By Beth Hillson
The Natural Products Expo West took place in Anaheim, California this week. When I left Connecticut, the temperature read 12 degrees. When I landed, it was sunny and hovering around 70 in California. Everyone from the Midwest and the East Coast walked around in shirt sleeves like we hadn’t seen warm weather in ages. (We haven’t.)
And I wonder if the weather was part of the draw this year. Expo West brought in record numbers of visitors, more than 70,000. Perhaps it was also the 2400 plus exhibitors. Of these, more than 600 were new exhibitors.
The Gluten Intolerance Group of North America (GIG) that runs GFCO, the largest third party gluten-free certification program in the US, said that about 21,000 products were exhibited and roughly 11% are gluten free. A good portion carry the GFCO circle, the insignia that indicates the product meets stringent standards and must test to at less than 10 parts per million of gluten.
And, speaking of the GFCO certification, Glutino is beginning to certify it’s products under this program. Although it has always had a policy of testing every batch of product to well below 20 parts per million and vetting ingredient suppliers, this adds another level of comfort so consumers know the products are safe for them to eat, no matter how sensitive they are to gluten.
Gluten free products came in all sizes and shapes – - mixes, cookies, pasta, quinoa products, baked goods, and snacks. I loaded up on pizza and chocolate products. Fig bars, breaded chicken products, and graham-style cracker pie crusts caught my attention. Among my favorites, Glutino’s reformulated white, multigrain, seeded, and cinnamon raisin breads – - soft texture and great taste. I really loved the new multi-grain English muffins, too. Just appearing in stores, grab one or two packages as soon as you spy them. I lingered way too long and ate way too many English muffins. Only the new frozen meals at Udi’s Gluten Free booth could entice me away. I can’t decide if the Broccoli and Kale Lasagna or the Italian Sausage Lasagna was my favorite; both were delish.
Moving on, lots of products at the show contained almond flour, quinoa or coconut flour and many called out “raw” and Paleo diets. Even some of the dog food met those criteria. I managed to snag a couple of samples. When my dog, Obi, helps me unpack , he’ll find something special hidden at the bottom of my suitcase!
But, seriously, keep an eye out for all these new products hitting your store shelves soon.