The 2016 Natural Products Expo West, with more than 3,000 exhibitors, 1.1 million gross square feet of exhibitor space and 77,000 -plus attendees on hand, filled every square inch of space when it was held March 9-13 at the Anaheim Convention Center.
Looking to add more space with the convention center expansion underway, parking and traffic were difficult, but show organizers worked to keep attendees informed.
“We have done quite a bit of pre-communication to keep attendees on track and moving,” said Adam Andersen, managing director at newly branded New Hope Network.
He added, “And while we do re-qualify attendees every year, we continue to see a tremendous growth in this industry and those who are looking to network and learn about new trends at our show.”
This year showed a nearly 10-percent increase in attendees, which was a record attendance, compared with last year.
Several companies looked to Natural Products Expo West to reach audiences and showcase new products.
“We rely on this show to build our business and meet with our retailers and distributors. This is the most important show we attend each year,” said Robert Agnew, senior vice president for Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods.
Exhibitor booths were certainly at their finest, and attendee engagement also was strong. First-time attendee and health practitioner Shyama Geros said, “I am here to learn about natural products for skin care, and I am amazed at the number of companies in that specific product sector. I am been so impressed with the variety of companies at show. This has been a great show to attend.”
New trends seen in the natural products industry included protein-addition in products, plant-based diets, old concepts coming into resurgence, and simple ingredients used to provide a unique value proposition.
Education sessions were again around capitalizing on these trends as well as competing in growing markets and an ever-expanding online environment.
Both independent retailers as well as larger companies are looking for ways to expand into new and virtual markets.
“We have seen such a great amount of engagement and this is always a great show for us,” said Mike Seely of Seely Mint Farms. “We get such a great reception to our products here, making this a must-attend show.”
In addition to the record number of attendees, Expo West saw nearly 5,000 international attendees. “Our international audience continues to increase, including visitors from Asia and Europe,” Andersen said.
Many attendees came to see what new trends are on the horizon for the natural products industry. Attendee Laurie McNamara from Advocare was on the showfloor to see such trends. “We are always on the lookout for flavor trends and how we can apply those trends,” she said. “I love working the floor and seeing what is new in the industry.”
In addition to the large crowds, extra show staff were on hand to assist with traffic, information and access to the different exhibit areas.
“We again have security checking attendees with their IDs. We also have doubled the ambassador program this year due to overwhelming popularity and many attendees are grateful to have the extra help to get around,” Andersen said.
He added, “One new item we added to help with the attendee experience is registration and badge pick-up areas in some of the key hotels in the area, to try to cut down on wait time and lines for getting badges. With so many people coming in for the day who live in and around Los Angeles, we knew this was a good investment.”
Next year, the show will again be at the Anaheim Convention Center from March 9 – 13. While the convention center expansion is not slated to be completed until summer of 2017, the parking spaces next to the Hilton should be back in place by show time, easing up on some of the parking issues.
- Industry News