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Articles from 2015 In December


Probiotic progress: International market exploding for Ganeden

Probiotic progress: International market exploding for Ganeden

Cleveland, Ohio-based Ganeden Inc. has conducted probiotic research and product development since 1997, producing ingredients for animal health, cosmetics and, most notably, the functional food and beverage sector. Its GanedenBC30 (Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086) is a patented, shelf-stable probiotic food additive now appearing in more than 125 food products worldwide. We spoke with Ganeden’s senior vice president—and International Probiotics Association president—Michael Bush about GanedenBC30’s remarkable growth in Asian markets and the company's next steps in global expansion.

NBJ: What region is showing the greatest growth for Ganeden?

Bush: It continues to be the United States, but if you look at outside of the United States, the region with the greatest growth is Asia: Taiwan, Thailand, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, they’re all growing pretty well—though we’re starting from a lower base.

NBJ: What’s going on there?

Bush: What we’ve found is that they’re very used to fermented foods and if they want to take a supplemental probiotic, they’re used to taking it in some sort of a fermented dairy type product or a supplement. As soon as we bring them a shelf-stable probiotic in a food product outside of the dairy case, they love it—especially considering that in many places in Asia dairy cases aren’t as readily available. The sell-through has been exceptional for the companies that have been launching with us.

NBJ: What are some of the formats?

Bush: We’ve done some little sachets that allow people to put the probiotic on top of their cereal or whatever it is they’re eating. We’ve had some gummy products that are actually more like fruit chews where they’re actually real fruit. It’s add-in type products where they’re adding the probiotic to whatever they want—or just staple foods—through a food additive. It seems like the Asian culture wants to have things in easy-to-use foods that they already consume.

NBJ: Is there a region that you see is slowing or plateauing?

Bush: Not really. Europe has plateaued for the last several years primarily due to what EFSA has done, outlawing the use of the term probiotic. That would be the area where we’re focusing the least because if you can’t say the word probiotic and you’re going to be launching a new product, it’s hard to explain to somebody that it’s probiotic.

NBJ: Have any of your client companies figured out a way to do that?

Bush: They just say that it contains GanedenBC30 cultures. You can say “cultures,” you can’t say “probiotic.” Or they’ll call it “the big drinkable yogurt," and Switzerland would call it a probiotic yogurt, probiotic drink or something. I forget what they call it, but now it’s called bifido drink or something like that. Or they just use the name of the bacteria as a descriptor for what the product is. We do know from the work that we’ve done at the IPA that the EFSA ban on probiotics has cost over a billion dollars in retail sales in the CPG companies.

NBJ: Is there a market that you expect to pop next for probiotics?

Bush: We see Latin America as the next frontier for us. We did a giant consumer survey last year in which we looked across multiple demographics at how people felt about probiotics and probiotic food and probiotic supplements and what format they would like to have their probiotics in. What we found was that Latin American people prefer to receive their functional ingredients in foods. We think that’s going to be a great market. As we roll more deeply into South and Central America, you’re going to see more and more activity in the staple food type of products.

NBJ: Is there a market that has a particular challenge for formulation to fit with their cultural food tradition?

Bush: Not really for us. What we do fits into a lot of foods. Last year we launched with Mission Tortilla, for example, a probiotic tortilla. For us, being that we’re a shelf-stable probiotic and that we can go into lots of food formats, it makes it easier. Most other organisms would be relegated to either dairy or supplement form so they wouldn’t be able to get into the standard foods.

NBJ: You feel like you have a big advantage, then?

Bush: Yes, we have a big competitive advantage as far as the South and Central American food market goes.

NBJ: Any surprises in international markets in 2015?

Bush: What we found that we didn’t expect was entrepreneurial companies that are able to grab hold of the concept and launch a product relatively quickly.

NBJ: They’re faster?

Bush: Yes, fast adoptions, but we were also surprised by how excited they were to have, in a lot of these Asian countries, an American-made ingredient that could be sold in Asia. We didn’t realize how important that was going to be to that market until we got into it.

NBJ: Are there any sort of trade barrier problems for you, particularly places like China that are notorious for that?

Bush: No. It is a complex regulatory environment—some of the regulatory dossiers that we’ve submitted have been literally 1,000-plus pages—but not real trade restrictions. It’s just that you have to go through the process of registering your ingredients, showing your safety, showing your efficacy work, and all that good stuff.

NBJ: What kind of growth are you seeing in Asia in general?

Bush: We doubled last year. Like I said, we’re starting from a lower base, but in Asia we doubled our business last year. Internationally in general, we’ve doubled in business.

NBJ: Is there a next functional foods frontier for probiotics, a food category where probiotics are not used now and is the next place for them?

Bush: We’ve invested a lot over the last couple years in sports nutrition protein—and protein beyond sports nutrition. If you look at the areas where protein is big you’ve got the active adult nutrition, you’ve got weight loss and a whole bunch of other areas where protein is just being pounded into the market. We’ve done a bunch of clinical work looking at protein metabolism, protein absorption, things like that, and sports performance. That market has taken off. We think that, for us, that’s the next place where things are really going to hit hard.

NBJ: Sports nutrition and probiotics is just becoming known here. Is that catching hold anywhere else internationally?

Bush: We have a product in Japan and then we have a couple in, I believe, the U.K. and Belgium.

NBJ: Here at home we have people talking about fermentation and sauerkraut and getting their probiotics that way. Is that anything for Ganeden to worry about—or even work with?

Bush: Fermented foods are great and they taste awesome and there are benefits, but if you think you’re getting all of your probiotic benefits from eating kimchi—well, you’d have to eat many, many pounds every single day. I don’t think people are really that committed to fermented foods.

NBJ: You said that in Asia where they’re used to fermented products it’s easier for you to sell probiotics. Do you also have to convince them that the foods are not enough?

Bush: I think it makes it easier. Because they’re used to the concept of the benefits of fermented foods, they’re used to the idea of probiotics. If you look at, for example, a company like Yakult, they do a ton of revenue in Japan and they deliver probiotic shots home by home. They literally deliver them to you. It’s opening up, but it’s also one of those things where the consumers are looking for something outside of those fermented beverages or fermented products. We think that culturally they’ve understood probiotics in Asia for many, many years. It just helps us.

NBJ: Fermented foods are more of a stepping stone than a barrier, then?

Bush: Correct. Exactly. It more opens up the opportunity than creates a barrier.

NBJ: What’s the biggest change you see in delivery formats?

Bush: I think that the primary thing is that if you look at the international market it’s very, very spoonable and drinkable yogurt-friendly. It is dominated by the yogurt industry—which not everybody wants to eat multiple times a day. It’s one of those things where supplement compliance is low, and compliance to eating yogurt on an everyday basis becomes lower and lower—especially when you look at Latin American countries or Asian countries where lactose intolerance may be more prevalent. We just think that the opportunity to add probiotics in general to non-yogurt or non-supplement products is really a huge opportunity and we’re excited to be participating in it.

2015 U.S. Dietary Guidelines: More vegetables and whole grains—hold the environmentalism

2015 U.S. Dietary Guidelines: More vegetables and whole grains—hold the environmentalism

The radius of “nutrition” has long been mystifying, but when you put politics on the plate it doesn’t just baffle, it slips behind the curtain to bellow a fresh manipulation of dietary righteousness.

Yet politics may be an unavoidable part of defining United States Dietary Guidelines and, as Jonah Goldberg writes in a recent Los Angeles Times Op-Ed piece, the politics rumbling behind the latest draft went beyond the usual discussion of fat and fiber to engage a key partisan fightin’ word: environmentalism.

Updated every five years, the yet-to-be-published 2015 guidelines are slated for release "later this year"—unlikely given the date of this post. In any case, they will be derived from the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Report submitted for review last February, a report that tackled a new arena of dietary advice.

But first, and despite growth of natural and better-for-you products (and even the naturalizing of Lucky Charms) the report had familiar observations, like, “On average, the U.S. diet is low in vegetables, fruit, and whole grains, and high in sodium, calories, saturated fat, refined grains, and added sugars.” Not surprising, considering that still more than one-third of Americans are obese.

And then they dropped the S-bomb.

A very popular word in the report, sustainability showed up with gateway usage calling for “sustainable behavioral change” and “sustainability of healthy dietary patterns” leading to courageous usage not directly related to nutrition—at least not as directly as some would like—calling for a “shift toward a greater emphasis on… an improved environmental profile across food categories to maximize environmental sustainability.” And with that inclusion we can add another item to the unsurprising column: the GOP’s objection.

“By their lights, nutrition scientists should concern themselves with nutrition—not sustainability,” writes Goldberg. “Environmentalists, to the GOP, aren't politically pure,” he states elsewhere in the piece, and Republicans in Congress, “want to make sure the government's scientific advice is actually scientific, not the reflection of some interest group.” 

Goldberg argues that the government isn’t historically just advisory, however, driving “everything from school lunches and agricultural subsidies to marketing for those bowls of candy we call breakfast cereal.” His Op-Ed chronicles a history of “shaky science,” beginning in the 1950s with an “all-in” promotion of a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet scarce on scientific evidence.

In response to the inclusion of environmental impact, suggests Goldberg, the “GOP [declared] war on science again.” Perhaps they did, but waving the “questionable science” flag was also a red herring again. The valid question is whether or not environmental science should have a seat at the dietary guidelines dinner table at all.

After outlining the environmental impact of food production from land, water and energy use to deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions and species biodiversity loss, the DGAC report bottom-lines the issue, stating that these environmental concerns constrain, “the capacity to produce adequate food in the future”much of the message our industry has preached for decades. It’s no surprise that it’s political, but, as is becoming increasingly clear, natural products and natural food need political engagement.

In the end, sustainability was excused from the table—in part due to vocal opposition from the meat industry. Did special interest trump science after all? 

For guidelines that have historically directed individual and societal health, it’s high time they include sustainability and “food security.” After all, isn’t providing “all people now, and in the future… access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food” within dietary scope? Of course it is, and a sustainable diet cannot exist outside of a sustainable food system.

Maybe hindsight—in 2020—will bring sustainability back.  Let's hope.

Punchy branding helps Aunt Fannie’s tackle a less-than-glamorous food problem

“We’re weird; we’re different,” says Mat Franken, the CEO of Aunt Fannie’s, which makes powerful, nontoxic cleaning and pest control solutions that are safe for use near food. And he means that in a good way.

The Aunt Fannie’s team has used quirky branding that harkens back to simpler times to address a rather unglamorous problem for households and the food industry—fruit flies. In this interview from Natural Products Expo East, Franken explains how FlyPunch! came to be, what the branding philosophy was and how he pulled together an all-star advisory board.

Natural product company news of the week

Go Healthy Natural, a leader in liquid daily dose multivitamins, has announced the launch of its new line of Antioxidant Boost liquid multivitamins, made with extracts of acai, pomegranate, strawberry, cranberry, noni, mangosteen, mulberry, bilberry, aloe vera juice, natural apple juice concentrate and organic cane juice combined with natural berry flavor.

Flavor leader Flavorchem Corp. announced a new line of Non- GMO Project Verified flavors including cocoa, coffee, orange, lime, peppermint and lemon. Additional verified flavors are continuously being added to its product line.

Nutrition 21 LLC unveiled a new sports nutrition ingredient, Velositol, which in a recent clinical study increased muscle protein synthesis by 34 percent when combined with whey protein, versus whey protein alone.

Through its ecommerce store, VIVE global LLC announced the official launch of its new line of transdermal patches that supply all natural nutrients directly through the skin.

5@5: OTA to propose certification for conventional farms going organic | Hershey to stop using GM sugar

5@5: OTA to propose certification for conventional farms going organic | Hershey to stop using GM sugar

OTA readies proposal to certify transitional organic acreage

A new certification could provide incentive and support for conventional producers to transition to organic practices as early as next year. The Organic Trade Association said it will submit a proposal to the USDA for a transitional organic certification, for consideration as part of USDA's Process Verified Program, by the end of January. Because land can't be used to grow USDA certified organic crops until three years after synthetic fertilizers and other specified substances have stopped being used, producers must play the waiting game to use the organic seal. The new certification would not allow them to use the organic seal any sooner but would potentially help business-to-business relationships. Read more at The Packer...


Hershey dumps sugar beets because of GM concerns

In 2016, the candy maker will complete its transition from using a mix of cane sugar and beet sugar to just cane sugar. Read more at The Star Tribune...

How Congress' crazy omnibus spending package will change what we eat

The 2,000-page bill passed earlier this month could affect school lunch programs, farmers, food safety and more. Read more at Grist...


How this nutrition company jumped from $120,000 to $20 million in sales

Jay Cohen, CEO of IQ Formulations, explains how his biggest asset has been longstanding relationships, and how putting money into manufacturing and research instead of marketing has helped his company win. Read more at Inc...


Green Day to enter the coffee market for some reason

The punk band of yesteryears has a new venture that you didn't see coming--mass producing compostable bags and single-serve pods for coffee. Read more at Modern Farmer...

Natural product movers & shakers - December 2015

Natural product movers & shakers - December 2015

Superfood-based supplement, food and beverage company Genesis Today is on a mission to sustain its growth trajectory and move to the next level with newly minted CEO Bill Meissner at the helm. Jeff Brucker has also been appointed vice president of marketing.

Lisa Ennis recently joined the staff of Mountain Dairy as director of marketing and sales, bringing with her more than 20 years of sales experience in food and beverage distribution. Ennis is a specialist in direct store delivery, having dealt with a variety of distribution and mass merchant channels.

Aker BioMarine, a leading supplier of krill-derived products to the consumer health and wellness and animal nutrition markets, has hired Ian Chant as general manager in Australia. Ian will oversee sales and business development in the region.

Chemi Nutra is proud to announce that Cassandra Heiden has joined the company as supply chain manager responsible for customer service, planning, import/export and domestic transportation, inventory management and overall logistics for Chemi Nutra’s family of proprietary specialty ingredient products.

Co-founder and CEO of Quinn Foods, Kristy Lewis, was selected for The Griffin Report’s 2015 40 under 40 Industry Rising Leaders New Channels list. The New Channels feature includes new categories in the food business in the past few years such as organic, natural, specialty, big box, drug and new ventures.

Sabinsa Corporation has promoted Ahmed Khan to the position of national sales manager - USA effective January 1, 2016. He will be responsible for overseeing sales throughout the US, as well as ensuring customer satisfaction and deepening client relationships.

Skincare brand Rodan & Fields LLC announced that Lori Bush will be retiring from her position as president and chief executive officer , effective upon the appointment of her successor. Ms. Bush will remain a member of Rodan + Fields’ Board of Directors and serve as an advisor to the new CEO to ensure a smooth transition.

NattoPharma ASA announced organizational changes and management team additions. Daniel Rosenbaum, who has been serving as COO of NattoPharma for the last 12 months, will now assume the role of CEO. Dr. Hogne Vik, who has been serving in the role of CEO of NattoPharma since 2012, will now assume the role of chief medical officer. Kjetil Ramsøy will join the company, effective January 1, 2016, in the role of chief financial officer. William Sommer joins the company to serve as vice president, global development and regulatory.

Natural Foods Merchandiser

6 natural retail trends to master in 2016

Watching the changes in retail as natural and organic become the food story of the year in retail and manufacturing is like keeping up with the latest in chia, coconut or superfood of choice.

After examining what's happening in the natural products industry and the wider world of retailing, we narrowed the list of important 2016 trends to examine and excel at to six.

Here they are.

9 influential natural beauty trends of 2015

While the issue of dangerous chemicals appearing in cosmetics has been top of mind for many in the natural products industry, this year marked a huge milestone that will take the conversation outside of a niche space. A late-2015 op-ed piece in the The New York Times, Contaminating Our Bodies with Everyday Products, highlighted two recent and extremely significant warnings from the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics and the Endocrine Society about chemicals that are used in everything from receipts to cosmetics, showing that the medical mainstream is finally catching up to consumer advocacy groups. Read more. 

It was another significant year for the natural beauty category, as more and more consumers woke up to the dangers of cosmetics chemicals and the category’s innovations brought a slew of nontoxic alternatives to the market. And, as a category once defined by what it was not (full of chemicals), it has become clear that the category has evolved beautifully. The natural and organic personal care space is now built on what it is:  transparent, trustworthy and highly effective. 

Here, we identify the year's top natural beauty moments and trends.

5@5: FDA extends comment period for 'natural' | Dietitians weigh in on food trends for 2016

5@5: FDA extends comment period for 'natural' | Dietitians weigh in on food trends for 2016

FDA gives food industry more time to define 'natural'

Public comments on the topic were originally due on Feb. 10, but after a request for an extension from the Natural Products Association, the FDA has moved the comment closing date to May 10. Read more at The Hill...


Popular nutrition trends for 2016

Soup is the new juice, according to nutrition experts who weighed in on Today's Dietitian's list of trends for 2016. Reducing food waste and improving sustainability also made the list. Read more at Today's Dietitian...

Why it's taking companies so long to switch to cage-free eggs

In short: it's a supply issue. Big Food is moving toward cage-free eggs but doing so on 5-, 10- or even 15-year timelines. Read more at Huffington Post...


A new chapter for saffron

In Iran, where 80 percent of the world's saffron is produced, the spice is cherished for its supposed power against depression, Alzheimer's, cancer and degeneration of the eyes. Now a group of scientists and experts are working to fight the problem of adulterated saffron, which is more a problem of authenticity than of health. Read more at The New York Times...


Alternative burgers booming on menus

Chicken burgers are growing faster than any other beef alternatives on menus, but turkey burgers and vegetarian options are close behind. Read more at Food Business News...