Natural Products West Expo

I  recently attended the Natural Products West Expo in Anaheim, USA this month. The purpose of the trip was to get a feel for the marketplace. I spent my time walking through the exhibition halls with 20,000 other people picking up samples and talking with reps.

There were several ‘hot markets’ or trends that I came across:

  • Probiotics are mainstream but prebiotics just starting.
  • Calming and de-stress products mainly in beverage format. IMG-20120309-00040
  • Sexual vitality and hormonal regulation (e.g.PMS, menopause)
  • Fibre and its link to weight management was prevalent. Fibre seen as cure for all (regulate glucose levels = better sleep).
  • Beauty from the inside – digestible collagen, bars with berries promoting good skin.
  • Immune and gut health were prominent but not linked.
  • Natural energy – tea leaves, coffee beans. Adding caffeine to water drinks.
  • Start to see sports products that do more than just hydrate, carbo for energy and protein for recovery. Including plant extracts for additional functions (e.g. turmeric root, blueberry, grape seed) around antioxidant role. Most have before, during and after formulations.

 IMG-20120310-00105IMG-20120309-00087 IMG-20120310-00098IMG-20120309-00048  

In terms of formulations:

  • A lot of dry powders for single serve drinks – seen in a variety of markets from sports nutrition, supplements to normal consumer beverage (cordial powders etc).
  • No single products – always part of in a range – something for each occasion. Not just shots but up to 400ml beverages
  • Organic nut bars are everywhere.
  • Beverage companies moving into bars.


One thing that has always bothered me about natural products is their lack of scientific validation.

Currently products in the natural products market succeed by having an association with scientific literature or studies, matched with ND/ MD endorsement and ALOT of marketing. That’s all they need to do as the US consumers accepts this. ND? You may be thinking. I was too. It stands for Naturopathic doctors. Something very very different to a MD, medical doctor. The problem…they act and portray themselves as the latter. Look at the image below of the doctor. On the right you see his name on his lab coat. The stethoscope carefully covers the end of the ‘N’, so from a distance you actually think it reads MD (in addition to the lab coat and stethoscope stereotype). This may be my mind running in overdrive but I thought this was too much of a coincidence and I believe summarises all that is bad about the industry…deception.

All products I came across stated….

“These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.”

While it is good they have abided by law and disclosed this on the product, it seems like as long as this is stated (in small print), they can make what ever claims they want on the product. This is a worry as majority of consumers cannot understand what the claims mean in light of this statement i.e. not scientific validated.

From the view of someone looking to introduce a new product into this market, ‘science’ is crucial. However, I am unsure if validated, robust scientific evidence specially associated with the product (and not just referenced studies undertaken by others) would aid in the success of a new product. I fear that it would simply not rise above the noise as the consumer cannot distinguish between the different types of scientific evidence.

IMG-20120309-00005 IMG-20120310-00106

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s