More than 20,000 industry members headed to Baltimore for the chance to learn and grow at Natural Products Expo East. Once again co-located with All Things Organic-BioFach America, the Organic Summit, and Healthy Baking, the show was held at the Baltimore Convention Center from September 21 to 24.

The return to Baltimore after a stint in Boston was a hit among conference attendees. Said Matthew Davis, owner of Harvest Market, Spotsylvania, VA, “I’m glad it’s in Baltimore. Everybody is very friendly…you can’t go to a better expo than in the natural products industry.”

New Products Launched at Expo East

The tradeshow floor hosted 1,450 booths, up from last year’s 1,300 count. Many companies were pleased with the foot traffic, including Adam Grossman, founder of The Seaweed Bath Co. “The traffic has been phenomenal. Even though I think we’re going back into a recession, this industry is still strong,” stated Grossman.

Michael Garfield-Wright, of snack company Dancing Star, LLC, was trend-spotting on the show floor. “The big trend is growth in body care and non-food items. And I’ve seen tremendous expansion in gluten-free items,” he says. He also noted more sophisticated research coming from vitamin companies, and better detail in describing the benefits of their products.

Numerous companies expanded their lines with interesting new products, which included the following:

  • Nordic Naturals launched Omega-3 Fortify, a tasteless powdered omega supplement (with 500 mg of EPA/DHA) that can be added to shoppers’ favorite foods. Also new is Omega-3 Stix for Kids, a sour cherry-flavored omega powder.
  • Reserveage Organics now offers grass-fed whey protein that comes in vanilla, chocolate and unflavored. Also new is Greens Ph, which is fermented for better assimilation.
  • A condition-specific bee propolis supplement line was launched by NaturaNectar.
  • Blue Diamond now offers a variety of Blue Diamond Almonds Breeze that combines almond and coconut milk.
  • Green Beaver is an organic personal care line being distributed by Flora.
  • Bioforce USA showed off its newest line extensions, which included the Dado Sens personal care line and new Secure products.
  • ChicoBag now has eco-friendly snack bags.

Several new snack lines also debuted at the show. These included flavored dried peas from World of Peas and Lentil Chips from Mediterranean Snacks.

The following companies received New Product Showcase Awards.

  • Best Packaging: Tiny Fruits by Little Duck Organics
  • Most Innovative: Vampire Killer—Brad’s Raw Leafy Kale by Brad’s Raw Foods
  • Best New Green/Environmentally-Friendly: Snack Time by ChicoBag
  • Best New Food: Hibiscus Lemon LunaPops by LunaPops
  • Best New Health & Beauty: Fair Trade Ethiopian Coffee Scrub by Planet Botanicals
  • Best New Supplements/Herbs: Vega Sport Electrolyte Hydrator by Sequel Naturals
  • Best of Press: Daily Dose of Dark by NibMor Chocolate, and Tea Enhancers by Catalyst Gourmet

OTA Gives Out Organic Leadership Awards

Mark Lipson, U.S. Department of Agriculture Michael Funk, United Natural Foods, Inc.

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) held its Annual Award Gala at the Maryland Science Center, where the 2011 Organic Leadership Awards were given out. Receiving the Growing Organic Industry award was Michael Funk of United Natural Foods, Inc. and in the Growing Organic Agriculture Category was Mark Lipson, Organic & Sustainable Agriculture Policy Advisor at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“Both Michael Funk and Mark Lipson have had a long commitment to the organic movement. Michael has been instrumental in the growth and advancement of the natural and organic industry for over 30 years, while Mark has demonstrated personal commitment, leadership and vision with regard to advancing organic farming since the early 1980s,” said Christine Bushway, OTA’s Executive Director and CEO.

Reserveage CEO Organizes Women’s Networking Group

Naomi Whittel, founder and CEO of Reserveage Organics, announced that she will found D.A.W.N., (Developing and Advancing Women in Naturals), a network for women working in this industry.

“Having spent over a decade in the natural products industry, I began to think about how vast was female representation, except at the executive level,” states Whittel. “I realized that I, as a female CEO, had knowledge and resources that could help other women looking for guidance and opportunity, and I wanted to create a network through which to share them, and to also continue to learn and be inspired myself.”

D.A.W.N. is intended to share information, make connections and serve as a resource for women, who will receive a monthly e-newsletter. The first edition is scheduled to go out in early 2012 , and a conference as well as other events could be in the works for next year.

Though the group was just announced at Expo East’s Women and Naturals event, Whittel says the response has been very strong. “So many women came up to tell me how much they felt this organization could help, and how they themselves wanted to contribute,” she states. “I listened as the attendees discussed the possibilities for D.A.W.N. after I spoke, and I could hear that they were just as passionate about it as I was. They emboldened me, and I’m just so excited to see this program flourish.”

For each woman that signs up for the D.A.W.N. e-newsletter, Reserveage will give five dollars to the Whole Planet Foundation (a charity established by Whole Foods Market).

For more information or to enroll, please visit

Vitamin Angels Launches 100 Days of Giving

Vitamin Angels kicked off its 100 Days of Giving campaign at its 6th Annual Celebration of Angels, held at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore. The group is reaching about 24 million at-risk children worldwide with vitamins this year—and believes it can reach many more soon.

Howard Schiffer and James Tonkin at the Celebration of Angels event. © Matt Dayka/Vitamin Angels 2011

During the 100 Days of Giving campaign, every donation will be matched dollar-for-dollar for the first $250,000. Since it takes just 25 cents to reduce child mortality by 24% and decrease the risk of blindness caused by vitamin A deficiency, these donations could help the group reach about 2,000,000 more children in 2012. The campaign ends January 1, 2012.

“Some of the finest companies along with key industry leaders, have come together to make 100 Days of Giving possible. For every dollar donated, Vitamin Angels will be able to reach eight children with essential nutrients in 2012. We invite you to join us in giving children around the world the opportunity for a brighter future,” says Howard B. Schiffer, Vitamin Angels president and founder.

100 Days of Giving sponsors are: Emerson Ecologics, DSM, Pharmachem Laboratories, Marine Nutriceutical, AIDP, Swanson Health Products, Michael’s Naturopathic, Lily of the Desert, UNFI, BioSan Laboratories, Novell Ingredients and individual sponsors. Information about how to donate is available at

Education Dominates Expo East

Once again, Natural Products Expo East offered a range of educational opportunities for industry members. Here we offer some of the main take-home points from sessions attended by WholeFoods editors.

  • In a session about “Vitamin D: How Much Should We Be Giving Our Kids?” (hosted by Carlson Laboratories), pediatrician Robert Sears, M.D., F.A.A.P., reviewed some basic information about why it’s important to get enough of this key hormone-like vitamin. Of note, he stated that vitamin D deficiency could be a factor in keeping the immune system healthy, diabetes, eczema, cardiovascular disease, pediatric respiratory problems and more. He also reviewed appropriate daily doses for health maintenance.
  • The organic market is healthy and growing, according to information presented in “State of the Industry—Organic Market Overview.” Speakers said the organic market is a $29 billion industry (not retail sales), and 93% of this is foods. The organic market grew about 12-15% from 2010 to 2011, while the GDP fell. But, there’s still more work to do: only 4% of the food industry is organic. Produce and dairy were identified as gateway products for the average consumer, and these segments were the strongest growers (by 12% and 6%, respectively).
  • Keynote speaker and author Daniel Pink spoke about motivation for workers. See more in this issue’s Tip of the Month.
  • How much time does it take you to eat dinner? According to author of The Family Dinner and activist Laurie David, most families eat in less than 18 minutes. In her featured lecture, David explained how and why dinners should be valued family time. “Family dinners can bring us together,” she believes, while leading to healthier lives, better family connections and greener living.
  • “Whole Food Energy with Peggy Kostopolous,” a session sponsored by Vega, saw its speaker introduce listeners to some key nutrients that can fuel our bodies, such as tyrosine and chlorophyll, and how certain superfoods can deliver them to us.
  • A panel of independent retailers comprised the session, “Just Say no to GMOs: Strategeis for selling GMO-Free Products.” They shared their thoughts on approaching the non-GMO trend, and offered advice on how to spur interest in non-GMO in other stores. Ideas included creating a display shopping cart filled with non-GMO products, contrasted with one filled with GMO products for educational purposes; customer quiz sheets and holding educational outreach events.
  • Deputy Administrator of the National Organic Program (NOP) Miles McEvoy and Michael Funk, chair and co-founder, United Natural Foods, Inc., discussed NOP policies regarding genetic modification in the context of organic certification and production. A key point of contention was the distinction between the intentional versus inadvertent use of GMO seeds in organic farming.
  • After the presentation of some recent research into organic production methods, a lively Q&A ensued at “Organic Regulatory Update,” regarding the equivalency between U.S. and Canadian organic standards, the 2012 farm bill’s momentum and other NOP issues.
  • A focus on the environmental positives of organic farming, from soil quality to the lack of pollutants when compared with conventional farming, comprised “Environmental Benefits: Climate Change, Water Quality and Use.”
  • In “Ancient Remedies Revisited,” speaker Mark Kaylor took attendees on a tour through the many benefits of various medicinal mushrooms, including the effect of Lion’s Mane on brain health and Chaga mushroom on immune health.
  • The third in a series of sessions on organic research focused on the health benefits of organic, with Dana Boyd Barr, Ph.D. and other presenters giving science-informed presentations that described some of the negative health influences associated with conventional farming, including the findings of recent pesticide research.
  • “Clearing the Fog: Industry-wide Clarity Toward the Definition of ‘Natural’” featured Natural Products Association president John Gay moderating a panel discussion on the dilemma of how to define natural products in a general sense. 

WholeFoods Gives Out Natural Choice Awards

WholeFoods Magazine presented the 2011 Natural Choice Awards to many winners during the Baltimore tradeshow. Heather Wainer, publisher, and Kaylynn Chiarello-Ebner, editor/associate publisher, were on hand to give out the awards.

EuroPharma USA’s Terry Lemerond receives the Specialty Supplements award from Wainer for Curamin.

Katie Franklin and Michael Holm from Follow Your Heart receive the Vegan Foods award for Vegenaise from Chiarello-Ebner.

Chiarello-Ebner gives Rajeev Prusa (left) and Greg Seltz (right) of Mill Creek Botanicals the Hair Care award for its Biotin Shampoo.

A team from Nature’s Way (l-r: Sheri Stoller, Paul Bechtolt, Catherine DeQuaine and Mike Devereux) receives the Herbs award from Chiarello-Ebner.

Wainer gives Dan Richard of NOW Foods a trophy for the company’s full line of supplements.

Udi’s Denise Sirovatka receives a trophy for Foods for Sensitive Diets from Chiarello-Ebner.

An award is presented by Wainer to Gina Ferrato of derma e Natural Bodycare for its full line of skincare products.

For their weight loss product Diet 360, Jordan Rubin (left) and Brian Ray (right) of Garden of Life are given a trophy.

Jim Gibson of Nature’s Plus accepts an award from Wainer on behalf of his company for its Animal Parade line of Children’s Supplements.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, November 2011 (online 10/7/11)