I’m in Baltimore right now at the Natural Products Expo East. Yesterday, I arrived at 8:30 a.m., was treated to breakfast and a mimosa in the pressroom, and then headed to the new products floor. I was a little overwhelmed by the number of booths on the floor, but it wasn’t until I headed down to the main floor that I was able to appreciate the full scope of this expo. It’s huge! I doubt I’ll be able to hit every table I want to by the end of today, but I’ll do my best.


By 2 p.m. yesterday, my taste buds were done. I’d tasted such a variety of products, some really good, some barely edible, and I was having trouble telling the difference between chocolate and kale. Fortunately, I was able to head to the Blogger’s Lounge sponsored by Udi’s, Glutino, and Earth Balance.


I’ve identified a few products that I definitely want to tell you about, but I need to get my thoughts and their information together. You’ll start to hear about them sometime next week. In the meantime, I thought I’d share a few observations with you from my time of the floor yesterday.


  • Superhero kids seem to be the big marketing tool for foods aimed at children. Many of the products that I saw and tasted that are being marketed for children featured cartoon characters of kids in superhero capes and tights. The message – these foods will make you strong like a superhero.
  • Gluten free is huge. I knew there would be a lot of it here, but I had no idea how many products would identify themselves as gluten free. Even if a product, like pure honey, is naturally gluten free, the vendors made sure to mention that product was gluten free.
  • If Oprah or Dr. Oz has ever featured, mentioned or sneezed on a product, it’s front-and-center in all marketing materials.   
  • Chia seeds (pictured above), kale and muesli seem to be pretty big at this year’s expo. Those see
  • There are lots of energy-type bars promising all sorts of miracle health benefits. I stayed away from them yesterday and intend to today.
  • Asking about whether there are GMOs in a product doesn’t always get a clear answer.  I’ve gotten several, “Yes, our product is GMO-free,” but I’ve also gotten, “Well, it’s all natural,” “I don’t know, but I’m sure it is,” and “We source our ingredients naturally.” I’ll take those last three answers as “Nos.”

I know those are some random thoughts strung together, but they’re all things that stood out from yesterday. Wish me luck today as I try to make way through as many booths as I can.


Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Observations from the Natural Products Expo East
How many answers are there to the question, “Is your product GMO-free?” More than you’d think.