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Articles from 2021 In July

Natural Foods Merchandiser

By the numbers: Consumers want all businesses to support wellness

Getty Images By the numbers: Modern-day wellness infographic

The Ogilvy Wellness Gap study, released in October 2020, found that consumers are increasingly spending money with brands that offer "activities, choices and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health and wellbeing." While wellness is often part of a natural products retailer's mission, the economics behind wellness might surprise you.

 Modern-day wellness infographic

Click on download, below, for a printable PDF.


7 ways to promote supply chain diversity

Getty Images supplier diversity

Fostering inclusive environments is better for everyone.

It increases employee engagement and reduces their likelihood of leaving, the Society for Human Resource Management finds. Nearly 70% of employees and job seekers say a diverse workforce is an important factor when evaluating companies and job offers, according to Glassdoor’s Diversity and Inclusion Workplace Survey.

But being more inclusive is also better for the bottom line. Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 21% more likely to outperform on profitability and 27% more likely to have long-term value creation per McKinsey’s 2018 Delivering Through Diversity Report. Those with the most ethnically and culturally diverse boards are 43% more likely to experience higher profits.

“We can't collectively deliver on our goals, unless the majority of the collective are actually at the table, have the resources that they need to thrive and have the ability to be part of the conversation,” says Arielle Moinester, program strategist of Women’s Earth Alliance.

Regardless of a company’s size, structure or culture, there are ways to implement justice, equity, diversity and inclusion practices.

One Step Closer J.E.D.I. Collaborative (which stands for justice, equity, diversity and inclusion) has a 10-step guide to help companies within the natural products industry be more proactive.

Take a “J.E.D.I. lens” and try to commit to nontraditional suppliers and distributors for your base resources, says Cynthia Billops, vice president of operations, membership and belonging for One Step Closer (OSC), a nonprofit in the natural products industry that formed to tackle industry challenges.

“Think about who your vendors are and who you are working with,” says Nikki McCord, founder of McCord Consulting Group which offers business consulting including diversity training. “Be deliberate. See where diversity, equity and inclusion fits into multiple aspects of your business.”

Below are seven more suggestions from innovators within the natural products industry to help you create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive supply chain.

Define company values on diversity, equity and inclusion

Nikki McCordA company should start by thoughtfully defining its internal values on diversity, equity and inclusion.  Don’t rush it through, McCord (right) says.

“There’s needs to be a balance between urgency and doing it thoughtfully,” McCord says, to make sure programs and initiatives are sustainable.

“It's important that you build a foundation,” she says. “And you authentically integrate this into your practices, so that we're not having the same conversation in the next five years.” If a company asks an employee to work on improving diversity, equity and inclusion and it’s not in their formal job description, they need to be paid for their time. 

“This isn’t like giving OSHA training where you are presenting new regulations to keep employees safe,” she notes, because doing DEI training is both emotional and complicated.

“Part of the process is creating a space where people can ask questions,” says McCord, whose job as a facilitator is to help people evolve from a hurtful way of thinking.

Seek out diverse partnerships

Understand that the supply chain is diverse, says Errol Schweizer, who spent 14 years at Whole Foods including a seven-year stint as national vice president of grocery managing $5 billion in product sales across 75 categories.

errol schweizer“That’s a big misconception,” says Schweizer (left), who hosts a podcast called The Checkout and serves as a mentor, advisor or board member to approximately 25 natural product companies. “When you’re thinking about logistics, fulfillment, retail, wholesale, farmer workers, processing workers—it’s a very diverse group of folks who are actually doing the work.”

Companies need to look at ownership and governance: who is benefiting and who is making the decisions. “We have an incredibly large amount of diversity in this country, just not in leadership and ownership in the natural products and larger food industry,” he says.

Review who is making decisions at an executive role both internally and externally.

“Look at the very top, it’s completely racially segregated when you look at it on just a wealth basis,” Schweizer says. “That’s what we call racialized capitalism. The main beneficiaries are primarily still white people and the folks doing most of the work are Black and Brown.” 

Scrutinize the bid processes

“Look at your own bid process,” Schewizer says.

Review how your company is sourcing products, raw materials and ingredients. Review the framework for purchasing decisions. Is it based only on the lowest cost or what is the best quality available?

Are questions about diversity and justice coming up when sourcing products about how workers are being treated and paid? Look at who owns the suppliers as well as the raw material companies.

Is there employee ownership, collective bargaining or unionization? “There is solidarity where workers are able to band together to improve to lot in the supply chain,” Schweizer says.

Update the RFP with questions about diversity and equity to vet suppliers

Fair Trade doesn’t cover most domestic products and only covers a few categories that are imported. “We don’t have good regulations and laws to protect workers,” Schweizer says. “Include these questions in your RFP and bid process with suppliers.”

Schweizer suggests asking suppliers: “Are your workers paid overtime, after 40 hours? What is their base pay? What's your turnover rate? What are your COVID-19 and food safety, workplace safety precautions? Have you ever had anybody ever filed an OSHA complaint?”

Labor abuses are well documented in the food industry, but companies can work with suppliers who partner with farmworker and immigrant rights organizations such as the Coalition of Immokalee Workers' (CIW) Fair Food Program, which Schweizer calls one of the most effective social justice certifications around labor.

“Its program is much stronger than fair trade because it’s a legally binding agreement and there are repercussions for violating the agreement,” he says. “And the standards are developed by the farmworkers themselves who are the experts because they understand what goes on at farms.”

Similarly, Migrant Justice improved working conditions through legally binding enforceable agreements to protect workers’ human rights via its Milk with Dignity program. Ben and Jerry’s is part of the program that now includes more than 60 dairy farms in Vermont and New York.

Ask vendors about designations

Review and ask vendors if they have any special business designations.

Ask the vendor or organization if they are a certified minority-owned business, a woman-owned business, a veteran-owned business, McCord says. Then ask them about their values regarding diversity, equity and inclusion.

Ask what their commitment is to diversity and if they have defined their values. If they haven’t, what work are they doing to become a more inclusive organization?

More importantly, companies have to decide what they are going to do with that information once they get it, she says. Ideally, they seek out businesses that align with their values instead of making exceptions.

Identify women leaders and include them in discussions

More  women need to be involved in leadership discussions and decision making processes so they can receive resources, training and be a part of the conversation.  This will allow more women to have access to financing, a network of other leaders to scale and strengthen solutions, Moinester says.

“When you go into the field, you see over and over that women are doing over half of the work,” Moinester says. “And yet they weren’t at the table, so they weren’t getting access to microfinance and agricultural inputs and weren’t in decision making conversations.”

Look at the work of Project Drawdown other supply chain solutions to help with climate change while improving equity and diversity.

“If women had the same access to resources as men in the farming space, we could actually increase production globally by 20% to 30%, and 150 million more people would not go hungry,” Moinester says. “Investing in women’s education and leadership is one of the leading solutions to climate change.”

Companies should also look at Planet Forward, a global staffing and recruiting company that can help companies strategize how to be more diverse and inclusive before implementing a new plan, Billops says.

Prepare to make mistakes

When trying to be more diverse and inclusive, be prepared to make mistakes.

“It’s important to understand you will mess up,” McCord says. “Have a strategy in place and figured out what you’re going to do when you inevitably mess up.”

Companies need to prepare for feedback, McCord says, and know how they are going to take that information and build upon it. Create a plan for when someone points out a problem or when new language is implemented to replace certain terms with others; it’s better for a company to publically admit they messed up, then be silent or defensive, McCord says.

[email protected]: Grocery delivery service Gopuff raises another $1B | Soil finding upends plans to tackle climate change

gopuff logo

Gopuff confirms latest $1B funding round

Speedy grocery delivery service Gopuff has raised another $1 billion in funding after securing $1.5 billion earlier this year in March; the Philadelphia-based company has now raised $3.4 billion in total and has a $15 billion valuation. In the U.S., Gopuff’s massive fundraising this year far surpasses the money raised by its competition, which includes players such as JOKR and Fridge No More. Gopuff currently operates 450 facilities operating in more than 850 cities across the U.S., and The Spoon notes it plans to expand beyond straight up grocery delivery and into pre-made meals in the near future. 

A soil-science revolution upends plans to fight climate change

Could the hype around storing carbon in soil be totally mistaken? Quanta Magazine recently published new research that indicates carbon-storing molecules, long thought to last hundreds of years underground, may actually break down and release carbon back into the atmosphere. This is a paradigm shift comparable to quantum mechanics being overthrown in the field of physics, because the consequences are vast: Major climate models rely on this now-outdated understanding of soil science, and the algorithms used to quantify greenhouses gases mitigated by climate-friendly farming strategies "are probably overly optimistic."

Why millennials have a weird relationship with water

Millennials grew up surrounded by sugary beverages imbued with questionable chemicals, back when many parents were none the wiser about the many evils of excess sugar consumption, which is the reason this Vice article asserts that millennials never really drank water. Now, however, water is a global multi-billion-dollar industry that surpasses soda, milk and even beer—and millennials are the No. 1 consumer of expensive water bottles. As we reported yesterday, today's consumers are more wary of sugar than ever, and in its place are an array of functional, low-sugar beverages that signal a healthy lifestyle.

The cardboard real estate boom is here

According to new research from the commercial real estate company Newmark, the rise of e-commerce is fueling another kind of boom in the factories and warehouses that produce and distribute packaging: Plastic bags, padded envelopes, and classic corrugated cardboard are in growing demand, and so are spaces where these items are produced. Corrugated cardboard alone represents 80% of the packaging used for online orders; about 407 billion square feet of corrugated cardboard was produced in the U.S. last year. Fast Company writes that it may be too soon to say whether the new jobs being created by these companies’ expansions are good or bad for the workers who take them..

Target holds nearly steady on workforce diversity but saw few gains

Target wants to increase the percentage of Black employees in its workfoce by 20% over the next two years, but it has a far way to go. A diversity report released this week by the retailer showed it has about the same racial diversity metrics as it did in 2019. Mike McNamara, chief information officer, said Target, similar to other companies, has a visible diversity deficit in technology jobs both with race and women. To be more attractive to Black workers, the company has said it needs to work on advancement opportunities and reduce turnover, especially in positions with historically low levels of representation such as the tech jobs. Star Tribune has the scoop.

Monitor: Gen Z is skeptical about American food, natural products industry must meet that skepticism with documented action


Natural Products Industry Health Monitor, July 29, 2021
As the world emerges, haltingly and unevenly, from lockdown, new challenges emerge. In this feature, New Hope Network provides an ongoing update on those challenges and the opportunities they hold. Look for the Industry Health Monitor every other Friday to learn the major news that is affecting the natural products market immediately and the less obvious insights that could dictate where the market may struggle or thrive in the months to come.

When The Washington Post declared that the externalized costs of America’s food system added up to “three times as much as the food itself" in the newspaper’s business section July 17, 2021, the news would have been no surprise to the natural products industry.

And it would not have been news to Gen Z consumers either.

The article shared highlights of a report from the Rockefeller Foundation that dives into the impacts of the food system in issues that include carbon generation, ecosystem destruction, obesity, diabetes and other tolls of processed food grown to be cheap but not necessarily healthful. As summarized by The Washington Post, the report tells the story of how we got there via a startling progression of decisions made in the middle of the past century to encourage calories-at-all-costs agriculture to fill plates and stomachs with the downstream effects a matter of disregard—all of this a result of a “green revolution” of chemical fertilizers and rapacious farming techniques that was anything but green.

How Americans view that food system appears rooted in those midcentury priorities. In the results of a survey deployed by New Hope Network’s NEXT Data and Insights team, 1,000 consumers were asked to evaluate polarizing statements as a reflection of the beliefs they are most likely to bring with them when they shop for groceries. We see that a significant share of baby boomer and older respondents agree that America’s food system is “among the best in the world when it comes to human and environmental health and resource efficiency." Meanwhile millennials and Gen Z respondents are dramatically less likely to agree with that statement and more likely to agree with the notion that “our food system is grossly lacking when it comes to human and environmental and resource efficiency.” Top 2 box (T2Box) in the below chart represents the percent of consumers that agree or strongly agree with either statement.


What this means for the natural products industry is at first glance good news. Natural products offer at least the aura of being more responsible to the environment and more healthful for consumers. The second glance suggests the pressure is on.

Natural and organic brands are not strangers to baby boomers. We see brands on the Natural Products Expo show floor led by baby boomers and some of those brands have roots in an era when baby boomers were as young as Gen Z is now, or younger. Other brands might be new to the market but all of them are now face-to-face with a generation that demands responsible behavior and has access to information as close as the phone in their hand.

Exactly how skeptical these consumers are of natural and organic brands is not clear. That they are so vehement in their negative beliefs about the food system at large could mean they want brands in the natural products space to walk the walk.

The Washington Post headline was likely no surprise to Gen Z.

Their lack of confidence should be a call to action for natural and organic industry: Do the right thing and be prepared to prove you did it.

Ex-Staples chief Sandy Douglas to become new UNFI CEO

UNFI UNFI electric truck

J. Alexander (Sandy) Miller Douglas, former chief executive officer of Staples Inc., is joining United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI) as the new CEO, succeeding Steven Spinner, who is retiring.

Plans call for Douglas to start at UNFI on Aug. 9, when Spinner also will retire from the company and its board of directors, the Providence, Rhode Island-based grocery distributor said late Wednesday. Spinner is slated to provide management and board advisory services to UNFI for up to one year after his retirement to aid the leadership transition.

Douglas’ appointment comes after a 10-month search to find a new chief executive. Last September, UNFI announced that Spinner planned to retire in summer 2021 and the company had begun a search for a replacement.

At that time, UNFI said Spinner had agreed to remain executive chairman after his successor took the CEO reins. But yesterday, UNFI announced the appointment of board member Jack Stahl, a former president and CEO of Revlon, as independent chairman effective Aug. 9, when Spinner will step down from the board.

“I am honored to join UNFI. The company’s vision to transform the future of food has never been more important, and the opportunities in front of us are tremendous,” Douglas said in a statement. “Under Steve, UNFI has built a strong foundation for growth, and I look forward to working with UNFI’s exceptional leadership team, the 30,000 hard-working associates across this entire organization and our board to continue delivering innovative growth platforms that help make our customers stronger and our operations more successful.”


Douglas (left) left Framingham, Massachusetts-based Staples on June 18 after serving as CEO since April 2018. UNFI noted that, during his time at the office supply retailer, he led the chain through a strategic transformation as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. Before that, Douglas spent 30 years at The Coca-Cola Co., most recently as president of the $10 billion Coca-Cola North America business, overseeing both consumer and business-to-business operations. At Coca-Cola, he previously served as global chief customer officer and held a range of leadership posts across sales and marketing. Douglas began his career at Procter and Gamble Co., serving in sales and sales management positions.

“We are pleased to welcome Sandy as our new CEO and member of the UNFI board,” commented Denise Clark, chair of the UNFI board’s nominating and covernance committee and CEO succession planning committee. “He has a demonstrated track record leading large-scale transformation and growth through strategic, customer-focused action. His extensive experience, which is directly aligned with UNFI’s focus on growing the core business while investing in innovation, make Sandy well-suited to successfully drive the company through its next chapter of growth.”


Spinner (left) has served as UNFI’s CEO since September 2008 and as chairman since December 2016. He also served as president from September 2008 to August 2018, when Christopher Testa took over that role.

“It has been my great honor to lead UNFI,” Spinner stated. “I am so proud of what this team, including Mr. Chris Testa, who will continue in his president role, continues to achieve as the largest grocery distributor in North America. With unmatched scale, product and service offerings, and a commitment to innovation and sustainability, I truly believe UNFI is positioned to deliver exceptional value for its customers and stakeholders going forward.”

Spinner’s tenure included UNFI’s $2.9 billion deal to acquire Supervalu Inc., completed in October 2018. With the transaction, UNFI expanded its market from natural and organic products distribution—with Whole Foods Market as its chief customer—to traditional grocery wholesale, also more than doubling its revenue and extending its reach geographically and to more customer segments.

“We also recognize Steve for his transformational impact on UNFI,” board member Michael Funk, co-founder of UNFI, said in a statement. “Since taking the helm in 2008, under his leadership, the company has become the largest grocery wholesaler in the country by acquiring a variety of businesses and innovating new products and services. Steve has navigated this tremendous growth and change the right way, bringing teams together and preserving the culture of UNFI and its core mission and values. As co-founder of the company, I personally want to extend my gratitude for all that Steve has accomplished during his 13 years at UNFI.”

Lead Independent Director Peter Roy added, “Steve has been a pioneer in the industry and leader of sustainable growth in the food supply chain through progressive environmental, social and governance commitments that truly are Better for All. The entire Board thanks Steve for his dedication to and leadership of UNFI, and we wish him all the best as he transitions into retirement.”

With Stahl becoming independent chairman, UNFI said Roy will step down as lead independent director, a role he has held since 2019, on Aug. 9. He will continue to remain an active board member. In addition, board member Daphne Dufresne has been named as the new Compensation Committee chair, also effective Aug. 9. Stahl, who has served in that post since September 2020, will continue as a member of the committee. He has been on UNFI’s board since June 2019.

“Since joining our board, Jack has made meaningful contributions and developed strong relationships,” according to Clark. “Jack’s experience in executive and board leadership roles provide a strong foundation for his leadership of UNFI. The entire board looks forward to working closely with Jack and Sandy as we guide UNFI’s growth and support the entire team in their mission to transform the future of food.”

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

[email protected]: Everything wrong with the functional beverage boom | Bayer plans for Roundup litigation claims rising by $4.5B

Getty Images functional beverages bottles

How Big Beverage poured empty promises down our throats

The beverage industry is rife with wellness buzzwords, but commotion around ingredients such as CBD or nootropics is abated by the fact that much of the time consumers have no idea how these ingredients should make them feel or what results to expect. As an expert interviewed by Vox puts it, today's beverage shoppers are swayed by mainly by pretty packaging and ultimately meaningless marketing jargon. Why is it so hard for us to consume RTD beverages simply for the sheer pleasure of the act, rather than using them to signal allegiance to a certain lifestyle or convince ourselves that we working toward something better?

Bayer plans for Roundup litigation claims rising by $4.5B

Bayer sees expenses from lawsuits accusing its Roundup weedkiller of causing cancer potentially rising by $4.5 billion—significantly more than it had previously planned for. The company will set aside the additional funds to cover Roundup claims in its next quarterly financial report, company executives said Thursday. The new provisions would raise Bayer’s funds earmarked for the claims to more than $16 billion from the $11.6 billion the company had previously said it would pay to resolve the cases. To date, the federal Environmental Protection Agency maintains that Roundup isn’t a public health risk, but Bayer plans to begin removing glyphosate from Roundup that is sold to American consumers in 2023. The Wall Street Journal reports.

These big food companies get failing grades on political spending transparency

A freshly released index draws attention to the spending left undisclosed by major food and agricultural corporations. It ranks the world’s 10 largest food producers’ based on their level of disclosure across four categories of spending: electioneering, lobbying, charitable donations, and the funding of scientific research. Tyson Foods is one of the worst offenders, disclosing next to nothing about its political spending. This kind of inadequate spending disclosure enables corporations to take public positions concerning the social good, while quietly financing opposing interests, which ultimately makes for risky investments. Civil Eats reports.

Phillipines becomes first country to approve GMO 'golden rice'

The Phillipines has approved a genetically modified short-grain rice that contains beta-carotene. The GMO rice was first developed in 1999 but has faced myriad roadblocks to market, much like other GMO plants and animals. Proponents say that this golden rice is a potentially life-saving creation because it can deliver around 50% of the daily recommended allotment of vitamin A in a single cup of rice. Supporters include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has funded research into the GMO grain. The tides could be turning for GMO fare. Modern Farmer has the scoop.

Is lab-grown meat really going to solve our nasty agriculture problem?

Private capital is working overtime to disrupt farming with synthetic biology, but more analysis is needed with regard to the many possibilities of cellular agriculture. What could this novel food technology, with the right policies and investments, make possible for consumers, workers, animals and the environment? If cellular agriculture is going to improve upon the system it is displacing, then it needs to grow in a way that doesn’t externalize the real costs of production on to workers, consumers and the environment. The Guardian delves into this multifaceted issue.

More food retailers focus on health, well-being of employees and shoppers

FMI logo

Food retailers increasingly support health and well-being activities for their employees and customers, according to a survey recently released by food industry association FMI.

The goal of the 2021 Report On Retailer Contributions To Health And Well-Being, as stated in the introduction, is to help members of the industry better understand what is happening in the industry and what opportunities might present themselves in the future.

"We're seeing a dramatic increase in efforts by food retailers to expand health and well-being programs and activities," Krystal Register, a licensed dietitian/nutritionist and director of health and well-being at FMI, said in a statement released with the study.

The report debuted in 2012 as the Report on Retailer Contributions to Health & Wellness. Since then, retailers have continued to increase their support of health and well-being programs with dedicated budgets, inclusion in the company's strategy, leadership presence and more. FMI is based in Arlington, Virginia.

Responses to the survey, conducted in March and April, were received from 27 food retailers, representing more than 26,000 stores of all sizes. For perspective, reported in November that the top 10 grocery chains in the United States operate approximately 14,481 stores.

 More food retailers focus on health, well-being of employees and shoppers

Ten key takeaways from the report

Sharp growth in programs

Food retailers are increasingly strategic about their health and well-being efforts:

  • 84% of companies surveyed have an established health and well-being strategy.
  • 84% of companies' stores have established health and well-being activities for both employees and customers, up from 49% two years ago.
  • 12% have established activities for employees only.

Compared to 2019, most food retailers have increased their health and well-being programs:

  • 31% increased significantly.
  • 19% increased moderately.
  • 12% increased slightly.
  • 19% remained the same.
  • 19% decreased.

Pandemic scrambles and enhances strategies

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted many retailers' health and well-being activities, with some moving to virtual activities.

  • 54% said COVID-19 shifted the focus of the programs and activities.
  • 31% said they put a greater emphasis on health and well-being activities.
  • 15% said they had to put health and well-being programs on hold.

Priorities range from nutrition to self-care

Companies identified their top priorities for their health and well-being initiatives:

  • Nutrition and overall health, 31%.
  • Well-being, including self care and preventative care, 15%.
  • Food and human safety, 12%.
  • E-commerce, 15%.

The companies identified the top two operational barriers to implementing these plans as competing priorities and return on investment.

 More food retailers focus on health, well-being of employees and shoppers

Omnichannel approaches lift efforts

Just as food retailers take an omnichannel approach to marketing their products, they are taking advantage of several channels, both digital and print, to market their well-being programs.

Half or more of the companies surveyed use at least one of these vehicles to promote their health and well-being activities:

  • Website, 89%.
  • Social media, 85%.
  • In-store signage, 85%.
  • Weekly circular, 73%.
  • In-store advertising such as announcements, shopping carts, 65%.
  • E-mail listserv, 58%.
  • External advertising, 54%.
  • Mobile device app, 54%.
  • Store pharmacists, 50%.
  • Community outreach, 50%.

Less commonly used resources include store dietitians, loyalty programs, direct mail and wellness rewards programs.

Many programs are offered both in-store and virtually, by varying degrees:

  • Good-for-you products, 76% in-store, 40% virtually.
  • Healthy recipes, 50% in-store, 81% virtually.
  • Budget friendly solutions: 52% in-store, 60% virtually.
  • Family meal programming, 50% in-store, 58% virtually.
  • Allergen information and resources, 48% in-store, 60% virtually.

Employee wellness gains in importance

Among the health and well-being programs offered to employees, these are the most common:

  • Healthy recipes, 65%.
  • Health screenings, 46%.
  • Well-being classes, 39%.
  • Vendor partnership programs, 39%.
  • Meal-planning resources, 39%.
  • Cooking classes, 35%.
  • Nutrition counseling, 27%.

Some programs that prioritize employees' well-being are weight management classes and food safety, but both of these were offered by only 19% of employers.

Retail branding takes spotlight

Food retailers see their health and well-being programs as good business:

  • A selling point to compete for customer loyalty, 85%.
  • An important way to connect to the community, 77%.
  • A significant growth opportunity: 69%.
  • Customers expect retailers to support their health, 65%.
  • A driver to make food retail a health care resource: 65%.

In the 2019 survey, only 54% of retailers considered their health and well-being programs to be a selling point.

 More food retailers focus on health, well-being of employees and shoppers

Community engagement is key driver

Health and well-being programs provide big opportunities for community partnerships. In the coming year, food companies are planning partnerships with these organizations:

  • Health insurance providers, 77%.
  • Health organizations such as the American Heart Association, 69%.
  • Local hospitals or health care networks, 65%.
  • Worksite wellness programs, 54%.

Health education plays major role

The survey found that 65% of stores employ registered dietitians at the corporate level, and 31% have dietitians available in stores or virtually. Although no dietitians work at the C-suite level, 48% work in strategic leadership roles, according to FMI.

Many food retailers use their websites and mobile apps to educate customers about health and well-being:

  • Vaccine information, 72%.
  • Community or in-store health programs, 68%.
  • Common health concerns, 60%.
  • Pharmacy locator/services, 60%.
  • Food allergies and intolerances, 44%.
  • Reading labels and packaging, 44%.
  • Submit questions online to a dietitian, 44%.
  • Stress management, 36%.

 More food retailers focus on health, well-being of employees and shoppers

Collaboration drives progress

Pharmacists, dietitians and other healthcare providers are working together more to develop retail programs: 54%, up from 42% in 2019. They also are referring customers and employees to the other professionals.

Dietitians also work with culinary teams to develop healthy recipes or meals that align with health and well-being guidelines. More than 67% of respondents reported that they employ a chef or culinary professional at the corporate level.

Retailers measure their return on investment in dietitians in several ways:

  • Customer participation in dietitian-led programs, 70%.
  • Overall success of the health and wellness program, 65%.
  • Social media engagement, 50%.
  • Consumer surveys, 40%.
  • Increased sales of products that dietitians promote: 40%.

Many approaches to measuring success

Food retailers use both qualitative and quantitative targets to measure the success of their health and well-being programs:

  • Participation/attendance in activities, 83%.
  • Employee insurance claims, 67%.
  • Informal employee feedback, 67%.
  • Consumer comments, 58%.
  • Surveys, 58%.

Using a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the most useful, retailers reported these measures as the most useful:

  • Sales figures, mean 4.6.
  • Health outcome/biometrics, mean 4.4.
  • Participation/attendance, mean 4.3.
  • Health risk assessments, mean 4.3.
  • Loyalty programs, mean 4.3.

Steps for further progress

These takeaways show food retailers how to become key destinations for health and well-being needs. Alongside, FMI presents five steps for progressing further:

  • Mine the experiences of the pandemic to reset strategies and capture the benefits of health and well-being programs.
  • Meet shoppers where they are, even as the pandemic starts to recede. Look for health and well-being opportunities throughout the store, then bring in experts such as dietitians to develop strategy.
  • Determine how to measure disease prevention, which would illustrate the effectiveness of your efforts.
  • Consider new opportunities to engage with the community, such as food assistance programs, wellness screenings and even immunization initiatives.
  • Take advantage of collaboration between pharmacists, dietitians and other health care providers.

[email protected]: Who pays the price for US food monopolies? | Olympics Tokyo organizers apologize for food waste

Getty Images store aisle grocery food monopolies

Revealed: the true extent of America's food monopolies, and who pays the price

Take a look at the hundreds of brands stacked on retail shelves and you'd be hard pressed to fully understand the extent of monopolies in the CPG food world. But as many natural products industry members know, several uber-powerful companies control the majority market share of almost 80% of dozens of grocery items bought regularly by ordinary American shoppers. These companies have grown thanks to political lobbying and weak regulation that enabled a wave of unchecked mergers and acquisitions; their size and influence enables them to largely dictate what America’s 2 million farmers grow and how much they are paid, as well as what consumers eat and how much our groceries cost. Scary! The Guardian digs into the gory details.

Olympics Tokyo organizers apologize for food waste, in latest Games headache

Organizers of the Tokyo Olympic Games on Wednesday apologized for ordering too much food for their staff during the opening ceremony and letting it go to waste after videos of trucks carting off boxes of uneaten food went viral online. Reuters reports that thousands of untouched lunch boxes and rice balls have been discarded at the stadium as a decision to hold the Games without spectators slashed the number of volunteers there. Some 110,000 volunteers were initially expected for the Games, although 10,000 had quit as of last month, as the worsening pandemic turned public opinion against the sporting events.

Why you might want to sell out—to your employees

Is your enterprise a good fit for an employee stock ownership plan? According to the latest figures from the National Center for Employee Ownership, these plans, known as ESOPs, were at more than 6,300 companies in the U.S., holding total assets of more than $1.4 trillion and covering 14 million employee-owners. The Philadelphia Inquirer explains a few rules and methods to note before going this route (you'll need help from a financial professional or two, ultimately) and points out that while benefits for the owner abound, the biggest benefit is for workers. Employee stock ownership plans are just like any other benefit plan for your company: a form of compensation that will attract and keep employees.

The rise of the neighborhood market

Isolation and the mass reliance on e-commerce during the pandemic have led some business owners to launch locally focused neighborhood markets that serve specific communities. “Even though we were socially distanced over the past year, we really saw this return to community engagement and being part of something bigger and on your local home turf,” says Meghann Martindale, head of retail research at commercial real estate service MadisonMarquette, said to L.A. Magazine. We don’t want to be relegated to shopping only online, detached from our environment, Martindale explains, and so we’re returning to “small business, the local mom and pops, because of that need for connection." If there ever was a time to start a hyper-curated upscale grocery store that foster community, it's right now.

This is exactly how we're going to benefit from upcycled skin care ingredients

Upcycled beauty products are arriving fast on the heels of their trendy upcycled food and beverage counterparts. The movement in skin care is still in its infancy, but we've seen upcycled ingredients in the beauty world before (coffee ground scrubs, anyone?). However, there is still ample room for growth and innovation. Other emerging upcycled ingredients include barley seed ferment, a hydrating ingredient derived from the waste stream of the gin-making process, and upcycled seed oils from vegetables such as avocados and tomatoes. New Beauty highlights a handful of brands jumping headfirst into repurposed waste streams.

Food industry reimagines ‘future of work’

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Food retailers and suppliers are being pushed to rethink their workforces after the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing surge in online grocery shopping shook up the marketplace, a survey from FMI-The Food Industry Association and Deloitte reveals.

In assessing their labor needs going forward, nearly half (48%) of food retailers polled cited online shopping as the chief driver of change, according to the FMI-Deloitte “Future of Work: The State of the Food Industry” study, released Tuesday. Retailers’ response to the growth of e-grocery, in turn, is trickling down to product suppliers, as 49% of those surveyed said they’re adapting their workforces to meet new demands from retailers.

Findings from FMI and Deloitte’s “Future of Work” report come from an April/May 2021 survey of more than 150 U.S.-based executives from consumer packaged goods, food manufacturing and processing, grocery and food retail companies, as well as from interviews with industry leaders, FMI said.

“As we witness in this new study with Deloitte on the future of our workforce, the food industry can and should continue to rally around the strategies and investments it employed during the pandemic to keep customers and their essential workforce safe and America fed,” Mark Baum, senior vice president of industry relations and chief collaboration officer at FMI, said in a statement.



More than 90% of food retailers and product suppliers polled said their companies are investing in the “future of work,” though competing priorities have fewer than one in five respondents making significant investments to that end, the FMI-Deloitte research found. For food industry workforce initiatives, growing market share was cited as the No. 1 goal, yet 41% of companies indicated they aim to foster an organizational culture focused not just on growth but also adaptability and resilience.

“During the pandemic, it was all-hands-on-deck to meet consumer demand. Now the food industry is looking to drive performance and business outcomes through future of work initiatives,” explained Barb Renner, vice chairman and U.S. consumer products leader at New York-based Deloitte LLP.

Both food retailers and suppliers identified talent availability and retention—spanning varying job roles across the industry—as their top workforce challenges. Food retailers named talent availability (44%) as their most pressing challenge, followed by talent retention (40%), and retraining and re-skilling employees for new technology (39%). For suppliers, talent retention and driving company culture were the leading concerns (45%), followed by drawing employees with emerging, high-demand skillsets (36%).

To aid talent attraction and retention, 59% of food industry executives agreed that flexible and hybrid work options, where possible, will be pivotal. And as technology demands rise, food retailers are focusing on retraining workers and boosting their skills, whereas product suppliers lean more toward hiring people with high-demand skills, according to the study.



Three in five food industry executives reported they’re “aggressively” looking to automate work where possible, FMI and Deloitte said. Some executives said they’re automating 50% or more as companies seek new ways to fill manual labor roles.

“At a time when many industries suffered devastating job losses, the grocery industry has served as a source for occupations for hundreds of thousands of Americans,” Baum noted. “Yet FMI’s operations data suggest that turnover in food retail was 40% before the pandemic, [and] 46% said COVID-19 made it harder to recruit and retain people. Retailers told us they addressed this tension by focusing on a range of benefits for associates, including higher compensation, bonuses, flextime, training and skills development, employee wellness programs, education programs, and hiring and retention incentives.”

Seventy percent of companies surveyed have tasked their talent and human resources executives with driving future of work initiatives, compared with 44% that have their CEO leading these efforts, the report said. More than 25% said workforce development efforts are being spurred by IT, operations and/or line-of-business leaders.

Nine in 10 companies are investing in future of work-related initiatives such as retraining employees to use new technology. Improving the customer experience also is a priority, cited by 39% of food retailers polled and 27% of industry executives overall. Driving innovation, adding capacity and cutting costs were each named as key goals by 7% of companies.

Almost half (46%) of executives said their companies are “ready” or “very ready” for work in the “new normal” following the pandemic. Still, just two in 10 food retailers and one in 10 suppliers described their investments as significant, FMI and Deloitte found. Forty-eight percent said other priorities limit their future of work investment, and 8% pointed to limited financial capital.

“The food industry is a complex system, and no single company is going to be able to get their fully realized vision of the future of work on their own and will require collaboration with their suppliers, partners and other industry participants,” according to Renner. “Grocers and product suppliers should lay the groundwork for the future together, and the companies that invest in a people-centric approach by prioritizing the work, workforce and workplace will be better positioned to adapt to shifting consumer preferences and long-term growth.”

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

[email protected]: Carbon market mistakes | Companies test price bumps | Ranchers grapple with consolidation

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As carbon markets reward new efforts, will regenerative farming pioneers be left in the dirt?

Many hope that carbon markets will galvanize a widespread transition to soil-building practices at the massive scale needed to soak up significant quantities of atmospheric carbon and mitigate global climate change, which government programs have thus far failed to do. However, pioneering farmers who have already adopted regenerative practices (at significant risk and cost, we might add) are being passed over for the carbon credits that companies are offering because they are instead targeting large, conventional growers who agree to adopt new carbon-storing practices. Civil Eats has the details.

How much more will your Oreos cost? Companies test price increases

In response to rising costs for materials, transportation and workers, American companies are charging more for all sorts of products and fueling inflation like the U.S. hasn't seen in over a decade. The Wall Street Journal uses food conglomerate Conagra Brands Inc. as an example: the company couldn’t raise prices enough in the most recent quarter to make up for its own rising costs, including for cooking oils, packaging and transportation; it expects price increases and other measures to offset its costs later this year, and said it might need to raise prices further. If price inflation gains traction, it would keep prices high and rising, but if they falter inflation is likely to ease as labor and supply shortages diminish and the pandemic’s economic effects recede.

A consolidated meatpacking market leaves ranchers struggling

Ranchers are taking aim at concentration within the meat market (Brazil-based JBS, Tyson Foods, Cargill and National Beef slaughtered about 85% of the cattle in the U.S. in 2018) and its detrimental effects on the rising retail price of meat and farmers' diminishing share of the profits. The Counter addresses their woes, but notes that President Biden recently signed an executive order that addressed consolidation in agriculture, specifically in the beef market. Ranchers in turn say the system may need to be upended and broken up entirely before any kind of productive disruption is possible.

Chinese farmers see livelihoods washed away by floods

Chinese farmers in the country's central Henan province are facing financial losses after a flash flood drowned thousands of pigs and chickens, effectively decimating their livelihoods. Members of the community are now preoccupied with the possibility of animal diseases causing human illness as a result of flooded manure pits; the swine fever virus lives for about 10 days in pig faeces and water, and can survive for up to 100 days in manure pits. Zoonotic diseases, which tend to crop up in areas of concentrated animal agriculture, could easily create the next COVID-19 crisis. KFGO reports. 

The immigrant workforce milking America's cows

The number of dairy farms in the U.S. are declining, and the ones that are left are large farms with thousands of cows that require round-the-clock milking and a much larger workforce. Immigrant workers make up approximately 40% of the workforce on Wisconsin dairy farms, and up to 90% are undocumented, according to The Guardian, and the foreign-born population in Wisconsin has grown by 45% since 2000, with rural counties seeing largest and fastest growth of that population. Unsurprisingly, many of these dairy farmers have become deeply invested in immigration reform, which is not a popular viewpoint in these areas.