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Articles from 2016 In February

Natural Foods Merchandiser

The Vitamin Shoppe adds digital leader to board of directors

The Vitamin Shoppe adds digital leader to board of directors

The Vitamin Shoppe Inc. (NYSE: VSI), a multichannel specialty retailer and manufacturer of nutritional products, today announced that its board of directors voted to expand the size of the board to 11 directors and appointed Guillermo Marmol as new independent member of the board of directors effective Feb. 29, 2016. Marmol will also be a member of the Nomination and Governance Committee. 

Marmol has served as president of Marmol & Associates, a consulting firm that provides advisory services and investment capital to early stage technology companies, since March 2007 and, prior to that, from October 2000 to 2003. He served as division vice president and a member of the executive committee of Electronic Data Systems Corporation, a global technology services company, from 2003 to 2007, and as a director and chief executive officer of Luminant Worldwide Corporation, an internet professional services company, from 1998 to 2000. From 1995 to 1998, he served as vice president and chair of the Operating Committee of Perot Systems Corporation. He began his career at McKinsey & Company, rising to increasingly senior positions with the firm, including the positions of director and senior partner from 1990 to 1995, and was a leader of the organization and business process redesign practices. Marmol is a director and chair of the audit committee of Foot Locker Inc., and a director of Principal Solar Inc. and KERA/KXT North Texas Public Broadcasting Inc.

Richard Markee, non-executive chairman of the board of the Vitamin Shoppe stated, "The company has continued to diversify its board with the goal of adding individuals who can bring knowledge in different disciplines that will contribute to the Vitamin Shoppe's growth and success as we implement the company's customer experience reinvention strategy. A key part of that strategy focuses on the digital experience and we expect that Guillermo will be able to contribute substantially to our corporate development efforts due to his extensive years of executive experience in global technology companies. He brings a wealth of experience and an important perspective that will no doubt positively impact the future of the company as we continue to execute on our initiatives for creating shareholder value. His passion for entrepreneurship, technology, and innovation is exciting."

The board also nominated Marmol to stand for election as part of the company's slate of director nominees at the 2016 annual meeting pursuant to the previously announced agreement dated as of Jan. 12, 2016, among the Vitamin Shoppe and Carlson Capital, L.P. and certain of its affiliates.

Breaking down Alter Eco's quest for sustainable packaging

Breaking down Alter Eco's quest for sustainable packaging

Many brands spend months, maybe even years, developing an amazing, carefully sourced organic, fair trade product with quality ingredients that consumers will love. And then they package it in a piece of trash.

Alter Eco is one of the companies addressing that dissonance by attempting to make all of its packaging as sustainable as possible and using compostable wrappers for its truffles and, more recently, its stand-up quinoa pouches. But sourcing and developing the coveted pouch package that doesn’t have to go straight to the landfill was no easy task. Here, Jeanne Cloutier, who is the company’s director of supply chain and also works with the compostable packaging coalition OSC2, talks about the process and the company's motivation. (Scroll down for a video to see how it works.)

You have two distinct products with compostable packaging. Was it the same development process for both?

Jeanne Cloutier: The truffle wrappers have been on the market for three years; they are a different supply chain stream. We worked with our chocolatier in Switzerland to source those wrappers. The packaging printer used a monolayer of NatureFlex, which is certified compostable, and also certified compostable ink. That was the first time they’d ever done that at that printing facility. The pouches were in development for much longer—about five years. The truffle wrappers were easier because they were only one layer.

What were some of the biggest challenges you encountered in piecing together this compostable pouch?

JC: We are very sustainability focused, and we push the envelope in terms of what we can accomplish. We wanted a package that was plant-based, compostable instead of recyclable—because we don’t think consumers actually recycle flexible plastic—and the materials had to be non-GMO. So once all of those were sourced, we had to make sure that they functioned together and would laminate together. We had to make sure that the side seal and the bottom seal would hold weight, because we’re packaging quinoa. And that it would survive distribution and handling tests and going on manufacturer’s filling machines the same way that a conventional polyethylene pouch would.

There was a worldwide search for suppliers of compostable ink, compostable print layer and compostable sealant layer. Only one of them was based in the U.S., so the materials had to come in from elsewhere. We also had to make sure that the materials were indeed certified, because there’s a lot of stuff kind of in R&D or anecdotally compostable, but we had to make sure all of our suppliers were certified or in the process of being certified.

The important thing to note about calling something 'compostable' is that it’s different from the word 'biodegradable,' which means it breaks down. The material has to be usable; it has to turn into a part of usable soil.

It’s interesting that you mentioned that you don’t think consumers would recycle a pouch. What makes you think they’ll actually compost it?

JC: When this process all started five years ago, we had just transitioned from bag-in-a-box type of package, kind of like a cereal, to a regular polyethylene standup pouch, because we wanted to reduce our packaging. But the response from our consumers was that we appeared to be actually less sustainability-minded by doing that, because it was just plastic. The perception was that it was worse. We were shocked!

We dug into that supply chain and realized that every single pouch on the shelf is not able to be recycled because it’s made from two different laminated plastics, and you’d have to pull them apart, which you can’t do. So we were putting this ethical, organic, fair trade, carbon-neutral, everything product into a piece of trash. So we said, 'OK, what are our options?' We explored using a recyclable flexible plastic, but the only way to recycle that—you can’t put it in your blue bin, otherwise that would be a slam dunk—is to take that bag back to the store to a particular recycle bin (what you put plastic shopping bags in) and then they would be collected and taken to a specific resource recovery plant that can deal with that kind of plastic. We thought, who’s going to do that? So then we thought, let’s do something that just disappears and goes away.

Nothing is perfect. We don’t think most people are going to compost it. We think some people will compost it at home; we think people with municipal pickup, such as in San Francisco and Seattle where you can put compostable into your green bin, will do that; and there’s a lot of areas of the country where people are going to put it in the landfill bin because the municipal collection system doesn’t give them a choice. So the question is, what level do you design to? Do you design to the lowest common denominator and keep making trash? It’s really an encouragement to the municipal waste systems to provide more opportunities to recover this resource.  


Evidence swells linking vitamin D to arthritis risk

Evidence swells linking vitamin D to arthritis risk

New research supports further links between vitamin D levels and risk of developing a chronic inflammatory rheumatic disease, like arthritis.

About one of every five American adults has doctor-diagnosed arthritis, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Previous research analyzing data from over 29,000 women over 11 years suggested that women with lower levels of vitamin D were more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis. In the new study, Spanish researched compared 677 control subjects to 721 patients with psoriatic arthritis, 775 patients with rheumatoid arthritic and 738 people with ankylosing spondylitis, a type of arthritis of the spine. They found vitamin D deficiencies in about 27 percent of the control subjects, 41 percent of the psoriatic arthritis patients, 40 percent of the rheumatoid arthritis patients and 40 percent of the ankylosing spondylitis patients.

Physicians should monitor the vitamin D levels of arthritis patients and supplement if deficiency is detected, concluded the study’s authors. The research was published in the journal Arthritis Research and Therapy and noted on MD Magazine.

Other recent research linked vitamin D to brain health. Researchers in China conducting a meta-analysis discovered an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia among people with vitamin D deficiencies.


[email protected]: Researchers use Instagram to study food deserts | Fair Trade label gaining recognition

5@5: Researchers use Instagram to study food deserts | Fair Trade label gaining recognition

People in food deserts eat much differently than the rest of America

Researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology turned to Instagram to get a glimpse at how food choices differ in communities with limited access to fresh food. After analyzing 3 million geo-tagged posts, they discovered that people in food deserts seem to be eating food higher in fat, cholesterol and sugar, and fewer fruits and vegetables, compared to those in non-food deserts area. Their study also broke down the top photographed foods in various regions. Read more at Georgia Tech...


Fair Trade label gains recognition as sustainability becomes 'non-negotiable' for confectionary shoppers

Nearly three in five U.S. consumer recognize the Fair Trade Certified label, according to a survey by the National Marketing Institute and Fair Trade USA. Millennials are especially likely to recognize the label and buy products with social claims, they found. Read more at Confectionary News...

In Boulder County and beyond, GMOs are a pawn in a much larger food fight

Boulder County, Colorado, manages more than 20,000 acres of agriculture land, and now county commissioners are debating whether to pull genetically modified corn and sugar beet crops off of that publicly owned land. Read more at KUNC...


Firms team up to launch supplement

Envirosmart and Vitavet have launched a new range of dog food complements that provide additional omega-3s to canines' diets. Read more at Pet Business World...


Amazon to stock Morrisons food products under new wholesale deal

In the next few months, UK supermarket chain Morrisons will begin supplying the Amazon Prime Now and Amazon Pantry business with fresh and frozen food. Read more at Bakery and Snacks...

Natural Foods Merchandiser

United Natural Foods reports preliminary second quarter earnings

UNFI new logo 2016

United Natural Foods Inc. (Nasdaq: UNFI) today reported preliminary unaudited net sales and earnings per diluted share for its second fiscal quarter and six months ended Jan. 30, 2016.

Preliminary unaudited financial results
For the second quarter of fiscal 2016, UNFI anticipates net sales in the range of $2.046 billion to $2.048 billion, an increase of approximately 1.5 percent from net sales of $2.017 billion in the same period last year. Net sales for the six months ended Jan. 30, 2016, are expected to be in the range of $4.122 billion to $4.124 billion, a 2.8 percent to 2.9 percent increase from net sales of $4.009 billion in same period last year.

The company anticipates adjusted net sales for the second quarter of fiscal 2016 to increase 6.4 percent to 6.5 percent compared to the same period in fiscal 2015, excluding the year-over-year impact of the previously disclosed termination of a customer distribution contract and, for the second quarter of fiscal 2015, the previously disclosed non-recurring reduction in net sales. Adjusted net sales for the six months ended Jan. 30, 2016, is expected to increase approximately 6.6 percent to 6.7 percent compared to the same period in fiscal 2015, excluding these same items.

UNFI expects GAAP net earnings per diluted share in the range of $0.43 to $0.45 for the second quarter of fiscal 2016 and $1.03 to $1.05 for the six months ended January 30, 2016, compared to fiscal 2015 GAAP earnings per diluted share of $0.55 and $1.21 for the same periods, respectively. Adjusted for estimated severance and other transition costs due to the previously disclosed restructuring plan of $2.0 million and $4.8 million for the three and six months ended January 30, 2016, respectively, and anticipated acquisition costs of approximately $1 million in the second quarter, adjusted earnings per diluted share is expected to be in the range of $0.47 to $0.49 for the second quarter of fiscal 2016 and $1.10 to $1.12 for the first half of fiscal 2016, compared to adjusted earnings per diluted share of $0.65 and $1.31 for the same periods of fiscal 2015, respectively, which exclude the non-recurring reduction in net sales occurring in the second quarter of fiscal 2015.

The company expects to have generated free cash flow in the range of $102 million to $107 million during the second quarter of fiscal 2016. Adjusted net sales, adjusted earnings per diluted share and free cash flow are non-GAAP financial measures. Please refer to the tables in this press release for a reconciliation of all non-GAAP financial measures.

Steven Spinner, president and chief executive officer commented, “Our updated results reflect the rapidly changing near term industry dynamics facing UNFI and its constituents. We have made significant progress in developing our fresh platform, e-commerce, brands and infrastructure. UNFI’s second quarter preliminary results and our view of fiscal 2016 reflect our commitment to investing in growth throughout our organization while we continue to evaluate our cost structure and customer experience.”

“We are excited about the announcement we made this morning regarding our proposed acquisition of Haddon House, whose unique product and service offering will play an important role in our continued strategy to build-out UNFI's gourmet and ethnic product categories across the country,” added Mr. Spinner.

UNFI expects to release its full results for its fiscal second quarter and six months ended January 30, 2016, on March 7, 2016.

The company does not plan to release preliminary financial information on an ongoing basis. The information above is preliminary and based upon information available as of the date of this release.

As of the date of this release, UNFI has not completed its financial close process for the second quarter and six months ended January 30, 2016. During the course of that process, the company may identify items that would require it to make adjustments, which may be material, to the information presented in this release. As a result, the estimates above constitute forward-looking information and are subject to risks and uncertainties, including possible adjustments to preliminary operating results.

Fiscal 2016 guidance
Based on UNFI's performance to date and the current outlook for the remainder of fiscal 2016, the company is revising its previous financial guidance for fiscal 2016 provided on December 7, 2015. For fiscal 2016, ending July 30, 2016, the company expects net sales in the range of approximately $8.31 billion to $8.43 billion, an increase of approximately 1.5 percent to 3 percent over fiscal 2015. The company expects GAAP earnings per diluted share for fiscal 2016 in the range of approximately $2.27 to $2.37 compared to fiscal 2015 GAAP earnings per diluted share of $2.76. Adjusting for severance and other transition costs related to the aforementioned restructuring plan of $4.8 million in the first half of fiscal 2016 related to the previously disclosed termination of a customer distribution agreement and anticipated acquisition costs of approximately $1 million in the second quarter, adjusted earnings per diluted share for fiscal 2016 is estimated to be in the range of $2.34 to $2.44, compared to fiscal 2015 adjusted earnings per diluted share of $2.85. Fiscal 2015 earnings per diluted share was adjusted for the $7.7 million second quarter fiscal 2015 impact of the previously disclosed $9.3 million non-recurring reduction in net sales the Company recognized in fiscal 2015. Capital expenditures for fiscal 2016 are expected to be approximately $49.8 million to $59.0 million, or approximately 0.6 percent to 0.7 percent of estimated fiscal 2016 net sales. Finally, the Company expects its fiscal 2016 tax rate to be in the range of 39.7 percent to 40.1 percent. The company's revised guidance does not reflect any anticipated sales or earnings in connection with the announcement this morning to acquire Haddon House Food Products Inc. ("Haddon House") and certain affiliated entities as well as certain related real estate, which is currently expected to close early in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2016.

Natural Foods Merchandiser

UNFI to acquire Haddon House Food Products


United Natural Foods Inc. (Nasdaq: UNFI) today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire all outstanding stock of Haddon House Food Products Inc. and certain affiliated entities as well as certain real estate, in a cash transaction for approximately $217.5 million, subject to certain customary post-closing adjustments. Founded in 1960 by the Anderson family, Haddon House is a well-respected distributor and merchandiser of natural and organic and gourmet ethnic products throughout the eastern United States. Haddon has a diverse, multichannel customer base including conventional supermarkets, gourmet food stores and independently owned product retailers.

“Haddon House has a unique product and service offering that we expect to play an important role in our ongoing strategy to build out UNFI's gourmet and ethnic product categories across the country,” stated Steven Spinner, UNFI’s president and chief executive officer. “The Haddon House team has demonstrated exemplary customer service and growth over the last decade while also building a distinctive private label brands business. We are excited to have them join the UNFI family as we venture into new channels and markets together. I look forward to working with David Anderson, Sr. and David Anderson, Jr., both of whom will remain at the company in leadership roles, as we move this exciting service offering and product category across our companies and throughout the U.S."

“This transaction will provide us with greater operating scale and resources to further develop our product and service offering as we work with the UNFI team to broaden our geographic reach and route to market across complementary and new customer bases. We are excited about the opportunities this combination will create for consumers, employees, suppliers, and our stockholders,” stated David Anderson, Sr., president, Haddon House Food Products Inc.

Consummation of the transaction is subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including compliance with the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended, and is expected to close at the start of the fourth quarter of fiscal 2016. Upon closing, Haddon will be operated as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the UNFI. The transaction is expected to be accretive to UNFI's earnings in fiscal 2017. UNFI expects to finance the purchase price with a combination of available cash and borrowings under its revolving credit facility.

Poll: Americans eating less meat

Americans eating less meat

One-third of Americans eat less meat now than they did three years ago, according to the Truven Health Analytics-NPR Health Poll.

Truven Health Analytics and NPR conduct a bimonthly poll to gauge attitudes and opinions on a wide range of health issues.

The latest survey asked respondents for their opinions and habits on meat consumption. For comparison, these questions were identical to those asked in a similar poll in 2012. Thirty-two percent of respondents said they eat less meat than they did three years ago. Thirty percent say they have changed their eating habits specifically because of recent news about a link between processed meats and cancer.

Overall, 60 percent cite health as their primary reason for altering their diet, down from 66 percent in 2012. The cost of meat (52 percent) was the next most common reason, which reflected a rise from 47 percent three years ago. Twenty-nine percent said they have environmental concerns, a rate that stayed flat, and 25 percent are worried about animal welfare, which dropped from 30 percent in 2012.

A majority of respondents (51 percent) still indicated they eat meat between one and four times per week, but that figure is down from 56 percent. Slightly more Americans said they eat meat five or more times per week: 38 percent compared with 31 percent in 2012. The four percent of respondents who said they do not eat meat reflected roughly the same amount as three years ago.

When respondents were asked if they would like to decrease their meat consumption in the future, 33 percent said yes. That reflects a slight rise from 2012 (30 percent). Respondents ages 65 and up (82 percent), and respondents who were members of the Silent Generation (86 percent) most frequently answered that they did not want to cut their meat consumption.

“It is clear from these data that a new generation of Americans is rethinking diet in light of concerns about health and the rising cost of meat. But for respondents in the over 65 age range and in the Silent Generation, it seems old habits die hard,” said Michael Taylor, M.D., chief medical officer at Truven Health Analytics. “It will be interesting to see how Americans replace meat in their dietary habits, and if they will lean more heavily on plant-based nutrition.”

To date, the Truven Health Analytics-NPR Health Poll has explored numerous health topics, including generic drugs, vaccines, data privacy, narcotic painkillers and sports-related concussions. NPR's reports on the surveys are archived online at the Shots health blog here. Truven Health maintains a library of poll results here.

Natural Foods Merchandiser

10 Natural Products Expo West FAQs to help you prep for the big show

10 Natural Products Expo West FAQs to help you prep for the big show

Where do I need my badge at Natural Products Expo West?
To ease traffic going in and out of the exhibit halls, you need to present a badge and ID to enter the Anaheim Convention Center, not the show floor. Look for the designated doors. Exhibitors and Super Pass holders have separate entrances. You will also need your badge to enter education sessions and on-site events. For badge pickup and registration locations, see the map below.

I’m driving my car to the Anaheim Convention Center. Where is the best place to park?
It will be extremely congested near the convention center and parking will be limited this year because of construction. To avoid the chaos, we recommend parking for free at nearby Angel Stadium. Free shuttles are available throughout the day from the stadium to the Anaheim Convention Center and back. To take the shuttle from the convention center to Angel Stadium, load near Katella Avenue (by the Arena). Bonus: Avoid on-site registration lines by printing your badge at Angel Stadium after you’ve parked.

Can I register additional teammates in Anaheim?
Yes. Full-service registration will be available at the Hilton and education upgrades are available at the Marriott. While this service is available, Expo West organizers recommend registering your staff before you arrive at the show to save time and avoid lines. If you do need to register someone on-site, don’t forget to bring valid business proof and identification (details at

How do I navigate the show floor?
The show floor is expansive, so it’s best to plan your route in advance. The Exhibitor List on the Expo West website is helpful as are show maps available on-site. With all of the new exhibitors, though, you might need reading glasses to navigate by map.

For ease, we recommend downloading the Natural Products Expo West/Engredea app for your phone or tablet. With the app, you can access the Exhibitor List, education schedule, events and navigation tool, all while on the go. Get the app at

Is it hard to find places to eat while at Natural Products Expo West?
There are restaurants nearby (think Cheesecake Factory, Anaheim Brewery, Joe’s Crabshack) but they fill up quickly. If you’re planning a dinner outing or team meal, call ahead and reserve space. If you need a quick bite to eat, the Hilton Food Court across from the convention center might satisfy your need.

I brought my children so we could go to amusement parks after the show. What options do I have for child care while I’m at the show?
Children 16 and younger are allowed to attend Natural Products Expo West but they require a children’s badge and adult supervision. The cost for a badge is $25. If you need child care on-site, this is also available for $25 a day. To register, print badges or check children in to child care, go to the Hilton, Lower Level.

Registration and badge pickup lines have been difficult in the past. Will it be easier this year?
Yes! Lots of new registration areas have been added across the Expo West campus. Three examples are the Arena Box Office, the Hyatt Hotel and Angel Stadium. Additionally, keep an eye out for mobile registration carts. If badge pickup lines get busy, we’ll roll these your way and scan your confirmation barcode to print your badge.

I love collecting product samples and bringing them home to try. How many am I allowed to take?
Attendees are limited to one sample bag per day. If you find that you’re getting too many samples to fit in one bag, encourage exhibitors to ship the samples to you. This way, you don’t have to lug bags of food on the airplane and you’ll make sure to have the exhibitor’s contact information if you plan to place an order post-show. If you still have more than one bag at the end of the day, don’t worry. We’ll donate the food to local food banks and charities so it will go to a good cause.

What are Natural Products Expo West essentials?
Water! Business cards. Expo West/Engredea App. Phone charger. Comfortable shoes. Snacks. NFM.

Is there anything new for Expo West 2016 I should know about?
The Hot Products pavilion in the Hilton has expanded this year. The exhibits will open a day before others and run March 10-12. If you see an “H” listed as a booth location, it means the exhibitor can be found in the Hilton. The Super Pass is also returning and daily education passes are launching. Even if you’ve already purchased a badge, you can log in to your registration account and upgrade your badge with one of these passes to get access to things like education sessions and a VIP Lounge with an electronics charging station.

How Beyond Meat makes plant-based 'meat'

Natural consumers have a tendency to romanticize where their food comes from. We like to think that butter should come from a solitary cow standing in acres of bucolic pasture; potato chips should be sliced and kettle-cooked by the same person who grew the potatoes. To some natural shoppers, food production is like a Williams-Sonoma catalog, where farm tools are monogrammed and handcrafted with a “natural wax finish,” and the copywriting is excellent. Processing facilities, laboratories and complicated food science don’t fit into this fairytale.

But food production happens on a large scale. And food science plays an important part in making the values natural consumers hold so dear—like sustainability, ethical sourcing, animal welfare, soil health and more—become a reality.

So kudos to Beyond Meat, makers of plant-based meat alternatives, for making this video that invites consumers inside their laboratory and facility, and explains how pea protein is realigned to mimic the texture of meat. The vegan company successfully busts through a seemingly hard-to-understand process—making meat from plants—and communicates to the viewer how yes, you probably can’t do this in your home kitchen, but it’s not something to be afraid of. 

A prime example of green-tech transparency that should be emulated.

Watch it, and let us know what you think in the comments below.


Natural product company news of the week

Natural Product news roundup

Maple Hill Creamery announced it has entered into a milk supply agreement with Stonyfield for a new fruit-on-the-bottom style grass-fed yogurt.

Organic superfood company Nutiva announced two new products: Organic Buttery Coconut Oil and Organic Superseed Blend.

Perdue is moving NO ANTIBIOTICS EVER protein into mainstream grocery categories and foodservice menu items with the rapid transition of its entire frozen, refrigerated and fresh value-added chicken products and all of its foodservice turkey items to NO ANTIBIOTICS EVER.

NeuroActin, an ingredient of HP Ingredients Corp., was awarded a patent for its use in brain and cognitive support supplements.

Sioux Natural is introducing Veggan, a plant-based egg substitute that matches the nutritional and functional properties of whole eggs in baking, while minimizing the health risks we've come to know with conventional eggs. It is created with sustainable, minimally processed, GRAS-certified ingredients.

Following the conclusion of its fall campaign, NeoCell made a $60,000 donation to Vitamin Angels.

Indena's curcumin phospholipid Meriva received Generally Recognized as Safe status for use as flavor, flavor enhancer and nutrient ingredient in yogurt, smoothies, nutrition bars and medical foods.

The National Animal Supplement Council has recently recognized Ahiflower oil, exclusively available globally through Natures Crops International, under the NASC Preferred Supplier program.

Herbalist & Alchemist announced the company has again been certified as a B Corporation. H&A has been a certified B Corporation since 2010.

Portland company Saint Olio announced the launch of a complete line of all-natural, essential oil-based fragrances and aromatic cleaners for both body and home.

Lipogen Ltd. attained a U.S. patent for its proprietary phospholipid formulation designed to tackle Premenstrual Syndrome and premenstrual dysphoric disorder.