Organic Trade Fairs Crucial to Sector Growth

By Adriana Michael – as printed in O.W.N. Spring 2004

Trade fairs have been an important aspect in the development of every industry since the Middle Ages and the organic sector is no exception. Exhibitors meet clients and prospective buyers, visitors learn about new technologies, companies test their latest products and trademarks gain visibility. All of these are necessary elements in the process of selling that, in essence, is a communication process where success is achieved if one has the ability to reach the target market with the right message.

The food scandals, ecological disasters and the growing awareness of the inability of the established medical and social body to control “civilization diseases”, along with wider access to information thanks to the Internet, have contributed to the sudden interest and growth of the organic sector and alternative or complementary medicine. Trade shows offer the best forum for contact, communication and knowledge transfer provided that they come from reliable exhibitors offering carefully tested goods and services certified by approved entities. International fairs save time, money and additional resources. They create a unique opportunity for face- to- face encounters and to learn what others are doing in other parts of the world.

The organic sector needs to keep expanding to gain more mainstream consumers – an excellent strategy to increase communication is to attract conventional retailers to visit organic professional and specialized trade shows. Their impact on the direct consumer will have a multiplying effect, therefore benefiting society and those in the business. After all, for 2,500 years conventional trade has used fairs and trade centers to learn about the new offerings of companies and to place their large orders. Along with economic growth, specialized trade fairs have stimulated the development of science and industry.

The serious work and research done over the last decades by numerous non-profit and respected organizations like International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), the Soil Association, VidaSana, Organic Trade Association, Demeter, regional and international associations and individual small- and medium-sized enterprises, all sharing the common objective of finding alternative ways of sustainable production that is less stressful to the environment, represents today a solid base for the organic sector. Europe and North America have established a good number of professional trade fairs and international conferences to support the healthy growth of this dynamic movement. Lets have a look at some of the top events that both newcomers and connoisseurs should consider either as visitors or exhibitors, to keep-up an active communication process within the sector and to spread the word with the most updated information of what organic is truly all about.

BioFach : World Forum for the Organic Trade Expects over 30,000 Visitors

Nuernberg: The most international organic trade fair. A must see for any entrepreneur expecting to be at the edge of market trends. BioFach is the largest event with closed to 2,000 exhibitors and expects over 30,000 attendees in 2004. Sponsored by IFOAM, BioFach has very strict admission criteria, which ensures visitors access to the very best the organic sector has to offer in each sector: Fresh & processed food, natural cosmetics and remedies, household supplies, toys, gifts, accessories, arts & crafts, textiles and specialized books and industry periodicals. The fair presents special awards and a wide range of seminars, conferences and workshops offered by top industry professionals. The Netherlands will be Country of the Year. BioFach is organized by Messe Nuernberg, one of the oldest trade show organizers in the world. More information under Susbscribe to the electronic newsletter available every two weeks in English, German or Spanish.

Biocultura: Fair of the Alternative and Responsible Consumption

Barcelona: Spain’s leading organic trade fair for almost 20 years with two annual editions, one in Barcelona the other in Madrid and 500 exhibitors attracts 75,000 visitors. Most exhibitors at Biocultura belong to the food sector, followed by health and personal care, eco-tourism, crafts, music, periodicals and books. The show is opened for both trade and general public as a platform to provide further information about the organic sector and the ecology to the mainstream. Only organically certified food products are allowed at the show and strict rules also apply for other product lines. Organized by VidaSana, an independent association established in 1974 as pioneer of the organic movement in Spain. More under

BioFach America

Boston: If you miss BioFach in Nuernberg, you cannot miss BioFach America to meet buyers and suppliers from around the world. The show has made an agreement to run simultaneously as the international pavilion at Natural Products Expo East. For more information, contact Frank Venjacob 49(0)-911-86068697 e-mail:

BioFach America Latina

Rio de Janeiro: After the overwhelming success last year, BioFach America Latina will become the meeting point for all key players of the organic sector from Latin America and their counterparts in North America and Europe. The event is scheduled in September. For more information contact Frank Venjacob 49(0)-911-86068697 e-mail:

Natural Products Expo West

Annaheim California: Presented by New Hope Natural Media, a division of Penton Media, Natural Products Expo West is an interesting show that attracts over 30,000 visitors and 2,400 exhibitors from 75 countries in an area of 220,000 square feet. 

Natural Products Expo East

Washington, D.C.: A professional event that displays the offerings of 1,700 exhibitors, Natural Products Expo East takes place in September in Washington D.C. 

SANA, Fair of Quality with 1600 Exhibitors

Bologna: Fiere Comunicazioni will celebrate in 2004 the 16th edition of this important show that stimulates exhibitors, buyers and visitors with the slogan “all products should be environmentally-friendly”. Open the first day to the trade only, SANA also opens its doors to the general public, as an opportunity for exhibitors to get immediate and direct reaction from their target market. Although the majority of exhibitors present at SANA belong to the food and health sectors, the show has been a strong promoter of sustainable projects in other sectors, especially the housing design and construction alternatives, the smart use of renewable resources and clean fuels, and energy-management solutions. SANA presents to 85,000 visitors 16 halls with over 1600 exhibitors in an area of 85,000 sqm.

InNatex, the Only Organic Textile Fair

Frankfurt: If you are looking for organic textiles for both apparel and home furnishings, InNatex is the only trade fair that concentrates over 220 exhibitors from 20 countries twice a year. In an area of 4,200 m2, InNatex presents its Fall/Winter collection in January and the Spring/Summer in July. More information at

All Things Organic: Four Shows and One New Location

Chicago: This is North America’s largest exhibition devoted entirely to the promotion of the organic sector. In 2004, the show will take place in Chicago along with the Food Marketing Institute’s FMI Show, the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade’s Fancy Food Show, and the United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association’s United Produce Expo & Conference and U.S. Food Export Showcase. This strategy will allow for increased traffic and create greater opportunities to meet in one single place North America’s entire organic industry. There are special events scheduled such as an Organic Farm and Store Tour and a Fiber and Fashion Show. All Things Organic is presented by the US Organic Trade Association in partnership with Diversified Communications. Full Moon Communications, subsidiary of Diversified, is responsible for Organic & natural Products Europe, the leading fair in the UK. Visit for more information and contact lmurray@divcom if you would like to exhibit.