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Articles from 2013 In October

Cutting-edge dining trends in 2014

Cutting-edge dining trends in 2014

The year 2014 will put more "high-impact, low calorie options on our plates," according to this new infographic from Sterling Rice Group, a consulting company in Boulder, Colo. The company surveyed celebrity chefs, product developers, restaurant consultants and grocery store shoppers to compile a forecast of next year's hottest food trends. 

Click here to see the full-size image.





Natural Foods Merchandiser

Bayside Market makes a giant impact with a tiny space

Deborah Boney, Boney's Bayside Market

Owner Deborah Boney set up Bayside Market, a 8,500-square-foot store on Southern California’s Coronado Island, to give customers the intimate experience of a small retailer, along with typical big-store perks. We’re talking a dazzling array of fresh produce, top-notch deli, flush grab-and-go selection and more—all at surprisingly low prices. Here, Boney shares how she drew from past experiences to strike this winning balance.

Natural Foods Merchandiser: Boney’s Bayside Market isn’t your first rodeo. Tell us your story.
Deborah Boney: My then-husband and I opened a small produce market in the early 1970s. One of our vendors started selling us granola, nuts and dried fruits, so we thought we’d try natural foods. Next we added vitamins, supplements, herbs and bulk. So we sort of fell into the natural products industry. Before long, family members joined the business and all had their own stores, while we went off and did other projects. We took back the original location and another in Escondido, Calif., in the ’80s and operated those until selling to Wild Oats in 2000. After that, I laid low for a few years. But I wasn’t ready to retire.

NFM: That’s when you launched Boney’s 2.0?
DB: Exactly. Our current store is actually in the same spot as one of our earlier outlets. It had been one of our nicest stores but wasn’t successful. But in the grocery business, so much depends on demographics, and Coronado’s have changed a lot since the ’70s. Now there are lots of young parents with upscale jobs, retired married couples, military members and tourists.

NFM: How did you design for the current demographics?
DB: We gutted the building and came up with a fresh model and upscale feel. Our main draw is produce, so we put that in the center of the store to leave it very open and built larger shelves on the outsides. We installed a full-service meat and seafood counter, nice cheese island, good wine selection, homemade soup station, sandwich board and grab-and-go section—all of which do very well.
New customers say we’re laid out like Whole Foods Market but half the size, and they like that. There’s also plenty of parking, which is rare on the island, so shoppers can come and go quickly.

NFM: How do your prices compare with the competition’s?
DB: We’re very affordable. There are several sandwich shops nearby, but our sandwiches are big and all less than $7. On most days during lunch, we’ll see 20 military jumpsuits at the sandwich counter because they love our value. Also, our produce is cheaper than Albertson’s or Vons—and it’s much, much fresher. Produce draws a lot of people initially and then they find value in the rest of our offerings.

NFM: What else sets you apart from the big guys?
DB: Our personal touch. We have much of the same staff as when we opened in 2004. We know most of our customers and say hi to one another by name. We’ll stock pretty much whatever they want or special order it. 

3 tips to maximize a minimal space

Hire a great team. With a small store, it’s an ongoing challenge to fit in as many items as you’d like, so you need A-plus managers and buyers. “My grocery managers are fantastic,” Boney says. “They’re constantly checking sales reports and discussing items to make sure we have the right mix. They’re on it.”

Price competitively when possible. Many shoppers assume small stores are more expensive than supermarkets or even larger natural stores. For some products, you may have to charge more, but perhaps you can come down a bit on others. Wow customers with value in a few key categories—such as Boney’s does with produce and sandwiches—and they’ll keep coming back and buying other, more expensive items.

Give local vendors a shot. Small stores often have more flexibility to try out local producers’ goods, which lets you stock products shoppers won’t find elsewhere. Boney welcomes regionally sourced sprouts, eggs and other items from small vendors. “If we can fit something on our shelves, we’ll try it out,” she says.


What recent financial transactions say about naturals

It’s been a busy couple of years in the natural products industry, with successful startups blowing up and being bought by big companies and established brands going public. Overall, many millions of dollars have traded hands in the food and supplement sectors. So what do these companies’ valuations say about the market? Tom Meriam, partner at Goodwin Procter LLP, breaks down the dollars and gives us his expert take on the financial health of this industry today and in the coming years.

Lonza business performance stays on track

Lonza business performance stays on track

In the third quarter 2013, Lonza’s business performance remained on track as anticipated. The Specialty Ingredients market segment delivered a good performance despite a continued weak recreational water market. The Pharma and Biotech market segment delivered as expected. Strong cost controls and process improvements continue across the organization. The overall headcount at the end of September was 10’045, reflecting a reduction of 744 positions since the beginning of the year. Lonza reiterates its 2013 CORE-EBIT guidance growth of approximately 10 percent.

Richard Ridinger, CEO Lonza, said: "In our half year update, we have announced a number of important decisions regarding our footprint and portfolio. Our organization is working intensively on the implementation of these numerous transformational activities which will help increase our productivity, reduce our complexity and transform our business portfolio. 2013 is for Lonza a true transformational year and I’m happy to see the new organization taking shape."

Specialty Ingredients market segment
The Specialty Ingredients market segment showed good performance, despite a weak recreational water market.

The Personal Care market experienced good overall market demand with continued strength in preservatives, especially in new multi-national customer product introductions. An increasing number of cosmetic product launches incorporates our specialty products for anti-aging and moisturization in high-end products.

Hygiene and Preservation continues to benefit from ongoing global strength in the Home Care and Industrial and Institutional markets with stabilizing prices in Europe. There was an accelerated global expansion into formulated solutions for antimicrobial wipes focused on health care and private-label segments. Nutrition Ingredients experienced good overall market demand. Niacin had market demand as expected, with step-by-step stabilizing pricing. The H7N9 virus in Asia impacted feed sales in the Asian poultry segment. The immune supplement Alomune™ was successfully introduced into the US retail segment.

Lonza experienced high utilization of its Agro assets. Meta™ continued to experience a strong demand especially in Europe, and geographic expansion into new markets is running according to plan. The capacity expansion project for an agrochemical multipurpose plant in Visp (CH) is on track for start-up at the end of the fourth quarter.

In Water, the demand for recreational water treatment continued to be impacted by unseasonal weather in the major market of the US. Our Pulsar Feeder system continues to meet the interest of the industrial, commercial and municipal markets.

In Industrial Solutions, Material Protection business performed well across almost all application areas. High Performance Materials had good demand in the electronics sector.

The Wood Protection offerings experienced improved volumes especially from Europe and North America in construction, agricultural and industrial markets. The carve-out of our Wood Protection business has begun.

Pharma and Biotech market segment
Driven by the state-of-the-art technology toolbox, the Pharma and Biotech market segment continues to generate customer interest. In Custom Manufacturing, the pipeline development for long term assets commitment is on track and the business also secured new contracts for small molecule products. The build-out of additional commercial scale Antibody Drug Conjugate (ADC) capacity in Visp is on track in response to continuous high demand for a full service integrated ADC offering, from mAb manufacture to conjugation. In the first three quarters of 2013 Lonza underwent 16 regulatory inspections and follow-up discussions with regulatory agencies for both products and sites. The phasedown of our Hopkinton, MA (USA) site is on track.

Custom Development services saw good overall demand. Lonza’s GS Xceed™ Gene Expression System is expanding worldwide with Asia now representing 25 percent of GS Xceed™ Research Evaluation Agreements.

The Media business is on track, supported by the long-term Sartorius Collaboration which is progressing. Research Products is facing a challenging market environment and fierce competition in Europe. Testing Solutions is on target in the US, with strong growth in Asia-Pacific.

Transformational activities
Our global initiatives are well under way. The Global Manufacturing and Business Service Excellence projects are working to improve the competitiveness of our physical value chain and our business support structures. The Go-To-Market-Excellence initiative is dealing with the improvement of the commercial and customer facing side of our businesses including innovation, marketing and sales activities with the goal of increasing revenues and profit growth over the coming years. VispChallenge, our project to improve the competitiveness of our Visp, Switzerland, site, is progressing as planned. 

In summary, overall results as well as Lonza’s reorganization and improvement projects are on track. Based on our remaining order book visibility Lonza reiterates its 2013 CORE EBIT guidance growth of approximately 10 percent. The revenues will remain on previous year’s level. CAPEX for 2013 will remain below CHF 250 million.  



BASF completes Verenium tender offer

BASF completes Verenium tender offer

BASF announced that it has successfully completed the previously announced tender offer to purchase all outstanding shares of common stock of Verenium Corp., San Diego, Calif., for US$4.00 per share in cash. The tender offer expired at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time (USA) on October 31, 2013. As of the expiration of the tender offer, 11,337,044 Verenium shares were validly tendered and not withdrawn in the tender offer, representing approximately 71 percent of Verenium’s outstanding shares, according to the depositary for the tender offer.

Based on all outstanding shares and including all net financial liabilities, the enterprise value would be approximately US$62 million (approximately €48 million).

“We thank all shareholders of Verenium who have been supportive of our offer. The acquisition will strengthen our position in the fast growing enzyme market,” said Michael Heinz, member of the board of executive directors of BASF SE and responsible for the Performance Products segment.

The condition to the tender offer that a majority of Verenium’s outstanding shares be validly tendered has been satisfied. BASF has accepted for payment and will promptly pay for all validly tendered shares. BASF expects to complete the acquisition of Verenium later today through a merger under Section 251(h) of the General Corporation Law of the State of Delaware. All remaining eligible Verenium shares will be converted into the right to receive US$4.00 per share in cash, without interest and less any required withholding taxes, the same price that was paid in the tender offer. Following completion of the merger, Verenium shares will cease to be traded on the NASDAQ Global Market, which is expected to take effect later today.

“We are now looking forward to welcome Verenium’s employees to BASF,” said Heinz. A detailed integration plan will be developed in a discovery phase after closing. BASF expects to start with the integration of Verenium in the first quarter of 2014.

Kyowa Hakko's L-ornithine self-affirmed GRAS

Kyowa Hakko's L-ornithine self-affirmed GRAS

Kyowa Hakko U.S.A. Inc., the wholly owned subsidiary of Kyowa Hakko Bio Co. Ltd., has announced it has completed GRAS (generally recognized as safe) self-affirmation for the valuable amino acid L-Ornithine.

L-Ornithine is an amino acid that is used to build muscle by stimulating protein synthesis through the enhancement of growth hormone secretion and to assist weight loss by increasing the basal metabolism. It is also known that L-ornithine has the ability to enhance immunity, liver function and anti-fatigue.

“We are excited about having GRAS for L-ornithine as this will expand the use of this important amino acid into traditional food and beverages,” said Dr. Toshikazu Kamiya, CEO and president of Kyowa Hakko USA.

Research supported by Kyowa Hakko Bio suggests that L-Ornithine has an antifatigue effect by increasing the efficiency of energy utilization and promoting the excretion of ammonia.

Tomohiro Sugino, Tomoko Shirai, Yoshitaka Kajimoto, Osami Kajimoto. L-Ornithine supplementation attenuates physical fatigue in healthy volunteers by modulating lipid and amino acid metabolism. Nutrition Research, Volume 28, Issue 11, November 2008, Pages 738–743.

The GRAS affirmation includes L-Ornithine, L-Ornithine Monohydrochloride, and L-Ornithine L-Aspartate. L-Ornithine will be marketed by Kyowa Hakko USA as a food ingredient in the United States for use at levels of 200 mg of L-ornithine/serving in various food products, such as beverages and beverages bases; grain products and pastas; milk products; and processed fruits and fruit juices.


InterHealth joint ingredient found effective

InterHealth joint ingredient found effective

Healthy subject research conducted on InterHealth Nutraceutical’s leading joint-health branded ingredient, UC-II®, was published online by the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. This new research found that 40 mg of UC-II taken once a day was effective in increasing the joint comfort of healthy individuals who only experience joint discomfort with exercise.  

“This healthy-subject study, which excluded individuals with arthritic disease, could be the basis for future research in the joint-health category. With this publication, we hope to pave the way for future research that promotes not only InterHealth’s ingredients, but the industry’s growth as well,” stated InterHealth’s Vice President of Business Development and Research James Lugo, PhD, lead author of the published study.

The study’s principal investigator, Jay Udani, MD, CEO of Medicus Research in Agoura Hills, Calif., believes the key to the success of this research in the dietary supplement industry is the population group used in the study.

 “Using healthy subjects who may be at risk for future joint issues, but who do not present with diagnosable disease, not only helps substantiate dietary supplement structure/function claims, but is in alignment with FDA and FTC enforcement of DSHEA,” explained Dr. Udani, who is also the medical director of the Northridge Hospital Intergrative Medicine Program.

Nick Shamie, MD, another coauthor on the UC-II research and an orthopedic surgeon at the UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica, stated that “The research corroborates previous clinical research showing the benefits of UC-II on subjects with osteoarthritis.”

Results from this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study showed that 40 mg of UC-II once-a-day was significantly more effective at improving knee extension than placebo. Subjects who were given UC-II throughout the course of the study experienced less joint discomfort caused by strenuous exercise when compared to baseline. Twenty-one percent of subjects taking UC-II and only five percent of subjects taking the placebo experienced no pain after 10 minutes of exercise at study conclusion.

An abstract summarizing these research results won first place at the 10th Annual Natural Supplements Research Competition in San Diego earlier this year. The UC-II clinical research was independently conducted by Medicus Research, which represents many companies and institutions pioneering some of the most exciting research being conducted in the nutraceuticals industry.

“Studying active, healthy individuals expands the joint health market to include younger people who are living a healthy and active lifestyle,” said InterHealth CEO, Paul Dijkstra. “The healthy subject research demonstrates InterHealth’s commitment to the scientific development and global expansion of UC-II. Top-class research is an invaluable resource supporting the growth of new and existing UC-II business in the United States and worldwide.”

UC-II is already a non-novel food in the EU, which means it can be included in food supplements.

Fundamental changes in attitudes involving personal health continue to drive the industry. People with active lifestyles and those who take supplements consistently are looking for products that will keep them healthy. Joint supplements that include UC-II have the potential to help alleviate joint pain due to strenuous exercise.

Fukushima's impact so far a wash for seaweed products

Fukushima's impact so far a wash for seaweed products

It’s been more than two and a half years since a massive earthquake crippled Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi power plant, and still the effects of the disaster are making headlines as water laced with radioactive isotopes continues to leak into the Pacific Ocean.

Since the March 2011 earthquake that crippled the reactors, scientists and governments have been racing to study the potential effects of the toxic water on marine life from bluefin tuna to cod, and some of the results are alarming. One recent article in the New York Times reported that the Japanese government found 1 in 10 of some species of bottom-feeding fish caught near Fukushima are contaminated by amounts of radioactive cesium that exceed safety limits.

Meanwhile, the seaweed snack product industry has been soaring to new heights with products like seaweed chips, seaweed flavored rice cakes and almond chunk seaweed sticks. One company, SeaSnax, has seen 300 percent growth since it was founded in 2010, CEO and founder Jin Jun said.

“There is a heightened consciousness for wanting simpler healthier foods,” said Ben Kim, Jun’s husband and “chief etcetera officer” of SeaSnax. “People are actively seeking out healthier snacks because (snacking) is a bigger part of their lives.”

So considering the literal tide of Fukushima-related contamination and the figurative one of the skyrocketing seaweed market, the question is: Did they collide? 

Thus far, scientists haven’t sounded the alarm bells about potential radioactive contamination in seaweed like they have with other marine species. But they didn’t give the all-clear either.

Steven Manley, a biology professor at California State University Long Beach measured the radioactive iodine levels in sea kelp off the coast of California immediately after the disaster. The kelp, which concentrates iodine 10,000-fold and would have been affected by iodine 131 released into the atmosphere, did indeed show elevated levels of the radioactive isotope. Some plants showed levels that were 250-fold higher than what was measured in kelp plants prior to the disaster. But the results didn’t prompt any sort of public health outcry because the amounts detected were very small and the isotope’s eight-day half-life means it degrades very rapidly, Manley said. Even in areas closer to Fukushima, after 30 days of seaweed being harvested, there would be very low amounts of iodine, he said. Tests of the kelp Manley collected also didn’t pick up noticeable amounts of Cesium 134 or Cesium 137, other radioactive elements of concern.

The majority of seaweed, however, is farmed in Asia, not California. Nicholas Fisher, a professor at Stony Brook University traveled closer to the source, testing macroalgae off the coast of Japan. Fisher’s team found elevated cesium in seaweed samples, but not at levels that exceeded safety standards set by Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. There is no evidence to suggest that seaweed concentrates cesium like it does iodine, Fisher said.

Even so, Manley said he would continue to be cautious about seaweed coming from Asia.

“I would be very reluctant to harvest stuff around Japan or Korea unless it was actually counted and shown to be free from Fukushima radioisotopes,” he said. 

Several seaweed snack manufacturers said they source their seaweed from the coast of South Korea, which has avoided major contamination issues thus far. Ocean’s Halo, a 2-year-old year old company out of the Bay Area, has been monitoring tests by South Korea’s Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries. The only radiation the tests detected were in tangleweed, also known as dashimi or kombu, a type of seaweed the company doesn’t use, said Mike Shim, the company’s co-founder.  

SeaSnax is taking that vigilance one step further. In addition to monitoring government testing, Jun's brother-in-law moved to South Korea to do additional quality control and enhance product innovation. Ben Kim also zaps every shipment the company receives with a geigercounter, a device now common in Japan that measures radiation.

“The whole reason we started this is to help people eat healthier food," Kim said, a goal that would most certainly be derailed by the presence of radioactive elements.

Natural Foods Merchandiser

5 scripts to use for customer service on social media

5 scripts to use for customer service on social media

Chances are you’ve had a few customer complaints over the years about particular products you carry or even your store’s services or policies. But nowadays, rather than call or send an angry email, an unhappy customer might air his beef publicly over social media. Are you ready to tackle these situations in the spotlight?

One way to handle a customer complaint is to take it offline. But if you don’t address a gripe publicly, others who’ve seen the post may interpret your “lack” of response negatively. It’s best to be prepared for whatever a customer might post—whether a tweet, blog comment or Facebook post—and at least acknowledge it in the open. Here are five scripts you can use to gracefully bow out of social media spats while still showing all shoppers that you’re paying attention.

If a shopper is misinformed about your store: Hi [name or username] – We’re happy to discuss our stance on [the issue, such as GMOs or Dr. Oz–endorsed products]. We take natural health seriously, so here’s where we stand. [Your carefully crafted response to the issue]. If you want to chat further, stop by the store or email us at [your email].

For problems with products: Hi [name or username] – We saw your message and want to make things right. What’s the best email to reach you? If you prefer, email us at [your email] and we’ll get in touch quickly. Thanks for bringing this to our attention!

If a shopper is generally disgruntled with your store: Hi [name or username] – Thanks for letting us know about [the issue]. To clear up any confusion, the reason we do [the issue] is because [your reason]. Do you have a suggestion for how we can better serve you? We’d love to hear it. Please email us at [your email].

If you know you’ve screwed up: Hi [name or username] – We didn’t handle [the issue] in the best way. We’d love the opportunity to make this right. Please send us your contact info or email us at [your email].

For tweets, follow the person, then send: Hi [@username] – Let’s chat in more than 140 characters about this. DM us your email & we’ll get in touch quickly. Thx!

Caren Baginski is the social media coordinator for Denver-based LiveWell Colorado and former social media and digital editor of

Natural Foods Merchandiser

Maine names grocer, producer of the year

The Maine Grocers Association and Maine Food Producers Alliance announced their prestigious annual awards at the Maine Food Means Business 2013 Summit held at the Hilton Garden Inn Freeport Downtown. Adam and Sheila Nappi, Bow Street Market are the 2013 Maine Grocer of the Year and Aaron Anker and Nat Peirce, GrandyOats are the 2013 Producer of the Year.   

Bow Street Market is a second generation, family owned and operated neighborhood market located in Freeport, Maine. In operation since 1946, the market offers a fresh butcher shop, over 200 Maine products, and signature deli items. In 1974, Karen and John Nappi purchased the market that grew and saw over five expansions. In October of 2002, Sheila and Adam purchased the Bow Street Market from Karen and John.

What happened next was an unexpected positive surprise. With increased competition, a transformation in the food business and increased consumer interest in everything “local”, their team, supported by their community partners, focused on what they do best and opened their new 15,000-square-foot New England–style market in May 2011, creating an unparalleled shopping experience that delights the senses with a down home local appeal.

Sheila and Adam give credit to their nearly 100 associates for providing superior customer service, exceeding customers’ expectations on a daily basis.

Adam serves on the MGA’s Spirits Advisory Committee, spearheading the association’s effort to secure increased purchase discount rates for agency liquor stores and illuminating their role as the state’s essential business partner. He spent countless hours advocating, earning him the reputation as an effective and highly respected collaborator. Special thanks to Sheila and Adam for inviting Summit participants to tour their store.

For 34 years, in the foothills of western Maine, GrandyOats has made the tastiest granola, by hand, in small batches, using the finest organic ingredients. GrandyOats now makes more than 40 unique handmade granolas, oatmeal, trail mixes and roasted nuts. They never use refined sweeteners or any artificial ingredients. They believe that organically grown food is good for you and good for the Earth.

During the past 13 years, Aaron and Nat, college friends from UNH, have been growing the business together with their team of 18 people in rural Brownfield, Maine, now the small town’s largest employer. They are currently growing at 30 percent for the year and 35 times the revenues as they were in 2000. Some of their proudest achievements were becoming certified Organic and GMO free in 2004. They remain committed to staying small in their methods, by producing all the products by hand in 60 lb. batches.

Aaron has served on the Maine Food Producers Alliance Board of Directors for 5 years providing thoughtful guidance as well as “out of the box” strategic thinking. He has served as the Producer Showcase Master of Ceremonies for two years where he provides encouragement and guidance to emerging food producers.

These awards were presented at the Maine Food Means Business 2013 Summit held on Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013 at the Hilton Garden Inn Freeport Downtown. This event marked the fifth anniversary of the Maine Grocers Association and Maine Food Producers Alliance landmark collaborative.