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Natural Foods Merchandiser

FTC sets date for Whole Foods/Wild Oats hearing

The Federal Trade Commission, with dogged determination, continues trying to put a stop to the Whole Foods/Wild Oats merger and has set a Feb. 16, 2009, date for a new administrative hearing to try to kill the deal—even though the merger was already completed in August 2007.

The FTC has fought the merger almost since it was announced, saying the companies would violate antitrust laws if allowed to merge. A federal judge in Washington, D.C., threw out the FTC complaint in August 2007, allowing the $565 million merger to proceed. The FTC filed an appeal of the decision one month later, and last July, a federal appeals court ruled that the lower-court judge had failed to consider the deal's impact on consumers when he threw out the complaint, according to news reports.

"It's like trying to un-pop popcorn," said columnist Kevin Coupe, who has opposed the FTC's action since last year.

"I just think they're crazy. I think they're certifiable at this point," Coupe said. "The only thing I can imagine is that the guys at the FTC don't have a clear understanding of how the grocery store industry operates."

The move also left natural-foods-industry analyst Scott Van Winkle shaking his head, calling the FTC's action "absurd."

"Whole Foods Market, relative to the whole industry, is a small part of the market," Van Winkle said. "Everybody sells natural and organic foods today."

Aside from the merger, Whole Foods has not been without financial troubles. Dealing with rising costs and tighter consumer spending, the company plans to reduce the square footage of new stores by more than 20 percent, reported. The company had to pull the plug on its "Real Deal" marketing slogan after a lawsuit from rival Stop & Shop Supermarket Co., which had started using the phrase almost a month earlier. Stock prices have fallen so dramatically, the FTC's announcement barely dented them.

"At this point, Whole Foods' shares are pretty washed out. The shares are down from $60 to $19, expectations are low, consumer confidence is down," Van Winkle said.

With competition coming from big-box chains and other natural foods grocers, Coupe said he thinks Whole Foods has enough on its plate.

"It's silly to say [the merger's] anticompetitive," he said. "The FTC's like a rabid dog with a hunk of raw meat."

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVIII/number 11/p. 21

Natural Foods Merchandiser

Natural cosmetics put a new face on makeup

In the family of related concepts, "natural" and "makeup" are definitely not kissing cousins. Because makeup creates an artificial beauty, it's not always popular with dedicated naturals consumers. But as age spots begin to appear on even the healthiest faces and as new, younger customers wonder why they can't find lip gloss in their local natural foods store, manufacturers are responding. Naturals companies are introducing everything from mineral foundations to beeswax-based mascaras to lipsticks that give a whole new definition to earth tones.

Natural makeup got a boost when mineral-based foundations, blushes, eye shadows and powders hit the shelves a few years ago, says Paula Alexander, director of U.S. marketing for Durham, N.C.-based Burt's Bees, which makes natural lip glosses and shimmers. Consequent customer demand has resulted in additional formulations. "As more and more naturals manufacturers are pushing to find more natural minerals or pigments for makeup, the supply is increasing," she says. "There was an amazing supply increase in the last year."

Need more PC know-how? Visit NFM's Personal Care Guide.

Although natural makeup is not a booming segment of the overall personal care market, sales are growing. SPINS, a Schaumberg, Ill.-based market research firm for the natural and organic sectors, reports that between July 2007 and July 2008, natural makeup sales in natural foods stores increased about 5 percent, from $16.1 million to $16.9 million.

Still, some retailers and their customers greet natural makeups with skepticism. Questions abound: How can a makeup truly be natural? How does it differ from its conventional counterparts? And most importantly: Will it really work? To answer these questions, we asked manufacturers to deconstruct their labels and explain how their natural makeups are formulated and how they contrast with department-store offerings.

The basics of bases
Conventional foundations, the base coat for the face, can be a liquid or powder. They contain ingredients such as boron nitride (made from boron and nitrogen atoms), bismuth oxychloride (a heavy-metal pigment), dimethicone (a silicone polymer) and talc (a mineral) to create a smooth base, according to Karen Ress, national sales director for Tampa, Fla.-based Aubrey Organics, which makes natural foundations, blushes and lip tints. Although the Environmental Working Group concludes that these ingredients have low toxicity, some studies show they can irritate the skin. In addition, Ress points out that these ingredients are nonnutritive and therefore don't benefit the skin.

Aubrey's Silken Earth Translucent Bases are made from silk powder, which comes from crushed silk cocoons. "Silk has an amino acid composition that is almost identical to skin. [It also] has antimicrobial and protective qualities," Ress says. "It is a costly ingredient compared to inexpensive fillers that have no nutritional benefit to the skin."

Other natural powder makeups use mica as a base. This mineral gives the foundation a smooth finish, along with a little shimmer. Look also for waxes, like the Brazilian-palm-based carnauba wax, which helps the minerals adhere to the skin.

For customers who prefer a nonpowder foundation, Montclair, N.J.-based Ecco Bella makes a creamy mineral foundation infused with flower waxes, which are created during the distillation process for essential oils. "The flower waxes act like roller balls surrounding the pigments," says company founder Sally Malanga. "They act like a barrier against the skin, keeping the color on the surface, which makes it stay truer and last longer."

Natural foundations also contain ingredients designed to nourish the skin. While conventional makeup formulators may mix some antioxidant vitamins into their foundations, natural makeups go further. Ecco Bella's foundation, for instance, contains the skin-boosting herbs comfrey, chamomile, St. John's wort and calendula. Aubrey's base has aloe powder and lauroyl lysine, a fatty acid/amino acid combo that nourishes and protects the skin.

Shades and shadows
Natural blushes and eye shadows also contain minerals, along with oils and waxes to help them stick to the skin. Colors come mainly from iron oxide minerals. According to Celeste Lutrario, vice president of research and development for Burt's Bees, iron oxides are either yellow, black, bluish-red or yellowish-red. These colors are mixed with titanium dioxide, a white mineral, to make the hues found in natural makeups. But as Lutrario admits, the colors are limited compared to conventional makeups that use synthetic colorants such as FD&C and D&C pigments.

Ecco Bella makes a natural mascara, which Malanga says was quite a challenge to create. "Conventional mascaras have a lot of adhesives to get the product to stick." Instead, Ecco Bella relies on wax adhesives and clay thickeners, along with black iron oxide for color.

Lip-smacking good
Natural lipsticks and glosses also pose challenges. Nancy Caigan, president and founding partner of Woodstock, N.Y.-based Primitive Makeup, says it took a year to develop the colors in the company's eight lipsticks, six glosses and five lip pencils. Iron oxide and titanium dioxide, along with carmine, a bright red color made from insects, are usually the sole base colors, so it takes some creative mixing to come up with traditional lipstick hues. Alexander of Burt's Bees jokes that Revlon's famous true-red lipstick, Cherries in the Snow, isn't likely to be recreated in a natural formulation anytime soon.

Natural lipsticks and lip liners are basically firmer versions of lip gloss, using more pigments, solid oils and waxes, says Ress of Aubrey Organics. Conventional lip glosses rely on paraffin wax rather than vegetable wax to make them creamy, and plastic polymers rather than vegetable polymers to help them adhere to lips, she says. They also contain polyisobute, a petroleum-based ingredient, to make them shiny, Alexander says. Natural lip glosses substitute essential oils for polyisobute, but "to get the shine to stay is hard to do," she admits. Burt's Bees' glosses and shimmers have a combination of sunflower and sweet almond oils, which, according to Alexander, have "more staying power on your lips" because they aren't absorbed as quickly as other oils.

Minerals add gloss and shimmer to natural lipsticks, and all the nonpetrochemical-based waxes and oils add nutrients. The result is lip products that perform like a balm. "When we demo at trade shows, people say, ‘Wait, let me put my lip balm on first,'" Calgan says. "They're amazed when I tell them our lipstick is probably even better than their lip balm."

Vicky Uhland is a Lafayette, Colo.-based freelance writer and editor.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVIII/number 10/p. 102,106

Natural Foods Merchandiser

Skin care company's products bear fruit online

by Mitchell Clute

Myra Michelle Eby began her company, MyChelle Dermaceuticals, in the mountain town of Frisco, Colo., eight short years ago. She prepared for the company's November 2000 product launch while pregnant with her first child, determined to bring her vision for a new kind of natural skin care to market. Consumers seem to have received the message; MyChelle's fruit-based, highly active formulations can now be found coast-to-coast, and will soon be available in the European Union. Last year, sales were $8.4 million, with major growth predicted again for the coming year. Eby also wrote a book about natural, holistic skin care called Return to Beautiful Skin: Your Guide to Truly Effective Nontoxic Skin Care (Basic Health Publications, 2008). Her company focuses on environmentally friendly practices.

NFM: Tell us about the genesis of MyChelle Dermaceuticals.

MME: I've been working in the natural products industry since I was 16. I worked for food and vitamin distributors, then became an independent contractor for select lines, and later worked directly with manufacturers, including Zia Cosmetics, Rainbow Light and Enzymatic Therapy.

I really had a love for skin care because I had my own skin care issues. After years of using other people's products, I knew there was a better way of doing it. Many natural skin care products were just bases with some herbs added, but without ingredients at therapeutic levels that could make a change in the skin. Often they had chemicals, and they didn't work.

I decided to search out chemists who had experience in dermaceuticals to help me make products that were not just natural but effective, using peptides and nutrients like vitamin C in high enough potencies to help the skin's cells produce collagen.

NFM: Why are so many of your skin care products fruit-based?

MME: It's just like getting your vitamins and nutrients from whole foods. It's more beneficial for the skin because there are so many nutrients and enzymes in the fruit and fiber, and when they're made into a pulp the skin can absorb them. This approach also comes from my early experimentation in my kitchen, when I'd grab my blender and make my concoctions to put on my face. Most of us can't make something every day, and the ingredients become less potent as the nutrients oxidize, so we figured out a way to stabilize and preserve the products in a way that doesn't harm the skin.

NFM: What ingredients should natural products retailers never have on their shelves?

MME: There are so many. Certainly, parabens are the most universally recognized, but any type of estrogen mimic should be avoided. For women, these are the most dangerous ingredients because we're bombarded with synthetic estrogens, and with breast and other cancers so prevalent, it's really important to avoid these mimics. Phthalates also act like estrogen in the body, and these estrogenic compounds can't be metabolized. Artificial fragrances and colors should be avoided, and petroleum by-products like petrolatum. Luckily, there are more and more alternatives to parabens for preserving products. One that we use comes from roses and bananas, while another called Plantservative is derived from two different varieties of honeysuckle.

NFM: What sort of natural or organic standards would you like to see for personal care?

MME: I'd be happy to see an organic standard developed. I certainly promote the consumption of organic foods. It's harder with personal care, because there are so many groups fighting over these standards that sometimes the consumer doesn't win. For Mychelle Dermaceuticals, the problem with a 95 percent organic standard is that ingredients such as peptides are grown in a lab, so they don't qualify for organic status, though obviously they're free of herbicides and pesticides. We need to set other standards, such as standards for product performance, and agree that any product on the shelves of health foods markets needs to be clean so the consumer can feel good about what they purchase and trust its safety. My hope is that companies look deeply at their practices, have truth in labeling and educate their consumers. The pie is big enough for everyone if we do it right, but if we make a promise on the label, it should deliver.

Mitchell Clute is a Fort Collins, Colo.-based freelance writer.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVIII/number 10/p. 100

Condition-specific supplement sales soar

Experts credit ageing population and media focus on obesity

Condition-specific supplements accounted for more than a quarter of all dietary-supplement sales last year, up by a third from 2003, according to figures contained in a new report.

Packaged Facts' Nutritional Supplements in the US report says overall sales of supplements rose eight per cent last year to reach a value of $6.1 billion.

Helping to boost growth were condition-specific products, which saw their share of supplements sales rise from 21 per cent in 2003 to 28 per cent last year.

Tatjana Meerman, publisher of Packaged Facts, said increasing concern about health issues was driving consumers to buy condition-specific supplements.

"During the past decade, with the massive growth of highly fortified foods, nutraceuticals and functional foods, supplements have been competing directly with foods and beverages. But increased media attention on obesity and other diet-related health problems have prompted consumers to take more aggressive steps to avert health problems before they occur, and this includes renewed attention to taking their vitamins."

One company benefiting from this boom is California-based InterHealth Nutraceuticals, which markets a range of ingredients that targets certain health issues. It includes Super CitriMax for weight management, and L-OptiZinc, which promises to help the immune system and digestion, among other things.

Company CEO Paul Dijkstra said the ageing population was driving the popularity of condition-specific supplements. "The average age for a US head of household is 49 and a half, and the first boomers will soon turn 65," he said. "With age comes many of the typical health concerns and the need to manage them."

For more information, see Functional Ingredients' online condition-specific directory.

NBJ Blog

Where & When to see NBJ Presentations at Expo East?

It's that time of year again. The industry is gearing up for travel to the east coast for Natural Products Expo East. Extra excitement is in the air, as Expo East makes it way to Boston for the first time.

All the excitement for Boston aside, NBJ (as usual) will be active on the education front at Expo East, presenting at 4 separate sessions. It will be a long show, but we hope to see you at one of the select education sessions listed below:

12noon Thursday, October 16th: Nutrition Business Journal’s State of the Industry

Come join Patrick Rea, NBJ Publisher & Editorial Director, lead a team of industry experts and thought leaders in the nutrition industry for a presentation and discussion of the most relevant issues facing the nutrition industry today. Hot new products, sales figures, forecasts and thoughts on what is worth seeing at the show will all be discussed in this session, which will include an extensive question and answer component.

Panelists will include:

Bob Burke, Principal, Natural Products Consulting Institute

John Grubb, Managing Partner, Sterling-Rice Group

Thomas Aarts, Chairman of the Editorial Advisory Board, Nutrition Business Journal

Room Level 2, Room 253 BC

8am Thursday, October 17th: Nutrition Capital Network/Nutrition Business Journal Investor Forum

Designed for investors in the nutrition, natural products, healthy foods and green products industry, this NCN Investor Forum will present current perspective on industry trends and the investment climate, case studies of representative recent deals, and a qualified list of companies exhibiting at Natural Products Expo East that are also interested in raising capital. The Forum is free and open exclusively to investors registered for Expo East.

The NCN Investor Forum includes:

Introduction to Expo East and show floor orientation

Overview of industry trends and recent financings and transactions

Details of current deal structures in vogue for private investment transactiona

Slide-by-slide snapshot profiles of selected exhibiting companies seeking investment capital with booth locations

Presenters include:

Tom Aarts and Grant Ferrier, Nutrition Capital Network

Patrick Rea, Nutrition Business Journal

John Barrymore and Scott Winship, 6Pacific Partners

Registration is free to qualified attendees from investment firms or strategic investors

You must be registered to attend this event. Please click to fill in the brief investor registration form

Room: 252B

10:30am Friday, October 17th: Healthy Foods International Market Overview

More than 95% of American consumers say healthy foods are part of their life. Join Healthy Foods International and Nutrition Business Journal Editorial Director, Patrick Rea, for a comprehensive look at the newest areas of growth in the booming health and wellness market. Retailers and manufacturers will benefit from this follow-up to compelling exclusive research presented at the 2008 Healthy Foods International trade show, which analyzes needs in the consumer market and the potential solutions provided by retailers and manufacturers.

Room Level 2, Room 260

8am Wednesday, October 15th: Canaccord Adams Healthy Living Investor Conference

The $62 billion domestic Natural Products industry remains the growth engine of the US food, beverage and service industries. The Healthy Living conference returns to Boston (Naturally Boston) in conjunction with the relocation of the Natural Products Expo, the leading tradeshow in the Natural Products industry.

This year's presenting companies will span the food, beverage, nutrition and wellness service industries. 24 public and private companies will present. A topical lunch panel will be held, featuring experienced CEOs who have each built, sold and are again building a new business. Canaccord Adams has partnered with Nutrition Business Journal and the Nutrition Capital Network to add to the depth of the market knowledge and breadth of presenting companies

24 public and private companies to present, including:


Corazonas Foods

Cuisine Solutions (FZN)

The FRS Company

Garden of Life

Green Mountain Coffee (GMCR)

Hain Celestial (HAIN)

Late July Organic Snacks

Lifeway Foods (LWAY)

Martek Biosciences (MATK)


Neptune Technology & Bioresource (NTB: TO)

Nutraceutical Intl (NUTR)

Ocean Nutrition

Organic to Go (OTGO)

Planet Organic Holdings (POH: TO)

Reed's Inc. (REED)

Sahale Snacks

Senomyx (SNMX)

SunOpta Inc (STKL)

United Natural Foods (UNFI)

NBJ State of the Industry


Wednesday, October 15, 2008 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM EST


Renaissance Hotel, 606 Congress Street, Boston, MA


7:30 - 8:00 Breakfast & Registration

8:00 - 8:25 Welcome & Introduction: Scott Van Winkle, Managing Director

8:30 - 11:55 Company Presentations

12:00 - 1:25 Lunch Panel: Guidance from Successful Entrepreneurs

1:30 - 5:00 Company Presentations

3:30 - 5:00 Knowledge Session: Trends in Healthy Living M&A and Equity Capital Markets; Financing Your Healthy Living Business

5:00 Cocktails & Networking

To register and for more information, please contact Nadine Miller, Marketing & Communications Manager (617) 371.3842 or

Natural Foods Merchandiser

Hemphasis grows in beauty category

by Paul Vincent

Already this year, more than 90 personal care products featuring hempseed oil have launched in the U.S., according to the Mintel Global New Products Database—a number well above the 65 that debuted in 2007. While this is still only a tiny percentage of the total number of beauty and personal care items launched each year, the increasing use of hempseed oil reflects the general trend toward all-natural cosmetics that is redefining markets around the world.

But why the interest in the bright-green oil cold-pressed from the seeds of the hemp plant? "Hemp is an amazing ingredient," says Laura Setzfand, vice president of marketing for Nature's Gate, based in Chatsworth, Calif. "Hempseed oil contains a high amount of amino acids, protein and polyunsaturated essential fatty acids."

Hempseed oil's EFA profile helps rejuvenate and replenish skin while providing superior moisturizing benefits. "Clinical trials have shown that omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids present in hemp oil can help dry skin and may be beneficial for sufferers of eczema and psoriasis," Setzfand says. Its anti-inflammatory qualities can also help soothe skin irritations.

Nature's Gate has four hemp-based products, including body wash, moisturizer, shampoo and conditioner. Setzfand says when hempseed oil is added to hair care products, its amino acids and nutrients aid the formation of keratin, the principal protein responsible for the structural integrity of hair.

Two companies that have focused solely on the manufacture of hemp-based personal care products are Eugene, Ore.-based The Merry Hempsters and Sierra Vista, Ariz.-based Azida.

The Merry Hempsters' president, Gerry Shapiro, started the company more than 14 years ago. "We have always made and only will make Cannabis sativa (hemp) seed oil-based products," he says. Part of his company's mission is to illustrate the effectiveness of hemp through the use of its products. The Merry Hempsters also distributes literature—on tree-free, recycled hemp and flax paper—that covers many of hemp's uses.

"Our best-selling line is our [U.S. Department of Agriculture]-certified organic lip balms," says Shapiro. "We make a line of vegan salves, specifically our vegan muscle rubs, which are also gaining in popularity."

The founders of Azida, husband-and-wife team Jim and Diane Jones, have been making hemp personal care products since 1997. Their offerings include face and body scrubs, hand and body lotions, shampoos and conditioners, lip balms and an eye and face cream. "The complete line sells pretty much evenly," Jim Jones says, "but the eye and face cream gets especially great feedback about its high quality and reasonable price." Azida's lip balms also get rave reviews because they are vegan, he says.

Thanks to the efforts of companies like these, the hemp gospel is spreading. Setzfand says Nature's Gate strongly believes in the power of hemp, pointing to the introduction of its Hemp Velvet Moisture Body Wash in August. Shapiro reports that The Merry Hempsters' annual sales have been steadily around the $1 million mark, and Azida's owners note that their products have always attracted long-term, repeat customers.

Paul Vincent is an Auckland, New Zealand-based freelance writer.

Legalize it

At the dawn of the U.S., George Washington grew hemp as a crop and Betsy Ross used it to sew the country's first flag, but today the U.S. is the only industrialized country that bans hemp cultivation. This means that all the hempseed oil used in an increasing number of personal care products marketed in the U.S. has to be imported—mostly from Canada.

Six years ago, the actor Woody Harrelson traveled the West Coast in a bus powered by hemp-based bio-diesel, promoting the many uses of the plant. It wasn't until last year, however, that North Dakota became the first state to legalize farming industrial hemp. Vermont followed suit in May, but growing hemp without federal permission is still an act of civil disobedience in the U.S., enforceable by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

One of the key advantages of hemp as a crop is its hardiness, meaning it is mostly grown without pesticides. In this regard, hemp is good for the environment and our bodies—hemp fiber used in clothing even gives excellent UV sun protection.

More hemp products

Jason Hemp Moisturizing Creme Contains 70 percent certified-organic hemp and provides nourishing moisture for dry, chapped or sensitive skin. Antioxidant vitamins A, C and E help prevent dehydration and the signs of premature aging.

Lafe's Natural Hemp Oil Deodorant Made with a blend of mineral salts, hemp oil and aloe vera, this unscented deodorant claims to provide 24-hour protection.

One With Nature Hemp Soap Combines Dead Sea minerals with a pure vegetable base, moisturizing shea butter, gently exfoliating hemp seeds and moisturizing hempseed oil.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVIII/number 10/p. 94,96

GAIT II Results on Glucosamine/Chondroitin Supplements Inconclusive

On Monday, September 29, the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism released findings from the second part of the Glucosamine/Chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial (GAIT II). The researchers concluded that supplements of chondroitin sulphate and glucosamine, alone or in combination, may not positively affect joint health. The research was conducted at the University of Utah, School of Medicine in Salt Lake City, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The researchers admit in their conclusion that “the validity and mechanisms of this novel observation are uncertain but could be related to altered absorption of glucosamine,” and the combination of the ingredients may be less effective than the glucosamine or chondroitin sulphate individually.

These results are contradictory to previous research reported in the first NIH GAIT study in 2006, a six-month study of 1,500 osteoarthritis patients who were given a placebo or daily doses of 1,500 milligrams of glucosamine hydrochloride and/or 1,200 milligrams of chondroitin sulfate or 200 milligrams of the common prescription pain medication celecoxib.

The first GAIT study concluded that glucosamine and chondroitin were statistically more effective than COX-2 inhibitors in the subgroup of people who suffer the most from osteoarthritis, those who experience moderate to extreme pain.

In 2007, The Annals of Internal Medicine (AIM) published a meta-analysis questioning the efficacy of chondroitin for pain in osteoarthritis. The Natural Products Association reviewed the analysis and found that, among other things, no distinction was made between mild, moderate, and severe osteoarthritis, which all involve very different treatment regimens, also major factors in the conclusions of the 2006 study.

The Natural Products Association reviewed the results of GAIT II and observed:

The research in the GAIT II study did not use a “gold standard” as they did in the first study; a necessary factor to establish any comparison.

The researchers admit in the study that their results were affected by several limitations including a smaller number of participants, large variations in measurements, and slower decline in the knee joints as measured by joint space width (JSW).

The researchers acknowledge they cannot draw any definitive conclusions from their observations, and suggest significant changes that should be incorporated into the next trials.

Daniel Fabricant, Ph.D., vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs for the Natural Products Association, says, “Bottom line: this is one study -- it doesn't represent the totality of the research on glucosamine/chondroitin, which is very positive overall. Especially when compared to the few other options for osteoarthritis, it’s one of the few options without dangerous side effects.”

Delicious Living Blog

Buy Organic

It couldn’t have been scripted better. Without any comments from me, my soft-spoken 21-year-old niece picked up one of Colorado farmer Steve Ela’s peaches, took a bite, and exclaimed, “This is the best peach I’ve ever had in my life!” And then, of course, I couldn’t resist launching into my speech about why it was so good, starting with “It’s organic.”

Those of us who eat organic know how wonderful it tastes. But a growing body of research is proving (what many of us already believe) that organic foods are in fact more nutritious than conventional foods. In a report released last March by the Organic Center, a Colorado-based organization that supports organic research, with co-authors from Washington State and Florida Universities, researchers analyzed 97 studies that compared the nutrient levels of organic versus conventional foods. The most comprehensive look at organics since 2003, the study concluded that organic foods are up to 25 percent more nutrient dense then their conventional counterparts, and that they are particularly rich in polyphenols and antioxidants.

Organic starts with farmers like Steve Ela who take a financial risk, because it takes three years to convert conventional farmlands into soils that qualify as USDA organic. When you buy national, regional, or local organic food you are voting with your dollars to help support these dedicated growers. For more reasons to go organic and a guide to buying organic, check out Delicious Living's organic shopping guide. Or check out the Organic Center's Organic Essentials pocket guide for reducing pesticide dietary exposure.

Natural Foods Merchandiser

Supplements & Personal Care Briefs

Nanos penetrate sun-damaged skin

Nanoparticles can more easily penetrate sun-damaged skin than healthy skin, according to recent research. Scientists at the University of Rochester in Minnesota conducted the animal tests using commercially available nanoparticles on mice with moderate sunburn. Although the researchers did not use the same nanoparticles that are contained in sunscreens, the nanoparticles they chose are currently being considered for use in beauty products. And the nanoparticles used in the study were similar in size to the metal-oxide nanos currently used in some sunscreens on the market. The research led the authors of the study to conclude that skin condition may be important regarding the safety of nanotechnology and should be further investigated.

Finally, good news for supplements sales

In 2007, the overall supplements market was worth $6.1 billion, up 7.5 percent from 2006, according to a market report from Packaged Facts. The report, Nutritional Supplements in the U.S., said that despite last year's climate of economic downturn, condition-specific supplements got consumers attention—and dollars. Also, baby boomers shopping for products to promote health and longevity added to sales. Multivitamins remain the most popular, followed by calcium, fish oil and vitamin C. The group foresees the upward trend to continue, with sales forecasted to climb 39 percent from 2007 to 2012, reaching $8.5 billion. Packaged Facts said that baby boomers' interest and the preventative health benefits associated with supplements will protect the segment from a sluggish economy.

It's for, ya know, your man junk

Just when you thought there was a beauty product for everything, came one more—intimate cleansing wash for men. Entrepreneur Joe Rowett created the product to fill the "gaping hole in men's personal hygiene". The products' botanicals, including tea tree oil, aloe vera and totarol, an antibacterial oil from New Zealand's totara tree, will fight bacteria buildup and odor, the company said. Considering that Euromonitor International reported that the male grooming market grew a whopping 61 percent from 2002 to 2007 and could well be a $27 billion global market in four years, retailers might want to make some room on their personal care shelves for him.


Natural Foods Merchandiser

Government takes on the greening of advertising

Q: What are green claims and Green Guides, and what action is the Federal Trade Commission currently taking?

A: A green claim is the general term for a claim that describes and promotes a product's beneficial effect on the environment or ecosystem, or that states or implies it is manufactured or packaged in an environmentally friendly way, e.g., recyclable or biodegradable. In 1992, the FTC decided that guidance was necessary for the industry, so it published the first "Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims," commonly known as the Green Guides. The FTC revises these guides periodically to respond to new eco claims in the marketplace, and to prevent deceptive and unfair advertising—its general mission.

Q: Why is the FTC revising its Green Guides now rather than in 2009 as planned?

A: Since the Green Guides were last updated in 1998, the FTC has tracked a significant increase in the use of environmental claims in product marketing. Marketers frequently use terms addressed in the Green Guides, such as recycled content, degradable, compostable or refillable, to claim that their packaging is green. But now sellers and marketers are using other green claims not addressed in the current Green Guides, including popular terms such as sustainable and renewable. The FTC is concerned that when such claims are used to sell products, consumer perception and substantiation issues may arise.

Q: Does the FTC have other concerns about green ads?

A: Yes, the commission also notes that recently there has been increased use of environmental seals and third-party certification programs purporting to verify the positive environmental impact of packaging. Yet consumers may have varying interpretations of these seals and programs. The FTC's position is that eco seals imply that a product is environmentally superior to other products. Because such claims are difficult to substantiate, seals should be accompanied by an explanation of the basis for the certification. If the seal indicates that a third party has certified the product, then the certifying party must be truly independent from the marketer and must have professional expertise in the specific area being certified.

Q: What are the philosophical and economic reasons for the FTC's concerns and monitoring of green claims?:

A: The FTC is a consumer-protection agency that works to ensure that advertising is fair and not misleading. Consumers generally pay more for products with green claims, and if those claims are false, deceptive or unsubstantiated, then consumers are both being cheated and possibly dissuaded from buying similar products that may be more eco-friendly. In addition, the FTC seeks to establish a level playing field for all competitors in the green sector.

Q: How is the FTC using public meetings for this review-and-revision process? Specifically, what was the purpose of the Green Guides and Packaging workshop?

A: This was the second in a series of public workshops held as part of the agency's regulatory review of the Green Guides. The workshop was free and open to the public, and was held in Washington, D.C., on April 30—specifically to examine green-packaging claims and consumer perception of such claims. This workshop provided a forum for the discussion of: 1) recent trends in packaging and their resulting environmental claims; 2) packaging terms currently covered by the Green Guides, and whether consumer perception of them has changed; 3) new green-packaging terms not addressed in the current Green Guides; 4) claims based on third-party certification, and consumer perception of such seals; 5) the impact of technological advances, including the use of new packaging materials and their impact on the environment; 6) the current state of substantiation for green-packaging claims; and 7) the need for new or updated FTC guidance in all six areas.

Q: What are the major mistakes that marketers make with green claims?

A: In general, the FTC is looking for false, deceptive and unsubstantiated claims, such as a nontoxic pesticide—which clearly would have some effect on the environment, even if there are no risks to the consumer when used according to directions. One group, TerraChoice Environmental Marketing, has written an amusing article called The "Six Sins of Greenwashing," which catalogs the six fault lines: 1) Sin of the Hidden Trade-Off, 2) Sin of No Proof, 3) Sin of Vagueness, 4) Sin of Irrelevance, 5) Sin of Lesser of Two Evils and 6) Sin of Fibbing. This group found that the most common sin was the first: For instance, a label claiming green and sustainably harvested is deceptive when the ingredient is actually harvested in Asia and then imported, making its carbon footprint huge. The harvest is only one aspect of the product, and the product as a whole may not be greener than others.

Q: What is the FTC's substantiation requirement for green claims?

A: In general, all marketers making claims about the attributes of their product, package or service—whether the claims are express or implied—must have a reasonable scientific basis for their claims. For environmental claims, a reasonable basis often requires competent and reliable scientific evidence, which the FTC has defined as "tests, analyses, research, studies or other evidence based on the expertise of professionals in the relevant area conducted and evaluated in an objective way by qualified people using procedures generally accepted in the profession to yield accurate and reliable results."

Q: What is the FTC's specificity requirement for green claims?

A: An environmental marketing claim should specify whether it refers to the product, the packaging or both, or just to a component of the product or its packaging. For example: A box of cereal is labeled recycled package. The package consists of a cardboard box with a wax paper bag inside holding the cereal. By itself, the claim recycled package could apply to both the box and the bag. But if only the box is recycled, the claim is deceptive. It should be qualified to say recycled box. Qualifications pertaining to an environmental claim (and all claims) should be clear, prominent and understandable.

Q: Do the Green Guides constitute new law, and are they enforceable?

A: No, the Green Guides are not new advertising laws or regulations; they are industry guides that are technically the FTC's administrative interpretations of the applicable law. The guides provide general principles and examples that apply to all green claims. They also describe the basic elements necessary for adequate substantiation of claims. Although the guides do not have the force of law, the commission can take enforcement action against an offending marketer under Section 5 of the FTC Act—for claims inconsistent with the guides. To enforce the law, the FTC must prove that the advertising practice is unfair or deceptive. In recent years, state and local governments also have relied on the Green Guides for direction and standards as to enforcement.

Q: When is the new, revised Green Guide due to be issued?

A: Any month now. In the meantime, there are useful documents at, including "Facts for Business: Environmental Marketing Claims" and "Facts for Consumers: Sorting Out ‘Green' Advertising Claims." The latter cautions the consumer (and thus indirectly, the marketer) to be skeptical about vague claims that may sound warm and fuzzy but offer little information, such as a picture of the globe surrounded by the words Earth Smart. This logo is not helpful, and also may be misleading—given that all products and packaging have some negative environmental impact.

Susan D. Brienza is an attorney in the Denver office of the national law firm Patton Boggs. She specializes in regulatory compliance, food and drug law (including DSHEA), USDA and FTC law. Contact her at

This column is not meant, and should not be construed, as a legal opinion or legal advice, but rather is intended to provide basic principles and some examples as to various aspects of FDA and FTC law.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVIII/number 10/p. 66,68