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The most-read New Hope Network articles of 2021

new hope network most read articles 2021
Check out nine stories newhope.com's wide-ranging audience couldn't get enough of throughout this tumultuous year.

This past year the natural products industry has seen dramatic changes in the way consumers live, eat, think and operate. Want to know which articles were visited the most on newhope.com this year amid all these shifts?

Below are the stories that stood out.

1. The 2021 NEXTY Awards finalists 

The NEXTY Awards recognize the “pinnacle of excellence” in the natural products industry.

Competition is fierce. These new products must target an issue or problem that is not widely addressed, take a creative approach by using clean, sustainable ingredients coupled with transparency and show they are true innovators who aren’t simply taking a “me too” approach.

New for this year: judges were asked to take home some of the products from each category they were assigned to and prepare them in their kitchens.

With over 800 nominees for the 2021 Natural Products Expo West Virtual NEXTY Awards, 77 products stood out for their innovation, inspiration and integrity across 23 categories. Hundreds of other nominees competed and 78 products were chosen across 23 categories for the 2021 Natural Products Expo East NEXTY Awards finalists.

These two stories topped our list because they represent the very best natural products that emerged this year.

2. Study panned regarding effects of vitamin C and zinc on COVID-19

Despite being fraught with problems, a nutrition study that examined the effectiveness of vitamin C and zinc supplements in fighting COVID-19 still found a reduction of symptoms by more than a day for supplement takers over those who received the regular standard of care.

Problems with the study’s execution forced researchers to end the study prematurely after 10 days (instead of the initially planned 28-day trial). Because of the small population size in the study, the researchers concluded that the supplements did not work.

3. 6 supplement predictions for 2021

The supplement industry experienced a tsunami of shifts and pivots to accommodate a new reality this year.

This list highlights immunity supplements including vitamin D’s newfound hero status as well as how natural retailers are the new gatekeepers able to provide a deeper focus on supply chain transparency that can open the door for natural product companies to educate their customers more thoroughly. Others on the list: CBD, stress solutions and how adaptogenic herbs will continue to adapt.

4. 6 nutrients that improve the well-being of mitochondria, the cell's power plant

There’s a growing interest these days in mitochondrial health, making this a consistently popular story on newhope.com.

Each cell contains 1,500 mitochondria—organelle, specialized structures that operate like the cell’s power plant. They have their own DNA and are passed along from mother to child. Mitochondria accumulate in organs and tissues with a high need for energy. Its favorite supplement ingredient, according to the article, is coenzymeQ10 which converts the energy found in carbohydrates and fats to adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which provides energy to help cells do things including muscle contractions (which is especially important for the heart).

5. Aura Bora wins Naturally Bay Area Pitch Slam 2021

Who doesn’t like upcycled vegetables, “damn good cocktails,” functional broths and beverages, ancient grains, fermented tempeh and sparkling botanicals?

The 2021 Naturally Bay Area Pitch Slam showcased rising natural food and beverage brands with entrepreneurs all competing in a virtual pitch slam. Paul Voge of the botanical-infused sparkling water brand Aura Bora won the competition. Wild For Superfoods CEO Aleem Ahmed claimed second place for the brand's line of air-popped chips made from an ancient grain called teff. People’s Choice award went to the Ugly Pickle Co., which also won the third-place award from the judges.

6. Resources for BIPOC-owned natural products businesses

Businesses owned by Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) have accounted for more than half of all businesses launched in the U.S. over the past 10 years. Even though the number of minority-owned businesses has grown by 35%, the average gross receipts for these firms has dropped by 16%. Not having access to sufficient capital is a huge reason for this.

This story highlights networking and mentorship groups for BIPOC-owned business including J.E.D.I. Collaborative, Project Potluck, Hello Alice, Latino Business Action Network LBAN and National Hispanic Business Group. Read it for guidance on lending, banking and investing options as well as available grants for BIPOC business owners. The piece also offers other suggestions for business resources and accelerators such as the New Voices Foundation, National Minority Supplier Development Council NMSDC and The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA).

7. Why having a good co-packer is essential to getting on QVC

When the pandemic hit the U.S. in 2020, Hailey Swartz and Jason Rosenbaum, co-founders of Actual Veggies, applied to get their plant-only burger idea into the Big Ideas Venture Accelerator’s $50 million New Protein Fund. Being there helped hone their business skills and snag a spot in the Pop Up Grocer.

Their high-traffic appeal caught the attention of Diane Rubizhevsky, a broker who got Actual Veggies spots on QVC.

The co-founders went from doing trials with co-packers to doing a $75,000 run. Swartz and Rosenbaum also found out, the hard way, going with a more expensive, hands-on co-packer was far better than trying to save money and do everything themselves. In this piece the pair share tips and insights into finding the right co-packer and how to ramp up production for QVC.

8. Survey indicates Gen Z is stressed out and sleepless—and using supplements to help

A pair of Gen Z entrepreneurs recently launched a product called Confidence Drink; it's a functional beverage packed full of adaptogens, GABA, B vitamins and magnesium—and is totally free of sugar and caffeine. The company uses influencer marketing to connect with its target audience and capitalize on a rising trend: younger generations looking for ways to manage stress and sleeplessness.

New Hope Network’s NEXT Data and Insights consumer research found that sleep and stress levels are very influential factors in determining whether consumers take supplements. In the survey, 18.1% of millennials and Gen Zers cited stress as a reason for taking supplements, compared to 7.4% of baby boomer and 14.4% of Gen Xers. Sleep was the biggest concern for younger consumers in the survey, with 19% of Gen Z respondents and 20.3% of millennial respondents choosing sleep as the primary reason they take supplements, compared to Gen X-ers and baby boomers at 11.3% and 11.7%, respectively.

9. Education and customer service sell sustainable seafood

As more conventional supermarkets pivot to offer shoppers sustainable fish and seafood, natural foods retailers face growing competition. But there is opportunity here as well, because many consumers are confused in terms of what constitutes "sustainable" in the seafood realm.

This is why employee and shopper education is a priority for many operators as higher costs and inconsistent availability of sustainable seafood remain obstacles to sector growth.

Chuck Anderson, vice president and partner with Certified Quality Foods, a Dallas-based analyzer of seafood quality, says in the article to “start by educating seafood counter staff in the basics of company sustainable sourcing standards.” Support that effort with point-of-sale signs and QR codes to highlight stories about the people and the companies behind products being sold.

“One good story can be more effective than a website full of technical standards," Anderson says.

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