Expo West 2024 Recap & Product Focus: Gluten Free Bakery Ingredients

The Smirk’s team is breaking down Expo West, the largest natural and organic products trade show in the US. It happens every March in Anaheim and this year Smirk’s had 11 people attending to see what’s new and connect with some of the 65,000 people who attend.

Jessica Warden and Zach Schwindt join Garrett McBride to review the highlights. 

Trends and Innovations

  • Regenerative Organic (RO) Certification – RO-certified products were widespread, indicating a growing trend towards regenerative agricultural practices.

  • Functional Foods – The trend of functional foods continued, with an emphasis on products promoting gut health and incorporating ingredients like adaptogens.

  • Alternative Sweeteners – There was a shift towards natural sweeteners such as coconut sugar, date sugar, and stevia in various food and beverage products.

  • Plant-Based Alternatives – Plant-based products were prominent, including innovative alternatives like plant-based bacon made from seasoned shredded coconut.

  • Nostalgic Flavors – Brands showcase nostalgic flavors in innovative products, appealing to consumers’ childhood memories with modern twists.

  • Eco-Friendly Products – A rise in eco-friendly products was observed, including shampoo and conditioner bars, and thin soap sheets for laundry.

The Expo West Experience

  • The hosts described the bustling atmosphere of Expo West, with crowded aisles and vibrant booths.

  • The value of face-to-face interactions and networking opportunities is significant and one of the best reasons to participate. Smirk’s continues to connect with producers and potential partners.

  • The overall experience at Expo West was positive, with many new products and connections made.

Gluten-Free Baked Goods

With the prevalence of alternative flours such as nut-based, seed-based and others, there is now a wide variety of options in the allergen-friendly bakery world.

There’s a particular focus on crackers, showcasing unique blends like buckwheat flour with cranberries and the use of ingredients like organic banana flour, hemp flour, cassava flour, and more.

Smirk’s offers a comprehensive range of organic and non-GMO seeds, nut butters, dried fruits, and alternative sweeteners like coconut sugar and maple syrup. They also emphasized their ability to meet specific customer needs, such as origin preferences and glycemic-friendly sweeteners.

Smirk’s April 2024 Market Report

Donny Edson shares this month’s report and starts by covering the on-going delays due to shipping and freight issues. It’s likely to continue to take longer to get products, especially on the east coast. He recommends planning ahead keeping the adding longer shipping times to your forecasts.

On a good note, new shipping contracts that begin in May will have minimal price increases from last year, which is a big relief since prices were trending up.

Donny also covers the new rules affecting the shipments of organic items and the need to have the proper certification filed with customs before picking up product. Smirk’s and others have run into issues and it’s causing delays until things can be sorted.

Big picture, things are getting tighter so planning ahead is recommended and expect price increases until availability improves.

Product specifics:

  • Desiccated coconuts which had been plentiful are now delayed. Processors are having trouble getting product so we’re seeing delays from six to eight weeks right now.

  • We’re seeing prices increase anywhere from 40 to 70%, depending on the origin and depending on the grade. If you’re not covered through the end of the year on coconut, you should get covered immediately.  

  •  Another issue is coconut sugar. As Ramadan ends, packers in Indonesia are concerned about the lack of raw material available to process Most packers are offering new shipments only in June and July forward with limited availability.     

  • Stocks in the US are getting very tight, and the spot market is getting tight as well. We expect the shortages to happen and carry on throughout the summertime until new shipments in June and July arrive in the US.

  • Coconut oil prices have risen anywhere from 20 to 30 % depending on if it’s VCO or RBD. The demand in the US has been high as many people have delayed shipments. Bottlers are trying to get anything they can to keep the retail shelves full.

  • We don’t anticipate the coconut oil price to correct itself for quite some time. Plan ahead.

  • Demand for organic cashews has increased. There’s little inventory and the new crop is slow arriving for processing. Two of the suppliers we work with are fully booked this year on their broken grades and whole grades. We expect this market to stay firm and to get tight.

  • Macadamia nuts are no longer the value they were last year. Supplies are booked out and we’ve seen price increases. The new crop should be in soon, and that should help with availability and better pricing.

  • Amaranth is finally shipping again. Prices have dropped, which is great to see and we hope they remain stable.

  • Organic flax is coming in as well. Prices are stable with reports that the crop is smaller and increased prices are anticipated throughout the summertime. Smirk’s has some organic golden flax arriving in May, so reach out if there’s a need.

  • Chia supplies in South America are sold out of the 2023 crop. The new crop could be late, so we’ll continue to watch and see what develops. There is a large stock of Chia available in the US right now. A lot of importers have extra inventory, including Smirk’s, to weather the storm.

  • Pumpkins seeds are available, and we don’t see any issues moving forward. The organic crop is smaller so it’s highly recommended to cover yourself through December with your suppliers to ensure that you have enough product until the new crop arrives.

That’s the April market update. If you have any questions or need more info on a specific product, hit us up at whatsnew@smirks.com

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