Imbibe’s Hot Take on Expo West 2022: Big Mood Food & Eat, Drink, and Be Non-Dairy (And More!)

 In Blog, Food & Beverage Trends

If you were in Anaheim the week of March 7th, then you would know that in-person trade shows have been restored (finally) and have come back in full force! The past two years were undoubtedly missed, but new products, fresh flavors, and emerging ingredients were exploding from all corners of the convention. We sent a team to Expo West to survey the halls and out of the thousands of booths that exhibited (and 86,000 attendees), we pulled together the most prominent trends and innovative finds in food and beverage. From up-and-coming entrepreneurs to big beverage brands, talks of products from new categories and existing ones were buzzing all over the expo floor.

Here’s what we found:

All’s well in the microbiome

expo west product 1At the end of 2021, Google searches for “gut health” were up by 83%, and with a strong concern from consumers to get their digestive well-being in order, brands answered the demand with a slew of new offerings (BUPA). Many brands are stepping out of their usual kombucha-centric silos and stepping into the sparkling water and soda space. Mortal Power just launched its line of prebiotic sparkling waters, with each flavor targeting a specific need state, while also supporting a healthy gut. Set for release in April 2022, Wildwonder’s new sparkling beverage flavor, Strawberry Passion, contains both pre- and probiotics. Humm exhibited with new BFY probiotic sodas and seltzers. Some brands expanded on their offerings by leaning into other trending areas, like the alt-dairy space, as we observed with the Lifeway Probiotic Oat beverage that was presented in three flavors.

Eat, drink, and be non-dairy

expo west prod 2Innovation in the alt-dairy space hasn’t waned seized and it looks like there are some new unconventional milk types looking to shake up this category. One that stood out to us was barley, compliments of Take Two. While this product has been on the market for some time, Molson Coors recently threw its hat in the ring with the newly launched Golden Wing Barley Milk, boasting a higher calcium and vitamin D3 content, and less sugar than dairy options. To further the sustainability in the plant-based category, Sproud revealed a new vanilla flavor. The Sweden-based pea milk company claims to manufacture its plant-based beverage from a regenerative crop that has a 75% lower carbon footprint than dairy. Another new release was betterland’s cow-free milk, that’s formulated with Perfect Day’s animal-free whey protein and aims to deliver a drinking experience that mimics dairy milk. Oat has been championing this category for the past few years but has been breaking into new formats. Nature’s Charm displayed its newly released evaporated Oat Milk and Oat Whipping Cream (which hasn’t been
formally launched yet).

Big Mood

expo west prod 3We’ve been formulating with adaptogens and mood-altering ingredients for a while now, but hype around this need state was very present around the show. Throughout the pandemic we saw food and beverages utilizing ashwagandha and CBD, and while they continue to be key players, more unique choices like lemon balm, kava, rhodiola rosea also made appearances. Ü Relax rolled out two flavors (Mixed Berry and Pineapple) of its calming tonic. Another new release from Lifeway included Mushroom Oat Adaptogenic Beverages that claim to target need states for focus, calm, and immune support by utilizing different mushroom types in each flavor (reishi, lion’s mane, and a troop mix). Taika did an overhaul on its branding which included new packaging and the reveal of a limited-edition Mocha Latte to its line of coffee and matcha lattes, made with a blend of L-theanine, ashwagandha, and mushrooms.

Eastern Elevation

Asian and other Eastern-inspired flavors and traditional beverages were
found in many
of the booths this year. Yuzu, moringa, pomelo, and lycheeexpo west prod 4 were some of the flavors and ingredients seen in sparkling water, BFY sodas, and seltzers. Sanzo Sparkling Water displayed a line of four Asian-inspired flavors including Yuzu, Mango, Calamansi, and Lychee. Based on a common Chinese dish that straddles the sweet and savory line, Torani debuted its Salted Egg Yolk syrup in January, which was also named its “flavor of the year”. Influence from the Eastern side of the globe also was prominent in the coffee and tea category. Twrl Milk Tea showcased its line of Japanese inspired better-for-you RTDs, including its latest release, Hojicha (roasted green tea). Emshika’s collaboration with Rise Brewing delivered two new SKUs to the brand’s portfolio including an RTD Thai tea latte and Thai coffee latte. Special shout out to some other compelling flavors like Turmeric Black Pepper (Keaf Sparkling Kombucha), Cardamom Mango (Dosa Lassi), and Ume (Kimono Sparkling Water).

We couldn’t fit all of our findings into just one post, so we’ll be posting part two next week! Be sure to check back. In the meant time, check out Imbibe Presents: The Percolator Teaser, for a sneak peek at what flavors are simmering, bubbling, and boiling over – located in our content library!

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