Expo East 2019: Hemp, Hemp, Everywhere!

Men posing for photo at Expo East

Manitoba Harvest was proud to represent at Expo East last week in Baltimore, Maryland. The 35th annual Natural Products Expo East hosted over 29,000 attendees and more than 1,550 brands showcasing the latest and greatest innovations in natural products. It was a great opportunity for the Manitoba Harvest team to not just introduce attendees to the best-in-class work produced by the global leader in hemp foods, but also to learn more about the hemp and CBD landscape.

And wow, it is quite the landscape! You couldn’t swing your attendee badge without hitting a hemp or CBD booth at Expo East this year – they represented more than 50 of the booths on the show floor. Regulations around CBD are changing fast, and the 2018 Farm Bill paved the way for legal and safe cultivation and distribution of the hemp plant and its cannabidiol byproducts. Brands have been eager to stay ahead of the curve as regulation catches up with consumer interest, and Manitoba Harvest stood out as the industry leader.

Without a doubt, Manitoba Harvest’s 20+ years of leadership in the hemp foods business shone through at Expo East, a beacon of time-tested trustworthiness in an industry that’s evolving at such a rapid pace. Anne Thompson, VP of Marketing, spoke in the Fireside Chat at the Hemp & CBD Summit about the care Manitoba Harvest has taken to ensure consumer confidence. “The number of barriers for people really understanding hemp foods and supplements is huge. What’s incumbent upon us as retailers and manufacturers is to educate and make messages really simple. For a lot of people, the thing that’s missing with them with CBD is trust – a brand they can trust that brings them a trusted portfolio of food that also takes that rigor with CBD.”

Healthy products produced sustainably and safely is of course the core message behind most CBD brand newcomers, but as Brent Budke, Director of Insights at Manitoba Harvest noted, the industry is already moving rapidly beyond the basics and finding ways to differentiate themselves. Budke spoke on an expert panel that asked the question: is it possible to create convenient products that meet the needs of today’s consumers that are also sustainable and healthy?

You can’t ignore great taste, texture, convenience, and price, and Budke pointed out that while everyone claims best and highest quality, brands are rapidly finding ways to rise above the rest through innovative flavors and adaptogens that widen the list of benefits a brand can say their products produce.

Performing the delicate balancing act between trusted and trend setting is wholly dependent upon our ability to educate consumers, and it’s a challenge we are more than prepared to tackle. Food Dive named Hemp and CBD one of the 3 hot trends on the Expo East show floor, so you know the trend isn’t slowing down anytime soon. “We’ve been the leader in hemp for the last 21 years, and even as the pie gets bigger and there are so many more players, we still want to be the leader,” Thompson told Food Dive. “We consider ourselves to be innovators, we always want to be saying ‘how do we stay really relevant for consumers and move at the speed of hemp?'”

We love a good learning opportunity, and Expo East was not short on them. Our team met with buyers, retailers, consumers, and dietitians who commented on the brand’s trustworthiness – our hard work is paying off! We love the energy of Expo East and look forward to doing it again next year!


The information provided is for informational purposes only. None of the information provided here should be considered medical advice or treatment recommendations. Consult with your health care provider if you have questions about incorporating CBD into your wellness regimen.