Trade shows, conventions and conferences offer something more tangible than any page or Web site or phone call – even Skype – can match. That is the human touch.
I just returned from a rousing week in southern California, where the 60,000-strong professional community members in the nutrition, natural products and healthy living worlds converged on Natural Products Expo West, SupplyExpo and Nutracon. I still haven't caught up on my sleep!
The show is notable for gathering the entire value chain, from suppliers to manufacturers to retailers, in one place. The culture's DNA is the proverbial hippie in the health-food store. But the hippie ethos of clean, sustainable, natural living has gone pro, and has percolated throughout the greater culture to encompass marketers, food scientists, executives and entrepreneurs of every stripe.
What I hold dear about Expo is that, in any room you find yourself in, even one full of strangers, you'll always find good-hearted people with a personal passion to change the world. In this case, the world beaters are focusing on nutrition and health.
On the show floor this year, one exhibitor told me that the show brought forth a handful of quality leads and another 10 good ones. "If only one of these pans out, the show pays for itself," he said.
Part of the story here is the invigorated push we here at the New Hope Supply Network brought to bear. Most notably, we inaugurated a hosted buyer program that linked directors of R&D or innovation at major CPG companies with supplier exhibitors on the show floor. These are exactly the people the exhibitors most desire to see. And vice-versa.
We also did good business on the show floor at the Supply Network Theater, where insiders revealed intelligent insights into the state of the industry – GMPs, NDIs, adulterated supplements and social media. (Social media also came to life on the tweet screen in the Social Networking Lounge that led attendees to whatever a fellow attendee with a keypad thought was of particular interest at the show.)
Also on the show floor was the EPS Theater, where companies could demonstrate the research backstopping their functional ingredients.
And speaking of education, the Nutracon conference brought together the high-powered and the highly intelligent in a lively and deep forum and seminar series exploring cutting-edge science, new product development ideas, and market and marketing trends surrounding the categories of highest interest today and in the year to come.
All this, and equipment demos on the show floor, too.
Taken together, we've re-branded SupplyExpo as Engredea: Ingredients and Innovation. It is our sincere belief that a more thoughtful engagement with the suppliers and manufacturers in the healthy products category will add value all around. This value will be quantified next year in Anaheim at Engredea. Whether you were at the show this year or not – see you next year!
Letter From the Editor: Functional Ingredients, April 2011