Boston, MA—Natural Products Expo East, held here October 13–16, wrapped up its run in Boston with a 1,300-booth exhibit hall and an organic-heavy educational line-up, due to its combined program with the Organic Summit and the Organic Trade Association (OTA)’s All Things Organic show. Next year, Expo East is slated to return to Baltimore, MD, September 21–24.

Some 20,000 exhibitors, retailers, manufacturers and other industry companies attended this year’s event, and the mood was upbeat on the show floor. One exhibitor, David Chiaro, regional account manager for Vitamer Labs, stated, “The Expo East 2010 attendee traffic reflected quality conversations and interactions as opposed to the rush of incomplete proposals and hurried card exchanges of other shows. Plans and progress were able to naturally ferment, thus enhancing the vendors villas with maximum strength, like a multi flora probiotic.”

Jerry Shafir, president and founder of Kettle Cuisine, had a similar reaction: “We saw consistent, steady traffic. This was the best Expo East in Boston for Kettle Cuisine.”

Top Trends at Expo East

Revved up for regs. Many of this year’s sessions had a regulatory bent to them. Here are some interesting viewpoints from speakers heard at Expo East.
* OTA’s Laura Stravino stated in “Organic Personal Care Products: A Lay of the Land,” makers of organic personal care products should get voluntarily certified by a third-party organization. According to the OTA Consumer Study and other reports, many shoppers wrongly assume that such items are USDA-certified organic. In the same session, Francis Blake of the Soil Association said he favors a single worldwide standard for organic cosmetics such as and the approved COSMOS standard is in the process of harmonization.
* In “Cross Agency Integrations: NOP & USDA Update,” Miles McEvoy of USDA’s NOP reviewed some of the program’s recent achievements and spoke about some new initiatives. These included working with FDA in developing rules for improved food safety and improving standards consistency.
* Retailers must prepare for how to handle a recall, stated Lynn Ellen Schimoler of City Market/Onion River Coop of Burlington, VT, in “Surviving a Recall.” “You must be ethical and thoughtful in how to deal with food safety,” stated Schimoler, whose store has a written plan for dealing with recalls. Her outline will be presented in an upcoming Tip of the Month.

Joar Opheim, MBA, president of Nordic Naturals, speaks at Expo East 2010.

Growing, growing, grown. Several sessions offered positive data about industry growth.
* In “Organic Private Label Beyond the Recession,” Michael Monte of SPINS and Patrick Rea of the Nutrition Business Journal said the organic industry has thrived as a market segment during the economic recession, proving that it has fully arrived as an economic force. They noted that among all categories within the organic market, only supplement sales have fallen in the last year, and this was a very slight fall of 0.1%. Ready-to-drink tea and coffee was the fastest growing category. Organic private label brands, the presenters explained, were bought most often by households with high income and/or young children.
* John Pavlenkov of SPINS Inc. told audience members in “Consumer Trends in Natural Beauty Care” that young transitionals and couples are key drivers of natural HBC growth. He anticipated continued innovation with ingredients and formulations, and mainstream HBC will add ingredients to products while the natural channel will look more to science to establish health claims.

The time is now. Several speakers were aimed at motivating audiences to act now to help change the world around us.
* Featured speaker Gary Hirschberg, chairman, president and CE-Yo of Stonyfield Farm told a packed audience that as the nation’s health conditions are being debated, “We in this industry have the solutions…It’s time to live up to our opportunities. I’m talking about now.” He offered a series of five steps for how the industry could move forward.
* Actress and vegan activist Alicia Silverstone said, “I wanted to inspire people to understand that you can have your healthiest life.” She spoke about her Web site,, where there is a vegan community forum where people can discuss products and the vegan lifestyle. She also encouraged our industry to be aggressive about making healthy foods available everywhere, not just in big cities where there’s demand.
* Featured speaker Dara O’Rourke, founder of the GoodGuide and associate professor at UC Berkeley, stated, “If you are going to have to be naked, get healthy!”, meaning that companies should make an effort to be socially and environmentally responsible, and not just for appearance’s sake. GoodGuide provides mobile applications for cell phones that allow users to navigate brands and find product safety and “green” scores in a store by scanning a barcode.


Howard Schiffer at Vitamin Angels fundraiser.

Research round-up. Several companies presented data about the categories in which in their products appear.
* Mark J. Kaylor, Ph.D., M.H., C.N., and educator for Mushroom Wisdom, Inc., walked listeners through the names and origins of various mushrooms and described their noted health benefits during “Ancient Wisdom, Modern Medicine.” He emphasized reishi mushroom as a choice supplement for overall wellness, and Lion’s Mane mushroom supplements for their cognitive benefits.
* In “What Drug Companies Won’t Tell You, Part-II,” Natural Factors’ Michael T. Murray spoke about why much of the research developed by drug companies is slanted.

* Joar Opheim, MBA and Stuart Tomc of Nordic Naturals offered some information on “Sustainable Fish Oil: Nothing but the Truth.” The pair offered a history of the company and gave some information about maintaining a fish supply. They spoke of some of the protective regulations that are in place for the waters in which they fish. To protect over-fishing in the Norwegian waters, for instance, fishing is required to stop if more than 15% of the fish caught are undersized. They also spoke about the importance of certain fish oil processing techniques, such as why it is key to avoid oxidation.
* In “End the Calcium Controversy,” Marcus Laux, N.D., touted the benefits of AlgaeCal, a plant calcium he said is setting new standards for calcium supplementation. The hand harvested, USDA organic ingredient is body preferred, because it is taken from living algae as opposed to rock derived supplements. Laux said AlgaeCal is clinically superior, with forthcoming studies in Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry.
* In a separate session (“Food Intolerance: Revealing the Hidden Epidemic”), Laux talked to attendees about the way allergies versus food intolerances are determined and classified. He then presented the thesis that many food intolerances are avoidable, because they stem from a histamine intolerance. This can be helped by supplementing the body with the necessary enzymes to break down histamine.

Boston City Singers at Vitamin Angels fundraiser.












After Hours

OTA’s Annual Meeting also celebrated the organization’s 25th anniversary. In addition to introducing new board members, the meeting highlighted some of OTA’s recent accomplishments. OTA Executive Director Christine Bushway said, however, “Our megaphone is too small.” Thus, she noted the importance of its “Organic. It’s Worth It” marketing campaign. Sarah Bird of Annie's, Inc. and OTA’s vice-chair of the board highlighted several “bold steps” that OTA is taking to forward its mission. These include building a financial foundation to support it, growing and protecting the group and growing its leadership.

Vitamin Angels 5th Annual Celebration of Angels was a touching event held at the Harvard Club. Attendees were entertained by the “Boston City Singers” children’s choir and inspired by Benjamin Zander, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra. Enthusiasm about a good cause, he stated, is the most important thing a person can have. “We don’t have to shrug our shoulders…we can do something,” he said. Numerous companies did just that, by standing up to pledge money and product/ingredient donations. Vitamin Angels Founder Howard Schiffer noted that their goal was to help 15 million children in 2009; the group is reaching 22 million today and hopes to expand its reach to 30 million children in 2011. “These children are worth the effort,” he said. “Every kid deserves the chance to follow their dreams…Reach the children no one else is reaching.”

Natural Choice Awards 2010

WholeFoods Magazine was honored to present its 2010 Natural Choice Awards to several winners at Natural Products Expo East 2010. Heather Wainer, publisher, and Kaylynn Chiarello-Ebner, editor/associate publisher, gave out the trophies.


Wainer presents the specialty supplements award to Barlean’s. Pictured here (left to right) are Jade Beutler, Jim Springer, Arianna Lee, Bruce Barlean, Barb Barlean and Andreas Koch.



Dan Richard and Todd Pauli of NOW Foods (dual recipient of the sport nutrition and the full supplement line awards) receives award from Wainer.



Chiarello-Ebner gives the personal care award to a team from Tom’s of Maine.




Kim Reiniger of Kinnikinnick Foods receives a trophy for foods for sensitive diets from Chiarello-Ebner.




Wainer gives Nature’s Plus awards in the nutrition bar and children’s supplement categories. Pictured here from left to right are Jim Gibson, Shari Allen, Donna Saladino and Wainer.




Garden of Life’s Jordan Rubin receives an award in the weight-loss category from Wainer.

 Published in WholeFoods Magazine, December 2010 (published ahead of print on November 1, 2010)