Carol Dunning, Event Director of Natural & Organic Products Europe, here discusses the new Vegan World zone of the upcoming event in London this April, telling us what will be in store for visitors, how to sign up, and her views on developments in the industry as a whole.
What is the concept behind Natural & Organic Products Europe and the Vegan World Area?
We started the show for independent health stores in Brighton 26 years ago, which is why we cover the entire industry, including natural, organic, free-from and ethical food, health, eco Living and beauty. Our visitors have grown substantially in the retail sector since then. Now distributors, wholesalers and senior buyers from across the country come in their thousands, driven by an increase in consumer demand for conscious products.
Our show has always been driven by the concept that ‘nature has the answer’ to restoring/strengthening our health and our planet. If we continue to push forward as an industry, perhaps ethical and sustainable products will become the norm, rather than the ‘niche’, making sustainability a core business practice.
“Our show has always been driven by the concept that ‘nature has the answer’ to restoring/strengthening our health and our planet”
We have always championed plant-based whole foods across the show, and over the years the popularity of vegan products has increased rapidly. The Vegan Society is a long-standing show partner so we rebranded the Vegan Society Pavilion to a much larger ‘Vegan World’ area. This allows all-vegan brands to exhibit together, putting them in front of buyers seeking out the very latest vegan products. We have the biggest Vegan World area to date, so we can confidently say we are Europe’s leading plant-based trade show and therefore worth a visit!
What can visitors expect to see in Vegan World?
Visitors can expect to see the biggest range of vegan food and drink products the world has to offer – from plant-based burgers to vegan cheeses, innovative meat-free alternatives and dairy-free desserts. With both start-ups and established brands offering everything from packed products to foodservice ingredients, the exhibitor list will suit a range of business needs.
“plant-based food and drink is no longer seen as an alternative, but as a significant part of retail and food service”
However, the show’s ‘free-from’ and ethical offering isn’t limited to the Vegan World area. Across the show, we have products to suit the vegan consumers’ lifestyle – including natural and organic health, homeware, personal care and beauty products. This year we expect to see more innovation than ever before because plant-based food and drink is no longer seen as an alternative but as a significant part of retail and food service.
What suppliers and brands will be there and from what countries?
We’re very excited to have thousands of vegan brands and exciting start-ups on the show floor – from the UK, USA, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, Turkey and more.
After two years with no events, we’re eager to see the latest product launches from companies including The Vurger Co, The Booja Booja Co, One Planet Pizza, Follow Your Heart, London Nootropics, Creative Nature, Smart Organic AD, Just Wholefoods, Raw Press, Sauceman, Happy Cheeze Gmbh, De Smaakspecialist, Better Nature, Vivo Life, Plant Alternative, Quinola, Just Real Food and many, many more.
What is the focus of the upcoming event?
This year we have a focus on the importance of reuniting the sector once again. If anything, the pandemic has taught us that nothing compares to meeting friends, clients and colleagues face to face, and for many, the show is THE place to do this. We have also worked hard to create a seminar programme that will focus on current trends, challenges and ways to recover and adapt after the pandemic.
“Tackling the climate crisis is imperative, which is why there’s never been a better time to be part of this wonderful industry”
As well as this, Natural & Organic Products Europe has always been a ‘campaign’ in itself – championing brands and processes that help to protect people and the planet. Tackling the climate crisis is imperative, which is why there’s never been a better time to be part of this wonderful industry, and at the forefront of this movement.
How have you seen the plant-based market develop since you began working in the industry?
The wholefood brands who have always been at the show understood the importance of natural, organic, clean and ethical food and health products before it even became a trend. Now, I’ve seen the meteoric rise of convenience plant-based food products, innovating every day to encourage more flexitarians to make the change, as well as providing more variety to plates. I’ve also seen the importance of vegan formulations in beauty, driven by the conscious consumer, reach mainstream beauty.
It’s wonderful to see the impressive growth of this industry over the years, which isn’t slowing down anytime soon.
Is there still space available in Vegan World for exhibitors?
The space is filling fast, but we can always try and accommodate anyone who wants to join us, so please do get in touch!
Natural & Organic Products Europe will return to ExCeL London on Sunday 3 and Monday 4 of April 2022. To register for a free trade ticket, click here.