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5 Standout Food Marketing Ideas from Natural Products Expo West

Expo West is one of the most anticipated events in the natural and organic food industry and with more than 3,000 brands at the show, it’s the place where brands and products are launched, and trends are born. 360PR+ was at this year’s show, helping many of our clients capture the momentum of the show. More than just delicious sampling, the show is a barometer for how marketers are communicating the benefits of their products in new and impactful ways.   

Here are our picks for what to watch from Expo West 2023:

Climate Impact on Pack: Throughout the show we saw an increase in packaging that shouted out eco-benefits, with more products than ever proudly boasting climate-friendly claims front and center. Upcycled ingredients to solve for food waste (one of the biggest contributors to climate change) took center stage, like our client Do Good Chicken or chocolate-dipped banana brand Diana’s Bananas that spell out “Upcycled” as a product attribute. Expect the process – and label – to gain more traction this year. Oatly also made a splash in the weeks leading into the show, announcing the launch of its carbon footprint labeling for four of its Oatgurt products. Regenerative agriculture also continues to move to the forefront of climate-friendly on-pack claims, with brands like Simple Mills and Dr. Bronner’s leading the charge along with industry stalwarts including General Mills and Nestle, all hoping to make a difference and connect with a consumer who is more climate-concerned than ever before. In the best-looking category, we love how the Neutral brand prioritizes its impact, with each sunset-colored pack leading with “This milk fights climate change.”

Food & Mental Health: While food as a tool for physical health has always been at the forefront at Expo West, this year, mental health took on a larger role, keeping in step with a consumer who is increasingly looking to food and beverage as a holistic solution to the stressors of daily life. Mushrooms for example, made the transition from being just a versatile option for plant-based meats to stealing the spotlight for its cognitive qualities. A must try on our list? Odyssey Mushroom Elixir, an energy drink made of a blend of adaptogenic mushrooms that helps boost mood, energy and focus. Wise Bar also served up the trend, positioning its mushroom-forward bars as a mood-boosting, super-food snack.

Unique Brand & Flavor Pairings: So, what’s the key to creating the next viral food moment? Think outside the box when it comes to serving suggestions or brand collabs. Take it from Dole, which used Expo West as a launchpad for the news that it was releasing its famous Dole Whip, previously only available at Disney World, at grocery stores, and making national headlines well beyond the halls of the show in the process. We also loved seeing how brands are incorporating unexpected and elevated ingredients into approachable applications. From chips made from kelp to decadent ingredients like lobster oil and delicious French-inspired pâtés from Three Little Pigs, there’s no shortage of unique flavors that are well-suited for the next viral food moment.

Authentic Asian Flavors & Products:  Asian flavors on menus have been on the rise for the past few years, and this year, the trend has definitively jumped from menus to CPG, with Asian flavors and products aplenty in the Expo West halls. Brands are recognizing that consumers are now searching for authentic Asian products – not just Asian “flavors” incorporated into American products. Some of our favorite products were the flavored Korean Milk Drinks from Binggrae and Healthsavor’s Miso Mustard, a NEXTY award-winner. 360PR+ client Nasoya continues to lead the movement, introducing Plantspired Gochujang Steak at the show. Embracing the bold flavors of the fermented condiment popular in the brand’s home country of Korea, the new product was featured in a pre-Expo segment on Good Day LA all about the trends to watch. Looking ahead, we predict we’ll see authentic Asian flavors and products move beyond the ethnic foods aisle and stand on their own in every aisle of the grocery, from plant-based products to condiments.

Supplier Diversity: Consumers are demanding more diversity in the brands they support, and the grocery store is no exception. As producers of the show, New Hope has done admirable work to enable better discovery of BIPOC-owned brands at Expos East and West through its partnership with (included), a membership collective for BIPOC top executives in CPG. This year, BIPOC and women-owned brands deservedly took the spotlight in the Nexty Awards, with brands like Iya Foods, Xinca Foods and Good Food for Good recognized as finalists and winners.

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