Natural Products Expo West NEXTY judges Brody Burk and Jonathan Lawrence highlight the trends and categories driving innovation in CPG. Listen in.

New Hope Network staff

February 23, 2024

We’re back with season two of The Natural List podcast!

Hosts Jessica Rubino and Adrienne Smith kick off 2024 with a detailed recap of the Natural Products Expo West NEXTY Awards. Then, first-time NEXTY judges Brody Burk, forager manager at Sprouts Farmers Market, and Jonathan Lawrence, vice president of center store and founding member of Fresh Thyme Market, to discuss standout trends and categories from the NEXTY awards and the future of CPG. Plus, the hosts review some of their favorite products and innovations from this year’s list of 154 NEXTY finalists.

In this episode:   

  • 2:05 – We’re back with season two of The Natural List! 

  • 2:55 – Jessica and Adrienne talk lip dryness and share their favorite episodes from 2023. 

  • 4:30 – The best time of the year: knee-deep in the NEXTY Awards! 

  • 6:50 – Standouts from this year’s NEXTY finals. 

  • 9:50 – Brody Burke from Sprouts Farmers Market and Jonathan Lawrence from Fresh Thyme Market discuss the future of CPG.  

  • 16:50 – A detailed look at the categories that caught our judges’ attention. 

  • 23:00 – What trends or categories are seeing a lot of innovation? 

  • 28:40 – Brody and Jonathan discuss the values that drive consumers. 

  • 32:30 – It's time for The List – NEXTY Finalist edition! 

Brands featured in this episode’s segment of The List: Wunderkern’s Apricot Seed Milk, Youtheory’s Ocean-Friendly Omega, Burroughs Family Farms’ Almond Milk Concentrate, King Arthur Baking Company, Walker Brothers and Rishi’s collaboration - Masala Chai Kombucha, Canary’s Concentrated Hand Soap Refill Bar, The Unscented Company, Paro’s Tarka and JUST DATE Vegan Chocolate Chips. See the entire class of finalists in the gallery.

Enjoy this new episode here and wherever you listen to your podcasts, including Spotify, Apple and Google podcasts.    

Interested in being a guest on The Natural List? Email us at [email protected]

Our guests

Brody Burk 
Forager Manager, Sprouts Farmers Market 


Brody is the forager manager at Sprouts Farmer’s Market, an Arizona-based natural specialty store that spans across 23 states and has more than 400 locations. Brody is responsible for bringing innovative and differentiated products into Sprouts to help the company lead the market in innovation and assist with the incubation of smaller brands. He prepares these emerging brands for national launch on the Innovation Center, delighting customers with unique and fun experiences they can only find while shopping at Sprouts. 

Brody brings 13 years of retail experience—12 of which are in the natural specialty industry with Sprouts—with roles ranging from receiver, store-level grocery manager, assistant category manager, and forager manager at the Support Office. Brody nurtures his strong passion for natural and innovative products by helping small brands grow into formidable competitors in an ever-expanding market. 

Jonathan Lawrence 
Vice President of Center Store and founding member of Fresh Thyme Market 


Jonathan Lawrence is the vice president of Center Store and a founding member of Fresh Thyme Market. Based in Downers Grove, Illinois, Fresh Thyme has grown to 71 stores across the Midwest. Jonathan grew up in the industry, as his grandfather started a chain of natural foods stores in the Phoenix area called Arizona Health Foods. Arizona Health expanded to 14 stores with more than 100 employees before it was sold in 2003.  Inheriting the entrepreneurial bug, Jonathan partnered with his uncle in 2005 to start Arizona Nutritional Sciences. They developed the brand PlantFusion, one of the first multi-sourced plant-based protein powders on the market. In 2011, Jonathan went back to  retail, first as an operator and then a merchant with Sunflower Farmers Market and Sprouts Farmers Market.  His experience at every level of the business has been instrumental in preparing him for his role at Fresh Thyme.  Jonathan has a bachelor's in sociology from Arizona State University and an MBA from the University of Phoenix. 

Your hosts 

About Jessica Rubino  


Jessica Rubino is a natural products industry expert and content strategist with more than 15 years experience in media, events and natural products. As New Hope Network’s vice president of content, Jessica oversees digital and print content, conference programming and branded content for CPGs, retailers, investors and service providers. Jessica is passionate about using innovation as a force for good and leveraging content to spark the changes we want to see in the world.  

About Adrienne Smith  


Adrienne Smith is the director of content for and the editor-in-chief of Natural Foods Merchandiser magazine where she helps ideate and produce content for natural products retailers, brands and entrepreneurs. Before coming to New Hope Network, she spent nearly two decades writing about food and beverage products and trends for the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Trade in Madrid, Spain, as well as for publications including the International Herald Tribune/New York Times and El País. 

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