Expo West ’15 Finds

In my previous career, I used to envy people who got to travel for work. The only “travel” I was ever afforded was to check out another high school’s art department (ten miles away) to compare notes with another art teacher. In my current job I have to travel just the right amount: about 3-4 times a year. Two of the largest events that I travel for occur every March and September (Natural Products Expo West and East). One of the benefits of traveling east in September is that the expo is always held in Baltimore, so I get to tack on a few extra days to visit my family.

Expo West was earlier this month and held at the Anaheim Convention Center, which is right across the street from Disneyland. This event is the largest natural foods expo that we attend (and might be the largest in the world for all I know!) and we spend months preparing for it. Thousands of natural foods, supplements, personal care, cleaning, etc. -based brands set up booths for buyers, media, brokers (and other people in the industry) to visit. Last year was my first Natural Products Expo and I had no idea what to expect. It’s basically four days of insanity (1 day setting up the booth, 3 days running it).

I started working for FlapJacked about a week before Expo West last year, and really had no idea what I was doing and how to talk with brokers and buyers. :) This time, with a year of experience and two Natural Products Expos under my belt, I felt much more prepared and confident. My bosses were a lot more confident and less-stressed too, and (along with help from some of our awesome ambassadors) made a great team!

FJ_Booth_EW15

One cool thing about Expo West and East is that I always run into a few friends. I’ve gotten to know a number of people in the natural foods industry, who I usually only see at these types of shows. It’s kind of like camp- we see each other once or twice a year and it’s like no time has passed. :) I also usually run into a few blogger friends, like my friend Ashley who stopped by to say hello over the weekend.

EW_Ash

Working at expos like these can be physically taxing. You stand in your booth for 10 hours each day for three days in a row (and pretty much only sit down when you use the restroom!). Friday and Saturday are always crazy and busy and Sunday is typically dead. Since the other days are so busy, Sunday is usually the best day to take some time to walk around and check out the other booths.

It would definitely take all three days to see the entire expo, so I usually try to research a little beforehand and map out the booths that I want to check out the most. I always end up discovering new (to me) products on the way, so that’s an added bonus. And, most brands give away sample or full size products. When you visit each brand’s booth, you often get to talk with various employees (and often the founders are there too!). I’ve definitely changed my opinions of certain brands based on my interactions with their staff (both positive and negative).

I went a little nuts with the free stuff last year (as you can see here!), and didn’t plan on taking back nearly as much this year. I focused more on finding a few new products and getting a few samples of things that I already buy. My (modest) takeaway from this year:

Expo_West_Swag

The almonds, kale, Half Pops, ginger chews and Perfect Bar samples weren’t new to me, but I was happy to take some home. Some of my favorite products from this stash include:

Epic_Bar

The Chicken Siracha flavor Epic Bar. I’ve had some of the other flavors before and this one is my favorite!

LG_flakes

The new Mighty Flakes from Love Grown Foods were unveiled at Expo West. I already love the Mighty O’s, but the flakes are even better! One of the flavors tastes identical to Frosted Flakes (yum!).

tiny_popcorn

Tiny But Mighty Popcorn is one of the things that I’ve seen at Whole Foods a number of times, but hadn’t tried. It’s really good (and the kernels are so tiny and cute!)

WB_bars

I’ve tried a few of WB Kitchen’s bars before, but hadn’t had any of the cookies. They are smart to market them as Paleo-Friendly (which I don’t personally care about, but a lot of people do!) and they’re sweetened with honey. And, they’re SO delicious. They’re also a lot lower in calories than you would expect, judging by how great they taste. I actually sat next to some of their team on the plane, and the people behind the brand are every bit as awesome as the products!

If you’re attending the Blend Retreat this year, you’ll likely see a few of these brands’ products in your swag bag. :)

Comments

  1. Halfpops were in my PopSugar Must Have box this month and I LOVED them! I love all things Brad’s and I am going to have to find those cookies! Good finds!

  2. My 11 month old loves the Power O’s, I’m excited for the power flakes!

Comments are welcome (and encouraged)!