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Articles from 2014 In June

Nothing can be 'high' in DHA, EPA, ALA

Omega-3 supplements don't increase prostate cancer risk, study shows

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration prohibited food and sup makers from claiming that their products are “high” in some omega-3 fatty acids. Why not? Because the agency hasn’t set a baseline level for those acids, according to

In a rule that finalized a proposed rule published back in 2007, the FDA banned certain nutrient content claims for foods containing docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA (one of the 12 ingredients that will change the world), eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA, and alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA. The rule finalizes a proposed rule the agency published in 2007.

Claims that products are “high in" DHA or EPA, and synonyms such as “rich in" and “excellent source of" are prohibited, the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) explained in an April 28 alert, reports

The FDA claims that under the federal Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act, nutrient content claims such as “high in” are allowed only for nutrients for which a reference level to which the claim refers has been set. There are not yet any such levels set for DHA, EPA or ALA.

However, a closer reading of the FDA ruling states that Martek's algae-derived ALA is indeed allowed to continue to make "excellent source" and "good source" claims if the product contains 320mg/serving or 160mg/serving, respectively.


An officer and a supplement

An officer and a supplement

How much are nutritional supplements helping members of our military be all they can be? Quite a bit, it turns out.

More than half of the members of our military take a dietary supplement, according to a meta-analysis published last month in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Researchers scoured literature databases, reference lists and other sources for studies that quantitatively examined the use of dietary supplements by military personnel. They found the following rates of use of dietary supplements: In men, Army, 55 percent, Navy, 60 percent, Air Force, 60 percent, Marine Corps 61 percent. Rates were higher for female members of the armed forces: Army 65 percent, Navy 71 percent, Air Force, 76 percent and Marines 71 percent.

The percentage of military personnel who used multivitamin and/ or multiminerals was lower. For men: 32 percent, 46 percent, 47 percent and 41 percent (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines). For women: 40 percent, 55 percent, 63 percent and 53 percent. Men in elite military groups, like Navy Special Operations, Army Rangers and Army Special Forces, had a prevalence of 76 percent for any dietary supplement and 37 percent for a multivitamin or multimineral.

Use of herbal supps was generally low, with a prevalence of less than five percent overall.

In 2011, toxicology tests linked the deaths of two soldiers to DMAA in the pre-workout supplement Jack3d and led to a massive recall of the product.

Natural Foods Merchandiser

Mollie Stone's: Integrated products boost sales

Mike Stone Mollie Stone's

Many grocers are merging natural, conventional and specialty these days. But doing it well is an art. Mollie Stone's Market, a nine-store chain in the San Francisco Bay Area, has mastered this mix. Starting with a single all-natural store and expanding into multiple one-stop shops today, Mollie Stone's has amassed a loyal following and won several awards for its plethora of unique, hard-to-find products both from around the world and right in its backyard. NFM caught up with cofounder Mike Stone to get a glimpse of the Mollie Stone's magic.

NFM: What was the inspiration for the first Mollie Stone's?

Mike Stone: We opened our first store in 1986 and named it after my mom, Mollie, who had been in the grocery business for 45 years but had always worked for someone else. I lost both of my parents within nine months of each other, and that had a major impact on me. I too had been in the grocery business, for about 18 years at that point, and had also always worked for others. So I decided to open a natural foods store on the premise of making a difference in people's lives. We started with pretty strict standards of 100 percent natural and organic, no refined sugar and so on. People did have food allergies back then, although not to the degree that they do today, so we carried gluten-free products and other special-diet items. At the time, we were one of largest natural stores in the Bay Area at 15,000 square feet.

NFM: When did you start introducing more conventional products?

MS: In 1988, we acquired a second store, which had been a conventional supermarket, so we started intermingling natural and conventional. Back then, we were one of the first stores to do something like this. Today, all of our stores are natural-conventional hybrids. We are very successful at what we do.

NFM: You actually have a name for this hybrid philosophy, right?

MS: Yes, we call it Best of Both Worlds. At Mollie Stone's, you can do all of your shopping in one place. You don't have to go to three different markets to find necessities and the foods you are passionate about.

NFM: When you first merged concepts, did any natural suppliers push back?

MS: Some pushback might have come in the vitamin area early on because we were no longer just a natural store, yet we were carrying items that had always been sold only in natural. But other than that, we didn't have much pushback.

NFM: Nowadays do you have strict standards for what products you stock?

MS: Our standards are simple: Get the highest quality possible, and natural and organic when available. Ensuring quality and knowing where the product comes from is very important, especially as we source as many local goods as possible.

NFM: You've also made quite a name for yourself in specialty?

MS: Specialty is a big word and can apply to many products and categories. We carry a lot of hard-to-find items that people know they can get here. That includes products from all over the world that we believe customers will love, as well as many locally made products that are maybe sold only at farmers markets or on TV—anything from spices and salts to different marinades. It's what each store's demographic tells us it really wants. Our stores are not cookie cutter; we adapt to the distinct palate of whatever neighborhood we're in. 

NFM: Who shops at Mollie Stone's?

MS: We have a good mix. There are lots of loyal and generational customers whose parents and grandparents shopped here. We have a fair amount of baby boomers, and I would say we're attracting more and more millennials.

Become a one-stop shop: Follow Mike Stone's lead

Let customers color you. Besides attending tabletop shows and reading trade magazines to find unique and interesting products, make sure you're listening to what your clientele wants. Oftentimes you can secure these items more easily than consumers can. Customers come to us all the time and tell us what they want because they know we'll be able to get it for them, Stone says.

Use ample signage. When offering both natural and conventional items, make it clear which oranges are organic and what pastas are not necessarily natural. "Everything in our stores is integrated, but we call products out with clear signage so shoppers have choices side by side," says Stone.

Make your store more accessible. You can't change the location of your store, but you can ease transport to and from your outlet. Mollie Stone's has two buses called Mollie Buses that take customers home after shopping, within a few miles' radius of the store. Shoppers just have to buy a minimum amount of products."Mollie Buses are branded with good signage, kind of like an airport bus," Stone says.

Natural Foods Merchandiser

Use hashtags to attract customers

Use hashtags to attract customers

Ah, the hashtag. It’s rare to go a day without encountering marketing that includes the “#” sign. The hashtag is not just for social media anymore. Hashtags are on billboards, business cards, on TV, in magazines and, if you’re socially savvy, in your store. 

A quick definition: Hashtags are a way of categorizing and finding information pertaining to a topic. Anyone can create or use a hashtag. All you have to do is type “#” followed by a word and your hashtag is born. But why use it? For one, it’s an easy way for your business to track chatter around a topic or to build buzz around a store event or contest. And because so many people are using and following specific hashtags, it’s a great way to surface your content among the social media noise. To put hashtags to good use for your business, follow this primer. 

Facebook. Use hashtags for tracking contests and giveaways or attending events. Use them sparingly in your everyday posts. They just aren’t that “cool” on Facebook (unless you count #tbt for Throwback Thursday).

Twitter. Use at least one for every tweet, up to three. This offers great exposure for your tweets without them coming across as unreadable. 

Instagram. Use as many as 30 hashtags per photo. Really! Add your hashtags as a comment below the photo description so you don’t look spammy. Capitalize on any hashtags you’ve created for your store. This is great for contests or bringing chatter together around a topic. 

Pinterest. Some people/brands use them a lot, others don’t at all. You look spammy when you use more than three to five. People primarily find things on Pinterest by searching interests or topics rather than using hashtags, so instead focus on writing keyword-rich descriptions. 

Google+. Use hashtags here to find or organize information from like-minded individuals you might want to include in your “circle” (like friend lists in Facebook). Use one to two hashtags in your posts to help others find your content. 

A word of caution: For every event/contest hashtag, always search on social media first to ensure it’s not taken or, if it is, that it’s relevant to your topic. 

Part 2: Live dispatch from Summer Fancy Foods 2014

Part 2: Live dispatch from Summer Fancy Foods 2014

Senior Food Editor Jenna Blumenfeld is at the Fancy Food Show in New York City this week scoping out the newest trends in specialty food. She's finding scores of new products that go beyond purely luxurious ingredients and pay homage to natural values like conscious sourcing and Non-GMO Project Verifications. 

EuroPharma launches new sinus Terry Naturally sinus product

EuroPharma, Inc., makers of the Terry Naturally brand of products, has announced the launch of a new product in its sinus health line—SinuCare Extra Strength.

“SinuCare Extra Strength is a blend of the concentrated plant oils of lemon, myrtle, and eucalyptus to maintain clear sinus and bronchial passages. These essential oils are delivered in a base of extra virgin olive oil, and the capsule is enteric coated so there is no concern about ‘burping’ these potent compounds,” says Cheryl Myers, head of scientific affairs and education for EuroPharma. “Lemon is very useful for immune health, and the myrtle and eucalyptus contain a compound called 1,8 cineole that facilitates the natural movement of mucous in two ways. First, it helps thin the mucous. Second, it enhances the activity of the cilia—the tiny, fluttering finger-like projections in the sinuses and bronchi whose job it is to brush the mucous upward and outward. Also, 1,8 cineole works fairly quickly, and most consumers report same day benefits.”

“We created this product in direct response to our customers. We had many requests for a double-strength form of our highly popular SinuCare. Also, some people just do not like the aroma or taste of eucalyptus and/or myrtle, so we put these powerful oils in an enteric coating that doesn’t open up until it reaches the intestines, right where it can best be absorbed,” says Terry Lemerond, president and founder of EuroPharma.

SinuCare Extra Strength is now available and sold exclusively in the Terry Naturally brand, and is available in quality health food stores and integrative pharmacies nationwide.

EuroPharma, Inc. offers clinically proven and effective nutritional supplements and natural medicines that improve the health of America. Terry Lemerond, founder and president of EuroPharma, is well-known for innovation, and is credited as the first to introduce glucosamine sulfate and standardized Ginkgo biloba to the U.S. natural products market. Some of his current exclusive products include the award winning Curamin, a natural pain relief product, CuraMed containing BCM-95 high absorption curcumin, SagaPro for bladder health, Vectomega full-spectrum omega 3 salmon extract, and Traumaplant Comfrey Cream. The full line of dietary supplements is available throughout the U.S. in both the health food store and professional distribution channels.

MenaQ7 Vitamin K2 now available at Walgreens

NattoPharma announces the availability of its MenaQ7 vitamin K2 as MK-7 for consumers across the United States. Now available at retail pharmacy giant Walgreens, as part of its “Well at Walgreens” line, are two new enhanced calcium supplements that contain NattoPharma’s MenaQ7 vitamin K2 as MK-7. Offered in new adult and senior formulations, Calcium + MenaQ7 provides calcium and Vitamins D3 and K2 as MenaQ7.

Vitamin K2 is an essential nutrient with a growing body of research confirming its health benefits, including supporting bone density and strength, and helping maintain a healthy cardiovascular system. Walgreens operates more than 8,000 drugstores coast-to-coast.

“The growing collection of scientific support affirming vitamin K2 as MK-7’s ability to promote bone and cardiovascular health is driving market demand from innovative manufacturers,” says Hogne Vik, CEO of NattoPharma ASA, Norway. “NattoPharma is excited to deliver the clinically proven benefits of MenaQ7 vitamin K2 as MK-7 to a large consumer audience in two quality finished products.”

This is the first national offering for a calcium, D3 and vitamin K2 as MK-7, specifically designed to enhance calcium’s benefits to help maintain bone density and strength, while supporting healthy arteries.

Natural Foods Merchandiser

Weigh In: How can I keep entry-level employees?

Training employee retention

Ever thought you had a new rock star on the register but then she mysteriously bolts after just three weeks on the job? Ever spent months training a new guy on back room operations but then he suddenly quits because (surprise!) he’d wanted a different role all along? Unlike most of your long-term employees who are fulfilled in their work and loyal to your store (and if they’re not, they’ll tell you), entry-level workers are much tougher to gauge and retain. Here’s some sound advice for keeping entry-level job turnover low.


Hire good work ethic and attitude. When staffing entry-level positions, you don’t need all vegetarians and bodybuilders. An employee with a good work ethic is willing to learn the ropes and do what needs to be done to accomplish your store’s mission. I look for people who project a positive attitude and show that they’re able to adapt. These employees tend to stick around longer. 
Don’t put a ring on it. The first 60 days are very important for everyone. Just like you don’t want to keep an employee who isn’t working out, you can’t allow them to stay in a workplace where they’re uncomfortable. Make the first two months a dating period, and be clear about this when hiring so they don’t take it personally. During the probation, make sure they’re being observed for behavior and skills so you can attempt to correct issues early and avoid problems later. 
Incorporate them into your mission. Whether they work the register or stock shelves, these are critical aspects of your business, so help them to feel that. Every store has its own mission and philosophy, and you need to communicate those upon hiring. When employees see that they’re helping customers live better, they’re more likely to feel satisfied in their work and do a great job. 
–Don Caster 
owner of Raisin Rack Natural Food Market 
in Canton and Westerville, Ohio

Human Resources Consultant

Train thoroughly but don’t overwhelm. Structured orientation and training programs show new hires that you care about their work; they also ensure better return on your investment. However, a big reason why entry-level employees leave so soon is they feel overwhelmed right away. Don’t dump everything on them in the first few days. Pace the training. Break it up and parcel it out over time so they have a chance to absorb it. 
Explain advancement opportunities early. Some store owners leave it up to staff members to ask about advancement, but that can be scary for new, less confident employees. Upon hiring, discuss your system for awarding raises and promotions, whatever that might be. If they know that taking on more work and new responsibilities can lead to future raises, or that you may be able to increase pay if the store starts performing better, they’ll take more initiative. They’ll see that there’s room to stretch and grow. 
Practice accountability. It really bugs employees when management sets up rules but then breaks them or lets certain staff members break them. Entry-level employees want to believe there is justice, not favoritism for more established team members. That’s why it’s so important to have accountability throughout the organization. Make sure everybody is working up to established standards, and if they’re not, promptly address it. 
–Carolee Colter 
member at CDS Consulting Co-op 
in Nelson, British Columbia, Canada 

Business Performance Consultant 

Don’t skip the basics. Kids today know how to text, not communicate. It seems so simple, but many young people, especially males, don’t know they should look others in the eye, smile or shake hands. Be very clear upfront about how you want them to interact with customers. Once they now they should be doing these things, they will. They’ll feel empowered, and you’ll eliminate a situation in which they’re messing up and not even knowing it. 
Make sure managers are amenable. About 45 percent of employees quit their jobs because they “work for a jerk.” Your department managers and supervisors may be great at most aspects of their jobs, but are they also easy for entry-level employees to work with? Ensure that your managers have appropriate people skills and won’t scare off new staff. 
Let them fix problems. A big gripe of entry-level employees is they have to get a manager’s approval to fix issues. Empower and train your staff to please guests without your permission. It makes them feel good to not always have to run to the boss and leave customers hanging for 20 minutes. For instance, give them coupons to hand out when they see fit. This could quickly settle problems and even generate many future sales. 
–Gregory P. Smith 
president of Chart Your Course International 
in Morrisville, N.C 

Three trends shaping men's personal care

Even in a progressive industry like natural products, stereotypical gender roles have long held sway. Health-conscious moms have tended to be the go-to target consumers for brands, protein powders were instinctually geared towards male muscle heads and natural personal care products tilted heavily toward female consumers.

But that’s starting to change as the industry wisens to the market potential in broadening target demographics beyond traditional stereotypes. New market research by New Hope Natural Media shows, for example, that experimental, health-conscious Millennial males are actually a key consumer segment for natural and organic products. Shifts are also happening in the protein powder category where companies are creating formulations with a more casual user in mind. And in the realm of natural personal care, companies are starting to open their eyes to the vast and largely untapped male market. After all, about half of men still wash their face solely with water.

While global beauty and personal care launches specifically targeting men have climbed 70 percent from 2007 to 2012, natural companies will still find a wide-open playing field. Here are three trends shaping the category:

  • Trend conscious. Natural products across categories are shedding the granola image with their use of the trendy ingredients and modern branding. Men’s personal care products are heading this direction as well, and in doing so have a chance to capture trend-forward males who may not yet be loyal natural shoppers in the personal care aisle. W.S. Badger Company’s Navigator line hits on the ultra-trendy steampunk and hipster movements with products like beard oil, mustache wax and shaving brushes. Vermont-based Ursa Major’s mountain man persona, Badger’s James Bond-style product descriptions and UK-based Bulldog’s, well, bulldog, mascot give these products an appealing but not overwhelmingly manly personality. Men are also warming to concepts traditionally thought to be solely within the realm of women's personal care. Youtheory's newest line of men-specific collagen, for example, has found favor with even "guy guys," Nutrawise CEO Darren Rude said. Mainstream retailers such as Whole Foods, Sprouts, GNC and Vitamin Shoppe also see the appeal of such a product and will carry the line after it launches Jan 1, Rude said.
  • Make personal care part of a healthy lifestyle. As health and appearance become bigger priorities for men, natural skincare companies are seeing an opportunity to educate about the importance of choosing natural not only in the products consumers eat, but also those they put on their skin. Suddenly, opting for a high-quality natural facewash or moisturizer isn’t a matter of vanity, it’s part of a whole-body health-promoting routine. “The consumer insight that is driving growth rates in male skin care boils down to self improvement,” said Simon Duffy, founder of Bulldog. “It’s the glue between men caring more about their skin, their appearance, their health and their fitness.”
  • Make it simple and straightforward. Let’s face it: personal care products are a foreign concept to a vast segment of the male population. Male-oriented brands need not churn out dozens of different products for different conditions and skin types. That’s a recipe for overwhelm. Companies that are finding success are keeping their lines tightly edited and opting for multi-use products and simple descriptions about product functionality. This straighforward approach will appeal to a population that may be interested in the benefits of natural personal care, but averse to spending more than a few minutes each day thinking about it.

Flavorchem releases enzyme modified (EMC) flavors

Flavorchem Corporation, a leader in flavor and color product solutions for the food and beverage industries, has just launched a line of enzyme modified cheeses. EMC flavors are made from a special blend of natural cheese with added lipases and other natural food-grade enzymes, and as a result are all-natural with no preservatives. In addition, EMCs offer a cost effective alternative to traditional cheese ingredients with fewer calories, while still providing the same full-bodied flavor profile. They adapt easily to most food processing systems and blend well with other ingredients and additives. Multiple cheese flavors are available from blue to sharp cheddar.

“Flavorchem’s enzyme modified cheeses are perfect to boost cheese flavor in applications where the amount of cheese that can be used maybe limited. They offer significant savings and provide many functional benefits,” says Ed McIntosh, Marketing Manager at Flavorchem.

About Flavorchem: Flavorchem Corporation, founded in 1971, specializes in creating and manufacturing flavors, colors and masking solutions for all food, beverage and nutraceutical industries. Flavorchem operates out of two locations, with corporate headquarters in Downers Grove, Illinois and a west coast facility in San Clemente, California. A full service company, they provide everything from product R&D to finished products, creating limitless custom solutions for companies of all sizes.