Show season is in full swing, and just last week the Healthy Natural Show landed in Chicago. While many may think of the Second City as a haven of classic steakhouses where red meat rules, Chicago is right in the thick of the movement toward healthier, local eating and drinking. And the Healthy Natural show helped emphasize that not only for Chicago but for the Midwest as a whole.

A smaller show located right on Lake Michigan at the city’s Navy Pier, Healthy Natural fostered an environment of easy and productive conversations with exhibitors, and allowed attendees to walk the aisles and really investigate what was on offer. And these exhibitors really showcased some truly innovative products.

Aluminum bottled wVendors at the Healthy & Natural Showater, the packaging of which is recycled twice as often as plastic, was a popular product, as were cannabis oils—minus the active THC—to promote the health benefits of the product. Some exhibitors displayed unique meat alternatives, while others offered fermented plant and protein powders that touted easy digestion as compared to other powdered supplements.

Besides the exhibit floor, the Healthy Natural Show also featured a variety of interesting speakers that covered the hot topics in the industry, such as innovation, private label growth, how to incorporate healthy and natural into conventional retail marketplaces, the current state of the healthy and natural arena, and more. There were talks on how to navigate the terminology misconceptions in the natural/specialty space and how probiotics should be treated, handled and consumed. These education sessions were well attended, no doubt because natural and specialty is such a growing, innovative area of CPG, and maneuvering through the space can sometimes be a challenge.

But though it may be a challenge, healthy and natural—both as a section of CPG and as a show—will continue to grow. Many of this year’s exhibitors have made multi-year commitments for booths for upcoming shows, and given the waiting list to get a booth at Natural Expo East and West, this is a smart choice for exhibitors to put themselves right in the middle—of the country and of the natural and healthy industry.

Bryan Robinson
Bryan Robinson is a former CPG broker with several years of experience in the industry. He has worked in some of the most competitive markets around the country such as the Northeast, Southwest and Northwest over his career. Bryan has a personal passion for discovering and consuming innovative products that complements his professional CPG sales career.

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