Fresh Take: Some New Favorite Food Brands After A Week At Expo West

Food & Drink

Iam still recovering from Expo West. My acupuncturist went to work and the bloating has luckily gone down—but what can you expect? I walk those aisles and feel like I have to try it all. I never know what may spark something, and I go into this annual week of Super Bowl-level eating with the understanding that I have to taste as much as I can. I owe it to the founders who are betting it all for their food business dreams.

As I’ve been unpacking my bags of samples, snacks and beverages, I’ve been feeling a sense of exhilaration. The natural and specialty food show had more than 3,300 companies exhibiting and sampling. More than 65,000 industry insiders walked the floor. The energy was back.

I attend Expo for a lot of different reasons: to interview founders and industry leaders, to hear good gossip, to check in with 30 Under 30 honorees and past profile subjects, to identify trends in the business behind food, and to hear what investors are excited to back. But I also go to meet new founders and companies, and to try new tastes and textures that blow me away. Let’s keep in mind: About 25% of the companies there, or some 840 brands, had a booth at the show for the first time.

So, I thought, why not share what’s brought me joy? Here’s a roundup of my favorite food discoveries from Anaheim:

In a sometimes sea of copycats (who else clocked Captain’s Booty?) and ultra-processed monotony, there were some bites from longer-standing companies that excited me, too. Those tastes came from the booths of A Dozen Cousins, Sun Noodle, Siete, Zab’s hot sauce, Harmless Harvest, De La Calle Tepache, King Arthur flour, Pipcorn, Savannah Bee Company, Honey Mama’s, Mother In Law’s kimchi and Lundberg Family Farms rice.

I also got the chance to try (no booth) Myna Snacks’ better-for-you nod to Oreo, and, let’s just say, those didn’t make it much longer than a few minutes into the plane ride home.

Expect profiles of standout founders who I met on the floor and much more to come, very soon! In the meantime, enjoy your early spring weekend! I’m going all-in on preparing my garden for seeds and sprouting. What about you?

— 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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Field Notes

Leave it to me to find the real pasta at Expo West. With so many high-protein, gum-filled and alternative pastas out there, I was grateful for the 100% durum wheat pasta from Pastificio Di Martino. The Naples, Italy based company’s al dente penne with zesty pomodoro revived me and sent me on my way, ready to try more.

Thanks for reading the 107th edition of Forbes Fresh Take! Let me know what you think. Subscribe to Forbes Fresh Take here.

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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