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[email protected]: Michelob sued over organic seltzer claims | Biden's carbon bank progress

Michelob michelob ultra organic seltzer

An organic hard seltzer company sued Michelob over its 'organic' claims

Oregon-based Suzie's Brewing Company sued Michelob this month for claiming to offer the "first" and "only" USDA-certified organic hard seltzer to U.S. consumers, hurting smaller producers by making it seem like Ultra Organic Selzter is "a unique, first-of-its-kind" product. Michelob's attorneys responded that the ad meant "first one in national commerce," but widespread public perception following its Super Bowl ad indicates the message was received otherwise. Food & Wine has the details.

Biden bets the farm on climate

Biden's plan for a new "carbon bank" that would financially incentivize farmers, foresters and ranchers to make the switch to regenerative agriculture is already facing challenges from Congress, and the prospect of implementing and policing it seems daunting to say the least. But the myriad problems facing the program are overshadowed by one possible payoff: an economy-wide cap-and-trade system, which former president Barack Obama never managed to accomplish. Head to Modern Farmer for more.

Why so many COVID-19 workers' comp claims are being rejected

Insurers are sweepingly rejecting compensation claims for workers who say they contracted COVID-19 while on the job on the basis that none can prove where and when they contracted COVID-19. With this virus, experts say the source and cause has to be determined on a case-by-case basis—and the bar to prove infection is pretty high: Clients must establish that there was no other known source of exposure other than the workplace. Read more at The Wall Street Journal

There's a new kind of pollution to be worried about: nanomaterials

Nanomaterials, which are smaller than microplastics, have been discovered throughout the food supply chain. Scientists detected them in algae, then in zooplankton, then in fish (where they accumulated in the brain region). These particles are highly unnatural; they are engineered by humans to be incredibly tiny and are used to build things like touch screens and solar cells; they're even in sunscreen in the form of nanoparticles of titanium dioxide. And because there's not yet a test strong enough to find them at scale, regulation of these particles is especially difficult. Get the troubling story at Fast Company.

Anti-slavery chocolate is taken off ethical list

Fast-growing anti-slavery chocolate brand Tony's Chocolonely is ethical no more: The company was recently linked to a large manufacturer that admitted it benefits from child labor. As a result of this the organization Slave Free Chocolate removed the brand from its list of acceptable chocolate companies. Earlier this month, eight former child slaves came forward about working unpaid on Ivory Coast cocoa plantations and "are seeking compensation for forced labour, negligent supervision and emotional distress." Metro News reports.

IdeaXchange

Should brands adjust their products to appeal to a larger consumer base?

Elliot Begoun

I had a recent conversation with the co-founders of a brand. They were struggling with a tricky question. They were getting some product feedback from investors, industry insiders and consumers. It caused them to pause and ask if they should change the taste profile by adding some ingredients, even if it pulled them away from their core consumer. It’s a great question to ask and a hard one to answer. It allowed me to walk them through the Tardigrade Circle Theory, which I believe, for an emerging brand,  is at the heart of a capital-efficient go-to-market strategy.

I will use the above conversation to illustrate this theory, walking you through an exercise that I hope proves helpful. I will anonymize it a bit to protect the innocent. If you want to play along at home, grab a blank piece of paper.

The above brand’s core consumers are whole food plant-exclusive eaters. In other words, people eating a healthy vegan diet. Those playing along at home, draw a small circle in the center of your page and label it Vegans.

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This is a small, motivated, vocal tribe. They get their dietary information from similar sources and are part of specific social networks. They closely follow the same “experts” and influencers.  They are likely to be early adopters and could become evangelical followers. However, they will expect the most in terms of ingredients, transparency, authenticity and more. 

Now, draw a larger circle. Label this one Plant-based/Flexitarian. These folks aren’t quite as rabid or tribal. They are likely to eat more transition foods and are therefore looking for a product that is a close analog to the nonplant-based ones that they had previously been eating. Unlike the Vegans, they get their information from a broader array of sources. They aren’t as likely to have as much of their self-identity tied to their dietary tribe. But it is a bigger circle, which means more consumers. 

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Let’s draw one more even larger circle, labeling this one Better-for-you. This a broad consumer group consisting of those who aspire to eat a healthier diet. They get their information from a myriad of sources. They follow a disparate and plentiful cast of “experts” and influencers. Very little of their self-identity is tied to their food tribe. But again, it is an even larger circle with even more consumers. I will stop here but note that almost an endless number of loops can continue to ripple out from the center, much like if you threw a pebble into a tranquil pond.

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The most capital-efficient and effective go-to-market strategy starts with a focus squarely (pun intended) on that center circle. By building products, messaging and marketing aimed at the bullseye, you are all but ensuring a better ROI on both your efforts and your dollars. These center circle consumers are more tribal. They get their information from a narrower set of sources, and it’s a big part of how they self-identify. Because this circle is small, you have a louder voice. That provides you with the best chance to drive meaningful engagement.

Circling back (pun intended, again—man, am I good) to those co-founders I was chatting up. I encouraged them to not yet add ingredients to their products that would make them more mainstream. Their current products are likely to excite that center circle tribe, capturing early adopters and evangelical followers. 

Over time, they can expand into their larger circles, adjusting their product offering, messaging and marketing. For now, however, while their budget is small and their team even smaller, they are better off staying right in the bullseye. 

Too many brands start in too big of a circle. It is expensive, dilutive of both effort and capital and challenging. It is both my experience and belief that for those leading emerging brands, following this circle theory can be the difference between capital-efficient growth and the valley of death.

Elliot Begoun is a 30-year industry veteran, author and the founder of TIG, a practice focused on helping emerging natural product brands grow.

Have some big ideas or thoughts to share related to the natural products industry? We'd love to hear and publish your opinions in the newhope.com IdeaXchange. Check out our submission guidelines.

Unboxed: 5 natural beverages with superfruit superpowers

Blueberries? Check. Kale? Check. Flaxseed? Check. Buriti? Sounds good.

Why eat regular food when one can eat a diet made up of nutritional powerhouses packed with things like antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and other good-for-you benefits?

No matter how many of these superfoods have made their way onto ingredient lists and grocery store shelves in recent years, there’s still plenty of room for innovation in this sphere—particularly as consumers become increasingly concerned about fortifying their immune systems and eating for health.

Natural food industry entrepreneurs are innovating against these trends and finding new and more creative ways to do so. This is particularly true in the RTD beverage category, where many natural brands are also committed to sourcing their superfood ingredients using sustainable, organic, regenerative and mission-based practices.

These five tasty and refreshing beverages harness the benefits of a new generation of superfoods, including raw cacao, buruti, rosehips, acerola and more.

Aura Bora wins Naturally Bay Area Pitch Slam 2021

Aura Bora Aura Bora

The 2021 edition of the annual Naturally Bay Area Pitch Slam event took place virtually on Feb. 11, unfolding in a perfectly timed series of seven energy-filled presentations by some of today’s most inspired—and inspiring—natural food and beverage entrepreneurs.

The seven finalists, chosen from dozens of nominees for this year’s event, were evaluated by a panel of prestigious industry judges that included John Foraker, partner, co-founder and CEO of Once Upon a Farm; McConnel Smith, partner at VMG Partners; Robyn Rutledge, founder and CEO of SBG Growth; Karen Ivanis-Rogers, the director of business ventures for Albertsons; and Chris Robb, senior account executive for Dirty Hands, LLC.

The virtual public also played a role in selecting one of the winners of this year’s competition using an online poll, awarding the People’s Choice award to the Ugly Pickle Co., the brand that also nabbed the third-place award from judges.

The second-place award was given to Wild for Superfoods, a line of air popped chips made from ancient grain teff that was presented by the brand’s CEO Aleem Ahmed. And the Naturally Bay Area Pitch Slam first-place award winner is Aura Bora, a botanical-infused sparkling water brand with an eye-catching, colorful design that was pitched by founder Paul Voge.

Paul Voge

As this year’s winner, the brand will receive a prize package valued at over $30,000 that includes $5,000 cash and a booth at Natural Products Expo East 2021 in Philadelphia.

Amazon’s new supplement standards present myriad challenges for brands

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Amazon has been called out for years for allowing irresponsible brands to sell questionable products on is platform. However, some fear standards the online giant established in late 2020 to tackle this issue don’t mesh well with other retailers' rules and requirements, setting up a “patchwork” of different obligations. We talked to Council for Responsible Nutrition Vice President and General Counsel Megan Olsen about some of the challenges facing supplement brands on the platform.

What is CRN hearing from members about the Amazon's new supplement standards?

Megan Olsen: Amazon appears to require testing from an ISO 17025-certified lab, but does not dictate the lab. Some CRN members are concerned about this requirement, as it does not give manufacturers the flexibility to select third-party labs to work with or use their own in-house lab if those labs have not gone through the costly ISO 17025 certification process. CRN recognizes that not every third-party lab is equipped to understand and test for complexities of various products, so it is important that retailers understand lab testing must be completed by qualified labs. CRN welcomes the opportunity to work with Amazon to explore other ways in which a lab can demonstrate its reliability without necessarily being ISO 17025 certified.

Amazon is a tough landscape to police. Is CRN hearing or seeing enforcement actions taken?

MO: CRN cannot speak to any specific actions taken by Amazon, but has raised concerns that Amazon’s current process does not appear to include dispute procedures or other methods for a manufacturer to work with Amazon on compliance issues. CRN is concerned that the lack of these mechanisms could lead Amazon to take arbitrary enforcement action against reputable manufacturers simply because questions arose about the appropriate manner by which to demonstrate compliance with Amazon’s requirements.

Is there potential for retailers to provide more effective enforcement than the FDA and FTC have been able to accomplish?

MO: CRN recognizes retailers already play a critical role in ensuring consumers have access to safe and beneficial dietary supplements. For years we have been calling on retailers to more carefully curate their supplement offerings, and we welcome their efforts to help consumers differentiate between responsible and beneficial dietary supplements and less reputable products on the market.

However, when retailers develop their own standards that do not align with current manufacturing practices or that limit a company’s ability to work with a specific third-party lab, the result burdens manufacturers and fails to help consumers. Harmonizing standards will help to bring predictability across certifying bodies, demonstrate that responsible companies comply with the law and provide assurance to consumers that products on store shelves meet the strict expectations of regulators and retailers.

The Global Retail and Manufacturer Alliance and CVS also have standards. What roadblocks has that created for supplement brands?

MO: The Global Retail and Manufacturer Alliance (GRMA) has developed a scheme that incorporates the NSF/ANSI 455-2018 standard, Good Manufacturing Practices for Dietary Supplements. The purpose of this scheme is to provide retailers and others with a harmonized standard to review compliance with manufacturing regulations.  Using this scheme is not mandatory, but CRN supports and applauds this accreditation program, as it will allow third-party auditors in the dietary supplement field to become qualified to use a single set of standards when evaluating manufacturers for GMP compliance.

We believe this self-regulatory initiative will lead to more consistent outcomes and make it easier for manufacturers to demonstrate GMP compliance to retailers and consumers, as it has the potential to reduce the number of GMP audits a manufacturer must undergo. The CVS "Tested to be Trusted" program requires third-party testing of products for dietary ingredient amounts and contaminants by a specific lab. This presents a challenge for supplement brands because many manufacturers already work with third-party labs they have developed relationships with, or they use their own in-house lab. If a company is using a different third-party lab than the one CVS specifies, manufacturers will likely have to conduct duplicative testing.

What needs to happen to harmonize all these standards, and how big of a challenge will that be?

MO: CRN believes that it is critical to foster a dialogue between retailers and the supplement industry in order to harmonize standards. We are concerned that the standards today are developed in a patchwork manor without industry input, leading to duplicative and inconsistent testing. The redundancy then introduces major cost increases that will eventually be passed on to the consumer.

To encourage this collaboration, CRN recently hosted a members-only webinar focused on retail standards and certification programs. The event provided an overview of ongoing retail certification programs, updates from GRMA and firsthand experiences from industry executives related to retailer standard compliance. CRN invited retailers to join the webinar to hear the industry’s perspective and see the impact that patchwork standards can have on companies and consumers alike.

Additionally, CRN is creating an internal Retailer Standards Working Group, comprised of CRN members, to facilitate conversation with retailers about streamlined standards. We are also working closely with GRMA and participating in forums hosted by this organization that bring retailers, manufacturers and trade associations to the table to discuss harmonization.    

The primary concern of the supplement industry and retailers is the safety of consumers. CRN believes fostering a dialogue between both parties will help to harmonize retailer standards for testing dietary supplement products for quality and safety. While streamlining standards will not happen overnight, we know that retailers are open to discussion, and CRN is optimistic that the industry and retailers are moving in the right direction.

Vitamin D effects optimized with other key nutrients

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Vitamin D’s effects on bone health is well-known—the Institutes of Medicine’s (IOM) recommendation a decade ago that blood levels of vitamin D be above 20 ng/dl was made strictly for the vitamin’s benefit on preventing the deficiency disease, rickets.

Vitamin D deficiency causes rickets in children and will precipitate and exacerbate osteopenia, osteoporosis and bone fractures in adults.

But vitamin D deficiency has also been associated with increased risk of common cancers, diabetes, hypertension and immune dysfunction.

The IOM's vitamin D recommendation was for a daily intake of 600 IU/day for ages 1-70 years old and 800 IU/day for those older than 71, corresponding to a serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D level of at least 20 ng/ml. That, said the IOM, would meet the requirements of at least 97.5% of the population.

Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D. Chief among dietary sources are fatty fish, egg yolks and liver. One study noted that wild-caught salmon contained between 75% to 90% more vitamin D compared with farmed salmon. Another study found that farmed salmon vitamin D content ranged from 0.7-2.9 mcg—each 100 IU of vitamin D is 2.5 mcg, so a serving of farmed salmon gets you at most only 15% of the daily value for the minimum requirement of vitamin D. That same study found wild salmon ranged from 9.4-18.5 mcg, so about 400-800 IU, which is about the daily value. That’s a huge difference! You have to eat a veritable school of farmed salmon to equate to the vitamin D levels found in a single serving of a proper wild salmon.

Foods that are fortified with vitamin D (milk and cereal chief among them) are often inadequate to satisfy either a child's or an adult's vitamin D requirement.

Sunshine and supplementation

And that brings us to sunshine and supplementation.

On the sunshine front, researchers in Norway calculated that the equivalent of daily doses of 2,000 IU of vitamin D can be attained with 40 minutes per week of whole-body exposure. They simulated this in a sun-tanning booth. (Are they still a thing?) Under normal conditions, like a backyard or a beach or a trail, you’re probably not as exposed to the sunlight as in a tanning booth, so the time needed to approximate 40 minutes in the tanning booth will be more.

As for supplements, while vitamin D by itself is well and good, its activity is optimized with the presence of other nutrients.

Magnesium is needed to activate vitamin D. All of the enzymes that metabolize vitamin D also require magnesium, which acts as a cofactor in the enzymatic reactions in the liver and kidneys. The famous NHANES population study, a sample of 5,000 Americans, found that high intakes of magnesium correlated with reduced risk of vitamin D deficiency. Researchers also found that the link between low vitamin D blood levels and death by cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer were obviated by magnesium intake—especially if magnesium intake was higher than average. And taking high doses of vitamin D can deplete the body of magnesium, making their combination a good idea.

Vitamin K2. While no studies look at vitamin K status and vitamin D absorption, vitamin K2 is crucial for the beneficial action of vitamin D in the body. Both are fat-soluble vitamins and play a central role in calcium metabolism. Vitamin D promotes the production of vitamin K-dependent proteins, which require vitamin K for carboxylation in order to function properly. Moreover, increasing vitamin D intake increases calcium absorption, particularly when combined with calcium supplementation, and promotes hypercalcemia—too much calcium in the blood. Vitamin K2 can help with this issue because it helps the body place calcium appropriately—out of the arteries where you don’t want it and into bones where you do. “Based on the current research,” said Kate Maresz, Ph.D., who runs the International Science & Health Foundation based in Poland and vitaminK2.org, “there is enough evidence to recommend combined vitamin D3 and K2 supplementation for the prevention of bone fracture and as a support for cardiovascular health.”  

Sugar is bad. We all know this. But a provocative animal study found that excessive fructose consumption can inactivate blood levels of 25-hydroxy vitamin D to its inactive form. “This finding is highly significant,” concluded the researchers, “because fructose constitutes a substantial portion of the average diet of Americans already deficient in vitamin D.” When you see fructose, you should go immediately to high fructose corn syrup, which is used all too often in many foods containing caloric sweeteners, from drinks to flavored yogurts, cereals, jellies and more. (But maybe not in the products you wisely stock in your store.) “You may get enough sun and supplements,” counseled Roger Seheult, M.D., from the Loma Linda University School of Medicine at a recent webinar produced by the Organic and Natural Health Association, “but if you have high levels of fructose in your diet it will work against you on a molecular level.”

Fats are good. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, so it travels easily through cell membranes. Because it’s fat-soluble, fellow fats will help it along its way. In particular, phospholipids such as the brain-healthy fat supplement phosphatidylcholine (PC) can help solubilize vitamin D. Other research has found that vitamin D can be increased in the blood in the presence of monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds as well as beef.

Oddly enough, some research shows that the reverse is so with polyunsaturated fatty acids such as fish oil. The thinking is the vitamin D stays enrobed in the fatty micelle of the PUFAs, or the combination of D and the PUFAs increased the size of the micelle to the point where it was too large to penetrate the lining of the intestinal walls. Despite this, the researchers still noted that some fat is needed to promote vitamin D absorption. And other studies have been equivocal—some found vitamin D given either as a powder or in fish oil had no difference in vitamin D absorption, while another study found oil helped vitamin D absorption.

Aging. Older skin just has less ability to produce vitamin D. One study found that vitamin D production in the skin is reduced by two-fold capacity between ages 20 and 80. “You can’t change your age,” said James DiNicolantonio, PharmD, director of scientific affairs for ingredient supplier AIDP, “but you can change your vitamin D status.”

Obesity. Because vitamin D is fat-soluble, it gets stored in fat compartments. That makes it not used by the body. That means obese people don’t get to use all the vitamin D they might be producing or consuming. This was demonstrated in a study using both sun to have the body produce vitamin D as well as supplemental intake. The results were the same for both groups—lean people had higher vitamin D levels compared to the obese. That means recommending to overweight customers that they should take more vitamin D, along with the above recommendations.

 

[email protected]: Retailers, foodservice companies band together against GMO salmon | Biden announces deal for 200M more COVID-19 vaccines

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America’s biggest retailers and foodservice companies have already agreed not to sell GMO salmon

Eighty-five U.S. grocery chains, seafood companies, restaurants and foodservice companies have pledged not to sell AquAdvantage's genetically modified salmon, a product that is still in something of a legal limbo. The bioengineered fish was created in 1989 and approved by the FDA for human consumption in 2015, but the so-called "Frankenfish" faces adamant opposition from environmental and health activists alike. Consumer studies also indicate shoppers are less likely to buy GMO products of animal origin than plant-based GMO products. Learn more at The Counter.

Biden announces deal for 200M more COVID-19 vaccines

President Biden has finalized deals to buy 200 million more COVID-19 vaccine doses from Pfizer and Moderna by the end of July, meaning the majority of Americans will have the opportunity to be inoculated by midsummer. Pfizer and Moderna have also agreed to expedite the delivery of 100 million doses each by a month, moving them up to May instead of June. NPR reports.

Court upholds discipline of workers wearing Black Lives Matter masks

A district court in Massachusetts dismissed many of the claims made by Whole Foods Market workers who were disciplined for wearing Black Lives Matter masks; the court did, however, let one retaliation claim proceed. The plaintiffs' attorney, Shannon Liss-Riordan, said following the decision, "The court adopted a very narrow frame for analyzing race discrimination, which goes against the tide of case law recognizing the critical importance of eradicating race discrimination from worksites across our country." Get the scoop at SHRM

PCC Community Markets reaches hazard pay accord with UFCW Local 21

PCC Community Markets and United Food and Commercial (UFCW) Local 21 have agreed on a temporary $4 per hour wage hike that provides COVID-19 hazard pay. The $4 hourly wage increase is slated to remain in effect until Washington state lifts its pandemic emergency order or June 5, whichever comes first. PCC noted that it also has achieved priority access to COVID-19 vaccines for workers via collaboration with trade associations and other grocers. Supermarket News dives into the details.

What your pandemic coffee habit is doing to your body

Monotony in lockdown has caused many consumers to double down on their caffeine addictions. The burnout resulting from working, cleaning the house, taking care of family and cooking is taking a very real toll, and relying on a few extra cups of coffee to get by isn't that big of a deal. Or is it? With rates of anxiety, depression and sleeplessness skyrocketing, mental health experts say the beloved substance is actually doing more harm than good. Head to Vice for more reasons to give up the psychoactive substance.

Monitor: Natural products consumers identify with multiple diet tribes

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Natural Products Industry Health Monitor, Jan. 15, 2020
 
A global lockdown might make weeks feel like months and months weigh like centuries, but business allows little room for ennui. As distracting as the daily inundation of the negative can be, the time to look forward is always now. In this feature, Informa Health and Nutrition sister properties provide that right-now-right-here update. Look for the Industry Health Monitor every other Friday to learn the major news that is affecting the natural products market immediately and the less obvious insights that could dictate where the market may struggle or thrive in the months to come.
 

Consider this: Many diets to choose from means many consumers choose many diets

The road to hell may be paved with good intentions, but the road to weight loss seems to be paved with many intentions. A large number of shoppers in both the natural and conventional grocery channels claim some allegiance to an astonishing number of diets, according to a new survey from New Hope Network conducted Feb. 8, 2021, on a convenience sample of 1,000 consumers directionally representative of the U.S. adult population.

This suggests that few consumers adhere to a single lifestyle strategy when it comes to healthy eating and weight loss. And during a pandemic that caused sales of Peloton bikes to skyrocket and countless laments of “the COVID 10,” a significant number of respondents indicated they are doing more to follow those diets more faithfully than they did a year ago.

But what should be most important to the natural products industry is that shoppers in the natural channel were far more likely to say they are more interested and intentional, no matter what the diet. For every single diet mentioned in the survey (a total of 20 diets with the top 10 reflected in the charts), the number of consumers identified as natural-channel shoppers outweighed conventional-channel shoppers by a large percentage. The largest percentage in both groups may have chosen “high protein” as a diet they identified with, but the number of natural-channel shoppers claiming adherence was 44%, compared to 27% of conventional-channel shoppers.

For several diets the difference was dramatic. With regard to “flexitarian,” 43% of natural-channel shoppers indicated it was a diet habit they identify with, compared to 13% for conventional-channel shoppers. And for "whole food," the numbers were 41% for natural-channel shoppers to 14% for conventional-channel shoppers.

That natural-channel shoppers would be more intentional in their food choices should surprise no one. What may be most actionable for brands and retailers in the natural space is the large number of consumers who claim allegiance to multiple diets. That openness to identify with multiple diets could provide multiple entry points for consumer engagement. These consumers, who are both more interested and more likely to identify with multiple diets, appear less likely to stay put in a particular culinary camp. They may also be more willing to listen to multiple messages from multiple sources of influence.

But brands in the natural space also need to look at the survey results through a sobering lens. At Natural Products Expo and other industry events it is not uncommon to hear proclamations that “we are the mainstream,” as if the principles of the natural products movement have been adopted across all consumer segments.

This survey, and how far behind natural-channel shoppers the conventional shoppers lag in so many of the diet options, suggests there is a lot of work left to do. This survey tells us that the conventional shoppers and the natural shoppers still occupy very different mindsets when it comes to food. Three times as many natural shoppers identify with “vegetarian.” Just 3% of conventional shoppers identify with “locavore,” while eight times as many natural-channel shoppers make that claim.

But for both natural and conventional brands and retailers, at least one change in habits revealed in the survey deserves attention. Among natural-channel shoppers, 41% said they were eating less sugar. While the number for conventional shoppers was lower, 21%, that was the second highest percentage for that cohort. The biggest area of change for conventional shoppers was "high protein" with 23% claiming they were are doing more to stick that idea.

Every consumer walks into the grocery store with ideas about what they should be eating. That the natural shopper is more likely to be interested and intentional means there is more value in more marketing to match more diets. But in the conventional space, there are still significant points of interest around diet that echo principles of health and production that are inherent to the natural product industry.

It may be those points of interest that nudge the conventional-channel consumer closer to the habits and values of the natural-channel consumer.

It may be diet and weight loss that finally moves “we are the mainstream” closer to reality.

Know this: Interest in better-for-you products remains steady for consumers and investors

Consumer behavior indexes measure dramatic shifts in consumer behaviors as we march through COVID that is compared to a 2017 “normal” benchmark before COVID-19 emerged. These indexes are assessed through monthly surveys of how consumers perceive their shopping behaviors.

The natural products industry investment index measures dramatic shifts in investment activity as we march through COVID-19 that is compared to a 2019 “normal” benchmark before COVID-19 emerged. Nutrition Capital Network monitors monthly financial activity in the natural products industry.

Enjoy this: Put willpower on the shopping listand underline it

The grocery store presents a greater abundance of choice than humans have ever known. Don't blame yourself, just wear blinders. 

willpower aisle meme

[email protected]: Small Business Administration to speed up loan process | Allergen-free foods a growing opportunity

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Small business rescue slowed by fight against fraud, drawing protests

While Congress authorized emergency payroll support loans for small businesses in December, antifraud measures enacted by the Small Business Administration have caused significant delays in pushing them out. As a result, the House Small Business Committee recently proposed $1 billion in new administrative funding for SBA's administrative costs to improve the internal systems that result in postponed financial relief for small businesses. The Paycheck Protection Program has proven to be a beast for the SBA to manage over the past year (it has issued over $100 billion in loans so far); the organization has garnered criticism for granting large, publicly traded companies loans designated for struggling small businesses, as well as for its opaque decision-making process. Politico reports.

Allergen-free foods an opportunity for the food industry

Roughly 85 million American consumers avoid buying products that contain at least one of the nine major food allergens. That's a full quarter of the U.S. population! And some experts note that the nine major allergens are just the tip of the iceberg—there are more than 160 foods that have been shown to cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Research group Future Market Insights predicts a 9% compound annual growth rate between 2020 and 2030, while ResearchAndMarkets argues the market for testing of food allergens was expected to grow 6.8% between 2020 and 2025. Dive into the data at The Food Institute.

How will Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s antitrust bill affect agriculture?

Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota's new omnibus antitrust bill aims to get the ball rolling with regard to helping farmers regain control over their livelihood. It would do this by increasing the budgets for antitrust enforcement departments and updating an older antitrust act to put the burden on companies to prove that their proposed merger would not harm the market. Modern Farmer has the scoop. 

After racial reckoning, Aunt Jemima rebrands as 'Pearl Milling Company'

Aunt Jemima will heretofore be known as Pearl Milling Company, following an announcement made last June that the company would be doing away with the logo and 130-year-old name because of its racist roots. The repackaged pancake mixes and syrups will reach store shelves in June 2021. The Quaker Oats-owned brand also pledged $1 million to “empower and uplift Black girls and women” through grants to nonprofit organizations. Read more at Eater.

Uber losses narrow as delivery growth outpaces fall in ride-sharing

Uber's growing food delivery business is helping offset its massive pandemic-driven losses. This week executives revealed mixed fourth quarter earnings and Uber's stock fell more than 3% after the bell on Wednesday. Uber's net losses amounted to $6.77 billion in 2020, a 20% improvement from an $8.51 billion loss in 2019. Get the lowdown at CNBC.

What Natural Products Expo West and Expo East will look like in 2021

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For the past 40 years, Natural Products Expo West has gathered the natural and organic products industry each March in Anaheim to capture and propel the incredible innovation, connections and inspiration that exist within our community. We all felt the impact of not being able to gather in person in 2020, and Informa Markets’ New Hope Network was hopeful that postponing Expo West 2021 to the end of May would result in us being able to confidently convene this important community event this spring. Unfortunately, we have now reached the incredibly difficult decision to cancel the in-person Expo West event this spring, instead focusing our efforts on an enhanced Expo East event in September which will serve as the platform for our community to connect in person in 2021.

The decision to refocus our efforts on the fall event was reached through careful consideration of current government restrictions, anticipated timelines around reopening in California and industry feedback. We recognize the tremendous efforts and investments that go into participating in our events, and we know prolonging this decision would have prevented our community from making informed choices on time, budget and resource allocations later in 2021 and beyond. 

While we are unable to meet in person this May, all of us at New Hope Network are committed to continue serving and uniting this industry by connecting buyers and brands and providing new environments for product discovery, networking and education.  As we look ahead to brighter days in 2021, we are excited to announce an enhanced Natural Products Expo East to serve both Expo East and Expo West customers this fall in Philadelphia (Sept. 22-25), as well as the official launch of Natural Products Expo West Virtual Week (May 24-27). We will also be convening the industry for our year-round Spark Change virtual events and are exploring other ways we can meet our community’s changing needs through small, targeted in-person events and more.

An expanded Natural Products Expo East in Philadelphia

We are enthusiastically preparing for the next time our entire industry will gather in person at Expo East in September. Philadelphia has much to offer the natural and organic products community, notably a beautiful convention center that can accommodate our expanded presence as we bring “West to East” and migrate many of the events, brands and features we’ve historically hosted in Anaheim.

Along with connecting buyers and sellers in more curated ways, Expo East will bring to life our standards-driven approach to CPG sourcing and strengthen our industry’s efforts to grow organic and regenerative agriculture, engage in climate action and foster justice, equity, diversity and inclusion. Additionally, Expo East will again be co-located with Biofach America, and we look forward to continuing our longstanding partnership with the Biofach team to further the support the worldwide organic movement.

Plus, Philadelphia will give our community an easy-to-navigate city environment that caters to foodies of all types, history buffs and people who want to take advantage of Pennsylvania’s rich organic agriculture scene.

Natural Products Expo West Virtual Week

Originally designed to complement the Anaheim experience with digital programming access, Expo West Virtual Week will now expand to feature virtual booths, a comprehensive sampling program, networking opportunities, curated retailer/buyer programs and conference programming focused on product innovations and trends. If you are a buyer of natural and organic products, Expo West Virtual Week is being designed to better meet your needs, whether you’re an independent natural retailer, a large chain prioritizing natural or a buyer wanting to break into this increasingly important CPG segment. 

Next steps for Natural Products Expo West exhibitors

For our partners who were scheduled to exhibit or sponsor at Expo West 2021, we hope you will join us at the Expo East+ event this fall and our New Hope Network sales account managers will work with each of you to determine next steps. In the coming days exhibitors will also receive a meeting invite to schedule time with our account managers to review Expo West 2022 exhibit space options, address questions or concerns and receive more information on Expo West Virtual Week and our Expo East 2021 expansion plans. In the meantime please click here if you need to connect with your account manager immediately. Our FAQ page provides additional information.

Above all, we want to express our sincerest appreciation for your support and understanding as we adapt our 2021 offerings to continue to meet your specific business needs. We are here to serve you and strengthen the value and positive impact our community can create together, and we look forward to seeing you at Expo East Philadelphia in September and at Expo West Virtual Week in May. Stay safe and be well.