Thanks to our other jobs as co-founders of Ekowarehouse, a global B2B trade platform for certified organic and ecolabel products, we get to attend awesome natural and organic product trade shows all over the world. Since we are total health & wellness geeks (not to mention Hong Kong’s Green Queens), this is one of the funnest parts of our work. Below we round up the upcoming healthy food trends and products we spotted at Expo West, the world’s largest natural and organic products trade fair, which is held every spring in Anaheim, California.
Plant-Based Power Players
There’s absolutely no doubt that the vegan and plant-based revolution has arrived. But you know this, because you read our our 2016 trends piece. We discovered a plethora of exciting plant-based products at the show. There’s Canadian company Veggemo and their dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, non-GMO and cholesterol-free veggie based non-dairy beverage made from protein-rich peas, creamy tapioca and smooth potato starch. The drinks come in original, unsweetened and vanilla and are all super creamy and smooth- super impressive actually and on par with milk from a texture point of view. Veggemo’s products are dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, non-GMO, cholesterol-free and great for those with nut allergies, dairy issues and soy intolerances.
On the vegan spread front, things are really getting exciting: Kite Hill‘s almond-based artisanal plant-based cheeses are incredible. From their cream cheese to their soft-ripened aged rounds to their ravioli stuffed with almond-milk ricotta, you really can’t believe it’s plant-based. They also make luscious almond milk yogurts. The team behind the products is world-class so it’s not a total surprise: celebrated plant-based chef Tal Ronnen, Stanford biochemist Pat Brown and former cheese-making instructor at Le Cordon Bleu Monte Casino.
Almonds are being stretched to their culinary limits, but the new nut milk of choice is the macademia kind. We met Illinois-based Milkadamia and Ozzie company Suncoast Gold Macademia, both of whom gave us a taste of their dairy-free beverages. We loved macademia milk: it’s creamy, smooth and has a richer, more luxurious texture than other nut milks. It goes especially well with coffee, so we reckon you will be seeing it at healthster coffee shops in the near future.
Another plant-based trend? Jackfruit. If you haven’t heard of it, you will be. It’s the South East & South Asian fruit whose cooked flesh (when young) has a texture similar to that of shredded meat. It’s a popular ingredient in vegetarian-friendly India, where it is known as katahal. Massachussets-based The Jackfruit Company is ahead of the pack with its range of gourmet refrigerated jackfruit foods, including four kinds of jackfruit sausage and shredded jackfruit (tastes very much like pulled pork) in flavours like teriyaki, tex-mex and curry. We also got to know Upton Naturals, which creates products like BBQ jackfruit and chili lime carnitas jackfruit. This is is the NEXT BIG plant-based protein trend!
Finally, we were uber-impressed with Goodseed, a vegan (and paleo, and gluten-free, and non-GMO) burger company that is redefining the plant-based burger using a combination of sprouted lentils, germinated brown rice and seeds (pumpkin, hemp, chia, sunflower). Honestly, imitation meats are not really are thing, but Goodseed’s Wild Mushroom Cauliflower Hempseed Burger was so incredibly tasty, we couldn’t stop stuffing our faces with the tasters.
Paleo & Primal Isn’t Going Anywhere
Despite the controversy, at Expo West the paleo/primal movement is going strong. Compared to last year, there were heaps more certified paleo products and brands. Julian’s Bakery, the outfit behind the first frozen paleo bread has come out with dozens of new SKUs from paleo mozzarella-style “cheese” to paleo coconut flakes “cereal” to paleo pancake and pizza crust mix. Also trending? Ready-made grass-fed bone broth, courtesy of Bare Bones Broth, Kettle & Fire and Bonafide Provisions.
The latest “hot” (!) fat that the health world is buzzing about is avocado oil. Totally on top of this trend is Mark Sisson, the grandfather of the primal movement and author of Mark’s Daily Apple. He is behind food brand Primal Kitchen that offers avocado oil mayonnaise, avocado oil vinaigrettes and avocado oil cooking oil. Expect to see more avocado oil in the grocery store and on menus.
Next Generation Bottles
We met Green Sheep Water, an H2O company trying to address the nightmare that is plastic bottles by opting for aluminum bottle packaging. Did you know that aluminum gets recycled twice as often as plastic and more than glass or cartons? Not to mention that aluminum infinitely recyclable, unlike plastic, which lowers in quality grade each time it gets recycled. Our prediction? Get ready to see a lot more beverages in aluminum bottles in the years to come.
Also on the packaging front, you may soon find blender-free smoothies in the frozen department of your neighborhood supermarkets with Bright Greens’ Smoothie Shakers‘s large resealable pouches. Not only are they time-saving, they mean less plastic bottles on shelves in the ready-made smoothie world. We are all for it!
Drinking For (Mental) Health
With soda having become a total no-no, it was inevitable that a new class of beverages would take their place. Beyond coconut water and cold-pressed juice, we found a host of new brands offering mood-enhancing drinks with varying missions. There’s Marley Beverage Co (yes, that Marley) Mellow Mood, a line of relaxing decaf teas and sparkling waters with calming ingredients like chamomile, valerian root, lemon balm and passionflower. We also found Yoot Root Teas, a range of organic wildcrafted teas that make use of medicinal roots like adaptogenic herbs, antioxidants and natural stimulants that help with everything from digestion to detoxification. And going against vitamin water, we met inflammation-fighting Tu Me Bev Co and their five turmeric root infused sports waters with flavors like pomegranate, mango and berries.
Fermented Foods Graduate From High School
At this point, if you are a regular Green Queen reader, you have probably heard of kombucha. But we will raise you one and bet you have not heard of kombucha syrup. This awesome new product by Great Northern (well known for their maple syrups) is made by adding just enough cane sugar to the fermented black tea drink to keep the cultures in a resting state when in an unopened bottle. The syrup works like an other sweetener, except for the added bacteria benefits: you can add it to juices, smoothies, pancakes, cereal, iced tea- whatever you like. It’s pretty awesome stuff!
In the world of next generation condiments, we went crazy for San Fran restaurant sensations Burma Love & Burma Superstar‘s brand new Burma Love Laphet, made from Burmese organic green tea buds that are hand-picked and fermented. The stuff is addictively good, and goes in/on everything! It made us wonder: what other delicious Asian fermented condiments have yet to be introduced a wider audience? Watch this space.
We also discovered Farmhouse Culture Gut Shots: organic fresh vegetable based probiotic drinks with 10 billion CFUs per bottle. Basically, it’s like drinking the gut-tastic liquid that is created when fermenting krauts and kimchi. In fact, that’s how the company got started. They realized the excess liquid from making their signature krauts were a goldmine of gut health.
Looking forward to some of these awesome products arriving on Hong Kong shop shelves soon!
Image Credits: Running Competitor (lead photo); Veggemo, Kite Hill, The Jackfruit Company, The Goodseed Burger, Bonafide Provisions Primal Kitchen, Green Sheep Water, Farmhouse Gut Culture Shots.