How a sustainable tea brand is about to get greener with new sugar cane technology

One Earth teabag

At Wize Coffee Leaf, nothing goes to waste, and it starts with the brand’s tea itself. Made from the coffee leaf, it stabilizes coffee growers’ income by using more of the plant than just the bean. But it certainly doesn’t end there.

On the farm, Wize Coffee Leaf growers utilize even more of the coffee plant that is otherwise wasted by conventional growing practices. For example, farmers compost the husk’s pulp for fertilizer. “The pulp is rich in moisture and has a lot of biomass,” explains co-founder and CEO Max Rivest. “Energy, nutrients and moisture from the pulp itself is used to maintain the plantings, because they make a great fertilizer that we can put back into the farm.” The drier layers of husk are used as kindling or on walkways to dry soggy and wet passages.

The compost mixture is then enriched by soil gathered from the bottom of a pond, which was created via dam for this exact purpose. “There’s a lot of runoff that comes from the mountains, and this runoff is rich in minerals,” Rivest says. “We built a dam to capture this soil and collect huge buckets of it from the pond to compost along with the pulp and other biomass. The idea is to keep all this biomass in a closed loop.”

In about a month, Wize Coffee Leaf consumers will be able to get in on the composting action when the brand rolls out a new tea filtering material from One Earth, made from non-GMO sugar cane. “This mesh teabag is backyard compostable in three weeks,” Rivest explains. “All the existing teabags on the market right now are compostable in two years. So we were absolutely in love with this concept.”

It took two years of testing, learning to manipulate the material, and acquiring new machinery, but the investment is worth it, Rivest says. “No one has been willing to test this material before because it creates an R&D gap for companies that don’t deem this necessary,” he says. “We took this process on, in house, because we wanted to invest in this and make sure it works. We see this as one of the best innovations in single-serve teabags in a long time.”

CBD Monthly Update — July 2020


Hemp Collective podcast episode 5: Hemp Collective Virtual Summit rewind – podcast

In this month's podcast, we provide a snapshot of the regulatory, quality, market data and industry action items covered during the Hemp Collective Virtual Summit in May. We explore consumer insights driving industry growth, top issues related to quality and the biggest legal challenges companies face today.

Research backs CBD for arthritis in dogs

A study published in the Journal of Immunology found that after a month of daily CBD, dogs with canine osteoarthritis showed significant improvement in their mobility and quality of life. The U.S. pet CBD market is projected to reach $563 million in sales this year. Read more at Forbes...

How CBD might reduce COVID-19 lung inflammation

Nebraska and the Texas Biomedical Research Institute detail the evidence for how cannabinoids’ anti-inflammatory powers may help treat dangerous lung inflammation from the disease in an article in Brain, Behavior and Immunity.

84% of CBD consumers believe CBD can replace opioids

A recent survey of 1,450 CBD consumers revealed that most use the product to treat chronic pain—and believe CBD is an effective replacement for opioids. Read more at

Military moves to criminalize CBD

A Department of Defense tweet recently highlighted a February memo by the Acting Under Secretary of Defense of Personnel and Readiness that says troops can be punished for using products containing hemp or cannabidiol. Read more at

Want to receive these updates directly to your inbox each month? Sign up here, and also get a copy of Demystifying CBD, one question at a time.



Natural Foods Merchandiser

Market Overview 2020: Supplement sales shift with changing trends and refocused needs

Jackson Whole Grocer and Cafe Jackson Whole Grocer and Cafe supplement section

While a 2018 regimen may have been a multivitamin, probiotic and fish oil, the 2019 focus was buying CBD, a superfood like collagen and perhaps some gummies.

Consumers continued to buy supplements in the natural and specialty retail channel in 2019, they just shifted where their dollars were spent. Sales reached $16.6 billion for 2019, up just 1.6%.
Yet with the onset of COVID-19, consumers likely will focus on immunity and overall health as they look to dietary supplements once again as an insurance policy for their health.

Overall supplement trends

A consistent trend across all categories and conditions in 2019, regardless of formula, was a shift toward non-pill formats as consumers turned to gummies, powders, shots and effervescent formats. For the first time, non-pill format dietary supplement sales eclipsed pill formats accounting for 52% of sales across all channels, says Claire Morton Reynolds, senior industry analyst at Nutrition Business Journal. “Gummy supplements alone increased from 6% of the market to 13% of the market,” she says.

As an increasing number of consumers understand the role dietary supplements can play in  overall health and prevention, the breadth of interest in supplements has transitioned from a focus on multivitamins to as Reynolds explains “modern conditions,” namely sleep, brain health (cognition and focus), eye health, digestive health, inflammation and immunity.

Read all of the Natural Foods Merchandiser Market Overview coverage:

Retailers concur that these categories were the ones that held steady.

“Sleep, anxiety, inflammation, constipation, the standards that you can’t talk too much about, all did well,” says Ed Jones, owner of Tennessee’s Nutrition World.

In 2019, retailers also reported strong growth in herbs and botanicals, including ayurvedic herbs, turmeric, adaptogens, and, in particular, mushrooms. Herbs and botanicals matched meal supplements to lead supplement sales growth at a rate of 3.6% last year, according the Natural Foods Merchandiser Market Overview Survey.

CBD in transition

For the year, the hemp-based CBD marketplace across all channels (except for specialty hemp and medical/recreational cannabis retail outlets) continued to increase with sales estimated around $618 million according to NBJ, doubling year-over-year with growth of 102%. The hemp CBD market is expected to reach $2.8 billion by 2023. Yet, while the bulk of sales are still in supplements, natural products retailers reported a drop-off in sales in-store, even during COVID-19 when they might have expected to see an increase to offset stress or anxiety.    

While many consumers were eager to try new CBD products in 2018 to see what would work best for them, in 2019 customers were not buying as many products and there were fewer new customers seeking CBD.

“There are fewer people saying, ‘I want to get this for my mother, grandmother and uncle.’ They’ve done that and bought three different things to try it out, and now they’re buying one product instead of three,” says Emily Kanter, co-owner of Massachusetts-based Cambridge Naturals.

The drop in CBD sales also contributed to companies lowering prices. At the same time, CBD is now available everywhere, Jones says.

“Every street corner had a new CBD store, so we are slicing the pie a lot more,” he says. “Now the question is, why would you want to come to a health food store rather than a gas station to buy CBD? Education with strong language is the only way to do that.”

But natural products stores can play a leadership role in continuing to educate consumers about what quality products look like. “You have to be bold, accurate and kind, but very straightforward,” Jones adds.

Retailers note seeing customers primarily take hemp CBD products for stress, pain and inflammation. Areas of growth that are expected to maintain traction in 2020 are CBD herbal blends with a focus on health conditions. For instance, while NBJ reports sleep growing 11% in 2019, with melatonin still accounting for over half of sleep sales, it was noted that hemp CBD is driving quite a bit of growth in this category as formulas that combine it with melatonin or herbs and botanicals have come to market.

Natural Foods Merchandisernatural retail CBD strategy

Shifting supplement trends

Other notable supplement trends in 2019 included growth in sports nutrition, as NBJ reported 3.4% growth for sports nutrition supplements sold in the natural channel. Keto diet supplements held strong and influenced some of the sales in sports nutrition whether for electrolyte products or protein powders. Yet, if it wasn’t for the ongoing growth of CBD, collagen would have been the “it” item for 2019.

Primarily in powder form, collagen is easy for consumers to take with the older demographic taking it more for joint health and younger consumers turning to it for hair, skin and nail health. Collagen’s recent stardom as a superfood led the way but retailers saw collagen sales start to take from protein powder sales.

Similarly, in gut health, while probiotics accounted for 27% of gut health sales in 2019, sales in probiotics have been seeing slower growth, Reynolds says, while at the same time consumers are becoming more aware of prebiotics supplements and synbiotic supplements, those which combine probiotics with prebiotics.

“I definitely heard more people talking about prebiotics,” Kanter says. “Whether or not sales rose, there was more buzz around the idea of prebiotics and supporting your gut from the other end of the spectrum, in addition to probiotics.”

While cognitive health is an area that has drawn interest, with nootropics gaining momentum in 2019, the category will likely not see as much growth in 2020, notes Jonathan Lawrence, senior director of grocery and natural living at Fresh Thyme Farmers Market. “Nootropics are really cool and I see it continuing to build. But if you can only buy three things, it may not make it onto the list. People want their brain to work better, they don’t want to feel foggy. But it’s going to be secondary to those basic everyday regimen supplements at this point in time,” he says.

“We still have collagen and CBD, but the new regimen will see a focus on multivitamins, probiotics, fish oil and immune products. That is where we will see stable growth in 2020,” Lawrence says. He expects to see categories such as keto and sports nutrition decline because people aren’t going to the gym and, again, they only have so many dollars to spend.

Immunity, cold and flu

Immunity supplement sales have been on the rise for a few years, Reynolds says. For 2019, NBJ reports cold, flu and immunity supplement sales across all channels at $3.3 billion with 8.5% growth. But with the onset of COVID-19, for 2020, cold, flu and immunity is expected to spike to nearly 16% growth. “Immune products have seen explosive growth with the COVID-19 outbreak,” says Lawrence.

For 2019, vitamins and minerals saw static growth at 1.6%, according to the NFM Market Overview Survey, with several products such as vitamins C, and A, D and K reporting negative growth, according to SPINS. Minerals, such as zinc, reported the highest growth in this category at 6.71%. Yet, with the onset of COVID-19, vitamin C sales grew 85% through April compared with the same time in 2019. As zinc and vitamin D also increased in demand, vitamins A, D and K reported a 23% increase and overall minerals are up 20% early this year. Vitamins and minerals for children grew just over 42% through April in comparison with the 0.76% growth they saw for all of 2019. Overall, SPINS reported that the vitamins and minerals category is up 25.82% through April.

Elderberry, vitamin C and zinc are expected to continue to be leaders in growth in immunity. While elderberry took an initial dip in sales at the start of COVID-19 because of concerns that it could stimulate a cytokine storm in the body, once research and experts cleared this as not true, sales took off again. “People will take zinc or elderberry daily. We don’t know how long this pandemic is going to go, and people want their immune system to be armed and ready to go,” Lawrence says.

Likewise, mushrooms, which were already experiencing strong growth in 2019, saw accelerated growth with COVID-19. Several retailers noted they completely ran out of certain mushroom products as the pandemic started.

“People recognize they want their immune system to be healthy in a deep way, not just fighting something off when they get sick, fighting ahead of time instead of after,” Kanter says. “Mushroom supplements and whole extract mushroom supplements are sought for supporting a healthy immune system that is balanced and not overstimulated.”

Not surprisingly supplements for stress, anxiety and sleep have also been in demand with the start of COVID-19. Kanter says she sees customers seeking things that help with stress and sleep as part of a way to strengthen their immune system and keep as healthy as possible.

Natural Foods Merchandiser

Market Overview 2020: Reasons organic attracts consumers evolve from simply ‘for the kids’

Getty Images Whole Foods Market organic shopper

Once again, the organic industry continued to grow in 2019. While not wanting pesticides in products and food is still a key growth driver, as the organic marketplace becomes more mainstream, consumers are turning to it for myriad reasons from clean products and sustainability to transparency in supply chain, human and animal welfare. Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has also brought new and different growth to the category.

Over the past decade, the organic marketplace has more than doubled in size, growing from $24.9 billion in sales in 2010 to $55.1 billion across all retail channels in 2019, according to the Organic Trade Association’s (OTA) recently released annual Organic Industry Survey. In 2019, organic food sales reached $50.1 billion while nonfood sales, including dietary supplements, personal care, textiles, household cleaning products, pet food and flowers, hit $5 billion in sales. Together, the organic products industry grew at a rate of 5%. Organic food sales grew at a rate of 4.6% and organic non-food product sales grew at 9.2% across all channels, well above total sales growth of similar products (organic and conventional) which was 2.6%, according to the Natural Foods Merchandiser Annual Market Overview Survey.

Beyond millennials and young families looking for clean food, the appeal of organic now extends beyond food issues for millennials and Gen Z shoppers, who were born after 1996. They also seek out organic for its human and animal welfare practices and because its sustainable and transparent supply chains outshine their conventional counterparts. As a result of these holistic, better-for-the-world demands, brands pair the USDA Organic certification with others such as non-GMO, fair trade or B Corp, even as organic itself addresses the welfare of people, animals and the planet. And thus, consumer conversation has grown to include “organic regenerative agriculture,” which now has its own certification through the Rodale Institute.

Some industry members worry that the rising organic regenerative agriculture movement will cause consumers confusion rather than clarity (remember the confusion as non-GMO took center stage?) while splintering the industry. Yet leaders at brands such as Dr. Bronner’s, Patagonia Provisions and Alter Eco say regenerative agriculture, with organic certification as a baseline, is necessary to preserve organic’s intention to provide clean food while also being better stewards of the land. It’s a distinction they say is necessary as the organic industry becomes more mainstream with larger companies and big ag involvement. Consumers are starting to catch on.

“We’ve seen a big uptick in questions and excitement around regenerative agriculture,” says Lee Robinson, Whole Foods Market’s director of dairy and beverage. “It’s one of the trends we’ve noted in 2020; people want to know more about where their food comes from, they see regenerative agriculture as organic-plus. Most consumers don’t understand the intricacies of the National Organic Program (NOP) and the regulations. They see organic as a cleaner product and see regenerative as building soil health, thinking more about climate change and the potential of organic farming to reduce carbon. For different people, regenerative means different things, and that is what we will see play out. We don’t want to discount the great work organic farmers are doing, but the barrier to entry of organic is the three-year transition time.”

Organic category growth

Back in 2019, the gateway to organic continued to be fruit and vegetable sales, which were up nearly 5% and reached $18.2 billion in sales for the year across all retail channels according to the OTA Organic Industry Survey. Organic fruit and vegetables, which includes produce as well as dried fruits, vegetables and beans, now holds a 15% penetration into the overall fruits and vegetables market. Organic produce alone now makes up almost a third of all organic food sales.

Read all of the Natural Foods Merchandiser Market Overview coverage:

On the other hand, organic milk, though still a household staple, maintained relatively stable sales in 2019 as the industry dealt with oversupply issues and the continued large pricing gap between conventional and organic. Still, the $6.6 billion organic dairy category grew at a rate of almost 2%, once again faster than the overall dairy market, which only grew at a rate of 0.2%.
While staples drive organic, two natural products industry trends changed organic, too: low-to-no-sugar products and those serving special diets, including keto, Paleo and others.

The growing interest in lower-sugar products has significantly reduced sales in the organic beverage aisle as juice sales of any kind have fallen off only to be replaced by an increasing number of water-based beverages that are natural but not necessarily certified organic. The reduced-sugar influence was also seen in condiments with the revamping of organic salad dressings, sauces and condiments such as sugar-free ketchup. In fact, organic ketchup sales hit $57 million in 2019, up almost 16% from the previous year. These clean and low-sugar products also played into an increase in organic keto and Paleo diet offerings. Although consumers might want reduced-sugar spaghetti sauce and beverages, their desire for organic chocolate, desserts and baked goods remains strong.

Yet as consumer interest in “clean” food helps to grow organic, some categories still have limited—even no—organic offerings. Just look at plant-based products, especially meat analogs, which rarely embrace organic. Likewise, organic collagen isn’t available and organic hemp is still in limited supply. Organic certification is expected to be a key differentiator for hemp products in the future, as supply and certification processes catch up with demand.

Natural Foods Merchandiserorganic food sales at indpendents

Organic nonfood sales

The organic nonfood market, which accounts for 9% of overall organic sales, also saw growth in 2019. While organic pet food remains one of the smaller organic sectors, consumers are starting to seek out organic pet food for their furry family members for the same reasons they choose their own food: clean ingredients and a transparent supply chain. In the past, supply chain hiccups, such as a limited organic poultry supply, have limited growth in this category. Organic pet food has been able to overcome supply challenges as organic meat and poultry becomes more readily available.
Organic personal care still tends to be limited to products containing a single or few ingredients. A lack of available active ingredients and preservatives makes it challenging for organic personal care to compete against high-end nonorganic products. And the lack of organic personal care regulation makes it difficult for certified organic products to stand out. Similarly, organic household products are also limited by ingredients and compared performance wise against the chemical-laden mainstream products.

In times like these: COVID-19

While demand for ready-made and prepared foods translated to strong organic sales in 2019, with the onset of COVID-19, foodservice and deli both took a hit as consumers started shopping online, and natural products retailers and grocery stores closed salad bars and deli areas. Yet with consumers still wary of restaurants, there is an opportunity for retailers to rethink deli and how they offer prepared foods in-store and online.

Pandemic purchasing changes are expected to translate into growth for organic staples, some of which experienced slow growth in 2019. These items include eggs, flour, rice and pasta. Noting that the recently released OTA Industry survey gathered information before COVID-19, CEO and Executive Director of the Organic Trade Association, Laura Batcha says, “Our 2020 survey looks at organic sales in 2019 before the coronavirus outbreak, and it shows that consumers were increasingly seeking out the USDA Organic label to feed their families the healthiest food possible. The pandemic has only increased our desire for clean, healthy food.” She adds, “The commitment to the organic label has always resided at the intersection of health and safety, and we expect that commitment to strengthen as we all get through these unsettled times.”

Even as organic becomes more readily available, in some categories, price can still be a barrier to entry for organic. For this reason, combined with possible economic pressures post-pandemic, stores likely will continue to invest heavily in private label and broaden their depth of offerings.

Private label organic is perceived by customers to be reliable and trustworthy while also being affordable.

That’s a win in these times.

5@5: Farmers, vegans fight CAFOs together | NGA backs bill to expand SNAP online grocery access

Getty Images cafo cows

Farmers and animal rights activists are coming together to fight big factory farms

Both animal rights activists and farmers oppose the mechanization and consolidation within the meat industry that has led to confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs). This realization prompted Senator Cory Booker to unveil the Farm System Reform Act while campaigning in Iowa, which among other things seeks to help fund farmers transitioning their CAFOs to less harmful operations and would impose an immediate moratorium on the construction of new CAFOs. Read more at Vox


NGA backs bill to widen SNAP online grocery participation

The National Grocers Association recently endorsed the Expanding SNAP Options Act of 2020. The legislation was created to give more low-income households, the elderly and disabled Americans access to safer grocery delivery options from more grocers. Currently, Amazon and Walmart are the authorized SNAP online retailers working with all states. Read more at Supermarket News


US leveraged loan defaults total $23B in Q2, the most since 2009

A six-year monthly high of $10.54 billion of defaults in May 2020 finally pushed the S&P/LSTA Leveraged Loan Index past its historical default average of 2.85% for the first time in five years. However, the distress ratio, while elevated the past three months, has significantly improved since its 57% peak in late March. Read more at S&P Global


In Arkansas, increasing pressure on Tyson Foods and Governor Hutchinson to protect workers’ lives

Because the federal government refuses to actively protect America's meatpacking plant workers, activists are calling on Tyson Foods and the meatpacker's 10 largest shareholders to enact stricter safety measures in its facilities. Their demands include slowing down the speed of processing lines, restructuring work stations to implement social distancing measures, requiring PPE and daily testing and the public disclosure of any positive cases at these locations. Read more at The Counter


Meati Foods plans DTC launch for fungi-based steak after secret restaurant trial

The latest in alt meat, fungi-based steak, will finally reach consumers in 2020. Colorado-based food tech company Meati Foods stands apart from the competition because it is providing an alternative for whole cuts of meat rather than just ground meat or burger patties. Read more at GreenQueen

How B Corps can address racial inequities in the workplace

Greyston Greystone bakery staff

Anthea Kelsick, Co-CEO of B Lab U.S. and Canada, knows how difficult it is to navigate workplaces where diversity isn’t valued or emphasized enough.

“As a Black woman it has not been easy to be in predominantly white spaces for the entirety of my career,” says Kelsick, who has a BA in psychology from Stanford University and an MBA from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. “When that occurs, you are inherently in environments that are not inclusive of your experience.”

The past few months have served as a catalyst, an awakening to the pervasiveness of systemic racism and how much work business owners have to do.

Anthea Kelsick, B LabFor Kelsick, the grief and rage bubble over as she saw the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 and unemployment on Black people, and the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, and many others. She imagined her husband, her father, her brother and her son ending up dead like Floyd at the hands of the police or with a bullet in their back, her daughter and sister shot to death while sleeping at home like Taylor and her athletic nephew running in his neighborhood out of fear of being shot like Arbery.

After writing a powerful letter to the B Corp Community, Kelsick challenged business owners to take a deeper look at how to be a force for good as companies become more vocal, visible anti-racist leaders and coalition partners.

“There’s no one-size-fits-all, 10-second answer to dismantling racism,” Kelsick says. “But there are some questions businesses can ask."

Have a conversation

To start a conversation about becoming an anti-racist coalition partner, business owners should ask:

  • How am I holding space to allow conversations about race to happen at work?
  • How does my organization support team members and leaders who are people of color?
  • How, as a business owner, am I holding public leaders accountable for tackling structural racism?

Look at your stakeholders

Certified B Corporations are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions and benchmarks that balance purpose and profit.

Review how business stakeholders are approved. Then “drill down” to focus on how the standards, practices and operations for each stakeholder group—from the company’s customers and employees to its supply chain—to see how the business can deliver more value to Black people and people of color, Kelsick says.

For example, scrutinize how much time off is given, if health benefits are equitable and if livable wages are being paid to Black employees and people of color compared to other employees.

Creating more accountability lifts everyone to a more equitable place throughout an organization, Kelsick says.

Businesses can also review Anti-Racism Resources compiled by B Lab and watch “State of the B: Tackling Racism as Accountable Business Leaders” webinar.

Build a pipeline for success

“Becoming a diverse and inclusive workforce isn’t just about the numbers,” Kelsick says.

Businesses need to review recruiting practices and how talent is sourced. “If you’re sourcing your talent from the same four or five schools that don’t have a representative population, you’re inherently not starting from a place of inclusivity,” she says.

Companies need to review how they are supporting Black people once they are hired.

“What are you doing to help Black people once they are in the door?” Kelsick asks. Businesses also need to look at how they are helping Black employees advance their careers and create more senior-level connections that allow relationships to develop without being artificial. 

“That allows for Black people to progress and become leaders,” she says.

Offer more on-the-job training and assistance

Few businesses offer enough on-the-job training for their employees. That’s especially problematic when trying to create a more diverse, inclusive environment.  

“As a Black person, or person of color, it’s often hard to ask for help because it’s often held against you,” Kelsick says. As a result, many employees will hide in their workspace in an attempt to figure out how to do something they don’t know how to do instead of asking for help.

Instead, businesses need to proactively give real-time, constructive feedback that nurtures employee development. What doesn’t work: telling an employee they’ve failed after the fact, when it is already too late to do something about the situation.

Kelsick says she found that positive environment while working at Sterling Brands, where she eventually became the vice president of strategy before leaving in 2015. Several times, before a client presentation, a colleague would print out Kelsick’s strategy deck, mark each page with fundamental restructuring suggestions.  Together, they would review the presentation so Kelsick could understand why the changes were being made, followed by the directive: “Go rethink how you might do this now that we’ve had a conversation.” That process revealed knowledge gaps and led to Kelsick receiving more training and mentoring.

“In that environment I felt I could fail out loud,” she says. “They helped me figure out what went wrong and taught me how to do it better the next time.”

Try open hiring

Kelsick points to Greyston Bakery, a certified B Corp and the brownie maker behind Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie Ice Cream that pioneered the practice of open hiring. Job applications must show up in person to put their name on a job list—which helps to ensure potential workers are invested job seekers—and called when a job becomes available.  

Greyston Bakery, which has approximately 70 open hires, doesn’t do background checks, job interviews, review resumes, drug screenings or ask for educational requirements.

“It’s well-document there are a lot of unconscious bias that goes into hiring,” says Sara Marcus, director, center for open hiring at Greyston in Yonkers, New York, the parent company of Greyston Bakery. “All we ask is whether you're authorized to work in the U.S.”

Company resources that would typically be used toward hiring are reallocated toward support services for employees once they walk in the door, she says.

Greyston contracts with Westchester Jewish Community Services, a nonprofit health provider in White Plains, New York to have an on-site care coordinator. Through the partnership, a new hire can optionally fill out a “Needs Assessment form” during his or her orientation and work with the WJCS care coordinator, an onsite case worker, who makes referrals. Because employees aren’t dealing with the human resource department, they are more comfortable disclosing personal hurdles that affect job performance, including access to transportation, housing, childcare and mental health benefits, Marcus says.

“It helps employees, but it’s also really critical for us to run a successful business,” Marcus says. “When someone’s life is in crisis, it’s hard for them to show up for work.”’

The annual turnover in the bakery is about 35%, which usually happens within a few weeks of a person being hired. “We say open hiring is an opportunity, not a promise,” Marcus says. “We’re not shy about firing folks who don’t work out and we have a zero-tolerance policy for workplace violence.”

The process isn’t as hard as it looks, she says. Her advice to business owners: Find one job within the organization where they can hire the next person who walks through the door and give someone a chance. 

Don’t just mentor, sponsor

Mentors are great, but most people need sponsors.

“The distinction between mentorship and sponsorship is really important,” Kelsick says. “I’ve had many mentors and a few sponsors but those sponsors have been critical to my success.”

Kelsick says she’s needed sponsorship to have doors open, and to help her navigate new roles after she’s been hired. 

Most people “luck into” finding a sponsor, after finding a workplace connection or impressing someone in a leadership role. Instead, businesses should proactively create sponsorship with their organization, especially at the senior level.

“Design programs around, not only bringing in, but retaining, supporting, nurturing and growing Black people and people of color inside of your organization,” she says. “It takes intentionality in order for it to be successful.”

Fresh Thyme contracts with Shipt to deliver groceries to Midwestern consumers

Fresh Thyme contracts with Shipt to deliver groceries to Midwestern consumers

Specialty retailer Fresh Thyme Farmers Market has contracted with delivery service Shipt to offer same-day deliveries to customers in more than 30 Midwestern metropolitan areas.

"We are thrilled to announce our partnership with Shipt," said Ramesh Reddy, Chief Information Officer of Fresh Thyme Farmers Market. "Their delivery solution provides a convenience—one our customers are looking for in their shopping experience." Delivery of groceries, as well as restaurants, increased during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, The Wall Street Journal reported in June.

Delivery will be offered in select cities in 11 states:

  • Chicago and Normal, Illinois.
  • Bloomington, Evansville, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Lafayette, Muncie and South Bend, Indiana.
  • Des Moines and the Quad Cities, Iowa.
  • Lexington and Louisville, Kentucky.
  • Detroit, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and Lansing, Michigan, where beer and wine will also be available for delivery to consumers 21 or older.
  • Minneapolis and Rochester, Minnesota.
  • St. Louis, Missouri.
  • Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska.
  • Akron/Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Toledo, Ohio.
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
  • Green Bay and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

New Shipt customers receive a discounted annual membership if they sign up before July 11, or customers can pay a one-time fee for each delivery.  

"Fresh Thyme Farmers Market is a staple for healthy, convenient and budget friendly living," said Joe Manning, chief business officer of Shipt. "Partnering with Fresh Thyme Farmers Market gives us the opportunity to provide an additional layer of ease by bringing fresh and healthy goods to members across the Midwest."

The partnership with Fresh Thyme Farmers Market offers Shipt members the opportunity to purchase foods for vegan, paleo, keto, vegetarian or wheat- and gluten-free diets. Fresh Thyme Farmers Market offers foods that are free from artificial colors, flavors and preservatives.

Source: Shipt

US online grocery sales growth tails off in June

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The number of customers using online grocery pickup or delivery rose 6% to 45.6 million in June, the Brick Meets Click/Mercatus Grocery Survey revealed.

U.S. online grocery sales hit $7.2 billion in June, up 9% month-over-month but less than the big double-digit gains seen in April and May, according to the Brick Meets Click/Mercatus Grocery Survey.

E-grocery sales rose $600 million for June, down from increases of $1.3 billion (+24%) to $6.6 billion in May and $1.3 billion (+37%) to $5.3 billion in April, reported Brick Meets Click. The study, released Monday and conducted June 24 to 25, polled 1,781 U.S. adults who participated in the household’s grocery shopping.

However, total online orders (covering the previous 30 days) jumped 15.6% to 85 million in June from $73.5 million in May, and the number of customers (active during past 30 days) using online grocery pickup or delivery advanced 6% to $45.6 million in June from $43 million in May. In addition, order frequency grew to 1.9 orders per month in June from 1.7 per month in May for active households.

Barrington, Illilnois-based Brick Meets Click noted that online grocery sales growth in June reflects rising concerns about coronavirus and the expansion of online fulfillment capacity across markets as the pandemic continues.

Brick Meets ClickBrick Meets Click-June 2020 U.S. Online Grocery Sales Scorecard.png

In June, 44% of all households reported high levels of concern about someone in their household catching COVID-19, up two percentage points from the previous month. The uptick was driven mainly by a 9% increase in shoppers in the over-60 age group since May, Brick Meets Click said.

Meanwhile, the capacity for online order fulfillment via pickup and home delivery grew as more retailers—like specialty independent grocers—launched services, as larger chains expanded both delivery and pickup options and as retailers added labor or improved pick productivities via technology solutions, according to the Barrington, Illinois-based strategic advisory firm.

“Many grocery retailers have demonstrated amazing agility since the health crisis started, building surge capacity to better meet the astronomical growth in demand for shopping online,” explained David Bishop, partner and research lead at Brick Meets Click, which analyzes the impact of digital technology and e-competitors on food sales and marketing. “This increase in online grocery capacity has flipped the equation. Today, as shoppers have more choice, the increased capacity is now actually enabling the continued growth of online grocery.”

Average online grocery spending per order fell to $84 in June, compared with $90 in May and $85 in both April and March, the survey found. The decrease came as more businesses reopened around the country and municipalities relaxed pandemic restrictions, likely drawing more consumers into stores.

Still, the June survey indicated that interest in receiving an online grocery order via pickup or delivery rebounded slightly, with 32% of all households (active online grocery shoppers or not) being extremely or very likely to use a service within the next 90 days, up two percentage points from May. Brick Meets Click said interest was strongest among households who used these types of services in June, with 57% saying they are extremely or very likely to do so versus 17% of nonactive households.

“Even though some retailers have seen sales decline within their respective business, the new reality of increased capacity across the market—and related greater choice (or options) for shoppers—means that all grocery retailers will need to accelerate their efforts to make shopping online even more seamless to thrive going forward,” Bishop added.

Fifty-seven percent of respondents were likely to use a specific online grocery service again within the next 30 days, up less than one percentage point from May to June. Though any improvement is a step forward in building customer engagement, June’s level remains far below the pre-COVID repeat rate of 74% in August 2019, according to earlier Brick Meets Click research.

“As grocers adopt or adapt eCommerce offerings to meet shopper demand, it’s imperative that they consider the entire customer journey in order to capture repeat shoppers,” stated Sylvain Perrier, president and CEO of Mercatus, a Charlotte, N.C.-based digital shopping solution provider. “When evaluating potential e-commerce platform providers, grocers must assess the complete ecosystem of partners and their capabilities, from digital advertising to picking and fulfillment, and the impact of those relationships. Grocers should look to partners who help them retain shoppers and increase revenue with each of these capabilities, rather than diluting their brand and bottom line at every customer touch point.”

supermarket news logoThis piece originally appeared on Supermarket News, a New Hope Network sister website. Visit the site for more grocery trends and insights.

Natural Foods Merchandiser

Are consumers counting on certifications and claims? [Infographic]

Are consumers counting on certifications and claims? [Infographic]

The natural products industry wears certification claims like a scout’s sash of honor. The certifications. The claims. The media buzz. Half of Americans find it all very helpful. For the other half, the cacophony creates confusion and overwhelm. This is what NSF International found when it surveyed consumers.


NSF International surveyed consumers on their attitudes toward nutritional claims


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5@5: Walmart unveils membership program | Black communities bridge food access gap

Walmart building

Walmart’s Amazon Prime competitor will launch in July

Walmart+, Walmart's answer to Amazon Prime, is a new membership program from the retail behemoth that will be offered to shoppers for $98 a year. Included in the subscription is same-day delivery of groceries, discounts on fuel and early access to product deals. Read more at Vox


How Black communities are bridging the food access gap

COVID-19 has disproportionately affected the Black population, both health-wise and economically. In response Black-led organizations like Harlem Grown are mobilizing to get fresh food and groceries to underserved populations, and one chef is using the opportunity to "use food to investigate the intersection of food and different cultures." Read more at Civil Eats


How you get your berries: Migrant workers who fear virus, but toil on

Migrant farmworkers are considered essential, meaning they are exempt from both stay-at-home orders and 14-day quarantine rules some states have implemented to control virus transmissions from out-of-state visitors. Testing is a high priority for farmers looking to capitalize on the short growing season of produce such as blueberries, but there are still no penalties for noncompliance with state health officials' recommendations. Read more at The New York Times


Jelly Belly, Piggly Wiggly, and P.F. Chang’s: Multimillion-dollar Covid-19 relief loans go to firms that stretch the definition of 'small'

Thousands of food companies received funding from the Payment Protection Program, including some that have seen financial gains during this stressful time. For example, Piggly Wiggly stores have reported a massive uptick in sales and are generally thriving—yet the chain received loans ranging from $150,000 to $1 million. Read more at The Counter


The pandemic is rewriting the rules of retail

There will be no return to normal for the nation's retailers. Consumers are expected to continue shopping online, so having a modern e-commerce experience is a must for businesses moving forward. Additionally, retailers must make in-store experiences especially extraordinary for those who do venture out to brick-and-mortar locations. Read more at Harvard Business Review