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Articles from 2013 In November

ADM bumps up GrainCorp offer

ADM bumps up GrainCorp offer

Archer Daniels Midland Co. (NYSE: ADM) announced a package of additional commitments related to its proposed acquisition of GrainCorp Limited (ASX: GNC). Key elements of that package are:

  • An additional A$200 million investment to strengthen Australian agricultural infrastructure, with specific emphasis on rail enhancement projects;
  • Price caps on grain handling charges at silos and ports;
  • Commitment to grain infrastructure access for growers and third parties;
  • Commitment to “open access” regime for port services;
  • A grower and community advisory board with representation from New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, as well as regular public grower consultation; and
  • Support for expanded grain stocks information arrangements.

“Throughout our effort to secure approvals for our proposed acquisition of GrainCorp, we have worked constructively to create value for grain growers and the Australian economy as well as shareholders of GrainCorp and ADM,” said Ian Pinner, president, ADM Grain. “We have had substantive discussions with growers, policymakers and other stakeholders, and we’ve been committed to finding common ground and developing solutions that address issues and opportunities that have been raised.

“Taking into account the feedback we received, we are committing to a further package of investments and initiatives to help ensure that Australian agriculture is able to serve a key role in meeting growing global demand.

“These commitments are in addition to the existing capital expenditure and other commitments we have set out in our Bidder’s Statement, which included a A$50 million enhancement to GrainCorp’s planned capital expenditure over the next few years. The additional capital investment that ADM will bring to GrainCorp represents a 100 percent increase in GrainCorp’s original A$250 million capital expenditure budget prior to ADM’s proposal. Taken together, the capital investments ADM has committed to support or make for the GrainCorp business total A$500 million.”

ADM is making commitments in the areas of:

Pricing and cost

  • Increases in GrainCorp’s overall grain handling and storage charges will be capped to inflation for a period of three years.
    • In the case of silo handling charges, this will be measured by CPI (consumer price index); and
    • In the case of port-based handling charges, this will be measured by AWOTE (average weekly ordinary time earnings).

Access and competition

  • GrainCorp’s port services will be operated in accordance with the current “open access” regime and the mandatory industry code of conduct when finished.
  • Current access arrangements will be continued for GrainCorp’s upcountry silos. This means:
    • Continuing to provide, to GrainCorp and third parties, access to GrainCorp’s operational upcountry storage and transportation services;
    • Continuing to make available, to third party grain marketers, available storage capacity at GrainCorp’s operational receival sites; and
    • Continuing to ensure that prices for grain for delivery at all GrainCorp receival sites, which are operational at the relevant time, remain available to growers.

Investment in grain handling and infrastructure

  • A$50 million of new investment will be committed to strategic expenditure in the GrainCorp business in the next few years. This is over and above the A$250 million program of investment announced by GrainCorp in November 2012.
  • Average annual expenditure on maintenance and improvement of GrainCorp’s existing portfolio of assets of between A$40 million and A$60 million.
  • An additional A$200 million of capital expenditure will be exclusively committed to GrainCorp’s Storage and Logistics business, and its associated infrastructure, over the next three to five years. The priority of this capital expenditure will be transformative rail projects that improve supply chain efficiencies, specifically in areas like:
    • Upgrading the silo network to efficiently handle unit (40 wagon) trains to increase rail capacity and improve efficiency;
    • Work with rail providers to invest in new generation wagons to increase rail capacity and improve efficiency (increasing rail wagon payloads from the current net 55-60T per wagon);
    • Enhancing silo and grain receival site efficiencies and handling capability across the network to reduce turnaround time;
    • Working with governments to secure the future of branch lines by agreeing to co-invest in silo rail capability on these lines; and
    • Constructing new grain handling and storage locations in areas where investment is needed to improve the services to growers.
    • A proposal to Government on the establishment of a rail infrastructure fund with the following features:
      • The allocation of seed funding from ADM’s announced infrastructure investment;
      • The provision for matching funding from the Commonwealth; and
      • The ability for other governments, businesses and individuals to invest in the fund.

Access to stocks information

  • GrainCorp will commit to sign up to an industry-agreed protocol for reporting wheat stocks information held at an aggregate level of feed or milling grades by port zone.
  • GrainCorp will play an industry leadership role in encouraging other participants to do likewise.

Management and engagement

  • The headquarters of GrainCorp will remain in Sydney. Its CEO, who will have oversight of all of GrainCorp’s operational decisions, will be based in Sydney and will be supported by GrainCorp’s senior management team.
  • A grain marketing team will be maintained in Australia to maximise the opportunities for Australian grains and growers, while leveraging the company’s international marketing network.
  • A Grower and Community Advisory Board will be established, which will include at least four growers (at least one each from NSW, Victoria and Queensland), at least one person with a strong connection to regional/rural community organisations, and senior GrainCorp management.
  • A bi-annual consultation forum with Grower Organisations will also be established, the objective of which will be to:
    • Address the priority issues of concern to growers in relation to the activities of GrainCorp;
    • Discuss any industry-wide policy and reform proposals which are proposed by government to assist GrainCorp in formulating a position; and
    • Discuss GrainCorp’s community initiatives and how they can better meet the needs of growers.

“In the competitive global grains market, it makes sense to operate the most efficient supply chain and maximize utilization of every location and asset,” Pinner added. “These investments and commitments—developed following extensive input from Australian stakeholders—will help ensure the GrainCorp network remains an attractive option for growers and third-party grain traders, and also remains a competitive source for global grain buyers.”

The commitments described above would be put into effect upon the closing of ADM’s proposed acquisition of GrainCorp.


Probiotics offer hay fever help

Probiotics offer hay fever help

A study has shown that a daily probiotic drink changed how cells lining the nasal passages of hay fever sufferers reacted to a single out-of-season challenge. However, it did not lead to significant changes in hay fever symptoms, although this challenge test may not have accurately represented natural allergen exposure.

Our immune system must distinguish between "friends" that can be beneficial to our health and "foes" that can have harmful effects. There is now a growing body of evidence that the gut microbiota, the trillions of bacteria that live in our gut, influences that recognition. When it fails an immune response occurs. This is the case with hay fever, or seasonal allergic rhinitis, when the immune system reacts to pollen or fungal spores.

Previously, a research team at the Institute of Food Research (IFR) found that taking a drink containing the probiotic bacterium Lactobacillus casei changed how our immune system responds to grass pollen, measured through changes in molecules produced by the immune system.

A new study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, shows for the first time how these probiotics can interact with cells in our gut to produce systematic changes in cells lining our nasal cavity.

Funded by Yakult and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), clinicians and scientists at IFR and the University of East Anglia (UEA) on the Norwich Research Park gave 60 hay fever sufferers daily drinks for 16 weeks, outside of the hay fever season. One group was given a drink containing Lactobacillus casei Shirota, and the other group received very similar drinks without the probiotic. The study was double-blinded and placebo controlled, so neither the volunteers nor the scientists knew which group was receiving the probiotic. Samples were taken from the volunteers' nasal cavities and blood, both before and after being challenged with pollen to trigger their allergy. This was then repeated at the end of the 16-week intervention. Clinical measurements of the symptoms of hay fever were also recorded.

Volunteers who received the probiotic drink saw changes in allergic inflammation in their nasal lining, as well as changes in their blood, that are associated with immune responses. This is strong evidence of how the gut microbiota can influence cells of the gut lining, and have a systematic influence on our bodies and distant cells, such as those lining our nasal passages. But despite this, the probiotic had no detectable effect on the symptoms of hay fever.

Hay fever is a complicated condition to assess, and mimic in a clinical setting. The researchers used a single allergy challenge, applied to the volunteers' nasal passage, to provide a standard, reproducible test to help ensure all the subsequent results are comparable. In the real world hay fever is usually triggered by longer term exposure to the allergen, variable in strength and timing over a period of days or weeks. The IFR researchers are now exploring the possibility of carrying out a seasonal study to investigate whether the changes in the nasal mucosa seen in this single challenge study relate to changes in hay fever symptoms triggered by a more realistic natural exposure to pollen.


ABC publishes 100th HerbalGram

ABC publishes 100th HerbalGram

The 100th issue of the acclaimed magazine HerbalGram hits mailboxes and select retailers around the world this month, and debuts online. Thirty years in the making, the magazine has grown in tandem with the herbal community and the American Botanical Council (ABC), which was created to support the publication and thereby further herbal education.

HerbalGram is the quarterly journal of ABC, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing education using science-based and traditional information to promote responsible use of herbal medicine. ABC achieves another landmark accomplishment this November—its 25th anniversary. While HerbalGram’s first issue was printed in 1983, ABC was founded in 1988 to help the publication make the transition from newsletter to magazine. Since then, ABC has become an award-winning nonprofit with members in more than 80 countries around the world, and HerbalGram—once a black-and-white newsletter—is now a full-color magazine filled with peer-reviewed articles on herbal medicine and colorful botanical photography, available both in print and online, in high-definition color and detail.

“When Rob McCaleb and I first started writing HerbalGram as a quarterly newsletter back in 1983, it never occurred to me how it would look and what impact it would have 30 years later,” said ABC Founder and Executive Director Mark Blumenthal.

“After working on it as a volunteer labor of love on nights and weekends, I eventually wanted to see it evolve as sort of a Scientific American of herbs, replete with color photography, authoritative articles, and other aspects of the publication that could provide credibility to the proposition that the emerging scientific research was frequently able to document and support the general safety and many health benefits of numerous popular and yet-to-become popular herbs,” continued Blumenthal. “HerbalGram was the kernel of the founding and development of the American Botanical Council, and its many unique educational publications and programs. I truly love producing HerbalGram and, with ABC's great staff, I hope to live long enough and be active enough to help produce another 100 issues!”

More than 30 years ago, Blumenthal produced the very first HerbalGram—then titled “Herb News” and subtitled “Herbalgram”—which eventually matured into the magazine currently read around the world. Blumenthal wrote and edited articles for the HerbalGram newsletter in what spare time was available while running his former herb distribution business, Sweethardt Herbs. Originally published with the financial support of the newly formed American Herbal Products Association, of which Blumenthal was a founding board member, the first HerbalGram was an eight-page, black-and-white, stapled-at-the-spine newsletter. The contents included “herb blurbs” on herbal scientific happenings, herbal-related news articles, a handful of paragraph-long “Rob’s Research Reviews”—authored by then-Associate Editor McCaleb (who was head of research at Celestial Seasonings at the time)—along with listings of herbal information resources and schools, and more.

In the years that followed, ABC was founded, HerbalGram introduced color illustrations to its pages, and staff grew beyond the duo of Blumenthal and McCaleb. In 1992, HerbalGram #28 became the first full-glossy, four-color issue, and showcased the first botanical photograph to grace the magazine’s cover: Harvard’s glass flowers. By 1999, HerbalGram had expanded to 82 pages with an additional 32-page book catalog, closely resembling the magazine as it is produced today.

HerbalGram is now a leading publication in the botanical community. Its staff includes an art director and three full-time editors, plus Blumenthal as editor-in-chief. In addition to its in-house writers, botanical experts from around the world write and peer review articles for the magazine. HerbalGram is read by thousands of individuals in more than 80 countries, representing a range of diverse professions from research scientists (e.g., pharmacognosists, ethnobotanists, etc.) and health practitioners (e.g., herbalists, naturopathic physicians, pharmacists, conventionally trained physicians, et al.), to industry members and government regulators, as well as health-conscious consumers. Digitally archived issues of HerbalGram dating back to the spring 1990 issue #22 are available through the ABC website.

Thanks to the timing of both the 100th HerbalGram and ABC’s 25th anniversary, this issue includes 24 bonus pages highlighting ABC and its history as well as the journal’s signature peer-reviewed herb profiles, features, news, research reviews, and more. A timeline of the organization’s growth is interspersed with landmark events in the herbal community; the story of ABC’s headquarters—which dates back to the mid-19th century—is paired with a series of wet plate collodion photographs of ABC’s grounds, buildings, and medicinal plant gardens, captured by HerbalGram art director Matthew Magruder.

Over the course of HerbalGram and ABC’s shared existence, each has influenced the shape and scope of the other. ABC has grown from producing one publication to four—including HerbClip™, HerbalEGram, and Herbal News & Events—and now offers eight databases of research on herbal medicine and beneficial botanicals through the ABC website. Reaching far beyond its original network of friends and compatriots in the herbal community, the organization now has thousands of members and an additional 28,000 supporters who receive some of ABC’s electronic publications and have free access to a portion of ABC’s online resources.

The potential impact and importance of HerbalGram’s content has increased over the years as well. The magazine presents groundbreaking research on botanicals from the far corners of the world, timely updates and perspectives on legislation that affects the herbal industry, Foster’s distinctive plant photography, and more. In November 2011, HerbalGram became the primary outlet for the publications of the ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulteration Program, one of ABC’s most significant projects to date. Issue 92 introduced the first in a series of adulteration pieces, titled “A Brief History of Adulteration of Herbs, Spices, and Botanical Drugs,” written by Foster. Thus far, HerbalGram published four extensively peer-reviewed feature articles on the adulteration of specific botanicals: skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora), so-called “grapefruit seed extract,” bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) extract, and black cohosh (Actaea racemosa syn. Cimicifuga racemosa). All are available for free on ABC’s website.

If the initial mission of HerbalGram was to become a reliable, trusted source of information on herbal medicine, then at 100 issues, the magazine appears to have not only met, but exceeded that goal.

Kampffmeyer unveils 3 baking ingredients

Kampffmeyer Food Innovation Purafarin HydroSoft functional flour

At FiE 2013, Kampffmeyer Food Innovation GmbH demonstrated its competence in creating highly natural and functional ingredients based on grain. Purafarin HydroSoft® functional flour allows manufacturers to replace additives during dough processing. Slow Milling Ferment’tic®, a fermented wheat germ flour, enables production to be speeded up significantly, while Optigrain Snow®Wheat combines the nutritional advantages of the whole grain with the characteristics of white wheat flour.

Purafarin HydroSoft is a novel alternative to baking agents, such as emulsifiers and thickeners. These additives are commonly used when processing baked goods on an industrial scale and have to be declared as additives. The functional flour imparts good volume, extended freshness and a soft texture in a natural way. Purafarin HydroSoft can be used in versatile ways—for example, in fine baked goods, Danish pastries, white breads, snacks and frozen pizzas.

When it comes to process simplification, Kampffmeyer Food Innovation’s Slow Milling Ferment’tic scores well. The wheat ferment provides Mediterranean style baked goods in particular with a full, aromatic taste as well as the ‘holes in the crumb’ appearance that is so characteristic. In terms of process efficiency, the ingredient’s biggest advantage becomes obvious by applying straight dough processing. With Slow Milling Ferment’tic, lengthy sponge and proving processes are not required. Thus, production flow can be improved and quantities can be flexibly planned. The taste and appearance of finished products are comparable with baked goods produced with traditional time-consuming dough manufacturing methods.

The combination of pleasure and health are the focus of Kampffmeyer Food Innovation’s Optigrain SnowWheat line. This ingredient gives baked goods the nutritional value of the whole grain and the sensory profile of products made with conventional wheat flour. Additionally, end products are characterized by an extended shelf life and excellent volume.


Pistachios may help you live longer

Pistachios may help you live longer

In a large new study, observational researchers at Harvard University looked at how eating nuts may help reduce the risk of mortality, finding that those who ate nuts daily, such as pistachios, saw health benefits nearly double.

The study's findings are consistent with previous research, is the largest of its kind to date, and appears in the November 21 issue of New England Journal of Medicine. The results are based on about three decades of follow-up among 76,464 women in the Nurses' Health Study (1980 to 2010) and 42,498 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (1986 to 2010), including examination of food questionnaire data.

More nuts, more benefit
Compared to people who didn't eat nuts, people who ate nuts saw benefits that increased along with the number of servings of nuts they ate. That is, people who ate nuts once a week saw a smaller, but still significant benefit, while those who ate nuts seven or more times per week had a nearly doubled benefit.

The benefits were seen in both men and women, independent of other predictors for mortality. The study authors conclude that "the findings from our study and others suggest a potential benefit of nut consumption for promoting health and longevity."

These new findings build on existing knowledge about the role of nuts in heart health. Even a decade ago in 2003, there was enough science for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve a qualified health claim related to nuts that states "Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, such as pistachios, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease [See nutrition information for fat content]."

This observational study is an important addition to the body of research on nuts and heart health; however, given its observational nature, it's not possible to conclude cause and effect between nut consumption and mortality.

Pistachios 365: A tasty way to get your daily dose
Pistachios make a great, everyday healthy snacking choice for people striving for seven servings a week. Pistachios are a deliciously simple way to snack healthy. A one-ounce serving of pistachios equals approximately 49 nuts, which is more nuts per serving than any other snack nut, and a reduced serving of about 30 pistachios is just about 100 calories.

A naturally cholesterol-free food, 90 percent of the fat in pistachios is the healthy unsaturated type. It's easy to spot the good nutrition provided by pistachios, the colorful nut, which owe their green, yellow, and purple-red colors to the antioxidants and polyphenols found in the kernels and skins. Pistachios are a great-tasting, convenient, and healthy snack with protein, fiber, and antioxidants.


Hochdorf wheat germ boosts baked goods

Hochdorf wheat germ boosts baked goods

At FiE Frankfurt, Hochdorf Nutrifood focused on the valuable components of wheat germ. The company showcased high-quality Viogerm® wheat germ oils, granulates and crisps. Its new application Viogerm al Dente increases the protein content of pasta and provides a fuller flavoured taste. Hochdorf has also recently expanded its portfolio with Viogerm Gold Chips—small, natural wheat germ granulates which feature an extended shelf life of 12 months.

Alongside vitamins E, B1, B6 and folate, wheat germ also offers dietary fibres, proteins and many minerals. In order to maintain these valuable ingredients over a longer period of time, the germ must be stabilised. Hochdorf Nutrifood uses a proprietary, gentle technology to manufacture its Viogerm wheat germ products. Thus, the natural ingredients and flavours remain active even under long-term storage, without any loss of sensory quality. Viogerm wheat germ granulates, for instance, improve the flavour of bread as well as baked goods and can bind fluids in desserts and fruit cakes. The crunchy Viogerm Crisps, which are predominantly applied in cereals, bars and chocolate, have a sealed surface, are free from dust and can be processed extremely well. Cold pressed Viogerm wheat germ oil is ideally suited for use in dietary supplements or for refining salads, sauces, meats and fish.

New Hope 360 Blog

What does the Tofurkey say?

In celebration of Thanksgiving, I'm sharing this video gem created by one of my favorite supplement brands, MegaFood. The company's parody of Ylvis's The Fox is a worthwhile way to start your turkey (or, if you prefer, Tofurkey) day. It's also further proof that the natural products world is brimming with fun, talented people.

Thanks, MegaFood. I have yet another reason to be grateful for the natural products industry.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Natural Foods Merchandiser

Raisin Rack: On a mission to teach healthy living

Don Caster of Raisin Rack

For consumers to buy what you’re selling, you have to talk to them in ways that will resonate. And in natural products retail, you’re selling a message of health and wellness as much as you are products. Don Caster realized this in 1978 when he opened a 300-square-foot store in Canton, Ohio, a town that wasn’t as hip to natural food and supplements as some more progressive cities.

Caster made it his mission to teach the community about healthy living, and to really reach people, he knew his message must relate to their lives. Even though times and consumer concerns have changed, the owner of Raisin Rack Natural Food Market in Canton and Westerville still makes every effort to listen to and learn about his shoppers in order to deliver what they desire.

Natural Foods Merchandiser: What inspired you to start a store?.

Don Caster: My mom died of cancer at 52. Her death didn’t make sense to me, so my wife and I walked away from our teaching jobs to focus on helping people adopt healthier lifestyles. The whole research thing came easy to us, so we learned all about juicing, vitamins, herbs and supplements and opened the Canton store to offer these things.

NFM: Was the community receptive?

DC: In the late ’70s, the conservative Midwest was not as exposed to what was going on in Colorado, California or Boston, so our ideas were considered radical. The notion that vegetables or herbal teas could be better than drugs was on the edge. To expose the community to these ideas, we spent 20 percent of our time doing free programs for community clubs and organizations. In our presentations, we’d take the fear away by tying health information to things that were familiar to the crowd. For instance, everyone had had tea and vegetable soup but didn’t necessarily realize how healthy these were. We’d point out that our culture began moving away from simple, whole foods and toward meat and processed products after the Great Depression. We’d discuss the health consequences of society embracing fast food. We built a lot of business through education. We do the same today.

NFM: How has your clientele changed since the ’70s?

DC: The number of like-minded people has gone from less than 1 percent of the population to about 20 percent. Customers today are more sophisticated, well read and inquisitive, which requires us to be better at what we do. It’s become a greater challenge to satisfy their voracious appetites for quality products.

NFM: Are these millennials, boomers or both?

DC: We get all types. Nowadays, younger people want to sustain energy and appearance as much as older people want to fix health problems. Among the 24-to-35 crowd, specifically, I see a big consciousness that never existed. With more stress and longer work hours, they know they need good food, exercise and balance now.

NFM: Why do people shop at Raisin Rack?

DC: Number one is our engaged staff. Every retailer says that, but it’s huge. Our employees take total ownership of their jobs, know our store’s philosophy, and dig their heels in hard because they know there’s a lot of competition out there. To get a lot of frequent customers, you must give them quality, good prices and excellent service. We really listen to customers and try like crazy to meet their needs and wants. 

3 tips to connect with your community

Go out and educate. Caster built his business—and continues to attract new shoppers today—by speaking about health and wellness at community events and meetings. “Pretty much any group or club will gladly take a free 15-minute talk,” Caster says. Just a small time investment can score you invaluable face time with several potential new shoppers.”

Stock stuff you think they’ll love. It’s important to keep up on trends, but don’t be afraid to jump on a new product that your gut tells you your shoppers will dig. “If something comes out that I think will sell, I don’t care if it isn’t trendy or no one else has it,” Caster says. “We know our customers, and that’s really what you need to be to be successful.”  

Prioritize social media. Your shoppers are using it, so it pays to create an active presence and ongoing dialogue. Same goes for smartphone apps and other technologies. Raisin Rack has one employee whose only job is to work on Facebook and other tech platforms.

Natural Foods Merchandiser

Who will be your future health and wellness shoppers?

Who will be your future health and wellness shoppers?

Who buys natural, organic and other healthy products? And, perhaps more important, who is likely to purchase these products in the future?

The answer to these questions goes well beyond the typical label-obsessed mom with young children who we typically associate with buying healthy products, as New Hope Natural Media (Natural Foods Merchandiser's parent company) has learned through a new consumer segmentation study conducted early this year. New Hope conducted this research to better understand the continuum of attitudes and behaviors that drive consumers to trial and adopt healthier eating habits and a wide range of healthy products and ingredients. We then wanted to share this information with the broader natural products industry—particularly natural products retailers—to help them know who to target and how with their health and wellness offerings.

The result is New Hope’s Market Innovation Consumer Segmentation study. This research is based on a survey of 5,500 U.S. consumers conducted in July 2013. The survey, which represented more than 90 percent of the U.S. population, identified a new breakout of five distinct consumer groups that we are calling the #Young4Ever, Chief Health Officer, 4 Out of 5 Doctors, Guilty and Defeated, and Life Taste Good segments.

As you will see in the following pages, these segment breakouts are defined by much more than demographics, such as age, income, family status and education level. This research categorizes consumers based on attitudes and behaviors regarding nutrition and the acceptance and adoption of healthy habits and products.

This approach to the research produced five highly differentiated consumer segments. “We didn’t get a lot of fuzziness between segments, which is often a problem in segmentation research,” says Kirk Ward, executive vice president of market structure and analytics at TNS North America, New Hope’s research partner for this study. “We were also able to identify some very interesting motivational drivers for each of the segments, as well as pinpoint those segments that have a higher proportion of early adopters of health and wellness products.”

As part of this study, TNS asked consumer survey participants to evaluate 180 healthy product concepts, ranging from vegan protein powder to organic hummus to natural mint mouthwash. We added this element to the survey to zero in on those concepts and ingredients with the highest growth potential in the overall market and amongst each consumer segment. The belief is that this information will help natural product manufacturers and retailers identify and target—with the right messaging—those consumers who are most likely to be early adopters of their natural, organic and healthy product offerings.

New Hope has long had its finger on the pulse of the natural products consumer through our Delicious Living brand. However, this consumer segmentation work—which will be ongoing throughout the course of 2013, 2014 and beyond—has already taught us a lot about consumer affinity for specific healthy product concepts, as well as for attributes such as local, organic, natural and sustainable. Two things that stand out are 1) that attitudes and behaviors toward healthy products vary widely among consumer groups; and 2) that natural food retailers face great and different opportunities with each of the following shopper segments.


Fad focused shoppers on quest for healthy living

These members of the “in crowd” take more aggressive actions toward health and wellness because they want to stay feeling and looking young. Early adopters of new products (particularly those that have come recommended by friends or social media networks), these consumers are impulsive brand switchers who are not as concerned with price as other shoppers might be.

Nutrition is a means to an end for the #Young4Ever shoppers. They are willing to sacrifice taste and pay more to stay healthy and maintain their weight and appearance. They’re also more likely to be younger, more racially diverse males who focus on themselves and what others think of their health and wellness decisions. This group is more committed to natural and organic foods and dietary supplements, particularly sports nutrition supplements. The #Young4Ever segment also has a higher proportion of people who follow vegan and vegetarian diets.

Takeaways for retailers: While they might not look like the traditionally defined health and wellness consumer, the #Young4Ever shoppers should be a key target for many natural, organic and healthy brands. Natural products retailers can cater to these lucrative wellness consumers by staying on top of and offering a rich assortment of products that tap into the latest health and diet trends, which today include vegan, paleo and personalized nutrition. Adding to their healthy aging and energy product sets—in ways that are inviting to both female and male shoppers—will also give retailers effective hooks for reeling in the #Young4Ever crowd.


Chief Health Officers

Label-reading moms seek research-backed products

These goal-oriented, family-focused health managers eat healthy and are avid label readers who know what cues to look for on packages. Often the mothers of young children, the Chief Health Officers will test out and even pay more for health products—but only if those products are backed by research.

An important consumer segment for natural, organic and healthy brands, these active information seekers can be swayed by substantiated product benefit claims and clear and concise labeling. Their knowledge about food and nutrition also helps these shoppers to be good judges of food value and quality. They know what they are getting for the money and therefore are the least price sensitive segment.

This consumer segment is also less likely to use supplements, in large part because they are skeptical that supplements provide any incremental boost over what they get from a good balanced diet. The Chief Health Officers rely on advice from trusted friends who have demonstrated knowledge to back up their advice. However, these consumers are more likely to be the advice givers than the advice receivers.    

Takeaways for retailers: Natural products retailers focused on shopper education and product substantiation are in a great position to cater to the Chief Health Officers, who will view these stores as a trusted information and shopping resource. Also, because Chief Health Officers love to share what they know with others, retailers who win them over are likely to gain their friends and family as well.


4 Out of 5 Doctors

Doctor knows best for these safety-first consumers

Made up of mostly older consumers (many of whom are married or widowed), the 4 Out of 5 Doctors segment is aptly named because these shoppers listen first and foremost to their doctors and actively follow traditional health and wellness advice. This is why these shoppers are the most likely to be on a diet, particularly one that eschews carbs, calories, fat and sodium.

The primary wellness goal of the 4 Out of 5 Doctors group is maintaining quality of life in the face of aging. These people strive to stay active both physically and mentally. They also tend to be active users of dietary supplements, particularly vitamins, minerals, fish oil and other stalwart products recommended by their doctors.

Although they care greatly about product safety, consumers in this group purchase fewer natural and organic products because of price. Consumers in this segment are also less likely to try new things because they are happy with current choices and are very brand loyal.

Takeaways for retailers: Gaining new trial with the 4 Out of 5 Doctors group isn’t easy; however, it can be done by first winning over these shoppers’ practitioners. Partnering with longstanding community physicians for shopper education and senior lifestyle-related events is one way for retailers to connect with this consumer segment. Carrying more traditional brands—ones that are well known and liked by health care practitioners—is another way retailers can attract the 4 Out of 5 Doctors segment.


Guilty and Defeated

Convenience tops health for these busy shoppers

Time-strapped and stressed out, these consumers wantto be healthy but don’t actively pursue health and wellness. They feel guilty about this but busy, hectic lives prevent the Guilty and Defeated from taking control of their diets and wellness. The result is low-energy, defeated shoppers (many with young kids) who pay little attention to labels and focus on convenience and price.

Although they are not strict parents (the way the Chief Health Officers are), the Guilty and Defeated consumers care deeply about family—often to their own personal detriment. Their children (and usually there are more than one of them under the age of 12) are often actively engaged in sports and other activities.

Given their time constraints, convenience is very important to the Guilty and Defeated. They will almost always make expedient and pragmatic trade-offs when it comes to food choices and will frequently use snacks or treats as bargaining ploys to attempt to influence a desired behavior in their kids. 


The good news is that these consumers are active on social media and tend to try new things, so gaining trial with the Guilty and Defeated isn’t impossible for natural, organic and healthy products brands. The challenge is turning them into repeat buyers.

Takeaways for retailers: The Guilty and Defeated shoppers are very “now” oriented, so create areas of your store where these consumers can easily find convenient and cost-conscious approaches to healthy family meals. Coupons and special promotions can also assist retailers in helping these shoppers and their families.


Life Tastes Good

Taste is priority for these happy-go-lucky customers

These relaxed, happy-go-lucky shoppers understand nutrition and health concerns but prioritize taste and living life to the fullest. They choose food because it is delicious and enjoy cooking meals at home with family and friends. The end result is a consumer segment that is relatively healthy, is satisfied with current brand choices, and avoids natural and organic foods because of taste perceptions.

Consumers in this segment tend to lead active lifestyles and are not particularly diet conscious. They are also aware of their bodies and know when to draw the line on consumption; they do not binge, but they also do not deny themselves.

The Life Tastes Good shoppers are loyal to brands that they can count on for quality and good taste. As a result, they often avoid private-label brands. They are knowledgeable about ingredients in their meal preparation but they use that knowledge not to avoid certain foods but to moderate the use of those foods. These consumers also tend to steer clear of supplements, often because they have concerns about product safety.  

Takeaways for retailers: Compared to each of the other consumer segments, the Life Tastes Good group is a weak potential target for natural, organic and healthy product brands, which face an uphill battle in convincing these consumers that taste and health can go hand in hand. Retailers, on the other hand, can cater to these foodie shoppers by hosting healthy cooking classes and product demos that are yummy enough to prove that healthy can be delicious.

Natural Foods Merchandiser

Cognitive supplements start offering real solutions

Cognitive supplements start offering real solutions

The big “C.” For decades, cancer was the health condition people most feared. And while cancer remains feared and loathed all over the world, a new C— cognitive health—has overtaken cancer in the minds of Americans. Whether it’s the inevitable decline that comes with an aging population that continues to push the limits of longevity, or abject Alzheimer’s disease seen in a parent or grandparent that seemingly completely destroys a person’s memory, a need to improve sleep or stress (it’s all in the head!), or even just a desire to keep an agile mind around the office, cognitive health is hot.

In surveys conducted by AARP and ASA-MetLife Foundation, nearly 9 out of 10 consumers believe it’s possible to improve cognitive fitness, and more than 4 out of 5 people older than 50 say “staying mentally sharp” is their No. 1 concern. A deteriorating mental state concerns baby boomers more than death itself. Take that, Grim Reaper.

Except that deaths from Alzheimer’s increased 68 percent between 2000 and 2010, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, while deaths from other major diseases— breast and prostate cancer, heart disease and stroke, and HIV—decreased.

Despite consumer demand, though, brain supplements remain underdeveloped compared with other supplement categories. The heart-health supplement category is four times the size of the brain health category, and joint health is more than three times the size, according to the Natural Marketing Institute.

That market potential gap spells opportunity for supplement companies seeking to fill the void and for retailers looking to capitalize on this trend.

Nutrition Business Journal reported that brain health “will do for the supplement industry what heart health did 10 years ago. But brains are more than smarts—mood, stress, sleep and outlook tumble around in there as well.”

The good news: Nutrition science around ingredients for cognitive health has started to catch up to market demand. In the last year alone, a suite of ingredients that target various aspects of brain health has begun to hit the market.

  • The botanical Sceletium tortuosum has only a few human clinical trials, but they show an ability to make healthy people happier. Bonus: the sole supplier received the first certification from the South African government vouchsafing sustainable harvesting methods from the indigenous San tribe.
  • Magnesium threonate is a new salt with provocative animal studies (human clinical under way as we speak) that show improvement in memory, recognition and learning. Magtein is the brand name, and it is starting to show up on supplement bottles.
  • Pyrroloquinoline quinone, known as PQQ, has a rich suite of recently published research behind it including these three (one, two, three). PQQ is fairly unique in a couple of interesting ways: It creates mitochondria—these are the power plants inside each cell—and enhances nerve growth factor (NGF) in the brain. In essence, when brain cells and neurons fail, PQQ builds pathways to keep the cognitive electricity flowing efficiently.
  • Lion’s mane (Hericium erinaceus) has, like PQQ, also been shown to increase NGF, which makes it unique among medicinal mushrooms. In a recent study of 30 Japanese women, it helped with anxiety and irritation and improved concentration. It also maintains its mushroom bona fides—basic immunity, as well as effects on blood sugar and cholesterol. (These four papers explore these connections: one, two, three, four.)
  • The much-validated botanical Bacopa monnieri, an important Ayurvedic herb, has been the subject of a few 2013 studies showing it can improve and speed cognition.
  • Choline, close to being a bona fide B vitamin, converts to the nerve transmitter acetylcholine as well as the healthy fats phosphatidylcholine (PC) and alpha-glycerophosphocholine (GPC). In so doing, it enhances brain metabolism, and has specifically been shown to sharpen attention, memory, learning and mood. (These four studies explore the benefits: one, two, three, four.)
  • DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is the best omega-3 fatty acid related to brain health as it makes up the largest percentage of fats that comprise the brain. It was the subject of six human clinical trials in 2013 related to cognition. One showed improved memory and increased reaction time of memory, especially among young adults whose diets were low in DHA. Another showed improved memory in older people with mild cognitive impairment when taking 1.3 g/day DHA and 450 mg/day EPA. Another, however, on rural African infants, showed 200 mg DHA and 300 mg EPA had no effect on selected measures of cognitive development.

Longevity science is pushing human lifespans toward 120 years of age. Most Americans say they don’t want that many years added to their lives, only more life to their years (as the saying goes). But that’s because of the fear of having their bodies—and, worse, their brains—break down. Compelling research—and product offerings—to address various aspects of cognitive health may well change that consumer perception, and help all of us age as gracefully as we can now only dream.