New hemp CBD tests show it’s time to downsize and grow up

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A flurry of various testing efforts over the last month has revealed what everybody knows: It’s buyer beware when it comes to the wild west of hemp CBD supplements.

In Minnesota, 16 out of 25 brands tested had more than 20% deviation from what the label listed, and eight tested positive for pesticides or heavy metals. In Mississippi, only 3 of 25 products tested were within 20% of label claim, and three others had elevated levels of stoner THC in them.

And the U.S. Food and Drug Administration just published test results of 147 products tested for 11 different cannabinoids plus heavy metals and other contaminants. Among the results, of 102 products that declared a specific CBD content, 18 products contained less than 80% of the amount of CBD indicated, 46 products contained CBD within 20% of the amount indicated, and 38 products contained more than 120% of the amount of CBD indicated.

Although the report does highlight issues with meeting CBD label claims and raises some concerns with THC labeling,” rationalized Rend Al-Mondhiry, attorney with the Amin Talati Wasserman law firm, “it’s positive to see that most products didn’t have unsafe levels of heavy metals.”

Other industry observers took a similarly sanguine look at the FDA’s assessment.

“There’s not much news here,” yawned the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, a lobbying consortium whose sister organization, the U.S. Hemp Authority, sets quality standards for top-flight brands. “The FDA revealed what we already knew: While more work needs to be done to ensure CBD products consistently meet label claims, the majority of products do not contain unsafe contaminant levels, specifically heavy metals.”

The bar has been lowered

Really, though. What the commentariat is saying is that hemp CBD products appear to be clean. And that’s nothing to sniff at, what with hemp being an excellent bioremediator—that is, it draws in toxins from the soil. So for finished products to be declared clean does indeed mean that somebody is doing something right.

But six in 10 products did not contain anywhere close to the amount of CBD in the bottle that was claimed on labels.

Is that not a fail?

It’s true that such results—not to mention the even worse results from Minnesota and Mississippi—are a black eye to product makers. Come on, guys, can you really not do the math?

“The irresponsible players in the market are distributing false promises and mislabeled products for consumers,” said Brandon Beatty, president of Bluebird Botanicals, a top 10 market leader, “leading to potentially dangerous outcomes.”

Steve Mister, head of the Council for Responsible Nutrition, which represents the largest supplement companies in the business, also expressed fears around “the growing subset of CBD-containing products that pose health and safety risks to the 20 million Americans who take CBD dietary supplements.”

And the FDA continues to bang the drum about safety concerns around hemp CBD. But remember, the FDA’s concerns are around CBD isolate, which is what the agency approved as an official pharmaceutical drug. The agency is never seemingly capable of differentiating between the 99% pure CBD isolate that it approved as a drug and the full spectrum hemp extracts that contain CBD at vastly lower quantities.

So if the FDA is concerned about CBD isolate, what do we make of the majority of the full spectrum hemp CBD oils that don’t contain what they say they do? Are they unsafe? The World Health Organization doesn’t seem to think so. But then, the WHO does not have to concern itself with pharmaceutical profits.

Time to downsize and grow up?

The problem is, that even if legit hemp CBD may possibly carry a safety risk, what do we make about what can only be described as subpar hemp oil? Is there a true safety issue, or is it just that it all too often does not contain what the label says it should?

And this gets to the crux of the issue. Even in the larger dietary supplements market, the FDA has identified three categories of products in particular that it is concerned about not just not meeting label claim but containing unapproved, contaminated pharmaceutical drugs inside the pills. These categories are weight management, sexual health, sports performance and diabetes. So it’s not like the supplements industry in general has its house exactly in order. And as a subset of the larger supplements business, the fledgling upstart hemp CBD business without question needs to get its house in order.

“It’s time for this industry to downsize and grow up,” said Jim Ott, CEO of CFH, Ltd., a vertically integrated hemp genetics, production and extraction company producing CBD ingredients. “It is happening as we speak. With this industry consolidation that is happening as we speak, making consumers and brand companies aware that their supply source is in jeopardy and the financial crunch that companies who are not vertically integrated are going to face, will result in more corners be cut and product safety and efficacy will be sacrificed as companies attempt to save their businesses.”

As if there isn’t enough headwinds with the economic collapse, hemp is facing particular problems, starting with the oversupply of 2019 that led to a price collapse—great news for consumers, not so much for producers.

“Most of what I am hearing suggest a major extinction event is in progress—with bankruptcies, for example, bypassing chapter 11 and going right into liquidation,” said John Grubb, managing partner of Summit Venture Management, which consults and partners with entrepreneurs and equity investors of brands. “Atalo in Kentucky, and Integrated CBD in Arizona who just auctioned off massive, state-of-art drying and extraction equipment after raising $78 million in 2019.”

Already, many top-shelf hemp CBD brands do supplements one better vis a vis transparency by containing QR codes on labels and/or website information that contains Certificates of Analysis vouchsafing product quality and standards. That’s impressive. But the vast number of low-barrier-to-entry hemp CBD brands that have gone into business not knowing they are in the supplements business and not really caring about product quality.

What if FDA were on hemp’s side?

The FDA had been charged by Congress to, among other things, issue a report on the state of the hemp CBD market. One could imagine a report with better utility than the one the agency issued.

For example, imagine the FDA collected samples from various sales channels to get a handle on which was best? First, they could’ve started with the top 10 brands. ConsumerLab did such a thing in 2018, and found that the top brands were there for a reason. Brands that passed with flying colors included Ananda Hemp, Bluebird Botanicals, Charlotte’s Web, Elixinol, Endoca Raw Hemp Oil, Plus CBD Oil, PrimeMyBody Nano-Enhanced Hemp Oil and SOL CBD Pure Hemp Extract.

The FDA could have grabbed products off store shelves at leading health food stores. Then topicals from mass market drug stores. Then CBD-only stores. Then gas stations. Then irregular channels such as boutiques and bookstores. Then the internet. That would have been valuable to consumers, for whom products can be hit or miss.

Instead, savvy consumers need to rely on a sophisticated third party to help them navigate the hemp CBD market. That means natural products retailers, who from all accounts conduct rigorous vetting processes to select only high-quality brands.

“This report should serve as further encouragement of compiling of safety data across the industry that might compel FDA to become more comfortable and act more quickly,” said Garrett Graff, managing attorney with the Hoban Law Group.

What this report really shows is that the hemp companies the FDA surveyed are clean of heavy metals but fall all too short of providing the much-heralded product promise: What’s on the label is in the bottle. That makes CBD largely safe but of uncertain effectiveness.

The position of the FDA—as with the USDA in its draft regulations on the production side—aren’t doing anyone any favors, and aren’t working to positively build a legitimate hemp industry. The more they wait the more uncertainty remains in the market, and hemp CBD will remain a niche market, and more brands and farmers will fail. Maybe that’s the way these dinosaur drug warriors want it. You can add consumers to the list of stakeholders that aren’t being served by the federal apparatus.

Perfect Day launches first animal-free dairy protein product line

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The grocery freezer section is expanding. 

The Urgent Company, a spinoff of pioneering animal-free dairy protein company Perfect Day, has announced Brave Robot, an ice cream line made with its animal-free whey protein that will be on sale at select retail locations and online nationwide by August.

Brave Robot products are lactose-free and cholesterol-free and promise to deliver on the taste and mouthfeel of traditional dairy ice cream. Brave Robot is launching in eight flavors: Vanilla, A Lot of Chocolate, PB ‘N Fudge, Buttery Pecan, Hazelnut Chocolate Chunk, Vanilla ‘N Cookies, Raspberry White Truffle and Blueberry Pie.

This line is the first of its kind from The Urgent Company, which consists of Perfect Day founders Ryan Pandya and Perumal Gandhi in addition to entrepreneur Paul Kollesoff. It’s a CPG company “with a singular focus on the next generation of natural foods.”

They’re pointedly touting Brave Robot as something other than a dairy alternative made from the usual suspects like nuts or pea protein. Instead, the key ingredient is identical to the whey protein found in milk. This animal-free whey is made with Perfect Day’s signature technology that transforms “milk’s essential genes” and microbes to convert plant sugar into the milk proteins whey and casein that Perfect Day says are nutritionally identical to those that come from cows. “We call this flora-made dairy protein, since it comes from flora instead of animals,” says the Perfect Day website.

The company is still analyzing the product’s environmental footprint, a spokesperson has said, adding that “Brave Robot offers a responsible indulgence, without the use of animals, and as a result, uses less water, land, animals and energy to create each pint than traditional dairy companies.” The packaging is also coated with sugarcane-derived bio resin Polyethylene, “which looks and performs like traditional packaging, but is a renewable resource.” 

The Brave Robot announcement comes on the heels of Perfect Day raising $300 million in Series C funding earlier this month. The ice cream will sell for $5.99 per pint.

Danone innovates in packaging for a cleaner world

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As COVID-19 kept people at home and cars parked, there was much commentary on how the planet was being gifted an environmentally friendly pause in greehouse gas emissions. But the reality is that without shifts in product lines, consumption habits, packaging and even infrastructure, as consumers return to work this positive change can easily be reversed.

But then there are institutions like Danone North America, a company that was already on the path of beneficial change and has no plans to stop its eco-friendly efforts. Danone North America is the largest Certified B Corp in the world and, as Deanna Bratter, senior director of public benefit and sustainable development, says, “We are consistently looking across all of our stakeholders, beyond the short term to the long term, to understand the decisions we are making and what the impacts of those decisions will be.”

Striving to reduce waste by finding sustainable packaging solutions

When it comes to packaging, Bratter says, “We can choose to look package by package and material by material or take a long term, holistic perspective and be ambitious, which means looking at the circular economy that all of our packaging is part of.”

The aim of a circular economy is to shift the linear waste model to one that is regenerative by design and reduces or eliminates reliance on finite resources. In Danone North America’s case, the company is working on eliminating waste by getting rid of packaging that is not needed while aiming to have 100% of the company’s packaging be reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

Currently, more than 80% of Danone North America’s packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable. “The preservation of natural resources goes back to the idea that, where possible, we no longer use packaging from finite resources. If we can, we should preserve them and keep existing materials in use. The idea is to increase recycled content and develop renewable materials. And to invest in the development and use of these renewable materials,” says Bratter.

How the Circular Economy Accelerator will help the company meet its goals

Most recently, Danone North America also joined the Circular Economy Accelerator (CEA). Launched in Spring 2019 as an initiative of The Recycling Partnership, CEA is working to build concensus for attainable policy and legislative solutions at both the state and federal level to secure sustainable funding, incentivize recycling over disposal and expedite public-private solutions for circular systems.

Basically, together with its more than 30 members, including trade associations, brands material suppliers and packaging producers, Danone North America is working to develop new models to expedite public-private solutions for circular systems. Additionally, CEA acknowledges that having a partner like Danone North America will help with a far bigger shift towards a circular economy.

These types of collaborative initiatives are important, says Bratter, as designing packaging for circularity won’t do any good if waste management systems aren’t working or in place. “The goal here is to develop large scale recycling infrastructure in the U.S. We have to enable our system to keep up circularity ambitions,” Bratter says. Regarding the partnership with CEA she says, “Our goal is to make sure we are working with industry and policy to find solutions that will address the whole system.”

The case for a recycling infrastructure

Take plastics, for instanceBratter says the company is focused on figuring out and monitoring what packaging is most recyclable and where there might be gaps. And while a plastic bottle may be considered recyclable, the infrastructure to recycle products in the U.S. has been lacking. This is in part because there isn’t a market to buy recycled waste.

“If there are people willing to buy the reclaimed material, recycling centers are more likely to prioritize the collection and sorting. As companies make commitments to using recycled content that will help drive a shift in the waste management systems to make sure we can get the quality and volume of materials we need to support a renewable materials infrastructure.”

Currently, waste management and even recycling is a linear system. The challenge, says Bratter, is to shift to a circular framework as a whole. “The current system does not serve the long term and that is a bit of a challenge that both the public and private sectors need to play a role in to solve,” she says, noting that CEA will play a role in that. 

In addition to improving infrastructure, it’s also important to introduce consumers to these initiatives. Hence, Danone North America is committed to education through the How2Recycle labeling program displayed on its packaging that offers clarity to consumers. “The aim is to help take the guesswork out of recycling for consumers with easy to follow directions on packaging,” says Bratter. Having the infrastructure is the start, then it’s up to consumers to make sure products go in the right direction. “The right messaging can help the right materials get into the right recycling stream,” she adds.   

Mindful Awards announces 2020's most mindful consumer packaged goods

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Mindful Awards, an independent recognition platform highlighting conscious companies and products that mindfully make waves in the ever-expanding world of consumer packaged goods, today announced the winners of the organization’s second annual awards program.

The mission of the Mindful Awards is to honor conscious companies and products that do what’s right for people and the planet. Recognizing the best in transparent, fair, natural, organic, sustainable, healthy and delicious products. This year’s program attracted more than 1,000 nominations from companies all over the world.

“Consumers are concerned for their individual health and the overall health of the Earth “ said Bryan Vaughn, managing director at Mindful Awards. “When making purchasing decisions, they look at a company’s ethos and impact to make sure they are supporting brands that support what matters most to them. Our 2020 Mindful Award winners deliver by providing a commitment that reaches far beyond their delicious products on shelf. We extend our sincere congratulations to the exceptional 2020 Mindful Award winners!”

All nominations were evaluated by an independent panel of experts within the consumer packaged goods industry, with the winning products and companies selected based on a variety of criteria ranging from brand principles, environmental impact, health, taste and transparency.

The 2020 Mindful Award winners include:

Food:

  • Bone Broth Product of the Year: Five Way Foods.
  • Bread Product of the Year: Mason Dixie Biscuit Co.
  • Breakfast Meat Alternative Product of the Year: Meatless Farm.
  • Condiment Product of the Year: Farmhouse Lab.
  • Frozen Meal Product of the Year: Cappello's.
  • Ghee Product of the Year: Spring Sunrise Natural Foods.
  • Grain Product of the Year: Simply Sorghum.
  • Granola Product of the Year: Bear Naked Granola.
  • Nut Butter Product of the Year: Noomi.
  • Oil Product of the Year: Conscious Coconut.
  • Overall Food Product of the Year: Hodo.
  • Pasta, Gluten Free Product of the Year: Banza.
  • Ready to Eat Product of the Year: The Honest Stand.
  • Salad Dressing Product of the Year: Primal Kitchen.
  • Seed Butter Product of the Year: Nuttzo.
  • Soup Product of the Year: Boulder Organic Foods.
  • Tortilla Product of the Year: Siete Foods.

Snacks:

  • Brownie Product of the Year: Rule Breaker Snacks.
  • Cheese Product of the Year: Plant Perks.
  • Chips, Gluten Free Product of the Year: SkinnyPop Popcorn.
  • Cookies Product of the Year: Partake Foods.
  • Dried Fruit Product of the Year: Amazi Foods.
  • Energy Balls/Bites Product of the Year: Barnana.
  • Ice Cream, Nondairy Product of the Year: Ripple Foods.
  • Nuts Product of the Year: Sunshine Nut Company.
  • Overall Snack Product of the Year: Rule Breaker Snacks.
  • Overall Product of the Year: Natierra.
  • Popcorn Product of the Year: LesserEvil.
  • Seeds Product of the Year: Mayorga Organics.

Beverages:

  • Creamer Product of the Year: Picnik.
  • Keifer Product of the Year: GT's Living Foods.
  • Milk, Dairy Free Product of the Year: Malk Organics.
  • Overall Beverage Product of the Year: Sunwink.
  • Recovery Product of the Year: O2 Recovery.
  • Shake Product of the Year: Iconic.
  • Shot Product of the Year: Numi Organic Tea.
  • Smoothie Product of the Year: Noka.
  • Sugar Free Energy Product of the Year: Vive Organic.

Source: Mindful Awards

5@5: Boycotts reveal what consumers care about | Amazon's long-term cost advantages in online grocery

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Boycotts show us what matters to Americans

The coronavirus pandemic has forced consumers to examine the food supply chain and its many fallibilities, an important one being the lack of essential workers' rights in many institutions. The Goya boycott that began when Goya CEO Robert Unanue publicly praised President Trump indicates consumers' increasing willingness to use their wallets to make change, which is especially effective now that a large chunk of U.S. shoppers are cutting back on spending. Read more at Vox

 

Amazon has some long-term cost advantages in the online grocery wars

Amazon's local grocery business is supported by an infrastructure that will give it an edge on other grocery delivery services as the business scales. Amazon Fresh orders are generally fulfilled via Amazon warehouses that are maximized for efficiency, whereas companies like Instacart and Walmart rely on individual gig workers who use their own methods of transportation to navigate stores and fulfill orders. Read more at Real Money

 

Is lab-grown the new grass-fed? A glimpse into the ethical future of meat

Lab-grown meat presents ethical vegans and vegetarians with a way to consume what is meat on a molecular level without the systemic cruelty and environmental damge that arises from conventional animal agriculture. But the road won't be easy for the startups in the space; they need to lower costs, destroy the stigma of cell-cultured products and persuade individual governments to approve such products. Read more at Document Journal

 

Burger King is selling a burger made from cows on low-methane diet

Burger King is selling a limited-time version of its popular Whopper product with meat sourced from cows on a low-methane diet. Livestock was responsible for 3.9% of U.S. global greenhouse gas emissions in 2018, and concerns about meat's environmental impact has many chains and brands rethinking their menus. Read more at CNBC

 

Norway becomes world's first country to ban the use of palm oil in biofuels to stop deforestation

In an effort to fulfill its commitment to ban deforestation in all its markets, the Norweigan Parliament recently voted to ban the purchase of biofuels that incorporate palm products that were not produced sustainably. Palm oil, beef cattle and soy are the worst drivers of deforestation on the planet. Read more at Vocal

General Mills pilots regenerative agriculture project for dairy farms

Yoplait/General Mills General Mills pilots regenerative agriculture project for dairy farms

General Mills, the maker of Yoplait, Liberté and Mountain High yogurt products, has announced the start of a 3-year regenerative dairy pilot in western Michigan, a key region for the company's milk supply.

General Mills has partnered with consultants Understanding Ag and dairy cooperative Foremost Farms to pilot regenerative practices and provide support to participating dairy farmers. Implementing regenerative practices on dairy farms requires a holistic approach to managing land, cows and manure.

This is the third regenerative agriculture pilot that the company has launched—and the first for its dairy ingredient supply—since committing in 2019 to advance regenerative agriculture practices on 1 million acres of farmland by 2030.

“In order for regenerative agriculture to be successful, it must first be economically viable for farmers as a lever to help build operational and financial resilience,” said Mary Jane Melendez, chief sustainability and social impact officer at General Mills. “With this pilot, General Mills is committed to ensuring that the transition to regenerative practices will be beneficial to our dairy partners and enhance the overall health of their farms. We’re excited to be working closely with our supplier Foremost Farms and consultants at Understanding Ag to help us get this work underway and measure the impact.” 

The three dairy farms in the pilot, which collectively manage more than 14,000 acres, were chosen because of their proximity to General Mills’ dairy manufacturing facility in Reed City, Michigan, which produces a variety of Yoplait products.

As the pilot begins, Understanding Ag consultants will meet with each dairy farmer to co-develop and implement custom regenerative management plans for a portion of their operation. Throughout the pilot, partners will monitor data and measure impacts to soil, biodiversity, water, animal well-being and farm profitability.

“As an industry, dairy farms have been especially hard hit in recent months and their resiliency is being tested. We believe regenerative agriculture builds and strengthens farmer resilience so they can better withstand pressures, be it societal, financial or environmental,” said Doug Martin, president of the General Mills U.S. yogurt business. “Consumers increasingly want to support brands and companies they trust are acting as environmental stewards. This pilot with Yoplait is a great example of the role our brands can play in unleashing the scale of our supply chain—supporting farmers, promoting animal welfare, and improving the health of the planet, all while delivering a great-tasting product.”

General Mills pilots regenerative agriculture project for dairy farms

Benefits of regenerative agriculture are multi-faceted

Regenerative agriculture is a holistic, principles-based approach to farming and ranching that seeks to strengthen ecosystem and community resilience. These practices pull carbon from the air and store it in the soil and might help the land be more resilient to extreme weather events. Additionally, regenerative agriculture practices help to increase water infiltration, improve nutrient cycling, and reduce soil erosion which have been shown to positively impact the quality of nearby lakes, rivers and streams.

These benefits can translate to farmers’ pocketbooks by ensuring that more nutrients stay in the field to be absorbed by plants rather than lost to wind or water erosion. Regenerative practices on dairy farms can look slightly different than row crop farms, specifically incorporating adaptive grazing on pastures and cropland.

"In the midst of very challenging times for dairy farmers, the Michigan pilot is designed to substantially build soil health, mitigate harmful runoff and erosion, restore natural ecosystem function, and revitalize farm and rural economies,” said Allen Williams, a sixth-generation farmer and rancher and founding partner at Understanding Ag. With a doctorate in livestock genetics from Louisiana State University, he spent 15 years as a professor and has published hundreds of articles in scientific journals and other media.

“These practices will lead to a cleaner environment, healthy climate, and improved quality of life for the farmers themselves," he said.

“Our goal around sustainability is to measure stewardship and member-owner success so we continually explore partnerships with industry experts and customers,” said Greg Schlafer, president and CEO, Foremost Farms USA. “The Regenerative Dairy Pilot Program in Michigan gives our farmers the chance to reduce water and wind erosion all while providing top quality feed to their animals. A highly nutritious diet helps ensure healthy, productive cows, which in turn contributes to a stronger bottom line on the farm.” 

Research partners to develop modeling tools

Additionally, General Mills is supporting a team of leading researchers from Cornell University and the University of Wisconsin to model holistic impacts from change in farm management practices. This team is developing data-driven tools that will empower dairies to build resiliency in their businesses and the dairy ecosystem. Models will be adapted and used to inform actions in the Michigan pilot.

This announcement builds upon the company’s bold commitment to advance regenerative agriculture on 1 million acres of farmland by 2030.

In March 2019, General Mills launched a regenerative oat pilot with 45 farmers across North Dakota and the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, implementing practices on more than 50,000 acres of farmland. In January, the company launched its second pilot with 24 farmers growing wheat across a collective 17,000 acres in central Kansas. These pilots will also measure the environmental and economic outcomes over the duration of their respective 3-year programs. 

 

Source: General Mills

8 products our top healthy living influencers are sampling now

Influencers in the natural space know what makes a product worthy for themselves and their families.

We enlisted members of our New Hope Network Influencer Co-op to sample these eight products—and to fill us in on which were their favorites.

Learn more about the New Hope Network Influencer Co-op here.

Native American Natural Foods announces multimillion dollar capital investment

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Native American Natural Foods (NANF), an innovative, Native American-owned and -operated company that produces the highly acclaimed TANKA Bar and a line of meat and fruit products, announced today the closing of a multimillion dollar equity capital investment. The effort will support NANF’s growth as it seeks to reclaim its position as the original, award-winning, highly popular bison and berry snack bar that replicates a time-honored recipe of their Lakota ancestors.

“I welcome our investors who have the courage and innovation to break the economic isolation of the reservation and move with us into a new economic future,” said Dawn Sherman, CEO of NANF. “We celebrate the vision that will return the bison to the lands, lives and economies of Native communities.”

Strategically investing in businesses in communities of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color) is part of the financial activism currently being advocated nationwide. The Candide Group led NANF’s capital raise on behalf of the Libra Social Investment Fund.

"We saw in NANF a business that has all the ingredients needed to be successful: superior products with a loyal customer base, and a community of employees, suppliers and partners for whom failure is simply not an option,” said Aner Ben-Ami, founding partner of the Candide Group. “We were excited to partner with the NANF team, and structure an investment that will help the company realize its potential while supporting its mission of creating wealth and ownership for Native communities and ranchers, and building a Native-led brand committed to traditional values and regenerative agriculture."

“We wanted to provide an opportunity for investors to make a big difference in the lives of others by attacking the root cause of generational poverty,” said Sherman. “For our Native Communities to see how the business and the mission can regain its original role as the leader in the meat snacking category while we continue to attract like-minded partners and investors is exciting.”

Clearinghouse CDFI has been investing in TANKA since 2011. “Being involved with Native American Natural Foods has been a privilege and a humbling honor,” said Douglas Bystry, president and CEO of Clearinghouse CDFI. “The DNA of our capital pairs well with the DNA of NANF’s enterprise. The founders, leaders and partners of NANF, at the core, have blended a proud and resilient heritage with a disciplined business culture that is intentional about achieving sustainable profits and mission goals. Wealth building in Indian Country is far reaching and we want to be there with NANF each step of the way. We are proud to be part of a group of committed lenders, investors, partners, suppliers and customers who have come together because of NANF’s people, purpose and, of course, its awesome products.”

NANF’s TANKA meat and fruit products come in three smoky-sweet varieties including: Slow Smoked Original, Spicy Pepper and Apple Orange Peel, that retail for under $5. The centuries-old traditional recipe is unique to Native Americans and is often referred to as wasna or pemmican. It is made with prairie-fed bison, tart-sweet cranberries and Native American grown wild rice. The products offer seven grams of protein, are minimally processed, with no nitrites or nitrates, antibiotics or added hormones. The bars, bites and sticks are free of gluten, MSG, nuts, trans fats, soy and lactose and rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.

To expand NANF’s customer base and geography, Niman Ranch, the nation’s leading sustainable meat brand with over 750 independent farmers and ranchers, has joined NANF’s growth strategy as a technical advisor and partner with a hands-on approach that includes senior staff working directly with NANF. “The financial independence of the Native owned and operated TANKA goes to the heart of our mission to support sustainable agriculture and resilient rural communities,” said Chris Oliviero, general manager, Niman Ranch. “By providing operating, marketing, communication and financial support, we will help ensure added value for this important mission and purpose driven business.”

"Congratulations to the team at Native American Natural Foods. This has been a long time coming. We are excited to officially be a part of Karlene, Mark and Dawn’s vision and look forward to helping introduce TANKA to more consumers nationwide,” said Bob Dineen, CEO of Rocky Mountain Natural Meats, a supporter of the company since its inception.

“NANF is one of those quintessential companies whose success benefits the larger community. NANF’s commitments to Native ownership, to the land and restoration of traditional bison, to healthy foods and sustainable practices, as well as to their Native cultural values, makes NANF an important leader in a resilient, regenerative economy,” said Ann Whittemore, Highlands Associates' director of impact investments.

Within the last two years, Highlands directly, through its DAF (3:23 Fund) and in partnership with its sister organizations, has consciously directed its efforts to Indigenous, Black and other under-funded communities of color, resulting in investments in over 30 Black and Native-owned and/or led businesses, CDFIs, equity funds and nonprofits. “They’ve put in the work, weathered some storms, and have come out with strong partnerships and leadership, an in-demand product, and more financial viability than ever before. Highlands’ 3:23 Fund is proud to partner with NANF and looks forward to the future growth and success of this company!”

“We created the TANKA Bar and now other products, with a vision of building a reservation-based brand capable of helping to build a new economic future for the Lakota people,” said Mark Tilsen, co-founder of NANF. “This new structure with our investors and partners will help make this shared vision a reality.”

Source: Native American Natural Foods

Brands have a role in creating racial equality

General Mills Brands have a role in creating racial equality, says General Mills CEO Jeff Harmening

The death of George Floyd while in police custody on a Minneapolis, Minnesota, street resonated deeply with General Mills CEO Jeff Harmening.

After all, Floyd's death occurred in his company's backyard: 7.3 miles as the crow flies from General Mills' corporate headquarters, according to Google Earth.

"It's been toGeneral Mills CEO Jeff Harmening discusses racial injustice, inclusivity, what brands can dough to watch a city you love being torn apart by this," Harmening said Wednesday during the Consumer Brands Association’s first edition of "CPG Speaks." Hosted by Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the Consumer Brands Association, the virtual interview series is designed to focus on education and leadership.

"The fact of it is, that what we see with George Floyd is not a new problem, it's a problem that has existed for a while," Harmening said, later adding that it's been a problem for 400 years. "And frankly, it's not a Minneapolis problem, as demonstrated by demonstrations around the U.S. and the world."

Floyd's death opened Harmening's eyes to the need for systemic changes in policing, education and health care, he said. And businesses need to be part of the solution.

Brands can't just jump in, make a statement about diversity or the importance of Black Lives Matter and leave it at that, though.

"This isn't a one-off situation," Freeman pointed out. "This isn't, for anyone in [the food industry], a P.R. exercise; it's a long-term commitment."

Most importantly, brands must be authentic in their words and actions, Harmening said.

"For brands to speak up on topics of race or health or something else, you can't really show up to the party right when something happens," he said. "You have to have a history of it."

Wheaties cereal has a history of celebrating both white and Black champions on its boxes.

The "Breakfast of Champions" boxes have included athletes' photos since 1934, and the first black athlete appeared in 1936, according to Wikipedia. Olympian Jesse Owens won four gold medals in Berlin, Germany, that year.

Other Black athletes who have appeared on the box include Walter Payton, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Muhammad Ali and Serena Williams, according to Wheaties.com, a site owned by General Mills.

Cheerios has also long been an inclusive brand, Harmening said. Commercials have included Black and Asian children and families, for example.

Using a diverse array of suppliers—for ingredients, communications and other needs—is another way for brands to support equality, he said.

"Nothing gets people out of a current system like economic justice," Harmening said.

What to do in a crisis

In the days following Floyd's death, protestors moved through the Twin Cities and other metropolitan areas, smashing businesses' doors and windows; marking buildings with graffiti; ransacking and looting pharmacies, liquor stores and more; and setting fires that damaged or destroyed cars, restaurants, gas stations, at least one grocery store, a police precinct building and a U.S. post office.

The StarTribune, citing data from Minneapolis and St. Paul, reported Monday that 267 restaurants, 207 retail locations, 85 grocery stores, 76 cell phone stores and 52 salons or barber shops were among the more than 1,000 businesses that sustained property damage.

Harmening said businesses have to take both immediate and long-term actions:

  1. Offer immediate relief. General Mills helped start and stock pop-up pantries for residents of the affected areas, he said.
  2. Donate to the recovery. Don't just give money, though. Show support with your time and energy as well.
  3. Engage with other businesses to solve the problem. "Inclusivity efforts aren't proprietary," Harmening said. General Mills is sharing what it has learned, he said. General Mills and more than 100 other companies are working together to address inclusivity and inequality issues, he said. His company is sharing what it has learned, as well as learning from other companies.
  4. Create partnerships with other agencies. Businesses can't solve racism alone; neither can government. Neither can community leaders. It has to be a combined effort," Harmening said.
  5. Use your voice to support change, such as police and education reform.

"People are authentic in different ways…Authenticity is important because that's the currency of trust. You only follow people you trust," Harmening said.

The makeup of General Mills' management and board of directors is one example of the company's commitment to diversity. Using the biographies on the company's website, the 13 members of its management team include four women, three men of color and one immigrant from the United Kingdom.

The 12-member board of directors has five women, two of whom are of color, and two men of color, one of whom immigrated from Columbia. Harmening, a white man, is included on both lists.

 

Maneuvering Food Companies During a Pandemic, the next "CPG Speaks" session, is scheduled for 1 p.m. EDT July 29.

 

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