Education & Opportunity: Highlights from Expo West

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$16 Billion—that’s how much the CBD market is expected to rake in by 2025, according to a Forbes report on a survey by investment bank Cowen & Co. With numbers like that, it’s no wonder pretty much everyone was clamoring to gain a better understanding of the CBD landscape at Expo West. And that’s a lot of people—the 39th annual Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, CA, was attended by 86,000 industry members (another record-setting year) and it’s fair to say the most buzzed-about topic was hemp and CBD. What to call it, which forms to put into products, how to label it, what to say about it (and what not to say) to customers…all this and much (much) more was discussed over the 5 days of Expo.

Not everyone got a chance to hear the discussions, though. Interest was so high that even the larger ballrooms at the Marriot in Anaheim couldn’t contain the crowds who came to hear panelists speak. There were overflow rooms for Tuesday’s Natural Products Hemp & CBD Summit, and for many of the other events and educational sessions, the rooms were filled to capacity—and then some. In sessions like The Hemp CBD Metamorphosis: From Fear to Fever with CV Sciences VP of human nutrition Stuart Tomc, every seat was filled, with more people lining up along the walls, cramming into corners and even sitting on the floor as still others formed a line outside, waiting for one person to leave so another could enter.

Another problem—though this is one of those happy problems, like having to decide between a creamy-good coconut-based ice cream or a nutrient-rich snack cake (I admit it…I ate both and sampled plenty more treats!)—is that there were so many terrific educational events to attend. Regenerative Organic Alliance: Global Certification Pilot Updates happening at the same time as the Organic Trade Association’s GRO Organic Fishbowl Discussion and Barlean’s panel discussion Selling CBD: Legal & Practical Advice for Retailers? How to choose! Luckily, assistant editor Julia Peterman was there to split the sessions with me, so WholeFoods has it covered. We will be working hard to deliver must-know info on these pages, with more on WholeFoodsMagazine.com and in our four weekly In the Know newsletters.

For starters, check out our Expo coverage on page 8, where we look at top trends and takeaways from the show floor of Expo. We’ll also be talking to the experts in product formulation, legality, merchandising and more for an in-depth CBD feature in our June issue and in upcoming Q&As. What do you want to know? Send your questions to maggiejaqua@wfcinc.com—I’m here to help you get the clarity you need to be part of that $16 billion category.

And while CBD dominated this page in the magazine just as it did the Expo buzz, it wasn’t all about CBD. Of the 3,600 exhibiting companies (600 of which were first timers), 120 classified themselves as having CBD ingredients on the official Expo website; 117 listed all forms of hemp (there is crossover there). To put it in perspective, 1,258 listed antioxidants, 848 listed coconut and 665 listed ancient grains. So while CBD may be capturing the nation’s attention and bringing new customers to natural products stores, take this advice from Jeffrey Burke N.D., M.H., global sales and education manager, Barlean’s: “When new people come in for CBD, ask about other nutritional needs they may have. There’s an opportunity here to help with better nutrition.”

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