The best part of being back at Expo West? Seeing so many of you! A reported 2,700 exhibitors and over 57,000 registered attendees gathered in Anaheim, CA, from March 8-12 for the return of Natural Products Expo West, and many shared the same sentiment: Reconnecting with industry colleagues was the highlight of the week. This gathering marked the largest in-person industry event since Expo West was abruptly canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March of 2020, and there was a general sense of exuberance on the show floor and at the evening happy hours.

I flew back to home base in New Jersey on the red eye last night, and there’s a lot to unpack from the whirlwind of a show. We’re sharing insights from the educational seminars, along with scenes from the exhibit halls on our social media pages. So if you weren’t able to make it to the event, or if you were there but couldn’t catch it all, we’re here to help.

We’ll also be reporting on the major trends from the show throughout the year, to help you stay informed on what’s new and what’s next. My major takeaways from this year’s NPEW:

Plant-based is innovating & elevating. At SupplySide West in 2021, I talked to many ingredient suppliers who were showcasing their efforts to elevate plant-based. No doubt about it, their efforts are paying off, as the products I sampled at this show, as well as at the Plant Based World Conference & Expo in December 2021, are truly delicious! For a look at the latest in plant-based, see page 24.

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Microbiome is all the buzz.On my first day of this five-day event, I heard the word postbiotic over and over again. Probiotics and prebiotics are in demand with consumers, while postbiotics and synbiotics are gaining interest. What are the benefits of these emerging ‘biotics? Where does the science stand? How can you educate your customers? We’ll be doing a deep-dive into the microbiome category, and will present the information you need to navigate this space, in our next Naturally Informed virtual conference, which is taking place May 17-19. The event is free to attend, and the information will also be available on demand to all who register, so reserve your spot today,or scan the code here for more information.

People are thirsty for natural. Beverages dominated the show floor, from sugar-free sodas to sparkling waters to functional sips. Ingredients helped brands stand out from the crowd, like the HMB-infused water from Nirvana Water Sciences (you can learn more about the science by tuning intoThe Natural View: Exploring the Science & Lifelong Benefits of HMB-Infused Water), and the artisanal flavor combos from Aura Bora sparkling water (I’m loving the lavender cucumber). It also was a visual treat to see the personality of each brand on the packaging, from hardcore black skulls to soft flowering pastels.

Phytocannabinoids get focused. At the last in-person NPEW back in 2019, there was a full pavilion dedicated to hemp/CBD. Demand was sky-high, and throughout the industry there were concerns about the wild-west nature of the space. Those concerns linger as the industry continues to wait for FDA action. Plus, with the combination of regulatory uncertainty and reduced consumer demand as attention shifted to immune-boosting during the pandemic, there were far fewer phytocannabinoid companies on the show floor. Those that I did talk to, though, were highly focused on science and education, and not fly-by-night operations. There’s also a shift away from CBD to focusing more on the minor phytocannabinoids and synergies. We will be taking an in-depth look at the state of this category in our annual phytocannabinoid feature in the June issue ofWholeFoods.

Delivery systems diversify. Shots, strips, powders, chocolates, and chews join gummies in the list of innovating, pill-free ways for consumers to get their nutrients. Check out the latest on the variety of options on page 34.

I could go on, and I will! We will be covering more from the show in print and online. If you were at the show, I’d love to hear from you. What trends caught your eye? Email me at to give me your take.

Maggie Jaqua Content Director