expo west re-cap

Celebrating their 30th anniversary, (and our 15th year in attendance) it was another successful year at the Natural Products Expo West held in Anaheim, CA March 11-14. The big event drew record attendance of 56,000, as compared to 3,000 attendees in 1981. Expo West remains the largest, and most premiere natural and organic products tradeshow in the industry.
In 2009, the nutritional industry totaled $110 billion in the US, which is up from $10 billion in 2008. As the economy recovers, the natural and organic industry continues to grow as hundreds of new products are introduced during this 4-day food frenzy.
To kick off the show, the only event with a consumer component is the Fresh Ideas Organic Marketplace, which takes place the day prior to the tradeshow opening – held outside the convention center in a big white tent, next to the Marriott Hotel. The event runs for one afternoon only, and is the only place during the entire show where product can be sold directly to a consumer. It’s a unique and innovative outdoor atmosphere, loaded with new products and fresh, new organic ideas.
A Quick Recap of the Show:
1.    Exhibitors were upbeat, positive and pleased with the level of traffic this year.
2.    New healthy and green products remain the lifeline of the industry, and hundreds of new products were featured this year.
3.    Rumors that private label growth is slowing after months of healthy gains are partially attributed to shoppers stocking up during winter storm season, and a big push by brand names to offer coupons and discounts to shoppers. But, private label is still growing at a faster rate than name brands. Time will tell.
4.    Gluten-free foods and natural beauty products are on the rise as consumer demand increases.
5.    Retailers that understand today’s “shift to thrift” will do better job of winning both shoppers and investors.
6.    Earth friendly packaging is a very big consideration – with clean, simply graphics and bright colors seem to dominate the show aisles.
7.    Consumers are taking a more active role as activists. As shoppers make purchases not only to meet their health needs, what they now buy makes a strong statement about the things that are important to them.  It’s no longer cool to be a conspicuous consumer. Getting hooked on sustainable foods is very cool.
8.    Jury is still out on well the new implemented “green” show practices faired. In an effort to lessen the show impact on the environment; show badges were picked up onsite rather than mailed, which saved 4 metric tons of CO2 emissions. By producing a Show Directory Map instead of a Buyer’s Guide, it saved 487 full-grown trees.  I personally, found the changes to be rather inconvenient, and unorganized, but I also understand it takes time to make any transition. I hope things go more smoothly at Expo East in the fall.
9.    Childhood obesity is on the rise, and manufacturers step up to replace unhealthy diets with nutritional products.
10.    The weather was absolutely perfect – and I had a great time!

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Tom Foerstel : Founder & President

Tom Foerstel

Founder & President

Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 60’s, Tom developed a strong desire to create positive change for people and planet.

He went on to pursue his passion for art and design at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, and worked for design firms in Southern California before moving to Boise, Idaho in the early 80’s. Foerstel Design opened its doors in 1985. Since its inception, the firm has cultivated a bold, happy, forward-looking team focussed on creating distinct and effective work on behalf of their clients.

An integral part of Tom’s philosophy is giving back to the community in which he lives — a company cornerstone that drives Foerstel’s long history of providing pro-bono services to local non-profit humanitarian and arts programs.

One of Tom’s proudest personal achievements is his ability to say Supercalifragilisticexpyalidocious backwards.