So this past weekend I went on my annual sojourn to Baltimore for the East Coast version of the biggest natural products industry trade show there is. I've worked in this industry for 13 years now, so I've really seen this show grow and change as natural products have become as much part of the Wal*Mart vocabulary as "cheap, China-made products." But this Expo is still full of really nice, well intentioned people who actually believe in what they do. They just get paid a lot more now because their little companies are owned by corporate giants who stay out of their way. Yeah!
I was there to see a bunch of old friends, hang out with my clients, get into this intensely competitive strategic mode that only seems to happen at NPE, because all your nearest and dearest competitors are right there in the booth next to you. I love it. It reminds me why I love to do what I do. And I do really love my work. Brand work in this industry warrants the kind of cheesy speech that Oscar winners get: "I can't believe I get paid to do this stuff, etc." Lots of fun and good stuff happened for my clients. I saw lots of great new products, brought home three huge bags of samples, and met up with people I will likely be working with over the next few months.
So here were the key trends and highlights from my perspective (keep in mind that I only work with natural foods, but there were lots of other natural products there. I just didn't pay that much attention, as I don't have any clients in those spaces.)
It's all about berries and other antioxidants. Noni, goji, mangosteen, and the more common temperate berries ran rampant. It's amusing to see. I remember first working on antioxidants back in the mid-90's, and back then at Clif Bar we were all about turmeric and green tea. They're still around. Maybe I should I have done a better job making turmeric the Kleenex of the antioxidant world, because I genuinely believe in its goodness. I make J take copious amounts in capsule form every day.
Omega 3's in the form of flax oil, fish oil etc. Everywhere. It's all about Omega.
Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. M&M Mars did the world a favor with their self-serving chocolate antioxidant clinical trials.
Lots of nice smelly stuff. That's just a personal thing. I love NPE for nice smelly stuff.
Maitake for diabetics. Diabetes and celiac disease seemed to be the two top diseases on the forefront of manufacturers' minds.
Green superfood drink powders. Particularly Barleans. In my opinion, the best tasting green powder mix around. Tasty and powerfuel!
Surprisingly, hardly any probiotics. Given my personal passion, I expected more. Sometimes I am a little off, timing wise. Maybe Expo West, in Anaheim, in March.
Oh and of course the Expo was 'green.' Yawn. Everyone seemed to be throwing the potato starch utensils and sampling cups into non-recyclable wastebaskets.