Plant-based snacks with exotic, spicy flavors stole the show at Expo West

By Kristine Sherred

- Last updated on GMT

Tens of thousands converged upon the Anaheim Convention Center to see the latest and greatest of natural foods. Pic: Getty Images / Davel5957
Tens of thousands converged upon the Anaheim Convention Center to see the latest and greatest of natural foods. Pic: Getty Images / Davel5957

Related tags Snack foods Spice Flavors chips Gluten-free foods

The snacks industry continues down a plant-based path, evident in the number of brands - old and new - that showed off their takes at the Natural Products Expo West show held in Anaheim, California last week (March 5-9).

Gluten-free has not dissipated, but it was easy to spot the 'of-the-moment' ingredients and flavors, which skewed toward the spicy side. Here are a few products that stood out.

Laiki rice cracker / Pic: K. Sherred

Rice in snack form

Cracker company Laiki showcased its two flagship products, a black rice cracker and a red rice cracker, both seasoned with sea salt. It also unveiled two new flavors at the show: a red rice cracker with cracked black pepper and a black rice cracker with vegan cheddar.

According to the company, it manufacture its crackers with sustainably sourced palm fruit oil from Thailand.

Majans Bhuja snack mixes / Pic: K. Sherred

Global flavors

Bhuja is a popular Indian snack mix consisting of dried crackers, noodles, peas, peanuts and other nuts. Majans creates it in a variety of flavors – all non-GMO and gluten-free – at its facility in Kennesaw, Georgia.

The Nut Mix, for instance, features peanuts, almonds, cashews, plus dried noodles, chickpeas, and yellow and green peas, spiced with salt, chili powder, paprika, turmeric and cumin. One serving size provides 3g of dietary fiber and 6g of protein, with only 1g of sugar.


Off the Eaten Path veggie puffs / Pic: K. Sherred
Puffs were everywhere

Expo West was a haven for dozens of the plant-based puffed snacks that have emerged in the past few years. There were chickpea puffs, pea puffs, generic veggie puffs and so much more in classic American flavors like cheddar and exotic spices like masala.

Off the Eaten Path is one example of this ontrend style. The UK company offers two veggie crisps made with rice, peas and black beans, as well as a chickpea crisp seasoned with rosemary and olive oil.

The newer veggie puffs come in a spicy cheddar and sour cream and onion flavor.


Paqui ghost pepper tortilla chips / Pic: K. Sherred
It's getting hot, hot, hot

Of the innumerable flavors on display, spicy might have ruled them all.

Paqui - which is owned by Hershey’s Amplify Snack Brands - makes gluten-free, non-GMO tortilla chips in particularly spicy flavors. The new Haunted Ghost Pepper chip mixes the ultra hot ghost pepper with cayenne, chipotle and chili powder.

The chip company also makes a Cool Salsa Verde, Jalapeno Tropicale and Fiery Chile Limon varients.

Kettle Chips alternative oils / Pic: K. Sherred
Alternative oils

Potato chip brand Kettle has upped the ante on its wide-ranging portfolio with flavors like Pepperoncini, Jalapeno, Koren BBQ and Wasabi Ranch.

The 41-year-old company has also added a few new oils to its standard vegetable oil chips, including avocado and almond oil, flavored with simple ingredients such as Himalayan pink salt.

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