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Trendspotting at Expo East

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It only took about two hours walking the exhibition floor at last week's Natural Products Expo East show in Boston before we began noticing some common threads running among the exhibitors. Here are some of the more interesting ones we're going to follow up on in our next print issue of SN Whole Health, coming out in late November:

- Licorice. I can't tell what's healthful about this candy item, though the products we're seeing are a far cry from the childhood Twizzlers sticks. These are adult products, with grown-up flavors and ingredients that include (in the case of one company) a distinctly satisfying herbal variety. One exhibtor told me there are cough-supressant proerties associated with licorice.

green_tea1.jpg- Green Tea Powder. This is probably the tea category's answer to all the powdered drink mixes and powdered functional sports beverages that have hit the market in the past 18 months, something we've written about here, as well as the print publication. The tea powder is sort of like Japanese matcha, that strong-grassy flavored powder that's great hot or cold. Some brands come in single-serving pouches and are flavored additionally with ingredients like lemon or ginger.

- Rice Cake Machines. Talk about an action station. Long a fixture in Asian food stores, these small-footprint devices make a distinct "Pop" sound each time they spit out a crisp, fresh rice cake. One manufacturer told us they are already in talks with retailers like Kroger and Safeway, so could these machines do for Asian enthusiasts what the in-store tortilleria has done for Mexican food lovers?

(Photo credit: Peyri Leigh)

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