TLR’s Spotlight at Expo West

March 18, 2011

With over 3,500 exhibitors and upwards of 58 thousand attendees, Expo West boasts the best (and worst) of new natural products. Find out what TLR spotted.

So there were thousands of booths to see, over 3,500 to put some perspective on the vastness of Expo West; and as one can imagine multiple products at each booth. On top of that the event was expected to bring in over 58 thousand people sampling and strolling the aisles, perusing the latest in natural, organic, sustainable, fair trade, allergy free, and more- in beauty, supplements, and pet and people food.  
Besides sustainable everything from ingredients, to packaging, transport and manufacture, allergy free, ethnic, as well as coconut and other Amazonian super foods, The Lempert Report spotted more products touting “raw”, “live”, “living”, sprouted, dehydrated or minimally processed ingredients- ranging from cereals and granolas, to bars, chips and beverages. In recent years, “raw” has gained traction as progressive consumers continue to seek out whole foods- raw fruits and vegetables- and products with fewer ingredients that actually promote health.  So what are the some of the supposed health benefits of raw foods? Raw foods are thought to promote health and lead to increased vitality and clarity, as well as higher enzyme availability. Marketers may jump on this trend to promote produce and other foods generally consumed raw.   
Another interesting trend The Lempert Report spotted was specialty ingredient co-branding. Think stand alone gluten free oats that the home cook could make for an oatmeal breakfast, now found in protein meal replacement bars, breads and cookies- without obvious recognition on the package.  Salba or chia seeds were another seen at several booths around Expo, other than the brand’s booth itself – think yogurt, baby food, bread and more. The seeds are nutritional powerhouses and thus add a huge nutrition kick to any food with which they are paired.  Smaller companies and even some larger ones are turning to “specialty” ingredient suppliers for their expertise and trusted fan base.  It’s a brilliant way to gain fans, especially those on restricted diets, without the hassle of “reinventing the wheel.”
The co-branding seen at Expo this year mirrors The Lempert Report’s 2010 trend predictions. Here’s what we said:
Consumer acceptance and purchasing of store brands are at an all time high, which has made some CPG brands sit up and take notice as they've seen their market share decline. Retailers are adding more private label SKUs. And while many shoppers have been satisfied with the quality and price of their store brands look for a radical shift in strategy. "Me-too" is out. CPG Shopper Insights are in; and look for the major brands to develop co-branded private labels with retailers which will feature key ingredients and build on-going partnerships between retailer and brand which will fuel innovations. For example; a retailer's private label macaroni & cheese might soon say "made with real Kraft cheese', or a store brand pasta sauce "made with Hunt's crushed tomatoes" - it's a model well established with CPG brands working together and the logical next step for private label evolution is about to begin.