Natural Products Expo West 2013: Our 18 Picks!

Can’t believe we just got back from Expo West in Anaheim again! What an amazing show, so many great companies and brands. The Eco18 team of eco-seekers did their best to get around as many of the 2,000+ booths as possible—snacking, chatting and interviewing—to bring you our favorite 18 best and new products.

With over 60,000 people to contend with, getting around the five exhibit halls was a challenge and of course we found hundreds of products we liked, so here’s a few shout outs that we didn’t want to leave out!

Everywhere we looked there were baby products….this seemed to be a big trend of the show, even Earth’s Best Baby, one of the first natural baby food brands had a full line of babycare products. Earth Mama, Angel Baby Organics (adorable packaging) position their brand for mamas, babies and the whole family. Dolphin Organics have also expanded their line to include teens/tweens and adults. Happy Baby—Now Happy Family Brands and Plum Organics had really extensive product offerings. The brand name Bumboosa got our attention. This eco-friendly line of bamboo products started out with safe, non-toxic, non-synthetic baby wipes—developed by a mom for moms and has now added bamboo toilet paper and flushable diaper liners to the line.

DeVita Skincare was one of the “hottest” booths of the show. This vegan beauty and color cosmetic line was hot off the runway at the New York Fashion Week and the energy and excitement was evident at their booth.

Stevia was everywhere – We sampled some at the Cid Botanicals booth, the lemon drops were really delicious with no aftertaste, and the very best Stevia Chocolate was at the CocoPolo booth which was mobbed the whole show. We know because we kept going back for a chocolate fix.

We are snackers and are always looking for new flavors and combinations. Stacy’s was showcasing their Pita Crisps and C’est La Cheese™ was terrific, and we just had to stop by Somersault Snack Co. for some of their great sunflower seed snacks.

McConnell’s Fine Ice Cream had the best flavors ever–Salted Caramel Chip was a winner with us and they do claim to have the best ice cream ever and we are not going to argue with them! Chobani was showcasing their Chobani Bites, 100 calorie “snack” size blended yogurts…oh my…Fig and Orange Zest was amazing!

So, continuing the “food theme”, we’ll begin our 18 favorites…..

Quinn Popcorn – Popcorn is one of our favorite snacks around the office, so we were excited to sample all of the flavors at the Quinn Popcorn booth. Quinn is reinventing microwave popcorn, or in other words, cleaning it up. They started with the bag and got rid of the chemical coatings, leaving just a paper bag that happens to be compostable. Then they focused on the ingredients, making sure that no GMOs or preservatives are used, and the popcorn is organic, but of course. And if all of that isn’t great enough, the flavors are to die for: Parmesan & Rosemary, Vermont Maple & Sea Salt, Lemon & Sea Salt, Hickory Smoked Cheddar and Olive Oil & Herbs.

Wild Ophelia Chocolate – Who doesn’t love chocolate?! But Wild Ophelia is more than chocolate, it’s an American roadtrip through chocolate. The sister company to Vosges Haut-Chocolat, the line is sourced from all-natural, often organic and always esteemed farms. The line offers a variety of interesting combinations, including: Beef Jerky, Southern Hibiscus Peach, Salted Chowchilla Almond, New Orleans Chili and Sweet Cherry Pecan. Mmmm! We were partial to the Beef Jerky, but I recommend tasting all flavors to see what catches your sweet tooth.

Jolly Llama – Sorbet Pops are made with perfectly ripened whole fruit—and that’s exactly what you tasted. Create by a chef – Scott –these luscious and refreshing frozen treats really enlighten your taste buds. Low in calories (100 or less per serving), they really pop in your mouth. I loved the Pineapple Coconut, but all the flavors were amazing: Strawberry, Raspberry, Mango and Banana Coconut. Delicious and healthy, can’t beat that.

Personal care always gets our attention. The packaging is so eye-catching and there are always very cool products launching at the show.

Coola Suncare – We all know suncare is important, but there is always a toss up between the necessary protection and the chemicals that it comes with. That is where Coola, an organic suncare collection, comes in. The line offers a Mineral Collection, Plant UV, Spray, Liplux, Lotion Bars and a Baby line—making sure the whole family is covered, literally. You can even choose if you would like a sun scented Pina Colada, Mango, Rose, Cucumber, Citrus or no scent at all.

Nova Scotia Fisherman—Xtreme SkinCare, when we saw the name I thought it was a fish company, but no, in partnership with the Nature Conservancy, Canada, the brand helps to protect the endangered shorebird, the Piping Plover. They also have some wonderful skincare products formulated from kelp. Kelp has many benefits for skin including moisturizing, detoxifying, healing and conditioning. And in the harsh climate of Nova Scotia, extreme skincare is a must.

Giovanni—Their latest hair care line 2chic, part of their Eco Chic Hair Collection, is designed to renew hair by delivering moisture deep into the hair and sealing it in. Formulated with Avocado and Olive Oils, the line offers an Ultra-Moist Shampoo, Ultra-Moist Conditioner, Ultra-Moist Deep Moisture Hair Mask and Ultra-Moist Leave-In Conditioning & Styling Elixir.

Especially for dry and damaged hair, we can’t wait to try the samples they were handing out. One thing Giovanni knows and that’s haircare.

Awild SoapbarThe booth, the packaging and, of course, the products themselves attracted us to awild soapbar. This is no ordinary Mom & Pop company. In fact, it’s a Mom & Son company. Their line of products is created from organic flowers, herbs and essential oils. awild soapbar pays special attention, not just to their products, but to the environment as well. The line of natural products are biodegradable, cruelty free, and minimally packaged with recycled and recyclable materials. And they use no petroleum products or harmful chemicals. The organic palm oil used is RSPO certified and Rain Forest Allience certified. Many of the soaps in the Austin based company use wild flowers native to Texas such as Bluebonnet, chickweed and chaparral. A little known fact is that Lady Bird Johnson led the initiative to line Texas’ highways with indiginous wildflowers. As an homgae, awild soapbar donates a portion of its profits each year to the The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

A couple of interesting brands that got our attention were:

Bamboobies – When it comes to breast-feeding, nursing pads are a must, but up until now there hasn’t been a reliable, sleek reusable pad that did the job. Bamboobies are made of bamboo, which is much softer on tender nursing nipples than cotton pads. From the hot pink wigs at the booth, to the pink heart shaped pads, it was clear that Bamboobies are for the kick a$$ moms who are looking for something better for their bodies and the environment.

Sir Richard’s Condom Company – When we think about buying all-natural, condoms may not always be at the top of the list—when the reality is they probably should be! The chemicals in the lubricants and spermicide of traditional condoms are being exposed to the body, and can lead to various infections, such as UTIs. Sir Richard’s Condom Company seems to have gotten it down, as they offer 100% natural latex condoms that are chemical free, have no spermicide, parabens or glycerin. Additionally, they are vegan and PETA certified. And if all of that isn’t enough, they exceed FDA reliability standards.

Pact – Pact is a premium, organic, designer underwear line for men, women and now, baby! They offer a variety of tank tops, socks, underwear and long underwear in many different colors and funky designs. Besides the great colors and designs of the line, what really stands out is their philanthropic involvement. Each season they partner with a charity they will contribute to—and ultimately the line for that season is designed with that charity in mind. For example, the Tomato colored socks we received at the show were named for the spring season’s charity, Urban Gardens Across America.

The natural and green household category was showcasing a lot of bamboo products:

Ultra Green“We’ve never killed a single tree.” That was the conversation starter when Phil Levin, Founder and CEO of ultra green and I started our chat. This company was created from the belief that we don’t have to chop down massive forests or use petroleum based products to make the millions of disposable objects we need and use every day. From bathroom tissues and paper towels to displosable plates and forks, Ultra Green makes their products from sugarcane fiber and cornstarch. Pretty cool. The only question…. what do we call a papertowel that’s not made with paper? Disposable products are just part of how we live today. Ultra Green helps the earth live as well.

Zing Anything - The clean, sleek design of Zing Anything caught my eye first, but the ingenuity of the product was compelling. The idea behind the brand is that the “Zinger” containers—which by the way are beautiful as well as practical—let you make you own unique flavor combinations for water, cocktails and salad dressings. The AquaZinger and CitrusZinger allow you to flavor water from fresh fruits, the Cocktail Zinger helps you become a natural mixologist and the SaladZinger is perfect for making unusual and healthy salad dressings. Twist. Grind. Infuse. I ned to get one of each!

Two pet brands that we really liked:

Molly MuttToday consuming natural ond organic foods has become as common a practice for pets as for the families who own them. I seek out and purchase both. The concept of “molly mutt” was born out of other needs in the area of pet care. Dogs like to sleep on “beds”…their’s as well as ours. Most dog beds I’ve seen are filled filled with foam and use latex. Molly mutt beds are filled with nothing when you purchase them. You simply stuff them with rags, ripped clothes, mis-matched socks and even old flip-flops ready to toss. Molly mutt offers an alternative to tossing them and adding more trash and plastics to pile onto landfills. These doggie-duvet covers, which by the way, are very attractive covers, don’t just make sense…they are environment friendly. And our pets get to sleep on arguably their favorite thing…our old stuff.

 

Brad’s PawsUSDA Organic, Certified Vegan, Certified Gluten-Free, Certified CCOF Organic, Kosher and NON-GMO Project Verified are usually those things we “healthier diet” consumers look for when we purchase foods for ourselves. Brad’s Raw Foods offers these…all of these in each each people snack they make. They also offer these same attributes in Brad’s Raw 4 Paws, their line of dog treats. These snacks for pooches are an array of fresh, whole vegetables, fruits and seeds which are “gently dehydrated” to preserve nutrients and living enzymes. Also they contain a healthy amount of  kale….a signature “super-veggie”  found in all of Brad’s products. Every ingredient is pulled right out of the earth without having used any chemicals to grow them. When I got home and gave one to my dog , he wanted seconds. Obviously Brad’s Raw 4 Paws passed the taste test as well.

Coconut water was still showing strong, but there were a couple of other beverages that caught our eye:

Waiakea Bottled Water Over the past three decades since the bottled water market has exploded, literally hundreds of waters have made the scene. Waiakea is from one of the most sustainable sources of fresh water on earth, the Kea’au Aquifer. It’s rich in natural electrolytes and has a pH level of 7.8….and it tastes great. Using 33% renewable energy and bottles made from 100% rPET is an admirable nod to the ecology. Beyond all this, what really imressed me is that Waiakea makes charitable donations to provide clean drinking water to people in developing nations around the world….so when we enjoy Waiakea water, others less fortunate get to enjoy water as well.

Wild PoppyThese organic crafted fruit drinks from the orchards of California really tickled the taste buds.  Sweetened with agave and mixed with spices from around the world, the flavor profiles were delicate and surprising, Peppermint Lemonade, Peach Vanilla, Grapefruit Ginger, and the one that kicked a punch Blood Orange Chili. They all tasted great on their own, but would make an amazing cocktail mix….cheers!

We were looking out for something new in the dietary supplement category and came across :

Tubulars – From an Australian company, Unistraw, their booth was certainly eye catching. The “milkbar” featured a cow hooked up to a milking machine to encourage people to sit at the bar and try “tubulars”.

We were invited to pull up a stool, pick a flavor and stick our Tubular™ Vitamin Straw into the glass of milk and start sucking! We did and it tasted great. Basically, the UniBeads housed within Tubulars™ dissolve when the milk passes through them, delivering the health benefits of the vitamins and minerals in a delicious milk beverage. Great for kids and easy for moms—very inventive and the perfect way to get kids and anyone who can’t or won’t swallow pills and capsules, to comply.

 

Re.Body – Always on the look out for new “diet” products, the smart positioning of Re.Body looks like winner. The brand promotes the products for body transformation and any dieter knows that it’s just as much about how you look as how many pounds you lose. Beginning with SafSlim which is a Belly Fat reducer based on high-linoleic safflower oil, other products can be added to your daily regimen depending on the results you are looking to achieve. Saffron Hunger Chews with a Mandarin Orange flavor were really good and they feature a proprietary extract of saffron (a really hot ingredient) Satiereal®. They are not promising miracles but take a very realistic and achievable approach to transforming your weight and body image.

What was evident over the three days that we walked the aisles, the natural and organic products marketplace is well and healthy. It’s more mainstream than ever and is driven by health and eco-conscious consumers, like you, who want a better life and planet for themselves and their families. We are glad to be part of it.

 

 

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