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Expo West Trendwatch

Expo West Trendwatch

One of the most challenging tasks of attending trade shows like Expo West (where I've been all week) is trying to discern trends from walking the floor, and visiting the new products section out in the front lobby (where, admittedly, not all of the products are “new” in the strictest sense).

bigsign.JPGHowever, if you visit enough booths and talk to enough show veterans, you can get a pretty clear picture of overarching themes that will soon be finding their way to your store. It might represent a complete departure or simply an extension of an existing category, but together they represent new avenues of growth. Here are a select few that we picked up good vibes on from two days of roaming the aisles:

— Nut butters. This was almost a given, due to the tremendous adverse publicity and massive recalls prompted by the Peanut Corporation of America-related recall this winter, the largest in U.S. history. Instead, there were nut butters from a variety of alternative sources, such as almonds and cashews.

— Goat milk dairy. There are a number of goat’s milk products coming to market, such as ice cream and yogurt. While there have been goat’s milk products around in the natural channel for quite some time, the companies behind these newest products are poised to penetrate mainstream retail channels. Goat’s milk is said to be more digestible and a true-dairy alternative to those who are lactose intolerant.

— Heirloom grains. Again, these products have existed forever in alternative channels, but are ready to hit the big time. Look for products featuring aramanth, quinoa, spelt and other grains known to ancient civilizations, particularly bread and roll items. And be sure store associates know how to pronounce their names.

— Organic cocktail mixers. Blame it on the recession, but there’s a slew of organic and all-natural cocktail add-ons ready for the next Happy Hour. Tonic water, club soda, bitter lemon and ginger ale are but a few of the sodas being marketed for cocktail time. We even saw a powdered tea packet that included a recipe for a green tea martini. I guess whatever the booze does wrong, the green tea fixes.