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Articles from 2014 In August


Natural Foods Merchandiser

FoodWorks owner takes a stand for health

FoodWorks owner takes a stand for health

Ralph Johnson has championed natural foods since long before they were hip. Back in 1976, Johnson started a successful natural products home delivery service in New York City. The late ’70s gas crises eventually sunk his business, but it didn’t stamp out his passion for getting natural foods into as many mouths as possible.

After working for a few different retailers, he started his own store, FoodWorks Natural Market in Guilford, Connecticut, in 1992. Today, FoodWorks boasts four locations. And even though Johnson is happy that natural products have moved more mainstream, he still isn’t satisfied. He thinks the industry can do better, and he’s leading the charge to get the right foods and the right messages to the masses.

 

How has the natural products industry changed since 1992?
Ralph Johnson:
One of the biggest changes is all of the packaged foods. When I started in the industry, people came for produce, bulk grains and beans, and maybe a few packaged goods. Now there is so much packaged and frozen food it’s unbelievable. I’m also very disappointed that there’s so much sugar in everything. Initially, natural was going to change mainstream. Now mainstream has changed natural by adding so much sugar. It’s just substituting Cap’n Crunch for high-sugar “natural” stuff. This is so sad, because people think that everything sold in a natural store is good for them.

How do you steer shoppers toward truly healthy products?
RJ: I refuse to carry all the “natural” garbage out there. If I look at a label and see the second ingredient listed is sugar, I say no. I often have arguments with salespeople about hot sellers, but for me, it’s not about the money. It’s about promoting health. I also really push people toward food, because eating well is the most important thing you can do for your health. I even talk shoppers out of vitamins sometimes.

What are some common customer concerns?
RJ: GMOs are big. We don’t carry brands owned by companies that oppose GMO labeling laws. We got rid of Kashi and Naked Juice. If shoppers ask why, we tell them we can’t consciously be a natural store centered on helping people if we don’t take a stand. Also, a lot of shoppers are concerned about multinational corporations buying small natural products businesses. They worry that their favorite products won’t have the same quality or integrity. For this reason, we got rid of Twinlab long ago and cut way back on New Chapter after it got bought out.
Editor’s note: Twinlab was acquired in August by Twinlab Consolidation Corporation, a company owned in part by employees.

What are your biggest challenges as a natural retailer?
RJ: People just don’t have time anymore. They’re looking for quick, quick, quick. They listen to Dr. Oz and want raspberry ketones or green coffee bean extract. That’s challenging because, when those products don’t work, they get angry. But you can’t take green coffee bean extract and then go to McDonald’s. Healing yourself through food is a process.

How do your shoppers feel about the cost of natural foods?
RJ: Prices are definitely a concern. I tell shoppers I wish I could charge less than suggested retail price, but it’s out of my hands. However, I do offer senior discounts and a wellness program for people with chronic diseases where I give them 40 percent off on vitamins. People who are really sick don’t get reimbursed by insurance. If we really want to help, we should step up and give those people a break to help them heal naturally. Why gauge them on price when they’re already stressed out?

What does the future look like for natural products stores?
RJ: Competition is intense because everyone’s jumping on the natural bandwagon, including big conventional chains. But there will always be room for independents. The real question now is: Are supermarkets dead? People don’t want to walk through 40,000 square feet or wait in long lines. Having a smaller store lets us have more interaction with customers. And if someone pulls up when we’re about to close and she just needs spinach, we can easily let her come in and grab some.

 

Follow Ralph Johnson's lead and fight for customer health

Be real with shoppers. “One guy came in with high blood pressure and wanted a supplement to help,” Johnson says. “I asked him what was going on in his life. Turns out he was getting a divorce and losing his business. I told him I had nothing in a bottle that could fix that. Instead, he should get a glass of wine and soak in the tub. He really appreciated that I was so honest with him rather than just trying to sell him something.”

Get customers cooking. “We’re starting to do more hands-on cooking demos,” Johnson says. “We want to show shoppers that good health is not just popping a supplement or opening a box of cereal. Our biggest role as a natural products store is to inform people about healthy, whole foods.”

Tell the truth about trends. Johnson is skeptical of trends such as gluten free and the paleo diet. He knows some shoppers medically must eat specific diets, but he’s honest with those who are just jumping on bandwagons. “There’s always a new hot diet coming down the pike,” he says. “I tell people that if they improve their diet in any way, they are going to feel better.” By being honest, you’re more likely to have customers who last.

Natural Foods Merchandiser

Breaking down the Wegmans Organic Greek Yogurt launch

Breaking down the Wegmans Organic Greek Yogurt launch

Going organic isn't Greek to Wegmans. The grocer launched its Organic Greek Yogurt line in late August with a digital campaign that does more than sell.

The Wegmans Greek Yogurt was wildly popular with our customers, and yet more and more shoppers were choosing organic products in the store. So it seemed logical to develop an Organic Greek Yogurt. - See more at: http://www.wegmans.com/blog/2014/08/now-organic-greek-yogurt/#sthash.XFBLkC7A.dpuf

Natural news takeways:

What a launch. No boring press releases for Wegmans! The grocer built out a nice, creatively (while not overdone) interactive webpage, created a Pinterest page including recipes, blogged about the product's creation and told the story of the organic farmers in words and video (hit play above).

This exemplifies storytelling and using web platforms to do what they do best. Today's customer demands more than a tagline-packed package. They want real. They want authentic. They want the whole story. 

And customers respond, as this early tweet shows:

 

Greek yogurt market measures. Yogurt continues to show strong growth in the wake of the Greek yogurt revolution, according to Research and Markets, which projects the U.S. yogurt market to total $9.3 billion by 2017. The market is about $6.5 billion today. Research and Markets tracks the niche as part of two trends: the insatiable power of protein and the continue rise of the Mediterranean diet.

Major organic moves. Conventional grocers continue to add—and promote—natural and organic offerings as customers demand these products. The conventional channel remained 40 percent of the total natural and organic market, according the NFM 2014 Market Overview, with a natural products sales growth rate of 10.7 percent compared with the natural channel's 10.3 percent. 

Private label power. Private label is key to many conventional grocers' organic growth strategy as consumers seek monetary value in their healthy, values-minded purchases. Private label growth has averaged 4.1 percent annually in recent years, according to IRI, outpacing a CPG industry average of 2.8 percent. Once considered lesser products, consumers who gave private-labeled products a try during the recession have emerged fans. More than 90 percent of consumers believe private label solutions offer the same or better value versus their national brand counterpart, and more than 80 percent say the quality is the same or better, IRI found.

Natural Foods Merchandiser

Supplement picks: Bountiful botanical selections

Having herbal discussions might not be easy. But your customers—especially younger ones—are buying. A Gen X or millennial woman that takes more than five supplement pills a day—more than any other user segment—is the most likely average American herbal supplement user. And she’s more likely than any other group to believe that herbals are “very safe.” Here are some we, and she might, like.

After perusing these supplement top picks, cruise on over to this relevant discussion from David Winston about incorporating herbal traditions in products and at retail. 

 

 

 

Natural Foods Merchandiser

Herbal traditions don’t translate easily in the aisles

Herbal traditions don’t translate easily in the aisles

Great systems including traditional Chinese medicine, Ayureveda in India, Siddha in Sri Lanka, Kampo in Japan and Tibetan medicine, are several hundreds or even thousands of yeard old. Over time, they have been refined, tested, and utilized, becoming even more effective tools to help people maintain health and treat illness. 

In the U.S., the Eclectic physicians and the Physiomedicalists created highly effective systems of herbal medicine. But these practitioners, along with their methods, died out by the early 20th century, leaving the nation with a patchwork of herbal knowledge that’s very allopathic in practice. In other words, the idea that “this herb is good for that disease” took over, although that is not how herbal medicine actually works. Herbal medicine is the oldest form of medicine in the world. 

These misconceptions led to the types of claims we see and hear today: “Saw palmetto is the prostate herb” or “St. John’s wort is the depression herb.” These sound bites do a disservice to specific herbs and to the people using them because they are simply not true. St. John’s wort, for example, is effective for only three out of 15 different types of depression. But the real problem is that, while certain herbs have become popular, herbal medicine has not, so it remains largely misunderstood. Case in point: Using St. John’s wort instead of Zoloft for depression is not herbal medicine—it’s an allopathic use of herbs. Most people who use a single herb to treat a multifaceted problem, such as depression, will be underwhelmed with the results.

Traditional systems of medicine almost always use herbs in combination formulas rather than singularly. Practitioners treat complex people with complex problems, and in most cases, it’s unlikely that a single herb will be highly effective. For instance, in a formula that targets benign prostatic hyperplasia, saw palmetto has some activity, but its effects are quite modest. But if we combine saw palmetto with nettle root, which has similar activity but works through different mechanisms, we get an additive effect. Then if we add white sage, one of only three herbs I’m aware of that will actually shrink a swollen prostate, along with collinsonia, which was used by the Eclectics for boggy atonic tissue (which describes a swollen prostate to a T), we create a synergy of action that gets superior results.

Still, this is a very different process from just taking herb A, B and C and throwing them together, because that approach often doesn’t work. Some formulators will look at the research and say, “Herb A was studied as an individual herb and was effective for treating a certain medical problem. Herb B was also studied as an individual herb and was useful for the same condition. So was herb C. Since they all had activity, let’s throw them together.” But in traditional systems of medicine, just as herbalists have figured out that specific herbs work very well together, they’ve also determined that others don’t. The skillful combining of herbs to get a synergistic effect means that, instead of one and one equaling two, one and one equals three. The concept of synergy has always been a part of traditional herbal medicine, but only in the last 10 years has there been research to show that synergy actually can and does occur.

In clinical practice, we often use specific herbs in combination for people with a certain condition over and over again, and they work very well. This also gives us a basis for a formula that will work for the majority of people with whatever condition we are trying to deal with. This is why formulas developed by trained clinical herbalists often work best.

Good herbal medicine treats people, not diseases. This makes herbalism very difficult for retailers. Most customers come in with a health issue, let’s say a migraine, and they think, “Oh, I want feverfew.” But feverfew works for some migraines (vaso-dilative) but not for other types (vaso-constrictive). We need to educate people on how to differentiate the underlying causes, patterns and issues that lead to headaches—or hypertension, PMS or any number of health concerns. Of course, this is not something every retailer is able to do. But a surprising number take my herbal courses and join my online salons, which help them to understand how to look beyond the illness and see the person who has it.

Herbalists want to give people a good experience with herbs. Otherwise, if they take something and it doesn’t give them the results they expect, they think, “I tried herbs; they don’t work.” Becoming educated about effective herb use so you can pass that knowledge on to your customers will result in maximum benefit for all. 

David Winston is a registered herbalist with the American Herbalists Guild and founder of Herbalist & Alchemist.

 

 

Natural Foods Merchandiser

Herbal traditions don’t translate easily in the aisles

Herbal traditions don’t translate easily in the aisles

Herbal medicine is the oldest form of medicine in the world. Great systems including traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurveda in India, Siddha in Sri Lanka, Kampo in Japan and Tibetan medicine, are several hundreds or even thousands of years old. Over time, they have been refined, tested and utilized, becoming even more effective tools to help people maintain health and to treat illness.  

In the U.S., the Eclectic physicians and the Physiomedicalists created highly effective systems of herbal medicine. But these practitioners, along with their methods, died out by the early 20th century, leaving the nation with a patchwork of herbal knowledge that’s very allopathic in practice. In other words, the idea that “this herb is good for that disease” took over, although that is not how herbal medicine actually works.

These misconceptions led to the types of claims we see and hear today: “Saw palmetto is the prostate herb” or “St. John’s wort is the depression herb.” These sound bites do a disservice to specific herbs and to the people using them because they are simply not true. St. John’s wort, for example, is effective for only three out of 15 different types of depression. But the real problem is that, while certain herbs have become popular, herbal medicine has not, so it remains largely misunderstood. Case in point: Using St. John’s wort instead of Zoloft for depression is not herbal medicine—it’s an allopathic use of herbs. Most people who use a single herb to treat a multifaceted problem, such as depression, will
be underwhelmed with the results.

Traditional systems of medicine almost always use herbs in combination formulas rather than singularly. Practitioners treat complex people with complex problems, and in most cases, it’s unlikely that a single herb will be highly effective. For instance, in a formula that targets benign prostatic hyperplasia, saw palmetto has some activity, but its effects are quite modest. But if we combine saw palmetto with nettle root, which has similar activity but works through different mechanisms, we get an additive effect. Then if we add white sage, one
of only three herbs I’m aware of that will actually shrink a swollen prostate, along with collinsonia, which was used by the Eclectics for boggy atonic tissue (which describes a swollen prostate to a T), we create a synergy of action that gets superior results.

Still, this is a very different process from just taking herb A, B and C and throwing them together, because that approach often doesn’t work. Some formulators will look at the research and say, “Herb A was studied as an individual herb and was effective for treating a certain medical problem. Herb B was also studied as an individual herb and was useful for the same condition. So was herb C. Since they all had activity, let’s throw them together.” But in traditional systems of medicine, just as herbalists have figured out that specific herbs work very well together, they’ve also determined that others don’t. The skillful combining of herbs to get a synergistic effect means that, instead of one and one equaling two, one and one equals three. The concept of synergy has always been a part of traditional herbal medicine, but only in the last 10 years has there been research to show that synergy actually can and does occur.

In clinical practice, we often use specific herbs in combination for people with a certain condition over and over again, and they work very well. This also gives us a basis for a formula that will work for the majority of people with whatever condition we are trying to deal with. This is why formulas developed by trained clinical herbalists often work best.

Good herbal medicine treats people, not diseases. This makes herbalism very difficult for retailers. Most customers come in with a health issue, let’s say a migraine, and they think, “Oh, I want feverfew.” But feverfew works for some migraines (vaso-dilative) but not for other types (vaso-constrictive). We need to educate people on how to differentiate the underlying causes, patterns and issues that lead to headaches—or hypertension, PMS or any number of health concerns. Of course, this is not something every retailer is able to do. But a surprising number take my herbal courses and join my online salons, which help them to understand how to look beyond the illness and see the person who has it.

Herbalists want to give people a good experience with herbs. Otherwise, if they take something and it doesn’t give them the results they expect, they think, “I tried herbs; they don’t work.” Becoming educated about effective herb use so you can pass that knowledge on to your customers will result in maximum benefit for all. 

David Winston is a registered herbalist with the American Herbalists Guild and founder of Herbalist & Alchemist.

 

 

Top tastes and attractions in Expo East 2014's host city

Baltimore Maryland
<p>Baltimore, Maryland </p>

Need to nourish yourself, take clients or new friends to dinner or simply step off of the show floor? Venture away from the hustle of Natural Products Expo East and experience the restaurants and sights that Baltimore has to offer. While samples are great, go out and try local and healthy hotspots or famous Maryland crabs. There is much to take in with so little time; don’t miss out.

 

Delicious Baltimore eats

Maggie’s Farm - 4341 Harford Road. Baltimore, MD 21214
410.254.2376
maggiesfarmmd.com

Maggie’s Farm was named one of the “50 Best Restaurants” for 2014 in Baltimore magazine, “Best Farm-to-Table Restaurant” in Baltimore City Paper’s “Best of Baltimore” 2013 and “30 Hot Spots for Brunch and Breakfast” for 2013 in Baltimore magazine. Try the burger, which garnered nominations for “Best Burger” in The Baltimore Sun Magazine’s 2014 “Reader’s Choice Awards.”

 

Waterfront Kitchen - 1417 Thames St., Baltimore, MD 21231
443.681.5310
waterfrontkitchen.com

The Waterfront Kitchen is a seed-to-plate restaurant that sources ingredients as locally and seasonally as possible. The restaurant offers sweeping views of the Inner Harbor from the westernmost tip of Thames Street in historic Fells Point. Waterfront Kitchen is open for lunch, brunch, dinner and happy hour. Appetizers currently entice with farmhouse eggs and microgreens and local cheeses.

 

Thames Street Oyster House - 1728 Thames St., Baltimore, MD 21231
443.449.7726
thamesstreetoysterhouse.com

Thames Street Oyster House is located in historic Fells Point on the waterfront. The Oyster House offers a raw bar, featuring at least 10 kinds of oysters from the East and West coasts. Thames Street Oyster House sources sustainably whenever possible and from the most reputable local and domestic purveyors and fishermen. The crab cakes are a favorite among Yelp reviewers.

 

Locust Point Steamers - 1100 E Fort Ave., Baltimore, MD 21230
410.576.9294
locustpointsteamers.com

L.P. Steamers is a family-owned crab shack that sits in a corner rowhouse in Locust Point, Baltimore. This restaurant is the real deal authentic crab-picking experience. Yelp reviews rave about this favorite Baltimore spot. According to the Baltimore Sun, “L.P. Steamers has become a South Baltimore treasure. There, you can get a table full of seafood and a slice of Baltimore.”

 

Captain James Seafood Palace - 2127 Boston St., Baltimore, MD 21231
Crab house and carry out: 410.675.1819
Landing restaurant: 410.327.8600
captainjameslanding.com

A Baltimore landmark since 1978, the Captain James Seafood Palace has earned the title “most unique eatery in Baltimore City.” Captain James resembles a merchant vessel and is the one spot in the city to eat steamed crab with true waterfront seating. The restaurant also features a water taxi stop (look for No. 14).

 

Woodberry Kitchen - 2010 Clipper Park Road, No. 126, Baltimore, MD 21211
410.464.8000
woodberrykitchen.com

Woodberry Kitchen relies on longstanding relationships with the growers of the Chesapeake to provide the ingredients for its dishes. This restaurant is an Expo East attendee favorite, and definitely worth the cab ride.

 

Interesting Baltimore sights

Oriole Park at Camden Yards - 333 W. Camden St. Baltimore, MD 21201
410.685.9800
baltimore.orioles.mlb.com/bal/ballpark/

Oriole Park at Camden Yards is the official home of the Baltimore Orioles since 1992. The park is situated in downtown Baltimore in close proximity to the Inner Harbor. The Orioles will be taking on the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday and the Boston Red Sox on Friday and Saturday.

 

Baltimore Water Taxi
baltimorewatertaxi.com

Baltimore Water Taxi connects attractions, restaurants, bars and shopping. Utilize the water taxis as a way to explore different sites and areas of Baltimore.

 

National Aquarium in Baltimore - 501 E. Pratt St., Baltimore, MD 21202
410.576.3800
aqua.org

One of the most well-known attractions in Baltimore, the National Aquarium features more than 16,000 animals representing more than 660 species.

 

USS Constellation, Pier I 301 E. Pratt St., Baltimore, MD 21202
410.539.1797
historicships.org

The USS Constellation was first launched in 1854 and was the last all-sail ship in the U.S. Navy. Today, visitors can climb aboard the ship decks and play the part of a 19th century sailor. Cannon firing demonstrations are held there daily.

Top natural living picks to check out at Natural Products Expo East 2014

Take your customers' organic life to new heights with a recycled, vegetable ink-based crafting kit, efficient natural detergent and more. Gaze on five of our top Natural Products Expo East 2014 natural living product picks.

Natural Products Expo East 2014 supplement and personal care product preview

Natural personal care products for men will take the stage with collagen boosts for hair and beard balm in the spotlight among new products you'll find at Natural Products Expo East 2014. Be sure to also check out the newest in Dead Sea mineral supplements and probiotics. 

 

Natural Foods Merchandiser

Unboxed: 10 new granolas, oils, gluten-free baking mixes and more

Unboxed, Edition 4 

This week in "Unboxed," we saw scores of goodies and baking blends not only safe for those with gluten sensitivities but also for people with allergies to ingredients including dairy, nuts and soy. 

Cooking oils also made an appearance: Cold pressing oils seems to be the standard that resonates with natural consumers, as the processing preserves flavor and nutrition. Oils featured impressive new packaging that improves their functionality (see slide four). 

In this gallery series, each week I unbox the piles of natural and organic products mailed to me and provide my honest, unbiased opinion. I also identify new and existing food trends each product exemplifies. 

Want your natural product to be included in next week’s gallery? Message me on Twitter @JennaBlumenfeldand follow @newhope360 on Instagram for even more natural product reviews.

Community Summit gives guidance to nonprofits

Luckys Market

Lucky’s Market, along with the Longmont Community Foundation and the Longmont Chamber of Commerce, hosted a community summit at the Xilinx Summit Retreat Building on Friday, August 22nd. The event was a huge success, with approximately 80 local non-profits attending. The focus was to learn new ways to grow their expertise and positive impact and influence within the Longmont, Colo., community.

"We were thrilled with today’s turnout,” said John Bwarie, Director of Community Impact for Lucky’s Market. “To have so many people come together and develop solutions for the issues that face this community was incredibly powerful and inspiring.” 

A special presentation was given by Dan Harris, a member of the Wells Fargo Philanthropic Services Team, entitled “Storytelling for Success.” His speech explored the importance of storytelling in the non-profit world, and its essential importance to an organization’s ability to create change. Beneficial tools and resources were presented to the non-profits to help face challenges and inspire ideas for their own ways to tell their stories and serve the community.

During the summit, participants were split into 10 groups. Each set was asked to develop a pilot program that identified a local Longmont issue and present a strategy for making a measurable impact on the issue. The teams worked together to pitch their ideas and were judged by a panel of experts. Those who met the stated criteria for storytelling was awarded a $500 grant from Lucky’s Market with the intent to “seed” the group’s pilot program.

Among the winning project ideas were:

  • Hopes for Homes: A public awareness campaign to educate citizens about the faces of homelessness in Longmont, and how to reduce it.
  • BOLSAS (Bridging Opportunities for Latino Support And Services): A campaign to create and distribute resource bags to Latino families in Longmont.
  • A Lucky Connection: A cross-generational program centered around the arts.

Altogether, the summit was a day of community engagement, growth and sharing that provided these critical non-profits, who serve the Longmont community so well, additional tools and experience necessary to grow their organizations for the benefit of those they serve. It was also the genesis of several new ideas intended to provide support for the community at large.

"When you bring all these different groups together, you are reminded how so many of us are working towards the same goal of bettering our community,” said Karla Hale, Executive Director of Longmont Meals on Wheels. "Today was great because we gained new skills and developed relationships with other organizations that we can turn to for partnership and support."

About Lucky’s Market
Lucky’s Market was started in 2003 by two chefs, Trish and Bo Sharon, when they bought a convenience store in Boulder, Colo. The Sharons shared a vision of creating a grocery store where food lovers like themselves would want to shop, with quality products sold at affordable prices with genuine personal service. Today, those goals are the hallmarks of the Lucky’s style. For more information on Lucky’s Market, go to www.luckysmarket.com.