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Looking back on 20 years of Natural & Organic Products Europe

Blog post   •   Apr 15, 2016 10:41 BST

In 2016 Natural & Organic Products Europe is celebrating its milestone 20th anniversary. From its humble beginnings at the seaside in Brighton to its current waterside ExCeL location in Docklands, London, the event has always reflected the numerous changes in an industry, which continues to go from strength to strength.

Commenting on the show, Carsten Holm, MD of Diversified Communications UK, says: “I feel very lucky to be part of Natural & Organic Products Europe for what will be my 11th year, during which time the sector has grown, matured, changed, and had its ups and downs. Yet every year, it gets more relevant and more important.

“What makes our industry so special is the shared passion of a bunch of truly amazing people driven by a common goal to make a real difference to our planet and the people who live on it. We’re not just ‘an industry’ but a group of people who genuinely care about the products we sell and the difference they make to people and the environment.”

To mark the anniversary, we’ve asked some familiar industry figures to share their memories of the first show and how the industry has developed.

Robin Bines, founder of Natural & Organic Products Europe:
“The Natural Products show was conceived after visiting the Natural Products Expos in the US and seeing what a positive impact they had on the industry there. I remember watching at registration on the first morning, seeing excited visitors streaming in from a sunny Brighton seafront, and being hugged and kissed by many of the exhibitors at the end, extremely happy to have a trade show that reflected the real soul of the industry and was a great success for them in commercial, educational and social terms. And so Natural Products was born. Its slogan – “the show that really means business” – had delivered on its promise.

“As I wander round Natural & Organic Products Europe each year, I reflect on its beginnings and feel it has achieved all its objectives and more. The industry has matured massively since the first show and become highly professional and organised, as indeed has the show. As an industry, we have spread the message about healthy eating, nutrition, organics, natural living, ethics and so much more, out to the mainstream. There’s much more to do, but we can all be proud of what’s been achieved.”

Sara Novakovic, owner, Oliver’s Wholefoods:
“The industry was so small then, as was the show; you knew practically everyone – and those you didn’t, you got to know pretty fast at the show. There are so many more products available now and so many more categories – raw, paleo, organic meat, which was a big no-no as the show was vegetarian.

“The show still has the same excitement and buzz as in the early days and is still the place to meet everyone in the industry in just two days. It’s still ahead of the curve and still huge fun. I have made great friends in this industry in the last 20 years. It’s a fabulous industry to work in and Natural & Organic Products Europe is one of the early pioneers.”

Erica Murray, owner, The Hopsack:
“I have patchy but clear memories of that first show – the excitement of a show that was so meaningful for health store owners! Natural Products was like a breath of fresh air. Artisan producers, small ethical companies and lots of like minds with whom to share thoughts and ideas. The first show was like coming
home for me, and the excitement among visitors was palpable.”

Cheryl Thallon, MD & founder, Viridian Nutrition:
“We have chosen to exhibit at every event since the very beginning. It’s an international showcase, a new product launch pad, a chance to win influential awards, a really fun party and an opportunity to thank and hug our customers. Superbly organised, and a genuine revenue-generator, it is a must-do event in the calendar, and something our entire team looks forward to.

“One of my favourite times is wandering around the hushed show floor before the show opens to customers – it’s a great pleasure seeing the startups, the innovative stand designs, exciting marketing ideas and just the sheer number of inspiring companies that make up our industry – it makes you very proud to be part of it.”

Martin Rome, MD of Community Foods:
“Community Foods has exhibited at Natural & Organic Products Europe every year since its inception. Each year, the show enables us to talk to both potential customers and old friends. This is invaluable for us, especially as Community has such a varied portfolio. The show remains the key event in our calendar, and I wish you all the best for many years to come.”

Roz Crompton, sales & marketing manager, Helios Homeopathy:
“I have very fond memories of the first Natural & Organic Products Europe show as it was here that we broke into the retail sector by launching our range of OTC homeopathic remedies. Indeed we won best new product with our Homeopathic Kit for Home & Family. Although well established as a homeopathic pharmacy, we were brand new to the retail sector and the show was innovative and way ahead of the game from anything else we had seen or thought about attending – it really did put
Helios on the retail map.

“Natural & Organic Products Europe gives the opportunity for retailers to experience the very best that the natural products industry has to offer, from existing products to new and innovative ones. There is
something there for everyone, whether you are a large multinational or a small sole trader. Indeed, since we expanded our own pharmacy shop we have attended in the capacity of buyer, as well as exhibitor and greatly increased our trade with some of the fantastic products found at the show.”

OF+ Consulting’s Simon Wright:
“Going natural, avoiding wheat, reducing pesticide intakes, cutting back on sugar, a fair deal for producers, plant -based foods, avoiding hydrogenated fats, sourcing locally, avoiding food miles, reducing food waste – 20 years ago these were radical concepts. Now they’re mainstream.”

To join the 20th anniversary celebrations at Natural & Organic Products Europe, register for a free trade pass at

Free advance registration closes at 6pm tomorrow (Saturday 16 April), after which a £20 door charge will apply.

This article first appeared in Natural Products News April 2016 edition.

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