Today is a very special edition of Fresh Finds because I’m sharing with you all the items that I’ve seen and tried at this year’s Expo West in Anaheim, CA! I always love seeing up and coming companies rub elbows with the big boys in the food industry and showcase healthy, sustainable products. Even though this is a natural foods expo, there’s still a lot of junk-filled products so you need to really read your labels and be aware of the ingredients.
It can get overwhelming to look at each every item at Expo West (there were over 3,500+ exhibitors this year!) so I skipped booths that fall into the following categories.
– Not gluten-free
– Protein Powders
– Bars and Granola
– Meat sticks
That made it easier for me to scan the booths on each aisle and focus on those that I’m interested in. I did stop by a few chocolate booths to take a photo but I spent no more than a minute to do so. I didn’t get a chance to visit some booths I was interested in because I was only there for a day but I was happy to discover new brands and see new items from some of my favorite brands. Next year I’ll definitely be heading out for the full 3 days again!
Here are the items that I’ve tried and loved from Expo West (click each item to see a photo)
1- Dairy Free Dips (Spicy Nacho, Mild Nacho, Garlic Parm, Cheddar. Smoked Cheddar) – The Honest Stand
2- Organic Oatmeal, Fruit & Seed – Bob’s Redmill
3- Paleo Toaster Waffles and Banana Paleo Pancakes – Birch Bender
4- Sea Salt & Pepper Mushroom Jerky – Panco Foods
5- Lean Cup Cold Brew – Coffee Blenders
6- Golden Turmeric Kraut and Gut Shots – Farmhouse Culture
7- Gnar Gnar Sauerkraut – Cleveland Kraut
8- Tuna Packets (Chili Lime) – SafeCatch Foods
9- Country Style Pork Sausage – Jones
10- Organic Apple & Wildflower Honey Chicken Sausage – True Story
11- Italian-Style Crushed Red Pepper & Basil – Teton Waters Ranch
12- Animal Cookies (Gluten-Free) – Kinnikinnick
13- Soft-Baked Peanut Butter and Snickerdoodle Cookies – Simple Mills
14 – Shortbread Cookies (Gluten-Free) – Walkers
15- Cold Brew Coffee Bites – Ophelia and High Brew Coffee
16- Parmesan Cheese Bites – Snapz
17- Goat Cheese Discs (Purple Haze, PsycheDillic, Herbs de Humboldt, Ms. Natural) – Cypress Grove
18- Low Carb Pizza Crust – Mikey’s
19- Oven Baked Pork Rinds (Sea Salt and Chili Lime) – Epic
20- Sugar-Free Strawberry Jam – Nature’s Hollow
21- Suntella Chocolate Spread – Lakanto
22- Quinoa Chocolate Baking Chips – Pascha
23- Oat Milk – Oatly
24- Butter Coffee Creamer – Picnik
25- Zero Calorie Cocktail Mixer (Ginger Lime) – Be Mixed
26- Green Tea Mints – Sencha
27 – Mint Breath Drops – Lively Up Your Breath
I got a ton of samples and I picked out those that I’ll be trying in the next couple of weeks (click each item to see a photo)
1- Adaptogen Coffee and Mushroom Mocha – Four Sigmatic
2- Classic Ranch, Buffalo Ranch & Pizza Ranch – Sir Kensington’s
3- Pesto Oil – La Tourangelle
4- Soft Baked Mini Cookies (Snickerdoodle) – Enjoy Life
5- Honey Lavender Stress Relief, Honey Chai Turmeric Vitality and Green Tea Passion Fruit Matcha Tea – Yogi
6- Dried Fruit – Snapz
7- Drip Cup Coffee – Coffee Blenders
Aside from food, there were also some Health & Beauty and Natural Home products that I checked out. I loved seeing the brands that I already use and I’m looking forward to trying out the samples I got from other brands that are new to me!
2018 Expo West Trends
Lots and lots of bottled waters – There was a water booth in almost every aisle at the Expo. Sparkling, still, volcanic, Hawaiian, pure, ionic, etc. etc. You name it, they have it! I personally don’t buy bottled water and prefer to use a Brita pitcher that has a replaceable filter.
More chickpea based snacks and food items – This was a popular trend last year and continues this year and has made an appearance in a lot of gluten-free snacks and pasta products.
All the protein bars/nut bars – I’ve never been a fan of any food in bar form because I don’t feel satisfied eating them. I think these will always make an appearance each year because they are a great convenience food. Just watch out for unnecessary additives and high amounts of sugar in some bars!
CBD items – I saw products such as tea, coconut bites and honey to name a few that has CBD as one of its ingredients. This is a big change from last year where there were only a couple of booths that sold actual CBD products – oils, balms and supplements. Next year, I’m sure I will see more and more items with CBD in it as it becomes more mainstream.
1- The Hall E Lower Level has the best booths to check out. I spent most of my time there each year versus the main level because that’s where the smaller brands are. It’s super stuffy and crowded down there but I’m a trooper and powered through! There are more smaller brands on Level 3 and that area is cooler and generally less crowded.
The Hot New Products were moved to the new North Hall so it was much easier to navigate. I got there before 10am so it wasn’t as packed.
2- Some booths are staffed with people that have no personality. Great products, some of which I would love to try and recommend but the staff has a can’t be bothered attitude. Maybe because I’m a blogger and not an investor or retailer? Also, a warm smile and a simple “hello” goes a long way. It only takes a few seconds to make that first impression!
3- There are brands that have a hard time explaining why they use certain ingredients in their product. The most common question I ask is “Why do you use canola oil in your product?” and I’m usually met with a blank stare or a look that says “who are you to question our product?”
4- I’ve seen quite a few snack ninjas who jump from booth to booth and grab handfuls of samples, some of which aren’t even freebies but are full-sized display items! More exhibitors are covering their display products with saran wrap or packaging tape and labeling them “for display only” to deter the snack ninjas. I always make sure to ask if I can get a sample before grabbing one!
5- The best time to score as much samples is closer to noon on Sunday, the last day of the expo. Exhibitors do not want to bring these items back with them (especially if they have to fly back home!) and they will happily give out all the samples they have left.
So there you have it! I hope there are a few new products coming out this year that you’ll be interested in trying out. Attending Expo West is a lot of fun but equally exhausting. Talking to exhibitors, walking around for hours and dodging people while carrying bags that get heavier and heavier by the minute is no easy task so being prepared is key!