Natural Foods Merchandiser

Seminars offer gaze into crystal ball

Retailers will get a look into the future of natural and organic products and issues at Natural Products Expo West, with retailer education programming targeting upcoming trends starting Thursday before the show floor opens. With topics ranging from capturing shopper traffic with a revolutionary fresh foods section to greening a business, a lineup of nationally known authors and experts will offer knowledge gleaned from their natural foods future-gazing.

Jay Jacobowitz, president of Retail Insights, and Byron Freney of The Hartman Group will kick off Expo's seminars at 9 a.m. Thursday, March 8, with "The Fresh Revolution: How It's Changing Customer Perception of Your Store." Then at 11 a.m., Joel Makower, known as "the guru of green business practices," will share his insight in "From Here to Sustainability: Greening Your Business and Bottom Line."

Friday, March 9, at 9 a.m., futurist Andrew Zolli will share his thoughts on natural products trends. Founder of Z + Partners, a foresight think tank, Zolli will take a look at the current industry climate and predict activities for future success.

On Friday, an organic basics seminar at 10:30 a.m. is designed for retailers new to the organic industry or looking to refresh their understanding. A hot topic forum for organic issues will be held at 2:45 p.m. The "hot topics" for the discussion will be e-mailed to attendees.

On Saturday at 9 a.m., Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All American Meal (Houghton Mifflin, 2001) and Chew on This: Everything You Don't Want to Know About Fast Food (Houghton Mifflin, 2006) will present the keynote address. In 2006, the film version of Fast Food Nation brought food issues to the big screen.

At 10:30 a.m., attendees will get a chance to pick the brains of organic experts with their questions about organic certification. Susan Fecko, program manager for New Hope Natural Media, says the question-and-answer forum "Got Certification Questions? Ask the Experts" will guide people through the organic certification system.

The organic theme will continue at 1 p.m. Saturday as Dr. Alan Greene, Bob Scowcroft and Sylvia Tawse revisit the top 10 reasons to go organic, exploring updated themes from Tawse's 15-year-old article, "Top 10 Reasons to Go Organic," for the 21st century. The panel will discuss what it means to be organic in 2007 and how retailers can use the new top 10 to share the values of organic with customers. Greene, part of the pediatrics department at the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford University School of Medicine, is on the board of the Organic Center and has published books on family health. Scowcroft is the executive director of the Organic Farming Research Foundation, and Tawse is the founder of Fresh Ideas Group.

Saturday wraps up with two seminars addressing retailers' challenges. "Making the Hard Choices at Work Without Losing Your Self Respect" and "Tackling Organic Ingredient and Supply Chain Challenges" will both be at 2:45 p.m.

In keeping with Expo's educational focus on the future, Sunday's 9 a.m. featured speaker will be best-selling author Neil Howe. In his latest book, Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation (Vintage, 2000), Howe discusses today's twenty-something generation, and how they will shape the nation's future.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVIII/number 2/p. 16

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