We were not going to miss the Natural Products Expo West this year, so when I heard that they were considering not allowing children on the showroom floors, both my son and I were disappointed. But through an overwhelming response from parents and exhibitors nationwide, the folks at NPE decided not to change their rules and allow children on the floors again. But next year will be another story – hopefully they’ll stand by their decision to allow children on the showroom floor. After all, most of the companies presenting at the Expo are dedicated in providing natural, organic, and healthy products for kids so how can you NOT have children at the event? Children are the best testers – their honest and candid opinions will surely help improve a product!
The Press Room this year was pretty interesting though. They had members of the industry vote on their top 10 products that were showcased in the Press Room. There were some pretty interesting companies with their newest products showcased such as Broo, which is a shampoo that contains beer, Shindig which are insulated cooler bags, and Indochine which makes natural soap, and other interesting stuff which I’ll get into later. I suppose the voting is to help the companies determine the popularity of their products and since there were over 20 companies to choose from, the voting became a bit difficult without being too prejudiced. But all in all, it was pretty fun – I felt like a member of the Motion Pictures Academy voting for the best movie or best supporting actress.
This year, there were many new companies attending the Expo and showing their newest products. Most of these companies were from overseas and were bringing their products into the United States. We weren’t able to visit all of the newer companies but most of them were tea companies from England, several new mom startup companies, coconut brands, and a few new chocolate companies – who couldn’t use more chocolates, right? But the majority of companies at the Expo were companies that have been in the business for a very long time and are becoming more popular as people are realizing the importance of eating healthily and naturally. And while I did visit some contacts whom I’ve worked with in reviews and giveaways, it was fun to meet new people and new companies. Everyone was excited to explain to you about their products and they were fervently having you try their samples as well. There were chocolates, candies, cookies, vitamin supplements, hand lotions – you name it, it was there.
But it was the larger companies who really shined at the Expo. With an outstanding marketing approach, companies like CLIF Bar/LUNA had samples galore, and they even had a gaming center set up for kids and adults to play at. The staff were friendly and eager to answer your questions and if you were really hungry, you could probably get full on all the samples they were providing everyone. At the Stonyfield Farm booth, there were samples of their newest Oikos Greek Yogurt for Kids and their booth was set up like a farm with adorable little farm animals, hay, and flowers. There was even a photo area where you can dress up like a cowboy or cowgirl and have your photo or video taken there. It’s always fun to visit Stonyfield Farm as the staff is always eager for you to try their products and handing out souvenirs like tattoes, books, and yogurt. And as you leave the Convention Center, Stonyfield Farm hands you their famous yogurt ice cream bars and yogurt tubes so the walk to your vehicles won’t be so tiring.
Other companies such as Jones Soda, Popchips, and Honest Tea were giving out full size products and if you’re lucky and stayed for the last day of the event, you can take home many other full size products as well. But what was a really grand gesture was the fact that most of the food and perishables were being donated to the local food banks and charities. It was nice to see that all those food weren’t going to go to waste! And this year the exhibitors were smarter with their displays – they cleverly displayed empty cartons and packages just so people won’t grab them on the sly. It was quite shameful to see several people grab boxes of products that were meant for display only as they sneaked them quickly into their resuable bags. I wondered if any of them even knew what they were grabbing?
It seemed like time flew by really quickly at the 3-day Expo. We hardly had a chance to visit every booth and with so many new companies and products out on the market, it was exhilerating and challenging to take in all of the sights, tastes, and people. As usual, the Natural Products Expo West was superbly planned and implemented. The registration was easy and hassle-free and the staff were helpful and friendly. The booths were all set up with extraordinary professionalism and with so many samples offered from the different companies, you really couldn’t go hungry or tired. The event was exhilirating and fun and I’m glad we were able to go again this year. I hope to bring you new products that you may find interesting, as the world of natural and organic living just keeps on growing!