As the all natural food and beverage market continues to grow, so has the Natural Products Expo West (NPEW) show, slated for March 8-12 in Anaheim, Calif. Adam Andersen, show director, says that this year he expects more than 60,000 attendees and 650-plus new exhibitors (a total of about 2,300)—the largest showing to date.
“There is increased awareness of health and wellness,” he says. “If you are going to launch a food company these days, you are going to launch something in the healthy, organic and natural food market. You aren’t going to launch something that isn’t transparent in its ingredients and doesn’t have a value to the consumer who is buying it.”
This year, NPEW has expanded to the third floor of the Anaheim Convention Center, selling out of all of the traditional show floor space. Highlights for attendees include a new specialty diet forum that will focus on growing trends such as gluten free and raw diets. For the second consecutive year, NPEW also will have a Beer, Wine and Spirits Marketplace showcasing sustainable, natural and organic products.
Among the most noteworthy trends however, is the influx of functional beverages. Anderson estimates that there will be about 700 beverage companies represented at the show. “I’m always surprised that even as competitive as it is, the number of new beverage companies that we see every year,” he says.
With the passing of the recent large-size soda ban in New York City, companies are taking advantage by offering alternative, zero-calorie and natural drinks in that category.
Honest Tea, known for its organic, lightly sweetened teas, is introducing Honest Fizz, a line of all-natural sodas sweetened with stevia and erythritol, a naturally occurring sweetener found in a number of fruits and vegetables as well as cheeses and yogurt. Honest Fizz is being sold in Whole Foods as part of a pre-launch and is expected to go national in March. Seth Goldman, co-founder, president and TeaEO of Honest Tea, calls NPEW, the product’s “coming out” party. Available in four flavors Lemon Limey, Orange Pop, Professor Fizz (spiced cherry) and Root Beer (this flavor is organic), Honest Fizz appeals to a consumer shopping in the all-natural channel, but looking for zero-calorie products, Goldman says. For added incentive to stop by the booth, Honest Tea will be handing out organic root beer floats.
“A lot of people who seek to have mostly organic diets also will seek out a zero-calorie soda,” he says, having gotten consumer feedback with regard to a zero-calorie product. So, Goldman’s solution was to try to “provide an all-natural way to meet that need.”
All-natural energy and better-for-you hydration are two growing trends that are tackling the big players in their respective categories. One brand exhibiting at the show that offers a product in both of those categories is Golazo. Golazo in Spanish means a “brilliant goal” and for the second year, the brand will be at NPEW. This year, two new sugar-free versions of Golazo all natural sports energy will be showcased: sugar-free Mandarina and sugar-free Jamaica, making a total of six products, three regular and three sugar-free. “Our positioning is such that we are ready to capitalize on the growth of all natural,” says Jorge Perea, marketing manager/midfielder for Golazo.
Focusing on three pillars, all natural, soccer and the Latino consumer, Perea feels the brand is differentiated in the market. “We combine those three pillars and we think there is a great potential for growth,” he says.
Another potential growth area is relaxation beverages. Celestial Seasonings launched Sleepytime Snooz Natural Sleep Aid herbal supplement shots in November. Jennifer Stolte, senior director of marketing for the tea company, says: “This year, we are emphasizing both our bagged tea business, especially the herbal, green and wellness segments, and our expanding Natural Shots portfolio, which includes Sleepytime Snooz Natural Sleep Aid shots, ENERJI Green Tea Energy Shots and Kombucha Energy Shots. We introduced Sleepytime Snooz Natural Sleep Aid herbal supplement shots because research shows that a majority of the U.S. adult population regularly struggles to get a good night’s sleep.”
There will be plenty of new and natural at the NPEW, adds Anderson. “You absolutely have to attend to find out what is new and hot in the market.”