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Natural Foods Merchandiser

Returning to our new normal makes this the right time to gather at Expo East

Christine Kapperman
Philadelphia—the crossroads of history and farming—makes a great place for meeting in person again at Expo East. Here's a preview of what makes it special.

Welcome to the September Natural Products Expo East show issue. I’m happy to safely meet again in person and to attend the first Expo East in its new home city, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

What a place to reconvene as we find footing in an ever-changing world and look forward to promises of a new way beyond. It’s here, after all, that our nation’s forefathers did just that for these United States of America.

This locale, this time, aligns well as we look to our industry’s past, maneuver the present and imagine an improved future.

Pennsylvania plays an important role in the organic movement. The word itself likely was born in the state in which the Rodale Institute set roots in 1947 as the Soil and Health Foundation to advance organic research and education. To this day, Rodale Institute leads the organic way with science and passion for building systems for successful farming that contributes to health and combats climate change.

On the Expo East show floor, you’re sure to come across many a brand and retailer that advances these high standards and promotes the continued growth of the movement. Organic remains the core of the natural products industry. Even as growing methods advance and the political winds change, a food system rooted in healthy soil and grown without synthetic inputs is the base upon which all values must sprout.

Many of our industry’s pioneer brands advanced such ideals and continue to do so today. Connect with them and so many more in the Organic Pavilion and Organic Park throughout Expo East and as the event launches with the one-day Harvest Festival.

So much of this event, and business today, happens amid the turbulent times we navigate now. COVID-19 has settled into a part of our everyday even as each day brings a new twist to handle.

Consumers, too, seemingly change from day to day as they find ways to feel healthier in body and soul—whether by taking their vitamin D or baking more (yep, some still are doing that)—and choose to shop in the store or at the curb. We share some of our favorite new products in beverages, dairy (and alt-dairy!) and pantry.

Convening in real life, on the show floor, offers the opportunity to connect with the industry about the now—and maybe even more importantly, the what next.

It is at conferences like Expo East where big thinking comes to life and spreads to make a movement. Our industry—our world—can use this more than ever as we review reports of dire climate predictions and see how the browning of America can birth backlash. The voice of business—the action of business—the leadership of the natural products industry can light the way forward, if we are willing to take stands needed and act on them.

Here in Philly—the nation’s first and largest minority-majority city, the birthplace of organic and a food and cultural hub—meeting, talking and planning for a better future feels so right. So right. Now.

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