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3 companies defining the future of natural products

3 companies defining the future of natural products
From our 51 Nexty nominees, we chose three Editors' Choice winners that we believe (and hope!) represent what tomorrow’s healthy living landscape will look like. To learn more about NEXT: The Natural Products Industry Forecast 2013, go to

The NEXT Forecast team presented 51 Nexty nominations during Natural Products Expo West 2012 in March. The nods were given to recognize those companies we believe will help shape the future of the natural products landscape.

In April and May, industry and consumers voted for their favorite of our Nexty nominees on the website. The poll voting winners were TCHO in Food & Beverage; Eco Nuts in Natural Living; and Youtheory and OJO in Supplements.

The following are the winners of the Nexty Editors’ Choice awards for each of our three categories, as selected by New Hope Natural Media and Sterling-Rice Group. Congratulations to all of the nominees and winners.

Which of our Nexty nominees most excites you about the future of the natural products arena? Share your thoughts in the comments below or via Twitter at #next4cast.


Food and Beverage: One Degree Organic Foods

Total transparency is the most appetizing concept we can imagine for our food; unfortunately, unless you’re eating every meal from the farm or buying exclusively local products, achieving such transparency is much easier said than done.

Complex supply chains and communication barriers often prevent us from seeing beyond the package, especially for multi-ingredient products. Despite constantly touting the importance of transparency, even we were starting to question its capabilities.

Then we discovered One Degree Organics, a company that satisfies our voracious craving for traceability, for pure ingredients, for a deeper connection to our (packaged) food.

One Degree is demonstrating what happens when small family farms join forces with QR codes. And if you’ve questioned their relevance (QR codes not family farms, of course), you haven’t found a brand using them as thoughtfully as One Degree.

The code on each loaf of the company’s organic sprouted bread connects consumers to the root of their food right there at the breakfast table or even in the grocery store aisle.

When consumers scan the QR code they receive detailed descriptions of every ingredient—from flax or spelt right down to salt—found in the specific One Degree product they are holding. They can also use the alphanumeric code on the label to search the product on the computer.

What’s particularly cool about One Degree’s ingredient information is that it combines strong narrative elements to share with consumers the stories behind the farmers who make its ingredients, including Arnold Schmidt, an 82-year-old organic wheat farmer in Maple Creek, Saskatchewan, and Gerardo Pacheco Rodriguez of Oaxaca, Mexico, who harvests organic sesame stalks. Taken together all of this creates a new kind of local.

Technology, though, is merely a tool One Degree uses to communicate its sustainable practices, which truly define the brand. And beyond its impressive sourcing methods, the company has prioritized working with “veganic” farms—organic farms that also eliminate the use of animal inputs in the process—to deliver the cleanest possible ingredients.

“When you add sustainability, transparency, and consumer-empowering technology, what you get is an incredibly honest meal,” the company says. One Degree’s mission is clear and sincere every step of the way, and we believe it can help bring us closer to a more responsible food system.

Supplements: Vega

The sports nutrition and performance category is big—but it’s also troubled, thanks to case after case of bodybuilding and other products being found tainted with banned or illegal substances.

Outside of the sports performance category, more supplement manufacturers are ditching synthetics and focusing on plant-based ingredients, but the weight-loss and sports markets are having a harder time proving that they can be “clean” and accessible to the growing market of consumers with special dietary needs.

Vega is the first to fill these glaring holes in sports nutrition. Launched in 2011 and formulated by pro triathlete Brendan Brazier, the vegan Vega brand is invigorating the category with a complete line of plant-based sports-performance products for before, during, and after workouts—all free from artificial ingredients, dairy, gluten, soy, corn, and added sugars.

The growing Vega line of fitness drinks, energy bars, gels, and protein powders use ingredients such as pea, hemp, brown rice, and saviseed and prove a vegan product can promote optimal sports performance and an overall healthier lifestyle. Now that’s clean.

With its softer, unisex marketing Vega Sport is also positioned well beyond the traditional bodybuilding market to appeal to endurance athletes, women, and really anyone looking for high-quality protein and performance products.

We’re not the only ones Vega has impressed with its approach to sports nutrition and sleek packaging. VMG Partners has invested in the company, and Whole Foods Market picked up the entire Vega line, an increasingly rare scenario in the natural products world.

In a checkered sports nutrition industry, a company that excels in purity and performance while opening up an entire category to athletes with special dietary needs definitely leads the pack.

Natural Living: Sir Richard’s Condom Company

Innovative. Approachable. Admirable. Seldom do we use these words to describe a condom company. But there’s a first time for everything...

The first thing we like about Sir Richard’s is that it is bringing a much-needed sustainable product to the natural products industry. Its vegan latex condoms are free from glycerin, spermicide, parabens, and casein. Beyond this, however, Sir Richard’s is using its unique brand to help address a global health crisis.

For each condom that’s purchased, Sir Richard’s sends one to a developing country, where a lack of supply can lead to the rampant spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies. Sir Richard’s has already sent more than 500,000 condoms to Haiti.

We give accolades to any company building its brand on a mission. But Sir Richard’s is taking the generic one-for-one model to the next level.

What makes the company so notable is that it understands how cultural relevance is critical for a product to resonate and have a longer-lasting impact in different countries. Sir Richard’s works with local healthcare providers, artists, and various members of each community to create an entirely new brand before distributing the condoms there.

Whether it’s the American brand’s gingham-plaid packaging (the Sir Richard’s team even drives a gingham-plaid truck) or the Haitian condoms called KORE, slang for “I have your back,” the cool relatable brands and messages allow the company to start these important conversations, regardless of the country.

It’s fun; it’s in your face; it’s making a difference; and it’s just what this industry needs. And the feeling is mutual. According to Sir Richard’s, the natural products industry was the ideal place for the company to build its mojo.

Next Forecast 2013 is the premier insider's guide to where the natural products market is now—and where it is headed. With 104 pages and over 30 videos, this comprehensive report provides a deep dive into the trends and market forces affecting the natural products industry.

NEXT also identifies the products, people, and macro forces that will shape and provide the greatest opportunities for tomorrow's natural products landscape.

What's next? Download the report now at

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