The Food Categories Most Likely to Wow You In the Coming Years

Posted by National Honey Board on April 05, 2022

Sauces square crop

Natural Products Expo West has always provided a glimpse of what supermarket shelves will look like in the coming years. However, this year was different. After two years of pandemic-forced cancellations, this year’s natural and organic food show offered a glimpse at not only the future of supermarket shelves, but also of the right now.

Simply put, it was a buyer’s frenzy, and we anticipate retailers moving fast on trending categories and rushing some of the new products introduced at the show to store shelves as quickly as possible.

That’s quite a departure from the last two years, as retailers have rationalized SKUs, stopped sampling programs and focused on core products from core brands. Throughout the pandemic, new products have been minimized, but this year’s show signaled an immediate shift in priorities from retailers. They are ready to bring excitement back to store shelves, especially in these trending categories.


Saucing Up the Sauce Category


From global condiments to regional BBQ sauces, it was apparent at this year’s Natural Products Expo West that the sauce category is fertile ground for innovation, especially with an ingredient like honey. Not surprisingly, hot honeys were everywhere at the show, seeking to capitalize on the momentum this condiment has gained in the foodservice category.

Honey also starred in clean label sauce and condiment formulations of popular favorites. Check out True Made Foods’ Honey Mustard and Pure Wild Oregon’s Honey Mustard BBQ Sauce for exceptional examples of condiments and sauces that deliver flavor with a welcoming ingredient list.

Photo Credit: True Made
Photo Credit: Pure Wild Oregon

Global sauces also played a starring role at this year’s show. We tasted everything from ponzu sauce to gochujang and talked to several manufacturers about how honey can be incorporated into these products for flavor and familiarity. As these products gain more traction with American consumers, look for honey to play a role in consumer acceptance.

Honey Sweetens Confection Category

Permissible indulgence was a key theme at this year’s show, and several confectionery companies exhibited honey sweetened products designed to satisfy the tastebuds and the minds of more health-conscious consumers. Case in point: Cocoa Bee. The company sampled its line of chocolate products sweetened only with honey.

Photo Credit: Cocoa Bee
Photo Credit: Heavenly Organics

Other exhibitors, such as Heavenly Organics, also used honey in simplified, clean label formulas to give consumers a sweet permissible indulgence. The company’s Double Dark Chocolate Honey Patties feature only two ingredients: 100% dark chocolate and honey.

Honey’s future in the confectionery category is expected to continue to grow as consumers look to cut down on their sugar intake. In addition to sweetness, honey also benefits candies functionally by binding together nuts and seeds in a variety of products.

Sweet Brands

Also trending at this year’s Natural Products Expo West was our favorite, furry little insect, honey bees. They were everywhere at this year’s show, not flying around the exhibition hall, but adorning product packaging. If a product was formulated with honey, the manufacturer let consumers know by featuring honey bees, honey dippers, honeycomb and sometimes all three, on product packaging.

Some of our favorite honey and honey bee-themed packaging graphics came from Braniac Brain Butter, Amlu Honey Almond Butter, Marco Moroccan Honey Nut Ice Cream, and Maury’s Hive Tea.

If this blog post inspired you to formulate new products with honey, email [email protected] and we’ll help you learn more about this amazing sweetener and flavor.