• Jeffrey Friedland

Take-Aways from Natural Products Expo West

CBD, hemp oil, ashwagandha, mushrooms, and probiotics were the hottest ingredients in functional food and beverages


The Natural Products Expo West (“Expo West”) was held in Anaheim March 5th through the 9th. The event provided the more than 85,000 attendees to see the latest health and beauty products as well as the newest organic, natural and specialty foods.


At Expo West hemp oil and CBD oil were ingredients that generated some of the greatest interest in the functional beverage and food product categories. Dozens of products that included hemp seeds, hemp seed, or CBD were front and center. They included protein and snack bars, chocolates, and beverages of all types, from cold brew coffee to sparkling water.

Since hemp seeds, hemp seed oil, and CBD are associated with numerous health benefits, many of the brands who exhibited their products at Expo West took advantage of what they viewed as an opportunity. They are enabling consumers to incorporate food or beverage products that include hemp seeds, hemp seed oil or CBD in their daily routine, as an alternative to more medicinal products such as gel caps or tinctures.


In January, New Hope Network, the sponsor of Expo West surveyed 230 organic and natural brands. Very few of those surveyed were incorporating hemp seeds, hemp seed oil or CBD in their products. Sixty-five percent of the surveyed companies indicated that they intended to add a product that includes CBD within the next one to two years.

Carlotta Mast, a Senior Vice President of New Hope Network indicated that half of all US consumers were familiar with CBD and 30 percent of those had purchased products that included CBD.


The Farm Bill, which was signed into law in December, legalized products that include hemp seeds or hemp seed oil. Products that include CBD, while also legalized by the Farm Bill, are awaiting a pathway from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use as a food additive as well as for health, wellness or nutritional purposes. The general consensus is that this will occur sooner rather than later due to all the media attention and consumer interest in products that include CBD.


Expo West also highlighted the importance of the formulation of products that include hemp or CBD. It was clear that products that include CBD or hemp must meet consumer expectations for consistency, taste, and quality.


Our general takeaway from Expo West was that no exhibitor had an idea as to the magnitude of the market for consumer packaged goods products that included hemp or CBD, but that the general consensus was that the market would be huge.


Our conclusion, hemp, and CBD products are definitely on the radar screen of large legacy food and beverage companies as well as small, family-owned businesses. It’s clear to us that products that include hemp or CBD would become mainstream offerings over the next few years.

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