A letter from the editor: September 2013

A letter from the editor: September 2013

Innovation defines the natural products industry





Innovation lives!

A generation ago, I thought our society and culture – our species – had reached the apex of its evolution. It could rise no further. After all, I went to my local bagelry and picked up a half-dozen bagels, split between sesame and poppy. They even had plain bagels if I so chose.

Last weekend, I went back to my local bagelry, and while I admit that I purchased a half-dozen bagels – all sesame, natch – I had a choice of 22 different varieties, including spinach parmesan, Italian and asiago. I picked up container of lox cream cheese spread and another of vegetarian cream cheese.

I also picked up a bottle of Green Machine – that Naked Juice product containing apples, kiwis and 10 other green foods such as spirulina. Green smoothies have long been a staple of our kitchen countertop breakfast makings. My kids drink that right up, though my visiting mother looked at the verdant color of my morning protein smoothie and took a pass. But my kids happily quaff it, and Green Machine is their go-to when perusing the cold box.

Who knew?

Okay, so I was wrong about evolution. In the last generation alone, we’ve seen the rise of fish oil and probiotics. We’ve seen probiotics leave the yogurt container and make it into chocolate bars.

We’ve seen caffeine leave the coffee cup and make it into the soda can. Heck, I have a satchel of Fein in front of me – “Add energy, not taste, to any drink” – they took the active ingredient of coffee and dispensed with the bitter taste of coffee, even the sweet taste of energy drinks, and just give you the caffeine powder to put wherever you want. Brilliant!

We’ve seen Justin’s Nut Butter totally blow up the peanut-butter category. And you thought smooth or crunchy was good enough!

We’ve also seen gluten-free blow up – not necessarily because there’s been a sudden outbreak of celiac disease per se, but everyone from children to forty-something moms feel relief from stomach upset when gluten gets removed from diets. Food scientists have worked to provide the ingredients that provide better health outcomes, and at the same time taste halfway decent.

Evolution! Innovation!

Happens every day in a food-and-beverage world where consumers and nutrition come first, and where sugar water and cheap subsidized carbs begin to lose steam, at long last.


Todd Runestad


[email protected]


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