Thursday, March 12, 2009

review-Natural Products Expo West

i love March.
the first warm days of Spring, slightly warmer evenings, i start seeing berries in our CSA basket and best of all: Natural Products Expo West that happened over the past weekend.
(just the beginning: take a taxi or have some one drop you off)
this convention is the biggest (at least on the west coast) natural event this part of the country and i am always so very thankful that they choose to have this great event at the Anaheim Convention Center, literally 2 exits on the freeway away from the store, it doesn't get any better than that!
the economy and Expo West:
i have to admit, i was a little worried about the attendance numbers with the economy. my fears were quickly relieved though as there was absolutely NO parking by the time i arrived (about 30 min after the show started), just like always. personally i think the natural/green business is going to get a boost from the recession as people are really paying attention to where their money goes (on quality/health) as well as a distrust of big biz/imports (which i have to say was still present). single biggest thing that i noticed, or rather overheard were conversations where people mentioned that they were, "previously in mortgage/real estate/some other biz" but had recently starting doing something new. what i liked even more: a lot of these people were very happy about where they were working now.
Expo West is not cheap, and it's mad popular hence the place is usually at max capacity. what i happened to notice this year was there were several booths simply left empty, not a ton but enough no-shows to notice. paying for the booth is one thing, but if you factor in filling the booth, display items, staff, staff travel accommodations, rentals...well you have a lot of money going to the event.
vendors and such:
love going to this convention and overall, i would recommend trying/bribing/begging to get into this event, especially if you like to shop at Mother's Market, Henry's, Whole Paycheck etc...there are a number of great products and Expo West is the place where new products get introduced, manufactures present new items that will be released soon and where you the customer can simply TRY items without wasting $ on a game of, "well it looks good on the package".
i know i said this last year and i will say it again: there are some pretty obvious green/natural-washing examples here. A lot of the "big names" present at Expo West; you know, the people that take up the center, high priced areas of the convention floor...i started seeing this last year, and this year was no exception (hint: these are the names you have heard about forever, regular brand names). if you dont know already, many of the organic brands that we have come familiar with have actually been bought by conventional major food conglomerates (MORE on this to come). i heard later from a customer that Cargill (no es bueno) was even there-yikes!
i also noticed that there were no clear sections for "organics" vs. non-organics, making it confusing to those who are not paying attention.
(i dont know what he was doing, but he was having a great time!)
i love this show, yes there are things that need to changed (like clearly separating things like organics, fair trade, etc...) but i really like how Anaheim Convention Center is trying to walk the walk: use of biocompostables, good recycling, better food choices than most convention centers. again, this show is a must at least once if you can get in.
because of my time constraints, i was not able to see the whole show, which totally sucked. but from what i did experience:
- Dalby Day skin oils. she was wonderful and SUPER nice!
-Togo Ware. they are coming out with some new goodies that we will be getting in very soon, LOVE them.
- soyrizo! LOVE it, COOK it...and they are coming out with a spicier version! plus they were cooking up some awesome tacos and had their full line available.
(this is one of 3 stations w/ soyrizo goodness!)
-Pirates Booty their booth rocked and they seemed like they were having a great time (see below)...lots of awesome new samples. good for one of the bigger guys (i am trying to find out ifthey are owned by some BIGGER guy).
(the lady pirate was an awesome sport!)
-Alter-Eco. LOVE them!! fair trade dried goods, totally yummy and they are coming out with some black quinoa (they also have red-very good). see them here soon.
-Juniper Ridge. LOVE these guys, they have the best display by far and the people that make up this great company are sincerely the most awesome and reflective of the products they make..LOVE-i just wish we sold them here!!
(need to get these mason jar drink dispensers-ASAP!)
(fair trade & organic at the push of a button!)
grossest moment:
i ate a cheese sample using a toothpick from the dirty container! by accident of course!

i will be sure to post some tips on doing Expo West in the next week on how to gear up, navigate the show and know what is what-stay tuned!

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