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Articles from 2015 In June

Organic and natural health association gains momentum with new members

Organic and natural health association gains momentum with new members

Organic & Natural Health Association (Organic & Natural) formed a year ago, dedicated to creating and promoting transparent business practices that safeguard access to organic and natural food, products and services.  The nonprofit trade association whose founding board members include Todd Harrison, partner at Venable, LLP, Joe Sandler, partner of the Sandler Reiff Lamb Rosenstein & Birkenstock, P.C., and Charles Brown, national counsel for Consumers for Dental Choice, founder and president of the World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry and former attorney general of West Virginia, have been actively working on many initiatives to improve the integrity of the natural products industry while creating a groundswell of support from leading industry companies.

“We recognize that we are advocating for the highest level of standards and transparency for the industry and that there are some who may not feel ready for this level of scrutiny,” said Karen Howard, CEO and executive director of Organic & Natural.  “Our leadership and membership is comprised of first-rate companies and consumer organizations that understand we have to put the integrity of the industry first as part of a long-term strategy.  It’s the only way we will ultimately win consumer trust and loyalty.”

Board leadership for Organic & Natural also includes Steve Rye, CEO of Mercola Health Resources, Alan Lewis, director of food and agriculture policy at Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, Todd Norton, vice president of business development at Aker BioMarine, Reid Tracy, president and CEO of Hay House Inc., Dan Lifton, CEO for Quality of Life Labs, Chris Holland, vice president of sales and marketing for Beijing Gingko Group North America (BGG) and Patrick Sullivan, Jr., president and co-founder of Jigsaw Health.

Organic & Natural’s founding members include Aker BioMarine, American Nutrition Association, BGG, Capsugel, Dr. Mercola Premium Supplements, Hay House Inc., International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), Jigsaw Health, Organic Consumers Association, Quality of Life Labs, RFI Ingredients and Venable LLP.  In its first year, Organic & Natural has engaged in some high-profile issues surrounding the natural products industry. 

Last July, Organic & Natural submitted comments to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in support of the claims made by iHealth, Inc., and Martek Biosciences Corp., asserting that the FTC’s second-guessing regarding the conclusions of a randomized, peer-reviewed and published clinical study violated commercial speech.  Organic & Natural will pursue a legislative remedy to require transparency in FTC cases this fall during Congressional oversight hearings.

In October of last year, Organic & Natural announced their initiative to set the standard for natural products by creating transparent and objective criteria for the use of the term ‘natural,’ thereby putting the power of informed choice into consumers’ hands and creating clear differentiation of high-quality natural foods, products and services.  The organization launched a consumer survey that was completed earlier this year.  The data from the national survey has now been analyzed and Organic & Natural plans to have a completed definition of the term ‘natural’ by this October that will be followed by a voluntary regulatory compliance and certification program in the first quarter in 2016.

Last December, Organic & Natural announced its partnership with GrassrootsHealth to sponsor the development of nutrient research conducted by the nonprofit’s consortium of scientists, institutions and professionals.  Some of the key nutrients that will be researched include vitamin D, vitamin K2, calcium and magnesium.

In April, Organic & Natural was the first industry trade organization to meet with the New York attorney general’s office regarding the investigation into the herbal supplement industry.  Organic & Natural also filed a citizen petition with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in May, requesting the FDA amend current regulation in order to bring raw material manufacturers under 21 CFR Part 111 and to clarify the private-label distributors obligations under those standards.  The NY AG’s office reinforced Organic & Natural’s citizen petition by including portions of it in their own letter to the FDA urging the agency to immediately enhance its oversight of the dietary supplement industry by reforming its Dietary Supplement Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) regulations.  Organic & Natural’s next course of action will be to take its citizen petition to Capital Hill to ask members of Congress to support this common sense regulatory action.

Clean Label trend moves to mainstream

Clean Label graphic
<p>Clean label and clean ingredients are moving to the mainstream, Innova Market Insights reports.</p>

Clean label has moved beyond being a trend and is now regarded as standard in the food industry. Consumers are demanding shorter and more recognizable ingredients lists and manufacturers are responding by increasingly highlighting the naturalness and origins of their products.

With growing concerns over the lack of a definition of “natural,” however, more clarity and specificity are needed. Consumers, retailers, industry and regulators are driving the demand for more transparency in food labeling.

This will be just one topic addressed by Innova Market Insights at its Taste the Trend Pavilion (Booth No. 873) at this year’s IFT Food Expo on July 12-14 in Chicago.

More than 20 percent of US products tracked in 2014 featured a clean label positioning, up from 17 percent in 2013, according to Innova Market Insights data. The use of clean label ingredients also has increased significantly, with growing interest in natural sweeteners, such as stevia and monk fruit; natural colors such as those based on spirulina, elderberry and beetroot; and thickeners such as tragacanth and gellan gums.

“This demand for clean labeling has now brought the need for clear labeling equally to the fore, resulting in a move to clearer and simpler claims and packaging for maximum transparency and necessitating an industry response in terms of reformulation and new communication strategies,” said Lu Ann Williams, director of Innovation at Innova Market Insight.

Innova Market Insights identified “From Clean to Clear Label” as No. 1 of its top 10 trends for 2015, recognizing that it is no longer a niche area for the food and drinks industry.

Innova Market Insights will provide visitors to the IFT Food Expo 2015 with key insights on the latest trends in food and beverages, with the 11th installment of its “Taste the Trend” presentations.

Booth No. 873 will also offer three daily live presentations:

  • Noon -- Clean Label and the Consumer
  • 1:30 p.m. -- Top Trends for 2015
  • 3 p.m. -- The Incredible Rise of “Free-From”

Too cheap chocolate could be its own demise

Too cheap chocolate could be its own demise

Unsustainably low cocoa prices – made possible by extreme poverty among West African cocoa producers, with farmers in Ghana earning as little as 84 cents per day, and Ivorian farmers earning only 50 cents per day – could jeopardize the future of chocolate since young farmers are not replacing the current aging generation, according to the updated U.S. edition of the 2015 “Cocoa Barometer.” Together, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire produce more than 50% of the world’s cocoa supply.

Available online at the new report is being released today as cocoa industry representatives gather in Washington at the World Cocoa Foundation conference to discuss ongoing sustainability projects.  Produced by a network of European nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), the “Cocoa Barometer” is a semi-annual report that reviews the state of sustainability in the cocoa sector. This latest edition was co-written with U.S. NGOs and includes updates on programs of the U.S. government and U.S. cocoa companies.

“Despite all the efforts in cocoa at the moment, the core of the problem is still not being addressed: the extreme poverty of cocoa farmers, and their lack of a voice in the debate,” said Antonie Fountain, co-author of the Barometer.  “Unless the cocoa sector fundamentally changes, there will be no future cocoa farmers.”

“Around the world, child labor is a symptom of extreme poverty and limited opportunity,” said Elizabeth O’Connell, campaigns director at Green America. “In order to prevent children from working in dangerous settings, we must ensure that farmers, including women, sharecroppers and tenant farmers, are earning enough to harvest cocoa sustainably.”  

Key findings in the 2015 U.S. edition of the report include the following:

  • Low incomes. West African cocoa farmers live well below globally defined poverty level of $2 per day. The lack of a decent livelihood for cocoa farmers leads to bad labor circumstances, human rights violations, and many other problems in the cocoa supply chain, including child labor.
  • Cocoa no longer offers an attractive future. Increasingly, younger generations of cocoa farmers are leaving cocoa, and older farmers are nearing the age of life expectancy.
  • High market concentration leads to greater farmer exploitation. Mergers and takeovers have resulted in just a few companies dominating up to 80 percent of the whole value chain, while farmers lack a sufficiently organized voice to be strong actors.
  • Certified chocolate production continues to increase globally, from just 2 percent reported in the first Barometer in 2009, to almost 16 percent of global chocolate sales in the 2015 “Cocoa Barometer.” The Barometer also indicates that there is far more certified cocoa available at the moment, than is being purchased on certified term. However, with the mainstreaming of certification, the challenges of certification are also increasing. Improvements in certification are needed, especially concerning impact on the ground, the quality of auditing, and unrest among farmers about low payments of premiums.
  • Current approaches won’t solve the problem. Most corporate sustainability efforts focus on increasing a farmer’s productivity. However, increasing yields must be coupled with an increased cocoa price for farmers. This means that chocolate needs to become more expensive. Crop diversification, tenure security, better infrastructure and access to information for farmers are also needed.

Recommendations for action in the report include the following:

  1. Develop a living income model for smallholder cocoa farming.
  2. Address the price-setting mechanisms in order to increase prices at farm-gate level.
  3. Move from voluntary to mandatory sector-wide solutions.

Report co-author Fountain said:  “All players in the cocoa value chain need to step up to the plate. Companies, governments, retailers, as well as consumers should take their shared responsibility, and truly start looking for new approaches to some of these longstanding problems.”

The full version of the 2015 Cocoa Barometer is available online, as well as free-of-charge images from the report.  

CRN issues new guidelines for melatonin supplements for sleep support

CRN issues new guidelines for melatonin supplements for sleep support

The Council for Responsible Nutrition, the leading trade association for the dietary supplement and functional food industry, today released its recommended guidelines for the labeling and formulation of melatonin-containing dietary supplements for sleep support.

CRN recommends that, in addition to complying with all applicable labeling laws and regulations, dietary supplements containing melatonin and marketed for sleep support should be formulated and labeled to provide not more than 10 milligrams of melatonin per day when used in accordance with the directions for use. CRN’s guidelines for labeling also call for product labels to include (but not be limited to) the following statements or similar language. 

Consult a healthcare professional:

  • If you are experiencing long-term sleep difficulties.
  • Before use in children.
  • Before use in pregnant or nursing women, those with a medical condition, and those taking medication.
  • Do not drive or operate machinery when taking melatonin.

“With the current popularity and wide usage of melatonin supplements for sleep support, CRN wanted to clarify responsible labeling and marketing practices for its member companies, and for the industry, by developing science-based voluntary guidelines to help ensure these products best serve consumers safely,” said Andrea Wong, Ph.D., vice president, scientific & regulatory affairs, CRN. “CRN encourages all dietary supplement manufacturers and marketers to follow these recommendations.”

In making its recommendations, CRN reviewed various dosages assessed in clinical studies, as well as by scientific and regulatory authorities such as the Institute of Medicine and Health Canada.

CRN’s guidelines are based on the totality of the evidence available on melatonin for sleep support-melatonin for other purposes is outside the scope of these guidelines.

CRN recommends that dietary supplement companies comply no later than twelve months after the effective date of June 18, 2015. CRN’s Board of Directors unanimously approved the guidelines at its June meeting, following months of consideration by a task force of CRN members.

CRN’s recommended guidelines for melatonin are the latest in a series of proactive, science-based guidelines that the association has developed as part of its self-regulatory initiatives . CRN also has voluntary recommended guidelines for: iodine quantity in multivitamin/mineral supplements for pregnancy and lactation; caffeine-containing dietary supplements; and labeling of protein in dietary supplements and functional foods; as well as best practices for enzyme dietary supplement products and safety considerations for dosage recommendations 

Natural Foods Merchandiser

Peapod announces CSA delivering program

Peapod announces CSA delivering program, the country’s leading online grocer, is making it even easier to enjoy fresh and local seasonal produce by offering a new Peapod Local Farm Box. Throughout the summer, Peapod customers in New York City, New Jersey, Eastern Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Washington, DC , Virginia, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin will have the option of adding a box of produce from local farms to their virtual grocery cart. Developed in partnership with Farmlogix, a company that connects local farmers to businesses, Peapod’s Local Farm Box is a convenient alternative to committing to a season-long Community Sustainable Agriculture (CSA) farm share. At $34.99 a box, the Peapod Local Farm Box is a low-cost and flexible way for consumers to support local farmers while enjoying the convenience of home delivery.

Peapod customers will be able to order Peapod’s Farm Box beginning in late June or early July depending on location. Each box will contain five unique items from local farms, with approximately 10 – 14 pounds of produce per box. Items included will vary weekly depending on the farmers’ harvest and Peapod customers can view what’s included in each week’s box, along with recipes and a feature on the source farmers, when placing their orders.

“We know our customers love supporting local farms and enjoying the best, fresh produce in season, which is why we’re so excited to introduce the Local Farm Box,” said Peg Merzbacher, vice president of regional marketing for Peapod. “It’s easy to add the Farm Box to your grocery order and have it delivered along with your favorite national and store brands.”

Peapod’s Local Farm Box is one of many innovative offerings from the leading online grocer to meet the evolving needs of the modern grocery shopper. Peapod also recently released a refreshed mobile application to make shopping easier than ever, including Order Genius, an intuitive technology that can predict a customer’s order based on purchases made on and at Stop & Shop and Giant stores.

Consumers increase online grocery shopping

Consumers increase online grocery shopping

U.S. online grocery shoppers are upping the amount of grocery shopping they complete online, according to a new survey of 1,100 U.S. online grocery shoppers from Door to Door Organics, a leading natural and organic online grocer. The survey collected responses from consumers who have shopped online for groceries at least once in the previous 12 months. Of those surveyed, more than half (54%) said in the past year they had increased the amount of grocery shopping they do online by an average of 29%. Less than 4% said that in the last year they had decreased their online grocery shopping and 42% stated that the amount of grocery shopping they do online had stayed the same. Overall, shoppers indicated that an average of 19% of their weekly grocery shopping is currently done online.

While online grocery shopping continues to gain popularity, the majority of consumers still rely on multiple online and brick-and-mortar stores to complete their weekly grocery shopping. Only 13% of survey respondents said a single store (online or offline) meets their weekly grocery shopping needs, while 34% shop at two stores during a typical week and 53% shop at three or more online and/or offline grocery stores each week.

Consumers' time – and the value they equate with it – was another topic that was explored in the survey. Respondents indicated they had on average only 82 minutes of free time every day and spent an average of 69 minutes each week shopping for groceries. Additionally, respondents estimated the average value of one hour of their time to be $56 per hour.

"It's becoming increasingly harder for consumers to find a 'one-stop-shop' that meets all their grocery shopping needs," said Chad Arnold, CEO of Door to Door Organics. "Today's grocery shopper appreciates variety, wants to have easy access to all kinds of produce and products, but also values convenience based on being busier than ever. This is one of the primary reasons why consumers are making online grocery shopping a more regular part of their week, and I don't expect that trend to turn downward anytime soon."

When it comes to what grocery products consumers are buying online, 23% of respondents said they do not buy fresh grocery products (e.g., meat, fish, dairy, produce) online. Of those who do purchase produce and other fresh grocery items online, 57% said they had been disappointed in the quality or freshness of these purchases at least once in the last year. When asked what would make them feel more secure about the quality of fresh groceries when ordering online, 58% said knowing that the products were recently picked or packaged would increase their confidence, and 51% would be more comfortable if the fresh products were sourced from a local farm. Additionally, 25% said they would feel more secure about the quality of fresh grocery products if they were purchasing them from a specialty online grocer.

"Easing concerns about the quality and freshness of produce and other fresh grocery items has always been a top priority for online grocers, especially those like us who specialize in local and organic produce," said Arnold. "Selecting produce, for example, can be a very sensory-oriented experience – consumers like to touch, feel, smell and even taste their selections before purchasing. Online grocery shopping limits that initial sensory experience, so we do everything we can to ensure they experience that same satisfaction each time they open their Door to Door Organics delivery box."

Founded in 2005, Door to Door Organics currently operates in 13 markets and 55 cities. Since its founding, Door to Door Organics has made more than 2 million deliveries. In late 2014, the company secured a $25.5 million series B investment from the Arlon Group.

To learn more about Door to Door Organics, please visit or find them on Facebook.

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the United States by 72 Point Inc. on behalf of Door to Door Organics from March 30 – April 6, 2015 among 1,100 U.S. online grocery shoppers ages 18 and older. 

Is maca Viagra for women?

Might maca be the root of Viagra for women? New research suggests that powder made from Peruvian ginseng may help women with anti-depressant induced sexual dysfunction (AISD). An FDA advisory panel’s recommended approval for a pharmaceutical version of “women’s Viagra” for the general population titillated the media last month.
Maca root has been promoted to treat male sexual function and boost virility for ages. This study, published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, focused on women. Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and Emory University conducted a double-bling, placebo-controlled trial among 45 women with a mean age of about 41 years. All of the women suffered from anti-depression-induced sexual dysfunction. Subjects were treated with three grams of maca root powder, or with a placebo, each day for 12 weeks.
The root helped the women who took it, according to the study results. They measured improvements using the Arizona Sexual Experience Scale and the Massachusetts General Hospital Sexual Function Questionnaire.
The maca didn’t help all the women equally, according to the researchers. More significant improvements in sexual dysfunction were experienced in postmenopausal women than premenopausal women. The research was noted on

DDW names Gravatte president and COO


DDW “The Color House” announces the promotion of Elaine Gravatte to President and Chief Operating Officer as well as her election to the DDW Board of Directors. She will report to Ted Nixon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. Gravatte will lead the core operations, while Nixon will continue to focus on strategy and growth initiatives for the company.

“Elaine’s strong experience in cross-functional leadership gives me confidence in our continued success in manufacturing, innovation and creating color solutions for customers,” said Nixon.

“I am pleased to have the opportunity to lead DDW toward achieving its ‘Vision 2020’ plans for innovation, continuous improvement and value-added initiatives,” added Gravatte.   

Gravatte’s previous position was Senior Vice President, Global Operations, with responsibility for Manufacturing, Quality, Supply Chain and Human Resources.  She also held the position of Regional President & COO, North America. In recent years, she served as Account Executive for a key, global strategic customer. Gravatte began her DDW career in 2000 as Human Resources Manager after six years in team and training management with SerVend International (The Manitowoc Company, Inc.).  

Gravatte recently completed The Wharton School’s Global CEO Program. She received a master’s degree from Vanderbilt University in Human Resource Development and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kentucky in Communication and Psychology.  

DSM finds disconnect between perception and reality in Americans' understanding of personal health, nutrition

Man reading label

When it comes to personal health, there is a gap between our nutritional needs and how well we're meeting them.

A new survey of more than 3,000 American consumers by DSM Nutritional Products, the leading provider of nutritional solutions, shows that consumers are overly confident about their diet and essential nutrient intake. However, the reality of their personal health tells a different story.  

More than half of Americans want to improve their overall nutrition and wellness, but don't know where to start. The same number (51 percent) are confused about the science behind nutrition recommendations. And while research shows only 10 percent of Americans get the recommended amount of essential nutrients[1], 57 percent believe they do.
And at a time when policymakers are finalizing the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a majority do not feel that these recommendations accurately reflect their nutritional needs.
"Our results will help consumers be their brightest selves. Our mission is to raise awareness about the nutrition gap of essential nutrients, and resolve conflicting and confusing information about the keys to better nutrition to help fill that gap," said Will Black, DSM Vice President of Marketing for Human Nutrition & Health, North America. "This survey identifies barriers to better nutrition and information."
In addition to the survey, DSM recently hosted a consumer focus group and roundtable discussion moderated by Dr. Michael Roizen, Chief Wellness Officer at the Cleveland Clinic, and Registered Dietitian and author Elizabeth Somer. Participants discussed the challenges of maintaining adequate nutrition, and the role of essential nutrients and supplementation play in filling nutritional gaps.

"Studies show our diets are low in many nutrients. The DSM Better Nutrition Survey underscores the importance of teaching Americans about food sources of essential nutrients and the need to supplement responsibly," said Somer, M.A., R.D. 

Findings show varied awareness of essential nutrients and the impact they have on health, including:

  • Most are familiar with vitamins D and E (92 and 83 percent, respectively), while only about half are familiar with DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids. Fewer still are familiar with lutein (29 percent) and zeaxanthin (6 percent).
  • Only 10 percent are aware that zeaxanthin can support optimal vision health; only 9 percent know that lutein may support brain health.
  • One-fourth of consumers are unsure of how vitamin D supports bodily function, despite high familiarity.

Based on the survey and focus group, DSM plans to work with experts to develop tools, such as a guide to decipher credible scientific studies, to help consumers understand ways to achieve optimal nutrition. To learn more about the recent survey and view supporting materials, visit

About the DSM Better Nutrition Survey
The survey was powered by Edelman Berland and consisted of online interviews among 3,004 respondents representative of the United States general population ages 18 years and older. The survey was conducted from March 23-30, 2015 with a margin of error of +/- 1.8%.