Natural Foods Merchandiser: What’s your role with Natural Products Expo West?
Adam Andersen: I’m the show director, which means I oversee all of Expo West, including sales, marketing, operations and education. I’m responsible for developing the overall strategy of the event and determining how the show can best serve the natural products industry.
NFM: You’ve been to 11 Expo Wests. Do the shows differ?
AA: Yes, I’ve been to the show as an attendee, exhibitor and now as show management. Each show definitely has its own vibe. My first time attending as the show manager was in 2009 during the great recession. Collectively, we released a big sigh of relief that year because it was clear our industry was still thriving and very strong. Every year feels unique because there are always new products being launched, acquisitions in the market and buzz about new trends.
NFM: What are you anticipating in 2012?
AA: We’ve seen incremental growth, but 2012 may be the year for some big leaps. I’m expecting large product launches and more mergers and acquisitions to be announced. I think the industry is ripe for this type of growth year.
NFM: Is there anything you’re particularly looking forward to at this show?
AA: Definitely the launch of our Beer, Wine & Spirits Marketplace. We had organic beer and wine on the show floor for a few years, but it never really found its home. We’re excited to give the category prominent placement in the Grand Ballroom at the Anaheim Marriott (March 9 and 10, 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.). Retailers who carry these products will find them much easier to locate.
NFM: What is one of your favorite things about Expo West?
AA: Each year, we have anywhere from 200 to 400 new exhibitors. In fact, this year we have more new companies exhibiting than ever before. I love seeing these companies, which often start out in small 10- by 10-foot booths and then grow up to be leaders in the industry. The heart of the natural products industry are these entrepreneurs—people who take the risk to put it all out there and hope to make something from it. I find that inspiring.