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Articles from 2020 In February


Pioneering organic tea company pushes sustainability further

Numi founders Reem and Ahmed

For the past 20 years, Numi has stood out for its premium-quality, organic, fair-trade teas and its envelope-pushing sustainability and social welfare commitments. Founded in Oakland, California, by brother-sister duo Ahmed Rahim, CEO and chief alchemist, and Reem Hassani, chief brand officer and artist, Numi sources more than 130 organic ingredients from some 30 countries, about 95% of which can be traced back to the farmer. The brand is sold in multiple channels nationwide and more than 50 countries across the globe.

Recently, Numi has branched into other wellness beverages and amped up its sustainability premise even more by launching the first compostable teabag wrap. Along with the company’s efforts, the companion Numi Foundation improves water access and sanitation for farming communities and provides education for at-risk children in the Bay Area and Iraq, where the siblings were born.

Rahim also co-founded OSC2: One Step Closer to an Organic and Sustainable Community, a coalition of natural products industry founders and CEOs. The group has spawned initiatives such as the Climate Collaborative and, launching officially at Natural Products Expo West 2020, the JEDI Collaborative, focused on promoting justice, equity, diversity and inclusion.

For Numi’s ongoing leadership and commitment to making the world a better place, New Hope Network is proud to hand this company a NEXTY Gold Award. Here is our recent conversation with Rahim and Hassani.

When led you launch an organic tea company 20 years ago?

Reem Hassani: It was mostly nostalgic in that we wanted to drink the tea, Numi, that we enjoyed as children in Iraq. We always had the idea to bring it to America.

Ahmed Rahim: I used to have a big tea business in Europe, and when I visited my sister in California, I noticed a lack of high-quality products, organic and fair trade on the market. Brands were putting all kinds of natural flavorings into poor-quality teas. We saw an opportunity to launch beautifully packaged tea made with high-quality organic ingredients.

What has allowed Numi thrive all these years?

AR: From day one, we’ve put our values of organic, fair trade and sustainability at the forefront and stayed true to them. We’ve pushed the envelope by driving causes rather than waiting for causes to drive us. Fair trade didn’t really exist in 1999, so we started that, as well as our own certification, Fair Labor Practices.

Also, innovation. We were the first to offer Pu-erh, turmeric tea and savory teas, and we’ve recently launched our Daily Super Shots and Drinking Chocolates. Now we’re launching a compostable plant-based overwrap for our tea bags. We’re never afraid of doing something different that will protect people and the environment and bring goodness to the world.

What prompted the move into other beverage categories?

AR: We wanted to become more of a wellness brand. Consumers want premium, organic, fair-trade products that are good for them at different times of day, and the experience they are looking for on those occasions are not always available in tea bags. So our focus is to meet them at those times.

What inspired the brand refresh you just debuted?

RH: Coinciding with the new product launches, we modernized the brand, lightened it up and gave it more pop. And we shifted the voice from comfy and cozy to more active, bold and dynamic. Our brand stands for so much more besides quality and taste, so we wanted all the work we do in the world to be front and center.

AR: Our new motto is “activating purpose” to inspire people be part of the solution. Global warming is happening quickly, and we need to do something.

Please tell us about your new packaging that’s even more sustainable.

Numi Organic Tea plant-based envelopeAR: From day one, we’ve used 9% post-consumer waste paper for our boxes and never a plastic overwrap—I’ve never understood why companies use those. Our tea bags are plant based, made from abaca fiber. And besides Traditional Medicinals, we are the only brand that doesn’t use any natural flavorings or oils, which are not good for composting. But now, 20 years later, we are the first to launch a plant-based overlap made of mulch and eucalyptus, so the entire thing is non-GMO and compostable.

Is Numi vertically integrated down to the tea farms?

AR: We don’t own the farms, but we are vertically integrated in the sense that we purchase directly from farmers and have very close relationships with them. We don’t force exclusivity because we want them to stay healthy and live good lives, but since we source such premium-quality ingredients that are so specific to our needs, not many other beverage companies want them. And the farmers who also work with Lipton, Tazo and other big tea brands always say that if they had only one pound of tea left, they’d sell it to us because of our fair-trade commitments and the water we supply through our Together for H2OPE initiative.

Do you actually travel to the farms?

RH: We visit them every year in South Africa, Egypt, India, China and Madagascar, where we get 70% to 80% of our tea. We train them in fair trade or fair labor verification and help them through the audits. They become almost like our extended family; we know their kids. In fact, the daughter of our bamboo farmer interned with us one summer. This is very different from how it’s usually done: A lot of tea companies buy from brokers who purchase tea very cheaply through co-ops or large-scale markets. They don’t go shake hands with the farmer who runs the estate or the people who work there.

How does the Fair Labor Practices certification differ from fair trade?

AR: We are one of the largest fair-trade tea importers in the nation and are proud of our partnership with Fair Trade USA. But about 12 years ago, we felt more work was needed to get deeper. There are many differences between the two standards, but three highlights are: one, to get Fair Labor Practices certification, you must be organic; two, Fair Labor Practices requires improvement whereas fair trade is pass/fail; and three, Fair Labor Practices covers the whole supply chain, not including where the tea was made and shipped.

Can other brands use this certification?

AR: Fair Labor Practices was used by other brands when it was held under SCS Global Services. Then when SCS handed it off to us, we didn’t have the capacity to offer it to other brands. Now we are more prepared and considering opening it back up. 

Numi also has a very low carbon footprint, right?

AR: We are in a fortunate position because teas and herbs are some of the most sustainable crops in the world. These bushes last 50 or 60 years, there is no tilling required, and there is plenty of rainfall so we don’t have to irrigate. Because of this, the tea plantations are carbon positive, and as a company, we plan to be completely carbon neutral by 2023. The biggest work we have to do is in processing and shipping.

What kind of work does the Numi Foundation do?

AR: There are few projects my sister and I really care about: our farmers, our local Bay Area community and Iraq, where we were born.

RH: For the farmers, we have Together for H2OPE. We can’t drink tea without clean water, and while we can turn on our faucets and get clean water, the farmers we purchase from do not have access. We built 24 wells in Madagascar, giving 5,000 people access to safe drinking water. India is more complicated because people have wells but they are contaminated with E. coli, and during monsoon season, all the debris comes up, so they need to be reworked. We partnered with Women’s Earth Alliance to go there and assess and then partnered with a local nonprofit that trains people in the community, mostly women, around sanitation. We also bought water filters for homes, helping another 7,500 to 10,000 people in those villages. In South America, we built bathroom facilities on farms, and we have a project in the works in Egypt.

AR: Our initiative in Oakland serves 14,000 kids. We’ve designed curriculums around organic gardening, art and social studies that are now in hundreds of schools in the Bay Area.

RH: Finally, we’d wanted to do work in Iraq for a while but it had been difficult logistically because of the wars. Lots of kids there have been left behind, orphaned or victimized and are at risk of dropping out and ending up on the street. Now we’ve partnered with the Iraq Foundation to pilot a summer school for at-risk kids.

What does the NEXTY Gold Award mean to you?

RH: It’s a big honor because there are so many companies out there doing great things. We do what we do every day because we believe in it, and we are always trying to do better. We may be the first people to do launch a plant-based tea wrapper, but imagine if the whole industry could do that? If we can set an example, create a movement and have aisles and aisles of grocery stores filled with products in plant-based wrappers, that could literally change the world.

We stick our nose out, and while something may not work out the first time, at least we are trying. We keep pushing, make mistakes, fix them and keep plowing ahead because we know it will work out eventually. This award recognizes people willing to do that, pioneers willing to change the world. Business can be force of good and a paradigm for change if you want it to be—you just have to stick your neck out.

5@5: 'Bee-washing' harms bees, misleads consumers | Walmart to launch membership program

This Nutrition Business Journal article addressess a question that concerns not only farmers but consumers environmentalists policy makers pesticide manufacturers and more The story by Lisa Marshall delves deep into what39s known and what39s not known about the rapid decline in bee populations Here39s what NBJ EditorinChief Marc Brush had to say about the article quotThe decline in bee populations is just such an issue andnbspNBJ has a special ability to access the top minds in some of

'Bee-washing' hurts bees and misleads consumers

Bees native to the U.S., those separate from honey bees, are declining in number on account of a warming climate, pesticide exposure and a lack of flora. But while marketing surrounding bee-friendly products has flourished in recent years, these initiatives often overly inflate the importance of honey bees in a given ecosystem instead of educating consumers on native bees' effects on the environment. Read more at The Counter

Walmart is quietly working on an Amazon Prime competitor called Walmart+

Amazon's top rival is reportedly creating its own membership program "that would include perks that Amazon can't replicate." These may include discounts on prescription drugs at Walmart's pharmacies and fuel at its gas stations, in addition to a feature that would allow shoppers to place orders over text message. Read more at Vox

Machine learning: The future of farming

AI can enable us to optimize farming methods effectively within enclosed systems that aren't affected by the outside environment. Companies such as Square Root are pioneering this approach, even implementing training programs for "a next generation of farmers" who will still need to tend to the plants in spite of the automation in place. Read more at Modern Farmer...

Should vegans eat roadkill?

Roadkill has gained more cultural acceptance over the past few years because of its eco-friendly nature and the ethics surrounding eating factory-farmed meat. But can vegans eat it? Some argue that eating roadkill doesn't support the killing of animals and is largely without ecological consequence. Read more at Medium

The dairy farm of your imagination is disappearing

Thousands of family-owned U.S. dairy farms are tanking in the face of falling prices and factory-farm competition. The median income for a dairy farm went from $44,000 in 2017 to just $14,697 in 2018, with many farmers not breaking even for the year. Read more at Bloomberg

Unboxed: 5 products to support beauty from the inside out

The line between supplements and beauty products has become increasingly blurred over the past few years, with skin hero products such as hyaluronic acid and collagen making their way into easily digestible teas, powders and pills. Health and beauty are two sides of the same coin, and consumers today better understand that lifestyle and nutrition changes are fundamental building blocks toward an enviable outer appearance. 

Nutrition Business Journal estimates that beauty from within supplement sales will reach $1.5 billion this year, as the category grew a notable 9.5% in 2019. The top three ingredients consumers are after? B vitamins, collagen and vitamin C. 

Click through this gallery to check out five of our top picks from this expanding category.

REBBL launches emissions-reducing Green Packaging Initiative

REBBL REBBL-Lineup-1400.jpg

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 eighth and final interview is with Michele Kessler, CEO at Rebbl, winner of the 2019 Outstanding Value Chain Engagement award. 

michele-rebbl.jpgCongratulations on winning a 2019 National Co+op Grocers Climate Collaborative award! What are you most proud of when it comes to your company’s climate work?

We are thrilled to be recognized for our climate work. A core part of REBBL’s mission is to create positive social and environmental impact in conjunction with delivering truly delicious and nourishing plant-based beverages. We are proud to operate with a sustainable business model that considers social, ecological and economic factors to ensure well-being for the people and the planet.

Last year, REBBL received the Outstanding Value Chain Engagement award for our work on ethical sourcing, community engagement and rainforest protection. We continually seek opportunities to create a positive global impact, innovating and using business as a force for good. This year we launched our new Green Packaging Initiative, utilizing 100% recycled and recyclable plastic bottles, reducing our emissions and energy use. Climate change is a serious global problem and REBBL continues to seek solutions.

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

Looking forward, we’re excited to reduce our climate impact with our new Green Packaging Initiative. We just launched our transition to 100% recycled and recyclable plastic bottles, and we are one of the first companies in the industry to do so.

Working with a team of environmental and packaging design experts to bring sustainable packaging to market, our new Green Packaging Initiative converts used plastic bottles into new 12 oz plastic bottles. This change helps us conserve resources, reduce what ends up in the landfill and capitalize on the energy already invested in existing plastic products. There is an opportunity for the entire industry to transition to post-consumer recycled plastic and make an even bigger difference. It’s a complex and costly process but one we are proud to prioritize as a leading member of the Climate Collaborative.

With this new packaging, REBBL is making it easier for consumers to choose both sustainable and high-quality products. By switching 20 million REBBL bottles annually to recycled plastic, we have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 922 tons of carbon dioxide, roughly the environmental equivalent benefit of 1,086 acres of U.S. forests in one year. REBBL’s Green Packaging Initiative is also an important solution for reducing environmental waste. Recycling one ton of plastic containers saves 7.4 cubic yards of landfill space.

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

There are many opportunities to tackle climate change in any business’s operations. Every single decision that a business makes has an impact. A company can choose to make it a positive impact, from leveraging purchasing power for ethical sourcing, to reassessing operational setup to increase energy efficiency, to switching to environmentally green packaging and more. Taking actionable steps to tackle climate change is possible when businesses see every decision as an opportunity—such as the one REBBL is taking to create a market for repurposed plastic.

Today’s shoppers have the power to play a substantial role in shifting the environmental landscape, as well. Through responsible purchasing decisions, consumers can help create a market for post-consumer recycled plastic.

Natural Products Expo

Updated: The coronavirus and its impact on Natural Products Expo West 2020

expo-west-2019-outside.jpg

Expo West coronavirus communication as of Monday, March 2:

As the organizer of Natural Products Expo West, we have received many calls from within this community on the impact of travel restrictions and other control measures introduced in certain countries and locations following the spread of COVID-19.  We are reaching out to all our exhibitors, partners, attendees and suppliers to provide an update and further clarity about this year’s show.

Many of our partners due to attend Expo West have urged us to continue with the show. Many have suggested we postpone it.  The polarity of responses leaves us in a difficult position, as we do not want to upset or let down anyone in our community.

Our primary concern is and will always be the safety of our guests and colleagues. We are monitoring the situation and following the guidelines set-forth by our federal and local government and health agencies and are in close on-going contact with local Anaheim authorities. 

Based on all this information, including looking at other venues in the Anaheim area, our intention is to continue to serve and support the industry by moving ahead with Expo West 2020. To ensure the health and safety of everyone at Expo West, we are taking very specific control measures around the show and on-site facilities including:

  • Asking those traveling from countries with a CDC Level 3 travel restriction to not make the trip.
  • Adding washing stations outside and hand sanitizing stations in the convention center in addition to the existing ones provided by the building; plus adding hand sanitizing stations in the Marriott and Hilton Hotels.
  • Overseeing that all food safety and sampling guidelines are adhered to, in cooperation with the Orange County health agency personnel who will be on-site. 
  • Implementing the cleaning of all high-traffic areas multiple times daily in addition to the standard overnight cleaning.

The motivation behind this decision to continue on with the show is to serve and support the community we are part of and that Expo West helped to build over the last 40 years. We weighed the supportive advice from authorities and our community while balancing the financial impact to all involved.

New Hope Network is looking to provide the most up-to-date information on who will be participating in Expo West next week. We have officially received notice that some exhibiting companies will not be participating. A list of these companies can be found on the expowest.com website.

In addition we have received information that certain members of our buying community will not be participating, including Kimberton Whole Foods, HEB / Central Market, Costco, Advantage Solutions, MOM's Organic, Harris Teeter, National Co+op Grocers, Whole Foods Market, Fresh Direct, Cambridge Naturals and Advantage Solutions.

Through information we have obtained and conversations we’ve had, we estimate that we will see a 40-60% drop in attendance from previous years. Despite the decreased attendance, we believe there will still be a robust level of activity throughout the Expo West campus, and we are hearing from exhibiting companies still planning to attend that they are looking forward to connecting with their peers and doing business while in Anaheim.

To this point, we are asking those attending to volunteer information on your participation in Expo West on this official Natural Products Expo LinkedIn post. We will be posting this on all other Natural Products Expo official social media channels, expowest.com and via email in an effort to provide as much information as we can.

Additionally, to reflect the difficulties of this situation, we want to provide as much support as possible to our exhibitors who depend so much on the platform that Expo West provides them. We are committed to working with those exhibitors who will not have the conversations or make the connections they need to, to find other ways to support them, either through Expo East or other products and platforms. We also recognize the investment our partners and constituents have made and will work to identify options to mitigate costs over the coming weeks.

New Hope is dedicated to serving and supporting the natural products industry around the world. For more than 40 years, we have made it a priority to be transparent and open with the dynamic and connected natural and organic products community.

We want to thank everyone that is part of the wider Expo West family for your input, views, support and encouragement over the last week, and we will continue to monitor this fluid situation.

To view Natural Products Expo West's official COVID-19 webpage, click here.

 

Previous Expo West coronavirus announcement

Published Feb. 28: Thank you to everyone who has shared their thoughts and current decision making about Expo West in the face of the COVID-19 situation. This is helpful for New Hope Network to be able to get more input on how the community is thinking and feeling. From what we’ve heard thus far, it seems companies and individuals are taking a varied approach, depending on many factors ranging from corporate travel policies to personal risk assessments.

The health and safety of the Expo West community is a priority for New Hope, and we are in close communication with the City of Anaheim and state and local health authorities to assess the situation on an hour-by-hour basis. Following the guidance of these official organizations, we are still planning on and are excited to host the show in Anaheim next week. 

There are no coronavirus cases in Anaheim or Orange County, nor are there any federal, state or local health advisories for area. Based on medical data and the situation on the ground, Anaheim theme parks, sporting and event centers, schools and workplaces are operating as usual.

We are receiving cancellations from some exhibitors and retailers, but we still have many more that are planning and excited to attend. We recognize that experience of this year’s show will be different from years past and we are committed to reviewing the impact on participants.

Expo West does convene a large group of people, and every person and organization will need to decide whether to attend given the media coverage and fluidity of the situation. Like many of you, we will continue monitoring things closely over the weekend and will provide updates as they are available.

The majority of our Chinese exhibitors are unable to participate in this year’s event and a small number of companies are reducing their presence because of corporate travel policies.

You may have read about the local emergency declared by Orange County last week. This is in response to the federal government’s attempt to designate a center in Costa Mesa as a future Coronavirus medical support site and has no impact on the Natural Products Expo West event.

As the show nears, our team is working hard to welcome thousands of exhibiting brands and industry members to another successful Expo West. We are taking preliminary precautions by providing additional hand washing and hand sanitizing stations throughout the event and increasing cleaning in high-traffic areas.

As you’re planning travel, we encourage you to visit our Health & Safety information on expowest.com and follow a few tips for a healthy Natural Products Expo including:

  1. Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly.
  2. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow when you cough or sneeze.
  3. Don’t touch your face with unwashed hands.
  4. Consider replacing the typical business handshake or hug with an “elbow shake” or fist bump.
  5. Stay home or in your hotel room if you feel sick or are coughing or sneezing.
  6. Make sure to pack your regular supplements, hand sanitizer and other travel accessories you use to stay healthy on trips.

We can’t wait to see you in Anaheim as we gather this inspiring community for another year of showcasing the latest innovations in natural products and hosting important discussions about the ways we can work together to improve the issues facing our world today while bringing more health to more people.

Beyond Meat captures triple-digit revenue growth in fiscal 2019

Beyond Meat Beyond Meat releases financial report

Beyond Meat earned more money in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2019—$98.5 million—than it did in all of fiscal 2018—$87.9 million—the plant-based protein company announced Thursday.

"Right now is a time of growth for Beyond Meat," President and CEO Ethan Brown said during Thursday afternoon's earnings call. "Looking at our past, one could argue that's always been the case—and they'd be right, to a point. There's something different about this moment. It becomes clearer by the day that a growing number of consumers want what we are doing to work.

"The world is also rapidly changing in ways that propel this movement. The movement is increasingly intertwined with our brand—systemic pork disruption in Asia; high school kids protesting the inaction they see in regard to greenhouse-gases emission reduction; an increasing number of world-class athletes turning to plant-based eating to improve recovery and performance; and more and more members of the medical community returning to the ancient, Hippocratic understanding of food as medicine—all come to mind," he continued.

The company credited revenue increases to more sales to international customers; more points of distribution; higher sales to existing customers; and new products released in 2019. Results from the fourth quarter, which ended Dec. 31, were overall positive:

  • Net revenue was $98.5 million, a 212% increase from a year earlier.
  • Gross profit was $33.5 million or 34% of net revenue, compared with $7.9 million or 25% of net revenue a year ago.
  • The company saw a net loss of $500,000, compared with a $7.5 million loss in Q4 of 2018.

Sales increases in fresh products in retail, restaurant and foodservice channels led to the additional revenue, according to the company's earnings announcement.

The company also exceeded its annual goals for sales, financials and operations:

  • Net revenue for fiscal 2019 was $297.9 million, a 238.8% increase from $87.9 million in fiscal 2018.
  • Gross profit was $99.8 million or 33.5% of net revenue; in 2018, gross profit was $17.6 million or 20% of net revenue.
  • Net loss for the year was $12.4 million, a decrease from $29.9 million a year earlier.

Beyond Meat products are now available in more than 77,000 restaurants and foodservice outlets in more than 65 countries. Those same countries offer large opportunities for growth, Brown added.

For the year, sales to restaurants increased 312% to $153 million. Retail sales grew185.2% to $144.8 million, the company reported.

In the United States, Beyond Meat's market share increased 830 basis points—26 times faster than the largest competing brand in the category in 2019, Brown said, attributing the statistics to SPINS, a marketing and data firm that focuses on the natural products industry. (Impossible Foods is privately held, so its sales and revenue are not available to the public.)

Beyond Meat, which has only six SKUs, offered four of the best-selling plant-based meat products in the fourth quarter—"by a wide margin," Brown said, again attributing the data to SPINS.

Beyond Meat captures triple-digit revenue growth in fiscal 2019 investor presentation

Increasing production worldwide

"In no way complacent, we believe that our focus on a rapid and constant improvement toward the highest product quality standards; listening to and connecting with the consumer; and avoiding GMOs and artificial ingredients continues to resonate," Brown said in the earnings call.

"To build long-term value on a global scale and size, our focus today should be on aggressive growth," he added. "Growth in terms of customers, geographies and markets; production infrastructure; innovation capabilities; product offerings; and consumer engagement—even if this comes at the expense of near-term profit and margin expansion."

The company plans to add production facilities in Europe this quarter and in Quebec, Canada, later this year. Production is Asia is in the works, also for this year, but the coronavirus crisis might affect that timeline, the CEO said.

"The magnitude of the opportunity (in Asia) merits significant investment," Brown said, noting that the continent offers "unprecedented opportunity" for new meat production models.

Seth Goldman, executive chair of the board, announced at the beginning of the call that he is stepping down, effective immediately, but will continue to serve as chairman of the board. When questioned further, he explained that Brown now has a leadership team of talented people to support him and the company's growth.

"As a distance runner, I would say we are off to a strong start," Goldman said. "But this is a marathon, and we are still in the early miles. We've got the right talent, the right mindset and I believe we are better prepared to navigate the terrain than any other team."

Beyond Meat's initial public offering was in May, when it offered more than 11 million shares of common stock for an IPO price of $25 per share. During after-hours trading—following the late-afternoon earnings announcement—the stock fell slightly and was trading at $105.72 per share.

5@5: Plastic bag ban to hit New York | Amazon Go Grocery opens in Seattle

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New York businesses anticipate plastic bag ban

On Sunday a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags in New York will take effect, and customers will be forced to use paper bags, resuable bags or totes for the bulk of their purchases. Many retailers in the state appreciate the ban's eco-friendly nature but worry about how it will affect their bottom lines. Paper bags, for instance, can cost over seven times as much as plastic bags do. Read more at The Wall Street Journal

Amazon Go Grocery: This is the future of shopping, whether we like it or not

The first Amazon Go Grocery has opened in Seattle; the store takes the company's Amazon Go technology and has expanded it to include fresh products and different sections, much like a real supermarket. Lower costs for shoppers, no lines and an ultra-technologically savvy environment make this model one to bet on for the future of retail. Read more at Forbes

Can small farms survive California's landmark water law?

California is now regulating the groundwater that is the lifeblood of its enormous agriculture industry. This law will take an unprecedented toll on the many small farms within the state, and those that can afford it will have to tap other resources such as buying surface water through brokers or purchasing land that comes with additional water access. Read more at The Guardian...

Bayer cools prospect of imminent glyphosate settlement

Bayer is reportedly in no rush to reach an out-of-court settlement with the many plaintiff's that allege its glyphosate-based weedkillers cause cancer. It continues to deny these claims, but Chief Financial Officer Wolfgang Nickl stated that the company has "plenty of flexibility to fund any deal from future cash flow." Read more at Reuters

Wind has become the 'most-used' source of renewable electricity generation in the US

Wind generation in the U.S. overtook hydroelectric generation in 2019 for the first time ever. Yearly wind generation hit just over 300 million megawatt hours and has grown steadily over the past decade. Read more at CNBC

Corinne Shindelar steps down from Independent Food Retailers Association role

Corinne Shindelar, INFRA

Independent Natural Food Retailers Association’s (INFRA) Board of Directors today announced that founder and president/CEO Corinne Shindelar is stepping down from her role, effective March 1, 2020.

After 15 years of service as INFRA’s founder and first president/CEO, the board of directors expressed its gratitude for her leadership in building INFRA into a nationally competitive cooperative association.

“The board is honored that Ms. Shindelar has agreed to continue her legacy of leadership as Emeritus President for the remainder of this year, ensuring a smooth transition at all levels of the organization,” said Cheryl Hughes, board
chairwoman.

The INFRA Board of Directors has named Patrick “Pat” Sheridan as interim president/CEO.

Source: Independent Natural Food Retailers Association

5@5: Are soda taxes working? | Increased soil salinity jeopardizes crops

Bottled Water to Overtake Soda as No. 1 Drink by 2016

A handful of US cities have passed soda taxes, but are they working?

While sugar taxes appear significantly lower sales of sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda when enacted, health outcomes haven't been as directly affected. But such taxes are also important because they work at a high-level industrial level and can push big companies in the space to invest in lower sugar alternatives and push for more research in the sugar alternative space. Read more at Quartz

Scientists are scrambling to make thirsty crops love salt

Climate change is making soil saltier, which affects farms by first dehydrating crops and then by poisoning them. Now, scientists are working to determine which traits lead to salt-tolerant rootstock, and farmers worldwide are beginning to implement these as weather unpredictability continues. Read more at The Counter

Taco Bell is adding plant-based meat to its menu within a year

It held out for a while, but beloved Mexican fast-food restaurant Taco Bell is finally planning on launching a plant-based meat alternative in 2020. The chain had previously launched an oat-based meat alternative in its Spain and Finland locations in 2017, but has remained aloof as to whether it would be partnering with the likes of Beyond Meat or Impossible Foods stateside. Read more at Thrillist...

A comprehensive new federal roadmap for climate action on farms

Newly introduced legislation would set a national goal of reaching net zero carbon emissions within the U.S. agricultural sector in as little as 20 years. The Agriculture Resilience Act lays out 12 goals that focus on food production that, with the help of USDA, will lead to an increase in stored carbon in soil and a reduction of agriculture-related greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50%. Read more at Civil Eats

Brazil says US will allow fresh Brazilian beef imports

After several years the U.S. is once again allowing Brazilian beef to make its way to retail shelves. USDA had banned beef imports from the country in 2017 after testing gave way to "recurring concerns about the safety of the products." Read more at Reuters

Natural Products Expo

How your brand can be more sustainable at expo and beyond

Recyclable Package in Warehouse

With about 8 million tons of plastic getting dumped into our oceans every year, we need to continue to talk about sustainability in a package-forward industry.

Sustainability is a core focus of Natural Products Expo, and Natural Products Expo West-exhibiting brands such as Clover Sonoma are already making positive changes to improve how their products and packaging impacts the environment.

Here, get inspired by Clover Sonoma’s initiatives so you too can make a sustainable impact with your brand, thanks to Clover Sonoma’s vice president of sales and marketing, Kristel Corson. Plus, learn how New Hope Network is on a mission to eliminate single-use plastic from Natural Product Expo West and East by 2022.

What role does sustainability play within Clover Sonoma?

Kristel Corson Clover Sonoma Kristel Corson: Sustainability is why we source from small family farms with an average herd size of 400 cows, not factory farms. It is also why we source all of our milk locally, within 100 miles of our plant.

We’ve made deliberate decisions over the years to reduce our use of plastics, such as not using plastic caps on our milk cartons, even though it would make the cartons more convenient. In 2019 alone, we prevented 227,729 lbs of plastic from being produced and ending up in the landfill. That is equivalent to the weight of over 11 million plastic water bottles.

How is this demonstrated with the brand’s packaging?

KC: Clover Sonoma is the first dairy in the U.S. to switch to a fully renewable plant-based milk carton. During Expo West, we will be unveiling our new milk carton to the public, which will show up on shelves across our entire organic milk line including half gallons and quarts this summer.

Our fully renewable milk carton utilizes a sugarcane-based liner instead of a fossil fuel based liner, alongside Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified paperboard. FSC-certified means that consumers who purchase the renewable milk carton are supporting responsible forest management and helping to protect forests for future generations. FSC certification helps ensure that the soils, water quality, wildlife, threatened and endangered species, special areas, social rights and biodiversity are all protected.

What is Clover’s call to action for other exhibitors?

KC: We hope that our fully renewable milk carton will inspire other companies to harness this technology to make it more widely available and cost-effective across industries.

In celebration of our renewable carton launch, we are hosting a B-Corp Zero Waste Coffee Hour Thursday, March 5, and Friday, March 6, from 10-12 p.m. at booth #2205 in the Organic section. We will be serving up Equator coffee with our Clover Organic milk and creamers in 100% reusable mugs.

If you’d like to learn more about how your brand can become more sustainable, stop by Clover Sonoma’s booth and have a coffee “For Here, Please.”

New Hope Network is eliminating single-use plastic from the Natural Products Expo West and East trade shows by 2022. Why are we doing this and how does this impact exhibitors? Learn more here.