4 must-read microplastic studies

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Microplastics, the terrifying and ubiquitous tiny plastic particles that have been getting attention from many a news outlet this past year, have officially infiltrated our food and water supply. They’ve been found in the deepest depths of the ocean and mixed throughout soil in increasingly less fertile fields. And their effects, many believe, are detrimental to both the environment and human health.

To help you fully grasp the extent of the damage, below are four recent studies that will have any retailer or brand rethinking the single-use plastic bag, takeout container or straw.

1. Human consumption of microplastics.

While it has been confirmed that humans regularly ingest microplastics, a new meta-analysis of 26 studies that measured the amounts of microplastic particles in fish, shellfish, sugar, salt, beer and water shows that adults eat about 50,000 small plastic particles each year—and breathe in an equally high amount. Consumers of plastic bottled water fare far worse because they likely take in an extra 90,000 microplastics annually.

2. Microplastics stunt growth of worms.

Not only do microplastics inhibit plant growth and seed germination, they also wreak havoc on earthworms’ intestinal tracts and ability to digest nutrients. Researchers found that after a period of 30 days in the presence of microplastic clothing fibers and high-density polyethylene, the rosy-tipped earthworms had lost roughly 3.1% of their body weight. Earthworms are crucial for healthy soil generation, and the study’s authors point out that any pollution that affects them will have outsize, cascading impacts on future soil fertility.

3. It is raining plastic.

This study identified microplastics in more than 90% of rainwater samples tested from across Colorado—including a remote site in Rocky Mountain National Park that is more than two miles high in elevation. Researcher Gregory Wetherbee told The Guardian that plastic was the last thing he expected to find when analyzing the samples; its presence indicates that the material is an ingrained part of our natural world that has no sure way of being flushed out just yet.

4. Understanding microplastic levels, pathways and transport.

Three years ago the San Francisco Bay Microplastics Project sought to uncover the biggest contributors to the plethora of microplastics found in the digestive systems of marine organisms off the California coast. What they found is that of the more than 7 trillion pieces of microplastics that enter the San Francisco Bay each year, a solid majority of them are tire particles. This finding opens up a whole new realm for the relatively new world of microplastic research, as cars could be polluting our environment in a way that has never before been noted or measured.

How 3 Pitch Slam semifinalists lead with inspiration

Expo East Pitch Slam Semifinalists Inspiration Brands

Innovation, inspiration and integrity are top criteria when it comes to landing a spot as a Natural Products Expo East and Expo West Pitch Slam semifinalist. While there are other factors involved in the reviewing process, these three key points embody the core of the natural products industry.

The Expo East 2019 Pitch Slam semifinalists kicked it into high gear this year, scoring high in all three categories. While we recently featured four brands that nailed innovation, this time we’re shining a spotlight on three brands that put inspiration at the forefront, and we’ll round it out with integrity-focused brands soon.

Between popped water lily seeds, an African-inspired beverage line and organic, grain-free tortilla chips, these brands lead with inspiration, and we bet your brand can learn from their stories, too.

To get the 4-11, we asked each brand: How and why does inspiration play a key role in your brand?

MAKOMAS: African-inspired beverages

Magbe Savane MakomasMAKOMAS is at the heart of health and innovation where we package sustainably grown natural and organic African superfoods (baobab and moringa) with clear, simplified and accurate labeling. No added sugar, artificial colors, additives or preservatives.

The idea of setting up MAKOMAS started with inspiration. My products are based on family recipes handed down through generations. Their unique blends and flavors motivated and excited me to share them with my newly adopted countrymen and women.

I have grown up with many inspirational women around me, one of them being my mother who single-handedly supported her five daughters by selling these homemade juices. I learned the importance and value of family support, helping each other and being there for those whom we love.

This inspired me to set up the Makomas Foundation, a philanthropic arm of MAKOMAS, in Burkina Faso, West Africa, where we partner with 350 women farmers. These industrious women grow and harvest the fruits, flowers and leaves we use to make our products. The income the farmers earn help them support their families and to keep their girls in school. I promote my products with the objective of spreading this message to every individual who consumes MAKOMAS beverages.

–Magbè Savané, president

Soñar!: mission-driven, organic tortilla chips

Our brand, Maria Brennan Soñar! FoodsSoñar!, means “To Dream!” We designed our company, our brand, our chips and our business practices with the intent to inspire, empower and nourish a nation of dreamers! We are working to bridge health and cultural divides. To bridge health divides, we went organic—it’s good for our bodies, good for the environment and good for our farmworkers! We’re pulling toxic herbicides and pesticides out of the fields. In addition to going organic, we created a more nutrient-dense tortilla chip than the leading grain-free tortilla chip.

Pete Brennan Soñar! FoodsWe’re Latina-owned and led. From day one, we put our company on the path to becoming B Corp certified, and we deliver 1% of annual sales to the Latino Community Foundation. Our brand and packaging tells my [Maria’s] story, the story of the Latino Community Foundation’s efforts and the stories of other extraordinary Latinx leaders achieving their dreams and contributing to the creation of more vibrant communities where all can thrive. Soñar! is the company and brand of our dreams, and we created our chips to fuel your dreams. We’re all about inspiration!

–Maria Brennan, co-founder and CEO; Pete Brennan, co-founder

Bohana: Ayurveda-friendly popped water lily seedsNadine Habyeb Bohana

Everything we do at Bohana draws inspiration from Ayurveda, one of the world's oldest holistic life sciences. Bohana is more than just a delicious and nutritious popped water lily seed snack brand. We're on a Free Spirit Snacking mission, striving to spread love, positivity and wellness through Ayurvedic principles and practices. We believe in listening to your unique body and doing what works for YOU, not following prescriptive diets or trendy fads, but tuning in to achieve your ultimate health and wellness.

At Bohana, our snacks are the perfect grain-free alternative to popcorn that the whole family can enjoy, no matter what path you choose.

–Nadine Habayeb, co-founder

5 factors to consider before seeking VC funding

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When it comes to seeking venture capital, Douglas Raggio, managing partner of Bias & Blind Spots, likes to decry its problems and pitfalls to founders.

Even though Raggio says an infusion of venture capital has gone up by a factor of 10 since he entered the healthy food and beverage industry as an investor more than a decade ago, he’s quick to point out very few successful independent businesses have staying power: About half of all U.S. small businesses survive the first five years, yet only one in three make it 10 or more years according to a Small Business Administration report released in 2018.

Despite thousands of founders seeking funding each year, global food and beverage funding equates to $5.9 billion invested across 1,300 food and beverage deals since 2012, according to CB Insights, a firm that tracks venture capital and startups. That’s coupled with another problem: A majority of the world’s food supply is owned by less than a dozen corporate behemoths.

“VC funding is overcommitted in food and beverage,” says Raggio, a self-proclaimed “recovering venture capitalist” who vets more than 250 opportunities per quarter in the healthy food and beverage category while actively monitoring more than 120 companies directly. “The buyers aren’t buying as frequently or as big as they should to support the influx of VCs.”

That’s because venture capital firms raise money from limited partners like high-net-worth individuals, family offices and institutional investors such as banks, pension, hedge and mutual funds.

Right now, many strategic acquirers are saddled with debt and poor financial performance, Raggio says, which has created a “gross imbalance” of sellers in part because venture funding is headed into the eighth year of a typical 10-year cycle.

“For the founders that want to raise VC money, it’s almost a fool’s errand,” says Raggio, who raised and managed the early growth venture fund Gastronome Ventures.

If you still want to raise money through venture capitalists, consider Raggio’s advice.

 1. Forget high-risk investors.

The number of high-risk investors is a relatively tiny portion of all investors. Instead, Raggio says, founders should think about pragmatic investors, including friends and family who might want to invest but also want to retain their wealth.

When you’re raising cash, position yourself against things like a municipal bond or a high-yield savings account, Raggio says, not a high-risk situation where the goal is to exit in three years.

2. Create a plan that includes a non-exit strategy.

Because exits are few and far between, founders need to discuss their downside coverage to help mitigate potential risks.

Raggio’s advice: Show how you will make money for a potential investor, but also how you won’t lose everything. “Talk about how the money comes out of the investment without an exit,” Raggio says. “Nobody talks about the downside.”

3. Consider tangible assets.

Raggio worked with a company in the cold coffee brew category that originally sought $1.5 million in venture funding to use toward marketing but it also wanted to have a positive impact on its community and supply chain.

Instead, Raggio says the company ended up raising $4.5 million from a family office that already had an empty warehouse. More than 3 million of the investment went into the facility for new cars, trucks and equipment, Raggio says. This helped the funders hedge their bets by having the ability to sell assets if the deal soured and gave the founders what they initially wanted, but in a manner that resonated with investors.

“People aren’t coached to talk about assets,” Raggio says. “Assets are great because rich people love owning stuff because it has value. It can cover a portion of financial losses in case something doesn’t go right.”

4. Do market fit research.

Most founders won’t spend the money upfront to research their market fit, Raggio says. “They just say better ingredients, better taste,” he says.

Instead, do the research.

Understand your direct competitors and larger indirect competitors. Determine your velocity—how well your product sells when it’s available to customers in that space—and typical profit margins for your type of product to help determine how much capital you might need.

A compelling product might be something that has a 93% gross margin, that operates in a commodity category or has higher consumptions rates than the category average, Raggio says.

5. Understand how a waterfall works.

To determine the appropriate capital raise amount, recognize how private equity and venture capital financing works.

Many startups begin with seed funding, crowdsourcing, or angel investing. Then comes private equity, which is typically millions of dollars instead of hundreds or thousands of dollars. Every round of financing—series A, B, C and sometimes D—means the investor is going to get their money back and their preferred return, usually 1x-1.75x, says Raggio. Most food companies go through series C or D rounds of financing, he adds.

“Typically, last money in is the first money out plus their preferred return,” Raggio says. This continues through the various rounds until the profits are split via allocations of ownership.

Sometimes called a distribution waterfall, this means after any initial investment capital is returned, an investor then receives a multiple, like 1.75x or a percentage, before any additional distributions are made.

Like buckets that pour into one another from the top down—hence the waterfall term—each bucket below has to fill before the next investor or a founder receives profits by ownership percentage.

For example, say a founder sells for $100 million. If a series D investor put in $20 million, they might get $25 million or more out, Raggio says.

Then if the series C round investor put in $5 million, they might get $7.5 million out. Maybe the B round investor put in $1.5 million in and gets $2.25 million in return, followed by an A round investor who put in $500,000 for a $750,000 liquidity preference.

That leaves roughly $65 million to be allocated by ownership percentage. With the average founder owning 11% of their company when they exit, that’s equal to about $8 million, Raggio says.

“Is that really worth five years of grind?” Raggio asks. “Or should you have built a $5 million company that you sold yourself for 2x for $10 million?”

His point: Bigger isn’t always better for founders.

5@5: Meat industry dangers | GMO edible cottonseed approved by FDA

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A new Human Rights Watch report shows how dangerous America’s meat industry has become

A team that spent nine months interviewing workers at meat and poultry plants across the Midwest have come away with “100 pages of disturbing details on the injuries and injustices suffered by employees who, on average, earn less than $15 an hour.” Line speeds are increasing and big agriculture is pushing for less government oversight, which will only grow the amount of injuries inflicted upon workers who have little recourse and hardly any way to advocate for their own safety. Read more at Grub Street

FDA approves genetically modified cotton for human consumption

Researchers have—after decades of scientific study—figured out a way to modify cottonseeds to remove the inherent toxin gossypol, meaning that the GMO version of the high-protein seed is set for human consumption. Now that FDA has approved its use in food products, you can expect to see cottonseeds pop up in all sorts of snacks within the next few years. Read more at New Food Economy

How the baby food industry hooks low-income toddlers on sugar, salt and fat

Over the past several years, there has been a boom in unhealthy prepackaged baby and toddler food that targets low-income households and sets the stage for early childhood obesity. And when high levels of sugar, salt and fat become the norm for developing humans, it becomes that much harder to get them to switch to healthier alternatives after health problems inevitably develop. Read more at The Washington Post

Most US dairy cows are descended from just 2 bulls—that’s not good

All of the Holstein bulls that American farmers source semen from can be traced back to two bulls born in the 1950s and 1960s. As a result, Holstein cows have lost some valuable genetic traits that were in existence a mere generation ago—but one researcher is working to bring back traits from long-forgotten heirloom bulls to keep the species alive in the long run. Read more at NPR

How climate change impacts wine

The wine industry has been feeling the destructive effects of climate change for quite some time now; alterations in atmospheric conditions and rising temperatures are changing the way that sensitive grapevines grow. While some producers are buying land in colder areas, others are incorporating new technology that manipulates and stabilizes the temperatures of vines for a more controlled outcome. Read more at The New York Times

Want to be an innovative brand? Take a note from these Pitch Slam semifinalists

Expo East Pitch Slam Semifinalists Innovative Brands

Every year for Natural Products Expo East and Expo West, we review dozens and dozens of standout brand applications for the Pitch Slam Semifinals. Selecting just a handful is a huge challenge, but throughout the process are three main judging criteria we always come back to: innovation, inspiration and integrity.

This year's 10 Expo East Pitch Slam semifinalists nail it in all three categories, though each shine extra bright in one. This go around, we’re highlighting the four Expo East Pitch Slam semifinalists that put innovation at the forefront (and will feature the brands that lead with inspiration and integrity in the coming weeks).

From a shelf-stable omelet bar and delicious water kefir to an herbal coffee alternative and sustainable seaweed products, it’s clear these brands are paving new paths in the natural products industry. But, there’s always more to the story.

So we asked each founder this question: How does innovation play a key role in your brand?

Scramblers: the shelf-stable omelet bar

Matt Tolnick Headshot"Innovation is core to what we are and why we are. Dan and I started in the food business with an early craft grass-fed beef jerky brand with flavors never tasted before in a jerky product. We learned how quickly better-funded brands can swoop in and co-opt your innovations if they're not locked down.

With Scramblers,Dan Kaplan Headshot we knew we'd be pushing the envelope, and we'd do it with an innovation that was protected by heavy patent and trade secret IP and with aggressive barriers to entry. Being different is as foundational for us as being delicious. So we founded Deliciously Different LLC with a mission to bring true, disruptive innovation to beloved, on-fire ingredients and categories. Enter The Original Omelet Bar. We're yolked to be bringing Scramblers to market!"

–Matt Tolnick, co-founder and CEO; Dan Kaplan, co-founder and creative director

Mellow Rooster: the non-caffeinated “coffee” blend


Mike Choyoma Mellow Rooster"Caffeine’s influence on sleep quality is often misunderstood. The question we hear most often is, 'How much (caffeine) are you consuming?' But what we should be asking ourselves is, 'When was your last cup?' Caffeine stays in the system for about 14 hours for an average adult, whether we’re asleep or not.

We're excited to introduce a new beverage that provides us coffee lovers with the experience of coffee without the coffee. Mellow Rooster is an herbal blend that tastes remarkably like coffee. Unlike decaf, it's naturally caffeine-free. We didn't set out to create a performance drink, but it just so happened that it's really good for you. It's loaded with antioxidants, promotes digestion, contains anti-inflammatory and stress-reducing properties.

We envision a world with more people sharing the kinder, healthier, smarter version of themselves. Where coffee jitters don’t exist and a nice, rich cup of joe won’t compromise a good night’s sleep. A world where everyone is well-rested and ready to take on the day."

–Mike Choyoma, founder

Atlantic Sea Farms: the sustainable seaweed brand

"Seaweed is popping up in grocery stores and sushi Atlantic Sea Farmsrestaurants around the country—mostly in the form of seaweed snacks and seaweed salad—but 98% of all of the seaweed that we eat in the U.S. is imported dried seaweed from Asia, often grown in compromised waters. It is then flavored or rehydrated and dyed before it ends up in American consumers' snack packs or plates.

We are bringing first-to-market, delicious, fresh-frozen and fresh-fermented kelp products to the U.S. consumer. The fact that this 'virtuous vegetable' also helps reduce ocean acidification and provides supplemental incomes for Maine's coastal fishermen in the face of climate change means that our gamble on doing something truly different than anything else on the market helps further an extremely important social mission."

–Jesse Baines, sales and marketing manager

Goodwolf: the water kefir drink

Keenan Smith Goodwolf"For Goodwolf, operating in the crowded functional/probiotic beverage space, innovation is going to be crucial. Any brand can R&D and figure out new angles, but we are focusing on company innovation, innovation around our social mission and innovation around our positioning as a challenger brand within the space. We view innovation as a synonym for continuous improvement.

Innovation is important, but positive innovation is key. If the only goal is more sales and more profit, then we lose sight of our core values and we fail at our mission of 'feeding the good wolf inside of us.' Our focus is on strategic and intentional growth. Positive innovation will be part of that growth."

–Keenan Smith, owner

Climate Neutral: The new carbon-focused certification in town

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One could argue that climate change awareness has been reenergized. Largely thanks to the 16-year-old phenom that is activist Greta Thunberg, who inspired a global youth climate strike this past September, it seems consumers have an accelerated zeal for buying products that aren’t just “less bad” for the environment, but also those with zero carbon load.

Environment-focused certifications have been around for a while. And more than anyone, natural retailers and natural entrepreneurs know the scope of seal options that are available for food products.

But the just-launched certification Climate Neutral Certified (which despite the similarity in logo design is not connected to New Hope Network), an audacious new certification that aims to help make manufacturing and selling zero-carbon products “as simple, actionable and credible as possible,” according to the organization, may be a key tool to help communicate your brand’s environmental commitment.

We sat down with Climate Neutral Brand and Communications Manager Caitlin Drown to learn more about this fledgling certification, and understand how the seal can help improve your product’s carbon footprint, and demystify environmental product marketing.

How did Climate Neutral start?

Caitlin Drown: Last year we had two founding companies that came together. There was BioLite, a Brooklyn-based company that makes outdoor gear such as cookstoves and headlamps, and Peak Design which makes travel and photography bags. Both companies were going through the same process of auditing their carbon footprint and trying to understand what would be needed to offset their emissions. They realized there was no easy way to do this. For a lot of brands, understanding their emissions involves months of auditing, and is usually a huge expense.

The two CEOs started talking about barriers preventing other companies from doing this, and they saw it didn’t have to be as complicated as it had been for them.

Climate Neutral was officially incorporated in February 2019. Our consumer-facing launch kicked off on the start of Climate Week on September 23rd in New York City.

How many brands are currently on board?

CD: We have 52 brands on board, with more to come. While most of these brands are outdoor brands, we’re beginning to expand into other industries. We have at least one coffee company, and interestingly, three organic mattress companies. It’s very exciting to see the different brands that are working with us. We’re open to working with any brand that is trying to make a positive impact on the environment.

Tracking carbon footprints in any business is extremely complicated. How is Climate Neutral both simplifying this process while also keeping the certification robust?

CD: One of the biggest barriers for why a lot of brands have a hard time with this is complexity—even if you’re hiring a third-party consultant to measure your carbon footprint it’s an imperfect process. There’s always going to be a little bit of uncertainty.

We worked with a great team of engineers to build a calculator. With this tool we’re looking at the averages. When you look at one industry from the next, at the end of the day there’s not a huge difference between consumer packaged goods in terms of revenue. In order to be climate neutral, it costs around 0.4% of a company’s revenue.

We took 100 data points and we are working on getting the averages, and based off your data inputs, this number will change.

When brands input their data into your calculator, what kind of number will they get back?

CD: Brands will receive a number in metric tons of CO2 their business produces. From there, the reduction strategies will estimate how to reduce your carbon footprint. Brands will also receive the specific number of carbon credits required to offset carbon load, which is based off of your metric tons of CO2.

What kind of commitments are brands required to make in order to receive the certification?

CD: There’s no set list of commitments brands can choose from, but we work with brands to identify areas where they can make those carbon reductions. Different companies have different commitments. A natural mattress company, for example, committed to donating used mattresses to local charities instead of tossing them in the landfill. That’s an example of one commitment.

We’re trying to chip away carbon footprint over time, so we’re open to different strategies. Of course we review everything to make sure commitments are legitimate and that they’re creating a true impact.

On top of those commitments, are companies required to purchase carbon offsets?

CD: Yes. Whatever they are unable to reduce they must purchase carbon offsets.

There are a lot of consumer-facing certifications out there, including sustainability certifications. What’s your strategy to help consumers recognize Climate Neutral?

CD: Our certification isn’t tied to any specific industry. The USDA Organic label is usually tied to food; the Energy Star label is only tied to electronics and appliances. Our label can be used across industries. We’ve been putting in a lot of time and energy to make sure it’s aligned with good marketing and branding practices. From a design standpoint, the logo can be easily readable from a distance, making products stand out on the shelf.

We’re also trying to spread the word that purchasing products with Climate Neutral is a way consumers can make a difference. We’re not trying to increase the specific amount of products they buy. But we want them to go into a store or service provider, see our label, and know which company is focused on this issue. This will help educate and empower consumers to make smart purchases. Consumers are beginning to care more about climate change than they were in the past.

Climate Neutral helps consumers call on brands to make action against climate change.

If a brand wants to get involved, what should they do?

CD: If any brand is interested in learning more, they should definitely hop on our website at climateneutral.org. And from there they can learn more about the process, and also fill out a form to contact us to get the ball for certification rolling.

Consumers are starting to understand the power they have to fix the climate change problem instead of adding to it. With government inaction on this issue, brands are starting to take notice. Businesses and consumers are stepping up to the plate.

5@5: Crops on Mars? | The future of CRISPR

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Study suggests farmers could grow crops on Mars

Scientists have successfully grown tomatoes, leeks, potatoes and several other crops in simulated Lunar and Martian soil, meaning that humans could survive off a closed-loop agriculture ecosystem on Mars. They also emphasized that cellular agriculture and insect farming would be instrumental to feeding a future Martian population. Read more at Modern Farmer

The yogurt industry has been using CRISPR for a decade

CRISPR technology is a precise form of gene-editing that genetically modifies foods in a faster and cheaper way than ever before—and it’s been subtly present in the dairy aisle for quite some time. But while this tool could transform agriculture as we know it, there is much scientists still don’t know about the ramifications of using it on the environment and human health. Read more at The Atlantic

Beyond fish fingers: Convenience trends in fish and seafood

Emerging data shows that the boom in consumer desire for convenient, ready-to-cook frozen fare is sweeping the frozen fish and seafood section. Seafood marketers and producers should pay special attention to childless, single adults over 35 and senior couples—they’re driving the dollar growth in this category. Read more at Nielsen

FDA strongly advises against the use of CBD during pregnancy

In a statement published yesterday the Federal Drug Administration solidified its position on the use of cannabidiol (CBD) by pregnant women. While there is no comprehensive research on the effects of the popular ingredient on fetuses, the administration argues that the potential for contamination in CBD products is too high to ignore and cites a study wherein high doses of CBD in pregnant test animals adversely affected developing male fetuses. Read more at FDA.gov

In the age of farm-to-table, only a small fraction of US farmers are profitable

Small farmers that use responsible and regenerative growing practices are few and far between now that industrialized, multinational corporations have a stronghold on the U.S. food system. Just 43% of farms are profitable according to USDA, and federal policies are in place that work to uphold the soil-depleting practices of larger corporations. What’s clear is that the government immediately must act to improve crop subsidies, increase biodiversity, promote soil health, use integrated pest management practices and manage energy use via regenerative actions to prevent an agricultural crisis. Read more at Quartz

GNC launches personalized daily vitamin delivery as part of new wellness program

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As consumers increasingly seek personalization in their lives, GNC today announced the launch of its new personalized wellness program, GNC4U–a monthly subscription service with vitamins and supplements specifically recommended based on individual health needs and lifestyle goals, conveniently delivered to consumers' doors. Based on an individual's age, gender and personal and family health history, GNC will create a science-backed wellness plan curated with the industry's leading vitamins and supplements to aid consumers in their quest for healthy living.

The vitamins and supplements included in GNC4U packs are made from the highest-quality raw materials and ingredients available. GNC works to ensure these ingredients meet quality standards and give consumers the best products and results. In addition to the vitamins and supplements, GNC4U provides an in-depth diet and exercise program customized for a consumer's individual wellness needs and designed for what their bodies require to achieve peak performance. Whether the goal is to manage weight or to improve heart health, focus or sleep, GNC4U offers a plan for anyone seeking a healthier lifestyle.

"When it comes to wellness, everyone has different aspirations that no single nutrition plan, exercise routine or vitamin and supplement regimen can help achieve," said Ryan Ostrom, Chief Brand Officer, GNC Holdings, Inc. "For over 80 years, GNC has been a leader in innovative offerings for living well, and GNC4U is just the first step in our quest to provide the most personal nutrition solutions for today's consumer."

GNC4U takes personalization to the next level by allowing consumers to share genetic information via a GNC4U DNA test kit or provide previously sourced DNA information. This unparalleled offering for a vitamin and supplement subscription service looks at an individual's genetic traits, such as fat metabolism, in addition to their goals to create a wellness plan uniquely tailored for them.

How it Works

  1. Visit https://www.gnc4u.com and take the free lifestyle quiz, which focuses on wellness, sports nutrition and weight management.
  2. Based on the individual's responses, GNC scientists build a customized vitamin and supplement, exercise and nutrition plan which can be accessed in their personal online wellness dashboard. Here, consumers order their personalized daily packs.
  3. GNC ships a 30-day supply of personalized daily packs. The package will arrive with the consumer's name on it for an extra personal touch.
  4. A new 30-day supply is automatically shipped each month, no additional work required. Just like the vitamin and supplement plan itself, the subscription pricing is based on individual needs.

While packs are tailored to each individual, all packs will include up to eight different vitamins and supplements, which are divided into once or twice daily packets.

For more information on the program, visit GNC4U.

Kroger to standardize private-brand date labels to reduce household food waste

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Kroger announced today its plan to standardize date labels for Our Brands food products, providing simpler, easier-to-understand product quality and safety information as part of its Zero Hunger | Zero Waste social impact commitment.

"Kroger recognizes food waste often takes place in our customers' kitchens simply because product date labels can be confusing, resulting in safe-to-eat food regularly being tossed out," said Howard Popoola, Kroger's vice president of corporate food technology and regulatory compliance. "As Kroger works to reduce food waste throughout our business and our communities, we are standardizing and simplifying Our Brands products' date labels, providing clearer guidance to our customers."

Paradoxically, one in nine Americans struggles with hunger every day, while 40% of the food produced in the country goes uneaten, which includes the food waste created in shoppers' households. And according to ReFED research, 20% of avoidable food waste is estimated to be discarded every year because of consumer date labeling confusion.

"Standardized date labeling is one of the most cost-effective solutions to reduce food waste and provide more resources to food banks across the country," said Chris Cochran, Executive Director, ReFED. "We applaud Kroger's continued leadership on food waste reduction through its Zero Hunger | Zero Waste plan, and ReFED is proud to partner with America's largest grocer to help the retailer achieve its bold, commendable goal by 2025." 

Earlier this year, Kroger began to transition Our Brands food products to feature one of the following date labels:

  • "Use By" is used to represent food safety. If a customer reads "use by" followed by a date, it indicates the deadline for when it is no longer safe to eat.
  • "Best if Used By" is used to represent food quality. If a customer reads "best if used by" followed by a date, it indicates the deadline for guaranteed freshness but does not affect the product's safety.

The simplified labels will apply to multiple product categories, including dairy, deli, bakery, and fresh and frozen grocery.

"Kroger's Zero Hunger | Zero Waste vision was designed to use our scale for good to create positive change in every community where we operate. By implementing a standard and simplified new date labeling approach, Kroger and our customers can play an instrumental role in preventing tons of food waste from arriving at landfills, resulting in a healthier, stronger planet and communities free of hunger and waste," said Jessica Adelman, Kroger's group vice president of corporate affairs and chief social impact officer. "Kroger is always searching for meaningful ways we can reduce food waste and make it easier for our customers to be Zero Heroes, joining us on our Zero Hunger | Zero Waste journey because we cannot do it alone."

Kroger will complete the Our Brands date label transition in 2020.  

To learn more about Zero Hunger | Zero Waste, visit thekrogerco.com and follow the journey at #ZeroHungerZeroWaste.

5@5: Walmart rolls out in-home delivery | USDA is failing farmers

Walmart will deliver groceries directly to your fridge to compete with Amazon

InHome grocery delivery, a service that allows Walmart employees to enter customers’ houses and put food into their fridges, will roll out in three cities next Tuesday. Should the venture be successful Walmart could scale up and find itself in a position to compete with Amazon’s home delivery service. Read more at CNBC

How USDA is failing farmers

The Agriculture Department is spending just 0.3% of its $144 billion budget on helping farmers whose livelihoods have been affected by climate change. Now, farmers are speaking out against USDA’s reluctance to give farmers scientifically accurate information about how climate change is changing the national landscape or guidance on how to cope with it. Read more at Politico

14% of food is lost between harvest and retail

A new report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has found that 14% of the world’s food is lost after harvesting and before reaching retail. This finding underscores the importance of paying attention to critical loss points in the supply chain such as inadequate storage facilities and poor handling practices. Read more at The Spoon

FreshDirect shopping itself after move to the Bronx fails

Amazon and Walmart are considering acquiring FreshDirect after recent service glitches allegedly caused the online grocer’s largest investor, JPMorgan, to begin searching for potential buyers. The two companies are reportedly waiting for FreshDirect’s valuation to decrease even further before making a move. Read more at The New York Post

Planting native prairie could be a secret weapon for farmers

Some Midwest farmers are beginning to adopt the regenerative practice of adding stretches of native prairie to their corn and soy production. Emerging research shows that “planting just 10% of farmland with native prairie can drastically reduce soil loss and nutrient run-off." Read more at Civil Eats