Natural Products Expo West is here, and it’s time to see thousands of new products, network with peers and colleagues and embrace our industry as we do each spring. As the industry has grown, so has the Expo West experience. This year we are excited to introduce the Grand Plaza, a project that our partners in California envisioned to bring a new outdoor feature to the Anaheim Convention Center. I’ve dubbed it our industry “living room” for our time in Anaheim because it sits between the two host hotels and the convention center.

We’ve added three evenings of entertainment on the plaza, appropriately called Evenings on the Plaza. This year the traditional Welcome Reception on Thursday moves to the Grand Plaza, sponsored by Balance Bar. Friday is the Manitoba Harvest 15th Anniversary party, featuring Expo West alumni Ozomatli, and Saturday night is the Organic Valley 25th anniversary with a homegrown band from Wisconsin.

In addition to the Grand Plaza events, we have new exhibit space this year on the third floor of the convention center. Known as the ballroom, and previously home to registration and the show office, it is now home to the press room and the NEXT Pavilion, where you will find new companies and products,  and a special community for entrepreneurs entering the industry. 

This is one of the most exciting parts of the show, as these are the new entrepreneurs, many of whom are putting themselves “out there” for the first time and taking an exciting risk. This is where companies will be launching and bringing new innovation and products that could become a retail standard in few years. Remember when chia was just a “pet?” Now it’s finding its way into beverages, bars, cereals and just about everything on retail shelves.

All of the new features and events are what makes me look forward to Expo West each year. These are new opportunities for retailers to connect with each other and find those must-have products, which is what the show is all about. Expo West is where our industry, and especially the retail community, shines. We now have an enhanced home for our community to continue gathering and a place to continue to bring more natural and organic innovation to consumers. 

So join us on the Grand Plaza and upstairs in the NEXT Pavilion. We look forward to continuing to grow our industry together and creating community for all in Anaheim and Baltimore.

Adam Andersen is the Show Director for Natural Products Expo West.