Talking Points: In Search of Real Food

For me, this year travel seems to have come back in a big, big way including some fantastic Rabobank events in Sydney, Australia. But during a lull last month I did finally get around to thinking about takeaways from the Natural Products Expo West in March, an annual check-in to see what is new or still trending in that always interesting space. After a short gap, it was interesting to see what had stuck in my mind.

The expo is always a huge, enthralling event and this year did not disappoint. What’s not to like about hanging out with 67,000 food-loving attendees and 3,000 exhibiting companies showcasing their latest natural, organic, better-for-you (and not-so-better-for-you) foods and beverages? I’m constantly impressed by the entrepreneurial spirit and the different pathways people have taken to establish their businesses. For example, some folks are on their second or third career (including a subset of former bankers!), while others had an important life-changing event (from a health scare to becoming a parent for the first time, for example). And at Expo West they all come together to share and commercialize their products. 

This year I was also fortunate to have many of my US and European colleagues present to provide their perspective. So, now that the buzz of the event has worn off, here are some things we’ll remember from this year’s show. But first let’s start with some context.