Expo East

Every year in downtown Baltimore, just off of the harbor, executives and marketers from across the natural food industry gather their organic cotton bags and pack quinoa-kale lunches for two days of health food nirvana.

Expo East brings together food and health product companies who line up in hundreds of booths, creating an opportunity for buyers to meet producers and sample products. One day at Expo East for a brand could lead to nationwide placements in top grocery chains.

From , the distinctive purple “Certified OU Kosher” sign appears on  more and more booths making it the most popular Kosher symbol at the show. The distinction of being the most represented certification agency is not enough for the OU Kosher representatives as they continue to cover the floors and educate hundreds of vendors on how they can work with OU to certify their products.

Walking the Expo floors, it becomes obvious there are trends that many of the companies are displaying. Some of these companies make just one or two products and are fighting to become the quintessential brand of their trend. Other companies have hundreds of products and are choosing to display the most “in” items, which may be discontinued when the next big thing arrives.  

A major trend covered in this conference was drinkable yogurt. Drinkable yogurt has been adapted by consumers as a quick and delicious way to get all the protein and other nutrients that yogurt has, without having to stop for a sit down meal. It’s a drink that’s refreshing in the summer and cozy for the winter. OU certified company Dahlicious was one of the many companies displaying their latest drinkable yogurts. What sets Dahlicious apart is that their drinks are both organic and styled in the ancient Indian traditions of yogurt culturing. Their Alphonso Mango flavor was out for sampling and was the delicious shot of energy I needed to help me recover from my early wake up call.

There is no one in the world who does not like ice cream. I may have made that fact up, but I believe in my soul that it is true. But at a healthy food convention, ice cream does not have much of a role, right? WRONG. There are organic and non-gmo ice creams as well as health options that allow people of every dietary restriction to enjoy the world’s best treat. Enlightened offers high protein ice cream in a variety of flavors that includes Snickerdoodle, French Toast and Pina Colada. It’s a marriage of beloved flavors with a beloved treat that just also happens to be high protein as well as OU certified. Then there’s Blue Marble ice cream, which is both organic and locally made in Brooklyn. For those of us at the OU office in Manhattan, that makes it a real backyard treat. Blue Marble was proud to display their OU certified sign right next to their USDA approval certificate. For some companies at the conference, OU Kosher is one of many prestigious symbols they display on their brand.

Walking down the streets of Manhattan on any given day there is one food item that seems to be advertised more than any other: nutrition bars. Like drinkable yogurts, these bars provide meal alternatives that are quick, easy and healthy. A search for “bar” products on oukosher.org/product-search returns over 3,000 results. At least 20 of these companies were on site at the conference including Simply Protein, Kind Bars, RX Bars, Aloha Moment, Zing Bars and many more. SmartKids NutriBars were offering samples of a nutritional bar that provides the specific vitamins kids need as they grow up. But don’t worry, adults can try them too! Then there are Wolo Bars, bars made specifically for the traveller. Wolo bars are high in Vitamin C and Zinc to support the compromise that travelling brings to the immune system. They also help to lower inflammation and give soy based protein for a buzz when your plane, train, or bus arrives. When asked why they are Kosher, Wolo’s representative explained that their founder is Kosher. Kosher consumers becoming Kosher creators is something we can all get behind.

There are endless trends to be discussed from any food show, which is why more of them are highlighted on the OUKosher instagram page. This allows our fans to put up their feet and see what is out there, rather than wear out a good pair of shoes walking the trade show floors. Enjoy these updates from the world of food and look out for updates from  Kosherfest!

Phyllis Koegel
As the Marketing Director for OU Kosher, the world’s leading Kosher certifying agency, Phyllis is responsible for the marketing and new business development by assisting food producers worldwide obtain OU Kosher certification for their products. Phyllis developed an early passion for consumer behavior and marketing. She joined the Orthodox Union in 2006 after serving as Marketing Manager for Sabra Hummus. At Sabra Hummus, she helped launch the hummus category to the American market. Hummus became a staple in American households and grew to a billion-dollar food category. Sabra Hummus was purchased by Pepsico in 2008 and has grown to over $1 billion in annual sales. Prior to joining Sabra, Phyllis was involved in the development and success of the International Kosherfest Trade show. As Show Director from 1989 – 2002, she worked with thousands of Kosher food manufacturers and oversaw the strategic planning and execution of the show. Phyllis was born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y. She obtained an MBA in Marketing from Pace University in 1988. She now lives in Woodmere, N.Y. and has three children and sixteen grandchildren.