Mar 14, 2019 • By

Our top 5 trends from Expo West 2019

Few places offer better trend-hunting than Natural Products Expo West. An annual natural and organic product show in Anaheim, California, Expo West drew nearly 90,000 attendees and showcased 3,600 exhibits from food and lifestyle companies all over the world. More than 600 of the exhibits were first-timers at the show.

We saw everything from hemp infused products to mushroom coffee to cricket protein. I get the incredibly fun job of trying all this new stuff and sharing opportunities for General Mills in this trend-forward space.

Here are five of our favorite trends that showed up at Expo – and some of the ways General Mills and our 301 INC investment partner brands are already activating against them.

1.    Mission-led

From B-Corps to animal welfare and beyond, brand mission was on full display at Expo. I’m personally proud to work for a company like General Mills where we’re leading with our values. For 150 years, we’ve been serving the world by making food people love, and to do that for another 150 years we know we must protect our natural resources.Liz-by-sign

At Expo West, we announced our commitment to advance regenerative agriculture on 1 million acres of farmland by 2030.  Regenerative agriculture works with nature to pull carbon from the air, enhance natural resources and improve farm profitability.

We made this announcement during Climate Day and at our booth through interactive soil-quality demonstrations, which inspired a lot of great conversation at the show. We’re also bringing this commitment to life through our brands:


Cascadian Farm showcased its new Gluten Free Honey Vanilla Crunch cereal, made with veggies and cover crops such as sweet potatoes, chickpeas, and sorghum that support regenerative agriculture and healthy soil practices. Cascadian Farm has also partnered with the Land Institute to commercialize and scale up Kernza, a perennial grain that helps support soil health.


Annie’s also introduced two new products made with ingredients grown using regenerative practices – Macaroni & Classic Cheddar and Shells & White Cheddar. These ingredients are traceable back to a select few regenerative farmers in Montana.


And EPIC Provisions – a mission-based brand that makes humanely raised animal-based superfoods – proudly showed off its Sweet & Spicy Sriracha Beef Bites. This is the first product in the world to feature the science-based Land to Market Ecological Outcome Verification seal (developed in partnership with The Savory Institute) to guarantee ingredients sourced from regenerative agriculture practices.

2.    Plant-based power

With more people going vegetarian, vegan, and even ‘flexitarian’ (think: meatless Monday), plant-based products were a hit at Expo and are growing rapidly in the marketplace.


Kite Hill (a 301 INC partner) released a handful of new plant-based products, including French Onion and Ranch dips, two new varieties of cream-cheese style spreads (one actually tasted like an Everything bagel), raspberry almond milk yogurt, and tortellini filled with almond milk-based ricotta.Larbar-protein

LÄRABAR is another major player at Expo West, sampling its new plant-based protein bars. Gluten free, vegan and made with just eight simple ingredients, these bars are packed with 11 grams of protein from peas and nuts, and come in four flavors: apple cobbler, almond butter chocolate brownie, chocolate peanut butter cup, and lemon blueberry muffin.


Too new to sample at the show, Cascadian Farm is also launching fruit-infused nutrition bars made with ingredients such as sweet potatoes, beets, blueberries, carrots and apples. Rather than add fruit bits, real fruit is blended into the whole development of the bar, making it literally plant-based.

3.    Gut health

Did you know that there are more microbial species on earth than stars in the sky? Every day, scientists are learning more about the gut microbiome and how it’s linked to overall human health.


And shoppers are paying attention as they seek more gut-friendly foods. A few examples that showed up Expo included probiotics (live yeasts and ‘good’ bacteria) and fermented foods which can be a good way to help with digestion and maintain a healthy gut.Good-belly-bars

GoodBelly (a 301 INC partner) was sampling its classic probiotic juice drinks, as well as some new lemon-lime and orange bubbly flavors for those who prefer their probiotics carbonated. The company was also sampling its crunchy probiotics bars, which come in Cocoa Peanut Butter and Honey Almond Butter – no refrigeration needed.


Farmhouse Culture (a 301 INC partner) was also there with its beloved gut shots and Kraut Krisp probiotic chips, which take gut health into snackable territory. Its newest flavor for both kraut and gut shots is Golden Turmeric.

4.    Protein is still in!


Jon Nudi, president of North America Retail at General Mills, and Carla Vernon, president of our Natural & Organic operating unit, pose with EPIC’s Rise & Grind bars.

Thanks in part to its ability to make us feel full and help us perform at our best, we’re still seeking out added protein as an extra benefit across all formats and all meal/snack occasions. Protein packed products were hot at Expo.Epic-rise-and-grind

EPIC Provisions debuted its new Rise & Grind morning-inspired bar, made with organic egg yolks from Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs, humanely raised pork, and chicken raised without antibiotics. These bars are available in two varieties: bacon & egg yolks, which offers nine grams of protein; and chicken, egg yolks, & apple, which offers 13 grams of protein.


Annie’s sampled its new cookie dough protein bars in Peanut Butter and Chocolate Peanut Butter. Both are made with organic peanut butter as its first ingredient and offer six grams of protein and three grams of fiber, perfect to fuel kids’ after school activities.Expo-Good-Culture

And Good Culture (a 301 INC partner) passed out “caprese salads” infusing their classic whole milk organic cottage cheese, made with clean and simple ingredients and boasting 19 grams of protein (only three grams of sugar).

5.     Functional foods … personalized

As consumers continue to personalize their diets based on specific health needs and lifestyle, a trend that caught our attention were foods that deliver those “functional” benefits like MCT (Medium Chain Triglyceride) oil for Keto diets, or turmeric to help fight inflammation. Shoppers are consuming harder-working calories through specific products that lend themselves to physical benefits, and we saw this all over Expo.


Purely Elizabeth (a 301 INC partner) introduced no less than 10 new products at Expo, including a new line of granola bars made from ancient grains like chia and hemp; a grain-free hot cereal made from cauliflower appealing to Keto and Paleo diets; oatmeal cups made with grass-fed collagen and protein from seven nuts and seeds like quinoa and amaranth; and MCT grain-free granola.

I’m excited to see what next year brings!3BOU-Expo-Group


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