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Natural Foods Merchandiser

25 Years Of Natural Products Milestones And NFM Was There


  • NFM launches from offices in Agoura, Calif. What?s old is new again: In the premier issue, we run a story about herbal manufacturers and retailers who were fearful of an FDA crackdown.
  • The first health food ?superstore,? Frazier Farms, opens in San Diego.
  • A Los Angeles TV station exposes major health food stores selling produce labeled organic but which actually contain the same levels of pesticides and chemical fertilizers as ?regular? produce.


  • FTC undertakes project to define natural, but leaves health and organic alone.
  • Herb sales nationwide reach $81 million. Meanwhile, industry debates what can rightfully be called ginseng on labels.


  • NFM hosts first annual Natural Foods Expo in Anaheim, Calif., with 1,200 retailers in attendance.


  • Manufacturers begin formulating their products to have less salt, in response to the nation?s ?sodium problem.?
  • Retailers begin introducing computers into the workplace for bookkeeping and inventory management. Several describe laying out anywhere from $10,000 for a Radio Shack model (above) to $50,000 for a high-end Wang.
  • Rep. Jim Weaver, D-Ore., introduces the Organic Farming Act, which would establish research programs to improve organic farming techniques and develop economically sound methods to help conventional growers switch to organic farming practices.
  • Cyanide poisoning kills 7 people in the Chicago area who have taken Tylenol. The case prompts the FDA to require tamper-proof packaging for OTC drugs, vitamins and supps.


  • The Reagan administration convenes a panel to review the nation?s dietary guidelines.
  • The FTC scraps a proposal that would have defined the term natural and required disclosure about the ?controversy? over the connection between diet and heart disease.


  • John Mackey of Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods Market tells NFM that he?d like to see the two-store operation grow to a 15-store regional chain by 1987.
  • Celestial Seasonings is sold to Kraft. Industry sources said the sale price was $30 million.


  • Natural Foods Expo goes to Washington, D.C., for the first East Coast Expo. More than 5,000 people attend.
  • AHPA spearheads a drive for greater regulatory recognition of the safety and efficacy of herbs. Committee members are Loren Israelsen, legal counsel for Nature?s Way; Solaray President Jim Beck; Mark Blumenthal, president of Sweethardt Herbs; Drake Sadler, president of Traditional Medicinals; Paul Larson, president of Nature?s Herbs; and Rob McCaleb, director of the Herb Research Foundation.
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency submits a proposal to ban the use of daminozide, a plant growth regulator. An estimated 825,000 pounds of daminozide, known by the trade name Alar, is used annually?75 percent on the apple crop.


  • National media focus on the relationship between diet and disease. Calcium replaces vitamin C, E and zinc as the most talked-about dietary supplement. The Wall Street Journal predicts that calcium sales will reach $166 million in 1986.
  • Pesticide Action Network launches ?Dirty Dozen? campaign, calling for global restrictions on 12 hazardous pesticides.
  • Heptachlor, a carcinogenic pesticide, banned since 1983 for general use, was found in dairy feed in Arkansas. The pesticide was found in milk, cottage cheese and ice cream as well as in mothers? milk.
  • The Office of Management and Budget approved an FDA proposal allowing the use of irradiation on fruits and vegetables to control bacteria, insects and other food contamination and to extend product shelf life.
  • Safeway Stores and Giant Foods become the first supermarket chains to stop buying apples treated with Alar. They join a list of food processors—many that make baby food—that have said they won?t use Alar-treated apples.


  • The California legislature passes Proposition 65, a bill requiring food producers to attach warning labels to products containing toxic chemicals linked to birth defects and cancer.


  • A U.S. News and World Report survey reports that 40 million Americans engage in bodybuilding. Sports supplements sales soar, and bodybuilders Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tony Emmott and Troy Zuccolotto, and L.A. Raider Lyle Alzado endorse supplements advertised on NFM?s pages. San Francisco 49er Joe Montana endorses Tiger Balm.
  • The Organic Foods Production Association publishes a guidebook for the production, processing and distribution of organic foods, intended to provide direction for organic certification programs.
  • The Food Marketing Institute reports that 27 percent of Americans are concerned about fat in their diet (up from 16 percent the previous year) and 22 percent are concerned about cholesterol (up from 14 percent).


  • New Hope Communications, publisher of Natural Foods Merchandiser and Delicious! moves its headquarters from New Hope, Pa., to Boulder, Colo.
  • Meryl Streep heads Mothers and Others For Pesticide Limits—a project of the Natural Resources Defense Council—in protests against the use of Alar. A media barrage ensues. Uniroyal Corp., makers of Alar, bans domestic sales of the chemical.


  • The European Economic Community?s ban on the importation of beef raised with growth-stimulating hormones goes into effect.
  • The nation?s largest supplier of natural beef, Coleman Natural Beef of Denver, receives organic certification from the Organic Crop Improvement Association.
  • New Hope Communications introduces an electronic bulletin board system that brings NFM and Organic Times magazines to members via a computer and modem.
  • After an outbreak of a rare blood disorder, the FDA recalls, then bans sales of L-tryptophan. A contaminated processor in Japan is blamed. Also, lawyers bring a suit blaming GMOs used in the production of the amino acid. In a twist, pharmaceutical-grade L-tryptophan is used to treat the disorder. The year ends with no clear cause to the outbreak.
  • The Organic Foods Production Act gives the USDA power to create national organic certification standards, certify organic products and set stiff fines and jail sentences for false labeling claims. The newly formed Organic Foods Alliance lobbies for the bill.


  • A controlling interest in Cascadian Farm is sold to Welch Foods, makers of Welch?s grape juice products.
  • Whole Foods fails in its bid to buy the three-store Alfalfa?s Markets chain, which is eventually sold to Wild Oats.


    A year of firsts:
  • Food irradiation begins in Florida with 1,100 pints of strawberries being blanketed with gamma rays.
  • Whole Foods Market becomes the nation?s first publicly traded natural foods supermarket company.
  • Natural Horizons of Boulder, Colo., begins production of the first full line of organic yogurt. The new dairy product is called Horizon Organic Yogurt.
  • Bastyr College becomes the first naturopathic school to gain full academic accreditation from the Northwest Association of Schools.
  • Muir Glen becomes the first manufacturer to be certified organic by California Certified Organic Farmers.
  • The New York City Council unanimously approves a resolution urging the FDA to require labeling of genetically engineered foods, the first such action by any state or city legislature.


  • Whole Foods and Mrs. Gooch?s Natural Foods Markets announce they will merge. Mrs. Gooch?s co-owners, Sandy Gooch, John Moorman and Dan Volland, receive 1.5 million shares worth $56 million.
  • The Dietary Supplement Standards and Consumer Education Act, an expanded version of the 1992 Health Freedom Act, is sponsored in the House of Representatives by Bill Richardson, D-N.M., and in the Senate by Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.
  • Celestial Seasonings releases 1.9 million shares in an initial offering.
  • Shipments of the popular herb ephedra are closely inspected by U.S. Customs under a strongly worded import bulletin reissued by the FDA. Some see the move as the first step in efforts to declare the herb unsafe and force it off the market.
  • FDA seizes ear candles as unapproved medical devices.


  • At the end of a year of intensive lobbying, Congress passes DSHEA and President Clinton signs it into law.


  • Natural products show their largest increase ever, up 22.7 percent to $7 billion, as structure/function claims begin to appear on supplement labels.


  • It?s the year of the big merger: Mountain People?s Warehouse and Cornucopia merge to create UNFI; Wild Oats and Alfalfa?s merge and file for an IPO; Whole Foods buys Fresh Fields; GNC buys Nature?s Fresh; Hain buys Estee; Heinz buys Earth?s Best baby food; Tree of Life buys McLane America; and many more.


  • Genetic engineering, bovine growth hormone and mad cow disease make headlines, but the fresh juice industry takes the severest food safety hit after E. coli in Odwalla juice kills a Colorado girl and sickens more than 50 others.


  • Howls erupt from across the industry over proposed USDA organic standards that allow irradiated and bioengineered materials, and permit crops to be fertilized with sewage sludge. The protests lead Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman to announce revised standards that remove the offending clauses.


  • News about genetically modified organisms include reports that monarch butterflies may be harmed by GMOs. Later that year, the Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act, which proposes labeling foods with GE ingredients, is introduced.
  • The FDA permits labels to carry the claim that soy protein may reduce the risk of heart disease. Mainstream media coverage causes a surge in soy sales.


  • John Stossel reports on ABC?s 20/20 that organic produce grown with manure fertilizer is more likely to cause food-borne illness than conventional produce grown with chemical fertilizers. Several months later, Stossel apologizes on the air for false reporting, and ABC suspends him for a month without pay.
  • Mainstream food giants continue to gobble up natural products manufacturers. General Mills buys Cascadian Farm and Muir Glen from Small Planet Foods; the Philip Morris-owned Kraft acquires Boca Burger and Balance Bar; Kellogg buys Kashi; and PepsiCo purchases South Beach Beverage Co. (SoBe).
  • The USDA finalizes the national organic standards and the industry begins a transition period for compliance.


  • Dole, the world?s largest producer of fresh fruits and vegetables, starts selling organic bananas.
  • As the World Trade Center falls on Sept. 11, nearby New York natural products stores remain open, while other grocery stores close, to serve the community throughout the crisis. Cornucopia Health Foods, located on the WTC concourse, is lost. Local retailers, as well as manufacturers across the country, donate products and funds to relief efforts.


  • On Oct. 21, the national organic standards are fully implemented and products labeled ?USDA certified organic? appear on shelves for the first time.
  • St. John?s wort and kava are scrutinized: A JAMA study concludes that SJW failed to treat moderate to major depression, despite its intended use for mild to moderate depression. German studies link kava to liver damage. A U.S. toxicologist later finds that kava was not responsible for the liver damage reported.
  • Farmed salmon is found to have higher levels of pollutants than the wild variety.


  • After ephedra is linked to heart attacks, strokes, seizures and death, several manufacturers drop their ephedra lines, some states ban its sale and insurers refuse to cover stores that carry the herb. The FDA considers banning ephedra supplements.
  • Former bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger is elected governor of California.


  • NFM is 25 years old in February.
  • Wild Oats has 101 stores, while Whole Foods operates 145.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXV/number 1/p. 22-23

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