New Hope To Shut Down Expo East After Almost 40 Years; Launches ‘Newtopia Now’ To Focus On Buyer-Brand Interactions

Food & Drink

Natural Products Expo East is ridding off into the sunset after trading across the U.S. East Coast for nearly four decades. Organizer New Hope Network is now pioneering a new annual event called “Newtopia Now” to help emerging CPG brands maximize their exposure to retail buyers and investors.

The last Expo East will occur this year between September 20-23 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

Since the beginning, Expo East has taken place across major metropolitan regions, from Boston, Washington, D.C., to most recently, Baltimore before relocating to Philadelphia. It has historically been smaller than its sister show Expo West in Anaheim, California — roughly one-third of the latter’s size in terms of footprint and the number of attendees. For most long-time exhibitors, Expo East also feels much easier to navigate, helping foster more productive meetings.

Maya French, who cofounded KOIA and recently started a forward-thinking venture studio M.A.D. Projects, has been attending Expo East since 2015. She explained how the event has attracted many key retailers and distributors from the East coast and Midwest searching for new products. “We’ve closed some of our largest accounts there in the past. It’s also a great time for founders looking to raise money leading into Q3,” said French. “Overall, the show serves as a mid-year checkin to connect with other members of the natural foods industry.”

Saddened by Expo East’s closure, Jake Deleon, the founder of Washington D.C.-based Filipino-American food brand Fila Manila, also shared his concern regarding the future for local retailers. “I know it’s a smaller show compared to [Expo] West, but as an East Coast-based based company, it’s convenient and less expensive to exhibit,” said Deleon. “There was also a decent delegation of East Coast-based retailers who would otherwise not go to West because of distance and cost.”

Better Serve Retail Buyers

Although the shutdown of Expo East might be a blow to some regional brands that now need to travel farther to showcase and network, New Hope believes the new show was created with their best interests in mind.

The decision came after years of discussion on how to better serve New Hope’s clients especially on the retail side, while best taking advantage of the venue, according to Carlotta Mast, SVP and Market Leader of New Hope.

“We’ve been in a deep listening mode with our brands, buyers and the broader community, trying to better understand their needs,” said Mast. Buyers, for example, are heavily focused on two things — “an easier way to learn about the newest product, and services that support their businesses.” She added: “The convention center in Philadelphia is also a very large venue, and we were making a much smaller footprint within it.”

Mast mentioned how Newtopia Now will be held in increasingly popular consumer hubs across the country, such as Charlotte, North Carolina; Austin, Texas; Nashville, Tennessee; and Denver, Colorado, and will change its location every year.

Immersive Experience Versus Venue Size

Kicking off at the Savannah Convention Center in Georgia during August 6-8, 2024, the event will feature customized matchmaking sessions, a curated product discovery aisle, and networking opportunities under four different themed neighborhoods:

“Thrive” that showcases the future of nutrition; “Represent,” which helps create a more multicultural and diverse industry; “Regenerate” that highlights brands practicing sustainable agricultural methods; as well as “Glow,” which garners a group of beauty and non-food items promoting natural health and wellness. Each neighborhood is designed to spark “experiential and memorable” moments for attendees, Mast said recently during an exclusive interview.

Unlike traditional expos where success is measured upon net square footage of the venue, Newtopia Now focuses less on the booth size — the largest display will be 10’x20’, while offering a grocery store-style setting where buyers can taste and scan the products for details before they head to the main floor for one-on-one conversations.

“We’re building a new immersive product showcase,” said Mast. “So it’s really not about having bigger and bigger booths, but creating a different presence and a more intuitive experience.” New Hope may also extend its priority points system to existing exhibitors, and will offer new sponsorship packages and discounts to first- and second-time customers.

Elliot Howell, New Hope’s VP of Sales also commented: “While every brand’s participation will be anchored in an activation selected by the brand, they will also be able to sample their products and interact with retailers in a 2’x6’, 5’x10’, 10’x10’, or 10’x20’ booth space [during] two days of the event.” All neighborhoods, where these booths are set up, will feature experiential activations, education sessions, and networking events.

“As it relates to pricing,” Howell added, “we wanted to offer a range of opportunities and price points to ensure that the show is accessible and affordable for early-stage manufacturers. We will have participation options starting for as little as $1,500.”

The Boulder, Colorado-based organization notes how the phase-out of Expo East will not impact its current staff. “We have a team pivoting to work on this event that requires a lot of the same rules, and we’re adding new roles to support our business,” said Mast.

“We’re expecting a sizable launch for Newtopia Now in 2024,” she added, “something that we can learn from each year, build upon, so that it will be a long-time addition to our business.”

Articles You May Like

The perfect weekend in Bologna, Italy’s underrated foodie capital
The World’s Best Bourbon—According To The 2024 World Whiskies Awards
American Airlines raises bag fees, won’t allow some travel agency bookings to earn miles
Here Are The New Heart Healthy Food Trends
Pilots got their payday. Now flights attendants are pushing airlines for higher wages

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *