Natural Products Expo is everything that’s happening in the natural and organic industry condensed into a four-day event. Or, as one of our Delicious Living VIP winners put it:

During last week's Expo West, over 71,000 entrepreneurs, companies, manufacturers, suppliers, and retailers all came together to share the most recent innovations in the natural world ... and this time, two of our very own Delicious Living readers were on the scene with us! 

As a trade show, Natural Products Expo isn’t open to the average consumer. For the longest time, we at Delicious Living have been itching to host some of our most passionate and loyal readers at this incredible event. With the birth of our Delicious Living VIP program in November 2014, we jumped at the chance to take our top two consumer advocates—Linda Byington and Samira Imanian—on an all-expenses-paid trip to Anaheim to join us.

Read on to hear about their show floor finds, trend thoughts, and overall impressions from the big show!

DL: What surprised you most about the show in general?

Linda: The vast array of specialty foods, i.e. vegan and gluten-free.

Samira: The size of the show was definitely a surprise; I didn't expect it to be as massive as it was! Also, being that it was an industry event, I expected some obvious competition between businesses, but I didn't see that. Everyone was genuinely friendly and supportive of each other. Even though they are marketing to the same consumers, they are collaborative because they are all working towards a greater good.

DL: What was something new you learned during the education sessions, or just while wandering the booths and chatting with companies/entrepreneurs?

Linda: As a baking geek, I had a fantastic talk with a food chemist learning how different sugars and fats are affected by altitude and temperature.

Samira: A lot of businesses seemed to have started as one person's yummy creation that loved ones have encouraged to mass merchandise/bring to the market; there is a lot of support for those types of businesses in the industry.

DL: What trends did you notice on the show floor?

Linda: Turmeric in a vast array of food products; naturally functionally enhanced water (i.e. maple water).

Samira: A lot of nuts, such as coconut and cashews as dairy alternatives in milks/oils/cheeses. A lot of gluten free and paleo bread options emerging and improving in taste/quality. Coconut oil and water was everywhere! There was also a lot of popcorn.

DL: What was one of the best new products you tried?

Linda: So Delicious Cashew Ice Cream. I plan to go to the store tomorrow to see if it’s in yet. I want to eat so much I go into a coma.

Samira: I had heard about Treeline Treenut Cheeses in the Delicious Living magazine, and was able to finally taste them at Expo; they were was delicious and, for a vegan cheese, looked nice enough to offer as a snack during a dinner party with some crackers. I won't be hesitating to purchase it at my health food store anymore. The Jackalope Company’s gluten-free bread was also very good.

What new natural or organic products have you fallen in love with lately?