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Articles from 2014 In October

Natural Foods Merchandiser

Checkout: Susanne Fiori and Cindy Boyer champion supplement standards

Susanne Fiori, Cindy Boyer

Selling brown rice, beans and Birkenstocks in ultraconservative Reading, Pennsylvania, was a tough go back in 1977. But Susanne Fiori, owner of Nature’s Garden Natural Foods and Shoes, was so passionate about promoting health and wellness that she soldiered on. Over time, Fiori’s business, especially her top-notch supplements section, took hold and grew. She brought Cindy Boyer on board in 1996, and now the two women captain a successful store and helm a weekly radio show that explores nutrition, supplementation and healthy living. Both endeavors have garnered Fiori and Boyer mad respect within the industry, among local doctors and from consumers, all of whom rely on their deep nutrition knowledge and commitment to high-quality products. We chatted with the co-owners about the state of supplements yesterday, today and tomorrow.

NFM: How has the supplement industry changed over 37 years?

Susanne Fiori: One of the biggest changes is we used to sell everything as individual nutrients—bottles of vitamin C or B complex. It wasn’t until Terry Lemerond and Dr. Michael Murray came about that we began to see synergistic formulas that address specific needs. That really changed our focus. Now we want to help shoppers find specific solutions to support precise needs, and we discourage them from buying just iron or zinc because those won’t address the underlying problem.

NFM: Has supplement quality improved since 1977?

Cindy Boyer: Science has helped improve the quality of products. But unfortunately, there are still a lot of crappy companies out there. They pop up, get marketed, get caught making false claims and then go away. It’s really important for retailers to police ourselves and be careful about what we suggest to shoppers.

NFM: How do you vet supplements to make sure you’re selling the best?

CB: No. 1: clinical research. I don’t just look at product propaganda. I love looking for research on PubMed because there’s no bias there.

SF: I also want to see manufacturing standards, how and from where raw materials are sourced and what assays are used to ensure quality.

CB: We’ve visited Gaia Herbs, Enzymatic Therapy and Natural Factors. We talk to the researchers; we see which raw materials they reject. Yes, it’s frustrating when a product is out of stock, but if it’s because the manufacturer has rejected impure raw materials, you have to respect that. The only way to ensure a therapeutic dose—and guarantee consumer results—is through standardization.

NFM: Nowadays, supplements are sold nearly everywhere. How has this impacted your store?

SF: Big-box stores sell on price, so they’ll carry inferior types of calcium, vitamin C that’s ready to expire or products coming from questionable countries. The worst possible scenario is when someone goes to a big-box store for, say, echinacea. Whether that product contains the right amount of echinacea, or any at all, is questionable. The shopper buys it, and it does nothing. Now she believes echinacea is useless. Now we have to reassure her that if she buys echinacea that has been properly grown and extracted, it can have amazing results.

NFM: Are you also feeling heat from online supplement sales?

SF: For the first time in 37 years, we’re seeing a softening in supplement sales because products are being sold online for 30 percent or 40 percent off.

CB: These products can’t sell themselves—manufacturers need brick-and-mortar stores with educated staffs to sell their supplements. But the other issue is we educate customers and then they find products online for cheaper. I think manufacturers have a responsibility to retailers who’ve supported them from the beginning. They shouldn’t allow cheap sales online while the independents pay more.

NFM: What can be done about this?

CB: Looking at any category, the perception is that big-box stores sell more. But collectively, independents sell more supplements. So we’re a stronger force, even though we’re not treated as such. If we unite and put more pressure on manufacturers, maybe we can make a difference.

SF: MAP pricing needs to be enforced, so it’s one-size-fits-all. Otherwise, small independents are going to go away, and then how would consumers learn?

Embrace your role as an independent - Follow Fiori and Boyer's lead with these 3 tips

Don’t follow fads. “You can’t carry everything, and selling fads will not ensure you’ll be here tomorrow or be respected in your community,” Boyer says. “Some stores put up Dr. Oz displays. No way would we do that. You have to be true to yourself, stick with your standards and carry products in good consciousness.”

Trumpet your knowledge. “We take a firm stand against misinformation and bad products and have very little patience for other stores that don’t,” Boyer says. “We are very fortunate in this industry to have access to top experts and education, so we owe it to consumers to use these resources and to actually look at clinical trials and pass information on.”

Be vocal with manufacturers. Frustrated with cheap Internet sales and big-box store discounts? Speak up about your value as an independent, and advocate for more uniform pricing. “I think some supplement manufacturers are idealistic about what’s going on right now,” Fiori says. “But it isn’t working. We think we have the best products and can explain them far better than any box store or online retailer.”

[email protected]: Trick or treat! Your candy is full of GMOs | Monsanto targets millennials

5@5: Trick or treat! Your candy is full of GMOs | Monsanto targets millennials

Natural news Oct. 27

Exclusive: Organic grocer Lucky's Market planning multiple Florida locations by Ashley Gurbal Kritzer via Tampa Bay Business Journal Lucky's Market, a Colorado-based organic grocer, is planning multiple locations in the Sunshine State. The grocer' s first Florida location is set to open in Gainesville in January... Feds OK test of USPS grocery delivery via Federal authorities have given approval for the U.S. Postal Service to commence a two-year test of a customized delivery program for grocery e-tailers... Is FreshDirect...View "Natural news Oct. 27" on Spundge

Americans still need more omegas

The good news: Americans are not snarfing down as much fat as we were in 1980.
The bad news: We’ve still got a way to go before the experts at the American Heart Association are satisfied with the way we chew (or don't chew) the fat.
Americans’ consumption of trans fats dropped by about a third and consumption of saturated fats decreased as well between 1980 and 2009, and consumption of healthy omega-3 fatty acids remained steady, but lower than recommendations, according to a study published this week in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
“Other studies have previously shown a decline in trans fat intake over time, but our study is the first to look at such a long period of time,” lead author Mary Ann Honors of the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis told Reuters Health. “Trans fat intake declined by over one third, which was great to see.”
The study included 12,500 people enrolled in the Minnesota Heart Study. Subjects described in detail what they’d eaten of the past 24 hours in a series of six surveys over 30 years. Researchers compared their reported types and amounts of nutrients with recommendations from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and AHA recommendations.
If Americans consumed more omega-3s, it may not just make the folks at AHA headquarters happy. Recent research suggests omega-3s may help fight depression.

For all things omega -- from ingredient and product innovations to data charts and more -- check out the Nutrition Business Journal omega-3 business report here.


Steviva Ingredients launches MonkSweet Plus

Steviva Ingredients, a global supplier of all-natural high-intensity and custom sweeteners, recently announced the launch of MonkSweet™ plus, a natural sweetening solution bringing together optimal levels of proprietary stevia, monk fruit (lo han guo) and erythritol.

MonkSweet plus answers the industry’s call for a great-tasting, low-calorie sweetener that can eliminate or reduce the need for added sugar in a variety of applications. The ingredient is twice as sweet as sugar and has just 0.2 calories per gram. It can be easily plugged into formulations at a 1:2 ratio for sucrose or high fructose corn syrup to reduce calories and enhance flavor. It also meets health and dietary demands by carrying a GMO-free profile, kosher certification and a low glycemic load that’s safe for diabetics.

Designed specifically for beverages, sauces, marinades, condiments, baked goods, jellies and confections, MonkSweet plus is highly soluble, as well as non-fermenting. It is appropriate in a wide range of formulations because it works well with other sweeteners and is heat, shelf and pH stable.

MonkSweet plus is a proprietary blend of three branded ingredients: SteviaSweet 95-60, monk fruit extract and Erysweet Erythritol. Together, they deliver a naturally sweet, minimal calorie solution with a similar mouthfeel to sugar, as well as a host of advantages. Calorie-free SteviaSweet 95-60 delivers 250 times the sweetness of sucrose, while Erysweet Erythritol not only restores necessary bulk, but also tempers the sweetness of stevia and provides a mild cooling effect. The addition of monk fruit extract contributes additional sweetness and also acts as a natural flavor enhancer to mask the off-notes associated with stevia and other ingredients in a formulation.

The sweetness of the monk fruit, a relative newcomer to the market, is derived from a group of glycosides called mogrosides. Steviva Ingredients extracts mogroside V, the sweetest of these, from the pulp of the fruit via water extraction, a method that provides the cleanest flavor because it is free from residue and chemical solvents.

NutraClick named to Healthiest Companies in America list by Greatist

NutraClick, a technology-driven health and wellness products company, was named as one of the Healthiest Companies to Work For in America by Greatist, the next-generation media company in health for healthy-minded millennials. Greatist selected 44 companies, which are categorized based on size and not listed in any ranking order. NutraClick is in the Small Companies category.

A note from Greatist on the metrics: We researched the companies on this list and crunched the data to find truly stellar businesses. We looked at health benefits (including mental health), fitness perks, healthy eating options, vacation and telecommuting policies, help for parents, initiatives to build culture, philanthropic efforts, and more.

As stated by Greatist: At NutraClick, your time is really your own. The company runs a results-only work environment, which means that its 125 employees can set their own schedules. They're expected to meet deadlines and complete high-quality work rather than spend a specific number of hours at company headquarters. While they're at the office, workers can take advantage of kitchen stocked with healthy options for breakfast, lunch, and snack time, as well as a fitness area where employees can lift weights, take a yoga or meditation class, or compete in one of the office's push-up challenges. Everyone also has access to NutraClick's wellness coach and certified personal trainer, who can advise and track goal setting for everything from losing weight to improving nutrition.

Wixon to showcase gluten-free, organic, functional solutions at PLMA show

Wixon will showcase “good for you” gluten-free, organic, functional, and nutritional mixes at PLMA’s Store Brands Reality Trade Show, Nov. 17-18, at the Rosemont Convention Center in Illinois. The company will also feature its packaging capabilities for dry mixes and other products. Visitors to Wixon’s booth will be served samples of its Nutritional Ancient Grain Bar and Nutritional Peach Greek Yogurt Smoothie.

As demand for health and wellness products continues to increase, Wixon offers a number of mixes, enhanced by proprietary flavor modifier technologies, to meet the needs of nutrition-seeking consumers. Mag-nifique Sweet Lift creates a synergistic effect with sugar that enhances the perceived sweetness of the Nutritional Ancient Grain Bar without added sugar and calories. The bar also contains Wixon’s reduced sodium technology, Mag-nifique RSS. Mag-nifique Sour-Away reduces the perception of sourness in the Nutritional Peach Greek Yogurt Smoothie without affecting pH, and Mag-nifique Astringency Away reduces the perception of astringency.

Packaged gluten-free soup mixes will be on display at PLMA, including:

• Gluten-Free Classic Chicken Noodle Soup, a familiar taste featuring sweet corn, onion, carrot, peas, celery, turmeric, and chicken.
• Gluten-Free Creamy Potato Soup, a rich blend of carrot, onion, roasted garlic, potato, sour cream, cheddar cheese, buttermilk, and chicken.
• Gluten-Free Hearty Minestrone, featuring red and black beans, carrot, tomato, red bell pepper, celery, onion, spinach, paprika, and a hint of garlic.
• Gluten-Free Supreme Chili, with pinto, black, and red beans; onion; celery; garlic; red and green bell peppers; and a kick of spices.

Wixon’s gluten-free seasonings packets will offer a variety of zesty flavors for meatloaf, including Gluten-Free Classic Homestyle, Gluten-Free Italian Lovers, and Mediterranean.

Other gluten-free bakery items to be featured include:

• Gluten-Free Chocolate Decadence Brownie Mix, with cocoa, cinnamon, and a touch of coffee.
• Gluten-Free Honey Butter Corn Bread Mix, a sweet blend of corn meal with indulgent honey and butter.
• Gluten-Free Zesty Herb Pizza Crust Mix, including garlic, onion, and spices for a flavorful pizza crust.

Wixon’s organic spice blend and side dish offerings will be All-Purpose Seasoning Sea Salt; Pepper and Spice Medley; Blends of Italy Seasoning; Vegan Indian Curry Quinoa; Roasted Garlic Quinoa; and Spinach, Tomato, and Smoked Gouda Couscous.

Functional items that give an added boost will include:
• Fibered Up Black Chia Seed & Raspberry Microwave Muffin Mix, a filling and convenient way to help curb hunger with the inclusion of garbanzo beans.
• Protein Packed Pancake Mix, a blend that features a traditional pancake flavor with the slight crunch of quinoa.
• Protein Packed Instant Lentil Soup, with a garden variety of herbs and vegetables, such as carrots, roasted garlic, red bell peppers, onion, celery, tomato, and leeks.

“We look forward to bringing a variety of dry mixes and seasonings to life at the PLMA Show and invite visitors to stop by our booth and see how we make specialty products better,” says Wixon Consumer Products Divisional Leader Paul Whitaker. “Wixon’s three core levels of service ensure that our customers’ products meet expectations from innovative concepts through efficient production to professional packaging. Trust Wixon to be your go-to partner for developing gluten-free, organic, functional, and nutritional seasonings, beverages, bakery, and more – to extend product lines and meet the demands of these growing market segments.”

Life Extension hires Mark Miller as executive director

Life Extension, a trailblazer in the $32 billion U.S. dietary supplement industry, has announced Mark Miller, PhD, MBA, FACN, CNS, has joined Life Extension as executive director of research and development.

Previously, Miller was vice president, research and development for six years with AdvoCare International, LP in Plano, TX.

For 34 years, Life Extension, based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has been a pioneer in funding and reporting the latest anti-aging research and integrative health therapies while offering superior-quality dietary supplements to consumers.

Chip maker RW Garcia opens new facility in Las Vegas area

RW Garcia, family-owned-and-operated leading maker of artisan and all-natural corn-based snacks for more than 30 years, has opened a new 63,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility near Las Vegas, Nevada. The facility, which features the latest in chip and cracker making technologies and brings 80 new jobs to the area, is now fully operational with its first chips off the production lines and shipping out to distributors and retailers.

“We have seen so much growth at RW Garcia over the past few years, and opening this facility in Las Vegas greatly increases our manufacturing capacity, while still offering room for continued growth,” said Robert Garcia, president and CEO of RW Garcia. “The business environment in Las Vegas really drew us in, and we greatly appreciate the willingness of the governor to help facilitate the new plant. We look forward to much success operating this facility in Nevada.”

In recent years, sales of RW Garcia-branded products and growth of the company’s private label business have begun to outpace production at its two current plants, one in San Jose, California, and the other in Lincolnton, North Carolina. The new Las Vegas facility offers the ability to not only meet current demand, but also to accommodate increased manufacturing capacity needs as the company continues to grow. Increased production also allows for greater distribution of RW Garcia branded products into more retail outlets.

Locating the facility in the Las Vegas area offered a number of advantages, including a healthy and supportive business environment and a more centralized location that will enable the company to respond more quickly to customer demand. The new plant is located in Clark County near North Las Vegas, where the company leased an existing facility and spent more than 10 months remodeling the building. Outfitted with the newest equipment from the leading manufacturers of chip and cracker making and packaging equipment, the state-of-the-art facility incorporates unique software customized to eliminate equipment variability and to produce products with constant repeatability to the highest quality of standards. The completion of the new facility will enable the full production rate to increase from 11 million pounds of chips per year to more than 62 million.

RW Garcia has long been a leader on the cutting edge of the healthier snacking trend. RW Garcia’s innovative branded product lines range from Tortatos, the first ever half tortilla chip, half potato chip; to Dippers, corn chips in innovative flavors made for dipping; to twists on traditional tortilla chips, including its MixtBag products; to a variety of corn-based gluten-free crackers. All products are made from wholesome, simple ingredients and contain no trans fats, additives or preservatives and are certified gluten free. Additionally, as the first snack chip company to be verified by the Non-GMO Project, all RW Garcia chips use non-GMO ingredients.

Cyanotech cuts annual CO2 output by 800 tons with new solar array

Cyanotech Corporation (Nasdaq Capital Market: CYAN), a global producer of effective, natural microalgae nutritional supplements, today announced the installation of its new solar array by Neighborhood Power Company (NPC). The 2,280 panel array sits on 1.3 acres of Cyanotech’s 90-acre microalgae farm, and will produce 1,147,000 kilowatt hours of electricity each year, which Cyanotech will purchase under a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). The energy production is sufficient to power the entire farm’s production during daylight hours, and will reduce Cyanotech’s electricity costs by 10 percent.

“Environmental stewardship is a key tenet of Cyanotech’s corporate mission,” said Gerry Cysewski, PhD., Chief Science Officer, Executive Vice President and Co-Founder of Cyanotech. “We are currently able to keep our carbon footprint down because our microalgae use carbon dioxide. The solar array will further reduce our greenhouse emissions and costs making it a win-win for our bottom line and the environment.”

Power costs on Hawaii Island are the most expensive in the country. By not using 1,147,000 kilowatt hours of standard petroleum based electricity, Cyanotech will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 791 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, which is equivalent to the annual greenhouse emissions of gas from 167 passenger vehicles.

Cyanotech celebrated the installation of the solar array with local business and community leaders during a blessing ceremony led by Hawaiian culture expert and founder of Na Wai Iwi Ola foundation Kumu Keala Ching.

"In alignment with our corporate value of Malama Aina, Respect for our Environment, we are delighted to put the system into operation,” said Jen Johansen, Vice President of Quality and Regulatory Affairs, Cyanotech.


Rhyme time at Expo East Pitch Slam

Rhyme time at Expo East Pitch Slam

Natural Products Expo East is a feast of new ideas and innovation. As part of the 2014 Pitch Slam representing Dang Foods, how was I going to stand out from the admittedly impressive other two contestants in just five minutes, while communicating real data and a business plan? Here's how: by reciting my pitch in rhyming couplets packed with information.

Although Dang Foods didn't win the final award, I can guarantee the pitch itself was memorable. Here it is.


Now this is a story all about how

I grew a company up from the ground.

The name is Dang, after my Mom.

One day she gave me a recipe – it was the bomb:


Take a coconut, then you slice out the meat,

Season it up, then apply some heat.

What you have left is a coconut chip,

It’s crispy, sweet and it’ll make you flip.


That’s a coconut chip? it looks like shaved wood,

Taste it for yourself and you’ll say Dang, that’s good!

A coconut is a seed, a nut and a fruit,

Three categories that are growing up like shoots.


Coconut water and oil sales are going through the roof,

Chips are next in line and that’s the truth.

These forces have led us to grow really fast,

‘Cause we’re early to market, and not the last.


All this is nice, but what’s the bottom line?

Dang is healthy, trendy and tastes real fine.

We’ve got five flavors, some Fair Trade and non-GMO,

Because we care about the places our coconuts grow.


Vegans love us, so do the gluten-free,

We’ve got fiber and you can put us on salads and ice cream.

Many say they’re addicted, which we don’t mind,

They’re in good company, including The New York Times.


Speaking of the Times, what’s up with the press?

“Dang Coconut Chips” have been featured by the best.

This past summer we got a Sofi for best snack

Wait till next year – we’re gonna go “back-to-back.”


Our social media reach is up at 15 grand,

We even got a Kardashian Instagram.

Now what does this mean for distribution and sales?

The biggest stores agree that “Dang never fails."


Since we’re out in the West, natural channel was the best,

Then we started moving across the U.S.

Today we’re in Whole Foods and Safeway nationwide,

The other upscale grocers and Food Lion – the whole pride.


Next year, we’ll focus on bringing it to the club

Costco, Sam’s, they’ll show us the love.

Foodservice and ecommerce will be growth drivers

To bring our sales even higher and higher.


Publix and Wegmans are in our sights

And I think you’ll agree that the future’s real bright.

In the coconut chip market, we’re clearly on top

Three-quarters market share and no signs of a stop.


And for those who want to know how we do on the shelf,

Our turns are faster than a record; the numbers speak for itself.

Now what does this mean in terms of the green?

How will we grow and are we a lean team?


This year we’re heading to 4 and a half mil,

41% margin – who wants to make a deal?

Our growth will come with new products and stores,

Line extensions and new items to please our core.


All this came from just $90,000 bucks

Because we’re a small team with low overhead and no trucks.

To sum it all up, we’ve been profitable from year one,

We’re in it to win it, and have some fun.


My brother and I are the right team to lead Dang

Because we’re balanced like yin and yang.

Our team is small but the talent is there

To take on competitors like Go Raw and Bare.


We’ll continue with Fair Trade and other certifications

And create new categories with future innovations.

We’re new to the industry and need your help

To get to the next level and expand on the shelf.


As a young team we rely on our friends

To share their knowledge so we can contend.

Being at Expo is the key to our success

As well as learning from the industry’s best.


I’ve shown many numbers but this is the last

Because my 5 minutes are up, boy was that fast.

The number zero, is nice, round and small

It’s the number of accounts that have dropped us at all.


Now what is the main takeaway

From everything I’ve had to say?

Well if there’s one thing to learn from my poem today

It’s that Dang is on top, and we’ll keep it that way.


What's the most memorable startup pitch you've heard, and why?