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Organic personal-care market projected to reach $25.11 billion by 2025

The global, organic personal-care market size is projected to reach $25.11 billion by 2025, an 9.5 percent increase, according to a new report by Grand View Research Inc.

The U.S. organic personal care market is poised to exceed $7.7 billion by 2025, due to the country’s extensive presence of various personal care manufacturers.

Rising R&D expenditure to introduce improved plant and animal extracts into various products is expected to increase the demand for organic personal care products over the forecast period. Furthermore, regulations encouraging the use of organic materials in the personal care industry are likely to propel market growth.

Growing demand for organic products is leading to an increase in their availability in supermarkets, malls and drugstores. In addition, a booming online marketplace has made organic product more accessible. E-commerce is expected to remain a key factor in the projected growth.

Demand for products that are free from synthetic fragrances, preservatives, parabens, petrochemicals and harsh cleaners has risen sharply the past few years. Numerous players manufacture personal care products, such as sunscreens, body lotions, shampoos, scrubs and more. Many are targeting the aging population.

North America was the largest market for organic personal care in 2017. Led by the United States, it is expected to continue being the largest market through 2025, followed by Europe and the Asian Pacific region.

In terms of value, the global revenue for hair care is anticipated to reach $6.62 billion by 2025, rising at a CAGR of 9.8 percent from 2017 to 2025. Based on revenue, skin care dominated in 2017, commanding more than one-third of the market, driven by organic ingredients’ antioxidation properties and ability to improve skin health.

Organic oral care and cosmetics are expected to the third- and fourth-largest categories.

You can browse the full report, “Organic Personal Care Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report,” at Grand View Research.  

Source: Grand View Research

[email protected]: Monsanto cancer decision | Perdue pursues organics | Walter Robb and food waste

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Want the inside scoop from an influencer? Tatted Vegan shares tips for engagement

Berto Calkins

Perhaps winning friends and influencing people is not a new challenge, but it’s forever changing as channels for product distribution change. While the internet has given every consumer an avenue for word-of-mouth reviews, some expert opinions can carry serious weight for your brand. In the universe of influencers, whose volume and ripple-effect reach make them must-have allies for any brand’s marketing plan, there are rules of engagement.

Connecting with the right influencers to reach the right audiences is no easy task. In New Hope Network's August episode of BrandCamp, featuring Berto Calkins of Tatted Vegan, we'll work through the smarts and strategies used by brands, influencers and agencies to find the best partnerships. At the end of the day, it's all about forging strong interpersonal relationships. We caught up with Calkins to check in on some of the most important things he considers when working with brands and some important tips to remember along the way.

What’s an example of a brand relationship that has been really strong and why?

Berto Calkins: I have a strong relationship with Orgain because they trust and value me and my vision in promoting their products. Besides followers and engagement, I believe that Orgain understands the value that I add by being a vegan, a certified fitness professional, holding a bachelor's degree in communications and being a creative. Honorable mentions are REBBL and PlusCBD.

You, clearly, have a niche with veganism. Is such a focus critical for a successful influencer?

BC: Having a niche is incredibly critical for a successful influencer. If you are interested in something, many others may be interested in it as well. Having a niche allows people and brands to identify you with that niche and seek you out as a reputable source of information which builds more trust and success.

What do you look for in a brand?

BC: I am interested in brands that not only have great products that align with my brand, but also brands that have unbreakable core values and interesting stories. 

How do you screen brands before promoting them?

BC: I screen brands by looking into the ingredients and materials of their products, checking their CSR and how they communicate with their audience and vice versa. 

Do you promote any brands that have non-vegan SKUs?

BC: I promote brands that have non-vegan SKUs and I think it's a great thing because it shows a demand in the market and we as influencers help to ramp up that demand. Who knows what changes a brand might be willing to make if their vegan SKUs reach new heights.

What’s your advice for a brand interested in forging influencer relationships?

BC: My advice to brands is to look beyond just numbers and to really look at the person that they are seeking out. The personality of the influencer can show you the potential that they may have in helping you grow your brand. And influencers are people, so if you undervalue them, they'll remember even when their personal brand takes off.

Hear more from @TattedVegan, Cynthia Samanian (Confetti Kitchen), Leah Lesko (Justin's, previously Made in Nature) and Lindsay Bristol (Swanson, previously Red Bull) during the August #BrandCamp webinar.

When: 2 p.m. eastern, Aug. 22, 2018

Register here.

[email protected]: Aldi ups organic, grab-and-go offerings | USDA handcuffs poultry inspectors

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Aldi improves its game with major expansion of organics and fresh produce

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The New York Times and the super-wicked problem of climate change

Nathaniel Rich’s epic work on climate change, published this month online and in The New York Times magazine, raises the question, could actions we failed to take in the 1980s have prevented the problems we now face? Or was the problem too big for humans to tackle? Read more at Grist ...


Walmart tests robots to speed online grocery pickup

Walmart is working with a Massachusetts automation company, Alert Innovation, to create a storage and retrieval system that the Alphabot robot can use to more quickly fill online orders. Read more at Supermarket News


Football recruit pleads with college coaches to see past his medical cannabis medication

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The pill piece of the keto diet

GettyImages/ThitareeSarmkasat keto coffee

It may be nearly 100 years old, but keto is suddenly the latest thing. LeBron James, Gwyneth Paltrow and Kim Kardashian are all big fans, and “keto diet” was the highest-growth food-related search phrase on Google in 2017. Keto evangelists will claim the diet helps melt away fat, sharpen mental focus, boost endurance, enhance sleep and even prevent cancer and Alzheimer’s.

What they might not say is that it is demanding, and no shortcuts to ketosis have been proven.

The diet’s premise is straightforward: when daily caloric intake consists of roughly 75 percent fat, 20 percent protein and only 5 percent carbohydrate, the body won’t have enough glucose in the tank to burn for energy. This forces it to tap into a secondary fuel source, stored fat, which the liver breaks down into ketone bodies, molecules that power the brain and muscles. When the body relies on ketones instead of blood glucose and muscle glycogen it’s in the state of ketosis, which often leads to weight loss, greater satiety and improved insulin sensitivity and glycemic control.

These beneficial metabolic shifts have been well documented through quality research; even keto skeptics don’t decry them. Where things get controversial is around whether these physiological changes persist long-term, and whether they translate into the real-deal benefits (sustained body fat loss, faster marathon times, longer life) that keto devotees expect.

State of the science

Although data from human clinical trials suggests promise from the ketogenic diet for people with specific health conditions, including obesity, type II diabetes, cancer, cognitive decline, epilepsy and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, these results don’t necesarily extrapolate to the broader population. And while some studies looking at potential athletic-performance benefits have shown promise as well—particularly around fuel-burning and energy expenditure in ketosis—the data have been mixed, and many of the study designs are far from gold standard.

“The most important thing to put in perspective is it’s really difficult for people on the ketogenic diet to control and record accurately what they eat,” says Anthony Almada, founder and president of IMAGINutrition Inc. “In every single keto study that has been done—except for one—participants were instructed how to eat but not given meals to take home. This means they could cheat and eat whatever they wanted and nobody would know.”

Despite the many unknowns, in this new era of biohacking, celebrity influencers and decriminalizing dietary fat, throngs of consumers are going keto (or at least contemplating it), wooed by the possibilities, especially slimming down and leaning out. “What makes the ketogenic diet so alluring is there is a dramatic initial weight loss,” Almada says. “But this is not fat being removed from the body. You lose a lot of water and muscle because you are not taking in enough carbs, yet the muscles are still working so they burn up all the carbs. That’s why when someone goes back on a higher-carb diet, they can gain three to eight pounds and none of it is fat.”

In the case of athletes, most are looking beyond quick weight loss and to the potential performance gains down the road. They’ll find plenty of support for the ketogenic diet and lifestyle online. There are countless articles and blog posts that oversimplify and oversell the study results, as well as testimonials from keto athletes who swear the diet has upped their game. And, to be fair, they may not be wrong.

“Anecdotally, the ketogenic diet is, at the very least, not any worse than the standard diet for people who want to improve exercise performance, but we don’t know if it is better,” says Justin Robinson, sports dietician and consultant for U.S. military special operations soldiers and founder of Venn Performance Coaching. “If you are an endurance athlete, there are two ways you could potentially benefit from a ketogenic diet. One is decreased body weight or body fat. If you are 10 pounds lighter, you are, in theory, doing less work when running a marathon or competing in a long cycling race.”

The second probable perk is fat adaptation. “This is beneficial because in the first two hours you are burning carbs and fat whereas someone else burns through all of their carbs in first two hours of the race,” Robinson says. “But for sprinters, soccer players and football players, the ketogenic diet is absolutely not appropriate. These are high-intensity intermittent sports for which the body uses mainly carbs for the duration, and then who cares what the body does in hour three.”

For many athletes, the anecdotal evidence is enough to pique their interest. Robinson says he gets asked about it by the soldiers nearly every day, whether or not they actually take the plunge. But among athletes who have signed on—who’ve endured the “low-carb flu” in the first few weeks as their body adjusted and forged ahead with a carefully curated fat-centric diet—a distinct tribalism has emerged, much like we’ve seen with the paleo diet and CrossFit.

“It’s definitely a lifestyle, and if you want to make it stick beyond the initial 30 days, you really have to buy into that lifestyle,” Robinson says. “There’s a lot of passion around it. Many of these people are probably fed up with conventional medicine and dietary guidelines that have been off, so there may be this rebellious aspect, like ‘the dietary guidelines were wrong about fat for 30 years, so let’s do something different.’”

Marketing keto

Where there is passion and the potential for life-changing and game-changing results, there are products for sale. No surprise, the multilevel marketing channel, in which personal zeal and commerce are intrinsically intertwined, has taken the lead on peddling supplements to support the ketogenic diet. There are plenty of different products out there, and this is where questions arise.

While exact composition and delivery format vary, most of these supplements, such as those made by Prüvit and Perfect Keto, supply exogenous ketones, a.k.a. precursors to or preformed ketones aimed at raising ketone levels in the blood. In most brands’ products, the exogenous ketones are attached to salts and put into drink mixes—and users need to ingest a ton of sodium to get the ketones, says Almada. Only one company, HVMN, provides ketones via a proprietary D-beta-hydroxybutyrate ester, developed and extensively studied at Oxford University and just launched to the public this year.

The idea behind exogenous ketones is they are an easy way to supply the body with extra fuel. That action alone is mostly legit, especially in the case of HVMN’s GRAS-affirmed D-βHB ester, which has been shown in published studies to raise blood ketone levels higher than salts can. “Ketone salts may raise blood levels of 1 maybe 2 millimoles, whereas HVMN may get them to 4 or 5 millimoles,” Robinson says.

The problem, says Almada, is that few, if any, of the brands using ketone salts have studied their products to prove that they work; they aren’t making their research available, anyway. And he says they often contain propriety ingredients, which, in the case of Prüvit, have neither GRAS nor NDIs on file so “they are flying in the face of regulations.” (Prüvit could not be reached for comment.)

On top of that, exogenous ketone products are often marketed to burn fat, aid in weight loss, sharpen focus and improve sleep—all benefits possibly tied to the ketogenic diet, not to exogenous ketones. “A lot of companies take data from ketogenic diet research and misinterpret it—on purpose—in order to make a claim for their products,” Robinson says. “While truly being in a keto-adaptive state can increase fat utilization, which can make someone burn more fat, it’s unlikely that just taking ketone product has the same effects.” In fact, because they still provide calories, both ketone salts and ketone esters likely have no real effect on body composition, he adds.

Brianna Stubbs, Ph.D., who studied ketone esters at Oxford University and now leads research at HVMN, is also frustrated by companies that conflate the principles of the diet with those of exogenous ketones. “There may be some overlapping benefits, but there are likely some benefits you get only from the diet and others you get only from exogenous ketones,” she says. “You are not going to recapitulate the fat-oxidation effect of the diet with a ketone drink, yet some companies claim ‘drink this and go into a keto state’ or ‘consume this to kick-start fat burning,’ which are simply not the case. On the flip side, a drink can provide ketones for energy at the same time as you have available carbohydrates from a non-keto diet to burn.”

That highlights another major difference between HVMN and other keto-focused companies: HVMN is not intended for keto dieters. Stubbs says it isn’t necessary to follow the painstaking high-fat, super-low-carb meal plan in order to reap the benefits of exogenous ketones—and endurance athletes probably shouldn’t; they need the carbs. “All of the studies we did at Oxford were on athletes on normal diets,” Stubbs says. “Regardless of diet, every single body has the ability to burn ketones.” Her studies on trained cyclists have suggested that having both ketones and carbs as fuel options during the same endurance event, an athlete shouldn’t burn out as fast.

Robinson also doubts that taking exogenous ketones on top of following the ketogenic diet would do an athlete much good. “You are already in a high state of ketosis, so the exogenous ketones won’t boost your blood levels any more,” he says.

Another contentious claim that ketone salt companies make is weight loss. According to Stubbs, they are poaching and misconstruing this notion from research on the ketogenic diet, as well as from her work on ketone ester. “We found that the ketone ester drink can help regulate appetite because levels of the hormone ghrelin were down after using it,” Stubbs says. “However, we were specific in our paper that this effect didn’t necessarily translate to weight loss. We only measured ghrelin; we would’ve had to see if participants actually ate less and if this effect lasted short- or long-term. But the minute that paper was published in Obesity, it was ‘yay, ketone drinks suppress appetite and help with weight loss!’”

Confusion persists

Overall, there is plenty of consumer confusion around the ketogenic diet and exogenous ketones and what each can and cannot do. And, of course, there are plenty of marketing companies eager to capitalize. “The language some use is misleading,” Stubbs says. “For instance, Prüvit gets a lot of scientists to speak about ketones broadly at their events, which is fine, but most people who use their products haven’t read the scientific papers and just assume ketones are all in one big bucket.”

Hopefully, these discrepancies will get sorted out in due time, because nobody thinks the keto diet or exogenous ketones are going away anytime soon. “The percentage of people who follow the diet may shrink, but it won’t die out—this is not the South Beach Diet,” Robinson says. “There will still be this hardcore evangelistic group saying this is the best way to eat for long-term health and sports performance.”


Emerging supplement market for 'esports' has high-score potential

Getty images Esports fills stadiums

Imagine being air dropped into a grassy field, where you hit the ground running while rapid-fire shots whiz by. You dodge bullets with lightening reflexes and launch a grenade into an abandoned house, the source of the attack. From the corner of your eye, you catch sight of another attacker behind a bush.

Adrenaline is pumping. You need to be alert, primed, focused.

Except that you are jittery from drinking two Red Bulls, your eyes are weary from staring at a screen while playing “Fortnite” for five hours, and you really have to pee.

Playing video games can be strenuous work (don’t laugh), and professional players (yes, there are pros) would say their bodies have high performance demands much like traditional athletes. Now smart supplement makers are playing to the growing gamer culture, marketing natural brain-boosting nootropics, energizing vitamins, and even herbal formulas to protect eyes from the harmful blue glare of computer screens.

As any healthy athlete knows, you can’t train and win on a diet of caffeine, sugar, and Adderall (especially when Adderall has been banned by the Electronic Sports League). This emerging esports market sector has major potential. Chris Miller, founder and CEO of the Colorado-based nootropic beverage company Koios, calls esports “the biggest industry no one has ever heard of.”

Millions of online players log in to games like Call of Duty, League of Legends, Overwatch and many others daily. “Fortnite” hosted 3.4 million concurrent players in February alone, according to company numbers. When gamers aren’t playing, they are watching next-level players on streaming services like Twitch and watching pros at organized, multiplayer video game competitions like the League of Legends World Championship, which sold out Madison Square Garden last year. In North America, 52 million people will watch at least one pro esports event in 2018, according to Newzoo, a video game market research firm. Viewership is projected to grow to 66.3 million by 2021.

Matt Titlow, CEO of the company that produces TeaCrine, a popular ingredient in many start-up supplement brands being sold to gamers, wanted to check out the potential marketplace in person. So, in June he headed to E3, the video-game industry’s largest convention.

The scene at the darkened L.A. Convention Center wasn’t like anything he’d see at, say, a dietary supplement trade show. A dizzying array of bright screens flashed video games. Cosplay zombies strolled crowded exhibitor halls. Attendants packed VR booths, sampled “Assassin’s Creed Odyssey,” and took new racing games out for a spin. They tweeted, Instagramed, Facebooked, Snapchatted, and otherwise logged a record 15 million social media posts, according to E3 organizers.

“We went simply to understand the market,” Titlow says. “We came away thinking there is a massive nutraceutical opportunity.”

Hack your brain, not the game

This emerging market is ripe for nootropic products—so-called “smart drugs”—natural and synthetic compounds believed to boost brainpower. Nootropic blends often include L-tyrosine, L-theanine, huperzine A, choline, and theacrine. The individual ingredients have been around for years, but the packaging and marketing has evolved.

Silicon Valley programmers and entrepreneurs made nootropic “biohacking” popular in the last five years or so, and now early brands like Mind Lab and Nootrobox are turning a laser focus on gamers. Nootrobox, for example, sponsored the esports team, GankStars, in 2016 when it launched Go Cubes, a chewable nootropic + coffee product.

G Fuel by Gamma Labs—a new energy drink incarnation formulated with nootropics, 150 mg of caffeine and lots of antioxidants from fruit—also was one of the first to the video gaming market space. G Fuel landed a sponsorship deal as the official energy drink of eSports™.

E-athletes are responding to the marketing.

“Gamers in the last year or two have really started to realize the potential of nootropics, especially for their ability to get them into a ‘flow state’ so they can concentrate on what they are doing for hours and hours,” says Dan Scalco, who reviews nootropics on his blog,

One of Scalco’s favorites is NeuroGum, a crowdfunded start-up that actually didn’t begin with players specifically in mind. “But turns out it is a perfect product for people who are gaming,” says co-founder Kent Yoshimura, who grew up on video games.

NeuroGum’s creative delivery system and promise of clean, focused energy earned it quick popularity and spots on the “Dr. Oz Show” in 2015 and in Time magazine.

That attention earned NeuroGum an older customer base. But now NeuroGum is showing up as a sponsor of collegiate esports teams and in the hands of popular online players and influencers. As he carves out NeuroGum’s place in this esports market space, Yoshimura says he is working with Esports One data and analytics company, and his advisory board includes celebrity video game producer Josh Resnick (“Star Wars Battlefront”). Yoshimura says his company will introduce mints next, using the same sugar-free formula that includes L-theanine, an amino acid found in green tea, and vitamins B6 and B12.

“The popularity of nootropics comes from our knowledge now that the energy products that were in the marketplace five years ago are extremely unhealthy and ineffective in the long run. We’re talking about energy drinks, caffeine pills …,” Yoshimura says. “With nootropics, people can be much more meticulous about how they track their health and their performance and back it up with these ingredients that have research articles and clinical studies.”

Another direct-to-consumer nootropic start-up is Valis, a capsulated nootropic formula that hit the market about six months ago as “The Professional Gamers’ Success Secret.” Co-founder Cameron Chittick of eSport Labs, based in Colorado, said the idea for the Valis hit him when he was playing Overwatch particularly poorly one day and wondered if there was a nutritional supplement that could help him reach peak gaming performance.

According to the label, Valis’ “lightning reaction” blend includes ginseng and L-tyrosine, an amino acid that is used to produce noradrenaline and dopamine. For “coolness in chaos,” there’s L-theanine. CDP-Choline and huperzine-A from toothed clubmoss provide “cerebral clarity.” And for “unbreakable focus,” there’s anti-aging anti-oxidant DMAE bitartrate and rhodiola root, an adaptogenic herb.
“Coffee is old technology. It’s like a flip phone. Nootropics are the iPhone of the supplement industry,” says Miller of Koios, which recently launched a reformulation of its fruit-flavored drinks and powders.
Koios ingredients include bacopa leaf to enhance concentration, MCT oil from coconuts for energy, lion’s mane mushroom for memory and nerves, the natural stimulant guarana, and L-theanine, an amino acid shown to have a calming effect on the brain.

“When we launched our product, gaming was something we really wanted to be part of because of how fast the industry was growing and because it’s an industry I know and love,” says Miller, a regular Call of Duty player.

Koios’ marketing strategy includes fostering sponsorships deals with esports teams like Impulse and procuring player endorsements, like this one from Todd “Anger” Williams, an American professional Counter-Strike: Global Offensive player:

“Koios makes me a gaming GOD! I don’t game without it.”

Miller says his goal is to help legitimize esports and esports nutrition, because the brain consumes more energy than any other vital organ.
“You know, a lot of times people minimize esports by saying these kids are just playing video games,” Miller says. “But it’s like saying anyone can play basketball. No you can’t, not at Lebron James’ level you can’t. It’s the same with gaming. The kids who are the top gamers in the world have tests off the charts when it comes to neuro-connections, creativity, analytical speed. These kids are brilliant.”

An increasingly popular nootropic ingredient in supplements for gamers is TeaCrine, a branded form of theacrine by Compound Solutions Inc.

Theacrine is a naturally occurring chemical similar to caffeine and found in natural sources such as the camellia assamica var.kucha tealeaf, coffee, and certain exotic fruits. It’s touted for delivering energy, mental clarity, and improved motivation and mood without the jitters and crash of coffee.

Compound Solution’s Titlow says the brand has spent over $1.5 million so far on deep dive studies and human clinical trials of TeaCrine.

It’s paying off: TeaCrine launched about four years ago and is in more than 160 active brands, including gamer-friendly products like VitalFuse’s Fuse Focus capsules, Mod Elite Gaming Supplement, and Mynd Kandy’s multi-colored and flavored capsules.

“We unequivocally know our ingredient is going into a lot more gaming products coming up,” Titlow says.

Many brands pair TeaCrine with caffeine for a quicker kick. But in January, Compound Solutions launched Dynamine, a chemical cousin to TeaCrine and a faster-acting version, which Titlow says could replace the added caffeine.

Mynd Kandy is a nootropic start-up determined to ditch the unhealthy stimulants.

“If you are in esports and video games ,you don’t want your hand shaking on the controller,” says Ceo Chad Frankos.

The colorful bottles of Mynd Kandy don’t just promise to eliminate the caffeine shakes. Frankos’ brand, which launched in 2017 and was a Supply Side West finalist for supplement of the year, focuses on eye health—another supplement trend in the gamer supplement market.

The eyes have it

Mynd Kandy’s formula includes astaxanthin, a naturally occurring carotenoid pigment that is found in certain marine plants and animals, touted for helping reduce eye strain, promote better depth perception and increase blood flow to the eye.

Other eye-health ingredients marketed to gamers include lutein and bilberry extract.

There is a rising demand for eye-health ingredients overall, spurred by aging populations and interest in preventative health. NBJ estimates that consumer sales of lutein are expected to hit $185 million in 2018 and $227 million by 2021.

OmniActive Health Technologies, based in New Jersey, produces Lutemax 2020, a branded ingredient version of lutein.

OmniActive Health Technologies CEO Brian Appell explained that lutein and the zeaxanthin isomers like those found in Lutemax 2020 are deposited in the region of the eye responsible for highest visual acuity and color perception—the macula where they act as a blue light filter and play a role in visual performance and visual processing speed.

“I think energy and focus have been primary endpoints gamers look for,” Appell wrote in an email. “But we believe that as they begin to understand that they can actually improve their game—by increasing visual processing speed—and play longer by mitigating the effects of prolonged screen time, they’ll see macular carotenoids in the same light as creatine for bodybuilders, as an example.”

Prime Point Goods, a New York-based start-up, uses lutein and bilberry in its formula for Eye-Q. CEO Lee Danner, an esthetician who started with a beauty nutrition line, says she began researching eye-health supplements when her mother underwent several eye surgeries and needed healing support.

Danner launched Eye-Q and the nootropic formula Area 10, about a year ago, selling direct-to-consumer and on Amazon. She says she’s surprised by the youthful customers she has attracted, unwittingly tapping into this barely tapped market.

Many more supplement companies are trying to claim their market share, but challenges lie ahead.

“The whole world is trying to figure out how to capitalize on a market that is almost exclusively online,” says Titlow.

Titlow and others will look to the traditional sports marketing model: team and event sponsorships and endorsement deals with influential players.

It shouldn’t be a hard sell, according to Miller of Koios.

“At the end of the day,” Miller says, “who doesn’t want to have more clarity, cognitive function, memory recall, feel smarter, brighter, work harder, quicker in a world that is increasingly distracting?”
Game on.

[email protected]: Will Farm Bill nix local ag laws? | Whole Foods to offer curbside pickup

Getty Images Vital Farms pasture-raised eggs

Senate might not buy King’s amendment to open all states to all American farm products

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) wants the federal government to force states to accept agricultural products from all 50 states, even if those products violate state or local laws. King’s proposal, which is included in the 2018 Farm Bill, is a reaction to a recent federal court ruling that upheld a California law regarding poultry cage standards. But Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and 30 other senators are pushing back. Read more at Food Safety News


Amazon launches curbside pickup at Whole Foods stores

Just days after Kroger announced it was starting an online grocery delivery service, Amazon said it is launching curbside pickup from its brick-and-mortar Whole Foods Market stores. After customers place their orders via the Prime Now app, they can ask to have the groceries put in their car when they arrive at the store. The service already is available in Sacramento, California, and Virginia Beach, Virginia. Kroger and Walmart have offered curbside service at thousands of stores. Read more at Reuters


Potato company Simplot licenses DowDuPont’s gene-editing tech

One of the world’s biggest potato producers, J.R. Simplot, will use CRISPR gene-editing technology to change the genome of its crops. With the technology, the company could make potatoes that have longer shelf lives, are resistant to drought and don’t brown when they are exposed to oxygen. CRISPR, developed by DowDuPont, Harvard and MIT, is not going to be regulated as GMOs are, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has said. Read more at Modern Farmer ...


Walmart to sell Gobble meal kits online

While several meal-kit companies have turned to groceries to commence in-store sales, Gobble has reached an agreement with Walmart to sell its meal kits through the chain’s e-commerce site, but not in the stores. Gobble founder Ooshma Garg told Fortune magazine that the moves puts his company at the highest level of customer reach. Read more at Supermarket News


Jury to decide Monsanto cancer suit

A Vallejo, California’s man lawsuit against pesticide giant Monsanto, in which he argues that Roundup caused his non-Hodgkin lymphoma, is in the hands of the jury. DeWayne Johnson, 37, was a school district groundskeeper for four years before he was diagnosed. He will again begin chemotherapy, but his prognosis is not good. Johnson is asking for $39 million in compensatory damages and $373 million in punitive damages. Read more at

Fish-free tuna brand Good Catch nets $8.7 million investment

Good Catch product line

Good Catch, makers of plant-based tuna, announced the closing of an $8.7 million Series A funding round. The investment round was led by the venture firm New Crop Capital and numerous other investors that see potential in plant-based, including Thrive Market, Fresh Direct, Stray Dog Capital, VegInvest and more.

“The relentless and indiscriminate killing of marine life is devastating ocean ecosystems,” Good Catch co-founders and co-CEOs Chris Kerr and Eric Schnell said in a joint statement. “The only truly sustainable seafood is seafood that allows fish to remain in the ocean. It is abundantly clear that we need a new approach to seafood. Importantly, this is a global concern and we need global stakeholders to put this approach into action; time is not on our side.”

Good Catch prides itself on offering delicious plant-based tuna offerings made with legumes (including pea, soy, chickpea, lentil, fava and navy) to mimic the texture and taste of flaked tuna. Products include fish-free tuna contained in a pouch (not a can) with the idea that consumers can craft convincing high-protein meals, such as tuna salads and tuna melts. Frozen crab cakes and patties are also in the product family.

Good Catch won a coveted NEXTY Award, which recognizes innovative brands at Natural Products Expo West and Expo East, in 2018.

Here, we catch up with Good Catch Co-Founder Marci Zaroff to learn what’s next for this sustainable brand. 

What aspects of your business are you most excited about building with the new influx of capital?

Marci Zaroff: We are building our own manufacturing plant to prepare for significant growth.

I sampled Good Catch at an expo and was blown away by the texture and taste. But “vegan tuna” doesn’t sound particularly appetizing to core tuna consumers. What’s your plan to get people to try your product?

MZ: We are planning to offer tastings at major consumer events in key cities pre- and post-launch to build momentum, and we will be driving aggressive demos and field marketing efforts as well.

Can you briefly describe the connection between New Crop Capital and Good Catch? Did NCC launch the company? What was the impetus?

MZ: New Crop and BeyondBrands joined forces to co-found Good Catch, fusing mission-driven investment with a consulting agency of seasoned entrepreneurs and chefs, to address a major white space opportunity in the plant-based protein world—seafood without sacrifice.

Does Good Catch plan to focus on consumer-forward products or food service products? Where have you seen the most audience excitement?

MZ: We will be launching Good Catch products at major retailers nationwide, online and in foodservice, all by Q1 2019. All of these channels seem equally excited to embrace the Good Catch brand and products.

The funding round seems to include a “who’s who” of conscious investment firms. What excites you about having such a dream team of investors on board?

MZ: Most of our investors—many of whom are international, and include both retailers and distributors—are extremely strategic and share our vision to revolutionize the global seafood industry with our delicious plant-based products and cutting-edge technology.

What are the biggest challenges for Good Catch? Consumer acceptance? Supply challenges? Keeping up with anticipated demand?

MZ: Plant-based seafood is a big idea from unchartered waters, so consumer education, tastings and activation will be important in driving adoption. Our R&D process was extensive, and recognizing the potential for rapid growth and expansion, we've had to build a strong operational foundation, including building out our own manufacturing facility to meet expected demand.

What’s next for Good Catch? Where do you hope to be one year from now?

MZ: We have an exciting year ahead, with significant launch plans across multiple distribution channels in a global arena. With many strategic partnerships and opportunities being cultivated, Good Catch will offer a pipeline of delicious new products that will continue to invite and excite consumers worldwide to join our chef-mastered, plant-based movement—nothing fishy about it.

The Vitamin Shoppe Inc. will introduce hemp-extract products ‘shortly’


Hemp extracts are coming to The Vitamin Shoppe, the company’s chief merchandising and marketing officer announced during Wednesday’s earnings call.

“Shortly, we’ll be launching a line of hemp-extract products that support overall health and wellness, and restorative health,” David Mock said. To support the new category, the retailer will push a marketing campaign via social media, email, in-store displays and website features.

The announcement seemingly supports the company’s cautious optimism about the changes it has made to attract new customers and improve sales.

For the second quarter of 2018, The Vitamin Shoppe reported a 1.1 percent drop in comparable sales.

Net sales totaled $293.1 million, compared to $296.4 million a year ago. The company saw net loss of $156.4 million in the second quarter of 2017. 

Total sales also dropped 1.1 percent for the time period. Same-store sales fell 5.1 percent, but e-commerce sales, including the company’s e-commerce site and auto-delivery, rose 36.9 percent, according to the company.

For the first time since the first quarter of 2017, The Vitamin Shoppe did not experience a year-to-year drop in net income. This quarter, the company generated a reported net income of $7.2 million, compared with a $156.4 loss in the second quarter of 2017.

Alex Smith, president and interim CEO, said, “To be clear, a better quarter and improving trends does not mean we are satisfied or believe that we have things fixed.

“I do believe, however, that it indicates that our strategy is directionally correct: our focus on upgrading talents, processes, products, and how we engage with our customers.”

Mock pointed out that the quarter’s 1.1 percent drop in comparative sales is “an improving trend, both year-over-year and sequentially.” First-quarter sales were 3.2 percent lower than in the previous year. In fiscal 2017, fourth-quarter total comparative sales fell 4.6 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2016; third-quarter comparative sales dropped 6.6 percent; second-quarter sales, 8.3 percent; first-quarter sales, 5.9 percent, according to data previously released by The Vitamin Shoppe.

Other second-quarter results support the conclusion that the retailer is seeing an improving trend:

  • Gross profit as reported was $94.2 million, a 3.2 percent decrease from the $97.3 million in Q2 2017.
  • Adjusted gross profit was $97.9 million, 0.6 percent higher than in Q2 2017.
  • Reported gross profit was 32.2 percent of sales; it was 32.8 percent for the same period in 2017.
  • Adjusted gross profit as a percentage of sales was 33.4 percent of sales, an increase of 60 basis points over 2017.

The company has repurchased $30 million face value of the debt that would have been due in December 2020, CFO Bill Wafford said.

The company did not change its prior guidance.

Last month, The Vitamin Shoppe reported that Sharon Leite, formerly of Godiva Chocolatier, will become the company’s new chief executive officer on Aug. 27.