Having never been to a tradeshow of the magnitude of the Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, Calif., I had no idea what to expect. Having been sent to the show for the National Honey Board in search of all things honey, I was on a mission.
My goal was to make 50 connections throughout the course of the two-day trek through booths and displays, and I pictured myself wading through endless crowds and long lines. I was pleasantly mistaken.
The badge line, albeit predictably long, was incredibly efficient. My wait couldn’t have been more than 15 minutes. Once I sat foot in the New Products Pavilion, I was in awe of the rows and rows of food, drinks, supplements and beauty products. I turned the corner to get my bearings, and boom—I saw a honeybee. The very first vendor I came in contact with was a natural products company who makes their entire line out of honey. I knew this was a good sign.
Being the celebrity nut I am, I searched for the booth that I knew Phil Keoghan, host of the Amazing Race, would be at. I confirmed his time for tomorrow, and lo and behold, his product had honey in it. Score.
After that I started from one end of the room, meticulously visiting each food and beverage booth throughout that floor. I taste tested, asked the all-important question: “Do your products have honey in them?” and was met with smiling faces and more than 50 connections for day one. I clearly surpassed my goal and got a photo of softball great Jennie Finch in the process. She was at the Chobani display (it was so huge I can’t call it a booth), and they in fact use honey in some of their products. Even though the show was packed full of people, I found it easy to talk to almost everyone, and vendors were more than eager to explain their products and services, even after knowing specifically what I was after. They seemed genuinely happy to be there, and so was I.
As for the “honey vendors,” I asked another great question: “What do you love about working with honey?” Here are some of my favorite answers:
“We love honey. We know it’s hot right now; it’s a natural sweetener. We get our honey from a local North Carolina purveyor. When we pair we pair with honey,” Salem Baking Co.
“We are looking at a kids’ line with honey in the future,” Blue Buddha
“Instead of adding so much sugar in it (the tea), we like to add the sweetness of honey and people can taste it,” Xing Tea
“The flavor is so beautiful. We’re all about the flavor,” Droga Chocolates
“It’s God’s sweetener,” Woats Oatsnack