Tracking this year’s trends at the Natural Products Expo East, which was held in Baltimore this past week, gave this veteran trend spotter a case of whiplash.

One of the hottest trends was “back to the past” with an avalanche of paleo products. While another was “forward to the future” with an explosion of flavor profiles made possible by high pressure pasteurization, a new technology sweeping the beverage industry.

First, let’s look at history — early history.

The Paleo diet, as in the Paleolithic era, and all related products were hot at this year’s show.

Paleo snack foods seemed to be the dietary claim du jour right, overshadowing even the gluten-free movement. The paleo diet was even included in the 2014 list of most popular diets by the magazine Today’s Dietitian. And it is likely to move mainstream. The Nutrition Business Journal estimated that paleo products, which were almost all in the snack food category, will grow to an estimated $300 million by 2018, up from just $29 million in 2012.

The diet, which avoids processed foods and complex sweeteners, appeals to the current foodie zeitgeist of “less is better.”

Last year, when consumers were asked to rate the appeal of a product formulated with the lowest number of ingredients possible, “72 percent of U.S. consumers said they found the concept either ‘somewhat appealing’ or ‘very appealing’, “ reports Tom Vierhile, Datamonitor Consumer’s Innovation Insights Director.

That concept was very apparent in the Yawp! booth. In a sort of visual haiku, the paleo snack bar maker displayed each of its bars deconstructed in what amounted to four or five little piles of ingredients.

Now to change directions and peer into the future.  

For that, one need only look at today’s packaged beverage industry. Its explosive growth has been driven both by a new technology — high pressure processing — and exciting new flavor profiles.

But why does this matter to candy makers? Well, flavor trends in the beverage industry are often leading indicators for the confectionery industry.

Some examples of new multi-layered and innovative beverage flavors include BluePoint Cleanse’s Apple Lemon Cayenne Ginger and Suja’s Mango Fuego (mango, banana, ginger serrano chile, pink Himalayan salt, baobab and camu camu).

Another beverage of interest was Choffey, made from roasted and ground cocoa beans, it provides long-lasting energy without the coffee jitters, according to Choffey’s president Jason Vanderhoven.

Of course, this is still a candy magazine though, so, without further ado, here are some confectionery products from the show that stood out:

The paleo bars Caveman Cookies, Paleo Simplified and Yawp!. For you non-English majors, “yamp” is a reference to the Walt Whiman poem, Leaves of Grass.

Perfect Fuel Chocolate, “eat real chocolate for energy and health” that markets raw, organic chocolate tablets with ginseng as a healthy energy source, like a chocolatey equivalent of the 5-hour energy shot.

Perfect Bar, “the freshest nutrition bars ever created”, a fuel bar that must be refrigerated as they contain no chemical preservatives.  The company released two new SKUs: Almond Coconut and Almond Acai.

Only Fruit Bars, with the marketing moniker “stay healthy and be fruitful”, a new European import that contains only natural fruit and spices.

Bixby & Company, “the candy bar reinvented” who’s founder recently won an entrepreneurial award in her home state of Maine — If only more states offered the same incentive to nurture innovation.

Eating Evolved Bars, the “primal dark chocolate company” that sells bars and “the world’s first coconut butter cup.”

Simple Squares, a 2014 SOFI silver winner, debuting its Cho-Coco and Chili Pep squares.


Curtis Vreeland, president of Vreeland & Associates, specializes in confectionery market research. He has been spotting trends in the premium confectionery for Candy Industry Magazine for seven years. He can be reached at