Supplier Events Dominate Spring Season

May and June were busy for companies attending industry suppliers-focused conventions. With a fresh new name and venue, more than 3,500 health and nutrition professionals attended Virgo’s three-day SupplySide MarketPlace convention in New York City, held May 8–10.

“Our move to Javits and introduction of SupplySide MarketPlace proved to be a big step for the industry and for the SupplySide brand in connecting the buyers and sellers of ingredients for the food, beverage, cosmetic and supplement markets,” said John Siefert, Virgo’s CEO, in a press statement.

The event featured a regulatory update from Daniel Fabricant, Ph.D., head of FDA’s dietary supplement division as well as sessions covering everything from emerging markets to fraud protection to claims/compliance. Of note, Virgo introduced its SupplySide Compliance program, allowing anyone to anonymously report a compliance issue through a mobile app. Also new was the SupplySide Global Experience, an interactive zone where visitors engaged with new media innovations including a Food Product Design and INSIDER Ingredient Buying Center.

Vitafoods Europe was held in Geneva, Switzerland, May 14–16, with over 600 exhibitors and 11,594 international visitors in attendance (12% more than in 2011). The conference used interactive ways for visitors to learn more about their industries. For example, Mintel’s Products offered an Ingredients and Consumer Insight Pavilion. There, daily presentations and tasting sessions were held of real market examples. VitaFoods also held a discussion forum hosted by EAS Director, Guy Valkenbord. Valkenbord introduced his ideas on “Opportunities for Innovation Beyond Claims,” and “the key regulatory aspects that will impact the sector’s capacity within the next five years.”

Seminars were offered about digestive health, functional foods, immunity, bone/joint health, food allergies and more, while new ingredients and product ideas were shown on the show floor.

Last was the IFT Annual Tradeshow and Convention held in Las Vegas in late June. The keynote speaker this year was Howard Schultz, president, CEO and chairman of Starbucks and Fortune Magazine’s 2011 Businessperson of the Year. He discussed his active role in job creation to help spur the economy (with Starbucks’ collaborations with Opportunity Finance Network and the Create Jobs for the USA Initiative) and scientific innovations in creating thriving companies.

In addition, IFT hosted multiple educational events, opportunities for students and newcomers to the industry and a video competition on “geeks” in the industry.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, July 2012