uber drivers to the police officers walking the streets, the people of Baltimore were amazing hosts, proud of their city, and it showed.
During our time at Expo East 2016, we noticed 5 clear industry takeaways:
- Clean & minimal ingredients remain in demand. The days of added sugar and hard-to-pronounce additives are clearly over. The trend toward clean eating is continuing, and it’s what consumer and retail buyers want.
- Fruits and vegetables are no longer “just produce.” They’re versatile, delicious, and they can be used in a host of ways—from pharmaceuticals to refreshing (and natural or organic) drink additives.
- Transparency with consumers = trust. Letting the consumers know and understand what all went into the food they’re eating is a key factor in building trust.
- Empowering the next generation. We all know change is needed in the way our kids know and understand the food they’re eating. As food producers and manufacturers, we shouldn’t take this responsibility lightly. Instead, we can create healthy—and delicious—foods so our children can learn from the very beginning about what their body needs to function properly.
- Healing foods are in. Our food system has been in a downward spiral for the past few years, and it’s going to take nutrition-packed foods to reverse that. Foods that are healing (probiotics, packed with vitamins, organic, single ingredient, etc.) are what today’s consumers want. Good ‘gut health’ for everyone, especially our children, will help all of us have more energy, sleep better, increase memory and live better lives.