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7 events at Natural Products Expo West to attend for a well-rounded experience—especially for newcomers

Beyond walking the floor, there’s much to offer at the annual show, from education sessions to power networking events. If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, Food & Beverage Insider has gathered some of the most enticing happenings certain to pique your interest.

Audarshia Townsend

March 2, 2023

3 Min Read
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You’ve got your strategy mapped out on how you’re planning to take on New Hope Network’s annual Natural Products Expo West show, occurring March 7-11 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California. You’ve had that planned for a few weeks or maybe even a few months.

Whether it’s your first event or you’ve been coming since its inception in 1981, Expo West is never the same. There’s always something different to see, new folks to meet, and of course, innovative new products to sample.

Beyond walking the floor, there’s much to offer as well, from education sessions to power networking events. If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, Food & Beverage Insider has gathered some of the most enticing happenings certain to pique your interest.

(Included) ACCESS Brand Spotlight: Discover 10 Innovative BIPOC Brands Shaking Up Expo West

What is it: Founded in 2020, (included) CPG has previously partnered with New Hope Network and Specialty Food Association to showcase emerging brands led by diverse entrepreneurs. (included) CPG exhibitors will include the likes of Hany’s Harvest, The Mocktail Club, Maazah, Sweet Logic and Sea Monsters. The founders will be present to answer all questions.

When: 1-3 p.m. March 8

Where: Marriott grand ballroom E

Natural Products Expo West Pitch Slam

What is it: Standout, emerging brand founders have an opportunity to pitch in front of an all-star judging panel. The grand prize winner will be awarded a free booth at Expo West 2024 and more than $30,000 in New Hope Network services. The highly anticipated event is lively and interactive with highlights from past winners.

When: 3-6 p.m. March 8

Where: Marriott, Marquis Center

The Organic Center’s Annual Science Benefit

What is it: The who’s who in organics is expected to attend this special fundraising party that includes an open bar, appetizer station, giveaways, interactive displays of cutting-edge science and a deejay spinning contemporary hits. While it’s an opportunity to loosen up a bit, guests will still get to rub elbows with leaders in the organic science scene. Register here for admission.

When: 5-7 p.m. March 8

Where: Marriott, Platinum Ballroom 6

Naturally Network Expo West Kick Off Party

What is it: The natural products community boasts a strong bond from coast to coast, thanks to Naturally Network. Austin, Boulder, Chicago, Minneapolis, New York and many other cities have established local Naturally Network chapters to connect founders who have unique objectives and mission statements. The cocktail party is a chance to mingle with members, join a chapter or even start new ones. Register here.

When: 7-10 p.m. March 8

Where: Hilton, Pacific Ballroom C

Gender Equity in Nutraceuticals Networking Event

What is it: Shattering glass ceilings and supporting each other. That’s only a piece of Women In Nutraceuticals’ mission, who are also focused on achieving economic and societal equity to transform the global nutraceuticals industry. Their reception is open to all and will take place on the plaza at the convention center.

When: 4-6 p.m. March 9 

Where: Arena Plaza

Do We Need a New Food Order?

What is it: Miyoko Schinner, the recently ousted founder of plant-based creamery Miyoko's, will serve as keynote speaker for this spirited discussion hosted by podcast hosts Danielle Gould and Louisa Burwood-Taylor. This conversation is part of the New Food Order series and will aim to explore how the industry tackles climate and social crises.

When: 9-10 a.m. March 10 

Where: Marriott, Marquis Center

J.E.D.I. Community Happy Hour

What is it: (included), Naturally M/O, OSC and Project Potluck have joined forces to host this much-needed gathering to support Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (J.E.D.I) values in the industry. It’s happening on the plaza directly before the concert featuring Thievery Corporation.

When: 4-6 p.m. March 10

Where: Arena Plaza

A lifelong Chicagoan, Audarshia Townsend is a veteran food and beverage journalist who serves as the content director for Food & Beverage Insider. She also appears regularly on local Chicago television news programs to discuss food and beverage trends. When Townsend's not on the eats beat, she's an avid yogi and meditation practitioner. 

About the Author(s)

Audarshia Townsend

Content Director, Food & Beverage Insider, Informa Markets

A lifelong Chicagoan, Audarshia Townsend is an award-winning, veteran food and beverage journalist who serves as the content director for the Food & Beverage Insider brand. Her experience as a visionary editor and writer spans 30 years, with an emphasis in print and digital magazines. Audarshia's professional passion is to champion and amplify underserved business communities. Some of her most recent content includes her review of 2023's F&B trends, the future of food science careers, an interview with culinary star Padma Lakshmi, and Pescavore's sustainable ahi tuna jerky strips. She also appears regularly on local and national media outlets to discuss food and beverage trends, most notably FOX-32 Chicago, WGN-TV, WXRT-FM, NPR-Chicago and the Travel Channel. She is often called on to serve as a judge for prestigious food, beverage and restaurant awards, including the James Beard Foundation, NEXTY Awards and Black Women in Food. She continues to write for Chicago magazine, and previously she has written for the likes of the Chicago Tribune, Eater Chicago, Esquire, Essence, Playboy, Time Out Global and World’s Best Bars. To date, Audarshia has guest lectured at the following higher-education institutions: Columbia College Chicago for undergraduate journalism students; Northwestern University for graduate journalism students; and Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) for undergraduate, graduate and PhD food science students. She also mentors aspiring young writers and journalists whenever she can. Email her at [email protected] and also connect with her on LinkedIn.

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