Countdown to Natural Products Expo East

The Ketchum Cultivate team looks forward to our own version of back-to-school in September. It’s about this time every year we pack our bags – including an extra one to stash the loads of new products we’ll collect – and head to Baltimore for Natural Products Expo East (NPEE). For a few days, the Baltimore Convention Center is transformed into a hotbed of networking for brands, buyers, entrepreneurs, and industry experts in the natural, organic and purpose-driven space. We’ll be on the floor, with clients, in workshops and at events noting innovations and trends in food & beverage, personal care & home and supplements & ingredients.

natural products expo east ketchum cultivate

Show producers tout that the 2019 NPEE will be the “best event to date,” promising more products, education and ways to connect. The hype is real – NPEE always delivers an embarrassment of riches for anyone passionate about natural, organic and purpose-driven brands. More than 27,000 attendees and 1,500 brands were at NPEE last year so making the most of the show requires focus. Here are a few topics capturing our attention…

Plant-Based Meat Takes Center Plate:
Increasing consumer demand and ingredient breakthroughs are contributing to exponential growth in the plant-based proteins market. In 2018, the plant-based food sector grew 20 percent and is expected to reach $6.43 billion by 2023, signaling a major transformation underway in meat consumption. No longer niche, plant-based proteins are for any consumer craving meat alternatives as part of a healthier, more planet-friendly lifestyle. The Ketchum Cultivate team has been following the evolving plant-based protein market for years and will be at NPEE sampling the newest products and getting expert intel on the booming meatless market.

Evolution of the Hemp Revolution:
Hemp-derived CBD is in everything from bath salts to chocolate bars to pet treats and there will be no shortage of inventive hemp CBD products at the NPEE Hemp Pavilion. The Farm Bill lifted restrictions on hemp, taking it off the list of controlled substances and legalizing crop cultivation. With the green light to make and sell hemp CBD products, the collective market for CBD is expected to exceed $20 billion in the U.S. by 2024. It’s no surprise to see an all-day Natural Products Hemp & CBD Summit on the schedule of events given its potential as an economic and agricultural driver. Hemp CBD is no longer a gangapreneur gig, it’s mainstream business. We’re looking forward to NPEE’s take on what’s next in the evolution of the hemp revolution.

Blueprint for a Healthier Planet:
July was officially the hottest year on record for the planet and there is a call to arms among the natural & organic industry to combat climate change. According to a United Nations report, the food system accounts for 37 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions. It also offers a hopeful solution. From re-evaluating land-use and agriculture and practicing climate-beneficial farming to developing innovative packaging materials and reducing food waste, there is a collective energy – and urgency – to decelerate the speed of our heating planet. NPEE brings a confluence of sustainability thought-leaders and companies fiercely dedicated to course-correcting with actionable solutions.

The Ketchum Cultivate team has decades of experience in food industry communications but we’re always hungry to learn more. We can’t wait to be on the front lines at NPEE where we’ll be trends-tracking and taste-testing. Stay tuned for a full report on what inspired us, what stopped us in our tracks and what we’ll be looking for on store shelves.