Natural Foods Merchandiser
Expo West 2012: Must-attend annual events

Expo West 2012: Must-attend annual events

Your guide to the best opportunities for learning, networking and having fun at Natural Products Expo West 2012.

Retail Store Tour

Here’s a fantastic opportunity to see what makes top Southern California-area natural products stores shine, gather ideas to implement in your store and meet fellow retailers. The bus-led tour allows you behind-the-scenes access to Herbs of Mexico in Los Angeles and Mother’s Market in Brea and Santa Ana. Managers and employees at all three stores will be on hand to answer questions. Cost is $60, which includes breakfast at the Hilton. Thursday, March 8, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.; meet at Hilton bus loading area

Organic Farming Research Foundation Benefit

Join more than 300 organic farmers and industry leaders at the 15th annual celebration of innovative and environmentally responsible farming. OFRF will share highlights from its first “Organic Farming for Health and Prosperity” report and introduce the new faces of organic farming in the United States. Cost for this luncheon is $75 per person; proceeds go to OFRF. Thursday, March 8, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.; Ballrooms C & D in the convention center

Fresh Ideas Organic Marketplace

Discover new and unique certified-organic products in an intimate, farmers’ market–like setting before the show floor opens on Friday. Sample organic truffles, artisan cheeses and sustainable spirits, and check out an array of herbs, flowers and textiles. Thursday, March 8, 12:30 to 5:30 p.m.; tent outside the Marriott

Welcome Reception

This event is Expo West’s way of shouting, “Hail, hail, the gang’s all here!” Capture the buzz of the show’s start and enjoy cocktails, appetizers and live entertainment with colleagues old and new. Thursday, March 8, 6 to 8 p.m.; Palm Court (located outside convention center)

A Better Breakfast

You want to fuel up with a healthy breakfast before hitting the show floor, so enjoy nutritious offerings from Earth Balance and Glutino while mingling with fellow attendees. Friday, March 9, 7:30 to 10 a.m.; Marriott Platinum Ballroom

New Products Showcase

Spend time scanning this pre-screened selection of exciting new items before diving into the exhibit-hall excitement. Grab a scanner, window-shop and then visit your favorite companies’ booths on the show floor for more info. Friday, March 9, and Saturday, March 10, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, March 11, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Anaheim Convention Center lobby

Women in Naturals Networking Party

This annual cocktail party aims to connect natural products industry women with one another and inspire them to pursue their dreams. Naomi Whittel, CEO of event sponsor Reserveage Organics, will share her story, followed by a presentation from Cynthia Barstow, president of Seed to Shelf: Marketing for Sustainability and a University of Massachusetts instructor who takes marketing students to Expo West each year. Barstow’s former students Sarah Nelson of Late July Organic Snacks and Zoë Gardner of Traditional Medicinals and current student Gabrielle DeAngelis of Seed to Shelf will also speak. Friday, March 9, 5:30 to 7 p.m.; Hilton roofdeck

Live Music Party

A perennial favorite, this jam- and dance-athon is a prime opportunity to let loose while socializing with colleagues and making new friends. Reggae royalty Ziggy Marley headlines this year’s concert to celebrate the launch of his Ziggy’s Coco’mon and Hemp Rules brands. (See more on Marley.) Friday, March 9, 9 p.m. to midnight; Marriott Marquis Ballroom.

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