Questions To Decide If You Should Go To The Natural Products Expo

Do you need to know what's new and what's hot in natural products?

organic - nothing added sign
Sometimes the "free from" claims go a little too far. Susie Wyshak

I love the twice-yearly Natural Products Expos organized by New Hope Natural Media, where, some say, massive alcohol consumption takes place, not to mention massive chia seed and kombucha consumption.

Some people have asked if this show is worth attending.

It sure must be, as nearly 3,000 companies present themselves to about 70,000 attendees. And the tradeshows keep growing and growing.

Huge Variety of Natural Products Exhibitors

Natural foods and beverages companies are just the beginning of the brands and manufacturers that exhibit at the Expos.

 

  • Contract manufacturers also called co-packers and private label manufacturers
  • Health and beauty brands, from soap to 
  • Natural pet foods, which is a huge trend
  • Ingredients suppliers from around the world
  • Herbs, medicinal products and a large hall of vitamins and supplements brands — including manufacturers in the fast-growing gummy vitamin category.

How to Decide If You Should Go To Expo

Here's an easy way to answer the question of whether you should attend:

  1. Will you benefit by meeting company founders and tasting their foods, trying their products and seeing how they pitch their products?
    If yes then go. You might have been to the Fancy Food Show or a Natural Products Expo last year and think you're well-schooled. BUT if your intention is to sell in Whole Foods or eventually get acquired like another natural foods company, make a point to get to a Natural Products Expo whether this year or another.

    It's a completely different scene and vibe from the Fancy Food Show and is the best way to see and taste the natural foods trends in person.

    You'll also have the chance to will see companies like Two Moms in the Raw who started out at a Colorado farmers market and eventually (they say) got discovered by Howard Schultz of Starbucks fame—at a Natural Products Expo. 

    And you'll run across lots of other companies started by two moms like Batter World.
  1. Do you need the motivation to start up a natural products company?
    If yes, then go. You can take educational workshops from natural foods industry leaders, investors, and startups. 

    Without fail, the Natural Product Expos feature presenters with a wide breadth of experience, from industry market research companies, certification pundits (Non-GMO, Organic etc.) and investors to brands telling their stories, retailers, and suppliers of all sorts.

    Panels and speakers featuring healthy living activists will get you involved in non-GMO and other causes.

    In short, pretty much the entire natural products world merges at the Expo.
  1. Does being around like-minded entrepreneurial food people jazz you?
    If yes, then go. Thousands of tanned, healthy people jam together to promote and learn about health and beauty products from lotions to soaps and tinctures. At some point, these companies started up, the brainchild of some creative entrepreneurs.

    The buzz is contagious, whether in the crowd of people waiting to get into the halls or the events' celebratory evening concerts.

    I was a bit starstruck with a panel featuring Stonyfield Yogurt and Dr. Bronner, and you'll find yourself rubbing shoulders (partly because of the crowds) with people from all walks of life.
     
  2. Do you need to meet funders and suppliers for your business?
    If yes, then go.  As I wrote about in my starting a food business book, you will stumble upon international suppliers of everything from organic coconut to packaging companies, machinery manufacturers, and co-packers. For example, I'll be meeting both with a soup company and their packaging manufacturer—all at once!
     
  3. Do you plan to invest in a booth at an upcoming Natural Products Expo?
    If yes, then go. Before you do, get this guide to learn the 7 mistakes food tradeshow exhibitors frequently make—so you can avoid them.
     

    The Natural Products Expo West runs in March in Anaheim, California, a stone's throw from Disneyland and not too far from the beach as well. You will find lots of Airbnb rentals in the area too.

    Expo East happens in Baltimore, Maryland every September.