Despite the challenges of the Australian state of Victoria entering lockdown less than 24 hours before Naturally Good opened its doors in Sydney, the expo has been described as ‘a resounding success’ by show organizer Diversified Communications.

The two-day trade show was held at Sydney’s International Convention Centre (ICC) over 30-31 May, drawing sizeable crowds of retailers and distributors from across the country, all there to discover the latest developments from over 220 food, beauty, health and homeware exhibitors.

Lynn Ormiston, commercial and digital innovation manager, Naturally Good, says the show’s success ‘exceeded all expectations. “Given the cancellation of last year’s expo due to COVID, we were on high alert throughout the year. However, the crowd turn-out was fantastic with exhibitors saying they were constantly busy with distributor enquiries and meetings.

“This year has been unprecedented given all the challenges however we did our utmost to put on a COVIDSafe event and the feedback from attendees has been overwhelmingly positive.”

Missing from the show floor were 19 companies which had been due to travel from Melbourne, where at the last minute a snap lockdown prevented them from making the journey. Ormiston calls the timing ‘really unfortunate considering how much effort exhibitors go to’. Brands and distributors ‘pulled out all the stops’ to cross the state line into New South Wales before restrictions came into force, but some were unable to make it in time. “We have provided their contacts to inquiring businesses and will continue to work with these impacted brands.”

Collagen coffee, energizing soft drinks, ‘hangover juice’, and gut-boosting foods containing black garlic, cricket powder, turmeric, seaweed, camel milk and bone broth were among the Australian-made products being showcased. In beauty and personal care, vitamin and nutrient infused products represented the ‘beauty from within’ trend while issues of sustainability were considered through chemical-free agents, cleaning devices and waste-free products.

Elsewhere in the expo, Queensland business I Am Grounded won the Pitch Fest competition after presenting to judges and buyers, lauded for its methods of ‘upcycling the natural by-product of discarded coffee fruit into sustainable snacks and for providing economic opportunities for impoverished coffee producing communities’.

During the speaker sessions Australia’s most knowledgeable industry leaders shared their insights on a number of popular topics including gaining credibility with Gen Z consumers, how to grow and sell retail businesses, and how to understand customers ‘on an emotional level’. Mintel keynote speaker Adriana Heinzen noted that pandemic-induced stress and burnout has created a demand for functional products.

“Food and drink manufacturers will incorporate more substances such as nervines and adaptogens [botanical substances] into products to help the body restore balance and cope with physical or mental stress. Nootropics normally seen in beverages to improve cognitive function will also be more commonplace as will nutrient-packed foods for immunity.”

Naturally Good returns to the ICC on 6-7 June 2022.