EXPO WEST RECAP

Me at Anaheim Convention Center

So I went to Natural Products Expo for the first time this past weekend. It was such an incredible experience and literally Halloween for a healthy foodie. For those of you who do not know what #ExpoWest is – it is the largest Natural Products trade show in the country. It happens 2x per year – once on the east coast and once on the west coast – and is where brands come to showcase their newest products and more.

Normally, these types of trade shows are reserved for sales reps, buyers and retailers… but as the social media industry has evolved, this expo has become a hot spot for influencers. Hence, that is why I go! It is an incredible opportunity for me and my business. I get to meet brands I already work with face to face and a great way to connect with brands you love and would potentially want to work with. But the best part is meeting and connecting with IG friends IRL (in real life). Since so many wellness bloggers/foodies flock to this expo – it has become quite the social experience. I got to meet people I talk to daily on social media! How cool is that? One night I went to dinner with 16 other “instagramers” and only 2 of them I had met prior to the trip. And no, it was not awkward at all and was actually tons of fun!

The expo takes placed in Anaheim, CA and is 4 days long. I only went for 2 days because let me tell you IT IS EXHAUSTING! I teamed up with my girl Alec @whataleceats (s/o for being the best host ever) and we manned the expo together. Since it is so incredibly large, it is wise to plan in advance and make sure you get to the brands/booths that you want to in the time you have. We started in the North Halls “Hot Products” Section and then managed our way down to the E hall, which had a lot of the brands that we wanted to see. The second day we did the main hall which had the biggest brands/booths. Some of the booths were insanely big and I can only imagine the complicated production process that went into it. It was so cool!

Group of Foodie Influencers at a Dinner with Canyon Gluten Free
Celebrating International Women’s Day with Emmy’s Organics + Wild Friends
Healthy Foodie Friends on the Floor
Me, Alec and our Fave Dairy Free Ice Cream
Meeting my Health Warrior Contact, Allison, for the first time
after working with them for 6+ months.
More Healthy Foodie Friends!

MY FAVE FINDS:

SOOZY’S MUFFINS: it was actually my first time trying their grain-free products and I was V impressed. My fave muffins were: coffee cake and sweet potato. They also came out with NEW donuts! The double chocolate was my fave.

BREW DR KOMBUCHA: I haven’t been a Kombucha person in a few months, but this literally may convert me back. I love the Strawberry Basil flavor – it actually tasted like summer! It was not too sweet, which I love.

DELIGHTED BY DESSERT HUMMUS: this is literally sweet hummus / dip in indulgent flavors. Cool, eh? I loved their new red velvet flavor that I tried.

DAIYA FOODS: They had such a cool booth featuring all their amazing dairy free products – ice cream, cheeses and the NEW breakfast burritos. I loved the tuscan one! Would be so easy to enjoy on the go. Plus, you won’t believe the cheese isn’t real, it actually melts completely like the real thing. I love it!

THE REAL COCONUT: This brand makes one of the best “better for you” tortilla chips made out of coconuts. They came out with tortillas and they were INCREDIBLE! The mushroom flavor and the turmeric flavor were bomb. I cannot wait to buy these.

TRUFRU: This company makes chocolate covered frozen fruit. It is a thin layer of chocolate and perfect for a post dinner sweet craving or even in your morning yogurt /oatmeal.

DO ANYTHING FOODS: They make plant-based sauces! My fave was the cauliflower alfredo. It would be amazing on pasta or even as a topping for salmon. Cannot wait to get my hands on this.

CALI-FLOUR FOODS: Seriously, the best healthy frozen pizza crust and za’s. The ingredients are awesome and it is super tasty. I will for sure be buying these.

GRANOLA BUTTER: Founded by an awesome young women, Ali Bonar, who I got to meet! It is the first spreadable granola product and v tasty! The new chocolate flavor is to die for. Thankfully she gave me a full size so I can enjoy at home! Thank you Ali!

SIMPLE MILLS: One of my favorite brands that makes gluten-free baking mixes. They came out with a new almond flour brownie mix and it is amazing. Their pizza crust mix is one of my all time faves!

FOUR SIGMATIC: I have heard so much about this brand and actually tried their mushroom coffee (with adaptogens) for the first time at this expo. I was V impressed. The idea of having coffee made out of mushrooms sounds gross, but I am telling you it is awesome. Great for those who want to cut down on regular coffee (like me), this would be great for a second cup.

SIETE FOODS: Another one of my fave brands. I love their grain-free cassava flour tortilla chips and wraps. At the expo, I got to try their spicy blanco dairy -free queso and NEW spicy bean dip. The dip was SO good. I cannot wait until it comes out in stores. They also released a hard shell taco – so be on the lookout for that.

VAN LEEUWEN ICE CREAM: One of my fave spots in NYC was at expo featuring their new dairy-free flavors. Seriously, SO GOOD. I don’t know how they do it. My fave was vegan Cookies and Cream Swirl.

MOTHER RAW: This Canadian brand was originally called “Michelle’s Raw Foodz” and they make plant-based dressings and dips. Their new plant-based queso dip and ranch dip were two of my faves!

PECKISH: They make pre packed perfectly boiled eggs with crunchy toppings. It makes the perfect snack.

ORGANIC TRADITIONS: New Baru seeds and superfood latte mixes were super cool to sample. The Baru seeds make a delish butter too – they are imported from Brazil and are very high in protein.

JUSTINS: Their new coconut almond butter and nut butter covered nuts were a hit. I loved the cashew butter covered cashews – they were the perfect amount of sweet, but for sure more savory.

IMPOSSIBLE BURGER: Ok, this was my first time trying this plant based burger and it was by far the best one I have ever had. I do not eat meat anymore, and let me tell you this was very satisfying and tasted a lot like the real thing.

KITE HILL: They came out with a new almond milk cream cheese spread that is “Everything but the Bagel” flavored. Really good!

SPINDRIFT: One of my fave flavored sparkling water brands! It is just carbonated water and real fruit. That is it! I loved the new lime flavor. V refreshing. Cannot wait to get these in stores.

PRIMAL KITCHEN FOODS: Came out with a new unsweetened BBQ sauce. I love all their salad dressings and especially their unsweetened ketchup. It made me eat ketchup again!

RX BAR: Came out with new oatmeal packs and full jars of nut butter!

HEALTH WARRIOR: You guys know Health Warrior is one of my fave brands. They featured their newest protein mug muffin recipe, which comes out late summer. It is double chocolate flavored.

JENIS ICE CREAM: They sampled their newest dairy free flavors and my fave was cold brew with coconut cream.

BIRCH BENDERS: They came out with a new plant protein pancake mix and it was so delicious! They also came out with new “Magic Syrups” with collagen and MCT oil. V trendy!

EATING EVOLVED: They released their latest chocolate chips and they were SO good. I love their butter cups too.

KOR SHOTS: I am new to wellness “shots”, but this company had such tasty and useful ones. I loved the turmeric and gut health ones.

WILD FRIENDS: I seriously couldn’t love their nut butter more! They released their newest chocolate hazelnut butter – think healthy Nutella! I literally was obsessed. Plus, I got to meet the two founders who are major girl bosses! So much fun!

EMMY’S ORGANICS: I love their clean cofconut cookies so much and this expo they released their chocolate covered cookies. My fave was chocolate peanut butter, of course!

ELLENOS: Literally the best greek yogurt I have ever tried. They are now going to be selling their yogurt in stores in southern cal – I wish it was in Michigan! They have a storefront in Seattle in Pike Place Market in Seattle and I need to go there when I visit this spring.

GOOD CATCH FOODS: This was such a cool brand! They make ‘plant-based’ tuna – I was skeptical to try it, but it was actually incredible. I would definitely buy this!

PURELY ELIZABETH: One of my OG favorite brands released new CAULI hot cereal cups. They used freeze-dried cauliflower for these and it actually had such a good consistency. I loved it!

BEST PRACTICES:

So this was my first time going to the show and I am not going to be the only person to tell you it was very overwhelming. There are SO many people, rooms, halls, and samples. I did some research going in and spoke to some friends who had been to it before. Here are some pieces of advice for those who are thinking of going one day in the future.

  1. Wear comfortable shoes. You are going to be walking around / standing for HOURS. This is not the time to wear heels 🙂
  2. You will not able to do it all. Give yourself at least 2 days to do the show. The first day we were a bit more strategic because there were certain brands we wanted to visit, and the second day we were able to hit up booths that we missed and were more social with other foodie influencers. After 2 days, we were both done and didn’t feel the need to go back for day 3.
  3. Be selective with samples. There will be people left and right handing you food, snacks, and samples. You do NOT need to eat it all, nor do you need to accept everything. You do not want to make yourself sick either. It is ok to say no.
  4. Do not bring a bag. There will be a billion brands that have tote bags for you to fill up with all your samples. A backpack may not be enough room and will fill up too quickly. I brought a small purse and then just used the tote backs I collected at the show.
  5. As an influencer, I went to meet brands I work with day to day, to make new connections and to connect with my IG friends. It was a ton of fun! Remember, this show is mostly for retailers, buyers, and sellers – and only recently in the past few years been something influencers go to. It is important to know your place. Not every brand has their social media team there. If there is a brand you really love, I would recommend connecting with them beforehand and let them know you will be stopping by. Otherwise, just have fun, make personal connections and follow up after the show. No one is signing influencer contracts at the show!
  6. Leave your day open. I got a lot of emails before the show from brands asking me to set up meetings for a specific date and time. I decided not to set up anything in stone because I knew the days would be crazy. I am glad I took my own advice, went at my own pace and sa the brands that I wanted to see on my own schedule.

WHERE I ATE / WHAT I DID IN OC:


Happy Hour in Laguna Beach

Orange County is BEAUTIFUL! Hopefully, if you go to the show you can sneak away for some time and enjoy it. Here is a list of things we did / ate when we were in the area.

  1. Malibu Farm Lido – The OG malibu farm opened a location in Newport and its amazing. I got the vegan chopped salad with salmon (cooked to perfection). We also got the cauliflower pizza and crudités
    to start. I literally could have ordered every single thing on the menu.
  2. Cafe Gratitude – Healthy plant-based spot with a location in Costa Mesa.
  3. Kit Coffee – Adorable coffee shop with artisan toasts.
  4. Bear Flag Fish Co – Incredible casual fish spot in Lido Marina. LOVED the salmon and poke!
  5. Sidecar Donuts + Coffee – Need I say more? The coffee is excellent and if you want to indulge in a donut, this is the place.
  6. Coffee Dose – Cute coffee shop located inside of a hair salon. V insta worthy.
  7. Outpost Kitchen – Aussie style eats with amazing coffee.
  8. Lido Marina Village – has a ton of cute shops, restaurants and is in a marina. Really cute to walk around.
  9. Newport Beach Boardwalk – I loved walking around here and going to the pier. When I went, there was a farmers market.
  10. Laguna Beach – Yes, it is exactly the same as the hills. It is so gorgeous and seriously has tons of great boutiques, restaurants, and bars. If you can grab a happy hour glass of wine while watching the sunset, I would!
Avo Toast from Kit Coffee in Costa Mesa
Matcha Latte From Kit Coffee in Costa Mesa
Inspiration Point Lookout, Corona Del Mar, Newport Beach
Me Enjoying Happy Hour in Laguna Beach

I hope you enjoyed this recap helpful and enjoyed learning all about my experience at Natural Products Expo. Cannot wait for next year!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.