A preview of the events to come at Expo West.

When the alarm clock rings on March 6, there’s a good chance you’ll be saying, “Good morning, Anaheim!” From March 6 to 9, more than 60,000 natural products industry members will once again convene at the Anaheim Convention Center for Natural Products Expo West. This iconic industry event offers the chance for attendees to learn about new products, get educated on important issues, learn some new merchandising tips and mingle with friends old and new.

Here is a preview of the key events. Don’t forget the tradeshow will be open Friday and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and the Fresh Ideas tent will be open 12:30–5:30 p.m. on Thursday.

This year’s tradeshow floor is expanded to the Convention Center’s Arena and Arena lobby with booths for natural and specialty foods companies. This area is the former site of registration. Registration has moved to the Marriott parking lot, and badge pick-up areas include the Hall E Lobby, Angels Stadium, Marriott parking lot (by the Fresh Ideas tent), Marriott Platinum Lobby, Hilton Main Lobby and the Hilton Tour Desk.

Off-Site Education
Anaheim early birds can attend the CCOF annual meeting, bus tour* and reception* on March 5. This year’s theme is “Farming the Urban Edge” and registration information is available at www.ccof.org/annualevent2014.

On Thursday, the Retail Store Tour* (8:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m.) lets attendees visit some of Southern California’s top natural products and specialty stores. Or, choose the American Herbal Products Association Herb Walk Tour* (1:00–5:00 p.m.) that day at Fullerton Arboretum, led by herbalist David Winston of Herbalist & Alchemist. At this 26-acre botanical garden on the campus of California State University, attendees will learn about culinary and medicinal herbs and their traditional uses.

Also Thursday, members of the American Herbal Products Association are invited to a member meeting and breakfast* (7:30–11:45 a.m.). This meeting will include the board of trustees’ election, the 2014 AHPA Awards presentations and a keynote speech by Former President of Mexico Vicente Fox. Additional information is available at www.ahpa.org.

Saturday, join Mushroom Wisdom for its free annual Japanese breakfast and educational event from 8:00 to 9:45 a.m. in the Hilton Anaheim Ballroom. Attendees will hear a presentation about “Real Life Stories: Using a Natural Approach to Mental Health,” from renowned psychiatrist Kazutoyo Inanaga, M.D., Ph.D. Retailers can win a free year-long subscription to Lumosity, an online brain training resource.

On-Site Education Highlights
Expo West education is again a hub to learn merchandising tips, nutrition science and more. Keep your eyes and ears locked into these great presentations. Education will occur at the Anaheim Marriott, unless otherwise noted.

On Thursday, all-day workshops and sessions include The Specialty Diets* (8:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m.), GMO Labeling Across the Nation (9:30–11:00 a.m.), Food, Technology, and the Natural Consumer* (11:30 a.m.–12:45 p.m.), Export Strategies Workshop* (12:00–4:45 p.m.), Marketing to Moms* (12:00–5:00 p.m.), NEXT Accelerator Entrepreneur Bootcamp* (12:30–6:30 p.m.), What Facebook Is Trying to Tell You* (1:30–2:45 p.m.) and Non-GMO Supply Chain Factors for Manufacturers* (3:15–4:30 p.m.).

Thursday’s Supermarket News at Expo West: Driving Health and Wellness at Supermarkets* (2:00–6:00 p.m.) will feature WholeFoods’ merchandising editor and Retail Insights president, Jay Jacobowitz. He will be covering “Lessons from the New Retail Breed” from 3:15 to 4:00 p.m.

Friday is packed with too many educational opportunities to name here! Highlights include Future Trends in Health & Wellness for Brand Marketers, presented by NMI (9:00–10:30 a.m.), GMOs and ‘Natural’ Claims Litigation: Five Ways to Protect Your Company, presented by UNPA (9:00–10:00 a.m.), The New Age of Pregnancy: Scientific Findings for Power Moms, presented by Rainbow Light (10:00–11:00 a.m.), The D-Lightful Vitamin D for Health: A Global Perspective, presented by Carlson Labs (1:00–2:00 p.m.), DSHEA for Retailers* (1:30–2:45 p.m.) and Retailer Town Hall: Defining “Natural” Together (3:30–4:45 p.m.).

An interesting panel not to be missed is a session sponsored by the new Natural Algae Astaxanthin Association, which will discuss synthetic versus natural nutraceutical ingredients during “Synthetic Nutraceutical Ingredients: ‘Nature Identical’ or Potentially Harmful and Ineffective” (3:00–4:00 p.m.).

Friday’s featured speaker is Dr. Andrew Weil, hosted by MegaFood (11:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m.).

Saturday morning, don’t miss keynote speaker Raj Patel, journalist and author, with “How Will We Feed 10 Billion People Sustainably?” (9:00–10:15 a.m.).

Other Saturday sessions include Cocoa and Health: Separating Flavanol Fact from Fiction, presented by Mars Symbioscience (10:30–11:30 a.m.), Preparing Your Products and Ingredients for Non-GMO Verification, hosted by Global ID Group (10:30 a.m.–12:00 p.m.), How USDA Supports the Organic Food Industry and Other Marketing Claims, presented by USDA (11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.), How Your Store Can Make the Most out of Competition* (11:00 a.m.–12:15 p.m.), Mobile and the Modern Shopper* (11:00 a.m.–12:15 p.m.), State of the Industry* (11:00 a.m.–12:15 p.m.), Real Science & Marketing Science: Understanding the Difference, presented by Twinlab (12:00–1:00 p.m.), New Research and Trends in Women's Health, presented by Natural Factors (1:00–2:30 p.m.), Negotiating Your Store’s Retail Lease* (1:00–2:15 p.m.), Retail Dietitian Partnerships, with Betsy Ramirez* (1:00–2:15 p.m.), Strategies to Win Customers Back from Amazon* (1:00–2:15 p.m.), From Soil to Cell, Enzymes Deliver, presented by Enzymedica (2:00–3:0­0 p.m.), Combatting Mass Slippage, presented by MegaFood (2:30–3:30 p.m.) The Health/Beauty Connection* (3:00–4:15 p.m.) and Live Consumer Focus Group* (3:00–4:15 p.m.).

Enjoy Evenings on the Plaza every night from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., with music, refreshments and friends. Thursday’s event, sponsored by Madhava, features Rian Basilio and the Roosters. The band Galactic (sponsored by biokleen) entertains on Friday, and Saturday features Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe.

On Thursday, be sure to support a worthwhile cause with Vitamin Angels’ 20th Anniversary Celebration at Angel Stadium*. This nonprofit helps those in need with essential vitamins and minerals. The event includes appetizers and drinks, batting cages, the Angels bullpen, a Tweetwall, a DJ, photo booth and more. Tickets are $75 in advance (www.vitaminangels.org) and transportation is provided from the Convention Center Area.

Rise early Friday morning for yoga at the Convention Center Grand Plaza, sponsored by Bhakti Chai (7:00–8:30 a.m.), and don’t forget the free Boulder Brands Breakfast (7:30–10:00 a.m.) at the Anaheim Marriott Marquis Ballroom, sponsored by Earth Balance, EVOL, Glutino and Udi’s.

On Friday evening, The Organic Center will be hosting its 11th annual VIP dinner* at the Hilton in Anaheim, CA at 6:30 p.m. Visit http://organic-center.org for ticket information.

Also Friday night, 6:00–7:30 in the Anaheim Hilton, attend the Hall of Legends Award Celebration, which honors those who have made a significant contribution to the natural products industry.

Saturday Morning also starts with yoga, this time at Anaheim Hilton’s Avalon Ballroom, sponsored by Stonyfield (7:00–8:30 a.m.).

Saturday evening on the Lanai Deck at Anaheim Hilton, attend the Women in Naturals Networking Event from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. The event offers a chance to “mingle and exchange ideas with your female peers and leaders in the natural products community.” Attendees will enjoy refreshments and hear featured speaker Janie Hoffman, MammaChia founder, and author of Chia Vitality: 30 Days to Better Health, Greater Vibrancy, and a More Meaningful and Purposeful Life. WF

* Asterisks indicate special fees apply. Visit the tradeshow Web site, www.expowest.com, for payment and registration information.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, March 2014