The world of natural products continues to grow and evolve and with it, the Natural Product Expo Shows continue to grow in size and attendance. Having just returned from Expo East, the show featured what felt like an endless world of products vying to make their way into more and more mainstream grocery carts and pantries.
Since there are dozens of great blogs already out there focused on recapping the entire show, I thought I’d take a slightly different slant and in preparation for the annual NFRA Convention, I’ll focus on what’s happening at the intersection of Healthy and Frozen.
Healthier take on the frozen aisle.
With today’s consumer craving both convenience and healthier options, I’ve often wondered why the frozen aisle has seemingly lagged behind on offering better-for-you options. There have been a few shining stars in years past such as Amy’s, American Flatbread, and Red’s All Natural but these were largely outliers. In the last year, it seems that tide has turned and there is an influx of new and promising frozen options for the more health-conscious shopper ranging from plant-based burritos to plantain waffles.
If you haven’t tried Brazi Bites, you really should. It’s an all natural, gluten free Brazilian cheese bread that puts traditional frozen apps to shame. And while you might not think frozen fruit is a new idea, Seal the Seasons has married frozen produce with two attributes consumers are clamoring for: local farm sourcing and sourcing transparency.
Their frozen fruit effectively makes local produce available to consumers year round. They partner with local farmers in every state now and even go so far as to feature the name and profile of the farmers who grow products on their packaging and website.
Protein, it’s not just for meat anymore.
Protein has been the darling of diets and the better-for-you food space for a few years running. It now seems if it is edible, there is a protein-enhanced version available. From breakfast drinks to snacks to ice cream to water, there is no shortage of opportunities to pack some additional protein into your day.
The subhead to the protein headline was, of course, plant-based proteins. These foods just keep getting tastier and tastier in my opinion. Jackfruit seems to be taking off while plant-based seafood substitutes also seem to be on the rise as well.
In the frozen aisle, one of my favorite protein-packed treats was Snow Monkey Superfood Ice Treat’s Goji Berry. I am told a pint packs up to 21 grams of protein and it is paleo and vegan. More importantly, it was refreshingly delicious!
As delicious as some of these products were, the prevalence of protein in products left me to wonder, is there such a thing as too much protein? The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states that the average adult needs between 70-120 grams of protein spread throughout the day. I’m fairly certain I had that covered by Aisle 5.
Ice cream, redefined.
And this finally brings me to everyone’s favorite section of frozen, ice cream! Perhaps inspired in part by Halo Top, there is a tsunami of new products and innovations entering in the ice cream, dessert, and frozen novelty space. From organic ice creams from brands like Blue Marble of Brooklyn to Larry & Luna’s Coconut Bliss to Chloe’s Soft Serve fruit, everyone is launching new flavors and variations that encompass superfoods and nutritional claims.
In this space, the show darling seemed to me to be Fronana, a banana-based ice cream alternative. I was skeptical that it could live up to the hype I was hearing on the show floor, but after my first bite of the Dark Chocolate, I was hooked. This little company from Dayton is onto something. They claimed it was so healthy that I could eat it for breakfast. Who am I to argue?
In summary, the frozen category has invested a lot in the education of consumers about the merits of frozen food. However, for the most part, it still suffers from a bad reputation of consisting primarily of unhealthy and less-than-tasty options.