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Farewell Expo East, Hello Newtopia Now: Manna Tree’s 2023 Recap + Insights

Last week our investments team attended New Hope Network’s Expo East for the final time. After nearly four decades, the event opened and closed its’…

by | Sep 26, 2023

Last week our investments team attended New Hope Network’s Expo East for the final time. After nearly four decades, the event opened and closed its’ door for its’ last iteration, announcing a new event concept Newtopia Now.

From our perspective, Expo East has served as an excellent networking event over the years. With less exhibitors than Expo West but still a robust network of bankers, investors and founders, Manna Tree has enjoyed the connectivity that happens when the industry gathers in person. We are excited to see what Newtopia Now will bring to the natural and organic consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry.

“The needs of the industry are changing, and the experience we provide our community must adapt to meet those needs,” Carlotta Mast, SVP and Market Leader at New Hope Network said. “It’s with a spirit of innovation that we announce the next era of the New Hope Network journey: Newtopia Now, which invites passionate co-creators from across the industry to join us in building a more responsible, prosperous and regenerative world.” Trade Show Network News reports.

Read on for our insights from Expo East 2023:

  • Innovation in the beverage space: The beverage industry continues to lean into “enhancements”. We saw many functional drinks, sugar-free ready-to-drink teas, sparkling waters, and electrolytes. There was a focus on bringing the consumer benefits including mood enhancement, recovery and adding flavors to get people to drink more water.
  • Non-alcoholic moving toward “social beverages”: Brand messaging has shifted from “non-alcoholic” to “social beverages” through packaging and taste, aiming at replicating the experience (the social aspect) of drinking but without alcohol. It will be interesting to see how emerging brands and veterans in the non-alcoholic space continue to refine their storytelling. Will there be a “new” category created that is not associated with alcohol at all? Only time will tell.
  • Reduction in sugar: This is a trend we can get behind. Expo East displayed an array of players cleaning up the sweets category through healthier alternatives through functional benefits, dairy-free options, and alternative sweeteners such as monk fruit and dates.
  • Cleaning up snacking: Processed food (snacks) have been receiving a lot of negative press for their ingredient labels, but better-for-you brands are looking for ways to clean up the category. Buckwheat and chicken stood out as the new hot ingredients in snacks. Brands add protein, whole grains, and vegetables to increase nutritional value. We still saw plant-based and gluten-free options going strong as well.

Congratulations to the New Hope Network on a successful event and to all the brands that participated. See you at Newtopia Now in 2024!

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