PHILADELPHIA – Unnar Helgi Danielsson, founder of Thor’s Skyr, Newville, Pa., was waving attendees at Natural Products Expo East into the company’s open-format booth encouraging them to sample his company’s high-protein, low-sugar skyr. The dairy-alternative players located nearby did not deter him from emphasizing the smooth mouthfeel of real dairy, “somewhere between a soft cheese and Greek yogurt,” he said.
That consistency, along with the skyr’s nutrient-dense profile — 17 to 19 grams of protein, depending on the flavor, and only 1 gram of added sugar per serving — is something not achievable in plant-based alternatives. And that’s the type of messaging exhibitors of dairy, eggs and meat communicated at the in-person gathering Sept. 22-25 at the Philadelphia Convention Center.
Sales across the natural and organic products industry increased this past year and there’s room for growth and innovation, for both conventional and plant-based alternatives. Sales of natural and organic foods grew three times faster than sales of conventional foods, according to the market researcher SPINS, Chicago.
Conscious consumers are placing a premium on ensuring their health and well-being, and increasingly are looking toward social responsibility and sustainability. Some shoppers are making more holistic choices by seeking maintainable diets featuring whole, minimally processed foods to construct a strategy that works for their health goals. This demand is driving nutrition-focused innovation.
The world’s most pressing problems revolve around the earth and people, said Nick McCoy, managing partner, Whipstitch Capital, Framingham, Mass. This is fueling growth of plant-based products. While consumers initially sought plant-based foods for their health benefit, the positive impacts to the environment are undeniable, he said.
Dairy, egg and meat marketers have taken note, and are not sitting by the wayside during the plant-based revolution. In dairy, animal welfare claims were up 3.3%, followed by fair trade labeling (+2.2%) and non-GMO (+0.5%).