Natural Foods Merchandiser

Booming in a busted economy

Will consumers continue to pony up for pricey supplements and fork out for fortified foods when money is tight? Only time will tell, but here are some of the potential factors that could make or break the coming year for the naturals industry.


  • Fuel prices are plummeting, stabilizing the transportation costs that were forcing suppliers to raise prices.
  • Several surveys have indicated that consumers are willing in tougher times to continue to buy products that promise to promote health.
  • Outlets are responding creatively: Whole Foods is offering coupons for the first time in its history.
  • Many experts think that, as in past downturns, established, quality suppliers will survive, while the ‘me, too' companies will go away.
  • Compared with rising health costs, preventive products such as weight-loss and anti-aging ingredients are looking better to consumers.
  • The science on natural ingredients is becoming more compelling.

  • Access to capital is scarce, limiting innovation and new entrants to the market.
  • In a survey conducted by the Council for Responsible Nutrition, 30 percent of respondents said that, in light of the economy, price will become more important in their buying habits, and an additional 13 percent said they likely will purchase less in the future.
  • Good manufacturing practices are forcing companies to spend more to comply.
  • Climate change is playing rough with food supplies.
  • Growing regulatory pressures in China could force prices higher worldwide.
  • Some companies may be tempted to take shortcuts to GMP compliance, or hold off, which could hurt them and the entire industry.

    Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXX/number 1/p. 30

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