Key Takeaways From Expo West 2022: Trends, Learnings And Notes For Next Year

WeStock Team
March 16, 2023

Our feet are no longer aching, we got our voices back, and we’ve *almost* worked our way through all the samples we brought home. We’ve spent the last few weeks reflecting on all that we learned, connecting with all the great people we met, and compiling our thoughts to share with those of you who couldn’t make it this year.

The Show

One of the top questions we’ve been asked by people who didn’t attend is about the show itself. After years of cancellations and virtual events it makes sense that people would be curious about how it all played out.

There was no question that this year was a “come back” in many ways. You could tell that people were just so excited to be there and be together again, there was great energy, lots of smiling, laughing, hugs, and high fives all around.

While it was slightly smaller than pre-pandemic levels, it did not feel like a scaled down version. It was packed with attendees and over 3,000 vendors

The Trends

Our very favorite part of any trade show is getting to see the new brands, the innovation of established brands and the trends taking over the floor.

Functional Is In, Coffee Is Out

While there were still a handful of coffee brands in attendance, it was scaled way back from past years. This makes sense given the rise of coffee alternatives out there. From mushrooms to herbs, functional ingredients and products touting “functional” in their branding are clearly having a moment. We saw everything from functional beverages to snacks or sweets. Time will tell if this trend is here to stay or will be dethroned by the next big thing.

The Brain-Gut Connection

After years with more anxiety and a rise in mental health issues, it makes sense that brands would be looking to bring a product to market that can help. Many products this year, including those in the functional category, claimed to be designed for mood boosting, brain health, or stress relief. It went beyond elixirs or tinctures, you could find this mental health and brain health focus in everything from cookie dough to protein bars.

Plant-Based Is the Buzzword of the Year

It used to be “organic” now “plant-based” is getting all the attention. From meat alternatives to protein bars to treats, it seemed like every brand wanted to say “we’re plant-based.” However, what that means (since there isn’t regulation on this) is really up to interpretation. For some brands it means only plant ingredients, for some it means vegetarian, or vegan. We’re interested to see how this category will develop over the next few years.

It’s All About the Pantry

For years the stars have always been beverages or snacks but pantry staples and elevated versions of them really took the stage this year. From plant-based pasta sauces to unique spreads, there was no shortage of interesting and new-to-us brands on the floor this year. This seems like a byproduct of the last two years with more people cooking at home.

Looking Forward

Expo West is not the only trade show, Expo East is just around the corner in Philadelphia and while historically it’s a smaller show, it could be a great opportunity to get your feet wet before diving into Expo West next spring. If you didn’t make it to Expo West this year but want to go next year, now is a great time to start thinking about it, especially if you want to exhibit. We are so excited to go back next year with fresh eyes and reconnect with the brands and founders we met this year. And don’t forget to book those hotel rooms or Airbnbs early!

Stay tuned for our article on how to turn all those Expo West business cards and connections into orders.

WeStock Team

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