There are some changes you notice right off the bat as we all re-convene in Anaheim, Calif., for this year’s Natural Products Expo West show. First is the weather. It’s cloudy and cool to start, not exactly the shorts and sandals weather many of us are used to (or hope for), especially if you’re from colder climates.
No matter, though. The excitement is heating things up already as the show prepares to officially open tomorrow. Greeting attendees will be another change, this one right smack in front of the convention center: A new pedestrian mall replaces what used to be a pretty dangerous traffic lane. There’s a new landmark out front, and plenty of room behind that to safely walk to the hotels and convention center, or to hang out. It looks like they’re already setting up some sound stages for tonight’s music events. Knowing this show, there will be plenty of impromptu venues playing as well.
The show itself is bigger than ever. Five packed halls plus a new tabletop area adjacent to the press room called the NEXT Pavilion. It’s no secret that the health and wellness categories continue to lead industry growth, and many start-ups are setting up in this special area to showcase their passionate efforts.
First up today is the annual “show before the show,” the Fresh Ideas Organic Marketplace, a.k.a the Big White Tent. The mini exhibition, held in the parking lot of the Marriott next to the convention center, showcases dozens of organic manufacturers and service providers. It’s a great way to get into the groove of the show, and to find out if the shoes you brought were the right ones for the job. After today, the days become a marathon of aisles. The wrong footwear can be fatal.