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Highlights for 2009

Highlights for 2009

There are a few reasons why the 2009 version of Expo West intrigues me. Of course, we're all curious to see how the recession is going to affect the tone of the show, although with all those herbal remedies and effervescent vitamin formulas, the expo may not be the best yardstick by which to measure the mood.

Among the keynoters, I'm anxious to hear Dr. Andrew Weil, scheduled to speak on Friday afternoon. According to the show literature, he'll be talking about "the role of food and supplements in healthcare of the future." I hope that includes the need for the Western medical establishment to start incorporating alternative therapies, like acupuncture, yoga and herbal supplements. Weil joined three other well-known health advocates last year in writing a well-argued opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal on that very topic.

On Thursday afternoon, there's a "sideshow" of sorts, called the Eco Bazaar. The outdoor event is part exhibition, part marketplace. It's the first time I've seen in all my years covering trade shows where attendees will be able to purchase, on the spot, the items on display (in other words, no need to wait until 5 pm on the last day of the show!). Included among the exhibits will be apparel, home decor and green lifestyle enhancers.

Finally, I always make sure I spend time at the New Products Showcase, for it's here a person gets a different perspective on all the various new products and categories they saw on the floor, and piece them together in a way that reveals trends and future growth areas. For example, last year, my colleague Jeff and I toured the floor, meditated on the new product displays, and returned to the office with evidence of growth in chocolate, green lawn care and powdered supplements. Were we right, or what? Now, let's see what threads we can pull this year.