The 29th annual Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore, which took place September 18-20, attracted over 23,000 attendees and 1,277 exhibitors at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore, MD. The event featured food and beverage, supplements and ingredients as well as beauty and natural living.
Delivering the keynote presentation was Doug Tompkins, an American environmentalist, prominent landowner, conservationist, entrepreneur and the founder of The Foundation for Deep Ecology.
As always, we were on the lookout for “what’s new” and “what’s hot” in natural, green and organic products. Some of the trends we noticed were cold-pressed juices, jerky, proteins, coffee, and clean, simple ingredients. Only having a day and a half to check it all out served to motivate us even more! So, we started on the 4th floor— which housed the “New Product” showcase and the “Innovation” Hall—filled with many new companies showing their brands for the first time. We then worked our way around the main show floor, stopping to check out some pretty interesting and novel brands.
In keeping with the trends, lets take a look at our two favorites of the show, cold pressed juices and jerky!
Love Grace—What was so refreshing about this brand was the boundless energy and love emanating from co-founder Carrisa-Ann Santos. If this is what happens when you drink their awesome organic cold-pressed juices, then bring them on!
We tried the grapefruit and green juices and loved them. They also have smoothies and elixirs and will be launching seven new flavors soon. Their mission is to provide health and vitality with products that are full of love, fun and taste delicious. Unlike other heat pasteurized juice, Love Grace organic juice contains vital nutrients, minerals and biophotonic light energy that will revitalize and energize the body instantly.
Fusion Jerky—Jerky seems to be one of those things you either love or hate, but Fusion Jerky takes jerky to a whole new level…we loved it!!! It has the perfect blend of tenderness of Asian-style jerky but with some awesome flavors and it’s the first jerky line to feature chicken as well as beef, turkey and pork. The eight flavor combos were all amazing: Lemon Pepper Chicken Jerky, Basil Citrus Chicken Jerky, Chili Basil Turkey Jerky, Rosemary Citrus Turkey Jerky, Garlic Jalapeno Pork Jerky, Island Teriyaki Pork Jerky, Basil Citrus Beef Jerky and Chipotle Lime Beef Jerky. Every one was so good it was impossible to pick a favorite. All the products are low-fat, gluten free, high protein, all natural, preservative–free, MSG-free, and nitrate-free. Nice job KaiYen Mai, the company President and Founder.
The trend for simple, clean ingredients was one of the things that attracted us to our next three picks.
TrueVibe Organics—TrueVibe is a brand that was founded with the belief that positive energy can help lead to healthier eating and a happier life. Their well-packaged product line of raw organic superfoods keeps the positivity alive with product names such as; Go For It: Cacao Nib Confidence, Art Is Life: Chia Seed Creativity, and Feel Magical: Hemp Seed Happiness. They also donate 1% of their net sales to the non-profit, 1% For the Planet, an organization that helps bring companies together, as the engines of positive environmental changes.
Bonga—Bonga is a brand that uses a lesser-known superfruit as it’s core ingredient, considered the “tree of life” in Africa, the baobab. The Baobab Fruit has proven to be an excellent source of fiber, vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. This brand offers a variety of delivery systems for the fruit including, chews as well as a powder that can be blended.
OurTrueRoots: TigerNuts—Fun fact, Tigernuts aren’t nuts at all but a type of ancient root. With a rich historical significance that dates back to the Egyptians, TigerNuts were considered “sacred” for many were even found buried in pharaoh tombs. One brand that is putting this “nut” back in touch with the 21st century is OurTrueRoots. This company not only strives on educating people about this wonderful superfood, they also have a product line of TigerNut based products including: TigerNut Horchata and packaged Raw Organic TigerNuts. Be sure to check them out on Amazon or your next trip to Whole Foods.
Coffee is always top of our list and two brands got our attention for totally different reasons.
Counter Culture Coffee—Although Counter Culture Coffee isn’t a new brand, it just underwent a rebrand and was definitely one of the highlights of the show. With 8 regional training centers along the East Coast, this company sets itself apart from other coffee brands because it offers hands on educational training to baristas who serve Counter Culture in their shops-to ensure that quality is never lost. This past Spring Counter Culture also began their Sustainable Spring series, to help educate people about how they can live a more sustainable lifestyle; with topics ranging in everything from beekeeping to home composting.
Kohana Coffee—Cold brew coffee is definitely trending and this one was absolutely delicious. Kohana source the best organic and fair trade Hawaiian beans, which are then carefully blended and slow roasted to bring out all the natural flavors. They featured organic cold brew coffee concentrate as well as 8oz cans black, white, caramel and vanilla coffees.
Our next stop was at the Aman Prana booth, and this brand is in a category all its own
Aman Prana— It was the really attractive, sustainable booth back-drop that initially caught our attention. But after speaking at length to Director and Founder Bart Maes, from Brussels, we love everything about this brand. Only in the US for two weeks, this is the first time the brand had been seen here. The brand promotes “Food as Medicine” and believes in “serenely supporting and strengthening your life energy without harming your body or mind, gently and without excess.” From fair trade Coconut Blossom Sugar to Java Matcha, from Okinawa Omega to ORAC Botanico Mix, the company sources from around the globe to deliver the best “health giving” ingredients used by ancient cultures that can be of significant benefit to everyone. Supporting many fair trade and sustainable programs, Aman Prana is a brand for conscious living.
Now, who doesn’t love chocolate? Or even better, chocolate with no guilt that’s the “Perfect Fuel?”
Perfect Fuel Chocolate—Chocolate (dark of course), ginseng and sport, that’s what Perfect Fuel Chocolate is all about. When these two energizing powerhouses come together, you have the perfect fuel…and it tastes great too! Raw organic cacao and pure American Ginseng boost stamina and endurance. We tried it and we kept going for another five hours!
It seems, we cannot go to a show without covering a brand of yogurt and at this show, our pick was Dreaming Cow Creamery.
Dreaming Cow Creamery—Strategically located in Southern Georgia, an ideal climate for year round grazing, this hand crafted creamery pride’s itself on creating the perfectly crafted yogurt. Their philosophy is based around the formula that healthy cows=healthy yogurt=healthy humans. One of the interesting things about this company is, it’s founders Janelle and Kyle set out in 2008 to travel the world in search of innovative flavor profiles to be incorporated into the soon to be born, Dreaming Cow Creamery. The result was a palate of mouth-watering varieties including: Dark Cherry Chai, Maple Ginger, Vanilla Agave and Blueberry Cardamom.
Fishpeople Seafood—As fish lovers we loved the concept. Local, Sustainable, Healthy, Affordable, Delicious and Convenient seafood creations! Sad they were not sampling when we visited because there were some great looking products on display. Fish People pouches make it easy for even the most timid of “fish folk” to serve up an impressive dish. From bisques, chowders and entrees, the convenience alone had us hooked. Check out some of the amazing offerings, Chinook Salmon in a Chardonnay Reduction Sauce, Chinook Salmon & Sea Shell Pasta in a Wild Mushroom Sauce, Albacore Tuna in Yellow Coconut Curry and Albacore Tuna in Thai Coconut Lemongrass.
The baby category is booming and one newcomer and an organic skincare line were standouts!
Itsy-Bitsy Pantry—Super cute booth and really colorful packaging that stood out. Have to say, babies get all the “good stuff”! This new brand was featuring Itsy-Bitsy Yogurt Bites in five flavors Strawberry, Banana, Peach, Blackcurrant & Blueberry and Banana & Mango. Itsy-Bitsy Frit Drops in two flavors Banana, Blueberry & Beetroot and Kiwi, Spinach & Pear and Itsy Bitsy Puffs in four flavors Purple, Orange Carrots & Blueberry, Mango & Peach, Strawberry & Apple and Sweet Potato & Apple. All organic, GMO free and gluten free and really yummy! Didn’t have this stuff when we were babies.
Shoosha—A certified organic baby skincare line (for mom’s too) that is doing everything right. The products are so pure they qualify as organic foods you could eat, so no fear of babies “sucking” on a just moisturized hand! With the exception of beeswax all the products are Vegan, they are also GMO free, Gluten free, Dairy free, Filler free, Fragrance free, Chemical free, Corn free, Soy free, never tested on animals and 100% biodegradable. Lovely products including Baby Wash & Shampoo, Baby Lotion, Massage Oil, Stretch Mark Serum, Diaper Butter and Nipple Butter.
Personal care is always a fun area, great products to test and the packaging is always an eye catcher. The first thing we noticed at the ViaNature booth was that their essential oil collection was displayed in an ecological bamboo merchandizing unit!
Via Nature—A full line of face and body products. The natural body lotions utilize their Cell Signally Science™ and they really did get absorbed very quickly leaving the skin feeling soft and silky (really, we are loving these lotions!). All the lotions are Paraben free, Phthalate free, Chemical free, Sulfate free, Mineral Oil free and Artificial Fragrance free. We did not have time to test their skincare oils: Rosehip, Moroccan Argan, Macadamia and Moringa Oil, but if they are anything like the lotions, we will love them all.
In the natural living category we selected an old favorite that was sporting new ownership and a new look, a brand we have never seen before with a very innovative concept and a brand we just loved to look at!
Sun & Earth—A full line of household cleaning and laundry products, Sun & Earth has been a natural favorite for many years. Affordable, safe and effective, the brand only uses 100% essential oils for fragrances and many products are fragrance free. They contain no artificial dyes or chemical preservatives. And they work as well as any of the leading brands on supermarket shelves. Cleaning better…naturally!
Bees Wrap—Bee’s Wrap is a Vermont-based company that found a unique and innovative way to preserve food-beeswax. Their product line which is made up of fabric infused with beeswax, jojoba oil and tree resin, has become the perfect sustainable alternative to traditional plastic wrap. Not only that but their wraps can be cleaned and reused lasting up to a year.
Bambeco—Sustainable living with style! Bambeco is one resource for furnishings and décor where every product offered impacts the world in a positive way. A wonderful collection of original and authentic designs that are Reclaimed, Repurposed, Renewable, Recycled, Regenerated, Natural, Organic, or Artisan Creations. Beautiful products with a mission…we loved this brand.
And, we round out our top picks with a pet brand.
I and Love and You—OK, so the name got us…but the brand has a heart too!
The company is committed to helping you with the best food for your four legged friends (cats as well as dogs!) Every one of their products meets rigorous ingredient standards and has been formulated by their holistic veterinarian. They promise to be good to the planet as well as to pets. Their entire production plant is wind powered, they are striving to be a Zero Waste facility, they reuse and recycle and they are continuing to grow their greenness…we love that.
We also want to give a shout out to some cool brands we found, plus some of our all time favorites.
As we mentioned, cold-pressed juices are hot and one of the biggest brands, Suja, was featuring a great variety of organic juices. Juishi caught our eye with their organic juices and raw milks. iheartkeenwah let us try a new product that will be launching soon, quinoa puffs. We sampled the sea salt truffle flavor…amazing! Lunch Bundles had some great healthy and delicious new non-perishable Bundles for active, busy people—loved the Superfood Bundle. DF Mavens was featuring their delicious new ice cream bars and we had to swing by Harvest Snaps to pick up some of our favorite pea and lentil snacks! Mediterra is a new favorite of ours too… savory and sweet bars based around Mediterranean foods and every one was great! And last but not least, Beard Balm, makes beards happy…really…and may cause excessive beard. A brand with a sense of humor too, what’s not to like?