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March 20, 2012 / joyful plate

Natural Products Expo West March, 2012: joyful plate branding trends

The best way to survive New York City in the winter is to leave it now and then…so the past few months I’ve been on the food and beverage circuit touring Fancy Food in San Fran, Miami SOBE fest and last week the Natural Products Expo in Anaheim, CA. Here are some brands that caught my eye in my one day tour of Expo West.

First, a few comments on a macro level: A few of the trends mentioned by joyful plate in the Fancy Food show 2011 trend recap still apply: Demonstrations are reaching a new height of BRAND THEATRE: brands typically put on their best dress for trade shows, but this year’s level of performance seems to go way beyond creatively, offering a whole new kind of star quality to the experience. HEALTHY INDULGENCE is alive and well: insightful brands are delivering doses of it -with healthy products offering gourmet taste and gourmet products gone fresh, local and organic. Brands are flirting with a NATURALLY CHIC tone, dialing up the emotion without sacrificing functional credibility. After all, food is fashion! And finally, some creative natural brands are bringing the outdoors in with GARDEN FRESH design-a lifestyle trend we’ve seen for years in restaurants, home decor and clothing.


This was love at first sight and bite-what a fun, fantastical name and package that is altogether NATURALLY CHIC. “The name BOOM CHICKA POP represents just what snacking should be—light, tasty without taking itself so seriously”. It is free of gluten, GMOs and preservatives and is made with just popcorn, sunflower oil and sea salt- and, it has only 35 calories per cup and is a good source of fiber. BOOM CHICKA POP will be available in June 2012 at leading grocery stores across the country. It can also be found online at:  BOOMCHICKAPOP.


Chobani‘s enormous success clearly gave them the confidence to show off their sense of BRAND THEATRE. Their tagline “nothing but good” absolutely applies to the Panko Coconut Scallops with Chobani Chutney I tasted in their experiential Chobani Kitchen. And, I fell madly for their backdrop messaging, ‘It’s crazy to love a yogurt this much” (Created by  Leo Burnett campaign : apparently it is just breaking in Australia and Canada).


The industry has gone coo coo for coconuts…in water, frozen desserts, even baking sticks like kelapo. And no wonder, coconut’s taste profile is rich and sweet and a perfectly pure form of HEALTHY INDULGENCE.

The folks at Dang, San Francisco hear “Dang, That’s Good!” all the time when someone tastes their coconut chips. They start with the best coconuts from Thailand, slice out the nutritious Copra (dried Coconut meat) and toast them with a touch of sugar and salt. I’m saving mine to top my next red curry. And, check out this new beverage intro,  Coco Cafe (joint venture with Vita Coco): Fair trade certified, rich and delicious, Coco cafe provides natural hydration & natural energy. More on the deal here.


The lovely ladies at MetroMint posed for this picture while I sampled their all natural, no sugar, no preservatives, no sweeteners and zero calorie water.  Everything about Metro mint branding is pure and simple and NATURALLY CHIC.

thinkThin Products made a big impression at  ExpoWest. Their website recap recreated the experience well: “along with impressive outdoor and indoor booths, thinkThin had 12 models walking around the convention center, posing statuesque in front of the booth and giving people thinkThin protein bars, the #1 weight management bar in the natural channel”.  Brava! THINK THIN for your sense of BRAND THEATRE and NATURALLY CHIC style and confidence.


I was wowed by DaiyaFoods sense of BRAND THEATRE and displays created for their Deliciously Dairy Free products. Their design look feels GARDEN FRESH- setting an expectation for an all together new eating experience. The melty goodness of their grilled sandwich “stretched my imagination”, offering some real HEALTHY INDULGENCE. Daiya is a company from Van Couver but you can find their products at retail and used in restaraunts here: Daiya Foods Where to Buy.

Gardein encourages you to “Cheat on Meat” with their beefless burgers and crispy tenders. One taste of their burger could have fooled me, they tasted great and I loved the look of their GARDEN FRESH package. I googled Gardein and learned that it’s also a Canadian company but you can find their products at retail and used in restaraunts here: Gardein store locator.

This tart cherry juice from  Cheribundi was absolutely delicious: and it’s great to know it’s a super fruit: their materials say it can help you with aches and pains, trouble sleeping and slow muscle recovery.


Nurtur me has a sweet line of products to “feed your baby better from the ground up”: Dried organic fruits and veggies in convenient packages. And smart branding too “see the “nm” logo and brand mark) with a GARDEN FRESH look and feel to design.

Plum Organics raised the bar years ago for branding, and it keeps going higher and higher. For babies and tots, Plum promises “to make only the most nutritious foods that inspire a joy of eating”. It was certainly a joy to visit their display at Expo West, and very entertaining with a live DJ sharing fun for all.

Copyright © 2012 –joyful plate LLC. All rights reserved. Photographs were taken by joyful plate at the Natural Products Expo West 2012. Brand images are the copyright of the original owners. References to products and brands are not an endorsement, rather a point of view on food and beverage branding trends. Trend names and imagery have been used to support these insights. Links may be provided for brands mentioned for the purpose of providing accuracy. For any edits or corrections to this information please email and we will update information as requested. Thank you.


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