Natural Products Expo West Wish List

Posted March 3, 2023 by Alyssa Stahr

In just a few days I will be heading back to Natural Products Expo West for the first time in 10 years. My feet have hit countless trade show floors since that inaugural week in Anaheim, and it’s thrilling to be on the forefront of trends, innovations and taste tests! 

There’s a special excitement in the air when it comes to one of the largest food and beverage shows in the world, and not just because of the celebrity appearances. Here’s what I’m hoping will take shape at this year’s event:


This isn’t just because I’m representing the National Honey Board. I truly love Mother Nature’s sweetener, and the excitement surrounding honey is palpable. From hot honey to honey’s unique usage in coffees and non-alcoholic cocktails to flavor combinations I never thought would exist, honey is having its moment. If you have a honey-sweetened product you’d like to promote or want to formulate with honey, look for me. I may have a sweet honey bear treat for you!


Each year there is a fill-in-the-blank need for consumers. This year the buzzword is protein. The universal appeal of having an ingredient that can be either plant- or animal-based that aids in digestion and offers amino acids is a huge draw. Consumers want value in the products they’re purchasing, but they also want to know what they’re getting, especially when purchasing online. Food Navigator reported there is a “general lack of trust … around store personnel choosing a product that will address their needs and meal and flavor preferences” in protein options. However, consumers are open, and there is great opportunity here.

Speaking of consumers … 

Companies try so hard for distribution, but I feel like the majority miss the mark as soon as the product hits store shelves in terms of what consumers want. Consumer trends and reports versus what I see at shows never quite match up. In fact, a large portion of products I’ve seen at past shows I’ve never seen again, at least at “regular” stores. The niche is just too small to have long-term success. It’s a delicate balance trying to be the next big thing yet not too far off the mark to scare off consumers. This is why I love the “familiarity mixed with something new” trend. It strikes a chord with consumers, gains trust and satisfies the innovative brains of R&D departments. 

The “wow” product.

At least one product blows me away at each show, and I can’t wait to see what product — dare I say products — chisel their way into my memory bank. I’m secretly hoping it’s a plant-based meat replacement that I see a year from now at my “regular” store at a “regular” price point. The category that until very recently was king has struggled, mainly because of what I’ve seen in No. 3. And I’m in the demographic — flexitarian. I would love to find products that I enjoy eating that could help me make the final move to vegetarian and away from animal meat for good. I’ll be on the lookout both on the floor and at the store. 

Want to talk about food and beverages during Natural Products Expo East? Email me at to schedule a chat.

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