This year’s events and exhibitions schedule is already well underway, and it was with excitement I boarded the Elizabeth Line to Custom House for ExCeL, to visit the 27th National & Organic Products Europe exhibition (NOPEX, April 16/17).

The ease with which we can now travel to ExCeL was a topic of conversation for exhibitors and visitors alike, as was the partnership between NOPEX and Carma whereby a tree will be planted for every attendee. This meant that attendance at the show not only benefitted business, but also went some way towards helping the planet by offsetting CO2 emissions as part of a climate-positive project.

If you haven’t already, check out jellybean’s Ecologi forest to see the projects we’ve invested in as we continue our own journey to becoming carbon neutral.

Back to NOPEX… Also grabbing attention at the show was the new Independent Day initiative on Sunday 16th, which champions and supports independent retailers with a series of tailored sessions, special offers and networking opportunities, and the Launchpad Zone, showcasing start-ups and SMEs.

The exhibition is traditionally split into four: the natural food show; natural beauty & spa; eco living, and natural health. As I was representing jellybean (the leading food and drink agency) and food and drink forms the main part of my FMCG journalism and communications background, I headed over to see what was new in natural food. I sampled tempeh, which was cooked with sesame seeds and a delicious spicy sauce, before tasting the most “cheese-like” vegan cheese I’ve come across. Big ticks in the box for this flexitarian.

Other food and drink highlights included a new sparkling water with up to seven vitamins and minerals, zero sugar and zero calories; award-winning organic, vegan, dairy-free, gluten- and soya-free ice creams and chocolate truffles; gluten-free, keto and vegan-friendly seeded bite-size crackers, as well as numerous high quality organic teas and supplements designed to support better health.

There was a lot of buzz around the two Innovation Awards Showcases – the Food & Health Innovation Showcase and the Beauty Innovation Showcase – where the best-of-the-best products were on display. Everybody could vote for their favourites across 18 categories – from functional foods, vegan alternatives, health boosting supplements, sustainable skincare, and more – by 3pm on Sunday 16th, for the panel of industry judges to review ahead of the awards ceremony at 3pm on Monday 17th. A special mention goes to our fantastic client The Cheeky Panda, who was a finalist in the Best New Eco Living Product category with its new Natural Colour Sustainable Bamboo Toilet Tissue.

There were also opportunities to learn from the seminar programme, with topics such as ‘What Does the Public Really Think of Indie Health Food Stores?’, to ‘10 Trends To Watch in 2023’, to ‘The Organic Market 50 Years On: Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going’.

All in all, it was a stimulating day for all the senses, and it felt great to be “home” at ExCeL again.