Hawaii natural products companies hit big time at Expo West
THE Natural Products Expo West
is on today and tomorrow at the Anaheim Convention Center in California, and Hawaii is represented by more than a dozen companies.
Expo West is the place to be for local natural foods, health-related products and the like since it is the largest natural-products industry show in the world, according to Bob Capelli, vice president for sales and marketing for Cyanotech Corp. The company produces microalgae and turns it into health supplements on the Big Island's Kona coast.
Cyanotech travels to six or seven trade shows each year to market finished products, bulk products for human nutrition and bulk products for animal nutrition, he said.
Capelli said he doesn't expect to write orders at the show, but he does expect to make many contacts for further follow-up and sales.
Expo West is for buyers and is not open to the general public.
"It's the one that wraps up the retail stores as well as all sorts of manufacturers into one," Capelli said.
Cyanotech is there on its own, but a dozen other Hawaii companies are there together and will exhibit at the Hawaii Pavilion, a concept Richard Nelson first put together three years ago.
The first year, he raised $138,000 from several federal, state and county agencies over six months and took 20 local companies with him. The companies generated $5 million in sales at the expo the first time around.
Last year less money was raised, so nine companies were able to go -- and they generated $3 million in sales.
He's looking for the Hawaii dozen to sell more this year.
"The natural product industry is a $50 billion marketplace, which I really feel Hawaii has a wonderful place in," he said. More than 30,0000 buyers will attend the expo, he said.
The money Nelson raises helps to underwrite half the cost of booth space for Hawaii Pavilion exhibitors. It also buys advertising in publications such as the industry buyer's guide and Delicious Living, a magazine distributed at health food stores around the country.
The Hawaii Pavilion will feature not one, but two companies that sell desalinated deep ocean water -- Koyo USA Corp. and Deep SeaWater International Inc. Other Hawaii beverage exhibits in the Pavilion include Hawaiian Natural Tea and the Kona Coffee Council.
Three companies specializing in Hawaiian noni products -- Kamauoha Farms, Big Island Processing and Alembic International LLC will compete against Tahitian noni products elsewhere at the expo.
Local kine grinds in the pavilion include a taro burger and other edibles from Hawaii Taro Co.; from Kona Blue Water Farms, kampachi, a fish that is all the rage in culinary circles; tropical fruit butters from Liko Lehua Products; and organic white honey from Volcano Island Honey Co.
A company called Maui Excellent will be on hand with its line of therapeutic body care and massage oils and gels and salts, oh my.
Kamauoha Farms had been to last year's Made in Hawaii Festival and did well with both wholesale and retail buyers; but this is a huge step up.
Kamauoha Farms is the production end of the Kamauoha Foundation, a nonprofit organization set up partly to foster agricultural and economic development and provide opportunities for native Hawaiians.
The farm's product sales get poured back into the foundation, said Spencer Kamauoha, project manager. The year-and-a-half-old endeavor grew its payroll to 20 people after the first year.
Kamauoha Farms and its Colorado sales representative did some legwork in advance of the expo, inviting 100 mainland customers to visit the booth at the expo. The products, including noni juice and encapsulated noni fruit and leaves, are widely available in Hawaii. Marukai, Shirokiya and Down to Earth are among their local retailers. Direct sales are also possible through the Kamauoha Farms Web site.
Marukai in California also carries Kamauoha products as do stores in Alabama, Tennessee and Oklahoma. "Outlets are springing up," Kamauoha said.
Nelson, producer of the Hawaii Pavilion, has his sights set more broadly now. He'd like to see Hawaii participate in the natural products expos in Washington D.C., Hong Kong and Japan.
Also, "I want them to come to Hawaii. We have a convention center," he said. "My desire is to keep pushing market niches for Hawaii producers."
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4302, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: email@example.com