Over 9,200 natural and organic industry professionals were out in force over 19-20 April, as ExCeL London was transformed into a vibrant showcase of the very best in natural and organic products at Natural & Organic Products Europe.
Split into the areas of Natural Health & Natural Living, Natural Beauty & Spa and the Natural Food Show, andboasting a fresh new look to accompany its move to ExCeL London for 2015, Europe’s biggest trade show for natural, organic, fair trade, free-from, vegan, vegetarian, and eco-living brands, featured over 600 exhibitors from 40 different countries, with a packed programme of focused seminars and live cooking demonstrations.
Fantastic, impressive, amazing, exceptional, and wonderful – is just some of the feedback received from attendees so far; with many describing the 2015 edition as taking the event to “the next level”.
“The reaction to this year’s show has been overwhelmingly positive,” says event director Carol Dunning from organiser Diversified Communications UK. “Having been at Olympia for 16 years, moving the show to ExCeL was a huge move for us and our industry, and I’m delighted to say that it has worked out to be the right home for our show, and the right place to reflect the growing importance of the natural and organic industry.
“The support from the industry has been tremendous and integral to the success of this year’s event. There was such a fantastic ‘buzz’ across the show floor and the feedback we’ve received so far from many of our exhibitors and visitors is that they loved the new venue, and enjoyed the proximity of all the hotels, cafés, bars and restaurants creating a real campus feel, which is unique to ExCeL.”
A massive foodie, I was instantly drawn to the Natural Food Show section. In addition to nearly 70 Soil Association symbol holders showcasing their latest organic food and drink innovations, there was also set to be a wealth of organic produce bearing certification marks from the Organic Food Federation, Organic Farmers & Growers, EU Organic (Euro Leaf), and USDA Organic, just to name a few. I prepared myself to be immersed in the world of natural food and drink including speciality, Fairtrade, sustainable, vegan, vegetarian, sustainable, raw and organic food and drink products.
Sticking with the edibles, my first find was Rebel Kitchen’s variety of flavoured milks (spelt mylks) – designed as the perfect dairy-free addition to you children’s lunch box (they’re made with coconut milk). I was able to sample and take home three of their flavours – choco mylk, orange choc mylk and banana mylk. My fave flave was the banana mylk, with the orange choc mylk coming a close second. Though that’s not to say that the choco mylk wasn’t a delectably pleasurable experience for my parched taste buds too.
So what’s the natural and organic element of this oh so tasty half pint treat? Well apart from being made with ethically sourced coconut milk, they contain absolutely no additives, no preservatives and as they are lactose-free they can be enjoyed by vegans, vegetarians or those on a dairy-free diet. Plus, the choco element actually comes from cacao – raw, unprocessed chocolate, which delivers a healthy dose of antioxidants and magnesium without the additives and added sugar of chocolate. From my chat with the representatives at the stall (yes, I did actually talk to the stall owners, not just shove freebies into my eco-friendly tote bag), they also have some adult versions of their dairy-free mylk drinks – coffee mylk, matcha green tea milk and chai milk.
Sticking with the drinks theme, next up was new exhibitor Juiceman, a company that produces 100% organic, cold pressed, unpasteurised juices, nut milks, tonics, shots, cleanses and much, much more. By being totally freshly made without any high pressure processing (HPP) or pasteurisation, their juices are as nutritious as they can possibly be. I sampled the cashew nut milk which with it’s rich and creamy taste could easily make it into my weekly diet. Made with 100% organic cashews, which are abundant with essential minerals and vitamins, and combined with potassium and copper rich dates, antioxidant filled vanilla and alkalizing Himalayan salt, this is a super nut milk. According to the vendors, it can be drunk on it’s own or accompany a breakfast meal.
But the best thing about their juices (other than being totally nutritious, organic and delicious) is that they have a great sustainable aspect due to their zero to landfill policy. Everything is reused. One of their super original ideas, is that their fruit and vegetable pulp is used in the production of organic dog treats and horse feeds! Also, their almond and cashew nut paste is reused as flour, and their ginger and lemons are dehydrated after juicing and make great tea infusions.
As well as an impressive range of exhibitors, Natural & Organic Products Europe hosted two full days of seminars (in the Natural Products Talks Theatre) and live cooking demonstrations (in the Natural Food Kitchen). Eco-chef Arthur Potts Dawson, Slow Food UK Ambassador Andrew Jones (executive chef at Chamberlain’s of London), Andrew Kojima (MasterChef 2012 finalist), and organic pioneer Craig Sams were just some of those taking part in the 2015 line-up. There was also two exclusive Soil Association presentations discussing market trends and opportunities, including the organisation’s new campaign which supports independent retailers to further grow the organic market.
Angie is our resident features writer on location in London, specialising in festivals, food and nutrition, and with a keen interest in ethical fashion.