The 6 Best Products We Saw at Expo West

The 6 Best Products We Saw at Expo West

Expo West, the Superbowl of the natural and organic food industry, just concluded a dizzying 4-day trade show in Anaheim that saw 85,000 people attend with 3,000+ companies exhibiting – that’s a sh*t ton of branding and packaging. With so much going on in the food space, it’s harder than ever to stand out in a meaningful way. The behemoths of the industry all turned out with amazing booths and presences, from Kind to Chobani to Kashi. But we’re after the hidden gems, the ones quietly tucked away amidst the show floor aisles, filled with sample-grabby consumers. Here’s a look at six of our favorite brands that stood tall at this year’s Expo. LE GRAND When was the last time soup was cool? How about invigorating? Or even artistic? Well the founders of Le Grand, makers of organic sauces and soups, brought a whole new look to the category. The brand beautifully celebrates the “power of plants,” and they make use of a subliminal plus sign on the packaging that plays up their health and wellness credentials, all while blending in a modern botanical aesthetic. It’s a refreshing and engaging look against a traditionally dense, produce-focused category. WELLER Weller snacks unveiled their innovative line of non-psychoactive, CBD (hemp-extract) coconut bites at Expo West. The brand promises consumers an opportunity to “shift back into you” with their stress-relieving products. In such a contentious and often heady space, Weller is supported by an approachable, clean and optimistic look and feel that welcomes consumers to “snack into wellness.” HAVEN ROW Fresh, refrigerated “do Anything sauce” brand Haven Row is setting the category on fire after their...
Why Natural Needs Design, More Than Ever

Why Natural Needs Design, More Than Ever

Every week, waves of all-natural, cleaner, better-for-us food companies push their way into the crowded food landscape, packed onto the shelves like a can of non-GMO, sustainably-harvested sardines. Categories balloon with products cut from the same, simpler-food-cloth. The pressure is such that even overly processed brands, many of which are American favorites, are reinventing themselves, fighting startups and innovators for relevancy. Food has taken its rightful place in culture, as any millennial’s Instagram will prove. Yet this shared ethos amongst almost every modern-day food company and founder, may present a hurdle to the brands they’re building today. Over the last several decades, the Natural and Organic foods industry has seen unprecedented growth, coming at the expense of Big Food. This changing of the guard has accelerated as more and more people become interested in their food. What’s in it? How is it made? Where does it come from? Natural’s ability to proudly deliver these characteristics has built valuable trust in the movement. Yet as the entire food system becomes more wholesome, more organic, and less processed, a dangerous dichotomy is emerging: When everyone crafts simpler foods that are closer to the earth, we simultaneously lose a valuable brand building asset – taste differentiation. Everyone and their investor is now in a race to the bottom of the clean, transparent ingredient list. Seemingly harmless “natural” flavors are now under growing scrutiny, furthering this flavor dilemma. Large food producers are leveraging their size, money and reach to play a serious game of clean-up. With all this going on, and a clear consensus around consumers’ interest in and demand for less, we’re now...
The Plant Based Food Market Continues to Expand

The Plant Based Food Market Continues to Expand

Plant-based foods are demanding more and more space on shelves. Consumer trends continue to shift toward meat and dairy free alternatives, and more products are popping up daily. PETA recently published an article calling out their favorite veggie products, and it led us to take notice of some recurring trends that are being seen in the space. Puffed Snacks Savory, crunchy foods like popcorn and potato chips are the most sought after snacks. But, less conventional ingredients are coming to the forefront. Boasting more health benefits than conventional corn, wheat or potato snacks, consumers are reaching for delectable offerings like Vegan Rob’s Moringa Puffs, and Bohana Puffed Water Lily Seeds. Faux Jerkies Though there’s been a huge expansion in meat jerkies featuring meats beyond beef, there are some interesting options that stand up as solid plant based alternatives to the hearty snack. Texture is key, so Pan’s Mushroom Jerky imitates the chewy quality of jerky with mushrooms. Akua’s kelp jerky helps satisfy the savory craving for jerky and is a remarkably more sustainable option. Sakara offers a slow baked watermelon jerky that sweeter option.   Dairy-Free Staples When considering a plant-based diet, finding stand-ins for traditionally animal derived products like butter and milk can make things difficult. And over the years, soy has lost a lot of its lustre. Aquafaba (which is essentially leftover chickpea liquid) has been showing up as a dairy stand in, most recently as a base for Fora Foods vegan butter. And while we have seen plenty of plant based yogurts, many lack the probiotics that traditional yogurt offers – but Coconut Cult retains that quality,...
16 Female Powered Food & Beverage Businesses

16 Female Powered Food & Beverage Businesses

We’re fortunate to work with amazing entrepreneurs; true partners building brands for a new generation. A recent Forbes article on female Food & Bev Entrepreneurs led us to reflect on all of the driven, innovative and overall badass women that we’ve been fortunate to encounter in our work. These individuals are responsible for bringing wildly innovative products to the forefront of the industry. Each with their own unique voices and stories. Women are underrepresented as entrepreneurs, making up only 36% of new business owners since 2012. (Source) But as Beyonce once said, “girls, we run this mother” and today we shine a light on that beautiful 36% percent in the hopes of inspiring others to make it 50-50! While most of the individuals we mention here are founders and CEO’s, we also work with countless female brand managers, marketers, strategists, creatives, account managers and other roles that are fundamental to the success of a business. 1051 GOODONYA Founder and CEO Kris Buchanan C.N. opened the GOODONYA deli with a passion for serving up locally sourced, organic and delicious food. Over the years she’s overseen launches of even more locations, landed the GOODONYA bar in Whole Foods, and helped formulate the 1051 Organic Sports Drink. Her unwavering commitment to quality of food and kindness as a lifestyle have set a shining example for entrepreneurs everywhere. AccelFoods Sometimes, brilliant companies need a leg up – especially in the food and beverage industry. Jordan Gaspar (a former corporate lawyer) and Lauren Jupiter (previously an investment banker) co-founded the incubator AccelFoods to launch innovative natural food startups to success. Both bring their solid backgrounds...
Ask the Team: What Brand Would You Redesign?

Ask the Team: What Brand Would You Redesign?

Some of the most successful food brands have enough staying power that their packaging stays recognizable over the course of time. Yet, target demographics are constantly shifting and though a brand can still be relevant, shaking things up provides an undeniable intrigue. We live for companies that push the barriers of the packaging world. So what would we redesign? Here are a few responses from the team. If I could redesign any brand it would be Nutella. I feel like Nutella and La Croix have the same mentality of “we’ve already cornered the market, so who cares what our packaging looks like”. The illustrations are outdated and uninspiring and it’s clear this packaging design hasn’t been touched in years. Now that the Nutella wordmark has so much recognition, there is a great opportunity to either minimize it or use just parts of it – similar to what Coca Cola has done in past packaging refreshes. The brand has achieved a level of status that not many brands are lucky to attain and they now have license to reinvent themselves for the next generation of Nutella eaters. – Kelley Smart food white cheddar popcorn. This is a classic product from our generation – it’s one of the very first “healthy”, yet indulgent gas station snacks. It is truly a nostalgic; think road trips, sporting events, that beloved after school treat. The packaging seems unchanged, old and busy. I would love to see Smart Food to get a modern facelift to match it’s still VERY relevant place in the grocery and gas station aisles. -Abby I’d redesign the kid trifecta: Fruit By the...
Outdoor Friendly Foods

Outdoor Friendly Foods

Boulder is home to a population of climbers, skiers, hikers, rafters and all manner of adventure hungry thrill seekers. Whether setting out for a week long backpacking trip or a quick afternoon hike, the right kind of food and beverage is key. The active food category has always been a little sleepy, as we’ve seen a lot of the same brands dominate freeze dried foods and energy bars. But as consumers are becoming increasingly likely to spend more on sustenance that is convenient, new and eye grabbing options are popping up to intrigue the appetites of outdoor enthusiasts.   HEATHER’S CHOICE This company features a diverse selection of organic freeze dried dinner entrees, breakfast options and snacks.   TIGER NUTS Touted as superfood, this lightweight snack packs a heavy nutritional punch with high protein and fiber content. Organic Gemini offers them as snacks in a variety of flavors, as well as in the forms of tiger nut based flour and beverages. TRAIL NUGGETS These bars communicate functionality as an active snack, with natural energy and protein – despite having similar ingredients to other bars in the category. FISH PEOPLE Tuna pouches are a staple for backpackers and campers. This gourmet option offers a step up in flavor, but not in difficulty to prepare in the wild. STEALTH Stealth energy gels by Secret Training convey energy with the vividness and movement of its packaging. NUUN  These hydration tablets are packaged in a conveniently lightweight and reusable structure, a huge plus for active lifestyles. ALPINE START Great coffee that can be prepared with either hot or cold water can be your best friend...