Food and Beverage

Expo West 2019 Top Three This or That’s

Bob Froese

The creative industry enjoys words like ‘tensions’ to describe ideas that hold contradiction for consumers. Tensions are used as insights to develop powerful creative ideas. I like to simply call them ‘This or That’s’.

And Expo West 2019 was full of ‘This or That’s’.

My top three:

Plant or Meat

Plant-based foods are growing faster than kudzu, and while I didn’t see kudzu on the menu, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it soon. There was a plethora of plant-based options, one hundred to be precise, from the Jack of all foods Jackfruit Company to self-proclaimed ‘Global Thought Leader in Plant-Based’ Hain Celestial. There were even two separate associations devoted to plant-based – The Good Food Institute and The Plant Based Foods Association.

With the U.S. plant-based retail market at over $4.1 billion1 and almost 100% of protein category growth coming from plant-based vs meat1, consumers may be losing the distinction between plant or meat but manufacturers certainly are not.

I love how animal-based meat brand The New Food Collective is taking on this challenge. Such an affirming and fun message for lovers of premium meat that tackles this tension head on with clever conversation like #veggiesmeatyourmatch, Our Meat is Landmade, and Peace, Love and Meat.

Soup or Juice

‘Soup as we knew it’ is declining as fast as ‘cereal as we knew it’. The convenience factor of soup and its ability to host other functional benefits means it does have a growing place in the bowls or bottles or recipes of future consumers. Chicken soup as the cure for whatever ails you has been replaced with bone broth – which not only cures you, it also makes you even better than you were before! I stopped counting the number of bone broth brands after my first half dozen samples. Feeling great though.

Sprout Innovation now has a bone broth for babies product – Bonafide offers juices with bone broth and drinkable veggies. And Numo Broth has home brew-it-yourself kits, partially cooked marrowy bones included!

Drinkable soups in bottles can now do it all, from providing your protein and detoxing your everything to serving up every vegetable or nutrient you can imagine. Thanks to Skinny Souping we even have a new word to define our soup eating, or drinking.

CBD – Brand or Ingredient

As expected, CBD is finding its way into so many of the foods and beverages we enjoy it begs the question whether brands will be built around CBD any more than they are built around salt. From products in every form imaginable on shelf to food service, recipes and food experience, CBD is being served up as the lead story.

The excitement around CBD is understandable, arguably CBD offers unique and amazing benefits beyond almost any single ingredient we can envision. At the end of the day though, or maybe even at the beginning, it’s still just an ingredient. Imagine we just discovered salt – its benefits are wide-ranging; its sources and varieties are numerous and unlike CBD we can’t survive without it. And it has a taste we crave. Would we have salt-themed culinary experiences and products branded around salt’s inclusion?

Great brands will be built with CBD at their core and as the category evolves great brands will prosper by doing what they always have – providing consistent enjoyment and benefit, be it real or at least believed.

My favourite just announced CBD addition – alkaline boxed water brand Flow is adding CBD, botanicals and antioxidants to new line Flow Glow. It even has, not surprisingly, a plant-based cap. Yes I will.

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