Natural Products Expo West was finally back after being paused for the past two years due to the pandemic. When it was announced the conference and tradeshow was going to resume this year, health-conscious food and beverage companies from big brands to new start-ups, and foodies everywhere rejoiced, as the opportunity to scope out the latest trends at the show became a reality again. Apart from the excitement around connecting face-to-face with existing colleagues in the industry, and sampling all those tasty innovative foods, this year was particularly special because it was the first time we attended the conference as ofi, or olam food ingredients, our new corporate brand launched last year.
The conference was an excellent opportunity for ofi to re-introduce our naturally delicious ingredients and demonstrate how we weave them together into our entire product portfolio with our eye-catching booth on the expo floor. We showcased our tasty Giddy Up Green Almonds, an application that combines our blanched almonds with our Giddy Up Green Chile Blend from ofi’s ‘Blends of Americas’ spices collection. We also provided samples of our indulgent Café Mocha Hazelnut Spread, combining hazelnut and almond pastes with cocoa and instant coffee. ofi used this opportunity to not only demonstrate how our ingredients can be utilized in various applications, but how our ingredients work incredibly well together in formulating a range of products and solutions.
So, what food and beverage trends did we see: Plant-based is everywhere
Plant-based everything! From “hot chicken tenders” to “cream cheese” spread on crackers, swapping out traditional base ingredients with healthier plant-based substitutes was the name of the game at Expo West. Our product line managers and marketing team walked the floor sampling carrot-based jerky, cashew-based noodles, cauliflower pizzas, and multi-nut milks. Plant Based Foods Association reports, “growth of plant-based foods continues to outpace total food sales, and in the case of certain products like milk and creamers, have become the growth drivers of their overall categories.” With more and more consumers placing greater weight on free-from diets and fueling their bodies with foods to complement their healthy lifestyles, we can only expect that plant-based is here to stay. As one of the leading nut providers in the world, we are happy about that!
We also saw a lot of water. Some water was packaged in unique bags for an optimal cooling effect, while others focused on functionality, through added minerals and nutrients. Since the onset of the pandemic, we’ve certainly seen a consumer shift toward how food and beverages can help people become stronger, healthier, boost their immunity or mood, etc. A significant amount of the water brands we saw showcased those added features.
Sustainable packaging, and a purposeful commitment to cultivating a responsible global impact was not only trendy at Expo West but expected as brands continue to recognize that consumers are becoming more and more conscious of their global footprint. As part of their “Shared Plant: Top 10 Trends 2022” Innova Market Insights reports, “launches of products carrying environmental claims are growing at three times the pace of total food and beverage activity.” Whether through product packaging, earth-friendly grown ingredients, booth design, or overall brand themes, companies publicly displayed their commitments to improving their sustainable practices.
Building our solutions-focused innovations based on consumer trends
ofi has traditionally been known as a key player in the commodity-focused business. And while we aren’t abandoning those roots, we continue to expand our breadth of ingredient capabilities, whether it is in product development, working closely with our customers to identify solutions to existing product challenges, or sharing our fresh ideas and concepts learned from conferences such as Expo West.
Already implementing some of the lessons learned at Expo West, ofi has been actively developing gluten-free pasta. Utilizing our in-house innovation center and pulling from the experience of our chefs, we are diligently working on creating a pasta that mimics traditional wheat-based texture, by using simple, wholesome ingredients that are compatible with many eating plans like keto, paleo and gluten-free. We are also exploring options in the dairy-alternative market, working with our various ofi ingredients to formulate beverages that provide health benefits, while not sacrificing flavor and mouthfeel the traditional dairy consumer craves. Learning more about the trends towards plant-based meats, ofi is strategizing on developing meat alternatives as well, by collaborating with our spices team to develop recipes based on various cultural trends.
Stay tuned to see how ofi will continue to grow innovation capabilities and provide solutions to support our customers. To learn more about how you can partner with ofi, please email email@example.com or visit olamnuts.com.
2021 U.S. retail sales data for the plant-based foods industry. Plant Based Foods Association. (2022, April 8). Retrieved from https://www.plantbasedfoods.org/2021-u-s-retail-sales-data-for-the-plant-based-foods-industry/
Innova Market Insights. (2022, April). Consumer Insider: The Plant-Based Consumer. Innova Market Insights. Retrieved from https://reports.innovadatabase.com/Home/ReportDetails?Guid=3D159E99-47DD-462F-A30D-544EB69AA8BC