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There are probably only two places where you can find a DJ spinning tunes for a baby food brand, a grown man dressed as the Lorax, and a yogurt container the size of a condo. The first is New York’s hottest nightclub, where I’ve never been, and the second, from which I just returned, is Natural Products Expo West.

NPEW is the leading trade show for natural and specialty foods, organics, supplements, health and beauty, natural living, and pet products. I and some colleagues recently attended NPEW, where we met up with clients, friends (old and new), and even family. We had a fabulous time and are grateful to have attended an event that combines our personal and business interests so beautifully. With more than 60,000 industry members and over 2,000 exhibiting companies filling more than 1 million square feet, the atmosphere was energetic and inspiring.

As a food marketing agency, we love studying food industry trends, and it’s especially gratifying to see the natural/organic products industry experiencing tremendous growth. Among other reasons, that growth is propelled by an ever-increasing awareness among consumers of how food affects our bodies, our environment, and our local communities. No segment of the food industry is as passionate about growing responsibly as the natural products segment, and I’ve always loved being a part of that mission.

Having grown up in a family that owns health food stores, I’m always on the lookout for new and innovative products in this market. One of the products at NPEW that especially interested me is Coconut Water Probiotic Kefir, which you can learn more about here This company is taking a phenomenally nutrient-rich food and using the process of fermentation to create a unique profile. Inner Eco harvests green (less than six months old) coconuts at the peak of their nutritional life and then ferments the coconut water to create a kefir, which is full of probiotic cultures. This is a living food that is a strong ally in the quest for optimal health.

A company that caught my eye was Alter Eco. The statement on their “about” page completely sums up why I dig this company. “We are a team of fair trade visionaries and food-loving explorers on a mission to connect you to our farmers and their honest foods. When you taste the sweet justice of our mission you will understand our persistence, and our invitation to join us in finding your Alter Eco.“ Their mission and overall business transparency is inspirational. Not to mention that their products have wonderful flavor. For what it’s worth, I recommend the Dark Chocolate Quinoa Bar.

Between the inspiring companies, great new products, and fabulous people, it was hard to say goodbye. But I’m glad to be back at my space at MarketPlace, where I can use the momentum and energy from Natural Products Expo West to inspire my work, though I can’t promise that baby food DJ’s will show up in my design.

Crystal Buckey is part of the fabric of MarketPlace, her drive and intuition and dedication not only elevating our partners’ brands but also, and more importantly, inspiring our team members to reach beyond, believe more deeply, and create with joy.