Expo East Trends Through SPINS’ Lens

Natural Products Expo East 2022, held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, welcomed manufacturers, brokers, distributors and industry partners to gather and review industry trends last month. SPINS presenters, represented by various departments including Product Intelligence, Retail and Marketing, were eager to share macro and emerging trends. Of those trends, sustainability was highlighted. Here is a brief snapshot of what was discussed…

Good for the Planet

Despite the high inflation pressures we’ve seen this year, the majority (80%) of young consumers remain willing to pay more for sustainable products but have a hard time identifying these items on the shelf. Half of consumers surveyed noted clear language on products is important. Brands and retailers that include clear and concise callouts that are easy to identify, have a better chance of standing out, both in store and online. Certifications and an unbiased 3rd party confirmations continue to remain a trusted way that most (75%) buyers determine which products are sustainable1.

Packaging and Sustainability

We now know what customers are saying, but how does that play out in the marketplace?

Packaging is one of the first things that comes to mind, as it’s something shoppers can quickly evaluate and have control of what they do post consumption. Packaging materials, that are either refillable or widely accepted within recycling programs, such as aluminum, glass and droppers are posting strong growth. Conversely, packaging that doesn’t fit those criteria, like microwave tray (-10%), wrapper (-7%), or squeeze tube (-3%), posted declines.

Source: SPINSScan Natural Enhanced (proprietary), Conventional Multi Outlet (powered by IRI), Trended dollar % chg., Certified BCorp

Consumers are looking for end-to-end transparency that showcases both packaging and ingredients in a sustainable way, which is coming through in various certification/label trends. For example, products that are certified BCorp, which focuses on the betterment for workers, communities, and the environment, are resonating with consumers and on the rise (+5.6%). Other sustainable labels, positionings and certifications that are capturing spend and growing include plant-based (+6.5%), labeled coral reef safe (+31.2%) and certified upcycled (+103.3%).


Source: SPINS Natural Channel, SPINS Conventional Channel (powered by IRI) data 52 Weeks Ending 8.7.22 Body Care, Grocery, Frozen, Refrigerated & VMS Departments

Meat’s Sustainability and Impact


Regenerative practices are another great way we can be conscious consumers. These practices are all about farming and grazing methods (ex. Grass Fed +24%, Pasture Raised +2.1%) that reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter & restore degraded soil biodiversity. This results in both carbon reduction and improving the water cycle.

Source: Total US, SPINS Natural Channel, SPINS Conventional Channel (powered by IRI) FZ & Refrigerated Meat Poultry & Seafood + FZ Prepared Meat 52 Weeks Ending 8.7.22

Meat’s performance over the past year has had its fair share of inflationary pressures. Factors including higher demand for meat, increased labor and fuel costs, the rise in the price of grains fed to farmed animals and the poultry industry being ravaged by the bird flu, just to name a few factors. It’s no surprise that prices continue to remain high while units decrease, and shoppers turn to alternatives or cut down. However, shoppers who continue to engage with animal-based meat products, are choosing to be more selective and sustainably responsible. This is shown by the increased engagement with promoted sustainability attributes that increased in sales versus prior year.

According to the North American Meat Institute, within promoting meat sustainability there are a few watchout’s shoppers should be aware of:2

  • While environmental impact is often defined by greenhouse gas emissions, sustainability is a far more complex issue that can be defined differently but generally encompasses environmental impact as well as social responsibility and economic viability.
  • Specific to beef, research has shown that each pound of beef raised in 2007 compared to 1977 in the U.S. produced 13% more total beef from 30% fewer animals. More beef from fewer animals maximizes resources like land and water.
  • The notion that smaller scale operations are more environmentally friendly and sustainable than larger scale is not supported by the data which suggests that efficiency is the most important factor. Researchers studied 2 groups of cattle in a feedlot setting. One group utilized modern technology while the other did not. The first group generated 31% less greenhouse gas emissions than those without technological advancements.

Overall, data confirms that whether it be the effects the ingredients can have on the planet, or the brand’s manufacturing practices, consumers want to support brands that are sustainable and ethical in their businesses.

For more information around Expo East 2022, including market insights, be sure to visit the Natural Products website.

Sources: https://sustainablebrands.com/read/marketing-and-comms/majority-of-us-consumers-say-they-will-pay-more-for-sustainable-products 1

https://www.meatinstitute.org/index.php?ht=a/GetDocumentAction/i/117575#:~:text=Meat%20products%20provide%2075%20percent,carbon%20emissions%20of%20787%20g. 2

Attribute Ticker

Data Ticker

Looking for more information? Please contact the SPINS Account Manager for PRESENCE, Mike Murphy at mmurphy@spins.com.