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Articles from 2018 In May


In Session

Not just soil: Embracing regenerative qualities in leadership

Sheldon Romer, founder of Rudi’s Organic Bakery, and Susan Skjei, director of the Authentic Leadership Center at Naropa University, discuss what it means to be a regenerative leader — why it's important, what it can look like, and how to get started on a more regenerative path.

"How do we build these environments for others that not only bring out our authenticity, but bring out others' authenticity? And guess what—we're all different, and what do we do with that? Well we're seeing what we do with that in society when we don't have skills or when we don't choose to bring out the best in one another."

Susan Skjei, Naropa University

Part 1: Why regenerative leadership matters

  • The regenerative movement has mainly focused on farming and working with the soil, and has more recently spread into how we do business. What we’re beginning to see is there are bigger questions here, and if we only focus on the externals, we’re missing a big piece of the puzzle.
  • Sometimes it’s important to slow down to speed up.
  • When we’re feeling uncertain, it’s often good to overcommunicate. When you don’t know what’s happening, typically we go to the worst spot; where there’s no information, we go right down the rabbit hole. When there are too many things happening, connect and seek support—first connect with yourself, then with others.
  • Rodale emphasizes regenerative management itself. J.I. Rodale believed that how we work with the soil, and how we work with ourselves as leaders, and how we work with organizations is all the same metaphor. Regeneration is an inside-out process.
  • We’re out of touch with our own bodies and out of touch with our earth body, so we don’t respect it.

 

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Part 2: Respond, don’t react

  • It’s not the circumstances you’re confronted with that matter, it’s how you respond. We need to train our brains to respond rather than react.
  • Important to be open to new things all the time; coming across as thinking you know how things are supposed to be done shuts down other people’s creativity.
  • We start by focusing on who we are.

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Part 3: Starting points

  • What nourishes you? What are your most vital sources of energy? What is holding you back?
  • When we try to accommodate other people, sometimes we hold ourselves back.
  • Leading with questions can encourage more engagement and creativity.
  • Model a positive emotional tone. We all have tough days, but as a leader, one of our main responsibilities is to create the culture—we are constantly modeling and being observed, on all kinds of levels. Self-awareness is critical; without it, we project our own issues onto the culture.
  • Prioritize your integrity; do the right thing all the time, because we are challenged constantly about our values.
  • It can be challenging to listen to and welcome everyone's viewpoints, but it's crucial. We must encourage our own authenticity, and the authenticity of everyone else as well, even if we don't agree with them. We're seeing in society what happens if we don't have those skills and don't choose to bring out the best in each other.


This session—Authentic Regenerative Leadership to Grow Your Business, Team & Community—was recorded at Natural Products Expo West 2018. Click "download" below to access the presentation slides.

In Session

How to grow your business into a 'small giant'

Expo West 18 InSession

“When a business has mojo, you want to work for that business; you want to buy from it; you want to sell to it; you want to wear its T-shirts and caps.”

—Bo Burlingham, author

Part 1: Small giants know what kind of company they want to build

Highlights:

  • A big company is not necessarily a great company.
  • Leaders of great companies have their own definitions of success, including being unique.

 

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Part 2: What makes companies great?

Highlights:

  • Peer companies recognize their excellence in the field.
  • They contribute to and are influenced by their communities.
  • They don’t grow so big that employees don’t know one another.

 

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Part 3: Leaders of great companies have a vision

Highlights:

  • Their founders know who they are and what they want.
  • Clif Bar’s Gary Erickson passed on selling his company because it didn’t feel right.

 

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Part 4: Building great relationships is key to growing a great company

Highlights:

  • By choice, small giants grow where they are planted.
  • Employees come first, because they directly influence the customers’ experiences.

 

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Part 5: Keep one eye on the bottom line, but maintain your passion for work

Highlights:

  • Even great companies must adapt to change or lose business.
  • Success comes down to leadership and relationships.

 

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Part 6: Audience members seek day-to-day advice

Highlights:

  • Make the customer feel as though you care about them personally.
  • Study other companies and learn from them.

 

This session—Small giants: Understanding What It Takes to Grow a Great Company—was recorded at Natural Products Expo West 2018.

In Session

These 4 experts will make you a carbon farming believer

Carbon Farming

“I believe that we are on the cusp on the next revolution in agriculture. It is a revolution from agriculture being a net source to a net sink of greenhouse gas emissions. And it’s also a revolution from being an input intensive system to a knowledge intensive system.”

—Britt Lundgren, Stonyfield

Part 1: The next revolution

Highlights:

  • Katherine DiMatteo, STFA, introduces the panelists.
  • Britt Lundgren, Stonyfield, explains how agriculture can shift from being a climate change contributor, to being part of the solution.
  • The benefit of full-scale Life Cycle Analysis (LCA).
  • Stonyfield is supporting Farm OS, an open source, decision support platform to help farmers get the tools they need to build soil health and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Grounding principles to think about when starting to tackle climate change issues in your business.

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Part 2: Carbon farming practices

Highlights from Albert Straus, Straus Family Creamery:

  • Straus addresses how his company is creating a sustainability model for other organic farms to be able to use and implement.
  • Straus explains some of the company's carbon farming practices such as composting, hedge rows, windbreaks and electric trucks powered by waste.  
  • How carbon farming practices can help farmers economically.
  • Helping more farms use carbon farming practices by creating financial incentives.

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Part 3: Climate impact in a larger supply chain

Highlights from Gero Leson, Dr. Bronner’s:

  • Leson talks about how to get suppliers to support carbon farming practices.
  • How Dr. Bronner’s integrated organic smallholder farmers into the supply chain before there were fair trade standards in place.
  • Focus on soil productivity through implementing composting, mulching, soil coverage and better farm management will significantly increase yields.
  • The importance of focusing on regenerative agriculture for tree and field crops.
  • If you want to change the behavior of smallholder farmers in the tropics, you need to speak to the economic advantages and the reduction of toxic chemical exposure.

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Part 4: The value of data

Highlights from Daniella Malin, Sustainable Food Lab:

  • Malin speaks to the value of data and how seeing the numbers is a key way to inspire and motivate others to choose a sustainable agroforestry model.
  • The happy correlation between sequestering carbon in the atmosphere and helping farmers financially.
  • The farmers know how to build good soil; they just don’t know how to get paid doing it.
  • Unilever, a major player in agriculture, created the Cool Farm Alliance to give suppliers free tools to implement changes and achieve significant reductions in greenhouse gases.
  • A quick look at the Cool Farm Tool (CFT).

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Part 5: Using tools to quantify impact

Highlights from Keith Paustian, Colorado State University:

  • Paustian discusses how agriculture has significant challenges in measuring carbon impact.
  • An overview of the COMET-Farm Tool and how it works to provide farm-scale greenhouse gas quantification.
  • COMET-Farm workflow is easy to use and specifically designed for non-experts such as farmers and ranchers.
  • Current applications of COMET-Farm Tool for USDA, conservation programs and private businesses to look at sustainability metrics for their agricultural products.

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Part 6: Motivation and connection

Highlights:

  • Panelists discuss what motivates farmers to participate in carbon farming practices.
  • Ninety-five percent of farmers transition to organic farming because of financial needs.
  • The premium price gets farmers interested, but they also want to be apart of community building, increasing yields and eliminating toxicity.
  • How companies can start evaluating their greenhouse gas emissions in order to have a positive impact.
  • Two important questions for companies to consider when starting out: 1. Where are my relationships with farmers the strongest, and, 2. what do I know already about where my largest impacts are?
  • How can the tools help companies that have no connection with their suppliers and farmers?
  • Why companies need to forge relationships with their suppliers if they want to have a positive impact on climate change.

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Part 7: Audience Q&A

Highlights:

  • How do younger farmers who want to use sustainable practices get access to farmland and be able to afford land?
  • The issue of succession and how to get young farmers interested in taking on this work and working their family’s land.
  • Why aren’t there more economic incentives for smallholder farmers to switch to carbon farming methods?
  • The failure of policy to support taking carbon out of the atmosphere. There is also a distrust in carbon sequestration and if it is a viable investment for investors.
  • The anonymity of carbon markets and how giving individuals and companies more knowledge  and connection to the impact they are having could give additional incentive.
  • What are the bottlenecks for farmers to overcome financial barriers to transition to carbon farming methods?
  • Specific organizations and trusts that are helping inset upfront expenses for farmers.

 

This session—Climate Day, Digging into Carbon Farming—was recorded at Natural Products Expo West 2018.

NBJ

Sales and growth across the supplement supply chain [infographic]

humonia/iStock/Getty Images Plus supplement raw materials

Raw material sales in 2017 grew at a faster rate than finished goods. If you're producing a raw ingredient or component used in the supplement market, it's important to understand the characters and components in the space. With the 2018 Raw Materials Report, that becomes possible.

Download some charts from the report below, and get the full report to position your company for growth within the supplement supply chain. 

 Download the top charts from the 2018 Raw Materials Report:

 

Omnichannel means being where the customer is

Jeff Hilton BrandHive

“Omnichannel” has become the most important word in marketing, and the art is evolving quickly as brands seek out new ways to connect with customers who may be in multiple channels on multiple devices, or in multiple stores shopping for the same product on the same day.

BrandHive co-founder Jeff Hilton has been working in branding and marketing in the natural channel for decades. He’s watched the omnichannel era develop and he says he’s still surprised at how fast it's changing.  

What common themes did you notice in the marketing strategies for brands pitching at the Nutrition Capital Network this year?

Jeff Hilton: There were a couple common themes. The first one was the growing importance of digital—having digital assets, putting in place things like video and other accessible assets that can help educate. I think the need for education came through as a common theme. I think the idea of having a strong website, having a good sound web presence came through, and then personalization. Of all the presentations, half of them had personalization components as part of it, meaning something that the consumer could do to engage and provide a more personalized outcome. I thought that was fascinating, too.

That personalization is built into the marketing now?

JH: Yes. It’s really got to be part of the offering. I mean it's kind of front and center. I was at a conference in Tucson and everybody's talking about how to make their offerings more custom or allow the consumer to get engaged and make it more custom—what the inputs look like, what the outputs are expected to look like. It's just kind of the buzz. I don't think anybody's figured that out yet, but it's certainly something that everyone's talking about.

What do you tell new brands now about choreographing their approach between e-commerce and brick and mortar?

JH: You have brands that will say, 'We're in multi-channels,' and I've pointed out to them that multi-channel is not omnichannel. There are lots of players who have retail and now have e-commerce. The new part of it is making sure that all of those multi-contacts are working together and cross-merchandising to one another. So, you have your social activity, which is all fun and good, but your social media's got to relate back to all of your other points of contact. You want to get people back to the website to learn more; you want to get people back to where to buy the product. So it's taking all these outposts, if you will, and making sure that they are connected and that there is a common link between all of those so [the consumer] can not have to work too hard to get a comprehensive picture of the brand.

What can legacy brands learn from what the newer brands are doing?

JH: They can learn to act faster. They can obviously be more nimble and respond to the market quicker. I think they need to be in touch with their consumer on a fairly regular basis. And I think a lot of those brands need to forget what they know and relearn what's happening in marketing today, which is, everything is digital first. It's just happening rapidly, so I think some of it is just forgetting the old ways and learning new ways.

In our research, many brands have said they are seeing brick and mortar as far less important than e-commerce. But consumers are saying they expect to spend more money in brick and mortar. What do you make of that?

JH: I think that consumers want to have options. I mean, that's part of the whole omnichannel strategy is you’ve got to be where the customer is. So I think you've got to have that presence in both. I think brick and mortar and e-commerce mostly are building bridges. I mean, it's gone both ways. You look at Amazon and they are opening up these independent places where you can pick up stuff physically in a brick and mortar format. Obviously the Nordstroms and other kinds of retail outlets are ramping up their online presence because of decreased store traffic. What I don't see is a fading out of brick and mortar. The way I see it is bridge building between those two.

What do you expect to happen to brick and mortar natural retail in the next five years, as opposed to mass?

JH: One thing brick and mortar natural retail is able to do is personalize the experience for the consumer. That's something the natural channel does better than anybody—certainly better than mass market. Part of what consumers are looking for today is a more fulfilling customer experience, and natural channel retail stores are well equipped to provide more of that experience. But I do think they need to straddle the fence more. I think that the natural retailer of the future is going to be much more active digitally and much more active online. Their e-commerce version of their store is going to represent more and more of their business. You’ve got to cater to both of those audiences. Some people will want to come in and look around the store, and then go home and get on your website— hopefully your website and not Amazon—and order after they do their research.

How is digital-first changing packaging?

JH: There are all kinds of implications. Your package is obviously where you make contact, but I think packaging's role has evolved. You’ve got to work harder. You’ve got to be more integrated with the broader marketing mix, and I think it's got to engage more with the consumer. It's got to have that “pick me up, turn me around,” sort of appeal to a consumer. That gets them involved makes them want to engage in the brand in some way. It really becomes important that packaging is not overloading the consumer, but kind of playing its role. Not everything has to be on the package. Part of the package is to get people to turn it around, take a look, and then give them places they can go to engage with the brand. So, like your website or Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, wherever it might be. Packaging doesn't have to do it all. So, the good news is that digital can help extend the packaging and allow you to focus more on the key features and benefits, instead of trying to stuff it all on the principal display panel, which is the corporate way.

With all these changes, what still surprises you?

JH: What still surprises me is how quick it's happening. We watched this evolve for the last decade plus, but it's exponential now. The other thing that surprises me is how quickly social influence or marketing has become part of the lexicon and has become not just nice to have, but a must have. There's better metrics now. We provide extensive reporting on our social activities that we do for clients.

NBJ Sales Channel ReportThis story reflects data from the Nutrition Business Journal Sales Channel Report, which is designed to bring executives up to speed on the ever-evolving dynamics of the natural products industry and provide data to support an omnichannel strategy. Learn more here.

[email protected]: Bayer-Monsanto merger clears regulatory hurdle | In SF, soda tax funds health programs

fotokostic/iStock/Getty Images Plus farmer spraying pesticides on field

Bayer wins U.S. approval for Monsanto after two-year quest

Federal regulators have given the green light to Bayer’s $66 billion takeover of Monsanto, which will create the world’s biggest seed and agrochemical company. During a two-year review process, the Justice Department expressed concerns that the merger would harm consumers and farmers; Bayer agreed to divest $9 billion worth of its seed and chemical businesses to BASF to quell those concerns. The deal has received antitrust approval from most jurisdictions, and Bayer expects to get them from Canada and Mexico in the coming days. Some farmers still worry that the deal will create higher prices and fewer choices, as just a small handful of companies now dominate the global agriculture industry. Read more at Bloomberg…

 

Soda tax revenue to provide $10 million annually for health, food programs

In 2016, voters in San Francisco approved a one-cent-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks. Now the city has announced that it will take $10 million of the money collected from that tax to address health disparities for low-income residents through health education, exercise and food access programs. About $4.5 million will become grants for organizations that focus on preventive health measures among low-income communities; $2.5 million will go to the city’s schools to improve oral care services and install water stations; and some will also go to support healthy eating vouchers to be administered by community organizations. Read more at SF Gate…

 

It pays to be premium

Dollar sales growth of retailer-branded products are outpacing that of manufacturer branded products three times over, according to Nielsen data, and premium products are winning more than discount-oriented products. Read more at Nielsen…

 

Sugar beet farmers caught in GMO debate, wait for USDA labeling decision

There will be winners and losers when the USDA finalizes and implements mandatory GMO labeling rules, and one of the losers just might be sugar beet farmers. More than half of all sugar produced in the U.S. is from beets, and 95 percent of those have been grown from seeds that were genetically modified to enable farmers to grow more beets on less land with less water. Some big companies have already transitioned to cane sugar to meet consumer demand for non-GMO products, and others likely will if products made with sugar from GMO sugar beets require labeling. Read more at KCUR…

 

Nestle Toll House unveils allergen-free chocolate chips made with only 3 ingredients

The new three-ingredient chocolate chips—with cocoa butter, pure cane sugar and chocolate—are certified organic and free of the top eight allergens. Read more at USA Today… 

Foodservice in retail adapts to consumer demands

Mariano's foodservice advice Mariano's

Americans eat all day long—grabbing snacks on the go, having food delivered to their homes and workplaces, responding to changing technology and the increased availability of fast, customizable meals with increasing fickleness and growing demand for speed. No wonder foodservice in retail is growing faster than both retail and foodservice.

In a discussion during the NRA Show with Gary Zickel, manager of foodservice operations at Mariano’s, supermarket expert Phil Lempert said foodservice in retail was currently growing at around 12 percent to 13 percent annually. But to run those operations successfully, you can’t just promote your deli manager or augment that roast chicken you already offer with macaroni and cheese.

While grocers understand center-store dynamics, they don’t necessarily understand how to work with perishable items, and if they do, that knowledge usually stops with produce or maybe the deli, Zickel said.

“They’re terrified” to try anything else, he said, adding that to offer proper foodservice at retail, you need to have buy-in at higher levels, getting the supermarket director, co-director and management teams to embrace it. On top of that, you have to hire actual cooks, who “have a passion for food.”

“You can’t expect logistics or receiving people to execute well in the kitchen,” Zickel said.

The payoff makes it worth the effort, however, he said, noting that at Mariano’s, a higher percentage of customers get containers from the hot bar than anything else besides pharmacy products.

“It’s a draw. It will bring people into the store,” Zickel said.

But the dynamics of foodservice in retail continue to change. Mariano’s is phasing out its oyster bars, introduced a couple of years ago, because it can’t find qualified staff.

“You can’t train them in 15 minutes,” Zickel said. “You have to shuck a lot of oysters to get it right.”

He also said he’s rethinking customizable sandwiches: made-to-order sandwich sales are slowing in favor of grab-and-go ones because they’re faster.

However, just having someone available to make sandwiches on request adds to the perceived value of the grab-and-go items—giving customers the sense that those ready-made items were made recently and are therefore fresher. For that reason, he keeps the made-to-order and grab-and-go sandwiches in the same location in each store, so shoppers will associate the two.

Even made-to-order items have to be designed to be executed quickly.

“We want to speed everything up for the customer,” Zickel said.

Consistency is also important, so sauces are manufactured for them, and Zickel makes sure that store directors and co-directors also know what each item is supposed to look like and taste like. With current high turnover rates, “trying to get everyone trained across all stores is nearly impossible,” he said.

Another key to successful foodservice in retail is to hand out samples of the prepared foods.

“If we give it to them, they will try it,” Zickel said. “And 80 percent of the time, they’re going to go in and they’re going to buy it.”

This piece originally appeared on Restaurant Hospitality, a New Hope Network sister website. Visit the site for more restaurant trends insights.

IdeaXchange

The problem with food tribes

Jenna Blumenfeld senior food editor New Hope Network

The natural products industry is built upon the premise of improving the health of people and planet. This shared goal is what drives manufacturers, suppliers, retailers and consumers to make choices not solely dependent on economics, but also for the good of farm workers and soil; animals and atmosphere. But much like our current political strife in the United States, our industry is not protected from internal ideological divisions.

Put simply, our industry fights. A lot. We fight about certification labels. We fight about the definition of “natural” and whether a product should be considered a food or a supplement. We fight about the particularities of pea protein processing. To be fair, many of these fights are worth having for the good of our common objective—they’re battles that elevate our mission.

But one fight I’m tired of? The continued conflict between—and even inside—food tribes.

Described by New Hope Network as a “zealous group of people linked by a set of values that shape their food and lifestyle choices,” members of food tribes commune over what they eat and how they live. For example, generally, passionate members of the paleo food tribe eschew grains, dairy, legumes and refined sugars—and they value exercise. Generally, vegans do not eat honey, eggs, dairy, meat, seafood or poultry—and they value sustainability, animal welfare and health.

Let me first underscore that food tribes have many positive attributes. Perhaps most important, they foster community. In 1825, author Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin famously wrote in The Physiology of Taste: Or Meditations on Transcendental Gastronomy, “Tell me what you eat and I shall tell you what you are.” As far as food tribes are concerned, what you put on your plate indicates your values, hopes and goals. Identity is intrinsically wrapped up with any tribe. Connecting over something as personal as food choices is a fast way to knit solid community ties over the kitchen table or over the internet.

Food tribes also serve as inspiration to those who seek improved health but don’t exactly know how or where to obtain it. For some, a stringent set of rules and eating regulations backed up by thousands of testimonials are helpful to break bad eating habits. Plus, the amount of paleo, vegan and Whole30-friendly recipes that have made the rounds on social media (hello, zoodles! hello, cauliflower rice! hello, cloud bread!) are useful and fun for everyone to try. Such recipes also serve as inspiration for food manufacturers seeking to craft innovative new products with a proven demographic base.

But my proverbial beef with food tribes stems from their dogmatic approach to eating, which often alienates those who stray even slightly from the rules. Regardless of what the science suggests about a certain diet, such rigorous eating patterns can lead to what I think is needless infighting that harms the natural industry’s shared goal.

Recently, my sentiment was illuminated by an article published in The Atlantic, which chronicled how dedicated vegan YouTubers and other social media stars face backlash if their recipes don’t adhere to strict vegan standards. “These content creators are regularly held to a standard of perfection when it comes to their diets. Being a ‘perfect vegan’ does not just mean only eating non-animal foods,” reports Atlantic author Jordan Bissell. “There are so many opinions about the right way to be vegan that anyone who posts meals online almost inevitably receives some amount of backlash.”

The biggest problem here is that such nitpicking encumbers the vegan agenda—which is presumably to get more people to go vegan—because it frightens consumers who would like to eat more plants but don't necessarily want to remove all animal foods from their diet. Uncompromising food doctrine does little to improve the inclusivity of food tribes.

An anecdote. My friend—let's call him “Mike”—refers to himself as vegan because he eats plants most of the time. But when he goes out to a restaurant for dinner, his rules are more relaxed. He may order a burger. To many, this seems like cheating. I can tell this tactic confuses, and sometimes angers, other vegans. This is unfounded because if Mike eats vegan most of the time, significantly fewer animals, and all of the climate change challenges that come with animal husbandry, end up on his plate. Shouldn’t eating “more vegan” be praised instead of repudiated? It seems like the vegan label is more important than the dozens of benefits associated with eating plants.

Industry is taking note of this issue. In an effort to make products more inclusive to more consumers, food brands are using the term “plant-based” over “vegan” on their product packaging. “Plant-based” is less intimidating, and carries none of the extremist suggestions outlined by The Atlantic. Michele Simon, executive director of the Plant Based Foods Association, was adamant that her organization have “plant based” instead of “vegan” in its name. Simon is an opponent of food tribes and believes they hinder Americans from choosing any vegan options. “At PBFA we don’t use words like ‘food tribe’ or ‘vegan’ because those terms imply that one must join an exclusive club,” says Simon. “‘Food tribe’ also implies there is one definable set of people who eat a certain way. For both PBFA’s membership and our broader audience, it’s important that people feel welcomed to plant-based eating. Most people don’t want to be in a tribe—they just want to eat healthier.”

It's my personal hope that the grip food tribes have on natural starts to relax, and that they be replaced by a more holistic approach to nutrition—an approach often championed by registered dietitians (and Michael Pollan) because it’s sustainable and simple. Eat more whole foods. Eat in moderation. Eat lots of plants. I’ll add the suggestion to eat ice cream every now and then, too. Coconut milk-based ice cream counts. 

Food tribes certainly have a place. Being a devoted vegetarian for 12 years, I’m a part of one. It’s these cultural institutions that help push the natural industry forward and galvanize manufacturers to create delicious, important products like Daiya’s excellent dairy-free salad dressings, Beyond Meat’s spot-on Beyond Burger and Sweet Earth’s convincing Seitan Bacon—products that appeal especially to meat-loving consumers.

But as an industry, we should be mindful to how our messaging and actions estrange members of the population we want to include in the good food movement. Let’s end food shaming and fear-mongering. Let's end pedantic adherence to eating rules. Inclusivity is the key to propelling our mission forward.

IdeaXchange

Lab confusication

Elan Sudberg editorial

Lately, most of the news about analytical labs in our industry is regarding lab consolidation. Described as “aggressive aggregators of smaller analytical labs,” the Big Labs have been slowly consuming all the independent Little Labs, which I don’t believe should go unremarked or unexamined.

True story: a few years ago when a Big Lab (futilely) courting Alkemist Labs was itself consumed by an Even Bigger Lab, its "sweet courtship song" changed tune considerably. It went from, “Hey buddy, let's just meet regularly for a casual lunch and continue to talk about the grand vision of what our combined centers of excellence can create,” to, “We [Insert Name of Bigger Lab] are on a rampage to acquire all the Little Labs in this industry and I am here to now say that if you don’t sell to us, the steam rollers will be crushing you in five years.” Such an attractive offer! Well, here we are halfway through year four of that threat, with Alkemist Labs growing and developing and having a good time doing it.

My stance hasn’t changed on lab consolidation, and I've never been impressed by revenue acquisition. No one lab can be good at everything, and in my experience, those who try to do everything aren’t great at many things. You may get lower prices with companies that batch samples, but the trade-off is significant delays in turnaround time while they wait for enough samples that need the same test.

Just think of the confusing challenge of combining these complicated beasts of companies! Staff quality of life is part of our corporate culture, so I feel compassion for the people working in such circumstances, especially with satisfying investor expectations being the primary policy driver. One employee for the recently consumed Big Lab told me she only found out about the merger through my LinkedIn post. That sort of thing can’t be good for staff moral, or retention. 

Since the healthiest response to disquieting events is often humor, I wrote a parody on the issue that I hope you enjoy.

Lab Confusication (sung to the tune of Californication by the Red Hot Chili Peppers)

It's a theme of the industry and all western civilization,
Small labs emerge as center of excellence, settle in a temporary location,
It's understood that lab mergers breed lab confusication.

Disengaged the Big Lab's tech, try to test your formulation,
Meanwhile a Little Lab in Garden Grove excels at plant authentication,
And if you watch these kinds of things it's lab confusication.

Treat your clients very well to stave off consolidation,
One Big Lab to rule them all—is that the war you're waging?

One-stop shop unicorn,
Data soft porn,
Dream of free information,
Transparent in every situation,
Democratic herbal nation,
Dreams of lab confusication.

Sell your lab, be our center of excellence, be our very own constellation,
We'll consolidate the redundancies to try and improve our very dire situation.
And we'll give you a seat at our executive table, it's lab confusication

Low cost testing may be the final frontier, but it's first batched in a Des Moines basement,
Turn around time will be the first to go, can you hear the complaints of debasement,
And poor quality is not far away, it's lab confusication.

Treat your clients very well to stave off consolidation
One big lab to rule them all, is that the war you're waging?

One-stop shop unicorn,
Data soft porn,
Dream of free information,
Transparent in every situation,
Democratic herbal nation,
Dreams of lab confusication.

Consolidation leads to a seemingly simple road but it also breeds stagnation,
Acquired revenues to an investor's folio, they're just another good corporate statement,
Only buying power could save the industry from lab confusication.

Treat your clients very well to stave off consolidation,
One big lab to rule them all is that the war you're waging?

One-stop shop unicorn,
Data soft porn,
Dream of free information,
Transparent in every situation,
Democratic herbal nation,
Dreams of lab confusication.