New Hope Network is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


Farmers to Trump on tariffs: Trade, not aid

Steve Hoffman - Compass Natural

In early July when President Donald Trump imposed trade tariffs on imports of commodities including steel and aluminum, the nations singled out by Trump, including China, Canada, Mexico and the EU, struck back, targeting food producers across the U.S. with stiff retaliatory tariffs on exports of corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, sorghum, pork, poultry, fish and a number of nuts, fruits, vegetables and other agricultural products including bourbon, orange juice and dairy products.

Asked to be patient in a speech to Iowa farmers on July 26, U.S. farmers are bearing a disproportionate brunt of Trump’s trade war. Feeling the financial pain, the patience of America’s heartland farmers—a bastion of support for President Trump—is wearing thin in a trade war Trump promised would be “easy to win."

In an attempt to alleviate the economic impact to farmers as a result of his own trade policies, President Trump on July 24 promised $12 billion in emergency aid to farmers, using a depression-era assistance program to put a band aid on the immediate pain American farmers are feeling as a result of the U.S. imposed tariffs and subsequent trade retaliation by China, the EU and others.

But some Republicans and farmers are not buying it. Tennessee Republican Senator Bob Corker in a statement called Trump’s trade policy “incoherent” and the administration “was offering welfare to farmers to solve a problem they themselves created.”

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) said in a statement, “This trade war is cutting the legs out from under farmers and the White House’s ‘plan’ is to spend $12 billion on gold crutches. … America’s farmers don’t want to be paid to lose—they want to win by feeding the world.”

Sen. John Kasich (R-OH) said that President Trump was resorting to “farm welfare” when what American farmers really want is the administration to stop imposing tariffs. American consumers will feel the pinch both ways under the proposed bailout strategy in the form of higher costs for foods due to the higher tariffs, and also the $12 billion emergency aid for farmers will end up coming from U.S. taxpayers.

Relief from an EU deal

In a move that could provide some relief to U.S. soybean producers, President Trump on July 25 announced a deal with EU President Jean-Claude Juncker that would remove tariffs on a number of industrial goods in trade between the U.S. and the EU. In a hastily scheduled joint press conference on the White House lawn, Trump declared that European countries would be buying “a lot of soybeans” from American farmers. In a campaign-style speech on July 26 in Iowa, Trump told a group of farmers, “We just opened up Europe for you farmers. You’re not going to be too angry with Trump, I can tell you,” he said.

However, existing tariffs still remain in place and the U.S.-EU announcement did nothing to resolve Chinese sanctions on U.S. soy, pork and other farm products. In response to Trump’s trade tariffs, China in early July imposed a 25 percent tariff on U.S. soybean exports and also placed tariffs on U.S. corn, wheat, sorghum, pork, beef, nuts, fruit, vegetables and many other agricultural products. Mexico is also levying a 20 percent tariff on U.S. pork in response to Trump administration trade sanctions, as well, Agri-Pulse reported.

“If the price of soybeans goes down, farmers will have less to spend on new equipment. And equipment makers such as Caterpillar and John Deere will (eventually) have to raise the price of equipment due to steel tariffs,” Chicago trade attorney R. Kevin Williams said in the Chicago Tribune. “Eventually it will have an impact on the economy.”

“Patience is wearing thin on U.S. pork producers because the next six months of market prices—there’s a lot of red ink. We need the administration to come to these deals quickly,” Iowa hog farmer Gregg Hora told ABC News.

“We would prefer trade not aid,” said Dave Struthers, who grows corn and soybeans and raises hogs in Iowa, in a July 25, 2018, Bloomberg News report. “We’d like to see things figured out on these trade issues.”

According to Bloomberg, agriculture is the third-largest U.S. export industry. American farmers export approximately one-third of their annual production. According to Bloomberg, that generated an estimated $21 billion trade surplus this past year, however, that is now under threat after China imposed tariffs on U.S. soybeans and other agricultural products.

Impact on natural and organic producers

But farmers are not the only ones affected by the administration’s trade wars. Packaged goods manufacturers, too, are beginning to feel negative effects. When the Trump administration placed tariffs on Chinese goods with an annual trade value of about $200 billion, roughly 1,300 products were impacted. The additional taxes will ripple through supply chains, reports CNN Money, compelling businesses in the U.S. and China to decide whether to absorb costs or raise consumer prices.

CNN Money published a list of food products impacted by the trade tariffs here. Eater also published a list of foods subject to tariffs, by country, here.

Closer to home, Arnold Coombs, Director of Sales and Marketing for Bascom Maple Farms, the largest supplier of maple syrup and maple sugar in the U.S., and a seventh-generation Vermont maple sugar maker, puts it this way:

“While selling maple to Canada is like selling ice to Eskimos, we do sell some maple syrup and maple sugar to manufacturers there. We will lose a little under $1 million in sales. The bigger issue for us will be the U.S. withdrawal from the TPP. Unless this is reversed or another agreement completed, we will lose close to $9 million in sales. 

One more trade issue for us is CETA, the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement. The tariff on Canadian maple is gone while there is still an 8 percent tariff on U.S. maple. This has essentially taken us out of the EU market with a loss of $4-5 million in sales. I doubt that we will have an agreement with the EU in the near future.

It seems that just when we had a good grasp of developing new export markets, the U.S. government got in the way and threw up some roadblocks. Ultimately, this hurts the U.S. farmer, as we will have to buy less syrup from them. That’s not the direction we want to go.”

Leading organic dairy producer Organic Valley’s CEO George Siemon added, “Our dairy business will be mainly affected by the conventional market being harmed. Our own sales will not be that affected, as we do not export that much to the countries with tariffs. No matter how well we manage an organic dairy pool you end up with some conventional sales; thus a lower conventional price due to tariffs will hurt our income from those sales.”

Dietary supplement products “ensnared” in U.S.–China trade war

With many nutritional product manufacturers sourcing ingredients from China and the world over, supplement makers are feeling the pinch of a 10 percent to 25 percent import duty on a range of ingredients including minerals, animal and plant proteins, sweeteners, hemp seeds, phytosterols and other ingredients.

According to Natural Products Insider, online trading resource has complied a list of more than 180 ingredients that could be affected by the trade tariffs. "Keep in mind this is just the beginning; we're hearing the tariffs can range from 10 percent to 25 percent. It's obvious this will have a tremendous effect on not only the industry but on consumers as well,” said Peggy Jackson, VP of sales and marketing for

Among a list released in July of Chinese goods facing tariffs of 10 percent or more were a number of specifically named herbs and botanicals, as well as what American Herbal Products Association President Michael McGuffin described as a “catch-all” category that could include a number of herbal ingredients and a separate designation that could impact certain forms of minerals used in dietary supplements.

In addition, importers may choose to buy up raw materials before tariffs take effect, and “all of a sudden the supply-demand equation is no longer balanced and the costs are going to go up,” McGuffin told New Hope Network.

Generational effects … or patience?

Robert Leonard, News Director for Iowa radio stations KNIA and KRLS, claims in a New York Times op-ed that President Trump’s trade war will hurt farm business at a time when the rural population is aging, and that it could accelerate the hollowing out of farm communities. “Mr. Trump recklessly opened trade wars that will hit ‘Trump country’—rural America—hardest and that have already brought an avalanche of losses. Indeed, the impact of his tariffs will probably be felt by family farms and the area for generations,” he wrote.

Yet, President Trump argues that his proposed emergency farm aid bailout is only temporary. Eventually, he argues, the trade war will pay off—farmers will no longer need taxpayer help. “The farmers will be the biggest beneficiary. Watch,” he said. “We’re opening up markets. You watch what’s going to happen. Just be a little patient.”

This article originally appeared in the August 2018 edition of Presence Marketing News.

Back To The Roots and Nature’s Path team up to expand organic cereal line

Organic Cereal Family Shot

News of investments, acquisitions and mergers are commonplace in the natural industry. But deep, strategic partnerships between like-minded brands are rare.

Sure, some brands partner for social media giveaways and other marketing efforts. And other companies leverage brand identity for new product formulations. But according to Nikhil Arora, co-founder of Back To The Roots, inter-industry collaboration can go much further.

“So often you hear about investments or acquisitions, but I think there are so many other ways to partner,” he says. “And that can be a win-win from a purpose and financial standpoint.”

Back To The Roots recently announced the launch of an exclusive licensing agreement with the legacy organic company Nature’s Path that could bring organic cereal into every school cafeteria in the country. Starting in September, Nature’s Path will integrate Back To The Roots’ organic cereal line into its product portfolio, and take over the supply chain, manufacturing and distribution parts of the business. The idea, says Arora, is for Back To The Roots to focus more on building out the rapidly growing indoor gardening category, which is now a billion dollar industry.

In May 2018, Back To The Roots debuted a deal with Whole Foods Market (and by proxy, with Amazon) to build out a retail category exclusively focused on indoor gardening. The idea is to inspire consumers—especially parents with kids and millennial-aged shoppers with limited backyard or patio space—to start growing their own mushrooms, herbs and vegetables.

Since then, Arora has seen the small-space gardening category gain serious market traction. In addition to natural retail stores, big-ticket retailers including Lowes, Home Depot and Target will expand their indoor gardening sets and feature Back To The Roots. Online sales of the brand’s aquaponic Water Garden have exploded since Amazon included the product as a featured item on Amazon Prime Day. Additionally, the company will expand its gardening line into Whole Foods Market’s budget-conscious 365 stores.

“There’s a lot of fun momentum in indoor gardening, and we started asking ourselves how we were going to maximize our impact and reach as many homes and schools as possible,” says Arora. “The cereal side of our business takes a lot of work. So we wondered if we could find a partner to help us scale this faster while we focus on the gardening side.”

Fast forward to Natural Products Expo West, when Arora and Back To The Roots co-founder Alejandro Velez met with the Nature’s Path team in their signature “treehouse” room overlooking the show floor. Within minutes, Arora and Velez knew a partnership potential was clear. For decades Nature’s Path has been a fervent pioneer for organic food by leading the push to expand organic agriculture and organic ingredient supply. Nature’s Path products are sold in 50 countries, but the responsible brand had yet to break into the school food system in a meaningful way.

Last year, Back To The Roots earned a coveted spot in the New York City public school system’s product set—replacing Kellogg’s sugary offerings following a student taste test. 

This was a big deal. The NYC public school system is a member of the Urban School Food Alliance—an organization that includes city school systems in Los Angeles, Miami, Dallas, Baltimore and more that employs purchasing power to lower healthy school food costs. The Back To The Roots co-founders see ample opportunity to expand organic cereal offerings through this program, with Nature’s Path’s help.  

“Together, we have a chance to make a massive impact in the food system and democratize organic food,” Velez said in a statement. “Cereal is such a staple of school foods and the start to so many kids’ days—if we can change the cereal category, we can change the food system, one bowl at a time.”

Call for more natural partnerships

Arora stresses that the Back To The Roots-Nature’s Path partnership should serve as a model for the natural industry because the potential for positive good-food impact is significantly larger. With Nature’s Path’s large-scale sourcing and manufacturing abilities, 20 percent of all school-aged kids in the United States could have an organic option for breakfast—a prospect that wouldn’t have seemed possible even five years ago.

“My hope is that this will spur other kinds of ideas in the natural industry,” says Arora, who adds that it’s important to remember that collaborations only work if both companies have an authentic shared vision. “If that’s there, you can grow your business and amplify impact. The kids are the ones who will benefit the most from this partnership.”

The new convenience store: Fresh, better-for-you foods, good coffee

Choice Market Choice Market, Denver Colorado

It was Rachel Krupa’s love for convenience stores that made her want to change them. Krupa grew up going to local convenience stores for the essentials and snacking at rest-stop convenience stores on road trips.

Years later, when her diet focused on good-for-you foods and her work in public relations had her representing progressive, up-and-coming food brands, she realized that convenience stores needed an upgrade.

In April of this year, Krupa opened The Goods Mart in Los Angeles. Krupa’s convenience store is among a handful of new businesses shaking up the traditional convenience store and focusing on healthy, high-end, products from small brands.

“I want to be your neighborhood convenience store,” said Krupa. “We have a lot of different things that you’d find at, say, a 7-Eleven, but it’s all better-for-you type ingredients in the sense of no artificial colors, preservatives, dyes. We curated around 300 to 350 products that I tried and tested and also read up on.”

Capitalizing on coffee

Like a 7-Eleven, Krupa sells a lot of coffee and slushies at The Goods Mart’s self-service bar. But the coffee is from La Colombe, a Philadelphia-based roasted with responsible practices. And the slushies are organic and come from Kelvin Slush Co., a Brooklyn, New York-based company.

At Foxtrot, with five locations of its elevated convenience store in Chicago, Illinois, co-founder Mike LaVitola said, “Coffee is definitely a big driver for us and it always comes down to coffee, wine and ice cream.” Foxtrot locations have a “coffee shop vibe” with about a third of the store dedicated to coffee service, a third to chairs and couches for customers to hang out in, and a third for shelves and more traditional retail.

Chicago’s Foxtrot stores originally started as an online delivery service for convenience items such as craft brews, wine and snacks.

Coffee is also a top seller at the Choice Market in Denver, which opened in October 2017. Two other top sellers are organic bananas and traditional Coca-Cola. Founder Mike Fogarty is less stringent than Krupa about using products from small businesses, although he estimates his market has about “90 percent better-for-you [products]; 10 percent traditional c-store and large CPG brands,” Fogarty said. “But people still drink Coca-Cola and still eat Skittles and stuff like that.”

Choice Market also has a robust made-to-order business with sandwiches, salads and smoothies and seating for about 30 people in the 2,500-square-foot space. (The Goods Mart footprint is smaller, at around 800 square feet.)

Fogarty’s business was inspired by growing up near East Coast-based Wawa convenience stores and spending time in Europe, where small-format grocery stores are popular.

“It became clear that there was an opportunity to rethink the convenience store and what it means to be convenient,” said Fogarty. “With all the changes in terms of people smoking less, cars being more efficient, all these key revenue drivers for the convenience store were continuing to decrease but food and foodservice was becoming more and more popular.” 

Location, location, location

Although Choice Market and The Goods Mart only have one location each, they have ambitious expansion plans. Krupa would love to open more locations in L.A. before moving on to her home state of Michigan. Fogarty hopes to have five stores open by the end of the year in Denver and other markets.

After nearly four years in operation, Foxtrot has cornered the corner-store market in Chicago by focusing on locations on the main street of different neighborhoods in the Windy City. But the business originally started as an online service delivering “what people typically go to the convenience store for, which for us is craft beer and wine, great snacks, that kind of stuff,” LaVitola said.

Denver-based Choice Market’s product mix is about 90 percent better-for-you and 10 percent traditional c-store and CPG.

“We approached it by taking all the things people typically buy from the corner store or convenience store and we’d find the best version of those [and] really try to update the menu with a focus on quality and local and interesting, emerging brands and then deliver it in under an hour,” he said. LaVitola soon discovered that he needed a brick-and-mortar location to deliver alcohol legally. But to his surprise, the retail stores grew along with the online business.

“I think customers have really low expectation of what a convenience store is, and so, when you have a really fun and bright and welcoming one that has really high-quality products that they're not used to seeing, they get excited,” said LaVitola. “It wasn't a hard sell from a consumer point of view.” The company is planning to open a few more Chicago locations in the next couple of months before expanding nationally.

Bridges General, which opened its first location in May 2017, already has locations in different markets. The convenience store concept is part of Retail Worx, a company with seven brands in the health and food space. Bridges General, wich has locations in California and New York, and mainly focuses on real estate in commercial office buildings, with and without public access.

Bridges General locations are highly designed spaces offering carefully curated products in snack foods, drinks and grab-and-go, as well as toiletries, cards and small gifts.

“We’re really looking at how do you create a convenience environment, but for the today person,” said Aaron Battista, CEO of Bridges. To Battista, modern convenience means services like Denim Repair and Happy Returns, which allow customers to run lunch-hour errands like repairing jeans and making trips to the post office. Battista envisions expanding these services

With its services and products, Battista sees Bridges as a boon for customers and landlords alike.

“What we're finding with these buildings is they want to elevate their experience,” he said. “They want to provide services for their tenants, and the landlords are really excited. They have 500, 700, 1,000 square feet that they don't know what to do with. And we're the perfect solution.”


Learn more about online grocery shopping/delivery and meal solutions at the inaugural SN Summit, held Oct. 1-3 in Dallas, the only conference where food retailers and restaurateurs learn from each other.

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

Transforming energy drinks with natural, organic ingredients


The bustling lifestyles of modern consumers have prompted great demand for products that boost energy. In fact, the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation’s 2018 Food and Health Survey found energy is the third most sought-after health benefit, following cardiovascular health and weight loss.

Grand View Market Research reported the global energy drink market was valued at $43 billion in 2016 and predicted to reach $84.8 billion by 2025 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7 percent.

While traditional energy drinks are still popular (retail sales for the top-selling energy drink brand in the United States reached $11.7 billion in 2017), warnings from doctors about excessive caffeine intake, bad press about hospitalizations and deaths from energy drink consumption, and the holistic health and wellness movement have led to a shift in the category. More brands are developing these beverages with organic and/or natural ingredients that are perceived as better-for-you. A substantial number of brands showcased natural and organic energy drinks at 2018 Natural Products Expo West, including Dark Dog Organic, Limitless, Guru and Zola.

There is enormous potential for the natural and organic energy drink category; Grand View Market Research expects natural and organic energy drinks sales will reach $32 billion by 2025, which accounts for nearly 38 percent of the market. If you’re considering developing a natural or organic energy drink, keep the following category trends top of mind when developing your product.

Naturally energizing ingredients

Some of the most common ingredients in natural and organic energy drinks are green coffee, green tea, guarana and ginseng. Depending on the goal of your product, you might want to consider one or a combination of these ingredients.

Green coffee has less caffeine than roasted coffee (20 mg per serving, compared with 100 mg) and has suggested benefits such as aiding with weight loss and disease prevention. It’s often combined with other energy-enhancing ingredients like B-vitamins and ginseng for a bigger boost. It can be found in products like Starbucks Refreshers, Zola Organic Hydrating Energy Drink and Rockstar Organic Energy Drink.

Green tea has approximately 30 to 50 mg of caffeine per serving and, like green coffee, is suggested to promote weight loss and reduce risk of cancer. There’s a huge health halo surrounding green tea, which makes it a very appealing to consumers looking for a natural means to increase energy. One of the downsides of green tea is its low caffeine content compared with other ingredients, so additional caffeine fortification may be desired. Green tea is in GURU Organic Energy, Dark Dog Organic Energy Drink and Steaz.

Guarana has about 70 to 200 mg of caffeine per serving which is almost as much as a cup of coffee. Despite its high caffeine content, guarana is rarely the only energizing ingredient and is often paired with green coffee, green tea or synthetic caffeine. Guarana is used in traditional energy drinks like Red Bull and Monster as well as those positioned as more natural like Scheckter’s Organic Energy, Arizona Fruit Punch Natural Energy and Yerbae.

Ginseng (and panax ginseng) has no caffeine, but it’s still a popular energy drink ingredient because of its functional properties. Ginseng is an adaptogen (a natural substance considered to help the body adapt to stress) and is also high in antioxidants; additionally, it’s suggested to have anti-inflammatory properties, improve brain function and aid with weight loss. Panax ginseng is very similar but it comes from a different part of the plant and is suggested to have different types of ginsenosides (the active ingredient in ginseng), so some brands call it out specifically. Ginseng is in beverages like Hi Ball, Starbucks Doubleshot Energy and Feel Natural Energy.

Clean label claims

In addition to functional ingredient claims, brands are positioning their products as clean label. Brands in this space are making claims such as clean energy, organic energy, natural energy and healthy energy. Clean energy can be found on labels for brands including Runa, Mamma Chia and Clean Cause. Organic energy is part of the name of Dark Dog Organic Energy Drink, Organic Amazon Energy, GURU Organic Energy Drink and several others. Natural energy is noted on products like Starbucks Refreshers, Arizona Water Melon Natural Energy and Feel. Some brands have even gone so far as to make a healthy energy claim on the label, like FRS, Celsius and MATI. It’s interesting to note that, except for organic, none of the claims are regulated or require certification. However, be careful about making product claims that are unmerited.

Natural sweetener options

Choosing which sweetener will be most appealing to your target consumer can be difficult because consumers’ perceptions vary. Sugar is often a concern for consumers who are seeking “healthier” beverage options because it is considered a key culprit in the rise of obesity and diseases like diabetes, but it’s also a familiar ingredient and regarded as natural. Natural, non-nutritive sweeteners like stevia, monk fruit and sugar alcohols (xylitol, erythritol) are common in natural and organic products. However, some consumers avoid products with these types of sweeteners because they are not familiar with the ingredient, the ingredient may have a bitter or metallic taste, or the ingredient may cause an adverse reaction such as stomach upset. From a formulation standpoint, they also can create challenges with mouthfeel and texture.

Sugar, cane sugar and fruit juice (which naturally contains sugar) are some of the most common sweeteners in natural and organic energy drinks. In a survey of 20 natural and organic energy drinks, including the ones mentioned here, sugar or cane sugar were used in 12 beverages, and fruit juice was used in seven; some products use both.

Stevia, monk fruit and sugar alcohols are used in only a handful of natural energy beverages, such as Feel, Zevia Energy, Honey Bee Energy and Matcha Bar. Additionally, a few products like Hi Ball Energy and Limitless Lightly Caffeinated Sparkling Water don’t use sweeteners at all, which is a growing trend across beverage categories.

There’s plenty of opportunity to play with sweeteners when developing a new energy drink—especially when reducing or completely removing sugar—and to potentially highlight them as a differentiator when marketing your product. Examples of ways that brands can reduce sugar without compromising on taste include taking a “systems approach” by combining different sweeteners or different versions of one kind of sweetener, like stevia, to achieve an ideal taste or using natural flavor technologies that amplify the inherent sweetness of ingredients.

There are so many functional beverages on the market that consumers can pick and choose products that fulfill their individual needs. Energy drinks were one of the first mainstream functional beverages and continue to be in high demand. However, because consumers have become more discerning about what they put in their bodies, they want to experience function through natural means whenever possible.

Holly McHugh would love to continue the conversation about the functional beverages more in depth. Email her at [email protected].

This piece originally appeared on Natural Products Insider, a New Hope Network sister website. Visit the site for more news and insight on supplements and regulatory issues.



Esca Bona ingredient trend series: Ancient grains

Ancient grains report

Takeaways for Your Business

• Quinoa, flax and chia are high in protein and fiber, and contain several key vitamins and minerals.
• Consumers under the age of 40 are most likely to seek products touting plant-based protein.
• Flax, quinoa and chia, respectively, were the most popular ancient grains in new products at Expo West.

Register to access this resource

Registering as a member of New Hope Network will give you access to premium content, including digital magazines, webinars, white papers, and more.

[email protected]: Kroger goes online in China | Is CRISPR just GMO by another name?

Kroger to sell groceries on Alibaba site in China

Kroger continues to add avenues to increase its sales and geographic reach. The grocer’s latest move is to partner with the Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. to sell its products online in China. To begin, the company will offer dietary supplements and private-label products, including natural and organic items. Read more at The Wall Street Journal


The future of food: Scientists have found a fast and cheap way to edit your food’s DNA

Many sellers and consumers of natural and organic foods purposefully avoid genetically modified organisms. But what if scientists can just trim a gene or two to resolve some so-called problems, such as a short shelf lives, with fresh produce? That’s what CRISPR promises. Read more at The Washington Post


Corona beer giant puts $3.8 billion bet on U.S. love of cannabis

A New York beverage company with a 70-year history of selling beer, wine and whiskey is investing an additional $3.8 billion with Canadian marijuana grower Canopy Growth Corp. Constellation Brands, which distributes Corona, Ballast Point and Robert Mondavi, will own about 38 percent of Canopy; it previously had a 10 percent stake. Read more at Bloomberg


Despite verdict, courts will differ on Monsanto’s herbicide

Don’t expect to see warning labels on Roundup bottles any time soon, despite last week’s jury verdict that the glyphosate-containing herbicide caused a California man’s cancer. Also in California, a federal judge said evidence shows glyphosate is safe and doesn’t require a warning under state law. Thousands of lawsuits have been filed against Monsanto, and the company has promised to appeal the recent verdict. Read more at the San Francisco Chronicle  


How Moon Juice's founder built her wildly popular wellness brand

Amanda Chantal Bacon’s Moon Juice incorporated adaptogen-based products to create a beverage that helps people live a “holistic lifestyle.” Her rebrand of the vintage supplement has attracted today’s social-media-minded consumers, including Gwyneth Paltrow. Learn about Bacon’s own health practices, as well as the story behind her business. Read more at Forbes

Is a $289 million judgment against Monsanto a turning point?

Pesticide spraying

DDT was the dark agent of "Silent Spring" in 1962 but Monsanto’s Roundup has been the poison for all seasons in recent years. Now a $289 million judgment against the biggest villain in Big Ag has some wondering if the chemical tide has turned.

In awarding the enormous judgment, a San Francisco jury found last week that the herbicide caused cancer in a school groundskeeper.

We asked people who work in policy and the natural products industry for their take on the judgment, what it could mean and whether it marks a turning point in the battle against harmful chemicals in agriculture.


Karen Howard: It’s the financial ramifications that have created a turning point. Few are aware that glyphosate was patented as an antibiotic. Everyone understands overuse of antibiotics is dangerous. No matter how much science is produced on "safety,"’ (and we understand better than any industry how science can be used to turn an argument) the implications of long-term use must not be ignored, or worse, distorted and hidden. The Organic and Natural Health Association is testing the supply chain for glyphosate on behalf of consumers who want to know; the same consumers will sit on future juries. And, the real solution is for companies to commit to sourcing as many ingredients as possible from regenerative environments before the buck stops here.

—executive director, The Organic and Natural Health Association


Michael McGuffin: Bayer has already stated it will appeal this decision; possible outcomes are—the appeals court could confirm or overturn this decision, or a quiet and confidential settlement might be made where the company admits “no wrongdoing” or similar statement—but I don’t know how we could predict which of these is most likely.

Should we even consider that this is the beginning-of-the-end for glyphosate? That may come down not so much to what Bayer does but to how the settlement affects farmers’ decisions. If farmers come to think the scientific differences of opinions have now been resolved, and that those who have concluded that glyphosate is a human carcinogen are correct, will they want to continue to use this herbicide? That’s the trend we should look for before we can make any credible prediction of the impact of this one jury’s decision.

— president, American Herbal Products Association


Ken Roseboro: This ruling could be the beginning of the end for not only Roundup but other toxic synthetic pesticides. Monsanto/Bayer will fight this and other lawsuits to the bitter end, but they are on the wrong side of history. The trends toward organic and regenerative agriculture continue to grow, and I think these will continue to be adopted in the U.S. and worldwide. With those trends, the need for and use of toxic pesticides like Roundup will decrease and eventually disappear. One day in the not so distant future, people will look back on the use of pesticides with shock that poisons were used for food production.

 —editor The Organic & Non-GMO Report and The Non-GMO Sourcebook

Alan Lewis: The jury decision is a start, but until farmers join the rebellion there will be adequate money to pay these judgments. Luckily it seems the economics of Roundup-ready GMO agriculture no longer pays out. The real threat to Bayer will be fewer U.S. licensees for their technology.  

—government affairs director, Natural Grocers


Martha Carlin: The Monsanto judgment is a tipping point in public awareness of the dangers hidden in a product that is applied every day to the crops we use for food for humans and feed animals, as well as its downstream effects in, soil and water systems, but the company won’t give up this battle easily. They have been using the Big Tobacco playbook. With the effects so skillfully concealed, it will require public outcry as well as movement by States Attorneys General to turn the tide, much the same as it did with Big Tobacco. We believe that the microbiome will provide the smoking gun to accelerate this turning tide. As a company focused on the human microbiome and health, we can see in our data a clear map to the impact glyphosate/Roundup is having on our internal ecosystem.  

—founder, The Biocollective


Tiffany Finck-Haynes: The science is clear. Roundup is terrible for people and the planet. For years Monsanto has tried to silence the science and prevent any meaningful action to reduce the use of this toxic pesticide. Monsanto has worked at every turn to stop the EPA, Congress, food retailers and state and local governments from doing anything about RoundUp. This ruling is a good first step, but Monsanto must be held accountable for all the destruction and devastation they have caused. As long as Roundup is still on the market, our environment and public health are at serious risk.

 —senior food futures campaigner, Friends of the Earth


Jim Emme: This judgment is a long time coming regarding an herbicide that we have seen to become a prolific contaminant found in many botanical ingredients that we have rejected for our use. The judgment is also a welcome win for consumers. That said, we believe this is just a beginning and not a systemic change in the quality of our supply chains.

—CEO, NOW Foods