It was an incredible week of learning from experts, connecting with international peers and finding inspiration in the many halls filled with American NPD. They’ve summarised their Top 10 Takeaways from Expo West in this short blog article, so read on for a review of the incredible innovation that was on show.

1. Mushroom Madness - Functional mushrooms were in absolutely everything at the show. From RTDs, snack bars, chocolates and more, if there was an innovative new product chances are it featured mushrooms! Lion’s Mane, Reishi, Chaga and Turkey Tail varieties seemed to be particularly popular. Products using mushrooms linked them to various functional benefits including improving stress/sleep, boosting immunity, cognitive health and more. Unfortunately, formulating with medicinal mushrooms in Australia is not simple because they are classified as novel foods. However, we can recognise the appetite for products formulated with natural ingredients that help to support mental and physical health.

2. Women's Health - Women’s health was a hot topic at Expo West in both the product halls and the education sessions. No longer a ‘niche’ interest, products formulated to support women’s health throughout their lifespans were evident across many different applications. From menstrual-support supplements to menopause-relief teas there was exciting innovation in women’s health that isn’t as evident in Australia yet.

3. "Woman-Owned" - Linked to the above point, Woman-Owned or Female-Owned branding was seen frequently throughout the product halls. Calling out the provenance of a brand and heroing female founders or owners seems to be a well-received approach.

4. Child-Centred - Another demographic in the spotlight was children! Beverages focusing specifically on children were popular, as were other products like snacks and supplements. Snack bars formulated specifically for children and featuring kid-friendly flavours were spotted, as well as calming supplement gummies to help support children’s mood and healthy development.

5. Postbiotics - While there is a lot of excitement both in the US and Australia around postbiotics, this ingredient is still very much in its infancy. There were definitely products using postbiotics to be found at the convention, but it hasn’t yet reached the mainstream like probiotics or prebiotics have. The good news is that means there’s still time to be among the ‘first to market’ in this growing space!

6. Mental Health & Wellness - There were products to support every condition under the sun, but one of the areas that was very well represented was mental health support. Products to help boost mood, reduce anxiety, improve sleep and aid focus were front and centre. DHA and L-Theanine seemed to be common actives in these mental health-focused products.

7. Hydration Hype - Products aiming to increase hydration were everywhere! From pickle juice shots, ‘hydrating’ coffee and functional gummies promising to increase skin hydration, this was a key focus spotted throughout the convention. With our blistering Australian heat making this trend even more relevant, hydration may well be a good focus area for Summer 2024/2025 NPD.

8. Immunity Endures - As we all know, immune-boosting products have experienced a rapid growth in popularity since 2020. While immune-focused products were definitely still popular and seen in almost all categories, they weren’t the sole focus as they sometimes have been in the past few years. Other functional focuses like mental health, women’s health and hydration seemed to be becoming of similar interest.

9. Plant-Powered - While much has been said lately on the demise of the plant-bases sector, this was most certainly not the feeling at Expo West! Plant-based and vegan products were still a significant presence, and big brands like Oatly and Impossible had enormous and popular stands in the product halls. There was also a lot of new innovation to be seen in this area – think vegan caviar, banana milk, plant-based poke bowls and dairy-free queso.

10. Fresh Formats - Supplements came in all shapes and sizes, catering to many different use-case scenarios and preferences. While standard tablet/capsule supplements were still very common, gummies, powder sachets and shot formats were noticeably popular. Convenience and novelty seemed to be the word of the day for supplements!

We hope that this summary of our findings at Expo West got you excited and helps to inspire your innovation efforts in the coming months! If you would like more information about how we can help you formulate exciting new products like these, or would like to discuss our ingredient portfolio, please get in touch (hyperlink to Contact Us page) – we’d love to chat.