BALTIMORE — The few fresh produce-related companies represented at the 2011 Natural Products Expo East/All Things Organic convention reported slow foot traffic, although some outside the fresh produce industry expressed positive sentiment about the show.
Heather Smith, public relations representative for Boulder, Colo.-based New Hope Natural Media, the main organizer of the Sept. 21-24 show, said the show at the Baltimore Convention Center drew more than 20,000 attendees from 80 nations, with 1,450 show floor exhibitors.
However, since All Things Organic stopped co-locating with its longtime fresh produce partner, the Washington D.C.-based United Fresh Produce Association, the fresh produce presence at the organic show has suffered.
Shenandoah Growers started pre-selling its Flavor Herb Trio at the show, said Michele Henning, vice president of key account sales for the Harrisonburg, Va., company making its first appearance as an exhibitor at the show, but she said foot traffic seemed slow.
I Love Produce LLC, West Grove, Pa., used the expo to help promote its 9.5-ounce fresh black garlic product new to market this year, said Geri Olson, vice president of sales for Kelton, Pa.-based Village Grown Organic, the frozen division of I Love Produce.
Like Henning, Olson too reported at the show that she noticed a lack of booth traffic and a lack of fresh produce presence.
Shenandoah Growers and I Love Produce were located in the All Things Organic section of the show, but other companies took a different approach.
Ephrata, Pa.-based Four Seasons Produce Inc. and Bridgeport, N.J.-based Albert’s Organics chose not to exhibit in the All Things Organic section.
Another in the natural foods section was Jessi Brennan, event/advertising marketing coordinator for Crunchies Food Co., Westlake Village, Calif., which introduced snack packs of freeze-dried fruit.
Brennan said foot traffic was slow enough that she could have handled all herself early in the show, but as the expo progressed, she appreciated the help of her two co-workers.
A Crunchies’ competitor of sorts, Pipersville, Pa.-based Brad’s Raw Foods, a first-time exhibitor, won an award for most innovative packaging for its Brad’s Raw Leafy Kale Chips.
“We take fresh leafy green kale, we create a batter of all raw products — and, for our award-winning product, that’s a batter of garlic and scallions — then dehydrate the raw kale for 18 to 24 hours,” said sales and marketing coordinator Jaime Cahalan.
Next year’s show is set for Sept. 19-22, again at the Baltimore Convention Center.