In a vibrant explosion of energy and enthusiasm, health aficionados and industry trailblazers converged on the grand stage of the Natural Product Expo West 2024. This wasn’t just a convention; it was the food event of the year, transforming the Anaheim Convention Center into a bustling hub of innovation, where over 70,000 leading brands, discerning buyers, and influential minds gathered during March 12-16.

From scrumptious natural foods to cutting-edge supplement innovators, sustainable home solutions to creative packaging and international trade advancements, Expo West is a holistic experience that bridges the gap between organic ingenuity and commercial brilliance.

For health enthusiasts and professionals alike, this event offers a rare glimpse into the trends shaping our world and the products destined to enhance our lives. It’s more than an expo – it’s a journey into the heart of what makes the natural products sector a thrilling frontier for discovery and growth.

This pinnacle event offers a unique platform for direct interaction among founders, brand managers, distributors, and marketing experts. The exhibition spaces alone are a testament to creativity and brand expression, with setups ranging from expansive 40’x 40’ displays featuring fully immersive environments, to compact 10’x 10’ booths ingeniously designed to maximize brand visibility.

The essence of live expos is captured perfectly at Expo West 2024, where attendees can discover innovative companies, engage with creators, and dive into the stories behind groundbreaking natural foods products. The meticulous branding and thematic decoration of booths highlight each company’s narrative, target demographic, and products through nuanced visual elements.

Noteworthy trends at this year’s expo included keto-friendly foods, gluten-free pizzas, sugar-free treats, functional mushrooms, and enticing non-alcoholic beverages. All of which delineated a clear trajectory towards health-conscious and inclusive consumer choices.

Allulose – The Leader in Guilt-Free Sweeteners

Keto and low sugar diets have been trending in recent years as consumers become more aware of their health. In response, food brands are adapting to these market opportunities, and offering a host of low sugar alternatives to satisfy the “sweet tooth.” 

In response to the growing demand for healthier dietary options, Expo West 2024 showcased an abundance of new natural foods products that emphasize the industry’s shift.

Allulose emerged as a standout. This rare sugar, naturally found in figs, raisins, jackfruit and even maple syrup is quickly becoming the go-to sweetener among nutritionists.

It is structurally similar to fructose (a type of sugar found in fruits) but is processed differently by the body, leading to a significantly lower caloric intake—nearly zero calories per gram.

Allulose tastes much like regular sugar but has 90% fewer calories and does not raise blood sugar or insulin levels, making it an attractive ingredient for cookies, snack bars, chocolate and baked goods. 

Millennial Magazine - habitat - product reviews - whoa dough expo west 2024

© Whoa! Dough

Brands like Whoa! Dough demonstrated the versatile application of Allulose in creating a delicious cookie dough and snack bar that tasted amazing. You would not think it is gluten free, or uses alternative sweeteners.

Detox Desserts was another brand discovery. This company makes nutrient dense healthy flours, butters and sugar “swap” products. Developed by Dr. Alexis McNeil, the brand has revolutionized flour blends to reduce blood sugar. Her proprietary flours, a whole grain gluten-free high fiber flour, and a grain-free low carb flour, with the addition of a signature granular sugar swap, provide those who crave baked treats a healthy natural foods alternative. 

While Allulose presents a sweet leap forward in guilt-free indulgence, the journey towards holistic well-being continues as we explore another burgeoning health trend at Expo West 2024: the ancient wisdom and modern applications of functional mushrooms.

Functional Mushrooms – Immune and Energy Support Naturally

The rising interest in natural wellness solutions was palpable with functional mushrooms taking center stage. The expo underscored the burgeoning appeal of mushrooms as holistic supplements. A variety of fungi were showcased as coffee alternatives, additives, teas, powders, tinctures, and capsules, with the most popular bringing particular gifts to the forefront of the holistic health discussion.

Millennial Magazine - Habitat - Product Review - Rainbo Functional Mushrooms Expo West 2024

© Rainbo Mushrooms

Often referred to as the “Mushroom of Immortality,” Reishi is celebrated for its calming properties and its ability to support the immune system. It’s particularly favored for stress reduction and improving sleep quality, making it a popular choice among those looking to enhance their overall well-being and longevity. Its adaptogenic qualities help the body resist the damaging effects of stress, cementing its status as a staple in the functional mushroom kingdom.

Lion’s Mane is distinctive for its brain-boosting benefits. This mushroom supports cognitive function, memory, and nerve growth, making it highly sought after by individuals looking to improve mental clarity, focus, and neuroplasticity. As research continues to unveil its potential neuroprotective properties, Lion’s Mane is fast becoming a favorite for those interested in natural cognitive enhancement.

Known for its energy-boosting properties, Cordyceps have traditionally been used to enhance athletic performance and increase physical stamina. This mushroom is favored by athletes and those seeking natural ways to improve vitality, combat fatigue, and even boost libido. Its ability to support respiratory and oxygen uptake also makes it particularly effective for those looking to optimize their physical health and performance.

Rich in antioxidants and immune-supporting polysaccharides, Turkey Tail is revered for its ability to fortify the immune system. With its potential anticancer properties and its role in supporting gut health due to its prebiotic content, Turkey Tail is rapidly gaining attention in the wellness sphere as an ally in maintaining and enhancing immune health.

The “King of Mushrooms,” Chaga supports the immune system and is believed to enhance overall vitality. This dark, woody fungus, typically found growing on birch trees, has been used in traditional medicine for centuries, particularly in colder climates where it naturally thrives. Rich in a complex array of bioactive compounds, Chaga is celebrated for its potential to support digestive health, lower blood sugar levels, and provide anti-aging benefits. As research continues, Chaga is gaining popularity among health enthusiasts for its profound wellness benefits and as a natural, holistic approach to health maintenance.

While the market is still maturing in the U.S., the presence of trusted suppliers like Rainbo Mushrooms and the increasing consumer curiosity signal a promising trajectory for this segment, underlining the industry’s commitment to natural, plant-based health alternatives.

Having explored the natural potency and diverse benefits of functional mushrooms, let’s shift focus to the last trend sweeping through the show floor: the innovative and flavorful world of non-alcoholic beverages.

Non-Alcoholic Drinks – A Refreshing Trend at Expo West 2024

Mirroring Gen Z’s preferences and TikTok trends, the expo spotlighted an intriguing array of non-alcoholic or “zero proof” beverages, a category that has seen an upswing in consumer interest. Noteworthy brands included Mixoloshe, Töst and … wait for it… Guinness!

Millennial Magazine - Habitat - Product Reviews - Mixoloshe Expo West 2024

© Mixoloshe

Mixoloshe was a crowd favorite as their non alcoholic spirits and mixers were made to taste like the real thing without the hangover. Flavors included tequila, gin, and whiskey – all low sugar, low carb, gluten-free and made with natural flavors.

Next was Töst, a novel tea-based, carbonated alternative to traditional wines. Made with white tea, white cranberry, ginger, and elderberry, Töst captured attendees’ palates with its robust blend of effervescent flavors, imitating sparkling rosé and offering a new dimension to non-alcoholic sophistication.

And lastly, the world famous Irish classic, Guinness, surprised us with their latest non-alcoholic iteration. Crafted with the same meticulous care as its iconic predecessor, this innovative concoction melds the classic trio of barley, hops, and yeast, undergoing a delicate brewing process before the alcohol is artfully stripped away through filtration.

According to the brand, this bold new frontier is a masterclass in balance and flavor: a non-alcoholic stout that channels the soul of the original Guinness. It boasts the same mesmerizing dark, ruby red hue and signature creamy head, while a symphony of chocolate and coffee notes dance with a harmonious blend of bitterness, sweetness, and deep-roasted undertones—a testament to the art of brewing without compromise.

Natural Foods Trends

Expo West 2024 served as a vibrant showcase of innovation and health-conscious trends within the natural products industry. From the sweet revolution heralded by Allulose to the natural potency of functional mushrooms, and the groundbreaking non-alcoholic libations, the expo confirmed its status as an essential nexus for discovery, networking, and inspiration in the realm of natural goods.

As these trends continue to evolve, Expo West remains at the forefront, charting the course for a healthier, more sustainable future.