ANAHEIM, Calif. — The 33rd annual Natural Products Expo West topped both exhibitor and attendee records, drawing more than 63,000 industry members and nearly 2,500 exhibiting companies to the Anaheim Convention Center, March 7-10.
Unlike other industry trade events, Expo West exudes a different vibe: Graying ponytails, Hawaiian shirts and the scent of essential oil perfumes mingle with the reggae music coming from the live band on the soundstage outside the exhibition hall on the convention center’s newly constructed Grand Plaza, described as the “living room” of the show.
Five halls (including one devoted to ingredients) were packed with an eclectic mix of start-ups and established companies, while new companies could be found upstairs in the NEXT Pavilion, part of the Natural Products Industry Accelerator program to support emerging natural brands.
While there were no breakout categories this year, there was a significant broadening of products available in key segments like gluten-free and functional beverages. Whole Foods Market also pushed talk about the need for greater industry transparency when it announced that products sold in the chain’s U.S. and Canadian stores must be sourced from non-GMO ingredients or clearly labeled with ingredients containing GMOs by 2018.
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Photos and captions by Robert Vosburgh