A few weeks ago, I drove down to Anaheim to experience the Natural Products Expo for the first time. Press passes were closed by the time I registered. Fortunately, my friend Tracey who runs the Marketing team for SoftCup offered me a chance to attend as her guest.
Do you know about SoftCup? If you’re a LA-DY, you might. There are two products – disposable or reusable. It’s a ‘cup’ that you insert when you’re menstruating. Instead of having to change out tampons or maxi pads every few hours, you can leave a SoftCup in for up to 12 hours. (Yes, really!) I’m a customer. Tired of having to “time” when you change out maxipads or tampons? This is for you. SoftCup is very useful if you’re on a heavy-flow day and you’re planning to attend the Marvel Movie Butt-numbathon at AMC. I wouldn’t have tried out this product a couple years ago if it wasn’t for Tracey. See, vendors? Samples do work! (And no, I don’t get free product because I know Tracey. I buy my SoftCup products at CVS.)
As I left Tracey and her team, I strolled through each aisle. The expo took up the entire Anaheim Convention Center, including the lower level floors! I am so glad I wore sneakers. Who do I run into immediately? Ed Begley, Jr!! The man doesn’t age. (Apparently green living also makes you look great.) I swear he looks the same as he did when I was a kid. He has his own line of environmentally-friendly cleaning products called Begley’s Best, available at Gelsons and ACE Hardware stores.
I’m addicted to ginger chews, almost as much as chocolate. (I said almost.) Something happened in my old age. In the past several years, I’ve begun to crave ginger products. Familiar companies like Chimes, The Ginger People and Reed’s were out there with their ginger products (including skincare!), as well as smaller (new to me) companies like Bruce Cost, Bhakti Chai, Buderim Ginger and Fentimans.
There were a ton of pet products out there as well. When they asked if I had a pet, I proudly announced I had a dognephew and a dogniece. The nice people at Doggy Delirious handed me a sample of thier treats, and the incredibly nice woman at Now! Grain Free Dog Food handed me a hefty bag of their small breed formula. (Walter and Lucy, you’ve got some new products to try out!) I also ran into The Bear and the Rat ice cream for dogs, which I think is smart. At least now, your dog won’t get sick eating human ice cream; you can feed him/her ice cream that’s made for them.
Many reusable bottle and container companies were also out in force including SIGG, Sugoi Group, Lunchbots, Kleen Kanteen, Camelbak, Pura Kiki and One Vessel. One Vessel caught my eye because of the mustache tumbler. While offering customizable printing on your drinkware isn’t a new thing or rocket science, they were helpful in explaining print times, costs, and schedules. (Future project? Maybe.)
Being a non-mom, I’m not familiar with reusable baby bottles, and baby products were also a giant piece of the Natural Products Expo. They ranged from baby bottles, food, skincare, clothing, and so on.
About the food at the Expo – this takes veg-friendly food to the next level. I didn’t take many photos of the food, but much of the floor was dedicated to gluten-free, natural, vegan, vegetarian, or new food products. I was surprised and happy to see at the hundreds of food exhibitors who made a veg-friendly or gluten-free friendly product for those with allergies or healthier-processed food. Daiya had a nice big kitchen, offering folks grilled cheese sammies, quesadillas, … delicious! Amy’s was there, and I love their cheese enchiladas. I could eat those all day long.
Bhakti Chai gave out samples of their iced coffee-blend chai. It’s really good with that spicy kick to it. Kate’s Tram Bar was also a winner in my book. The Wife’s favorite ice cream, McConnell’s, was also there to scoop out frozen deliciousness. I also had the opportunity to try out Kim & Scott’s Pretzels. Divine Chocolate is fair-trade, made from chocolate harvested by farmers in Ghana, manufactured in Germany.
Nothing was terrible-tasting. Everything was delicious. Period.
As a first-time attendee and relatively health-conscious consumer, the Natural Products Expo was an eye-opening event for me. Here in Southern California, we’re pretty lucky to have stores like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Gelson’s, Henry’s (or Sprouts) that carry these products. It’s amazing how many products are out there for people with food allergies or diet restrictions, and the products taste good. I think there’s a market for lower-priced products as well.Â Not everyone can afford to shop at Whole Foods. (Does Whole Foods accept food stamps?) I’d like to see that next at the next show!
If you are interested in attending or learning more about the Natural Products Expo, go here. Their next expo is Expo East in Baltimore, MD in September.
Big thank you to Tracey and SoftCup for providing me a ticket to attend Expo West. For more info on SoftCup, go here.
The fine print: My ticket was comp’d by SoftCup.