The 35th annual Natural Products Expo West, claiming to be the world's largest natural, organic and healthy products event, drew more than 71,000 to the Anaheim (Calif.) Convention Center March 4-8.
Two interesting themes we noticed: yogurts made from everything but cow's milk and claiming nationalities other than Greek, and coconut flakes (not coconut water, which is so last year).
A combination of two of those themes, Co Yo yogurt is made from the cream from the whole flesh of the coconut. "It's 98 percent pure coconut – in fact, it takes more than one whole coconut to make a small tub of Co Yo," say company officials. That makes Co Yo dairy-free, gluten-free, lactose-free and even soy-free – and suitable for both vegetarians and vegans.
Coconut cream also figures into Daiya yogurt, which calls itself Greek-style, but is both dairy- and soy-free. Tapioca starch and pectin also are keys to the yogurt-like texture.
Even the bigger companies are onto this. Coconut Dream, one of the Dream brands from Hain-Celestial, also makes a coconut-based yogurt. Likewise, So Delicious, the late-2014 acquisition by WhiteWave Foods, showed "cultured coconut milk and cultured almond milk" – the company compares them to but doesn't call them yogurts. And WhiteWave's long-held Silk soymilk brand this year debuted Silk Yogurt, also made from the bean. Perhaps the company learned the recipe from its long-held Alpro business unit in Europe, which has been making plant-based yogurts for years.
And everywhere you turned at Nat West, there were coconut flakes; some plain, some flavored, but all of them delicious. Bacon was the new and surprisingly delightful flavor in the toasted coconut chip line at Dang Foods LLC. Other flavors are original (plain), caramel sea salt, lightly salted unsweetened and dark chocolate coated.
Navitas Naturals has specialized in "plant-based superfoods," especially as snacks eaten right out of the pouch. Coconut chips are an addition this year, in caramel, cacao and chili-lime.
Blue Monkey, which brought coconut water and drinks to previous shows, this year offered coconut chips in natural, ginger, espresso, chocolate, wasabi, bacon, mango, sriracha, turmeric, cinnamon and matcha.
Bare Foods, previously known for dried apple chips, added coconut chips this year.
Back to the Roots, which has specialized in stone ground cereals, offered a prototype of coconut flakes that will join its breakfast toppers line (to add to cereal or yogurt) later this year.
And more coconut: A coconut spread joins the huge list of coconut products from CocoVie.
With coconut oil base, Chao Cheese, made by Field Roast, is seasoned with a fermented soybean curd, called chao tofu.
Coconut milk makes ice cream under the Julie's brand from Oregon Ice Cream Co.
Coconut and chia seeds are the base for the new Qia bar, the first bar from Nature's Path, which has been making natural cereals for 30 years. Qia started out as a bagged cereal some years back, became a hot cereal more recently and now lends its name to this organic, gluten-free bar in blueberry-cashew-pumpkin and dark chocolate-cranberry-almond varieties.Natural Expo West 2015: Exotic Yogurts and Coconut Chips