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Natexpo Trade Fair Paris: “The networked store is coming”

by Kai Kreuzer (comments: 0)

NAtexpo at Parc des Expositions

Future trends and the specialist wholefood trade in 2025 were the focus of this year’s Natexpo, that was held from 18 – 20 October in the Parc des Expositions not far from Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. 12,076 visitors took every opportunity to get the latest information on current developments, to keep up their contact with wholefood manufacturers and wholesalers and to listen to stimulating lectures about what is going on in the organic scene. There were 569 stands for the attendees to visit. This year the exhibition was again a little more international – for example, signs in the exhibition hall and the texts for an exhibition for marketing wholefoods in ten years time were also in English.

Saveur Ferdinand at the “Forum des Bio Tendences”

Saveur Ferdinand from the consultancy Econovateur (Eco Innovator) had devised the basics for the exhibition with the motto “Magasin Bio de Demain” (Organic store of the future) and he also delivered a detailed address about the undertaking. “With meaning and purpose, regional sourcing of goods, healthy food and everything from a committed company - in a nutshell, that’s what an average French man or woman associates with buying food,” Ferdinand explained. He said that, although it is difficult to look in to the future, he could detect a number of trends over the next five to ten years. He had compiled his information on twelve display charts, with each one representing a development pathway. Let’s take three trends as examples: in a small shop that at first glance looks like a typical corner shop of yesteryear, we see, when we look more closely, touch screens hanging on the wall. Not only can people retrieve a lot of product information but also order thousands of products that are then delivered to their homes.

Picture: A whole range of lectures in the “Forum des Bio Tendences” were very well received. The picture shows Saveur Ferdinand.

Cooking show at Natexpo

Various trends that can be accessed at any time, such as buying unpackaged loose goods or communal forms of marketing, as in the case of cooperatives, will coalesce and create new types of shop for consumers that offer the personal atmosphere of buying from the shopkeeper round the corner but at the same time will offer a huge range of food products on the internet. The quintessence of one of Saveur Ferdinand’s important statements is that in ten years time specialist wholefood shops will have, in contrast to today, a big online offer – whether for providing product information via QR scanners or for ordering online. There is a trend to big screens that customers can operate interactively to rapidly access information or to place orders. This could also include taking orders for other suppliers in the way Amazon already operates, Ferdinand maintained. The internet retailer offers his platform for use by independents or small-scale operators to sell their goods by paying a commission. Transfer this to the situation of the wholefood retailer and it means that the wholefood shops of the future could become much greater service providers than they have been so far. For example, mediating the direct supply of an organic farmer’s storage potatoes or the journey by train to a Bio-Hotel in the Alps.

Picture: The oven manufacture Rational with the Convenience Food trend

chocolate demonstrations by Bonneterre

This year for the first time, there were numerous activity areas at Natexpo, and they proved to be very popular. The two biggest were for chocolate and a cookery stage. Chocolate fans certainly got their money’s worth. “Here we’re offering 15 of our total of 34 chocolate bars for tasting,” said an employee of the manufacturer Bonneterre. Two chocolatiers and three trainees put a lot of effort into demonstrating interesting new recipes. The head chef, Nicolas Davouze, had already received a “Bocuse d’or 2014”. His colleague Olivier Paredes explaioned every step, every action. With a metre-long mirror over the professional cooker the public got a good look at what was going on.

Picture: Huge interest in the chocolate demonstrations by Bonneterre

Booth of the wholesaler Claus-Pural

The biggest stand in the middle of the Natexpo hall in the Parc des Expositions belonged to Pural. On an exhibition area measuring 220 m² the wholefood manufacturers who are represented mostly exclusively in France by the wholesaler Pural presented themselves: Andechser, La Selva, Oatly, Ppura, Salus, Hübner, Jentschura, to name but a few. Also on display were the beers Neumarkter, Riedenburger and Bad Schussenrieder. Harvest Moon, a start-up from Hamburg, presented coconut milk yogurt on a little tasting stand. Ulrike Claus, junior head of the wholesaler Claus-Pural domiciled in Baden-Baden, was very pleased with this year’s Natexpo: “On all three days we had a high number of visitors to our stand and we got the impression that it all went much better than a couple of years ago.”

Picture: CEO of wholesaler Claus-Pural, Ulrike Claus, in conversation

Awarding prizes and honours on a grand scale
Award for Sonett: Gerhard Heid with his wife, on the left, and Alexia Fahr

The prize for the Product of the Year: this involved Alexia Fahr, the marketing specialist at Sonett for the French market. She received it in the form of a wooden ball for Ecobubbles on behalf of the manufacturer that has its headquarters in Deggenhausen. In Germany, Sonett is one of the biggest manufacturers of detergents and cleaning materials for specialist wholefood stores. In terms of turnover, the German market accounts for 45 %, the French market for 15 % and the international market for 40 % (40 countries). “At Natexpo, we concentrate directly on the French market,” said Sonett managing director Gerhard Heid. In France, Sonett products are sold via the retailers of Biocoop and Naturalia and by, for example, the wholesaler Relais Vert.  

Picture: Gerhard Heid with his wife, on the left, and Alexia Fahr

Rapunzel´s vintage bus with Rapunzel team at Natexpo

In conjunction with the natural and organic cosmetics association Cosmébio many product applications and events were organised in the cosmetics area of the exhibition. Milk producers and the firm Gaborit played their part in the cheese segment of the fair. At various points there were little platforms in divided-off rooms that were used for lectures with ten to 30 attendees. Previously lectures were held in separate rooms on the level below the fair, which meant it was not so easy to make direct contact with visitors. The advantage of the present layout is that as you walk round you can stop, sit down wherever you want to and listen to whoever is giving a talk. 70 new products, some of them prize winners, were exhibited in glass display cabinets near the entrance.

Picture: Wholefood manufacturer Rapunzel travelled to the fair by bus plus trailer. Before the trade fair opened, the vintage bus, built in 1974, came to the obligatory halt in front of the Eifel Tower and also four different specialist wholefood stores.  In the middle of the picture: Justina Wilhelm, the daughter of the founder of Rapunzel Josef Wilhelm

The videos are on

managing director J.-H. Bailliencourt from Jean de Luz

Again this year there were new products and new exhibitors at France’s biggest specialist fair for organic and dietary products and natural goods. For example, a small French firm from the French Basque country that processes the fish caught by around 15 fishermen. Jean le Luz, founded 12 years ago, offers a range of 30 articles, including white tuna, sardines, mackerel, bonito and small varieties of stonefish for the soup. The managing director Jean-Hilaire de Bailliencourt told us they don’t use any additives like glutamate, milk protein or emulsifiers. They sell only fish caught by small-scale local fishermen and it can be bought not only in France via Biocoop and La Vie Claire and 120 regional shops but is also available in Belgium, Austria and Germany.

Picture: The firm Jean de Luz with managing director J.-H. Bailliencourt  

Ecobag booth at Natexpo

The non-food sector plays a not inconsiderable role in the trade fair. Food supplements and cosmetics are the major products and are to be found at specific points near the entrance. Textile stands offer clothes made from organic cotton or wool, and decorative goods or other aids for shops complete the assortment that includes the products of, for example, the bag manufacturer Ecobag. They offer practical shopping bags with or without printing and with or without a polyethylene lining. “Every year, we deal with about 150 customers from the organic sector who each buy an average of 1000 bags from us.” They also have customers who ask for printing on 10,000 bags. Ecobag ( has a dozen employees in the Indian part of the Ganges delta, who make the bags from organically grown jute.  

Picture: Practical organic bags from India for shopping in wholefood stores.

Conclusion: Natexpo is increasingly on the way to becoming one of the internationally important organic trade fairs and the message at least to manufacturers, wholesalers, importers and exporters for 2017 has to be: Paris is well worth a visit!


All photos by Kai Kreuzer






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