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Global Evolutions

Top 5 Quirky Supplements at Expo West

VIRGO editors explored the show floor at Natural Products Expo West, held March 9 to 11, 2012, in Anaheim, CA, and found the top ten supplement trends. Check out the informative Image Gallery here.

But, of course, I saw other notable products that didn't quite fit into trends. Perhaps, next year we can call the following companies trend setters because they're so interesting, I suspect others may want to follow suit.

Here, I give you my five most interesting, unusual supplements at Expo West:

1. Supplementing with ancient grains

Green Kamut from Pure Planet

As the Food Product Design's Image Gallery on Notable Product Launches from Expo West showed, ancient grains were hot among the new food options. Ancient grain waffles, chia drinks and quinoa bars were all being sampled. This ancient grain trend wasn't big in the supplement aisles, but I did see one product, Green Kamut from Pure Planet, that puts the ancient Egyptian wheatgrass in a capsule. This organic product is more nutritious than common wheatgrass, according to the company.

2. Probiotic drink mix

Cranberry Mannose + Probiotics from NOW Foods

Probiotic technology that allows for encapsulation has created a wealth of probiotic fortified products, but probiotics in a drink mix powder is a new one for me. NOW Foods was promoting its Cranberry Mannose + Probiotics drink mix power, sold in 24 stick packs. It's directed at urinary tract health. After the anti-adhesion effect of both cranberry's proanthocyanidins and the simple sugar D-mannose take effect, the probiotic is there to help replace the bad bacteria with the good.

3. Coconutty

Soothing Coconut & Aloe Natural Laxative from Natures Secret

Like last year, coconut was all over the food section of Expo West. Coconut water, coconut spreads (even a coconut peanut butter, which is heavenly to me) and coconut bars all starred. In another crossover from the food sector, Natures Secret was showcasing its Soothing Coconut & Aloe Natural Laxative, designed for relief of occasional constipation. The aloe is there to create the laxative effect, and coconut offers a nutritive and rehydrating agent to help replenish electrolytes.

4. Area-specific allergy relief

Regional Allergies from KingBio Natural Medicine

Different plants grow in different regions, so people with allergies are suffering from the pollens found where they live. It makes sense a single product for the entire United States wouldn't work as well as regional allergy support. KingBio Natural Medicine released Regional Allergies, homeopathic sprays customized for different area of the United States, such as Desert U.S., Great Lakes U.S., Hawaii U.S., etc. The one in the picture is Southwestern U.S. and contains 17 Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia Convention of the United States (HPCUS) ingredients for temporary relief of seasonal allergies commonly experienced in Oklahoma and Texas.

5. AREDS Formulated

Ojo Fortified Eye Care Nectar

Scientific studies give products a large amount of credibility, so manufacturers often want to get trials on their specific formulations. In a working-backwards strategy, Ojo Fortified Eye Care Nectar, contains ingredients clinically studied in the National Eye Institutes Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS), such as bilberry, lutein, omega-3s, blackcurrant, B vitamins, grape seed extract, and vitamins C and E. This beverage comes in three flavors: mango blackcurrant, orange cranberry and peach blueberry.

And, I just wanted to add one more trend I saw that I couldn't put anywhere else:

Customers now competitors

(no picture for this one because I didn't want to name names)

I noticed more ingredient suppliers are entering the finished supplement business, launching their own ingredients into capsules, chewables or functional beverages, putting their finished product customers in the competitor category. I wonder how far this trend will go, and if any finished supplement manufactures have given their supplier push back because of it. No ingredient supplier I asked  wanted to talk in great detail about this subject with me, but one supplement manufacturer said his company wasn't too worried about it. He said his company has name recognition, marketing power and consumer expertise that far exceeded its ingredient suppliers' ability to reach consumers.

What products or trends did you see at the show? It's so big, I'm sure I missed a few hundred (thousand?) in my walks across the floor. Let me know what I missed and what your favorites were.

For the hottest ingredient trends, join me at SupplySide MarketPlace, May 8 to 11, 2012, at the Javits Center in New York.

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