Top priorities in Boston: seafood, Sox games and—for those attending Expo East—sales. You're on your own for scoring box seats, but when it comes to cultivating buying and selling relationships—and closing the deal—Natural Products Expo East 2010 has a slew of new initiatives to help.
For starters, the show's organizers are launching a matchmaking service "to quickly and easily pair appropriate buyers and sellers," says Heather Smith, spokeswoman for Expo East. The service, located at the Find-a-Product desk on the show floor, combines technology with a personal touch, Smith says. "It won't just be a kiosk. We'll also have people there who know people you should meet." And those people are more likely than ever to be at this year's show—and eager to do business—thanks to new incentives like perks for VIP buyers and programs that reward vendors for offering discounts and writing orders at the show.
Expo East's new partnership with United Natural Foods—the official distributor for the show—also means that new products have a greater shot at success. "[It] increases … exhibitors' ability to place their natural and organic products on the shelves of all natural and conventional retail outlets and into foodservice distribution nationwide," says Fred Linder, president of New Hope Natural Media, parent company of Natural Products Expo East and Natural Foods Merchandiser.
And with the industry's largest organic events under one roof for the first time, the opportunities for business and community growth are unparalleled. Expo East will become "the organic hub, nationally and internationally," Smith says, as the co-location of All Things Organic, the Organic Summit and BioFach America draws the entire organic community together for a week of networking, business and education.
This year's educational offerings include a three-part Product-to-Shelf Workshop on Wednesday, Oct. 13, covering everything you need to know to launch a new product or brand—from acquiring financial backing to marketing your product and developing distribution channels.
One of the most exciting additions to the educational roster is the Women in Naturals event on Friday, Oct. 15, as well as the WIN education track on Thursday and Friday, featuring such topics as "Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office" and "Hot, Rich & Green." In fact, WIN will have a multiplatform presence at Expo this fall, Smith says. The New Hope staff will make personal introductions, lead tours and put women editors in front of women entrepreneurs—all to facilitate further engagement above and beyond the educational sessions and the signature WIN party.
Not that parties aren't important too. Considered one of the highlights of Expo East, this year's Community Celebration on Oct. 14 will be "a blowout party," Smith says. With an Oktoberfest theme, the Thursday-night festivities will begin early and end very, very late, with food and drink flowing all night. "It's real food, not just chicken skewers," with an emphasis on New England regional cuisine, Smith says.
And that's a deserving tribute to the Northeast. After all, nearly 20 percent of the $33.85 billion spent on natural products in 2009 came from the region.