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Back to Baltimore

After three years in Boston, Natural Products Expo East has returned to the city of Baltimore. According to the organizers, part of the Penton Media family of which this blog is a part, there will be more than 1,300 booths covering every aspect of the health, wellness and sustainability business — from food and beverage to personal care and ingredients. Just over 260 companies are first-time exhibitors.... not bad, since the East Coast accounted for 40% of natural products sales in 2009, according to the 2010 Market Overview conducted by our sister publication Natural Foods Merchandiser.

The expo, co-located with the Organic Trade Association’s “All Things Organic” show, and The Organic Summit, among others, has some new elements worth mentioning this year. A New Products Pavilion is being introduced a year ahead of schedule, due to demand from exhibitors. This special section of the show floor opens a half-hour earlier (for you impatient types) than the main show floor, and includes dozens of new companies or start-ups looking for interest, distribution and feedback on their products. It’s an area were passion is high and convictions are strong.

A returning feature this year rewards buyers for using public transportation to and from the show. Qualified attendees can claim up to $50 by visiting the Travel Green, Save Green kiosk in the registration area with their receipts to claim reimbursement. The show teamed up with the Bonneville Environmental Foundation to create this unique program.

May exhibitors utilize green materials in constructing their booths, and offer environmentally friendly products or services. But it doesn’t stop there. Those exhibitors that employ sustainable practices in their everyday operations are highlighted with a special Green Exhibitor icon.

The show itself is green. Last year in Boston, the diversion rate from the show was nearly 65% — up from 45% the year before. This means that almost two-thirds of the items discarded at the show escaped the landfill by being donated, recycled, re-used or composted.

The sustainability message is alive and well at Expo East, regardless of the location!

{Photo credit: Mr. T in DC]