We are just back from the 28th annual Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore which took place September 25 – 28. We visited as many of the 1,200 exhibitors booth as we could, paying particular attention to the 400 first-time exhibitors, so we could report on the “what’s new” and “what’s hot” in natural, green and organic products. Without a doubt, food was by far the biggest part of the show, with many new companies showing their brands for the first time. What really stood out were the personal stories behind many of the new brands, from parents wanting to create allergen-free foods for their families to brands on a mission to be sustainable and make as little impact on the planet as possible. The keynote speaker Dr. Raj Sisodia spoke to the Conscious Capitalism movement, and how this business approach is being adopted by many successful enterprises.
Before we get into our 18 top picks, we want to give a shout out to some brands that got our attention. Shea Terra Organics has some of the most innovative personal care products around. Founder Tammie Umbel sources the finest sustainable ingredients from Africa and her latest creation—Moroccan Mud-Poo Hair Wash—certainly garnered some attention. An alternative to shampoo, it does contain a rare clay, hence the mud and the “poo” well that’s short for shampoo!
IKove—Amazonian Beauty Products—also caught our eye, not just the beautiful packaging, but the interesting sustainable, fair trade ingredients from the Amazon that make the line 100% vegan. Chef Anthony Russo’s Pizza was just outstanding! Gluten-free, all natural, these pizza’s kept us coming back time and time again during the show. Wink Frozen Desserts is a really nice new brand, developed by its lactose intolerant founder who had all kinds of food allergies, it’s more like gelato, light and refreshing and fat free. A no-guilt treat that everyone can enjoy. The Real Deal Gluten-free snack brand really wowed us with their baked veggie chips made with pea protein.All nayural and 80% less fat than potato chips they very really crunchy and had a great flavor, Ocean’s Halo Seaweed Chips were another great snack brand with a great compelling story. A very different product developed by four dads who grew up snacking and are now helping support ocean farming.
The Epic Seed—Greek Yogurt + Chia—a surprisingly good combination. The yogurt was really thick and creamy and the chia seeds did not change the consistency. Delicious and really awesome packaging.
So, on that note, let’s continue with some more of our favorite foods…we did eat our way around a lot of booths and noticed that Gluten-free was everywhere. Even products that obviously contained no gluten were putting that front and center on their packaging. Here are some of our favorites:
Wild Selections—Sustainable seafood always gets our attention. It’s so important to preserve our fish stocks for generations to come. Not only does this company have high quality sustainable seafood, but they really walk the walk when it comes to looking after our oceans. Marine Stewardship certified, they donate 13 cents of every product sold to World Wildlife Fund which helps support conservation efforts such as helping to protect sea turtles and fisheries management initiatives to improve sustainability.
Suzanne’s Kitchen—Two sisters and one sister-in-law are responsible for taking a family recipe for pepper jelly and kicking it up a notch! With four varieties, Ghost Jelly, Pepper Jelly Heaven, Pepper Jelly Purgatory and Pepper Jelly Hell, there is a jelly for even the faint of heart. Working our way up to the “hot as hell” version, we were pleasantly surprised at the great depth of flavor of these jellies as well as the heat. With lots of recipes on their website, Suzanne’s Kitchen is making it into our kitchen!
Dua Dua – Everyone knows that coconut oil has a plethora of benefits—both from using externally and internally. So that is why we think Dua Dua is on to something great. First of all, they have the organic, unrefined, raw coconut oil that we all come to look for on a regular basis for our health and beauty fixes. But they’ve it to a whole new level, mixing it with cocoa to make Cocotella –the coconut version of Nutella or a hazelnut spread, as well as caramel and coconut oil. The results are about as delicious as you can imagine. They gave a hint to try it on your pancakes one morning.
Element—Gourmet Rice cakes, and they really were. Have to admit we were skeptical as the words rice cakes and gourmet don’t usually come together in the same sentence, but, this new brand that was premiering at the show has done a great job. A little decadent and a lot healthy. So here’s what they don’t have…no gluten, no GMO, no corn syrup, no preservatives no trans fats. What they do have, toppings like Dark Chocolate, Strawberry n’Cream, Milk Chocolate and Sweet Orange. Using all organic ingredients, these simple, treats are great for kids too.
Smart Flour Gluten Free Pizza – These days it’s almost more difficult to find foods that have gluten than gluten-free, but those of us who try to avoid gluten still have the challenge of finding gluten-free that tastes as delicious as it sounds. But when it comes to pizza, look no further. Smart Flour Foods has an amazing pizza that you won’t even believe is gluten-free! You can buy the crusts to make your own pies or buy them frozen and pre-made. Either way, we’re pretty sure you won’t be disappointed.
Epic Bars – This is a “snack bar” unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. In order to offer the utmost nutrition for those who are pushing their bodies to the limit, but are also very conscious of the food that goes in to it, Epic Bars offer turkey, bison and beef—all of which are cared for sustainably and grass-fed.
Green Mustache – For anyone who was a picky eater as a child or who has picky eaters for children, you will appreciate these delicious juice smoothies. There are four delicious flavors including Strawberry Banana, Tropical Twist, Orange Mango and Mixed Berry, that all contain one serving of fruit and one serving of vegetables, like spinach and kale. Each juice smoothie features certified organic ingredients that are non-GMO, vegan and gluten free with no added sugars, preservatives or artificial colors or flavors. The company, which just launched at Expo East this year, also plans to donate 1% of sales through 1% of Humanity to support non-profit organizations that prevent childhood hunger and malnutrition world-wide.
Owl’s Brew – This is the first ever tea that has been crafted for cocktails. An artisan, all-natural and ready-to-pour mixer that is fresh-brewed in micro-batches from whole tea leaves and spices. Owl’s Brew has a light flavor profile that is a uniquely blended to pair with various spirits, from whiskey to wine. It comes in three flavors: Coco-lada, Pink & Black and The Classic. We were especially thankful for the cocktails they already had shaken up at the end of a long day on the show floor!
Personal Care was a big area at this year’s show and their were some really interesting brands you might want to check out!
DairyFace —a delicious dairy based skincare product that you keep in the fridge—certainly novel and really nicely packaged. The mission of the brand is to remind people that everything they need to feel beautiful can be found in nature, their fridge and in the mirror. Like all dairy products these have an expiration date and are certainly intriguing. The line consists of eye caramba, glad allover, green tea magic, lovely lavender and peppermint crème. A fresh approach to skincare that uses the naturally occurring peptides and proteins found in milk with the addition of pre-and probiotics.
Nature’s Fusions Essential Oils – The power of essential oils may not be something you understand until you come to rely on them to help with an ailment—for example a major toothache while walking a trade show floor; the brother’s behind Nature’s Fusion so kindly offered up Clove Oil when needed throughout this show; thanks again! But really, the Nature’s Fusions offers a comprehensive line of essential oils that are steam-distilled using state-of-the-art equipment. The oils are sourced from the regions that they are most plentiful: Sandalwood from East India, Lavender from the mountains of France and citrus from Italy’s Amalfi Coast—to name a few. They’re so confident in their oils that they even offer a Forever Guarantee.
Soapbox– Following in a similar form of Tom’s Shoes, Shoapbox was created as the founder realize that many of the illnesses in impoverished areas could be diminished with something simple that we take for granted: a bar of soap. So with that, he launched Soapbox, a company that is dedicated to donating a bar of soap for every bar that is purchased. The soap is all-natural, using fine ingredients, sure to be a delight to your beauty routine, but with the added bonus of knowing you’re helping someone in need.
Rooted Beauty – Rooted Beauty is a company run by two women on a mission to help other women in need. Each of Rooted Beauty’s products directly helps another woman escape extreme poverty, abuse or sex trafficking through the Woman2Woman Project. Not only are you making a positive impact when you purchase these products, but you get a beautifully crafted, natural and gluten-free skin care product made with botanicals and fruit extract to nourish skin. Products range from Mango Passion Facial Moisturizer, Raspberry Citrus Facial Wipes, Mango Passion Facial Cleanser and Lip Butters.
Worker B Skin Care – We are always looking for beauty products that incorporate fun and unique ingredients, which is why Worker B caught our eye. This three-year old skin care company works with ethical and sustainable beekeepers to incorporate honey into their hand crafted skin care products. Worker B products contain no water or alcohol and are gentle enough for ultra-sensitive skin. From lotion and creams, balms, serums and a Raw Honey Face Wash, Worker B has you covered for all your skin care needs. In addition to skin care, they also offer candles and raw honey.
Primal Pit Paste – Yes, this product is exactly what it sounds like! Many people know of the issues associated with mainstream deodorants because they contain aluminum. Primal Pit Paste is the perfect natural alternative that contains no aluminum and no parabens. Made up of natural ingredients like organic coconut oil, raw shea butter, non-aluminum baking soda, arrowroot powder and essential oils, the pit paste is safe enough to eat (though we don’t recommend it)! The pit paste has gotten some great testimonials from athletes who love this natural deodorant alternative.
A couple of products got our attention in the Dietary supplement category:
Zend—relaxing shot, Kava-based formula. As advocates of Rescue Remedy, we were very curious to try this newcomer to the US market. Pleased to say the 2oz drink shot worked it’s magic. A trade show can be very stressful, draining and sometimes frustrating—Zend was able to dispense a shot of calmness without our loosing any focus and concentration.
Willy’s Finest—Alaska Fish Oil supplements. A second and third generation business where quality, natural ingredients are a tradition od the Wiley family. We liked the easy to navigate packaging where right on the front you can see exactly the amounts of EPA, DHA and Omega 3 in each formulation. Very consumer friendly. The company prides itself on the sustainability of the USA wild-caught source of the fish they use from fisheries certified (MSC) Marine Stewardship Council as well as recycled and recyclable packaging and their renewable biofuel partnership.
Organix Dog Food – As a pet parent, I am always on the lookout for high quality dog food for my dog. Organix Dog Food is a great organic and natural dog food option that we came across at Expo East that pet parents can feel good about giving to their furry friends. Made with certified organic free-range chicken or turkey as the number one ingredient as well vegetables like peas and carrots, it’s a nutritious dog food that both people and their pets will love.
Savvy Green – The creators of Savvy Green started out by making detergents at homes for friends and family in an effort to replace the detergent in large plastic containers and the carbon footprint that came with them. Now, they are making their detergents, including a dishwasher detergent, laundry detergent and an Oxygen Brightening Powder, are available for everyone to use. All of the products are fragrance free, phosphate and chlorine free, are recyclable and feature less packaging than most other detergents.
Well, that’s it for another Expo East. Hope you get an opportunity to try some of these great products.