After two years of enduring the pandemic with little-to-no in-person events, the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry gathered at the Philadelphia Convention Center for the three-day Natural Products Expo East, held Sept 23-25, 2021. The event was smaller than usual — less than 1,000 exhibitors set up booths compared to the typical 3,000 — and several major retailers were not present because of the Delta variant surge. Expo East took several precautions to make it as safe as possible for attendees, including providing proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result and requiring masks worn on the trade show floor.
On one hand, there was a certain excitement in the air. For many, including RangeMe, this was their first show back after two years and they were happy to be back in the presence of other brands and buyers. On the other hand, the worry of COVID still lingering in the background was strongly apparent throughout the empty rows where lively booths were supposed to sit. It’s clear that with two years of no in-person events, a hybrid version of both virtual and in-person attendee options is the future of trade shows.
We were happy to see familiar faces, including so many of our RangeMe Verified™ suppliers at the show. Several brands came to our booth to share how excited they were to connect with a major retailer through one of our retail submission campaigns. This was the icing on the cake for the RangeMe team! Take a look at some of our suppliers that attended the show:
What was trending at Expo East?
From snacks to supplements, there were unique trends in the natural product space that are bound to make an impact on the CPG industry. Here are five major trends that we saw at the show:
Cool as a cucumber
It seemed that everyone was cooling off with cucumber-flavored drinks. Cucumber has many benefits, including added hydration, antioxidants, and aids in digestion. From probiotics and energy drinks, to the classic cucumber water, cucumber was a popular ingredient for a refreshing finish in ready-to-drink beverages. RangeMe supplier, CELSIUS Live Fit, exhibited their Natural-Sparkling Cucumber Lime drink. Their functional beverage has healthy energy, natural caffeine, zero grams of sugar, and boosts metabolism and burns fat.
When I dip, you dip, we dip
Dips were all the rage at this year’s show, with an abundance of different dips to appease any snacker’s cravings. RangeMe supplier Plant Perks, showcased their array of dips which included French Onion, Buffalo Blue, Smoked Gouda, Garlic & Herb, Sriracha Cheddar, and Dill Havarti. With plant-based cheese spreads and dips, the elevated textures and flavors are pushing their dairy counterparts to the side.
Caution, may be prickly
Move aside coconut water, cactus water is here and it’s here to stay! For so long, coconut water reigned supreme as the new way to stay hydrated, but cactus water is making a name for itself. Pricklee Cactus Water, another RangeMe supplier, showed off how they are making waves with their Prickly Pear, Strawberry Hibiscus, and Mango Ginger flavor cactus waters. Filled with antioxidants, including anti-aging benefits and electrolytes, cactus water contains half the sugar and calories of coconut water—making it a must-have in your fridge.
Don’t be latte!
Sometimes you just don’t have the time to stop for coffee but need caffeine to get you through a busy day. And it would be great to have natural energy without the caffeine crash or jitters. We’re seeing more and more natural caffeine in teas, energy drinks, protein powders, and supplements. RangeMe supplier, Pocket Latte, is putting a twist on everyone’s favorite drink with their coffee-chocolate bar. This Ready-to-Eat Coffee™ comes in the tasty flavors of Cream & Sugar, Dark Roast, Hazelnut, and Lavender-Vanilla.
Wish you were beer
Zero alcohol but 100% beer, how can that be?! Many people choose not to drink alcohol but still want to be socially involved at happy hours or outings with friends, and we’ve seen an increase of brands putting their spin on non-alcoholic IPAs. RangeMe supplier Gruvi showcased a new non-alcoholic alternative to beer. Their motto? “Lose the alcohol, not the flavor.”
Trade shows are slowly but surely making a comeback, and RangeMe is excited to be along for the ride. We’re not sure which hybrid approach future trade shows will adopt, but it’s clear that RangeMe will continue to be the bridge between buyers and suppliers, especially during these unprecedented times.
If you attended Expo East or plan to attend any trade shows in the future, be sure to leverage your RangeMe profile for your follow-ups. Learn more here!
Are you a retail buyer who wants to discover products that match these trends? Browse trending products.