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Natural Foods Merchandiser

Editor's note: The natural products industry moves forward with hope

Adrienne Smith, Senior Food Business Reporter
We're still crawling out from the pandemic's rubble, but there's a silver lining: We more openly discuss mental health and seek support.

The last three years have taken their toll on our personal and collective psyches. The pandemic upended many of the things we once took for granted and, in so doing, forced us to relinquish control over multiple aspects of our lives. But now, at the dawn of a new year, it finally feels—on so many levels—like things are getting back to … what's the word? Ah, yes, normal.

Though a growing majority of folks have joined the chorus of those professing to be "done" with the pandemic, there's no denying that we're still crawling out from under its rubble. Economic woes, inflation, supply chain challenges and employee shortages persist. Perhaps most concerning of all, though, is how these years have impacted our mental health.

In a June 2022 survey of 1,000 consumers carried out by the Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ), more than 41% of respondents said they experience stress on a regular basis, followed by anxiety and depression (37%), sleep issues or insomnia (37%) and fatigue or lack of energy (34%).

Jarring as these numbers are, the pandemic's silver lining is that people are no longer expected to grapple with these feelings in silence. The floodgates have opened and not only are we now talking about our mental health struggles, but we're also finding more support than ever before. In the natural products industry, this means supplements, foods, beverages and personal care products that offer functional solutions formulated to address what NBJ refers to as "experiential conditions."

The Future of Food

As we kick off 2023, issues that have the potential to shape the future of sustainability, climate and our food system are taking precedence. Among them is biotechnology, an emerging area in food production that continues to stir debate in our industry. With that in mind, New Hope Network hosted a Future of Food Forum last year, bringing together leaders in food, retail and agriculture to share their diverse perspectives. Key takeaways from this event can be found in A tale of two food futures. New Hope encourages community members to share their thoughts on the future of food in a guest column on newhope.com. Please reach out to [email protected] if you are interested in contributing.

Annual Market Overview

Finally, we are looking forward to hearing from retailers for our 2023 Market Overview. How did your store perform in 2022? What's inflation doing to sales? Has basket size increased? What categories are selling well? Please connect to the annual market overview survey and add your thoughts and stats to this valuable natural products industry tool.

The past few years have indeed been filled with challenges, but here's to a 2023 brimming with hope and good health for all. Happy New Year!

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