26,000 people attended Natural Products Expo East in Boston last proving the effects of the troubled economy have yet to be painfully felt in the natural products industry. Though time will tell how the nutrition industry manages through this economic downturn, some companies are still doing well. Case in point, large conventional food manufacturers are outpreforming the market with growing sales and profits. General Mills, Campbell Soup and Kraft are just a few CPG firms that have found a way to profitably manage price increases, commodity price increases and changes in consumer shopping behavior.
Servicing the needs of the food industry, the Healthy Foods Conference was held on October 14th and 15th in Boston, MA, just prior to the start of Natural Products Expo East. About 100 executives in the healthy food and ingredient supply market attended the event, which delivered on its aim to bring together though leaders in the supply and manufacture of healthy foods (natural/organic, functional and lesser evil) in the U.S.
Tuesday's "Delicious Predictions for 2010" session was particularly notable.
Keynote Jeremy Gutsche of TrendHunter.com laid out a compelling new way to approach innovation and product development, utilizing his experience in online media and how new products capture the attention of various audiences in today's cluttered media landscape.
Jeremy challenged all in attendance to rethink innovation for today’s online population based on his studies and experiences as the head of TrendHunter.com, challenging the attendees in the audience to a number of “team” challenges.
Jeff Grorr defended Kellogg’s acquisition of Kashi, noting that since the acquisition, Kellogg hasn’t reformulated any of the Kashi products for health reasons. He also thought there was a future for branded ingredients, but at this time, the consumer brands hold more value than the ingredient brands and thus don’t add much incremental value in consumer marketing. Jeff also noted that "the tide" is moving towards healthy foods, in that that the greater populations IS moving towards health and as an industry we need to keep our standards high and hold each other accountable to acceptable standards so not to undermine the growing consumer healthy food opportunity.
Robin Roderick of Ocean Spray noted the special needs of the aging and growing population of baby boomers over 65, detailing the low level of healthy food education and high needs for nutritionally rich products.
Laryn Calloway of Organic Bistro explained that the average American has the equivalent of a 6th grade education when it comes to nutrition. Laryn’s original mission was to reach unhealthy consumers by making her products "cool" and make it cool to eat well. There’s no magic bullet for wellness, she said, but a whole suite of life changes.
Wednesday's sessions were also very informative, but as a nutrition industry researcher, the "Delicious Predictions for 2010" was excellent.