Early in March i made my yearly pilgrimage to Expo West, the largest natural products trade show. I go to discover new products, get inspired by innovative packaging design and meet the amazing folks behind some of our favorite brands. Below is a recap and insights of some of my favorite finds – enjoy!
1. Kombucha is still king (or queen)
We saw (and sampled) a lot of the fizzy stuff. What we’re noticing is flavors are getting more subtle and nuanced and the potent “vinegar” reputation have all but gone away. Kombucha brands are innovating and really growing into their own. This is partly to push the boundaries of how we define kombucha but also to differentiate between the insane amount of brands on the market.
The packaging design of Better Booch is what caught my eye. The colors were very inviting and looked great as a family. As I sampled the flavors they were all quite tasty but my favorite is Golden Pear flavor. I also really appreciate the use of the boston round bottle (a familiar sight in the category) paired with their solid branding.
The folks at Flying Embers were great to chat with while I sipped on their tasty Ancient Berry flavor of hard kombucha. Their perspective is as millennials become more and more focused on health and wellness (but still want to have a good time). They’re looking for alternatives to beer – enter hard kombucha – a light fizzy probiotic way to get a buzz. Based on the rising popularity of ciders I think they’re onto something. Design-wise I love their can design with the bold foliage illustrations along the top and bottom of the can.
Wild Tonic was the first hard kombucha out in the market we sampled at last years Expo so it was fun to check in and see what they’re up to. They highlighted their new seasonal selection: Strawberry Blood Orange – super refreshing and tasty. Wild Tonic’s design is very distinctive and recognizable – from their bold logo to their blue distinct bottle.
2. Unique & ownable vessels
As I walked the show I was stopped in my tracks by some amazing packaging substrates. These ranged from little pots containing plant based yogurt to baby blue powder coated bottles. These brands understand that it’s a crowded and busy world out there and if you want to stand out you need to look different on every level.
Culina Yogurt was by far my favorite product of Expo. I literally was stopped in my tracks when I saw these little crocks that look like pots for plants. Not only does the little pot look amazing and so different from other yogurts, after you’ve eaten the tasty plant based yogurt you can use it as a planter!
As I approached the Sunwink Beverage booth I was drawn in by the baby blue bottles assuming they were just full wrap labels. However As I was chatting with them and sampling their tasty tonic I learned they were powder coated! They really went above and beyond with this treatment and it matched their minimal flavor illustrations perfectly. I’m not sure how scalable powder coated bottles are but here’s hoping they can make it work.
It’s hard to top all the great chocolate bar packaging at Expo however Elements Truffles definitely showcased an innovative but also handmade packaging in their Ayurvedic Inspired Chocolate bars. Embellishing each kraft box is a hand stitched fabric label highlighting the item name and a nice little illustration. Having the hand stitched label really drives home the attention given to their products and their specialty nature.
Expo is a great time to spot redesigns and new looks launching and a few caught my eye. What struck me about these particular redesigns is the boldness in each – stepping out of their brand’s comfort zone and creating something that is quite exciting.
If you are a fan of bitters I’m sure you’ve come across Hella Cocktail Co and their bespectacled bowler hat packaging design. I’ve always enjoyed their old-timey barkeeper look however their redesign is a big jump into a more serious, established brand that is an authority in all things cocktail. From their refined chiseled logo to their flexible design system across their family of products the new look is a great upgrade and helps to build their reputation.
Compostable picnicware is not a category you’d think would be all that exciting – necessary and extremely important- but not super exciting from a packaging point of view. Well the redesign of Repurpose is here to blow all our minds and make us question why we’ve accepted boring packaging from picnicware all these years. Their old packaging was fairly basic and standard for the category, but their redesign features bold colorful illustrations and clever copywriting (Strong as F*rk, Kind to the Earth is the item name for Forks.) Repurpose shows us that you can have asense of humor and save the world at the same time!
I’ve loved Sir Kensington’s ever since they came out with their dapper packaging and their redesign is paired with the launch of some new products including a line of Vinaigrettes. The redesign focuses the attention on the iconic Sir Kensington with a simple bold blue background, fun ingredient illustrations, and simple clean typography. It’s great to see an established brand with a great personality continue to evolve.