Fair Trade Innovation Trends @ Expo West 2011
Fair Trade is all the rage at Natural Products Expo West 2011
After our first day in Anaheim at Natural Products Expo West, it was apparent that Fair Trade was going to be a significant part of the show. We had more than 70 partners exhibiting more than 200 Fair Trade Certified products. But those are just numbers. What I was really impressed by was wide variety of innovative, high-quality Fair Trade Certified products on display. Looking back, I can confidently say that Fair Trade was one of the most widely discussed topics at the Expo. The movement is rapidly building; this is truly an exciting time for Fair Trade.
The Natural Products Expos have historically been dominated by organic and all-natural products, but based on what we saw this year, brands have stepped up their efforts to encompass more than just environmental sustainability. The hundreds of new Fair Trade Certified organic products demonstrate the industry's desire to be socially and econominically sustainable as well. Companies have realized that caring for the famers and workers who produce the ingredients in their products is just as, if not more, important to ensuring the long-term success of their supply chains as environmental sustainability.
Triple Pundit blogger Leon Kaye also noted how far Fair Trade and organic products are now a large and important part of the Expo. Companies are learning how to make products that taste good (that's important!) and are environmentally and socially sustainable. This was a point that was hit on by our eloquent VP of Business Development and Marketing Mary Jo Cook on the panel "Learning from Failure: Reigniting Innovation in the Healthy Products Market." She pointed out that innovation in the natural foods sector can relate to both improving the taste and quality of products and innovating the supply chain. And often, these two cases go hand-in-hand.
Innovation is the word that really stuck out in my mind as I met with our Fair Trade partners throughout the rest of the show. I was so impressed by all of these entrepreneurs who have turned passion into businesses that are changing the world, one chocolate bar, jar of honey or cup of tea at a time!
In addition to Fair Trade, other trends at Expo West included Gluten-Free, coconut, puffed foods (like Pirate's Booty) and using edible ingredients in beauty care products.
To see more innovative products and amazing people from Expo West, check out our Flickr photostream.
Here are a few more videos from the show about companies that embody innovation in their Fair Trade Certified products:
Maggie's Functional Organics
Zhena's Gypsy Teas
Alter Eco USA