They laughed. They cried. They hugged. Such was the reaction when the winners of Expo East's first New Products Showcase Awards found out they were, well, the winners. With stiff competition for just five awards, anticipation was high. Manufacturers sidled up to contest officials, hoping for some advance word on which products had garnered the voters' fancy in this contest that honored quality and innovation in the natural products industry.
Early in the show, a panel of 25 retailers and 25 natural products consumers selected their five favorite products in each of five categories—from among more than 300 products entered. Once the finalists were named, voting was opened up to any and all retailers, brokers and distributors at the show.
Two trends were apparent in the voters' selections. They favored products with an international nature, evidenced when the Salt Lamp, manufactured in Poland by Folioe International LLC, won the Innovative Product category. Even its competition had international roots—the Soylife Automatic Soymilk Maker, made by a Canadian company, was also a finalist.
Even more noticeable, said Sylvia Tawse, an industry consultant with the Boulder, Colo.-based Fresh Ideas Group, is that natural products are neither fringe nor mainstream, but incorporate both segments of the market. Annie's Cheddar Bunnies Baked Snack Cracker, made by Annie's Homegrown Inc., should appeal to most parents who want their children to eat healthy snacks without trans fats or other questionable ingredients. Nutiva's Organic Hemp, on the other hand, produced by the Hemp Trade Association, is likely to appeal to a smaller niche.
The lines between categories are becoming noticeably blurred; hemp, a functional food product, won in the Supplements/Herbs category and faced competition from another food, Barlean's Greens. The implication of such trends? The natural products industry has come of age.
2003 New Products Showcase Awards
Finalists listed in each category. Winners noted in red.
Mill Creek Botanicals Instant Home Spa Treatment, Wild Mint
MotherNature Diapers MotherNature Wipes
Nadina's Cremes Beaded Tins
Natracare LLC Natracare Curved Panty Shields
Kiss My Face Big Kiss Rosemary Mint Soap
Annie's Homegrown Inc. Annie's Cheddar Bunnies Baked Snack Crackers
Amy's Kitchen Amy's Rice Crust Cheese Pizza
Oregon Chai Chai Cider
Cedarlane Natural Foods Burrito Grande with Salsa
Applegate Farms Organic Lunchbox
Folioe/Poland Embassy of the Republic Salt Lamp
Canadian Soylife Soylife Automatic Soymilk Maker
Spa Comforts Spa Socks
Radius Pill Box
Aromatherapy by Whole Spectrum Caroma
Canus Vermont Li'l Goat's Milk
The Fairy Line Fairy Dust for Magical Dreams
Bombora Trading Co. Photo Album
La Tourangelle La Tourangelle Walnut Oil
Lotus Foods Heirloom Rice Collection
Hemp Trade Association Nutiva's Organic Hemp
Nature's Life Nite Cap Sleep Formula
Barlean's Organic Oils Barlean's Greens
Wisdom Natural Brands Joint Wisdom
Quantum Inc. Therazinc Zinc & Echinacea
Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXIV/number 10/p. 7