NBJ Blog

Natural Products Expo East - a review from an industry insider

Natural Products Expo East paid a fond farewell to Baltimore last week, as it prepares for a move to Boston in 2008. Nothing could be more fitting for Expo East, as the east coast's largest natural products trade show has outgrown its venue and must move to a larger setting.

For me, it was a sad goodbye. The 1999 Expo East in Baltimore was the first tradeshow I attended in the natural products industry. I was a financial analyst at Health Business Partners and was talking up our mergers & acqusitions services as the market boomed into the new century. It was a great show and a great time to be in the nutrition industry.

Natural Products Expo East 2007 possessed the same booming vibe - the organic industry is growing 17% annually, the number of international exhibitors that were part of Biofach continues to climb and Nutrition Business Journal was still canvassing the floor...looking for contacts and innovation in a rapidly growing and dynamic nutrition industry.

I presented a "Market Trends & Opportunities" presentation to the Global Business Program attendees - international executives looking to break into the U.S. nutrition industry. I presented NBJ's latest research on the specialty supplement markets, paying particular attention to probiotics, fish oils and enzymes. My presentation will soon be posted in the Subscriber Only section of nutritionbusiness.com. Please take a look and let me know what you think via the "comments" feature of this blog. I always appreciate your feedback!

For the first time in many years, I spent alot of time on the tradeshow floor. Most of it was spent in the natural personal care, organic and supplements sections. The organic industry just doesn't seem to lose any steam. At least half of the companies I visited with were at their first or second natural products tradeshow, nestled tightly together in their 10x10 booths. The energy was very positive in organics. Many were integrating sustainability into their marketing strategies.

The natural personal care section of the tradeshow floor seemed more open, with larger booths being occupied by companies like Aubrey's Organics and Jason's Naturals. This category has enjoyed 14-20% growth over the last few years and the booth sizes show it. Many of the exhibiting companies have benefited from private equity investments, detailed in NBJ's natural & organic personal care issues over the years.

In the supplement section, many of the same companies were present in particularly large booths including Garden of Life, Nature's Way and newcomer, Aboca. Unfortunately, these supplement companies are struggling with innovation - leaving a little bit to be desired. With new GMP regulations to be phased in over the next few years, I hope these companies won't struggle with new GMP costs, and will spend on research and development.

All in all, it was a good show for NBJ. If we met at the show, I hope to speak with you soon and appreciate your help in our research. If not, I'm sorry we missed one another and I hope to see you at the shows I'll be at through 2007: CRN, Nutrition Capital Network, Investors Circle, Supply Side West and UNPA's China Seminar in December. After that run...I'm booking some time with my snowboard.

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