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The Next Economy
Plant-Based World Expo Showcases Continued Global Momentum Behind Food Innovation

The 4th annual event provided a comprehensive glimpse into the state and direction of an exciting, maturing industry and provided a valuable platform for businesses within the evolving global food supply network.

As increasingly palpable climate impacts accelerate around the world, a dizzying array of new and novel plant-based food offerings are coming to market — each vying for category leadership in a consumer demand landscape that is arriving faster than many expected a year ago. With plant-based shoppers spending more on average, and eating more often in restaurants and cafes, who will win the race to capture emerging wallet share amongst these new consumers?

The answer, or at least a few hints, could be found at the Plant-Based World Expo last month at the Javits Center in New York City.

The Expo is the official tradeshow of the Plant-Based Foods Association and is North America’s only forum designed exclusively for plant-based food service and retail professionals, distributors, investors and manufacturers. It was a celebration and a showcase for the plant-based food industry’s rapid and ongoing evolution.

“The positive energy and excitement was palpable from the minute the show floor opened,” said Ben Davis, the Expo’s Content Chair and Strategic Advisor.

The event combined a conference with a massive exhibition showcasing innovative, plant-based food products and brands from around the world. It also included high-level networking and tasting opportunities, and numerous keynotes and breakout sessions.

The ‘World’ aspect also lived up to its name — with companies from Brazil, Denmark, Italy, Japan, Spain, Thailand and more showcasing their culturally unique, plant-based products — highlighting the industry’s shift toward healthier, plant-based snacks and prepared foods using sustainable and regenerative ingredients such as hemp, jackfruit, acai, algae and seaweed.

Plant-Based World Expo also served as a platform for businesses within the global supply network to successfully develop, source and distribute plant-based products. Attendees had the opportunity to try just-launched items, discuss proven best-sellers with the people behind them (often founders or company executives were present at the booths), and make invaluable industry connections.

Another highlight was the keynote sessions — led by industry leaders and pioneers who shared their hard-earned wisdom, insights and experiences in the burgeoning field. One session was moderated by Nil Zacharias — founder and CEO of plant-based bodega snack brand Plantega, co-author of Eat for the Planet (2018) and host of the podcast of the same name — and featured panelists Liron Nimrodi, CEO and co-founder of Zero Egg; Pete Speranza, CEO of Wicked Foods; and Minh Tsai, CEO of Hodo Foods. Each shared their lessons learned from developing and marketing tasty, leading-edge, plant-based products while navigating the ongoing challenges and new opportunities inherent in a constantly growing industry and crowded marketplace.

In addition to these CEOs, the keynote sessions also featured speakers from the Food Marketing Institute, JBH Advisory Group, Sodexo and Target — who provided valuable insights into the retail and foodservice aspects of their respective niches within the plant-based food industry.