Natural product brands and manufacturers of all sizes and types came from across the country to Baltimore, Md., last week for Natural Products Expo East 2017. From subtle product updates to category-disrupting innovations, this year’s expo, held Sept. 13-16 at the Baltimore Convention Center, gave attendees a chance to see and experience the latest developments in beverage firsthand.
With cold brew continuing to dominate the RTD coffee space, brands are seeking innovation by carving out niche pathways to differentiation with unconventional flavor combinations and new brewing techniques. Nut-based milks and other plant-based dairy alternatives have taken a larger share of the traditional dairy space in recent years, but Expo East showed the category still has considerable white space to explore and provide consumers with further choices. The runaway success of coconut water helped break open the doors for the plant-based water category as a whole, and Expo East found brands tweaking their positions in search of more room to expand. New companies are using foreign fruits to make plays for American taste buds. Two companies, Repurposed Pod and ZAVU, launched at the show with unique single-fruit juice drinks.