After a couple lackluster years for the event, Natural Products Expo East had a strong showing in its 2016 edition, which was held at the Baltimore Convention Center from Sept. 21-24. The show included over 28,000 attendees and 1,450 exhibiting brands. Beverage executives who spoke with BevNET praised bustling attendance as well as an uptick in distributor and retailer interest as compared to recent years for Expo East.
A showcase for emerging and fast-growing beverage trends, Expo East 2016 most prominently featured the continued evolution of cold brew coffee and the swelling ranks of brands participating in the space. Approximately 25 cold brew coffee companies were represented at the event, each attempting to differentiate their products — via formulation, packaging and ingredient sourcing — from what’s currently on the market.
Unlike previous iterations of the natural foods convention, kombucha exhibitors were plentiful at Expo East 2016. Executives from a few of those companies — which include both established brands with national aspirations and regional players that are relatively new to the market — indicated that their presence at the show was a desire to trying to meet growing demand for kombucha among consumers along the East Coast.
Meanwhile, some cold-pressed juice brands introduced new products that address various day part and use occasions for both natural and conventional channel consumers. Brand extensions include juice blends made with bleeding-edge and functional ingredients, as well those that are formulated with reduced sugar and calorie counts in mind, including drinking vinegars, juice-infused waters, and shot-based products.
In this video, recorded from the show floor at Expo East, BevNET correspondents John Craven and Ray Latif discuss the development of the aforementioned categories, among others — including plant-based milks and enhanced waters — on display at the event. They also examine the innovation and distribution strategies of brands in each segment and how they relate to growth opportunities in the months to come.