Natural and organic food and healthy lifestyle categories got a fair share of attention at the 17th annual ICR XChange Conference Jan. 12-14 in Orlando, Florida.
The investment conference features consumer-oriented growth companies—both public and private. More than 2,500 investors, private equity professionals, management teams, analysts and bankers gathered for the event that featured publicly traded companies in the natural space such as UNFI, Hain Celestial, Sun Opta and Omega Protein. The private companies presenting marked the focus, too: Dave’s Killer Bread, Bold Organics, Skeeter Snacks and Sir Kensington’s.
Add some healthy fast-casual restaurants, the technology organizations that support them, and diet and exercise brands, and it seems wellness dominated the event.
John Carroll, the executive vice president and CEO of Hain Celestial said it best when he outlined the growth opportunity for natural and organic:
- Wellness is engrained in our culture today.
- Healthy living has become a fundamental everyday priority.
- Such products are in line with what millennials want.
Others identified driving factors such as the aging population, heightening allergen awareness and growing concern about GMOs and food additives.
Here’s Luvo’s new CEO - the former CEO of Lululemon - weighing in:
How are these brands focusing on this market? And what movements do natural businesses need to understand? SunOpta CEO Steve Bromley outlined these trend opportunities:
- Organic foods, as consumers focus on environmental and social impact.
- Clean labels that address desire for simple ingredient profiles.
- Free-from foods including the traditional allergens and GMOs.
- Superfoods, chia, quinoa, goji berry, acai and hemp.
- Alternative sweeteners.
- Whole grains that focus on nutrient-rich products.
- Protein, with approved health claims and increasingly plant-based.
- Fruits and vegetables, as consumption finally follows recommendation.
- Private label foods, because consumers have accepted them.
- Portable nutrition, as demand rises for healthy on-the-go options.