Natural & Organic Products Europe captures mood of industry determined to power ahead

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Pioneering trends, thought-provoking debates and ‘better-for-you’ innovations were served up at ExCeL London over 7-8 April, as thousands of buyers and retailers gathered at the Natural & Organic Products Europe trade show – checking out what’s new and next in the world of natural health, food, beauty, wellness and sustainable living.  

With 700 exhibitors there to meet them – showcasing the best choice of natural, certified organic, vegan, Fairtrade and free-from food, drink, VMS, cosmetics, skincare, and eco living products to hit the market – Natural & Organic Products Europe enjoyed a victorious turnout, with a total attendance of 10,298 (up 3% on 2018’s figures).  

“With each edition, every year, Natural & Organic Products Europe just keeps getting bigger and better,” comments event director Carol Dunning. “It’s always such an amazing two days, the ‘B word’ was very evident this year and it wasn’t Brexit, the show was BUZZING with innovation. No sign of any trading concerns as the natural products industry grows and more new buyers from the UK and Europe came to source the latest product innovations to satisfy the consumer demand for natural, sustainable and eco-friendly products. 

“There was plenty to choose, from flagship brands through to the fledglings that are getting their chance to launch to the market, and for the first time ever Holland & Barrett chose all six of the brands that were pitched to them LIVE at the show – unprecedented.  

“From our visitors, associations and friends, whose incredible support makes the show so successful, NPE truly is the biggest and best platform for uniting this industry and is such an incredible highlight of the year for everyone involved. 

“I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of the Natural Products team to say a big Thank You for making this year such a fantastic show.  These are very exciting times for natural and organic and I cannot wait until next year’s show already!” she says. 

The window of the future

Thousands of independent stores, multiples, pharmacies, restaurants, cafés, contract caterers, hotels, salons and spas from 92 countries were packing the aisles.  Plus senior buyers and decision makers from some of the UK and Europe’s biggest retailers, wholesalers and distributors were in attendance – including representatives from Amazon, Boots, Holland & Barrett, Aldi, Lidl, M&S, Waitrose, Ocado, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Debenhams, House of Fraser, Superdrug, TK Maxx, Whole Foods Market, Infinity Foods, Planet Organic, and more.   

“Natural & Organic Products Europe is the window of the future. It’s the only show we visit every year because it touches on everything from what’s hot now to what’s up and coming, which is why we’ve travelled from Scotland to come,” says John McKee, director of Hanover Health Foods. 

“I have visited for the last three years as I love seeing all the natural and organic products under one roof. It is a fantastic place to see new products emerging onto the market,” says Timea Halasz, buyer at Wholefoods Market.  

“I’ve attended Natural & Organic Products several times – I love meeting and seeing new faces.  Attending this show is especially useful to meet international and emerging suppliers for our import and export business,” says Bennett Silverman, marketing director at Actikid.  “I thought the show was really good and had some interesting innovation and products, particular during the Holland and Barrett pitch, I thought that was a lot of fun. Good energy and good vibes, I really enjoyed it,” says Margaret Peet, CEO (distributor) of Aquaceuticals.  

“I visit Natural & Organic Products Europe every year to meet new and existing suppliers. This year I have found some great new CBD products.  Plus, I have spoken to a few current suppliers who have told me they have some new and unlaunched products yet to hit the market – I wouldn’t have known about this if I hadn’t visited the show,” says Shahzah Ahmed, buyer at As Nature Intended.  

The best show we’ve done

The quality of buyers in attendance certainly didn’t go unnoticed by exhibitors. Many have said the show is the perfect opportunity to meet lots of ‘great buyers’ and contacts from around the world. Exhibitors were so thrilled with the seniority and sheer number of relevant business professionals, that a record 60% of exhibitors have already rebooked for next year. 

Summing up their exhibiting experience, Rosalind Butler from Europium World UK says: “We’ve had such a busy first day with lots of people from abroad as well as from the UK. We have chosen Natural & Organic Products Europe to launch our new product. The show has been great for us and we have already booked for next year!” 

“We launched last year at the show, so it was great to be back this year meeting lots of great buyers, lots of potential customers, nutritionists and a wide range of people in the industry. We look forward to coming back next year,” says Dr Craig Rose, founder of Weed and Wonderful.  

“We’ve met some tremendous people at this show. It’s the best show that we’ve done, without a shadow of a doubt. We’ve met lots of great buyers and we are very excited to follow up with them,” says Anne Madden, director of Just Wholefoods.  

This year’s show features and pavilions included two New Product Showcases, an expanded Vegan World, The Organic Hub hosted by the Soil Association & Organic Trade Board, plus international pavilions hosted by Italy, Sicily, Greece, Spain (Galicia), Portugal, USA (Maine), Peru, Korea, Indonesia, and Thailand. 

Captivating talks in three lively theatres 

Alongside the show’s bustling exhibition, the three theatres (Food, Beauty & Health) were a hive of activity throughout the two days.  In the Natural Food Talks Theatre, the Soil Association, Organic Trade Board (OTB), The Fairtrade Foundation, Craig Sams, Health Sales Group, Patrick Holford, and many more draw in the crowds with topics covering organic farming and retailing, GMOs, ethical consumption, farmers living income, the continuing rise of conscious consumerism, and Brexit. 

In the Natural Products Talks Theatre, big names including Dr Marilyn Glenville PhD, HemPoland, Pukka Herbs, Natural Products Global’s editor Jim Manson, and The UMF Quality Trademark presented insights and research on a range of global trends and cutting-edge topics within natural health and wellbeing sector. 

Over in the Natural Beauty Talks Theatre, industry leaders in ‘conscious beauty’ like Helen Yeardsley, Natrue, Weleda, Mooncup, Organic Monitor, My Green Pod, and the Soil Association covered thought-provoking sessions about plastics in cosmetics, CBD beauty, genderless beauty, feminine hygiene, beauty from within, skin microbiome, traceability, certification and more.  

Other highlights included the networking ceremony for the ‘Thirty under 30’ list – designed to celebrate the rising stars of the sector, hosted by Natural Products News. The show’s popular LIVE innovation pitches to Holland & Barrett and (new this year) Sainsbury’s also took place and drew in standing room only crowds. 

For the first time, the innovation was so strong across the pitches, Holland & Barrett’s buying team opted to have further talks with all the shortlisted companies, which included Just Wholefoods: Shobu, Jack & Chill, Organic Sports Nutrition, Pharmavita, and Scence. 

Whilst, Upcircle and Everyman Jack were the two companies chosen to have further talks with the Sainsbury’s buying team. Rebecca Wicks, buying manager of Beauty at Sainsbury’s Supermarkets says: “Upcircle gave a very concise and engaging pitch, they clearly articulated the USP of their brand. We loved the fact they recycle waste from another industry by reusing coffee grounds, we thought the branding and messaging was very strong and the products smelt divine.”  

She continues: “In a world where significantly more natural brands are targeted at women, it was refreshing to find a brand targeted at men, and even more so one that played across all male categories including shave, shower and deodorant. We liked the clear, simple branding and the innovative bottle shapes used in their haircare. We felt, before EveryMan Jack, we hadn’t seen any natural brand operating credibly in this space in the UK.” 

Natural & Organic Products Awards Europe winners…  

Show visitors were also among the first to hear the results of the Natural Beauty Retail Awards and the show’s much anticipated Natural & Organic Awards Europe 2019 – a record 26 winners all took home accolades.

Hosted by Natural Products News and now in their 24th year, they have become renowned for recognising trend-setting new innovations across the food, health, eco-living and beauty categories. 

Captain Kombucha, Eaten Alive, Qwrkee Foods, Willy’s ACV, Conscious Chocolate, Wasi Organics, Happy Cheeze, BetterYou, Living Planet Distribution, Opus Innovations, Pukka Herbs, Natural Wound Care (Suma Wholefoods), Motion Nutrition, Antipodes (distributed by Kinetic), Viridian Nutrition, Giovanni (distributed by Kinetic), Holy Llama, Natura Siberica, INIKA Organic, Natracare, Biona, and Dr Hauschka were among the ‘Best New’ product winners.  

The Natural Products Special Contribution Award went to Soil Association’s Lee Holdstock, whilst The Natural Products Outstanding Achievement Award went to Suma Co-operative, and Better Food Co in Bristol was named Best Independent Retailer. 

The Natural Beauty Retail Award winners for 2019 included Waitrose, Neal’s Yard, Naturisimo, As Natural Intended, and Content Beauty/Wellbeing.