Highlights from the 2008 Expo East
Everyone knows about shows such as the Arnold Classic or the Olympia and others, but unless you are “in the biz” many people have not heard of industry shows such as the Expo West and East, Supply Side, and many others. These industry shows are where the supplement industry does its business, and where wise guy consultant types like me, along with buyers, sellers, and everyone in-between in “the biz” can be found. I like to attend these shows to see what the latest and greatest is for products, but also to see what the trends are, and perhaps network into another consulting gig as well as say hello to old friends I may not have seen in a while.
An industry show I just attended was the NNFA Expo East which was held in Boston MA this year. One major trend is the explosion of “functional foods” vs. supplements. Functional Foods are now the major driver in the industry. Where as this category may have taken up a few isles at such a show some years ago – with the majority of the show made up of supplement companies – at least half this show was functional food products. Functional foods come in all shapes and sizes, but essentially it’s a food you are familiar with that has additional “functional” properties. Might be a cookie with added anti oxidants and other “functional” ingredients, or a peanut butter with added healthy fats, or a drink made up of a variety of herbal extracts, all promising to cure what ails you or prevent disease, or improve energy levels, and so on.
In addition to supplements and functional foods, are various private contract manufacturers, flavorings, health related gadgets, etc. Although I found most of the products at this show more gimmick then useful, there were some notable stand-outs. What follows are a few of them.
A tasty alternative to fish oils caps…
Barlean’s, a company probably best known for it’s flax oil, had a new fish oil product on display at their booth. It’s an emulsified lemon flavored fish oil product, and it tasted great! I was very impressed with this product. No fish oil taste at all. For those who really don’t like to take fish oil caps, this product is a real winner. Users can get their daily fish oil requirements done quickly with a truly tasty lemon flavored product. This one gets thumbs up from me. See Barlean’s web site for additional info:
Heart healthy peanut butter…
A product called Heart & Minds Peanut Butter caught my attention. It’s peanut butter with added olive oil and EPA/DHA (i.e., “fish oils”) for a peanut butter with a much healthier fat profile than standard peanut butter. It’s not a high dose of EPA/DHA at 100mg per serving, but olive oil content it approx 40% of the fat content, so overall it’s a solid product as far as healthy fats go. How does it taste you ask? Very good in fact. No olive oil or fish oil detected at all and it was as good- or better – than any other brand of standard peanut butter I have had. If you are a regular peanut butter eater, this one is a winner and a superior nutritional choice to regular peanut butters. This one is on my personal shopping list. For more info, see:
Cream alternative that actually tastes good!
Cream alternatives, be they for your coffee or baking needs have been around forever, and they all tasted like crap. So when I walked by this booth I was expecting the worst. I was wrong! This new cream substitute, called Mimiccreme was really impressive stuff. It tasted like the real deal, and I sampled several foods they had on hand made with this product and could tell no differences. What’s interesting is, the product is made from cashews and almonds, So, it’s not some horrible blend of synthetic junk and highly processed fats and such (name virtually all non dairy creamers there!) which often contain trans fats and other stuff best avoided. I plan to try this product in my morning coffee and see if, as expected, it can replace the light cream I usually use. I have a feeling this product might taste great added to a protein drink also to add some creamy texture. Highly recommend stuff. For more info:
For those who suffer clogged sinus’s due to allergies, etc…
Many people suffer sinus problems from allergies and other causes. For some, headaches due to sinus congestion can be a common problem. Many rely on nasal sprays to clear their sinuses, but those products can be problematic, especially with long term use. An interesting product at this show was called Sinus Buster. It’s a nasal spray that’s primary ingredient is capsaicin pepper extract. How does it feel to spray hot pepper extract up yours nose? Not as bad as it sounds. I don’t often have problems with my sinuses, but my GF does. She was having a bad headache due to sinus congestion and I suggested she try this new product, and damn if it didn’t work. In fact, she said it got rid of her headache faster then anything she’s used in the past. This is now a “must have” product in her book and I plan to keep a few bottles around. If you suffer sinus problems, I recommend giving this product a try. For more info:
Two yogurt products that caught my attention were called Better Whey and Chobani. Better Whey is a yogurt product fortified with whey to bring the protein content of the yogurt up which the company claims contains tree times more protein than the “leading brand.” Be that as it may, for those who eat yogurt that might prefer a higher protein content as well as some of the benefits of whey, it’s a product to check out. I will say I think the company could improve the taste. It was not terrible, but it could be better. For more info:
The other yogurt I really liked was a Greek style yogurt named Chobani. In particular, their non-fat version was very impressive. Most non-fat yogurts taste generally awful to me, and they often contain thickening agents to improve their texture and such. This was by far the best tasting non- fat yogurt I have ever had, with very creamy texture, and a very nice smooth taste. It also contains higher protein levels than most other yogurts (company claims twice as much as other brands) and is clearly a high quality product. If you eat yogurt, put it in your drinks, etc, I highly recommend giving this brand a try. See:
Stevia takes another step forward as a legit non-caloric sweetener…
There were many stevia related sweeteners at this show, but the hands down winner of all the brands I tried, was the Purevia brand. This product was as close to actual sugar than any stevia related product I have tasted to date. It’s a highly purified extract of stevia called Reb-A. Reb-A is the sweetest part of the Stevia plant, and this company has done an excellent job of producing what’s close to a pure Reb-A product. That classic stevia aftertaste is seemed minimal with the samples I tried at the show. For more info see:
Cleaner teeth minus the chemicals…
One trend in the oral health industry is a shift toward using more “natural” ingredients. Most of your oral health products on the shelves, such as tooth paste, mouth wash, and others so contain artificial colors, artificial sweeteners, parabens, as well as others. Some also prefer to avoid the high alcohol content found in most mouth wash products. Or those who would prefer their oral health care products minus the various chemicals mentioned above, a line called Dr.Nicks seemed like a solid alternative. I didn’t come back with any samples from this show, so I can’t comment one way or another in terms of taste or efficacy, put it appeared to be an excellent product. See:
Ever order a cup pf decaf coffee and wonder if it’s really decaf? Well now you can test your decaf on the spot with a novel product called D+Caf. It’s a simple test strip that allows you to test your decaf coffee to be sure the waiter actually gave you decaf. For those who are very sensitive to caffeine, pregnant women looking to avoid caffeine, etc, but really enjoy a cup of coffee, this is the product for them. I thought it was an interesting-albeit quirky- product. See:
That’s my summery of what I found to be some of the more noteworthy products from the Expo East show. I hope one of them grabs your interest.