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[email protected]: Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods fight for China's meat market | Kroger enters ghost kitchen business

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Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods hungry for a cut of China's meat market

China is the next big frontier for alt-meat giants Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. Officials are encouraging Chinese citizens to switch to meat alternatives after a deadly swine epidemic recently inflated the prices of pork, beef and poultry. Impossible Foods has already entered the country via a Shanghai trade fair, while Beyond Meat has plans to make its Chinese debut sometime in 2020. Read more at The Wall Street Journal... 

Kroger dives into the ghost kitchen business

The supermarket chain has partnered with delivery-only kitchen operator ClusterTruck to offer consumers multiple diverse menus they can order food from. The service is called Kroger Delivery Kitchen in most of the trial cities and promises fresh prepared meals delivered in under 30 minutes. Read more at Restaurant Business Online...

Ex-Bumble Bee CEO is latest catch in tuna price-fixing hunt

A long-term U.S. investigation into price-fixing within the packaged seafood industry has resulted in the conviction of ex-Bumble Bee CEO Chris Lischewski. Per the indictment, Lischewski faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $1 million for his part in the conspiracy. Read more at Bloomberg...

America's first 'vegan butcher' is fighting Nestlé over the term's trademark

The founders of plant-based "butcher" Herbivorous Butcher had applied to trademark the term "vegan butcher" after establishing the bulk of their recipes, but were denied by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. However, when Nestlé-owned plant-based food manufacturer Sweet earth filed paperwork for the same term, it was approved. Now, Herbivorous Butcher is taking Nestlé and the USPTO to court to either keep "vegan butcher" un-trademarked in the public domain or allow Herbivorous Butcher to use the phrase themselves. Read more at Vice...

Eating in sync with biological clock could replace problematic diabetes treatment

Insulin injections are used widely by Type 2 diabetics to promote glucose balance. They have also been linked to weight gain and "loss of control of blood sugar levels." Researchers in search of an alternative treatment recently found that a starch-reach meal early in the morning when coupled with a small dinner could effectively replace such injections and other diabetes medications for many with the condition. Read more at Science Daily...

How can my brand partner with the right influencers to share our brand story?

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It's the era of ever-changing marketing tactics, especially within the social media world. While there are some tried and true marketing paths that stand the test of time, it's important your brand stays current with the most effective and creative ways to share your brand story.

That's where influencer marketing comes in.

It's a sector of marketing that's growing rapidly, and for good reason; established bloggers, nutritionists and other educated influencers online can promote your products to their already established audiences in effective and creative ways.

Since this is new territory for many brands, where is the best place to start? We got answers straight from experts involved in influencer marketing and asked them this question: How can my brand partner with the right influencers to share our story?

Rachel MansfieldRachel Mansfield: cookbook author, podcast host and creator of rachLmansfield

You want to find someone that shares similar values to what your brand has. You want to align yourself with people in the space that can help share that message and share those values with you. You also want to find someone who has an engaging and quality community behind them so you can make sure that you're reaching enough people and a quality community that really values what that influencer is saying.

Especially today, it's a little overly saturated. I don't mean that in a cynical way, but there's a lot of people to choose from. Finding the right one can definitely be a little bit challenging. It's important to find people that are enjoyable to work with and establish relationships with them and really create partnerships. So it's not just like a business transaction, but you're actually becoming friends and family with the people that you work with.

Chris McGurrin: Manager of Influencer Programs, New Hope Network

So much of the beauty in authentic influencer marketing lies in doing the work to build strong influencer relationships. Influencers can be an extension and amplifier of your brand message, on the front line sharing your product information or mission directly with new, potential consumers. With the market potential in that partnership, it is so important to find influencers who are aligned and just as passionate about an issue or solving a problem as your company is.

Chris McGurrinWhen partnering with influencers, try to get to know the influencer as a person. What is their purpose? How do they communicate in a refreshing, fun and responsible way? What do they stand for? Next, think about mutually beneficial ways you can work together. How could you make the influencer feel like a truly valued member of your brand’s team, both including and outside of monetary and product compensation? When you sow the seeds for a thoughtful, symbiotic relationship, the created content is more fruitful and uplifting for your brand, the influencer and all audiences.

Kristina Drociak Stonyfield HeadshotKristina Drociak: Director of Public Relations, Stonyfield

It’s all about authenticity.

Because of our strong commitment to making the world a better place through business, it’s important for us to work with influencers who can help us amplify this message but do so authentically. Because of that, it can take a lot of research to find the right fit!

If you can, execute as much of your work with influencers internally as possible. Employees know the brand best and can more easily and quickly determine who may be a fit.

Do your diligence when researching an influencer. Spend the time reading through their content on social platforms. For us, it’s all about steps in the right direction. We’re not looking for perfection or eating organic food 100% of the time. We’re looking for someone who can help us reach new audiences that may be taking steps toward healthy lifestyles but are at different points along their journey. As long as their mission and story aligns with ours from a top level perspective, we think that’s a win.

Let the influencer tell you what content resonates most with their audience and let them be creative. Sharing thought starters for a content angle is great. Now let the influencer work their magic and create content that will work best with their readers! It’s important to check how their content performs through engagement numbers as well. Reach and impressions are great, but engagement rate is superior. We want to work with influencers who have committed, engaged audiences who will take their message to heart.

Finally, have fun! This work should be exciting and fulfilling. Get creative with how to best bring your brand to life!

Unboxed: 4 microbiome-boosting prebiotic personal care picks

A 2016 study published in PLOS Biology found that the average human plays host to trillions and trillions of microbial cells (read: bacteria, yeast and parasites), many of which form a barrier on top of the skin that is often referred to as the “skin microbiome.” The skin microbiome plays an important role in protective bodily functions, and the ecosystem of bacteria found here is more diverse than that found in both our guts and mouths.

But how exactly should natural products consumers go about keeping their skin and mouth microbiomes healthy and happy? For starters, “feeding” the good bacteria with specially formulated prebiotic-based products can help lessen irritation while keeping mold and harmful live bacteria strains at bay.

Prebiotic-containing personal care products are especially helpful for consumers with sensitive skin and gums—and the former is reportedly on the rise according to survey results from Frontiers in Medicine that were published earlier this year. Whether it’s from pollution, plain old winter dryness, over-exfoliation or excess sun exposure, prebiotics can indirectly help repair the skin mantle while stimulating the growth of good bacteria.

So, give your shoppers the ability to care for their precious and easily affected skin and mouth flora by enhancing your personal care aisle with these four impressive prebiotic-rich products.

Nutrition Capital Network

Nutrition Capital Network Deal Download: November 2019

Personalized nutrition deals

Personalized nutrition has yet to go mainstream, but transactions in November indicate the concept is continuing to gather momentum as financial and strategic investors get behind deals.

Hundred, a personalized vitamin subscription company based in Germany, announced an $8 million investment from Insight Partners. Guidance to encourage compliance is at the heart of its model, pairing subscribers with a nutritionist. Custom vitamin mixes are based on a five-minute consultation taking into account nutrition, movement, sleep and stress. Hundred was a presenting company at the 2019 NCN Fall Investor Meeting in San Francisco in November.

Ingredients giant Royal DSM is building out its capabilities in personalized nutrition by acquiring AVA, which uses proprietary technology to analyze consumers’ eating patterns and provide nutrition and coaching recommendations for weight loss and chronic conditions related to diet. AVA serves both individual consumers and businesses, and offers scalable custom wellness programs via licensing. DSM has identified personalization as a pillar of its nutrition strategy; its other recent partnerships include collaboration with Panaceutics, a manufacturer of tailor-made nutritional purees and gels; investments in Tespo (home dispenser for liquid vitamins) and Mixfit (personalized nutritional beverages); and a research partnership with Wellmetrix (health biomarker testing).

In France, Foodvisor has raised $4.5 million to accelerate development of its nutritional coaching app that uses artificial intelligence and computer vision to monitor users’ eating habits, according to Venturebeat. Agrinnovation led the round. The app uses image recognition to track daily food consumption. Foodvisor says its app is “more than a simple calorie counter; it is an app that will help you eat healthier.” Users can also track physical activity and calories burned.

Fitness technology deals

With fitness tracker device sales on a steep growth trajectory, fitness technology start-ups are attracting multimillion-dollar financing.

Google LLC announced it is acquiring Fitbit Inc. in a deal valuing the company at approximately $2.1 billion. The acquisition puts Google in a position to take on Apple and Samsung in the market for fitness trackers and smart watches. Anticipating regulatory concerns over data privacy, Google said Fitbit health and wellness data will not be used for Google ads, and Fitbit users will be given the choice to delete their data.

Foundry Group led a $55 million Series D round in Whoop, maker of a wrist strap that tracks physiological data to help users train, recover and sleep. Unlike most other wearables, Whoop’s business model provides consumers with a free strap in return for a monthly subscription to its data and insights service.

Mirror, a "nearly invisible" interactive home gym, secured $34 million in Series B-1 financing led by Point72 Ventures. Lululemon with others participating, which brings Mirror’s funding to $72 million. The company’s full-length "mirror" allows users to see not only themselves but also the instructor and classmates as it delivers live and streaming fitness classes. Users can add accessories like a heart rate monitor and fitness band.

Healthy beverage deals

Water, kombucha and dairy alternatives attracted backing in the month.

Sweat Equities led two investments. Mooala, maker of organic dairy-free beverages, completed an $8.3 million Series A equity financing, bringing its total funding to more than $13 million. Best known for Original Bananamilk made with sunflower seeds, Mooala says it expects to double net sales this year. In addition, Sweat Equities participated in a $3.9 million Series A round for sports nutrition and wellness company WellWell, which makes bottled fruity beverages with botanicals and functional ingredients, in addition to plant-based protein.

Positioned as a better-for-you alcoholic brand, Flying Embers organic hard kombucha progressed to a $25 million Series B round co-led by the Ecosystem Integrity Fund and PowerPlant Ventures. The canned probiotic beverages are sugar-free and brewed with an adaptogenic blend of botanicals. Whipstitch Capital, an NCN Sponsor and Investment Banking Partner, served as the exclusive financial advisor to Flying Embers in the transaction.

Major players in the bottled water market have expanded their territories. Publicly traded Cott Corporation, a bottled water company for home and office delivery in North America and Europe, acquired Viteau International BV in the Netherlands and The Water Guy in the United States, one of the largest independent bottled water distributors in the mid-Atlantic region.

Waterlogic, based in the United Kingdom and owned by Castik Capital in Germany, added two U.S. water dispenser businesses, Pure Water Technology (PWT) Ohio and PWT Georgia. Including these two deals, Waterlogic has acquired 20 companies in the United States, Canada, Chile, Australia and Western Europe since January.

New Slice Ventures, a company that re-launched the carbonated soft drink Slice earlier this year, acquired caffeinated sparkling water brand Somerset. New Slice Ventures has the trademark rights to Slice in the United States and Canada and re-launched the Slice brand as a better-for-you sparkling water with 25 calories and flavored with USDA-certified organic fruit juice.

Natural & organic food deals

Chickpea pasta company Banza announced $20 million in growth funding led by Enlightened Hospitality Investments and Prelude Growth Partners. Banza makes alternatives to comfort food classics traditionally made with wheat, corn and rice with chickpea pasta dishes such as mac and cheese. With this latest funding, the team will add more dishes and scale investment in its U.S.-based supply chain.

Private equity firm Butterfly is acquiring a majority stake in Orgain Inc., a producer of organic protein powders, drinks and bars. Physician and cancer survivor Andrew Abraham, M.D., founded Orgain in 2009 to provide a healthier alternative to mass-market nutrition shakes. Earlier this year, Butterfly acquired juice company Bolthouse Farms from Campbell Soup Company for $510 million.

Positioning to become a leading fruit-based snack and beverage company in Canada and the United States, Lassonde Industries is acquiring SunRype from the Jim Pattison Group for approximately CA$80 million (US$61.2 million on Oct. 30). Founded in 1946, SunRype makes fruit-based drinks and snacks, generating sales of approximately CA$164 million (US$123.8 million) for the 12-month period ending Sept. 30.

Laiki Inc., a maker of gluten-free crackers made from black and red whole grain rice, closed a Series A1 equity round, with the former CEO of Bare Snacks, Santosh Padki, joining Laiki’s board of directors. Bare Snacks baked fruit and vegetable chips was acquired by PepsiCo in 2018. Padki was the Series A sole investor in Laiki; board member John Crean fully participated in the Series A1 round.

Meat alternative deals

More investors are wagering on the plant- and cell-based protein revolution that is challenging the conventional meat industry. Shiru, a food startup using computational biology to create non-animal proteins, raised $3.5 million from VC firm Lux Capital, according to Business Insider. Also participating were S2G, which backed Beyond Meat and MycoTechnology, and CPT Capital, backer of Impossible Foods. Shiru is developing novel, functional proteins as replacements for eggs, milk and other animal products in food ingredient applications.

The investment companyAgronomics Ltd. is backing Rebellyous to the tune of $250,000, converting to 1% equity in the next priced funding round. Rebellyous makes plant-based versions of breaded chicken nuggets, patties and strips using wheat protein and soy protein isolate. The frozen prepared items are targeted at schools, hospitals, corporate cafeterias and restaurants. Publicly traded Agronomics has also invested in BlueNalu, New Age Meats and Shiok Meats.

Nutritional supplement deals

Sports nutrition company Momentous closed $5 million in Series A funding led by the venture capital fund FitLab. The financing includes a partnership between Momentous and MVMNT Inc., a FitLab portfolio company for fitness brands built around professional athletes and sport brands. Momentous will develop products for MVMNT’s brand partners and will also relocate its headquarters to Los Angeles, California.

Ingredient deals

Universal Corporation is acquiring FruitSmart, a specialty fruit and vegetable ingredient processor. Founded in 1982, FruitSmart supplies juices, concentrates, blends, purees, fibers, seed powders and other value-added products. Universal said FruitSmart is well positioned to capitalize on the trend toward health and wellness and the “rise of fruit as a natural clean-label sweetener alternative to processed sugar.” FruitSmart has approximately 200 employees and two manufacturing facilities.

Swiss flavor and fragrances giant Givaudan is acquiring Ungerer & Company of New Jersey, a specialty ingredients supplier notable for essential oils and predominantly natural ingredients for flavors and fragrances. Ungerer has a global presence and a local and regional customer base in North America. Founded more than 125 years ago, Ungerer has eight manufacturing facilities and 650 employees.

Femtech deals

Inne, a femtech startup based in Germany, raised approximately $9 million for hormone tracking device led by Blossom Capital. Inne’s technology allows users to track their own hormonal cycles using test strips and a reader. The data provide information about fertility and reproductive health. Inne says the company represents "the largest-scale observation of progesterone patterns, ever."

NPC deals

Fenwick Brands led a $5 million growth financing for ‘clean’ skincare brand Ursa Major. Ursa Major focuses on "super natural" skincare essentials, cultivating a brand ethos that celebrates the outdoors and emphasizes wellness over vanity. Founded in 2010, Ursa Major has grown average annual revenue by more than 60% year-over-year for each of the past five years and attracted loyal consumers across the gender spectrum, according to Fenwick.

Pet deals

Because Animals Inc., a company making pet food from cultured mouse tissue, closed a seed round of funding. The bioscience startup says it’s the first to create cultured meat for pet food without using fetal bovine serum, and is aiming to introduce cultured-meat pet food by 2021. The company is already selling human-grade cultured probiotic supplements for pets and will soon launch certified organic human-grade dog cookies.

Cannabis wellness deals

Kikoko, a cannabis wellness brand for women, closed an $8 million round of Series A funding led by Bengal Capital. Flow Kana, Kikoko's distributor and supply chain partner, also participated in the round, which brings Kikoko's total funding to $14 million. The company's signature tea products have propelled Kikoko to the No. 1 position in California cannabis beverage sales according to BDS Analytics research cited by the company.

Disclaimer: NCN does not warrant the accuracy, reliability, or timeliness of any NCN news item. Before relying on any NCN News item the information should be independently verified.

To subscribe to the bi-monthly NCN News newsletter, click here.

Upcoming events

Natural Products Expo West
Investor Orientation
8-9 a.m., March 7
Marriot Grand Ballroom F
Anaheim, California

This session features a quick orientation to Expo West with key show navigation tips and industry trends by NEXT. RSVP here to attend this session at Expo West.

Expo West Funding Forum

Immediately following the investor orientation, in the same room.

We’re bringing together expert panels and standout inspiring stories for a 2½ hour funding masterclass and networking opportunity you won’t want to miss.

Exhibiting companies seeking capital

Each year, NCN provides investors with a list of Expo exhibitors seeking capital, partnerships or exits; complete with booth numbers and contact names. Investors use this as a guide when they walk the show floor.

Entrepreneurs interested in featuring their company on this list can submit their information here. The deadline to submit a profile is Feb. 26. For more information, contact Mike Dovbish at 415-254-1116 or [email protected].

NCN XXVI Spring Investor Meeting
April 21-22, 2020
Current at Chelsea Piers
New York, New York

 

CEO climate leadership is urgently needed to save our planet

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In anticipation of the 2020 National Co+op Grocers Climate Collaborative Awards, we're talking with the leaders of our 2019 award-winning companies to learn a little bit more about what drives their climate leadership.

Our second interview is with Nancy Hirshberg, winner of the 2019 Outstanding Influencer Award. 

Climate Collaborative: Congratulations on winning a 2019 NCG CC Award! What are you most proud of, when it comes to the work you’ve done promoting climate action throughout your career?

Nancy H 4-19.jpgNancy Hirshberg: Having a work environment that encourages risk taking and thinking big is critical and I was fortunate that my brother Gary, Stonyfield’s CEO, exemplified that spirit. I’m glad if through our climate work at Stonyfield, my consulting with clients and through the creation of the Climate Collaborative I have had a part in motivating others to action. I was deeply honored to receive the 2019 NCG CC Award. But today I feel an even greater urgency than when I started on this path thirty years ago. I can’t look back with pride—just forward with determination. We have a huge task ahead.

What were the key factors to success in getting you where you are today on climate?

I’ve been working on climate for nearly three decades. During that time we’ve gone from 350 ppm atmospheric CO2 in 1990 to 408 ppm today. So I don’t think many of us working in climate could ever claim “success”. But I sure have learned a lot over the years as to how to be more effective moving people to action. Being a student of the behavioral sciences and climate communications has been invaluable helping me lead effective climate initiatives. There is so much great information out there on how to motivate people. Unfortunately, we have no time to waste so being effective in whatever path we choose is essential. We all need to bring out our A game now.

What are the challenges to industry action on climate, in your view? Do you see a way for companies to work together on overcoming some of them across the industry?

It’s pretty clear from the research that people care; but that does not necessarily translate into action. There are many reasons why people don’t act, including a societal norm of inaction, not knowing what to do and, in the business world, competing priorities to name just a few. Each of the barriers to action has a different strategy for addressing it that we tried to build into the Climate Collaborative design. But one thing is consistent: will comes from the heart. Connecting people emotionally to climate unquestionably increases the will to act. Climate has to become more of a business priority.

When we surveyed natural products companies about their barriers to action “lack of support from company leadership” was at the top of the list of challenges. The Climate Collaborative has been a great resource for motivating companies, bringing them together and showing them a path forward. The partnership with New Hope Network from day one has been key as they are such a powerful industry convener. Working together to motivate industry executives to focus on climate action is still a huge priority. Specifically, one of the greatest opportunities I see is for corporate executives to use their power and influence to advocate for strong and fair climate policy. Individual action—even our collective industry action—is not enough. An enormous collective problem like climate change requires an enormous collective solution.

Looking forward with your own climate work—and the opportunity for industry action on climate—what are you most excited about?

I’m super excited about my newest project engaging CEOs in climate action. CEOs are powerful influencers who are not currently using their voices to advocate for meaningful climate action. This project will motivate CEOs at this critical moment in history to use their substantial influence to become powerful climate advocates. and I believe deeply that it can be an important tool to move us past the current political stalemate. And of course, I am thrilled beyond words with Greta Thunberg and the youth climate movement.

What’s your advice for others in the industry looking to tackle climate change in their operations?

Solving the climate emergency is at least as big a people problem as a technical problem. We are capable of accomplishing amazing feats when the will and motivation are there. My advice would be to hone your skills in motivating people to act. Learn how to speak effectively to people who are not making climate action a priority. This might be in your company, family, community, or your elected officials. There are tons of great resources out there to help you—ask the Climate Collaborative for assistance. Climate can be so distressing and lead to paralysis. Inspire others to act and it will feed your soul as well! We know we MUST act. There are plenty of plans out there that show us how we CAN solve this. The question is WILL we?

[email protected]: 'Tons' of unharvested produce wasted in California | Scientists hunt down wild relatives of common crops

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Study shows tons of unharvested produce left to rot in California fields

Researchers have found from surveilling 20 different hand-picked crops on 140 Californian fields that massive amounts of food are going to waste, even as many Bay area families struggle with food security. High consumer expectations for produce and price drops due to oversupply are two reasons farmers are finding it cheaper to let produce go bad in the fields. Read more at CBS San Francisco... 

Raiders of the lost crops: Scientists race against time to save genetic diversity

Over 100 scientists in 24 countries have banded together to collect wild relatives of popular domestic crops. The Crop Trust Project aims to make sure that such varieties are available in seed form regardless of whether climate change decimates them in their natural habitats so as to preserve genetic diversity for the future, in addition to improving disease resistance in many domesticated crops. Read more at NPR...

The misbegotten promise of anaerobic digesters

Anaerobic digesters theoretically takes the waste from cows, pigs and chickens raised for human consumption and turns it into a source of renewable energy. But while federal and state agencies are investing millions into this technology, they may not be necessary at all, especially if more farmers begin switching to sustainable, pasture-based systems. Read more at New Food Economy...

Carlyle's Acosta files bankruptcy as marketing budgets wane

Acosta Inc., a marketing firm with rivals including Crossmark Holdings Inc. and Advantage Solutions Inc., has filed for bankruptcy after a slew of big clients have chosen to handle more of their marketing efforts themselves. Companies are catering as fast as possible to rapidly changing consumer behavior, which has led to less of an opening for outside marketing firms to step in. Read more at Bloomberg...

Conference planners seek food truck experience (actual truck optional)

Food truck operators are tailoring their menus for corporate clients to support the rising demand for food truck fare from hotels and tech company employees. Event planners, however, are revealing that many of these food trucks are actually fake because it makes for smoother logistics. Read more at The New York Times...

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The Analyst’s Take: Just 32% of CBD-familiar consumers have purchased products

Claire Morton

This past week Nutrition Business Journal launched its Hemp & CBD Guide 2.0. From a data perspective, the report features expanded market sizing and by-channel sales data that includes point-of-sale information from the dispensary channel. It also re-deploys updated manufacturer and consumer surveys, giving insight into what’s shifted in the last year.

One key takeaway is that while consumer familiarity has significantly increased from 2018, the percentage of consumers who have actually purchased CBD products has not. In December 2018, just under half of consumers surveyed were familiar with CBD, and that value increased to 70% in August 2019. But over that same time period, the percentage of consumers who purchase CBD only increased from 30% to 32%.

This points to strong purchase barriers that have not vastly improved from 2018 to 2019. Consumer confusion around the quality, legality and efficaciousness of CBD is high. Nearly half of consumers today don’t know if CBD would show up on a drug test, a number that has not changed since December 2018. Consumers who are familiar with CBD but have not purchased tend to question its effectiveness. Finally, concern about the quality of CBD products has not improved since 2018.

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Organic Trade Association urges USDA to clarify Origin of Livestock rule—now

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The Organic Trade Association on Monday urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture to “move expeditiously” to implement a final rule to clarify the Origin of Livestock rule, saying that “clarification [of the rule] is long overdue and is critical to leveling the playing field among organic dairy producers.”

“The Organic Trade Association continues to support the Origin of Livestock proposed rule, and urges USDA to move expeditiously to a final rule to clarify and narrow the allowance to transition dairy animals into organic milk production as a one-time event,” the trade group stated in its official comments in the public comment period ending on Dec. 2. 

The proposed Origin of Livestock Rule specifies that organic dairy animals must be raised organically from the last third of gestation or be raised organically for one year if transitioning a conventional herd to organic, and further clarifies that this transition is allowed only once. It specifies that once a distinct herd is transitioned to organic, all animals must be raised organically from the last third of gestation, or sourced from another dairy farm that has completed its one-time transition. The rule effectively prohibits continuous transitions and cycling of dairy animals in and out of organic production.

The association said it was submitting additional comments to those it submitted in 2015 to “reflect new information regarding the continued need for consistent enforcement of organic dairy standards. Conditions that prompted rulemaking on origin of livestock have not changed. New information since 2015 only reaffirms the need for rulemaking to clarify and strengthen regulations on origin of livestock.”

The National Organic Program reopened the public comment period on Oct. 1, 2019, for the Origin of Livestock proposed rule originally published in 2015.

Over  600 new comments were submitted during the latest comment period, nearly all in support of the rule. The latest comments from organic stakeholders reinforced the more than 1,500 comments already submitted during the 2015 comment period favoring implementation of the final rule.

“The organic industry has been asking for this critical clarification since 2010. There should be no doubt that the industry has reached consensus on this policy,” said Laura Batcha, CEO and Executive Director of the Organic Trade Association.

In a clear demonstration of the unified position of the organic sector, the Organic Trade Association’s Dairy Council also submitted a letter in support of the rule.  Dairy Council membership represents over 90% of the U.S. organic dairy market, and includes a diverse cross section of farmers and companies. The Council stated that “A final rule on Origin of Livestock is needed now more than ever … With the downward pressure on dairy prices and slowdown in organic dairy consumption and sales, the importance of fair enforcement of regulatory standards is paramount.”

In addition, Congress has shown strong bi-partisan support for the rule, and a letter from the five co-chairs of the House Organic Caucus (Rep. Rodney Davis, Rep. Peter DeFazio, Rep. Ron Kind, Rep. Dan Newhouse, and Rep. Chellie Pingree) to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue was submitted in the public comments. The lawmakers said the issue is “critical for thousands of organic dairy farmers around the country,” and strongly urged USDA to implement the final rule immediately, saying that “U.S. dairy farmers have experienced extreme hardship over the last few years as milk prices have plummeted due to a variety of market factors…The lack of enforcement on the origin of livestock standards is one of many factors that is disrupting the marketplace for organic dairy farmers.”

The members of Congress cited data from the Organic Trade Association that shows that organic dairy farmers who raise their calves according to the organic standard from birth spend an average of $600 to 1,000 more per calf than farmers who raise calves conventionally and transition them to organic at one year of age.

“This cost differential is one of the many reasons why transition was meant to be limited as a one-time event,” stated the lawmakers.

By the close of the comment period, wide support had been voiced from stakeholders for the rule including organic dairy farmers, processors and retailers, advocacy groups, and consumers.

Source: The Organic Trade Association

Unboxed: 7 nutrient-dense baby foods for parents' peace of mind

Parenting is hard enough without having to worry about finding healthy and appealing foods for babies and toddlers. And while some might argue that there’s nothing better than feeding kids a homemade meal, the chaotic pace of modern life means that more and more moms and dads are turning to the convenience of prepared baby foods.

According to Global Market Insights, the global market for baby food will have a projected value of $33 billion by 2025. A growing share of this market will undoubtedly be the prepared segment, which in 2018 represented a 44.6% of the overall industry. All baby foods are not created equal, however. Two 2019 studies from the World Health Organization Europe showed that a large proportion of baby foods contain inappropriately high levels of added sugar. At a time when consumers in general are clamoring for lower-sugar, higher-quality food products, parents who may once have been willing to sacrifice a little bit of nutrition in the name of convenience are demanding healthier baby food options with cleaner and more transparent labels.

One way that they can be confident in the quality of these foods from supply chain to finished product is by choosing brands with USDA Organic certification or ethically sourced ingredients. Not only are there many brands in the natural baby food category with organic certification, but a large number of them also offer a variety of additional benefits for growing bodies constantly on the move. The (almost all) organic brands featured in this gallery offer extras like hidden vegetables, low to no added sugar, low sodium, functional add-ins, and opportunities for babies and toddlers to develop a taste for textures, flavors, ingredients and spices that might go beyond what parents would typically prepare at home.

Pitch Slam semifinalists prove you don't have to win to reap the benefits

Sun Genomics Pitch Slam

Are you an innovative natural product brand with an inspiring mission and integrity at its core? Apply to the Expo West 2020 Pitch Slam by Jan. 17, 2020!

Held every year at Natural Products Expo East and Expo West, the Pitch Slam shines a light on some of the best and brightest natural product entrepreneurs. It elevates mission-driven and innovative brands, connecting brands with the exposure and resources needed to take it to the next level.

With over $40,000 in New Hope Network services up for grabs, including a free booth at Expo West 2021, what are you waiting for? But don’t just take it from us; hear straight from past Pitch Slam superstars what they got out of being part of this exciting event.

Sun Genomics: Expo West 2019 Pitch Slam Semifinalist

TheNeal Gidvani Sun Genomics opportunities and exposure that come from being involved in Pitch Slam are tremendous. As a small company, you are always looking for creative ways to get noticed and gain notoriety within a group of like-minded individuals and, most importantly, rise above the noise with newsworthy, positive information about your product. Joining and contributing to the Informa Markets' network opens doors with potential venture capitalists, partners, collaborators and, of course, customers.

At Sun Genomics, one of our biggest goals is educating potential like-minded consumers about the power of gut health, the microbiome and precision probiotics. This platform afforded through the pitch slam allowed us to connect with a large number of people in a quick and meaningful way and showcase our message to a captured audience. Beyond that, New Hope Network provided hype and visibility to the brand prior to the event which drove traffic and ultimately led to direct sales.

–Neal Gidvani, COO, Sun Genomics

Square Baby: Expo West 2019 Pitch Slam Semifinalist

The entire process was incredible—supportive, positive and fun—from our mentor who offered insight on the pitch event and gave great feedback on our presentation, to our pitch guru, Dr Andi O’Conor, who coached all the teams on presentation style, content and delivery. And the pitch slam judges were so engaging—their questions and suggestions were very insightful.

Katie Thomson Square BabyWe are grateful for the opportunity to stand up and present our brand to over 1,000 people during the semifinals and finals. In the end, we walked away with a great sense of pride, new, trailblazing entrepreneur friends and numerous follow-ups from leading retailers and interested investors. Being part of this prestigious event was a true high point on the entrepreneurial rollercoaster.

–Katie Thomson, co-founder and CEO, Square Baby

Dr. Brite: Expo West 2018 Pitch Slam Winner

Paris Sabo Dr. BriteThe most beneficial part of being a Pitch Slam semifinalist, besides all the support we received from New Hope and our mentors, was that we WON the Pitch Slam. This recognition as an emerging brand in our space gave us a boost of confidence and validated our hard work. Our assigned mentor, an expert in the CPG space, made every effort to guide us along a winning path. Our pitch coach, Dr. Andi O'Conor, helped us tell our brand story more effectively. My advice to you is to simply apply if your company qualifies. You will get to network with peers in your industry and beyond. You will get to work with coaches, mentors and staff encouraging you and helping you to succeed. You never know—maybe you will be the next company to win it all!

–Dr. Paris Sabo, co-founder and COO, Dr. Brite

expo west logo.jpgReady to share your brand story for your shot at over $40,000 in New Hope Network services, including a FREE booth at Expo West 2021? Apply today!