Natural Foods Merchandiser

Natural products industry business briefs

National chamber offers green support
Green companies seeking support, standards and a voice on Capitol Hill now have a group to depend on: The Green Chamber. The newly launched chamber of commerce is a group of regionally based organizations working to incorporate green principles into their goods, services and communities. With 16 regional directors, local chapters have access to networking, educational and lobbying opportunities. "Like the Rotary Club and other organizations, green businesses need to crank up the request-for-proposals and referral machines and support each for the sustainable-business movement to succeed," says Willi Paul, TGC's national program development director.

Regular gatherings will be scheduled for members, who can also share their business profiles and partnerships online. For more information, or to apply for member?ship, visit

Gift givers show taste
Frustrated in their search for a unique gift for that special someone, more shoppers are choosing to give food as a present, according to new research from Packaged Facts, a Rockville, Md.-based market research company. Sales of food gifts went up 56 percent between 2004 and 2006, and that's not just more Valentine's Day chocolate. One out of three consumers surveyed said they purchased a specialty-food gift during the holiday season, with assortments, nuts and salty snacks topping the list.

Researchers say the food-gifting trend is boosted by the fact that Americans are tightening their gift-giving belts in general, with the consumer gift market shrinking 8 percent between 2004 and 2006. Though online sales are growing, researchers say they expect purchases in grocery stores to continue to be strong because they are convenient places to pick up last-minute gifts.

Farmers' markets struggle to put down deep roots
Though the number of U.S. farmers' markets has been rising—more than 2,000 markets opened within the last 12 years—a high number of markets fail, according to a new study from Oregon State University. Of the failed markets that were studied, almost 50 percent closed after only one season. For the remainders, market-manager turnover rates were high. Researchers identified five interconnected characteristics that failed farmers' markets had in common: small size, high need for products, low administrative revenue, a volunteer or low-paid manager and high manager turnover.

Interviews and focus groups revealed that lack of parking for customers, tension with local businesses, and market day and time also contributed to market failure.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVIII/number 9/p. 58

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