Carlotta Mast, editor-in-chief of Natural Foods Merchandiser
- Moderating the Tree of Life panel. I am honored to moderate the Sept. 22 session “How Values, Service and Heart Drive Financial Success,” sponsored by natural products distributor Tree of Life.
- Meeting John and Gisele Fetterman. On Sept. 23, the Braddock, Pa., mayor and his wife will discuss how they’re working to rebuild and bring wellness to one of America’s poorest cities.
- Attending the Retailer Workshop. This year’s nine-session Retailer Workshop on Sept. 21 will explore how to cater to crossover consumers, build a thriving dietary supplements business and sell healthy convenience to a busy marketplace.
- Hobnobbing with the industry’s most influential women. Female entrepreneurs and industry execs will share their secrets of success during the Women in Naturals cocktail reception on Sept. 23.
Jessica Rubino, senior associate editor of Delicious Living magazine
- New Products Press ExposÃ© Networking Event. I look forward to meeting the entrepreneurs behind the products that land on my desk. Expo provides a holistic view of companies’ missions, values and manufacturing processes that helps me determine which products we feature in Delicious Living and on NewHope360.com.
- Discovering beauty innovations. The Expo show floor is the ultimate in all things personal care, from new products to ingredient introductions to trends. Topical probiotics, plant stem cells, fair trade and quick response codes are a few that have caught my attention at recent shows, so I know beautiful things await in Baltimore.
- Getting updates on personal care certifications. Whether at an education session, booth or regulatory meeting, Expo East gives me access to discussions surrounding this hot topic. I get the lowdown on new labels and developments with existing ones, plus the chance to offer feedback.
- New Product Showcase Award Presentation. I look forward to seeing which product introductions receive top honors. The awards ceremony on Sept. 24 encapsulates the show’s energy and freshness and provides a cheat sheet of cool products I may have missed.
Steve Verde, Northeast sales manager for Maximum Marketing, a natural products brokerage in Pompano Beach, Fla.
- Coming “home” to Baltimore. I love Boston; I grew up in the area, but Baltimore offers the perfect setting for a great show, and is easily accessible.
- Seeing what’s new. Grains, sweeteners and other ingredients can potentially improve existing products and create new ones too.
- Checking out the latest, greatest technologies. For vendors, brokers, distributors and retailers, technology can create efficiencies and advance business.
- Reconnecting. There are many people in the industry who I don’t get to see often or even at all throughout the year. People make business move forward and make this industry so enjoyable.
Kelsey Blackwell, senior editor, Natural Foods Merchandiser
- Retail Store Tour. I’ll score an insider’s glance at two innovative stores—The Common Market and Roots Market—and get plenty of inspiration and story ideas from the retailers who attend the tour on Sept. 21.
- “Just Say No to GMOs.” I’m helping put together this Sept. 22 panel of scientists, activists and retailers to create a lively roundtable discussion about genetically modified organisms. I’m eager to find out how potential threats like GM bluegrass and wheat might impact organics.
- Keynote Speaker Daniel Pink. I’m halfway through Pink’s book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (Riverhead, 2009), and am excited to hear him speak on Sept. 23. How would he motivate consumers to support natural and organic products?
- Future of Wellness. It’s always interesting to hear what non-endemic experts have to say about the naturals industry. In this Sept. 22 session, they’ll address the obesity epidemic, diabetes and gut health.
Caren Baginski, senior associate editor of NewHope360.com
- “Translating Primary Research into Actionable Consumer Messages.” This All Things Organic education session on Sept. 23 promises to provide practical, actionable information that I can pass on to NewHope360.com visitors.
- Tweeting from the show floor. Exhibitors can tweet with #expoeast before, during and after Expo so editors and attendees can follow their every move.
- Discovering new vegan products. As a vegan, I’m curious to see how companies are meeting dairy- and meat-free demands with new offerings. One-third of vegetarians are now vegan, so this is definitely a category to watch.
- An Evening with eTown. I’m eager to hear what fellow vegan Moby will say during this live radio show taping on Sept. 22.
Rhonda Penecale, owner of Bunn’s Natural Foods in Southampton, Pa.
- Returning to Baltimore. The city is a convenient two-hour drive from our store, which enables our entire staff to attend.
- Checking out new products from independent companies. Being an independent store, we like to support fellow independents.
- Attending merchandising seminars. I love returning to our store after Expo with a bunch of new ideas.
- Talking to exhibitors about demos and specials. This helps us set up in-store promotions with supporting demos for the upcoming year.
Brian Albert, brand manager of Own Brands at Pittsburgh-based chain Giant Eagle
- Meeting with existing suppliers, distributors and partners. Face-to-face meetings with these folks allow me to connect in a way that email and conference calls cannot. They also make working together more personal and, honestly, more enjoyable.
- Discovering the big trends of 2011.
- I can’t wait to see what this year’s coconut water, gluten free or Greek yogurt will be.
- Sampling. I love to eat! More importantly, I know that if I love a newfound food, there’s an excellent chance our consumers will too.
- Reuniting with old friends. We in the natural products industry move, change jobs, start families or stay the course. Expo East is a wonderful opportunity to catch up and learn how friends and acquaintances are making different inroads in our industry.