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Who is the Natural Products Expo West Pitch Slam winner?

During an Expo West focused on diversity, it's appropriate that the Pitch Slam winners are a Native American man whose product is made of buffalo meat and a Black, female Navy veteran making vegan chocolate.

Victoria A.F. Camron, Digital content specialist

March 10, 2022

2 Min Read
EW22 Pitch Slam winner Tanka Bar

Phillip Gaudon's pitch for Tanka Bars wins Pitch Slam grand prize

EW22 Pitch Slam winner Tanka Bar Phillip Gaudon

Phillip Gaudon, director of sales for Native American Natural Foods, receives a symbolic check for $35,000. In reality, the Natural Products Expo West Pitch Slam grand prize is a free booth at Expo West 2023 and other services from New Hope that equal that total.

Gaudon said that winning the grand prize would allow his company, which makes buffalo-based Tanka Bars, to better support the buffalo suppliers because it wouldn't have to pay for a booth next year.

Tanka bars are made from a traditional Lakota recipes using prairie-fed buffalo and cranberries.

EW22 Pitch Slam winner Tanka Bar Phillip Gaudon

"What is Tanka? In Lakota, it means larger than life. Huge, mammoth, powerful. Everything of buffalo encompasses. Naturally, we believe and living life powerfully as a result," Gaudon said at the beginning of his presentation. Native American Natural Foods plans to expand to include other tribes whose diet might depend on proteins other than buffalo, he said.

Thereasa Black, founder of Bon AppeSweet, receives Rising Star award

EW22 Pitch Slam rising star Thereasa Black | Bon AppeSweet

Thereasa Black opened her pitch with a shocking declaration: "The unthinkable has happened. Chocolate lovers all over the world have cut back and even given up chocolate." The reasons? Sugar, sugar alcohol, dairy, unhealthy ingredieents, slavery and GMOs.

Related:The 5 Natural Products Expo West Pitch Slam finalists for 2022 are…

"Have no fear!" she continued. "Bon AppeSweet is here!"

Black founded Bon AppeSweet chocolates—a no-sugar, no-dairy, non-GMO brand—to fulfill a promise to her daughter: That she would never again go on deployment. Black, who was deployed for 13 months beginning when her daughter was 2 years old, includes this promise on the labels of her chocolate bars.

The Navy veteran choked up a bit when Pitch Slam judge asked what the favorite part of her day is picking up her daughter from school.

"She used to say, 'Mommy, you came back.'

"She doesn't say that now; she just comes over and gives me a huge hug. That makes my heart float every single day."


To watch this and other Natural Products Expo West sessions, visit Natural Products Expo Virtual. Access to NPEV is included with Expo West in-person registration.

New Hope Network has planned a year of activities on our community platform, Natural Products Expo Virtual. Discover thousands of amazing companies, more pre-show programming and livestreamed sessions including Climate Day, Pitch Slam and the State of the Natural & Organic Industry keynote.


About the Author(s)

Victoria A.F. Camron

Digital content specialist, New Hope Network

Victoria A.F. Camron was a freelance writer and editor contracted with New Hope Network from 2015 until April 2022, when she was hired as New Hope Network's digital content specialist—otherwise known as the web editor.

As she continues the work she has done for years—covering the natural products industry for and Natural Foods Merchandiser; writing up earnings calls and other corporate news; and curating roundups of trends and information for the website—she is thrilled to be an official part of the New Hope team. (She doesn't mind having paid holidays and vacations again, though!) Victoria also compiled and edited newsletters, and served as interim content director for Delicious Living in 2016.

Before working as a freelancer, she spent 17 years in community newspapers in Longmont, Colorado, and St. Charles and Wheaton, Illinois. Victoria is a Colorado native and a graduate of Metropolitan State College of Denver.

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