Every Tuesday at 8pm EST, we host an organic-related conversation on Clubhouse (be sure to follow @organicinsider and @gregfleishman).
In last night’s room, New Hope’s Carlotta Mast and Elliot Howell took questions and gave us some information about this year’s Expo West Virtual Week and Expo East in Philadelphia.
Below are the highlights from the discussion.
EXPO WEST VIRTUAL WEEK, MAY 24-27
Expo West Virtual Week will be focused on product discovery and fostering connection between the exhibiting brands, retail buyers and the press and influencers. One-on-one networking, community breakout rooms, online concierge services and other digital tools will be available to support audience engagement and deepen community relationships.
The content for Expo West will include sessions related to Climate (in collaboration with the Climate Collaborative), Justice and Equality (J.E.D.I. Collaborative), Organic, and the annual State of Natural & Organic presentation.
There will be a comprehensive sampling program for brands to reach retail buyers and influencers. This sampling program will allow brands to send out samples to interested parties throughout the year, not just during the few days of the virtual Expo West.
To support product discovery, New Hope is working with SPINS to enable buyers and others to easily find new brands and products based on a range of filters and criteria, such as organic certification or BIPOC-owned.
Expo West Virtual Week will take place on New Hope’s Natural Products Expo Virtual platform, which is also the digital platform for New Hope’s Spark Change events, which are scheduled for March, July and November this year. This platform will give brands tremendous visibility into who is attending the virtual show and will allow them to search for and connect with buyers, investors, press and others in the community.
EXPO EAST IN PHILADELPHIA, SEPTEMBER 22-25
Although no one knows what the future holds with the pandemic, New Hope expressed “growing optimism about Philadelphia” and has “seen a tremendous response” from exhibitors after making the official announcement on February 11th that an in-person Expo East show will be held. New Hope has committed to communicate any potential changes within 90 days of the show.
Unlike Baltimore, there will be much more contiguous space in the convention center in Philadelphia, and New Hope has blocked out 40% more floor space than it had at Expo East 2019.
Not surprisingly, there were many questions about the safety protocols and sampling rules at Expo East. New Hope is working through these issues and does not have firm answers at this point. However, the Expo East enhanced health and safety protocols will be based off of the Informa AllSecure program, which provides enhanced guidelines and standards for cleaning, hand sanitation stations, physical distancing, widening show floor aisles, food and beverage sampling, the use of and access to masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE), and more.
There will be a Harvest Festival, similar to what took place each year in Baltimore.
SPARK BRAND SUCCESS
New Hope will roll out its first Spark Change event for 2021 called Spark Brand Success on March 2-4. This virtual event will be focused on providing natural and organic brands with the education and connections to industry service providers they need to be successful in 2021 and beyond.
During the content segment of the virtual Expo West, one priority will be to discuss how to bring more justice, equity, diversity and inclusion to the industry and do more to support BIPOC entrepreneurs and professionals. The main organization spearheading this campaign is the J.E.D.I. Collaborative.
Carlotta gave an update on J.E.D.I.’s benchmarking study, which found that the industry has a lot of work to do to diversify its leadership ranks. Case in point, the benchmarking survey found that Black professionals make up only 2% of company leadership and 2% of board leadership within the natural and organic industry.
The organization is currently focused on fundraising and finding a new Executive Director, both of which will help it execute its strategic plan.
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