At 3 p.m. Thursday, the big white Fresh Ideas Organic Marketplace tent bustled with buyers, fellow exhibitors, brokers and other industry members. In between seminars and meetings, show attendees hit the Marketplace for a taste of what’s to come when the show floor opens Friday. A literal taste, that is. Attendees sipped Good Belly samples and noshed on Santa Barbara Pistachio company trail mix, Oikos Greek yogurt and Driscoll berries, to name a few.
Did buyers find what they came for? Yes, according to Luke Chmara, a buyer with Terra Organic, a 5,000-square-foot store in Bellingham, Wash. “It was promising,” he said. “I liked the ketchup; it tasted good.” He was referring to Krazy Ketchup’s agave-sweetened condiment spiked with butternut squash, sweet potatoes and carrots. It’s the Pacific-Palisades, Calif.-based company’s first Natural Products Expo. “It’s been awesome; we’ve met a lot of people, all types—buyers, brokers, a lot of people are wanting to place orders,” said Erin Rosen, co-founder.
Although she said some people thought she was crazy to come to West in the current economy, she’s not worried. “People will still spend money on their kids,” she said. And everyone knows that kids are big ketchup customers.
Fruit bark was one item Bryan Oprel, operations manager for Terra Organic, put on his shopping list. “I’m going to give it a push with UNFI,” he said. “It has a different flavor profile. Normally, bark is peanut butter or almond.”
At times the tent was so packed with shoppers that movement was slow. The bright yellow signage of the Carlsbad, Calif.-based Organic Nutrition tabletop lured shoppers searching for gluten-free products. “[Interest] has been very, very good,” said Steven Brandt, owner. “There’s a lot of people looking for gluten-free kids’ [products] —it’s a good combination.”
Natural Foods Merchandiser