Natural Foods Merchandiser

Up to speed

As the old saying goes, knowledge is power. Accordingly, retailers attending Natural Products Expo East 2005 will return from Washington, D.C., feeling much more powerful, thanks to the wide array of educational opportunities offered this year. Dozens of seminars—on everything from the organic process and sustainability to marketing and merchandising and health and wellness trends—will give attendees an inside look at the state of the naturals industry, as well as a chance to rub elbows with industry experts.

?This year, our educational program has a good balance,? says Susan Fecko, Expo education manager. ?We have some broad overviews of important subjects in the industry, as well as some more in-depth looks at new trends and controversial topics.?

Savvy retailers will clear their schedules for Thursday, Sept. 15, which is packed with educational opportunities. The day kicks off at 8:30 a.m. with ?Health and Wellness Trends Create Hot New Products and Opportunities,? a seminar hosted by marketing consultants Steve French and Bob Burke. The seminar offers a means for retailers to familiarize themselves with the industry?s hot topics before the show floor opens.

Directly following the trends seminar is ?The Gluten-Free Boom: A Closer Look at this Growing Niche? at 10:30 a.m. The seminar, hosted by Shelley Case, a registered dietitian and author of Shelley Case?s Gluten Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide and Carol Fenster, Ph.D, who has written several gluten-free cookbooks, will give retailers a leg up on this growing category.

?These two experts hosted a similar event at this year?s Expo West,? Fecko says. ?We received such wonderful feedback from attendees that we decided to have them back at Expo East.?

Thursday afternoon will be focused on personal care, with Delicious Living Editor in Chief Jean Weiss serving as your guide. A seminar designed to help retailers and manufacturers better understand the ingredients in personal care products begins at 1 p.m. ?Attendees will learn the basics of the chemistry behind cosmetics ingredients, why certain ingredients are considered safe or unsafe, and what they can do about it,? Fecko says. Shortly following is a seminar on how to better merchandise personal care products, hosted by respected beauty industry leader Carol Phillips, who will reveal current trends in the industry. At 4:30 p.m., learn how to educate staff members to effectively sell personal care products.

Finally, ?The Food to Fiber Connection: The Future of Eco Fashion? will take place at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday. Marci Zaroff, founder of Under The Canopy, a manufacturer of organic clothing, will discuss the new trend toward integrating textiles, fibers and fashions into the food retail arena.

Though Thursday is the most education-rich day of Expo, opportunities to expand your knowledge of the industry don?t end there. On Friday morning at 8:30 a.m., Danny Wells will divulge the secrets to thriving in a competitive, discounting marketplace. Wells is a natural products industry veteran of more than 40 years and president of Danny Wells and Associates, a consulting firm specializing in natural product industry services. At 1 p.m. Friday, The Natural Foods Merchandiser?s Editor in Chief Marty Traynor Spencer and one of NFM?s columnists and president of The Intelligence Agency, Sherwood B. Smith, will discuss the best ways to win over the natural products consumer.

Another key educational opportunity is ?Retailer Biz 101: Retail Math.? Introduced at Expo West in March, the seminar will give retailers a chance to brush up on some of the math techniques that will best serve their businesses. And host Bill Crawford manages to do the impossible: He makes math class fun.

For a full schedule of all educational events, go to

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVI/number 8/p. 12

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