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[email protected]: Big Food announces nearly $6B in snack deals | FDA has eyes on high-risk homeopathic products

Amplify Snack brands acquired by Hershey

Hershey, Campbell bet nearly $6 billion on healthy snacks market

Campbell will make its biggest acquisition yet when it buys salty snack maker Snyder’s-Lance Inc., which owns popular brands including Emerald, Late July Snacks, Snack Factory Pretzel Chips and Kettle, for $4.87 billion. Meanwhile, Hershey is spending $921 million on Amplify Snack Brands, maker of SkinnyPop and Paqui tortilla chips. This is the latest in a string of snack deals, including Kellogg's acquisition of RXBar in October and Beanfield Snack's majority investment in April. Read more at Reuters…


Food and Drug Administration plans crackdown on risky homeopathic remedies

The FDA says it will take a “new, risk-based” approach to regulating homeopathic products. The agency says it’s seen an uptick in products labeled as homeopathic, as well as an increase in safety concerns and adverse events from the products. Critics of homeopathy, which is a system of alternative medicine based on the idea of stimulating the body to heal itself, have long expressed concerns about evidence, contamination and claims related to homeopathic products. FDA says it will more carefully scrutinize these products, especially those with reported safety concerns, ingredients that are of concern, and those marketed for addressing serious health issues, but will still not require them to undergo formal FDA review. Mark Land, president of the American Association of Homeopathic Pharmacists, told NPR and the changes would not materially affect most homeopathic products available in the U.S. Read more at NPR...


Beyond Meat unveils sizzling vegan sausage

The follow-up product to the much-hyped Beyond Burger is a plant-based sausage that crackles on the griddle just like the real thing. “It’s a good product—I think it’s the best sausage on the market,” CEO Ethan Brown told Food & Wine. “But it’s not perfect. We will keep working.” Each link contains 16 grams of protein from pea protein, fava beans, rice and more, and casing made from algae. Read more at Food & Wine...


Pacific Foods ladling out portion of Campbell sale proceeds to workers

Some 600 employees of Pacific Foods, which just closed a $700 million sale to Campbell Soup Co., will share in about one-quarter of the net proceeds of the deal. Read more at Portland Business Journal…


Fireman Capital, Dunn’s River Brands create beverage platform

As part of the creation of the platform, the companies acquired the Sweet Leaf Tea and Tradewinds brands from Nestle for an undisclosed amount. Read more at Food Business News…

Top categories where the turmeric trend is showing up

Thinkstock turmeric ingredient

The following is an excerpt from the NEXT Forecast, an insider’s guide to where the natural products market is now—and where it’s headed. The updated NEXT Forecast for 2018 includes a new section on ingredient trends, and updated market manifestations for 13 macro forces. Learn more here.

Curcumin is responsible for the golden yellow color and the manifested health benefits within the yummy Indian spice known as turmeric. (And even then, it’s the three curcuminoids within curcumin that are the specific phytochemicals really responsible for the heavy lifting within curcumin.)

Curcumin is important because it is the long-awaited nutrient that can address silent inflammation, which is at the root of most chronic degenerative diseases. Holistic medical practitioners long knew this to be true, but the inflammation message had a difficult time gaining traction with the public. Curcumin has become an effective vehicle for addressing that.

Even now, in the supplements world, much innovation and differentiation is occurring with brands using various techniques to enhance the bioavailability of this notoriously large molecule that the body can have difficulty assimilating. At the same time as this curcumin supplements boom, brands are using curcumin as an inflammation-busting ingredient in foods and, in particular, beverages.

[email protected]: USDA axes organic animal welfare rule | IBM, Walmart take food safety blockchain initiative to China

Thinkstock/Wavebreakmedia Ltd chickens production

USDA puts final ax on organic livestock rule

Implementation of the proposed amendments to the animal welfare standards for USDA’s organic program, which the Obama administration finalized and published just in time in January, has been delayed three times by the new administration, prompting the Organic Trade Association to sue the agency in September. Now USDA plans to withdraw the final rule, saying it would “exceed USDA’s statutory authority.” OTA, meanwhile, says it will continue to fight for stricter organic animal welfare standards. Read more at Feedstuffs...


IBM & Walmart launching Blockchain Food Safety Alliance in China with Fortune 500’s

It’s the buzzword you’ve probably been hearing a lot lately, and you’re going to be hearing even more of it. A powerful cohort of companies and retailers is bringing blockchain technology to China in an effort to improve traceability and food safety. The group intends to develop standards for collecting data about the origin, safety and authenticity of food. Earlier this year, Walmart was one of 10 food suppliers and retailers who committed to working together on similar efforts in the U.S. Read more at Forbes…


Tips for established companies to keep innovating

Don’t ignore the small stuff—like emerging market trends or startup competitors. Companies that sniff those out early are more apt to stay one step ahead, says Paul Earle, an adjunct lecturer on innovation and entrepreneurship at the Kellogg School. He advises companies to foster a culture in which employees can experiment and share their ideas without corporate red tape. Read more at Kellogg Insight…


In Newark, a startup plans to convert trash into usable products

Set up in an old meatpacking plant, Industrial/Organic, or IO, is waste management of the future. The company ferments food waste in an enclosed tank, which releases moisture from the food and sterilizes and stabilizes it. Then it separates the carbon, nutrients, water, organic acids and alcohol and upcycles those resources to make fertilizers, animal feed and clean energy—all in a week’s time. Sounds impossible, right? Read more at Jersey Digs…


What happens when an Ohio town loses its only grocery store?

In eastern Ohio, the town of Carrollton saw its only grocery store close abruptly last year. Now, its residents, like those in other food deserts, must shop at discount stores of drive half an hour to the nearest supermarket. Read more at WOSU… 

Get well soon: 5 supplements for immune health

Mushrooms are the core of both the age-old and the new-age immunity-enhancing agents. They're not the end-all and be all, though. Here's a handful of supplements for your shelves, both fungal and not. 


5 food trends that should end in 2018

2018 Food Trends End Promo

One peek on the foodie internet and you’ll find a smattering of articles and galleries outlining the top food and beverage trends that will permeate store shelves and increasingly the “Best Sellers” category on Amazon. From floral flavors to adaptogenic mushrooms to seaweed, 2018 will be rife in better-for-you, value-added products. Don’t be surprised if a combination of these all end up in your (gluten-free, vegan) cracker.

For the record, the editors will be releasing a roundup of our own carefully cultivated trends before the sparkly New Year’s ball drops, honed via 12 months of perusing trade show floors, having heated discussions about kombucha SCOBYs and low-cal sweeteners, and treating our stomachs like guinea pigs to taste test protein bars galore (I think everyone on our team has exclusively consumed samples for lunch at least once in 2017).

Don’t fear—we’ll get to our 2018 food trends eventually. But as this editor recently turned 30, I may as well embrace my budding curmudgeonliness and launch our 2018 trend predictions on a negative note—with the food and beverage trends I don’t want to see continued next year. These are the ones that don’t seem to propel our industry forward in meaningful, inspiring ways or set us up for a better food system or improved environmental stewardship. And some of the following trends just simply seem a little silly.

I may be 30, but the internet says I’m still a millennial. So enjoy the following “over-it” food trends … and #sorrynotsorry.


Yes, this zero-calorie sugar alcohol has many in the food industry excited about the possibilities of crafting a sweet product without the added sugar. There’s merit to this ingredient, particularly for diabetics who want a sweet flavor without blood sugar-spiking sugar. It’s also an antioxidant (wee!). But too often, products that contain erythritol lend a medicinal, saccharine flavor and are pretty tough to choke down. I still remember one particular instance months ago when I opened an erythritol-sweetened food and was hit in the face with a stomach-churning alcoholic waft.

Deadset on using erythritol? Blend it with other sweeteners like monk fruit, stevia and yes, maybe even cane sugar, to achieve a more palatable taste, or just use less of it.

Bottled water

Who's still buying and drinking bottled water? Isn’t that so 2000?

With the proliferation of attractive, technologically advanced reusable water bottles and water fountains and water filter stations and literally any faucet in the United States, bottled water really shouldn’t exist anymore (except for emergencies like hurricanes and floods, and unreported lead levels and the like).

Bottled water offers a modicum of added convenience over filling your reusable vessel, but should we really be contributing to plastic pollution? No, we shouldn’t. But that hasn’t stopped U.S. consumers from buying $16 billion wholesale dollars worth of bottled water in 2016 or (environmentalists, grab a pillow to scream into) prevented the Trump administration from reversing the bottled water ban in National Parks. Bottled water? We’re over it!

Protein overload

Protein is the king of the natural products industry, and this year we’ve seen products from every category in the store (including snacks, chips, breads and pancakes) infused with this hallowed macronutrient. I happen to enjoy products that contain added protein. I feel better—at least psychologically if not physiologically—when I eat them. I appreciate that I can have pancakes for breakfast and stay full until lunchtime. But was I protein deficient before these products were launched? I don’t think so. And I’m a vegetarian who hates beans.

Plus, many food formulations offer protein contents that seem extraordinarily high. I need about 50 grams of protein per day—a Greek yogurt with a handful of nuts would provide about half of that. Do I really need a crisp that contains 15 grams of protein per serving? An apple with two tablespoons of peanut butter (8 grams of protein) would be a better, more filling option.

We’ve all been swept up in the protein-packed craze—and for good reason. Protein hasn’t experienced the popular nutrition backlash of carbs or fat. Protein’s messaging is intricately tied to weight loss, which has made it a runaway success. But protein-infused, birthday cake-flavored rice crispy treats? Srsly?

Natural flavoring

This one I’m on the fence about, because like most ladies and gents in my age demographic, I am unabashedly, over-the-moon-in-love with the flavored bubbly water La Croix (#TeamPamplemousse). In fact, I’m sipping on one right now as I write this article.

La Croix, along with many other brands, has embraced “natural flavors.” On its website, La Croix says its grapefruit flavor is derived from pure grapefruit oil. But does “derived” mean that’s the only ingredient? If so, what are the other ingredients, and why aren’t they listed? Even after residing in the trenches of the natural industry for years (seven to be exact), this still confuses me. Pioneering brands (like Spindrift, Back To The Roots and Cusa Tea) are finding workarounds to using natural flavor by adding real fruits, spices, herbs and even vegetables to their formulations. I hope for greater transparency around natural flavoring labeling.


Kale. Turmeric. Reishi mushroom. Ashwagandha. Maca. These ingredients are like an Instagram post just waiting to happen. I love such nutrient-dense add-ins, particularly when they’re expertly blended into snacks, beverages, bars and more. But if I’m going to consume turmeric, I want to eat enough of it in one sitting to get the anti-inflammatory benefits. Yellow-tinged popcorn that sings the praises of turmeric likely isn’t going to provide me any tangible health benefits—even if I eat the entire bag. Which, sure, I’ve done before, but I wasn’t proud of it.

Seriously, though. If you’re going to communicate the health benefits of certain ingredients in your products, make sure you put enough of it inside to do a body good. Pixie dusting functional ingredients for marketing purposes? Just, no.

This week: Alter Eco enters snack category | Just Water becomes B Corp certified

Alter Eco coconut clusters

Just water has received B Corporation certification just two years after the company's launch. "Just has forged a new path around sustainable packaging and equitable sourcing, but B Corp provides a recognized and respected affirmation of that foundation," said CEO Ira Laufer. The brand sources 100 percent spring water in an equitable partnership with the town of Glens Falls, New York, paying a premium for the water which supports the local community. The Just water bottle is paper-based, a fully recyclable carton made from 82 percent renewable resources.

Shazi Visram, CEO of Happy Family Organics, announced she is transitioning from her role and passing the torch to current Senior Vice President of Business Development Anne Laraway in January. Visram will remain in place as "Chairmom" of the board and chief visionary. 

Alter Eco, which this week also announced its acquisition by NextWorld Evergreen, has entered the snacking category with a new line of Dark Chocolate Coconut Clusters in three varieties: Original, Cherry + Almond Butter and Seeds + Salt. The decadent treats that combine salty-sweet ribbons of toasted coconut and Alter Eco’s signature 70 percent Ecuadorian chocolate, with 5 to 6 grams of sugar per serving. The new snacks are also vegan, paleo-friendly and contain premium ingredients ranging from coconut oil to organic dark chocolate. 

Memory with Cognizin Citicoline is a new brain health supplement from Oxylent designed to support natural energy and cognitive function for everyday tasks. On top of the clinically studied nutrient Cognizin, Memory also includes phosphatidyl choline, huperzine A, yerba maté, gingko biloba and green tea leaf.

Reviva Labs is ending the year by introducing five new charcoal products. Reviva's charcoal line consists of Bamboo Charcoal Pore Minimizing Mask, which cleanses and exfoliates; Bamboo Charcoal Pore Minimizing Cleansing Gel for gentle deep cleansing; Coconut Charcoal and White Lava Body Wash for all-over body cleansing; Coconut Charcoal Moisturizing Day Crème to soothe, firm, and tone; and Activated Charcoal Time Release Night Crème, which offers the detoxifying benefits of charcoal together with the healing benefits of tea tree and more.

Maker of gluten-free crackers, flatbreads and pizza, Absolutely Gluten Free announced via press release the launch of a 100-calorie, grab-and-go sesame seed snack bar. TahiniBAR is certified OU Kosher and dairy-free.

The Plant Based Foods Association has a new membership opportunity for investment firms to support the growing plant-based industry. Ten investment firms have already signed on as founding members, including Blue Horizon, EverHope Capital, Green Monday, Hummingbird Brands, JMK Consumer Growth Partners, Lyra Growth Partners, New Crop Capital, Stray Dog Capital, VegInvest, and the team of Nicole Brodeur and Alex Payne.

In Session

Supplement or food? Product labeling opportunities and limitations

Legal advice on proper labeling of food vs. supplement from Justin Prochnow

"The No. 1 thing the FDA is going to look at is the product name and how you are talking about the product on the label."
—Justin Prochnow, lawyer

Part 1: The process of analysis for marketing and selling new product


  • How do you determine if a product is a food/beverage or supplement?
  • What is the difference between nutrition facts versus supplement facts? 
  • The factors to review when deciding. 


Part 2: Food ingredient regulation


  • Typically, companies label products as food rather than supplements.  
  • How do you define food ingredients versus approved food additives?  
  • What is GRAS?


Part 3: Supplement ingredient regulation


  • Dietary ingredients differ from dietary supplements.

  • The scope of permissible dietary ingredients is larger than those that have been approved as food additives or GRAS.


Part 4: Ingredient differences 


  • Caffeine is an example of an ingredient with labeling issues.
  • The major differences between supplement facts and nutrition facts.
  • "You don't register as a dietary supplement. There's no registration of supplements or foods and beverages. What you put out on the market and your labeling is basically your statement of what you are."


Part 5: Food/beverages vs. supplements 


  • Key factors to consider, other than regulations of ingredients, are manufacturing, labeling and claims. 
  • The FDA regulations covering structure-function claims are less regulated for foods than supplements.
  • Companies are selling products as supplements because of the difference in treatment of ingredients.


Part 6: Liquid product regulation 


  • The growth of "energy drinks," labeled as both beverage and supplement, spurred FDA's concern for how products are sold.  
  • The product name is perhaps the most important factor to FDA. 
  • The labeling and advertising of how a product will be used is highly scrutinized.  


Part 7: Risk assessment 


  • Some examples of FDA case files.
  • Tips for success: long-term intentions and target customers.
  • The threat of litigation does not mean a requirement to pay. 


Part 8: Q&A 


  • If you settle a class-action lawsuit, is there a public record and is that an admission of guilt? 
  • What is the Jelly-Bean Rule?
  • What is the FDA's standard of substantiation? 

This session—Supplement or food? Products labeling opportunities & limitations—was recorded at Natural Products Expo East 2017. Click "download" to access the presentation slides. 

Less waste, more clarity and other packaging trends for 2018

Rainbow Light, Sheffa Foods natural products packaging trends 2018

In its new Packaging Trends 2018 report, market research firm Mintel highlights five ways that CPG packaging is evolving in the global market. Interestingly, all five of the trends it notes have already begun to materialize in the natural products market in recent years.

Here's a look at what Mintel sees happening in the world of packaging, and how we see it playing out in natural products. 

Addressing waste. Packaging isn’t just a throw-away—smart companies see packaging as an opportunity to innovate to reduce their overall waste and to help consumers waste less, too. In the natural products industry, OSC2 is spearheading collaboration on the development of functional and sustainable flexible packaging. Other companies are working on methods to extend the freshness or shelf life of foods, such as Apeel Sciences, which created an edible spray intended to prolong produce’s shelf life.
Example: Snack companies Boss Food Co. and Sheffa Foods were some of the first brands to use a new compostable plastic pouch packaging developed by TIPA.

Designing for online. As online grocery sales continue to inch up, brands are taking a new look at their approach to packaging with e-commerce in mind. Products look different online than they do on a store shelf, and it’s a different experience for customers to interact with a product for the first time by taking it out of a box, rather than picking it up in a store. Mintel also notes the opportunity for brands to develop packaging that transports better and addresses sustainability issues related to shipping.
Example: New snack brand Farm & Oven took an online first approach to its product and packaging.

Clean label clarity. There’s a delicate balance in giving consumers just enough of the information they truly want to know in order to make an informed decision without overloading them with claims and messages. For brands, simplifying and highlighting certain certifications that are most important on-package can bring clarity to consumers in a crowded retail environment.
Example: New e-commerce site Brandless takes a straightforward approach, offering better-for-you products in the simplest of packaging for $3 each.

Saving the seas. Our oceans are polluted with plastic, and brands are on the firing line. Many CPG companies have developed initiatives to use recovered ocean plastic in their packaging.
Example: Rainbow Light teamed up with 5 Gyres to convert all of its supplement packaging to recycled plastic containers, which also reduced its carbon footprint.

Center store refresh. Just as retailers are refreshing their formats for today’s fresh- and convenience-seeking consumers, brands can use new packaging formats to bring excitement to uninspired aisles or categories, too. Mintel notes the use of transparent materials, contemporary designs and unique shapes.
Example: Pasta Bow Ties teamed up with Tipsy Elves to create some holiday-inspired packaging aimed at millennials.

In Session

What's NEXT for 2018? Natural products industry trends to watch

The latest trends in natural products indicating high success from Newhope's NEXT report

"The future health of our industry depends on how effectively we remain authentic and hold true to our values as we grow and integrate new business partners and consumers."
—Deanna Pogorelc

Part 1: The big ideas feeding natural products industry growth  


  • CPG companies are recognizing the values that have driven natural products industry success.
  • Here is a glimpse into the macro forces and trends shaping natural products growth and the progressive leaders who share these values.  


Part 2: Natural and organic product trends through the lens of progressive consumers 


  • Segmentation analysis delivers understanding of consumer attitudes about the natural products industry.
  • Get insights to inform segmented marketing and advertising strategies.


Part 3: Introduction to the NEXT Trend concept tool


  • An introduction to and explanation of the NEXT Trend concept tool.
  • How NEXT identifies relevant trends by looking at the intersection of the market prediction score and purchase intent. 


Part 4: 4 progressive values driving success 


  • Environment, social purpose, transparency and convenient nutrition are the top four progressive consumer values.
  • Recent acceleration of the Cultural Awakening macro force is driven by social media and increased access to information, as well as consumer demand fueling emergence of socially minded entrepreneurs.  


Part 5: Cultural Awakening trends


  • Demand is growing for companies to be more aware and build business around commitment to the environment.
  • Waste not, want not: Innovative solutions cut down on food waste and solve food injustice problems.
  • Opportunity is ripe for agriculture and food industry businesses willing to not only minimize harm but to heal damage that has occurred.


Part 6: Modern Life trends

  • Ways the effects of modern life are manifesting themselves in consumer behaviors and demands.
  • Trends of note: Climate of Change, Modern Meal, Speed Scratch, Disruptive Innovation. 


Part 7: Tech Enablers trends


  • Tech is reshaping the marketplace with innovation working to improve the way business is done.
  • Traceability is not just a story, it's about being connected to the food industry and increasing the level of intimacy when trust is an issue in the marketplace. 
  • The natural and organic products industry remains a vibrant, innovative marketplace poised for continued growth.


The 2018 NEXT Forecast dives into 13 macro forces, 60 trends changing the natural products industry. Inside, also find nearly 300 new products and brand examples that represent innovation, progress and industry disruption.


This session—What's NEXT? Trends & Products Likely to Succeed with Progressive Natural Channel Consumers—was recorded at Natural Products Expo East 2017. Click "download" to access the presentation slides. 

[email protected]: 2 more members wave goodbye to GMA | Meat tax on the menu?

Two more major industry players part ways with GMA

Politico reports that Tyson Foods and Unilever have joined at least four other major food companies in saying they will not renew their membership with the Grocery Manufacturers Association for 2018. Read more at Politico…


Taxes on meat could join carbon and sugar to help limit emissions

Some investors think that governments’ next efforts to improve public health and reduce emissions might involve a levy on livestock. Countries including Denmark and China have reportedly discussed the creation of a meat tax, but the idea has been met with resistance from farmers. Read more at Bloomberg Technology…


Algae is poised to become a mainstream food ingredient if supply can keep up with demand

The potential applications for algal biomass in foods and beverages run the gamut, from smoothies to supplements to animal feeds. But the sustainable ingredient’s growth potential is limited by the current supply chain, says the CEO of Zivo Bioscience, a U.S.-based R&D company focused on microalgae. Zivo is working on a simple and cost-effective model for pond production of algae with a unique blend of protein, micronutrients and non-starch polysaccharides. Read more at AgFunder News…


This startup’s healthier versions of your favorite sprinkles and food coloring are actually worth buying

Carmel Hagen, a former Pillsbury Bake-Off winner, began her career in tech but later launched an organic coconut sugar product called Sweet Revenge. Her new venture is Supernatural, a line of heat-resistant natural food color and sprinkles. Read more at Business Insider…


Whole Foods’ new produce push

Salad bars at Whole Foods Market stores are getting a refresh for the new year. They will incorporate new recipes and ingredients with a focus on root-to-stem and seasonal produce. Read more at Produce News…