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Articles from 2020 In June


NYSE delists GNC stock after Chapter 11 filing

GNC files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to reorganize or sell the business

GNC Holdings Inc. stock closed at 55 cents per share Monday—its last day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange.  

The New York Stock Exchange delisted the global health and wellness company a week after it filed for Chapter 11 protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. NYSE's Regulation staff notified GNC executives on June 25 that it would delist the shares because "GNC is no longer suitable for listing" under the Exchange's standards.

The Exchange typically delists companies that have filed for bankruptcy, whether it's under Chapter 11 or Chapter 7.

GNC won't appeal the decision, Chief Financial Officer Tricia Tolivar informed the Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday.

"The Company expects that the trading of its common stock will transition to the OTC [over the counter] Bulletin Board or 'pink sheets' market shortly. The transition to over-the-counter markets will not affect the Company’s business operations or its reporting requirements under the rules of the Securities and Exchange Commission," Tolivar wrote in the SEC filing.

Even if GNC had not filed Chapter 11—it intends to sell to its largest stockholder or restructure its debt—the Exchange likely would have delisted the company this week.

As of April 21, GNC's 30-day average share price, 30-day average market capitalization and stockholders' equity all fell below the Exchange's standards, the Exchange told the company on April 28. The company had 45 business days to present a plan to increase its share average, but it's not clear if it did so. That deadline was June 24.  

GNC's next court hearing is scheduled for July 22.

Irwin Simon chairs new 'better-for-you' company, Whole Earth Brands

Whole Earth will offer natural alternatives and clean label categories across the global consumer product industry.

A special purpose acquisition company has fulfilled its purpose of combining two Flavors Holdings Inc. subsidiaries to create Whole Earth Brands.

Merisant Company—maker of Equal and Pure Via sweeteners—and Mafco Worldwide Corporation, which manufactures licorice extract and other derivatives make up the new company. Whole Earth will offer natural alternatives and clean label categories across the global consumer product industry.

Whole Earth Brands' stocks and warrants began trading Thursday on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the ticker symbols FREE and FREEW, respectively.  

Former Hain Celestial CEO Irwin Simon is the new company's executive chairman.

"I am enthusiastic about the opportunity to create Whole Earth Brands and help craft its strategy in the industry where I spent my entire career and built powerful brands," Simon said in a news release. "We have created a global, industry leading platform, focused on food products and ingredients in rapidly growing categories driven by powerful macro trends that we believe are permanently changing the way food is consumed.

"We have an accomplished team capable of strengthening our leadership in our core markets as the shift away from sugar accelerates and demand for natural ingredients intensifies. With the overwhelming support of our public and PIPE investors, we closed the transaction at highly attractive leverage levels, giving us the flexibility to use our financial position to accelerate organic and strategic growth in the areas that we have identified," he continued.

To accelerate its growth, the new business will leverage its management team's experience, its leadership in CPG categories and its capital structure to drive innovation and increase worldwide distribution as it grows.

"We are very pleased to complete the formation of Whole Earth Brands through this business combination," said Albert Manzone, chief executive officer of Whole Earth Brands and former CEO of Flavor Holdings Inc.

"We now have the financial resources to expand through strategic consolidation, grow in adjacent markets and enter into on-trend branded health and wellness categories. Our team recognizes the opportunity this transaction has presented. We are ready to seize the moment."

In addition to Simon and Manzone, Whole Earth Brands will be led by Flavors Holdings’ management team, Andy Rusie, former chief financial officer of Flavors Holdings and Merisant, now CFO of Whole Earth Brands; and Lucas Bailey, former president of MAFCO, now president of Whole Earth Brands’ Flavors and Ingredients Division.

 

Source: Whole Earth Brands

5@5: Families of deceased COVID-19 victims sue Tyson Foods | First GMO salmon hits shelves

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Families of COVID-19 meatpacking plant victims sue Tyson Foods

A new lawsuit filed by families of three workers at Tyson Foods' Waterloo, Iowa, meatpacking plant accuse the company of implementing safety measures too slowly and operating without them on a regular basis. At least 74 meatpacking plant workers have died so far from COVID-19, and 20,000 have tested positive for the virus. Read more at Modern Farmer

 

First GMO salmon enters market

AquaBounty, a genetically modified salmon producer, has begun a commercial-scale harvest of the conventional Atlantic salmon it is raising in Indiana. The land-based recirculating aquaculture system is novel in the U.S., and AquaBounty CEO Sylvia Wulf expects this type of salmon to grow in popularity among consumers for its sustainability, quality and freshness. Read more at IntraFish

 

Having a few alcoholic drinks a week may be better for your brain than avoiding alcohol altogether, a study found

Medical journal JAMA has published a study that links moderate alcohol consumption in middle-aged and older adults with better brain function. Studies from 1999, 2005 and 2014 also found that moderate drinking boosts cognitive performance. However, the study largely consisted of white consumers and researchers could not determine if these same benefits occurred in Black participants. Read more at Insider

 

Hunts Point Market plows through pandemic, feeding New Yorkers and avoiding firings

The Hunts Point Cooperative Market in the Bronx is the largest of its kind in the world; it houses a produce market, fish market and a meat market and 4.5 billion pounds of food pass through the distribution center each year. To prevent the spread of the virus and keep its customers stocked, market management took a data-focused approach and published findings regarding cases of the illness among the over 1,860 workers at the site online. Read more at The City

 

Impossible makes its plant-based sausage available to all restaurants in the US

Impossible Foods debuted its plant-based sausage in January and has already made the product available to restaurants nationwide. The company is clearly capitalizing on the pandemic-related plant-based meat boom and CEO Pat Brown said that consumers can expect to purchase the product at retail far sooner than the three years it took Impossible Burgers to reach store shelves. Read more at The Spoon

Natural Foods Merchandiser

Today's functional foods lean on modern trends and age-old wisdom

"People today just expect more from their food and snack products," says Elizabeth Giannuzzi, the co-founder of California-based snack company Siren Snacks. "They're looking for added functional benefits."

This is something she can relate to. Giannuzzi, like many other natural products industry entrepreneurs, grew her business out of a compelling personal story about taking her health into her own hands to battle chronic illness. She shares her search for foods to both nourish and heal with the growing number of consumers who are driving the booming functional food and beverage market in the natural and specialty channel—one that grew an estimated 2% in 2019 to $5.8 billion, according to the Nutrition Business Journal.

The concept of functional food—food that claims to improve health and wellness with additional ingredients such as herbs and botanicals, vitamins, minerals, macronutrients and more—is nothing new. Vitamin D milk and calcium-enriched orange juice are early examples that promised more health with every serving. But today's natural food consumers are more likely to be wooed by minimally processed foods and beverages with inherently wholesome ingredients than by nutrient-fortified conventional food items.

Solutions for modern life

Current functional food growth parallels the compounding pressures of modern life. Sleep, stress and inflammation are top-of-mind concerns for consumers, who are also drawn to the exotic ingredients and flavor profiles of today's functional products, particularly if they've heard of their positive benefits. But it wasn't always this way. Tero Isokauppila, who founded functional mushroom brand Four Sigmatic in 2012, says, "Eight years ago, I had this big idea of getting Americans to drink mushrooms, but mushroom drinking wasn't exactly an embraced concept back then." Rather than force the "mushroom elixir" to market, he shifted to a mushroom-infused coffee drink that focused on "elevating people's existing coffee routine."

That decision, it turns out, was on the mark. Coffees and teas are still among the most common vehicles for functional ingredients (along with foods including chocolate, snacks and ice cream). RTD beverages are also key products, as well as pioneering drivers of innovation in functional ingredients. Elizabeth Giannuzzi points out that, "things that were just beverage trends, like adaptogens, energy and proteins, started making their way into foods." She credits the beverage industry for doing a lot of the initial legwork on customer education around these functional ingredients, making it easier for food brands to get a foothold in this growing market.

Next-gen nutrition

As the foundation for healthy living has shifted from treatment to prevention and now optimization, function-forward ethos is inspiring many of today's new lifestyle choices. Biohacking has emerged in conjunction with new technologies to make personalized nutrition more accessible than ever before. Through mail-in tests, biohackers can analyze consumers' DNA, microbiome and nutrient levels. And, just as sleep tracking lets people optimize their rest, these tests help them opt for foods that will maximize their bodies' potential—whether in brain function, energy, stamina or physiological goals.

The biohacking movement has helped bring new audiences to the natural products industry and drive growth in functional foods, particularly those with certain ingredients. The presence of medium chain triglycerides (MCT)—which gained fame thanks to Bulletproof founder and biohacking guru Dave Asprey—at Natural Products Expos grew 248% between 2017 and 2019, according to New Hope Network's NEXT Data and Insights. Another top ingredient in terms of growth was L-theanine, an amino acid found in tea, which is one of many natural nootropics biohackers use to support cognitive function. The use of collagen, caffeine, prebiotics and probiotics as food ingredients has also grown substantially, supporting joint, skin and gut health.

Functional food sales grew an estimated 2% in 2019 to $5.8 billion, according to Nutrition Business Journal.

Wisdom of the past

Still, the popularity of some traditional botanical ingredients such as panax ginseng, ginkgo biloba and medicinal mushrooms suggests this movement is merely another manifestation of people's age-old fascination with the curative and beneficial properties of certain ingredients. Many ingredients embraced by biohackers are the same botanicals used by herbalists and Ayurvedic practitioners for millennia. While biohackers focus on science to manipulate physiology, Ayurvedic practitioners draw on ancient wisdom to help people understand their bodies' needs. Similarly, traditional herbalists rely on longstanding knowledge about the functional uses of different botanicals to soothe and fortify the body.  Translated to natural products brands, these varying approaches are often distinguished by the ingredients used in each product. But there is plenty of crossover as people select their functional foods in accordance with their own paths to vitality.

Of the traditional Ayurvedic herbs—a group, according to NBJ, that grew 23% to $222 million in sales in 2018—ashwagandha is particularly valued for its adaptogenic properties that help the body cope with stress. Another is turmeric, promoted as a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Others include cardamom, brahmi and tulsi (holy basil). With hundreds more to choose from, it's safe to say that Ayurvedic ingredient innovation still has a lot of modern-day growth potential.

Functional botanicals, which NBJ reports are still driving the supplements industry, are at the core of functional foods and beverages. The ever-growing list of common botanical ingredients includes traditional staples—ginger, chamomile, dandelion and aloe—and less widespread herbs such as gentian, valerian, gotu kola, nettles, borage, fenugreek and guayusa, which New Hope Network's NEXT Data and Insights considers "emerging," based on inclusion at Natural Products Expo West events from 2017 to 2019.

How much is enough?

Medicinal mushrooms—classified as "herbs" by NBJ—come in myriad formats, promoting a variety of health benefits from nootropic to anti-stress and immunity. Reishi, chaga, lion's mane and cordyceps, in particular, are frequent additions to RTD beverages, sweets, snacks and bars. Yet, as with other functional food ingredients, consumers, retailers and even manufacturers face uncertainty about the herbs' efficacy and proper dosing.

Isokauppila cautions consumers to be careful. "Unfortunately, there's a lot of pixie dusting in the natural foods industry. I see many brands calling out a 'hot' ingredient but only putting in a very small amount, or using the incorrect and nonbioavailable form of a [component]." His company not only follows strict mushroom sourcing and extracting methods, but also informs consumers of exactly how many milligrams they are getting of each ingredient. Perhaps as consumers turn increasingly to functional foods as a long-term approach to wellness, efficacy and bioavailability may become topics that brands will discuss with both retailers and consumers.

Click through our gallery to see functional foods you might want to stock.

5 companies innovating in the 'endocannabinoid system' trend

Hemp plant

NEXT Trends 2020 series: In an effort to help support retailers and brands, we will be publishing regular brand features for the next few weeks. Brands are selected from those that registered to exhibit at Natural Products Expo West 2020 and were curated as great examples of one of 50 trends New Hope Network is monitoring in the marketplace.

These trends are part of New Hope Network's NEXT Expo Guidebook and trend hierarchy.

Today, we look at five companies that are innovating in the "Endocannabinoid System" trend within the A Life of Vitality macro force. The promise of CBD, hemp and the endocannabinoid system, are driving growth, experimentation and innovation.

Lazarus Naturals, Reed’s Remedies, Joy Organics

1. Lazarus Naturals

What is it? Lazarus Naturals is a vertically integrated manufacturer of hemp CBD. Lazarus grows its own hemp, and extracts, produces and packages full spectrum CBD products at cGMP facilities with organic ingredients.

Innovation: Lazarus Naturals is an employee-owned company. It has implemented community outreach and assistance programs, such as providing 60% discounts to veterans, individuals on long-term disability and for low-income households.

2. Reed’s Remedies

What is it? Reed’s Remedies is a hemp CBD company that specializes in targeted and consistent wellness products.

Innovation: Reeds Remedies mixes steam-distilled cannabinoids and terpenes to address specific health concerns and provide a consistent experience. Patent-pending formulas include: Relief, Desire, Focus, Detox, Sleep, Calm and Soothe. The hemp is organically sun-grown, without chemicals or toxins, and is third-party lab tested.

3. Joy Organics

What is it? Producing THC-free, broad spectrum hemp CBD oil, Joy Organics is family-owned and -operated in Colorado.

Innovation: Joy Organics makes products such as energy drink packets, bath bombs, dog treats and salves.

Danodan Hempworks, Moon Mother Hemp Company

4. Danodan Hempworks

What is it? Danodan Hempworks producing hemp flower CBD shots in Portland, Oregon.

Innovation: These small-batch, handmade infusions use 100% Oregon-grown therapeutic hemp and organic vegetable glycerin for natural water solubility and full flavor. Products are lab tested and verified, with QR code-linked certificates of analysis on every product.

5. Moon Mother Hemp Company

What is it? Moon Mother Hemp Company is a woman-owned business that uses environmentally responsible farming practices for its hemp-based natural products. The company sells full spectrum hemp oil supplements and botanicals made from USDA-certified organic hemp, grown on its farm in Boulder, Colorado.

Innovation: Moon Mother Hemp Company is Leaping Bunny-certified. Its products are gluten free, corn free and soy free.

4 companies pushing the 'personalization' trend

DNA

NEXT Trends 2020 series: In an effort to help support retailers and brands, we will be publishing regular brand features for the next few weeks. Brands are selected from those that registered to exhibit at Natural Products Expo West 2020 and were curated as great examples of one of 50 trends New Hope Network is monitoring in the marketplace.

These trends are part of New Hope Network's NEXT Expo Guidebook and trend hierarchy.

Today, we look at four companies that are innovating in the "Personalization" trend within The Power of Science macro force. One size does not fit all, and smart brands realize consumers need tailored guidance, nutrition and wellness practices, thus perpetuating innovation around personalization.

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1. myDNA Life

What is it? Send in a cheek swab to myDNA Life, and the company will analyze the sample for genetic markers. The company then provides an analysis as well as an action plan for nutrition and fitness, skin anti-aging or vitamins, depending on the product purchased.

Innovation: For example, if a customer orders the “Personalized Skin Aging Defense” System, she or he will receive information about his or her predisposition to aging, targeted protective measures to help improve his or her daily skin care, and a personalized skin care plan.

2. The Coconut Cult

What is it? The Coconut Cult makes "superstrong” probiotic coconut gelato and yogurt.

Innovation: Customers can use The Coconut Cult website to create custom packs of gelato and yogurt. The company recommends custom dosage so that the yogurt is used as a probiotic supplement. 

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3. Mayu Water

What is it? These solutions are added to purified water to remineralize it. 

Innovation: Mayu Water's blends of essential minerals supplement filtered water. The company says these blends are ideal for water filtered by reverse osmosis or thermal distillation, as these systems remove essential minerals along with the pollutants and contaminants.

4. Quicksilver Scientific

What is it? A nutrition company that makes detoxification test kit and supplements.

Innovation: Quicksilver Scientific products include tests to identify individual toxicity levels of environmental toxins like heavy metals. The company provides consumers detoxification protocols and a line of supplements.

5@5: U.S. businesses shut down as COVID-19 cases spike | Plastic waste surges

Getty Images plastic containers for food

Stores, bars and restaurants weight whether to open or close as COVID-19 cases rise

Businesses across the nation are debating whether to close their doors again after premature openings led to new spikes in COVID-19 cases. In response to this, one infectious disease expert advised stores, restaurants and bars to be flexible in the absence of strong government guidance and mitigate risks for employees by requiring face masks, frequent handwashing and physical distancing. Read more at USA Today

 

Plastic waste surges as coronavirus prompts restaurants to use more disposable packaging

COVID-19 has made the war on single-use plastic especially tricky, as many retailers continue to ban shoppers' personal reusable grocery bags and restaurants rely heavily on food delivery services and takeout orders. Environmentalists believe that the plastic industry exploited consumers' fears about the virus by pushing single use plastic as the safer option, a notion that recent scientific studies do not support. Read more at CNBC

 

Cell-based meat benefits include helping save our future, experts say

Thanks to the novel coronavirus, it has never been clearer to the public how fragile the U.S. meat supply chain really is. A new documentary highlighting Memphis Meats, a cell-based meat manufacturer, seeks to illustrate a future of "clean" meat that is void of these fragilities. Lab-cultured meat notably doesn't require antibiotics and the risk of contamination of these products is significantly lower than conventional meat. Read more at The Huffington Post

 

USDA cuts red tape for school lunch programs this fall

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced this week that in-classroom dining and grab-and-go school meal services for schools will be extended through June 30, 2021. However, the School Nutrition Association is currently lobbying the organization to allow all schools to serve free meals, not just those that have a high threshold of free lunch participation. Read more at The Counter

 

Our ghost-kitchen future

Ghost, or cloud, kitchens provide real branding and food for physically nonexistent restaurants; some restaurant owners can operate 10 of these virtual restaurants from a single kitchen. And as major American cities continue to see spikes in COVID-19 cases, restaurateurs are turning to these platforms (as well as converting into grocery stores) to fulfill the giant consumer need for takeout while sidestepping delivery apps' "extortionate service charges." Read more at The New Yorker

How two brands created a product inspired by stay-at-home culture

Bridge Lane Wine Parm Crisps and Bridge Lane Wine & Cheese Box

It’s hard to view the pandemic in a positive light, but one bright spot among the chaos is the creativity it’s sparked within the natural products space. 

Case in point: quarantine living inspired a clever and tasty collaboration between two New York companies. 

In April, nutritionally on-trend snack brand ParmCrisps teamed up with Bridge Lane Wine (a sister label of New York's Lieb Cellars) to bring consumers something special during uncertain times. Their limited-edition Wine & Cheese Box pairs Bridge Lane's Red Blend Wine with ParmCrisps Original 100% Parmesan cheese crisps. The Red Blend is a Bordeaux-style blend with red fruit and black cherry notes and a hint of oaky spice. ParmCrisps Original oven-baked cheese crisps are made entirely from 100% aged Parmesan (great for keto and low carb lifestyles) and pair perfectly with the wine's medium body and smooth finish. 

ParmCrisps Chief Marketing Officer Kevin Joseph said the idea originated from the desire to create a cheese and wine pairing that could be delivered straight to consumers’ doors during the COVID-19 pandemic, since shoppers weren’t going to the grocery store as often

“We set out to partner with a wine brand that was independent, small batch and had similar attributes as ParmCrisps, and found Bridge Lane Wine, whose ideals fit perfectly with our own,” Joseph says. “Not only could we create a unique product that could bring a little joy through the pandemic, but by partnering with Bridge Lane Wine, we could also help support a neighboring New York-based business.”

The two brands worked quickly to find, design and produce the box, splitting responsibilities and functioning as one team. In this case, being a small brand had its advantages: Small staffs allowed clear and efficient communication, and a shared emphasis on sustainability and healthy living made the project meaningful and fun. After packaging the box, it was sent to Bridge Lane Wine for assembly.

The decision to launch exclusively online was in part to make the product available during a time when people wanted groceries and snacks delivered to them, and in part because it was a limited-time offer and allowed expedited production efforts. 

“We found that as long as trucks were still delivering products, bringing the product to the market digitally made sense,” Joseph says. “During this challenging time, the online-only launch was more intuitive.”

Judging by consumer response, the box is a crowd pleaser and Joseph says that though the partnership with Bridge Lane is a first, he hopes to team up with other brands for similar projects in the future. 

“Wine and cheese simply go together, and when you pair a craft snack with a craft beverage, you create a winning combination,” he says. “We also saw our social media communities merge from the collaboration and drove awareness to each other’s consumer base.” 

The limited-edition Wine & Cheese Box is available online at bridgelanewine.com for $40 per box while supplies last. We’ll drink—and snack—to that. 

Unboxed: 12 methods to avocado madness

With the world more tuned in than ever before to the importance of health and wellness, consumers can’t get enough of nutrient-dense, heart-healthy avocados. These fruits—rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A, D and E as well as unsaturated fats—have become particularly relevant for those who follow the keto diet, along with other food tribes that emphasize the importance of consuming plenty of “good" fats.

But the other key factor in it's mega-popularity comes from the avocado's mild, delicate flavor and richly creamy texture that can go either sweet or savory. These characteristics make it an ideal substitute for dairy in plant-based versions of products that range from dressings to sauces, mayonnaise, “cheesy” snacks, ice creams, butter and even milk. Indeed, today’s avocado-based products stretch the imagination and challenge the versatility of this beloved fruit like never before.

Many of these applications are achieved with the oil extracted from avocados, which not only has numerous health benefits but also a high, 500°F smoke point. Not all avocado oils are created equal, however. A recent study out of the University of California, Davis, points to adulteration as one of the biggest issues affecting the avocado oil market. Researchers tested the quality and purity of 22 commercially available samples of extra virgin, virgin and refined avocado oil, and discovered that more than 80% of the samples had either gone rancid or were mixed with cheaper oils. Furthermore, three of the samples tested for this study did not contain any avocado oil at all.

Though disheartening, these results will hopefully lead to stricter controls of and more stringent standards for avocado oil in the future. They also help underline the important role that natural products brands have in terms of setting the standards for quality and transparency in avocado-ful products.  

Warning: The following gallery may make consumers never want to settle for plain old avocado toast again.