I survived Expo West, but many brands are not. Neither are some buyers, like the ones I heard got food poisoning, possibly from a brand exhibiting. Folks are selling their hearts out on the floor, and there’s a mix of thrill, opportunity and defeat in the convention center air.
Here are some of my Expo West observations of note:
- Natalie’s Juice: I profiled them in our magazine in 2019, unveiled fresh tomato juice, filled with the super-substance lycopene. That’s a big milestone for the company and its marathon-running founder Mary Grace Sexton, who told me way back on that reporting trip five years ago how she has wanted to launch a fresh tomato juice for years because it’s a perfect, natural post-workout drink.
- Speaking of tomatoes: I loved getting an up-close look at the Tomato sauce wars! I tried several brands, including upstart Carbone Fine Foods, the mainstay Rao’s, and organic & imported varieties like from Organico Bello.
- More actual meat this year: Bison chili, venison sausages, and many meat brands were touting regenerative organic certifications. These certifications have a ways to come, but the momentum was a big shift.
- Fewer alternative protein brands: Gone are the flashy alt meat years with Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods on the flood. But there continues to be new alt-dairy brands, including Climax Foods. The alt-meat that was on display mainly came from faux-chicken & faux-egg brands, Omni’s dumplings or matsubi, or the super-engineered varieties from conglomerates like Bunge and Cargill.
- Tastes I enjoyed: The Original Japanese BBQ sauce; Califia’s new vegan whipped cream; churn grass-fed butter; agua bonita drinks; mother in law’s cold fermented kimchi broth.
- Gotham Greens: They launched dips based on the basil and herbs it grows in greenhouses. That’s more product differentiation where other vertical farm competitors haven’t gotten much beyond lettuce.
The brands selling hard — to the buyers, investors, and strategic acquirers walking the Expo West floor — couldn’t be more opposite from Trident Seafoods, and the Bundrant family who owns it. They are the subjects of my latest feature, published this morning, which is a rare look inside their world, as Bundrants have long abided by the family motto: “a whale only gets shot when it spouts.”
Trident is a white whale of the fishing industry. They opened up to me for some exclusive interviews back when I was in Seattle earlier this year, and I am excited to share their story with you.
I’m now in Austin for an extended South By Southwest weekend, where I’ll be moderating four panels and hosting two book signings. If you’re in town, I’d love to see you at one of my events. Aside from my official SXSW panel earlier this morning, everything is free. See you next week with insights, takeaways, and a Fresh Take guide to Austin!
—Chloe Sorvino, Staff Writer
Order my book, Raw Deal: Hidden Corruption, Corporate Greed and the Fight for the Future of Meat, out now from Simon & Schuster’s Atria Books.
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Say Hi at SXSW!
Saturday, March 11
Future of Food at SXSW
Panel: Farming The Oceans & Building Sustainable Seafood Systems
3:15 pm to 4:00 pm
4:05 pm to 5:00 pm
SXSW Center at 1400 Lavaca Street
Sunday, March 12
All Things Food Summit by Food Tank, in partnership with Huston-Tillotson University
Panel: What Is The Future of Meat
11 am to 11:30 am
King-Seabrook Chapel, Huston-Tillotson University, 900 Chicon Street
The Fresh Take Hit List: Los Angeles
Exclusive: Meet The Billionaire’s Son Who Persuaded McDonald’s To Serve Filet-O-Fish Supplied By His Firm
The second generation of leadership at Trident Seafoods, America’s biggest fishing company, commits to reinvesting billions to shore up its Alaska operations and make it possible for a third generation to take over someday.
Microbiomes Play An Important Role In Human Health – That’s Also True For Animals
We actually have at least as many cells in and on our bodies that aren’t human but which can also play desirable or undesirable roles. These microbial communities are called “microbiomes” and they are important for both humans and farm animals.
Kansas City’s New Airport Terminal Has Retail And Food That’s Now 80% Local
A new 40-Gate single terminal—the largest single infrastructure project in the city’s history—houses an array of stores rooted in heritage.
Chloe Sorvino leads coverage of food and agriculture as a staff writer on the enterprise team at Forbes. Her book, Raw Deal: Hidden Corruption, Corporate Greed and the Fight for the Future of Meat, published on December 6, 2022, with Simon & Schuster’s Atria Books. Her nearly nine years of reporting at Forbes has brought her to In-N-Out Burger’s secret test kitchen, drought-ridden farms in California’s Central Valley, burnt-out national forests logged by a timber billionaire, a century-old slaughterhouse in Omaha and even a chocolate croissant factory designed like a medieval castle in northern France.
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