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How REBBL effectively connected with celebrities

REBBL Ruby-with-Marketing-20.jpg

It’s not every day that Batwoman calls and says she wants to be a part of a natural food company’s brand. That’s what happened when Australian-born actress Ruby Rose contacted REBBL, the for-profit organic herb elixir company because of its work with Not For Sale, a nonprofit focused on ending worldwide human trafficking.

“We don’t go out and cold pitch celebrities very often,” says David Batstone, co-founder of REBBL, headquartered in Emeryville, California. “Most people have fallen in love with REBBL and what we stand for and then ask us ‘How can I use my platform?’”

When Batstone initially co-founded Not For Sale with Mark Wexler to fight modern-day slavery, he says they did “the typical things” most nonprofits do, including asking for money from rotary clubs, religious communities and wealthy individuals. Initially the nonprofit focused on building housing to help rescue children from labor and sex trafficking.

After doing an intensive brainstorm session with other founders, bankers and professional athletes, Batstone wanted an alternative way to fundraise which led to creating REBBL, a beverage company focused on sourcing herbs from the Amazon and returns 2.5% of net sales from every bottle sold to Not for Sale.

“It’s a great, admirable plan on paper but executing that is almost impossible,” Batstone says. “The whole business idea was being a rebel and to think completely out of the box.”

That mindset helped the brand attract celebrities such as singer Michael Franti, holistic health and wellness coach Koya Webb, Pittsburgh-based functional medicine clinic director Dr. Will Cole, Michelin-starred chef Dominique Crenn and snowboarder Brenna Huckaby.

New Hope Network caught up with Batstone and Rusti Porter, senior vice president of Brand Engagement at REBBL, to learn more about how they connected with celebrities.

How did things start?

Rusti Porter: Ruby kicked it all off. She found us in a Whole Foods Market in Southern California. Ruby and her financial team reached out to us and said she wants to become more involved with the brand, she thinks it’s perfect for her and wants to know more.

What was that first meeting like?

RP: We got on a phone call, started having a conversation and talked about what that meant for her. She’s invested in the brand and does strategic sessions with us. She was instrumental in helping us feel confident enough to go make a short film that people would engage in because she’s narrating for us.

How did you decide what people to partner with?

RP: We started talking to people in different industries and decided to create this movement of young rebels with a cause and call it the REBBL collective. Let’s support one another and help drive change.

Part of our qualifier was to have people who are plant-based or involved in the plant-based change movement. It’s about coming together to amplify one another’s mission so we can be a part of the larger movement.

We wanted to find people that could offer different perspectives. We wanted some expertise in health and wellness. We already had a relationship with Dr. Cole. We approached Koya who has a great following in the health and wellness industry. People look to her for information. If she puts something out there, people trust her. She knows that and partners with brands she believes in. That’s been part of our amplification.

David Batstone: It’s great when you get a celebrity and you don’t have to script them. You can just let them loose. That’s what Michael Franti was like. Those are the kinds of celebrities you want to get. 

Before creating the REBBL collective, how did you connect with influencers?

RP: A lot has changed in the past three years on social media. Part of it was being at the right place, right time. We were early in the movement of Instagram influencers like Rachel Mansfield and Jordan Younger (the blogger of The Balanced Blonde).

What things have you learned from celebrity influencers?

RP: Michelin-starred chef Dominique Crenn is a big advocate for the planet. She challenged us right away and said: “What about plastic?” We said our commitment is to transition into 100% post-consumer recycled plastics. She said, “okay I’m in."

What did that mean from a business perspective?

RP: It’s not easy for a small company to take these types of positions. It’s been challenging operationally and financially. We are already giving 2.5% of net sales per bottle to Not For Sale and paying a fair price for ingredients. This was a big choice for us.

We also knew if we used 100% post-consumer recycled plastic, our bottles were going to be a slightly different color. There’s was a risk that consumers would say ‘I can’t see the liquid inside anymore.’

Why did you end up making the change?

RP: After going back and forth, we decided it was the right thing to do because it sits with our values and they probably wouldn’t have supported us if we didn’t do it.

KeHE welcomes 5 new mission-based CAREtrade partners for 2020


KeHE is proud to announce its new class of 2020 CAREtrade® partners. CAREtrade®, founded by a passionate group of KeHE employees in 2017, identifies and promotes a set of brands that advance a higher purpose than commercial success, aligning with the natural & organic, specialty and fresh distributor’s dedication to service.

“These partners exemplify a passion for serving for a greater good through their environmental and humanitarian causes,” said Ari Goldsmith, Vice President of Marketing and CAREtrade® co-founder. “KeHE’s like-minded values are rooted in our mission of serving to make lives better. We’re proud to celebrate suppliers through this core initiative that supports brands who align with our purpose; to use business as a force for good.”

KeHE is delighted to share our CAREtrade® Partners for 2020 and their impactful stories:

  • Argania, a producer of authentic Moroccan Argan Nut butters, provides fair wages to over 500 Berber women that work in female-run cooperatives in Morocco. This income propels the social status of the women and the cooperatives allowing them to escape the isolation they otherwise face. In addition, Argania invests 5% of their profits directly back into the cooperatives to help support the women, their families and the communities in which they live.
  • Project 7 is dedicated to seven important causes: saving the earth, housing the homeless, feeding the hungry, providing clean drinking water, healing the sick, supporting education and hope for peace with anti-bullying campaigns–through the sales of their specialty gum and candy. Their company mandates a minimum of 10% of annual profits, but historically, they have given upwards of 30-50% of profits to these causes. They believe little purchases, when added up, can pull people together and make life-changing impacts.
  • Beyond Good, formally Madécasse, works directly with cocoa farmers in Madagascar to help them grow premium heirloom cocoa for their chocolate products. They ensure their cocoa farmers prosper with their Direct Trade and made-at-the-source mission and support local community projects such as water wells and refurbishing schools. In 2020, Beyond Good’s goal is to produce 3 million chocolate bars, which support their mission of producing as much chocolate at the source as possible.
  • Equal Exchange was the first Fair Trade coffee company in the U.S. and has worked for over 30 years to increase compensation, accessibility, and equality for the small-scale farmers where they source their products. In addition to fair prices, Equal Exchange coordinates funding for dozens of on-farm projects, which collectively generated more than $5 million in additional income for farmers over the past eight years.
  • Rumi, an American veteran-run spice company, partners with Afghan farmers to bring sustainably farmed and unadulterated spices to the global market. They work directly with over 300 farmers in Afghanistan and plan on expanding their reach to other war-torn countries bringing international flavor to U.S. consumers. In just two years, Rumi has seen output from their existing partners double and triple, while new farmers have asked to join their growing network.

Past CAREtrade® suppliers, with KeHE's support, have experienced 11% total U.S. growth together. This totaled $3 million in the last year according to IRI/SPINS. KeHE’s 2019 class consists of Bhakti, This Bar Saves Lives, NuttZo, World Centric and The Soulfull Project. The 2019 partners will continue in the program and serve as mentors to the new member organization. 2018 CAREtrade® Partners Mavuno Harvest, the Real Co, Dignity Coconuts, Tony’s Chocolonely and Tanka will graduate the program at the end of 2019.

Source: KeHE

[email protected]: 43% of surveyed Americans favor banning new CFOs | SNAP's online grocery delivery fails food deserts


Do factory farm bans have a political future?

Only a few presidential candidates (five, to be exact) have expressed their support for a ban on factory farm construction, and yet a new poll released Tuesday revealed that 43% of respondents out of 1,000 diverse U.S. participants would favor a national moratorium on new CAFO construction (as opposed to 38% who wouldn't). While banning CAFO construction altogether on a political basis is likely far off in the U.S., the survey indicates that overall concern regarding health problems, pollution and worker safety issues related to such operations are on the rise. Read more at New Food Economy... 

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Dollar stores and food deserts

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Sainsbury's is launching 31 new vegan products this Veganuary–and they look delicious

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Is a Whole Foods co-op in your future?

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Natural Products Expo

How this ketogenic creamer brand won Natural Products Expo Pitch Slam

Know Brainer Expo East Pitch Slam Winner

Considering applying to the Expo West 2020 Pitch Slam? If you're an innovative emerging consumer packaged goods brand, you'd have the chance to win over $40,000 in New Hope Network services, including a free booth at Expo West 2021.

But it’s one thing to apply; it’s another to truly stand out among the dozens and dozens of applications we receive. Take it from the Expo East 2017 Pitch Slam winner Shari Leidich, founder of Know Brainer. She knows a thing or two about positioning a brand for Pitch Slam success.

Read on for valuable advice on how to be an exceptional Expo West 2020 Pitch Slam applicant.

Since winning the 2017 Expo East Pitch Slam, Know Brainer has expanded beyond ketogenic creamers. Tell us more!

Shari Leidich Know BrainerShari Leidich: Since the beginning, I've been wanting to make a collagen marshmallow. I heard people bouncing around the ideas in research and development. I charged my team with the job of creating [this], and we did it! We have the first keto, zero-sugar marshmallow on the market. And we're really, really excited.

What did you find most beneficial about the Pitch Slam experience?

SL: Honing my pitch forced me to really narrow into what Know Brainer does and what we create. You could talk about a lot of stuff, but you're really zeroed in on that elevator pitch. And coming from my background, I never really thought about that. That then helped me talk to industry retailers or whomever and forcing me to do that. [Also], creating the slide deck. I use that slide deck today. So, being more disciplined in my approach to how I approach retailers or distributors.

What do you think made you stand out from other Pitch Slam applicants?

SL: What we do is make complicated food easy and accessible, and I've always been slightly ahead of the curve. We did ketogenic in 2016. I sort of saw this ketogenic space in wellness, and I decided to get right in on it. I think that was a game changer.

How has winning the Pitch Slam impacted Know Brainer?

SL: It's validation for what we do, and we didn't just win it [Pitch Slam], we keep winning. We're getting validated in a lot of other venues.

What advice do you have for first-time Pitch Slam applicants?

SL: Take it really seriously. You [New Hope Network] really offer great support.

Think you’re ready to pitch for your shot at over $40,000 worth of New Hope Network services, including a FREE booth at Expo West 2021? Apply to Natural Products Expo West Pitch Slam!

expo west logo.jpg What: Natural Products Expo West Pitch Slam Semifinals
When: 5-6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Mar. 3, 2020
Where: Marriott, Grand F-K

9 gluten-free trends to watch in 2020


Whether it’s for health reasons or having a medical condition such as celiac disease, more Americans are going gluten free. Because of this, the market for gluten-free foods is bound to increase—it’s just a matter of how much.

Adroit Market Research projects a compound annual growth rate of 9.5% from 2019 to 2025 for a revenue of $6.43 billion by 2025, while Zion Market Research predicts the gluten-free product market will reach $7.6 billion by 2024.

As a result,jeanne1.jpg many natural food companies are trying to capitalize on the gluten-free food trend.

To understand what is happening in the space, we caught up with Jeanne Reid, marketing manager at Gluten Intolerance Group, a nonprofit that certifies gluten-free products. Reid, a mother of three, went gluten-free with her family seven years ago when her youngest son was diagnosed with celiac disease.

Below is her take on the top gluten-free trends to watch in 2020.

1. The number of gluten-free products will continue to rise

More products are coming into the marketplace. When GIG began in 2005, it only certified Enjoy Life, which was its first company. In 2010, the group certified approximately 10,000 products. As of November 2019, it has certified 63,794 products worldwide. It's expecting 8-10% growth over the next five years, and the U.S. is the largest gluten-free market.

The reason? One percent of the U.S. population has celiac. That’s 3 million Americans. But up to 13% of the U.S. population is believed to have non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and that’s about 40 million Americans.

2. Expect more consolidation in the marketplace

Despite all the growth and new products, expect to see larger corporations buying up smaller companies–as was the case when Conagra bought out Boulder Brands, which had been acquired by Pinnacle Foods and encompasses gluten-free mainstays such as Udi’s and Glutino.

3. Look for gluten-free products outside of the natural food space

Bakery items are always popular, but now there is more gluten awareness in the makeup and skincare space. This is largely because because brands such as Arbonne are realizing that individuals with celiac disease can have reactions to gluten in other products, even when eating isn’t involved.

The same goes for vitamins and probiotics. Gluten-sensitive consumers don’t want to put things on their lips that have gluten because that can then cause a form of dermatitis herpetiformis, which manifests as a skin disease sans G.I. symptoms. This is why companies such as Country Life and Garden of Life have gluten-free vitamins.

4. Label transparency will continue to rise in importance

Label transparency is becoming more important with 29% of all shoppers seeking some type of certification. And having a gluten-free certification can help smaller companies stand out when they are looking for more regional and national distribution channels.

5. The variety of gluten-free, grain-free flours on the market will continue expanding

All sorts of gluten-free flour substitutes are gaining traction. And while consumers once had to buy multiple flour brands, many companies are now producing easy-to-use flour blends. Brands to watch include King Arthur Flour, Namaste Foods and Pamela’s Products.

There’s more interest in grain-free flours because the Paleo movement is so big. Think garbanzo bean, black bean, mung bean, lentil, cauliflower, coconut and almond flours to name a few. There are already so many options now in terms of grain-free pasta and pizza crusts.

Fruit flours such as apple and banana flours are also new trends in this market. Other innovative options include coffee flour and beet flour.

6. There will be a greater demand for gluten-free convenience foods

Consumers are accustomed to just grabbing pizza crust and other convenience foods off the shelf—they're always looking to get rid of any extra steps. And those in the industry are taking notice.

Think grab-and-go meals that are quick and have heat-and-eat elements; this includes gluten-free pizzas, soups and other prepared food that aren’t just snacks.

7. More liquor brands will become certified gluten-free

Tequila, vodka and even beer companies are becoming more interested in gluten-free certification. That’s a big difference from being “gluten-removed.” Some companies think they can remove gluten while still using a barley-based beer. Most organizations won’t certify those products. However, there has been a big uptick in liquor brands that want to tout the fact that they're using gluten-free grains.

8. There will be an uptick in vegan, vegetarian and meat alternatives that are certified gluten-free

Not too long ago, the vast majority of non-meat alternatives had fillers made from wheat. Now these companies are looking at going gluten-free because a lot of people who live gluten-free also end up going dairy-free.

This is because consumers who are recently diagnosed with celiac disease have villi that have been damaged in their small intestine, and that makes it more difficult to digest often-inflammatory food groups such as dairy as they try to heal.

9. Oats will continue to be scrutinized

How oats are sourced and certified will continue to be a hot topic. Oats are being used in more gluten-free products. There’s confusion about what it means for a product to be made with gluten-free oats that are safe.

Using certified gluten-free oats is your safest bet because it’s a high-risk ingredient for cross-contamination with wheat and other gluten-containing grains. There are some consumers, mostly those with celiac disease, who can’t tolerate oats in any capacity even though they are technically gluten free. 

[email protected]: How wellness culture changed drinking habits in 2019 | Big Ag convenes to discuss climate action


2019 saw a dramatic shift in the way Americans drink

The alcohol industry took aim at the sober-curious wellness crowd this year, launching spiked beverages marketed as workout recovery tools and lowering the amounts of added sugar or carbs in a wide variety of products. More and more U.S. consumers are beginning to view the alcoholic beverages they drink in the same way they view their food choices–specifically, as a way to express one's identity rather than with the lone goal of inebriation. Read more at Vox... 

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Eat for 10 hours, fast for 14. This daily habit prompts weight loss, study finds

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The Fresh Market partners with brand incubator

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The Fresh Market said 25madison will help it stay “on the pulse” of early-stage consumer companies and brands that could disrupt or create market trends.

To keep its product mix on the cutting edge and attuned to customers’ changing tastes, The Fresh Market has teamed up with New York-based venture studio 25madison to help identify and showcase innovative food and beverage offerings.

The Fresh Market said the partnership, announced this week, comes as it watches for food trends not just for next year but also into 2021. The North Carolina-based natural and organic grocer noted that 25madison will help it stay “on the pulse” of early-stage consumer companies and brands that could disrupt or create market trends.

“Our mission is to inspire our guests to make everyday eating extraordinary, and to uphold this, we have extremely high standards for the products or brands that ultimately make it into our store,” according to Dwight Richmond, director of center store merchandising at The Fresh Market, which has 159 stores in 22 states.

Because The Fresh Market’s specialty food curators procure products months ahead of when consumers see the items on shelves, they must stay ahead of the curve on what customers will be shopping for well in advance, the retailer said. In making their buying decisions, curators need to know about what’s trending at restaurants, innovative cuisine, health and wellness trends, growing practices, ingredient quality and traceability.

Once products or categories of interest are identified, The Fresh Market said its merchandisers then hold “cuttings” of various brands or suppliers to determine the best-tasting, highest quality items in those segments.

“Some examples of new products that were big hits in 2019, based on trends, were Beyond Burgers and Caulipower Pizza (plant-based), Haku Shoyu and Fillos Sofritos Beans (authentically ethnic), and a host of functional beverages, like kombucha and keto protein drinks,” Richmond said.

As a business incubator, 25madison will work with The Fresh Market to flag up-and-coming food and beverage players and invest in these early-stage businesses.

“We are excited to partner with The Fresh Market to help identify, build and invest in disruptive businesses,” Steven Price, CEO of 25madison, said in a statement. “By teaming up with The Fresh Market, we can create a competitive edge for our companies, leveraging unique consumer insights and distribution in 159 stores. This strategic partnership will help The Fresh Market’s customers discover and shop for new and innovative brands.”

Looking ahead to 2020, The Fresh Market predicted that top food trends will include products limiting sugar intake (such as SmartSweets, a candy line that’s low-sugar and has no artificial sweeteners); seed-based foods (such as Three Trees Black Sesame Nut & Seed Milk, Base Culture Nut & Seed bread and La Tourangelle tahini dressing); more plant-based options (such as RightRice, which blends lentils, peas, chickpeas and rice for added protein and fiber but reduced carbs); and Functional beverages “sans alcohol” (such as H2OPS, a sparkling hop water brewed like a craft beer, and Napa Hills Vineyard Enriched Waters, which provides delivers the antioxidant benefits of a glass of red wine without the calories, sugar or alcohol).

Customers, too, will continue to seek products with more transparency and sustainability, The Fresh Market said. For example, the chain added products from EPIC Provisions, which offers sustainably sourced 100% grass-fed meat bars, animal cooking fats and snacks. The grocer also went to all cage-free eggs in 2019 and expanded its 100% grass-fed dairy offerings. And in the area of food waste reduction, The Fresh Market said its store-prepared Market Meal Kits contain two portioned, easy-to-cook servings, resulting in no food or ingredient waste.

“We are entering a phase where consumers want to understand the full life-cycle of a food product, from where and how it was grown, why it is better nutritionally and better for the environment,” Richmond added.

Supermarket News logoThis piece originally appeared on Supermarket News, a New Hope Network sister website. Visit the site for more grocery trends and insights.


The Analyst’s Take: Global supplement sales expected to grow 5.6% in 2019

Claire Morton

At $46 billion, the U.S. supplement market represents 34% of the nearly $136 billion global supplement industry. Nutrition Business Journal has deeply focused on the U.S. supplement industry throughout the year, and we have just released our updated key market sizing and trends for the global market. NBJ’s estimates indicate that worldwide supplement sales will grow 5.6% in 2019, flat from 2018 sales growth. The U.S. dominates this global supplement market according to our data—but that’s shifting.

With continuous strong growth in China, India and across other Asian countries over the past decade, Asia’s collective market share has caught up–effectively making up 33.9% of global sales in 2018. And while that volume is significant, what's even more significant is the potential. The continent currently makes up nearly 60% of the total world population. With this population increasingly interested in supplements, NBJ projects a substantial runway for the region. This shift is matched by activity and movement in regions across the world, emphasizing the importance of understanding the ever-changing global marketplace.

Nutrition Business Journal just released these and other statistics in its 2019 NBJ Global Supplement Business Report, the go-to source for data and insight within the global dietary supplement industry.