ExpoEast 2023

A retrospective on one of the biggest CPG trade shows

hello there from the trade floor 👋 

ExpoEast 2023 was definitely one for the books, partly because it was the last show after 38 years. On the morning of the event, New Hope Network surprised everyone by announcing that it would be the final ExpoEast, with Newtopia Now set to take its place in Savannah, Georgia in 2024 (read more here).

But despite it being the grand finale, ExpoEast 2023 didn't disappoint. I had the chance to discover some incredible products, connect with inspiring founders, and reunite with old friends.

Every time I attend events like these, it reminds me of just how much I adore this industry. It's a space where you can meet and learn from people from all walks of life, whether they're the creative minds behind new products, the savvy buyers, or the hardworking service providers. Everyone has a role to play, and that's what makes it so special.

Before I get into the trends, here was Jess and I’s favorite bites and sips at the show:

RoRo’s Baking Company takes the win for my favorite bite at the show. It’s pure deliciousness and no fuss. I will be buying these again and again.

Uncle Waithley’s takes the wine for my favorite sip at the show. It’s the best ginger beer I’ve tried and the scotch bonnet gives it a lovely additional bite that is hard to ignore!

My favorite non-edible product has to go to Flourish, a new plant fertilizer brand for your houseplants! 🪴 

Best tote goes to (2nd year in a row) Yumi of course. Look at this gorgeous beast! Thanks Michael!

Trends I saw at the show:

🌍️ Global Flavor continues to grow

Over the past few years globally inspired products have been on the rise, with brands like Fly By Jing taking off. As an industry, we’re definitely doubling down on expanding our customers’ palette.

💪 Function for all

Everything is functional these days. Multivitamin chocolate, high protein treats, and mood-supporting beverages. Every type of snack now contains every type of function.

🍞 Better Gluten Free

Gluten-free items are nothing new. I remember in high school being impressed with all the GF options there were for my celiac friends. However, I don’t think many GF options were really that good. This year at the show I tried so many products that surprised me, products that if you handed to me and said nothing I wouldn’t have known they were GF!

🤏 Bite-sized snacks

Small bites are all the rage! Snacking made easy and simple. So many brands are expanding their product lines to make snacking better.

🫶 Uncomplicated

Something I noticed at the show, along with other trends, was the prevalence of very simple products. These products didn't make grand claims or contain any extravagant ingredients; they simply kept it straightforward and uncomplicated. And most importantly, they’re just good products.

  • RoRo’s Baking

  • Pitaya Foods

    • Their passionfruit sorbet was amazing

  • Simply Gum

    • They’ve expanded beyond gum to mints, candies, and chocolate

  • Zeal Creamery

    • No nonsense delicious A2 dairy products

  • 100 Coconuts

    • Best coconut water I have ever tried

Here are some notable mentions, brands I thought were interesting from a taste and product perspective.

4Guage - I’m a sucker for some novelety, though a bullet is not my taste. However, I will say that this has a super clean label and tastes and functions great as a pre-workout.

Surthrival Black Walnut Protein - This one was an interesting one. It’s wild foraged black walnut protein powder. And yes I said wild foraged, so they don’t have any land or agriculture.

CariBBrew - Had some of the best tea I’ve ever had, very pleased with this product!

Gear Hugger - A first of its kind plant-based , non-toxic lubricant. Think plant-bases WD-40!

Drought - Genius to put juice shots in a bulk box. Tasted great and the price per shot decreases significantly.


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