Gearing up for Expo West

by Monica Watrous
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ANAHEIM, CALIF. — Turmeric soda, cricket protein puffs, meat snacks made with beef organs, and non-dairy beverages made with pea protein are among thousands of new products to be displayed at Natural Products Expo West. This year’s event, taking place March 10-13 at the Anaheim Hilton hotel and Anaheim Convention Center, is expected to draw 70,000 attendees and feature more than 3,000 exhibitors, including more than 600 first-timers.

Brands include a mix of major companies and small startups, said Adam Andersen, managing director at New Hope Natural Media, which produces the show.

Adam Andersen, managing director at New Hope Natural Media

“There’s been a constant flurry of merger and acquisition activity in the last few years, and we haven’t seen that slowing down at all,” Mr. Andersen said. “You see companies like General Mills and Coca-Cola and Pepsi and Dannon buying up lots of brands and starting new line extensions, new flavors, new packaging and new offerings that you didn’t see before from the brand…

“And then of course we have more and more small entrepreneurs coming. Since 2009, with the recession, we’ve seen a steady increase year by year in new companies coming in, applying to be in the show, and now it has become a really good environment for them to get funding to be able to launch their companies around Expo West and get an idea of what the retail reception is and have an opportunity to get greater exposure.”

Mr. Andersen, show director for Expo West, spoke with Food Business News in advance of the event to offer a sneak peek of trends and highlights. He said this year’s Expo West features an expanded lineup of educational sessions, twice as many yoga sessions and an enhanced mobile app with new capabilities.

Salty Girl Seafood, Inc., provides traceability information on its packaging to allow consumers to learn how and where the fish was caught..

A theme of the conference is transparency, which has transcended from “a buzzword to an essential for our industry and our way of doing business,” Mr. Andersen said. Speaking to that topic in a keynote presentation is Martha Rogers, a business strategist, consultant and author, who developed the Trustability Matrix to help companies understand how they are perceived by customers, employees and partners. Dr. Rogers will discuss the tenets of trust and how brands may garner lost trust from consumers amid negative publicity.

Transparency will be front and center on the trade show floor, too. Many companies exhibiting at the show are taking innovative approaches to helping consumers understand what’s in their food, Mr. Andersen said. Salty Girl Seafood, Inc., Santa Barbara, Calif., provides traceability information on its packaging to allow consumers to learn how and where the fish was caught. Another exhibitor, New York-based Happy Family, is introducing organic baby food in clear pouches. The packaging for ready-to-eat cereal from Back to the Roots, Oakland, Calif., features diagrams showing where the ingredients were sourced and how the product was made.

New Hope Natural Media will unveil the winners of its NEXTY Awards at the show. 

Also during the show, Boulder, Colo.-based New Hope Natural Media will unveil the winners of its twice-annual NEXTY Awards, recognizing some of the most “game-changing and inspiring” new products across 19 categories. Finalists include Pok Pok Som turmeric soda; Bitty Foods Chiridos air-puffed snack chips made with cricket flour; Pure Traditions Mountain Sticks featuring a blend of beef and beef heart, kidney and liver; and Global Gardens Group Inc. Veggemo non-dairy beverage containing pea protein, potato and tapioca starch.

Don’t miss exclusive coverage of Expo West at FoodBusinessNews.net, including industry trends, new product innovation and business insights from companies exhibiting at the show.
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