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Event Review: SupplyExpo - Nutracon 2003

Name of Event: SupplyExpo - Nutracon

Annual: Yes
Date: March 6-8, 2003
Location: Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim, CA, USA

Estimated or confirmed attendance:
Exhibitors: 77
Attendees: 500 brand managers and product formulators

General overview of event:

For the first time combined in both venue and timing with Natural Products Expo West, this event marks a continuing evolution in how New Hope Natural Media positions its Nutracon educational event and builds a legitimate Supplier event for the nutritional products industry.

New Hope gets mixed reviews from participants and exhibitors.

On the positive side, the SupplyExpo show floor had more exhibitors, more interest and more qualified and serious leads than the previous few years. Attendees found floor staff accessible, the casual breakfast and lunch environment was effective for networking, and the breaks from Nutracon activity provided Nutracon attendees the opportunity, if they wished, to navigate the SupplyExpo floor.

On the negative side, restrictions in hall access annoyed some visitors, and those who expected traffic and flow like one of the SupplySide events were disappointed. The fact that most of the Nutracon events took place in the seminar rooms upstairs meant that floor hours were essentially only during the break periods.

Show flow was lacking, and this was an observation provided by numerous attendees and exhibitors alike. It was unclear, despite New Hope attempts, what the rules were, and although every attempt was made at integrating the Nutracon, SupplyExpo and Expo West events and communities, too many things were working against this approach, including the ability of the conference hall staff, especially in the early show period, to deal with attendee questions about what events were happening where and what passes gave access to which venues.

More work on integration is certainly required, although the event represents a solid improvement over previous years.

Educational sessions certainly had their element of ‘same as last year’, although several presentations, including the keynotes were extremely topical and appropriate including Marion Nestle, author of ‘Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health’ and Bruce Hensel, health and science reporter for NBC TV in Los Angeles.. Market analysis presentation, including Elizabeth Sloan of Sloan Trends & Solutions speaking about the youth market, and several presentations dealing with Obesity and Weight Loss were well received.

Attendee feedback:

Overall feedback was mixed. Most of the attendees we spoke to were a bit disappointed, although felt that the investment in attending was worthwhile. Those who had been in attendance at previous Nutracon events noted the improvement. The integration of current events and issues, such as Bioterror legislation, with business/economics and educational presentations was noted as unparalleled in the industry. Discussions such as those dealing with the economic model in the nutritional products industry, or the realities and homework required prior to approaching food companies with nutritional ingredients were enlightening for many.

Other comments included the lack of truly innovative products or opportunities, the difficulty in initiating and supporting cutting edge science to lead to innovation and industry growth and a focus on the functional food sector as a growth opportunity. The broad scope of topics, including organic opportunities, cosmeceuticals, and the availability of hot trends and data provided value to a broader audience than previous years.

On the show floor, attendees saw many companies who had not been at previous SupplyExpo/ Nutracon events. They were, in many cases, able to set up and hold meetings with existing and potential suppliers either at the booth or at one of the convenient tables nearby and so accomplish their show objectives and make the trip to Anaheim worthwhile.

Conference Layout:

With the SupplyExpo showfloor, the keynotes and meals in Hall A of the Anaheim Convention Center, and with educational sessions upstairs in the low 200 level rooms, all Nutracon related events were in a reasonably confined area, both an advantage and disadvantage. Unless an attendee’s Expo West travels took them to the low numbered booths once Expo began, they would have missed the entire SupplyExpo show floor, and several either did just that, or were discouraged when they were turned back at the door with improper badges for a particular time slot.

This served to concentrate and focus traffic to Nutracon attendees and those with a serious interest in the ingredients side of the show, leading to a quality, rather than quantity measurement to gauge show success.

Improvements suggested:

Those providing constructive criticism suggested better communication of the show floor flow, higher level of integration between SupplyExpo and ExpoWest activities and show floors, and a continuation of New Hope efforts to build Nutracon, SupplyExpo and Expo West into an integrated event. Most felt that this year represented a solid step in the right direction with more work and development required.

A key question on the minds of many attendees listening to the feedback was whether potential attendees, with numerous events to consider, will give show organizers more chance to tweak the structure and build the attendee base, in order to develop this event to its potential, or whether the SupplyExpo concept will wither.

For the technology transfer, suggestions were made that it would have been advantageous to know a bit about technologies offered or being presented ahead of time. Higher visibility for this event would have helped too.

Conference Organizer’s comments:

No comments available.

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