This past Wednesday, I went to a trade show in Chicago hosted by UNFI (United Natural Foods, Inc) at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Center.
If you don’t know, a trade show/expo is an: “exhibition organized so that companies in a specific industry can showcase/demonstrate their latest products/services…In contrast to consumer fairs, only some trade fairs are open to the public, while others can only be attended by company representatives and members of the press” (wiki). In other words, it’s basically a big Costco where you can sample every product and decide if you want to buy it or skip it (as a retailer).
It was my first trade show, and it was absolutely incredible! As soon as you walk in, you see grocery shelves displaying all different products of the participating exhibitors (look but can’t touch!) in the midst of hundreds of tabletops making up at least 20 aisles:
I saw some incredible companies there and was wondering if you guys were familiar with any of these brands….
Annie Chun’s, All Natural Asian Cuisine. Americans love seaweed snacks! I only saw Koreans taking the Go-Chu-Jang samples though…
Vita Coco, Coconut Water. Personally, I’m not a fan of coconut water, but everyone who loves coconut seem to love this line!
Skinny Pop, Popcorn. See how there’s a display, but also a “here-take-a-sample!” all in one table?
I’m really excited to share some awesome products/brands with you though that you guys should try out. I ended up pre-ordering a few boxes with my buying card (further explained below):
Nature’s All, Freeze-Dried Fruits. Check List: Raw, Vegan, GMO-Free, Gluten-Free, Kosher, No Sugar Added, Peanut-Free/Dairy-Free, No Preservatives. Umm, what more can you ask for? Taste. Oh, it has that, too. I talked to the representative and he told me the Strawberry is their top seller, followed by Banana, Mango, and then Pineapple. Here’s an exciting secret though, it’s coming out with 4 new flavors soon— including Apple! I can’t wait!
Angie’s, Kettle Corn. You know that popcorn bag that comes in the dark grey packaging? Please tell me you’ve seen them around…They taste so good, they’re addicting! They’re: All Natural, Gluten-Free, Kosher, GMO-Free, Cholesterol & Trans Fat-Free, Dairy-Free, and MSG-Free. What’s even better is that they have new flavors mixed with peppermint (AHHHHHHH!) and one called Boom Chicka Pop (which is unsweetened and so, so light and amazing). It’s a guilt-free snack, for sure.
What’s amazing about this trade show compared to previous years, is that each table had a touchscreen, so members with a “buying card” can just swipe in and order specific products they want from a company at wholesale price with the special trade show discount. Obviously, I did not order any for myself (because you can’t), but for Nice N Natural, a health food store on Long Island, NY!
In the last 15 minutes of the trade show (which is like, 7 hours long), everyone is allowed to grab as many samples as they want. This is when it suddenly becomes Black Friday for retailers/buyers and we are allowed to take things off the grocery shelf displays! All the remaining foods are later dropped off at a food shelter, which is so awesome!
I wish I could share all the companies that were there and that I loved, but then this blog post would become a novel and you would get butt cramps while sitting on your chair. Thus, look for product reviews coming soon— I’m ESPECIALLY excited to do a review on Stash Tea!