Did the show change its name from Natural Products Expo West to Hemp Products Expo West and I missed the memo? Hemp and CBD were everywhere. Despite the ongoing regulatory uncertainty, many companies went big on hemp and CBD. Pioneering companies like CV Sciences (which announced the appointment of Duffy MacKay, ND, as Senior Vice President of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs, just prior to the event) had a huge and continuously crowded booth.
Other companies entering the category with new products included Gaia Herbs, Ancient Nutrition, and Nature’s Plus, to name but a few.
Jordan Rubin, co-founder of Ancient Nutrition, told us: “I don’t believe CBD is a cure-all, but it does deserve its place in the herbal pharmacopeia, and I think it will ultimately sit with other herbs like turmeric and Echinacea.”
Look out for more from Rubin later this week on NutraIngredients-USA.
Brain boosting formulations were common on many booths with brands like Brain Juice, Brain Gear, and Percepta three of the more obvious. Gaia Herbs also launched some new products branded Agile Mind and Nootropic Focus.
Ingredients like bacopa were getting more play, and there were definitely more products using the word ‘nootropic’ on the label than we’d seen previously.
There were also brain-positioned products launched in the food aisles. One of the most notable was Brainiac Kids from Bay-area start-up Ingenuity Brands (whole milk yogurts, tubes, and drinks positioned on a brain health platform).
Keto was showing up on a number of labels, led by MCTs in particular. Some contacts wondered if keto was peaking, but that didn’t stop the new product launches. Brands like Sports Research, NOW Sports, and Nutiva were showcasing new MCT products.
Ancient Nutrition has invested big in the category and is perhaps the largest keto brand with over 40 keto-branded products (and co-founder, Dr Josh Axe, just launching a new book called Keto Diet). Rubin told us, “There’s absolutely been a bit of a backlash but there’s still a lot of momentum with keto.”
4. Sleep and relaxation
We all know the toll that Expo West takes on us, so it’s not surprising that sleep and relaxation remain an important and growing category in supplements. While not as visible as last year, there were definitely a few products being showcased that were positioned for sleep and relaxation, like from Swisse Wellness (pictured).
Nuun launched a ‘Rest’ effervescent tab with tart cherry, magnesium, which was positioned more for rest and recovery after sports, while more established brands were again visible, like SOM Sleep and Berry Sleepy shots (formulated with ‘superfruits’).
Collagen again was hot and was showing up in supplements and food and beverages, from bone broth to bulk powders to shots.
For example, Illinois-based Vital Proteins launched a range of collagen shots at the event, with Kurt Seidensticker, Founder and CEO of Vital Proteins, explaining: “Developing a line of functional on-the-go beverages was easily the quickest decision when debating the next product line at Vital. We wanted to find an easy entry point for consumers to get a serving of collagen while also adding a product for those customers that needed a little help staying on track when life gets busy.”
There were also some products touted as ‘vegan collagen boosters’, which were marketed using the word collagen but didn’t actually contain collagen, like PlantFusion, Fusion Naturals, Herbaland, and Amazing Grass.
Watch out for an interview on NutraIngredients-USA about beauty positioning with Euromonitor’s Matt Oster.
Could 2019 be a breakout year for prebiotics? We saw quite a few products using the term on their labels. One of the most interesting was Country Life’s new Gut Connection range, formulated with EpiCor as a prebiotic. The products received a New Hope Nexty Editor’s Choice award.
Audrey Ross, ND, senior national educator for Country Life, told us recently: “We have taken note of all the books that are coming out on the microbiome and the mind-gut connection. Everyone is talking about the microbiome. Then we looked at market statistics. We saw that probiotic sales were flat or declining, whereas sale of prebiotics were increasing.”
And interestingly, the Gut Connection products are labeled as “probiotic free”…
Which then brings us to:
Our last trend is one that stood out not because of a plethora of new products, but because of their scarcity. During my Expo West 2017 round-up, I remarked: “Supplement manufacturers cannot get enough of the beneficial bugs, and there were new products containing probiotics as far as the eye could see in Anaheim.”
This year, despite ongoing consumer interest in the microbiome and probiotics, there were not many supplement brands talking about probiotics. And that’s important to note. We did see some big launches in the food aisles: Nestlé and Danone North America both launched refrigerated yogurt bars formulated with Kerry-Ganeden's BC30 probiotic at the show under the GoodBe and Cultured Snacking Co brands, respectively, while Nancy’s launched a probiotic oat milk range with BB-12 and LGG, and there were a lot of ‘fermented’ foods on show in Anaheim.
In the supplement aisles, you had probiotic powerhouses like Jarrow Formulas, Dr. Ohhira’s, and RenewLife showcasing their probiotic products, but it was the absence of probiotics on other booths that raised eyebrows.