My first Expo West 2018 was a couple weekends ago, and it was a successful, exhausting, eventful, and terrific whirlwind of four days. If you aren’t familiar, Expo West is a natural products trade show in Anaheim, California. There are literally thousands of exhibitors showing their food, supplement, beauty, and lifestyle products. This year there were over 3,000 vendors! These shows are lots of fun, but it’s really all about the business. Brands set up shop for three days to meet with retailers, talk to consumers, expand distribution, source new ingredients, network with other brands, and so much more.
I am in the unique position of seeing both sides of Expo, as an exhibitor with Swerve, but also as a dietitian who is always looking for new, healthy products to recommend. These shows are hard work, whether you’re exhibiting, or walking the hundreds of aisles. But the relationships and discoveries you glean from the show is all worth it in the end! Here are the highlights from my weekend and Anaheim…
Swerve has been exhibiting at Expo West for years. But this year, we had some brand new products to introduce! The two main SKUs are Swerve, Granular, and Swerve, Confectioners. We are now adding to the family with Brown Swerve! It’s a brown sugar replacement that has the same nutritional profile as it’s parent products (0 calories, 0 sugar) but it smells, feels, tastes, bakes, and looks just like brown sugar! This is seriously a game changer. There’s hardly any other products out there replacing brown sugar, and the ones that are out there just aren’t very close or they are super expensive. We are already brainstorming recipe ideas and cannot wait to get this on the market for all of our Swerve fans to try! Low sugar chocolate chip cookies – I’m coming for you.
Speaking of game changer, we are also coming out with bake mixes! The reality is, not everyone has time to bake cakes, cookies, and cupcakes from scratch. Heck – the majority of people don’t! I know I made cakes from good ole Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines before my Swerve days. These mixes are going to make healthier baking so much easier for people. And on top of them being sweetened with Swerve instead of sugar, they are also going to be gluten and grain free. These low glycemic mixes are really going to be one of the first of their kind. Of course I’m going on about the nutrition, but the taste? Incredible. These are some seriously delicious treats – several people at the show said it was the best thing they ate all weekend! Testing out these mixes and working on the packaging for this product was probably my favorite project I’ve been a part of at Swerve so far. It’s amazing to go from an idea to a physical product – and a really fantastic one at that! This product line is going to give people who can’t or choose not to have sugar or gluten an option, so that they can satisfy their sweet tooth without the hassle or the negative health effects.
Be Well by Kelly + NOW Foods
I also got the opportunity to meet Kelly Leveque and receive her book, Body Love at the Now Foods booth. A small group of bloggers part of the New Hope Blogger Co-op met Saturday morning to drink Fab 4 Smoothies, learn about the history and philosophy of Now Foods, and chat with Kelly. I had actually already read the book, so I was excited to meet Kelly and get a physical copy of the book, since I read the kindle version. She talked about how she wrote Body Love because she just wanted to be done with diets and food drama. She (and her clients) want to feel full, calm, balanced, and healthy. Her formula for meals is the Fab 4: protein, fat, fiber, and greens. I love the simplicity of this tool, and how it includes everything you need for a nourishing, healthy meal that is going to keep your blood sugar balanced so that you are full and satiated for hours. Her book is full of science backed information about how the body works when you eat a meal, but she breaks it down to easy to understand concepts. Plus, there are some many delicious and easy recipes in her book! I highly recommend giving this book a read.
Onto the products! Now, I only got a small taste of the show. Like I said, there were 3,000 vendors. Not all are food products, but there’s still a ton of samples to be had!
Rick’s Picks – any food product that helps increase your vegetable intake is a win to me! This line is focused on pickled vegetables, including bold-flavored pickles, beets, okra, and green beans. These flavorful veggies are much lower in sodium than your typical pickles. I’ll definitely be keeping my fridge stocked with these for when I come home from work ravenous, or when I’m really low on veggies because I didn’t make it to the grocery!
Chameleon Cold Brew has always been my favorite. It has such an amazing clean flavor and no bitterness – it’s the only coffee I can drink black. Plus, they’re not loaded with sugar! I grab one often when I’m on the road for work. I stopped by their booth to say hi and I was SO excited to learn about their new coffee pods! You simply drop a pod in a glass of water at night, and you have fresh, delicious cold brew the next morning! They’re basically K-cups for cold brew – no Keurig needed.
siggi’s yogurt is the besttttttt. I actually worked a booth with them right after I finished my dietetic internship, and passed my RD exam! That was three years ago. Their yogurt is still as thick and tasty as ever, but they’re coming out with more flavors and products, including a line of no sugar added yogurt AND these cute little “simple sides.” They’ll have fun toppings like coconut and dried fruit packaged alongside the yogurt for a yogurt parfait on the go.
Farmhouse Culture is my newest food product obsession. I picked up a bag of their fermented veggies at Whole Foods and HOLY YUM. So tangy and crunchy and delicious. Again, great way to sneak in more servings of veggies, get a healthy dose of probiotics, and avoid overeating snacks when you come home from work or school ravenous. I sampled their new turmeric flavor at Expo and it was so good!
Last but certainly not least is Coconut Cult yogurt. I’ve seen this yogurt on Instagram for a few months now – who hasn’t? And I’ve been so intrigued. It is so high in probiotics – 25 billion per 2 tbsp serving! So this is truly a supplement grade product. Which explains the high price tag. I also have heard the texture changes. Sometimes it’s really fluffy, sometimes it’s more runny. So interesting! The taste was good. I think I would have enjoyed it more if it were more thick. Overall I like the idea of eating probiotics for better absorption as opposed to pill form. And how precious is that packaging?!
Here are some of my other favorite brands that were at Expo West:
- Health Ade kombucha
- Perfect Bar
- I’m Different Snacks – new fav that was in my New Hope Blogger Box!
- Hilary’s Eat Well
- Lily’s Sweets
- 4th & Heart
- RX Bars
- Califia Farms
- Chosen Foods
I may have been in California for work, but I always make a little room for some play! My boss and fellow trade show traveler, Ben, actually used to live in California, so he suggested we take a quick trip to Huntington Beach for some beach time and ocean views. But first, we stopped at In-N-Out. This was my first time, and it really was so delicious. I didn’t even miss the bun. I’m glad we don’t have one in Louisiana, because we would be in trouble!
We strolled along the Huntington Beach pier for a while, watching all of the surfers (there must have been hundreds). Lots of great people watching too. I saw some Instagram modeling, couples making out, and a group of boisterous guys from some European country. We had drinks and dinner at Duke’s, which gave us an incredible view of the sunset. It was truly breathtaking.
This was my last trip to California for the year, and it was a great one! I feel so lucky that I get to travel to these places and see all of these new, exciting products. It’s a crazy industry, but it’s full of people that are passionate about health, wellness, and the environment. It’s truly exciting to be a part of it all!
If you went to Expo West, tell me your favorite finds! What was your favorite part of the show? And if you didn’t what are your go-to food products?