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3 Interesting Trends at Natural Products Expo East (NPEE) 2014

The 29th annual Natural Products Expo East (NPEE), the East Coast’s largest natural, organic and healthy products event, brought together more than 23,000 attendees and 1,200 exhibitors from all over the country. The three day event filled the Convention Center in Baltimore, Maryland, showcasing products ranging from probiotics to hangover reducers. The atmosphere of the show was lively and the products showcased followed the new trends in the natural and nutritional industry. These are the three biggest and most interesting natural product trends that the Burdock Group discerned from the 2014 show.

1. High Protein Products

High protein products were a big hit at this year’s exhibitor show floor. Protein products ranging from common breakfast cereal claiming high protein, as well as high protein candy, snack items, and drinks) with sources other than meat, eggs or dairy. Food and supplement innovators, therefore, are developing and pursuing new sources and forms of proteins for the human diet to achieve rapid growth, recovery, energy, and better health.  These organizations will need to make sure to pursue New Dietary Ingredient (NDI) Notifications to assure regulatory compliance and brand assurance if they make certain health claims.

A word of warning is appropriate here – protein cannot be stored in the body and much of the excess is converted to carbohydrate for storage through a process called “deamination” (cleaving off the nitrogen-containing amine group of amino acids).  This leaves an excess of nitrogen and requires conversion by the liver to urea for excretion in the urine.  While production of urea is not generally an issue, those with liver or kidney malfunction may experience some adverse consequences.  Also, while FDA is presently keen on alerting the public to excess consumption of fats and carbohydrates in the diet; when the Atkins diet was popular, FDA struggled with the lack of research material on excess nitrogen from the high protein diet suggestion by Atkins.  Now we know, as the result of milk and infant formula in China and pet food in the U.S., the presence of high amounts of melamine (in addition to ammeline, ammelide, and cyanuric acid in pet food sold in the U.S.), containing high amounts of nitrogen, resulted in the formation of kidney stones in Chinese infants and children.  The high amounts of nitrogen in protein intensive diets have still not been as thoroughly tested to satisfy many toxicologists or nutritionists.

 2. “Fast, Affordable & Healthy”

The trend in products that are fast, affordable, and healthy is on the rise. As consumers spend less time sitting down for meals, especially breakfast, businesses are looking for ways to meet the needs for products that can be eaten on the go, are affordable and healthy.[1] The term “healthy” in the nutritional industry has started to include “organic” and “non-GMO” products, although there is little evidence linking these qualities and any beneficial effects. Products traditionally viewed as “health food” are now mainstream items. The response has been to make these previously niche products less expensive and more widely available, as marketers of new products are looking for ways to reach all demographic groups.

3. Non-GMO

GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) are used to create GIFs, or Genetically Improved Foods. GIFs have been a hot topic of discussion lately, not only in the natural products industry, but also in the more traditional food and beverage industries as well. There are three core arguments from GMO critics: economic, ecological, and health-related impacts. The economic argument mainly concerns the ability to patent seeds, and the ecological dispute cites the loss of natural “native” varieties of plants over the years that GMOs have been introduced. As for the health argument, scientific evidence has yet to come to a consensus regarding whether organic, non-GMO food is healthier, but the option to purchase these varieties has served to assuage fears of the undefined or substantiated threats presented by GIFs. Advocates of GMOs recognize the need to feed an increasing population, and the necessity of GIFs to produce this large volume of nutritious food. The lack of discussion around the safety of GMOs, however, is very apparently lacking in these discussions. Many GIFs have already been proved Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) and currently available data of GIFs shows that these foods are no less safe than any other food product; however, some consumers still remain critical of GMO use in food. In the end, consumer dollars hold the key to profitability, and companies are starting to realize that while “every step in the process costs money, aisles in the natural channel are filled with shoppers who shop for the Non-GMO certified label.”[2]

sipp’s Organic Sparkling Eco Beverage

The natural and nutritional products industry has continued to grow over the years, into the $117 billion industry that it is today.[3] As the industry progresses and consumer demands change, the consultants at Burdock Group continue to monitor new industry and regulatory trends. To stay in touch, please email for your monthly subscription to the Burdock Advisor.


[1] NPR. Cereal Consumption Hurt by Grab-and-Go Foods. Visited 10/6/2014.

[2] Nutrition Business Journal. NBJ’s Nutritional Raw Material & Ingredient Supply Report. Visited 10/6/2014.

[3] Nutrition Business Journal. NBJ Market Reports. Visited 9/30/2014.

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