Orlando, FL—The Southeast Natural Products Association (SENPA) held its annual SOHO Exhibition, here, in December. With over 300 exhibitors (including 100 new ones), the event was even bigger than last year. “Exhibits sold in [the 2011] show increased by 10% ending with a total of 320 companies participating,” stated Carylene Reed, executive director of SENPA. “The show sold out in October and we decided to add an additional eight booths to accommodate everyone.”

According to Reed, exhibitors came ready to connect with customers, which helped make the show “exciting from beginning to end! I was never so excited to be part of this wonderful show and industry,” she stated.

In addition, the education programs had more retail attendees with a 25% increase. This year’s speakers included Carl Germano, RD, CNS, CDN; Jay Jacobowitz of Retail Insights; Ellen Kamhi, Ph.D., R.N., the Natural Nurse; Parris Kidd, Ph.D.; Chris Kilham, medicine hunter; Michael T. Murray, N.D.; research biochemist Richard Passwater; and others.

 “The most outstanding thing about this year’s SOHO EXPO was the energy created by all the attendees. The retailers were there to learn, find new products, connect with their suppliers and purchase products!” said Reed.

Also impressed with this year’s show was SENPA President Ben Henderson (general manager of Bare Essentials Market of Boone, NC). He states, “The positive energy was high among vendors and retailers. SENPA attendees are settling (or have settled) into a venue that combines an exceptional business atmosphere with comfortable, relaxed resort surroundings. The results were the creation of one of the most exciting natural products tradeshows in the past 40 years. Everyone—retailers, vendors and the SENPA—won.”

This was the 40th anniversary of the tradeshow (of which Reed shares 37 at the association), and the event was celebrated at the Annual President’s reception (sponsored by Tree of Life a Kehe Company, New Hope Media and Rainbow Life), where SENPA presented a picture slideshow and a video from Vitamin Angels. Attendees were asked to give their birthday presents in the form of a pledge to Vitamin Angels, Reed said.

As in past years, SENPA gave out its annual President’s Award, this year honoring Carlson Laboratories of Arlington Heights, IL. In presenting the award, Henderson stated, “Their dedication to their products has been based on accepted scientific research and supported with exceptional customer service and eagerness to educate mankind. They continue to learn and teach.”

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, February 2012