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Articles from 2016 In September

Natural Products Expo

The trending P's of Natural Products Expo East

We perused the Natural Products Expo East show floor for products that will pop off the shelf. As we patrolled the Baltimore Convention Center passageways, a theme emerged—the letter P. Yep, from packaging to paleo, from probiotics to protein, this year's show was all about the letter P. Take a peek here.

Natural products movers & shakers - September 2016

Verde Farms, a leading supplier of pasture-raised, grass-fed beef, announced the hires of two new executives to the leadership team. Joe Koch, formerly at Harry & David and Dole Fresh Vegetables, joins Verde Farms as the vice president of sales, and Pete Lewis joins as vice president of marketing after eight years at Stonyfield Farms. Koch and Lewis will report directly to cofounder and CEO Dana Ehrlich and will be key drivers in the company's growth strategy.

Kara Goldin, the founder and CEO of hint, was one of 30 leaders in private sector, nonprofit and academics appointed to the U.S. National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. She will work with the secretary of commerce and the economic development administrator to influence federal policies that support business leaders in developing a globally competitive workforce.

Vit-Best Nutrition has appointed Thomas Mooy, an industry professional widely respected for driving contract manufacturing growth for global businesses, to its team as president. Additionally, industry veteran Rick L. Beatty has been named vice president of quality at the company.

Marcia Walker, PhD, is the new director of food innovation at 915 Labs, where she will lead product development, FDA validation, and analytical and training services. 915 Labs is the exclusive provider of Microwave Assisted Thermal Sterilization and Microwave Assisted Pasteurization System technologies, which offer a healthier and higher quality way to sterilize and pasteurize food.

Comax Flavors has announced the appointment of Eric Junwu Xi, Ph.D., vice president of innovation. In this role, Xi will be responsible for managing global product and flavor development in the U.S. and international markets with a focus on Asia.

Functional ingredients company BENEO has appointed Christoph Boettger as a new member of the executive board of directors. In his new role, Boettger is leading all areas of operations including technical affairs, raw material, product safety and quality, as well as the BENEO-Technology Center. At the same time, Hildegard Bauer, who was a member of the executive board at BENEO for the past 10 years, has retired from business after 38 successful years within the Südzucker Group.

Ivan Wasserman, noted FDA and FTC attorney, has joined Chicago-based boutique regulatory and litigation law firm Amin Talati Upadhye and will be leading the firm's new Washington D.C. office. He helps clients develop products and create advertising campaigns that comply with the regulations and meet marketing objectives, paying close attention to the changing rules governing internet marketing, consumer testimonials and social media.

BrandHive has hired Caitlin Wallace Hadley as senior PR counsel. Caitlin comes to BrandHive with experience in a variety of industries, including food and agriculture, luxury, technology, education and natural products. She is an alumna of global PR agencies Fleishman-Hillard and Access-Emanate, a Ketchum company.

This week: New Non-GMO Project verifications | PLT Health Solutions, Lallemand, Frutarom to launch ingredients at SupplySide West

Through a deal with Haddon House/UNFI East, Nothing But Real will roll out its vegan Oat Chocolate & Protein beverage at stores in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. It's an oat and pea protein-based drink lightly sweetened with agave and maple syrup and monk fruit extract.

Lallemand Health Solutions will unveil a new range of probiotics for stress and mood balance at SupplySide West. 

All three flavors of Dog Mamma's oven-baked dog treats have received verification from the Non-GMO Project—three retail products and three foodservice products.

PLT Health Solutions is launching a new line of ultra-stable omega-3 oils which feature food-grade raw materials, deodorization and concentration technologies, and a proprietary QualitySilver stabilization process, at SupplySide West 2016.

The parent company of Sabina, Sami Labs, received two Pharmexcil Awards for 2015-2016, which recognize companies that demonstrate excellence in developing proprietary products granted patents throughout the world. It received awards in the herbals category: the Silver Award for Patents and the Outstanding Export Performance Award.

Frutarom Health BU will introduce CitrOlive, a patented natural ingredient which combines a synergetic action of a unique formulation of olive and citrus extracts backed by extensive research of key phytochemicals, polyphenols and flavonoids at SupplySide West.

Warehouse 7 is Blue Diamond's new 48,000-square-foot bulk storage warehouse located in Salida, California, which can store up to 60 million pounds of almond meats.

Mi Rancho, a Bay Area manufacturer of organic tortillas, has six tortilla products that are newly Non-GMO Project verified. 

Food and supplement contract manufacturer SternMaid America received organic certification from QAI for the production of organic goods. Besides processing, blending and filling organic products in powder form, the company can procure raw materials from controlled organic farming at the customer's request.

D levels may predict cardiac risk

vitamin d predict cardiovascular event

What if there was an app to predict heart attack risk? While an app won’t be available on the App Store anytime soon (at least until smart phones come with a blood-testing attachment), researchers believe that simply measuring levels of vitamin D could indicate how likely a person may be to have a heart attack, stroke and other cardiac events.

Lead researcher Heidi May, PhD, a cardiovascular epidemiologist at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City, Utah, found that people with low levels of both total vitamin D and bioavailable vitamin D were more likely to experience poor cardiovascular outcomes. Vitamin D that’s been absorbed into the bloodstream but hasn’t attached to surrounding proteins is known as bioavailable vitamin D. May and her team presented their findings at the American College of Cardiology Scientific Sessions in Chicago, IL.

"This study is the first research that evaluates the association of vitamin D metabolites with cardiovascular events,” May said in a statement about the study, which was presented at the American College of Cardiology Scientific Sessions. “And evaluating usable vitamin D could mean the difference on the amount of vitamin D prescribed, if it's prescribed at all."

The researchers analyzed vitamin D levels of 4,200 subjects between the ages of 52 and 76. They honed in on measuring the participants’ levels of various vitamin D metabolites (the elements of the vitamin produced during metabolism) and analyzed whether they were associated with future cardiac events. They said it was critical to assess the proportion of the “unbound,” bioavailable vitamin D as well as regular vitamin D to most accurately predict the risk of cardiovascular events. Individuals with low levels of both total vitamin D and bioavailable vitamin D were at greatest risk for heart attack, stroke, heart failure and even cardiovascular death, compared with people whose levels of these vitamins were high.

What’s the deal with D that makes it so critical to heart health? It might be the vitamin’s capacity to reduce inflammation, according to recent research.

Natural product movers & shakers - September 2016

Natural product movers & shakers - September 2016

Gabriel Perez-Krieb succeeds Founder Carsten Hagen as chairman of Chosen Food. Hagen will remain active on the board. Perez-Krieb most recently served as a chief revenue officer of Sesajal, and CEO of PIA Ingredients, a subsidiary of Sesajal.

Pinnacle Foods Inc. announced the appointment of Michael E. Allen to the position of executive vice president and president, Boulder. Allen will report to Chief Executive Officer Mark Clouse and replace Phil Anson, interim Boulder general manager and founder of EVOL frozen foods. Allen, has 20 years of experience in the food industry, including focus in the natural, organic and health-forward channels on brands such as Kashi and Morningstar Farms. He joins Pinnacle from the Kellogg Company where he most recently held the role of president, Morning Foods Division.

Q Laboratories Inc. announced several new appointments: Michael Baim, PhD, has been named analytical lab director; Patrick Bird, microbiology research and development laboratory supervisor; Erin Crowley chief scientific officer; Daniel Barket microbiology technology leader.

NBTY settles with NYAG, but why did it take so long?

NBTY settles with NYAG, but why did it take so long?

In the march toward transparency, some are going to sprint, some are going to saunter and a few are going to stumble. The announcement Wednesday that NBTY has settled with the New York attorney general in the much-publicized investigation from early 2015 suggests the company took the saunter approach.

But couldn’t they have sauntered a little faster?

Next week will mark 18 months since the New York Times blared across the front page that NYAG Eric Schneiderman was saying herbal supplements sold at Walgreens, Walmart, Target and GNC contained none of the herbs on the label. The news rocked the supplement industry with worries that public trust would plummet and sales would follow that downward trajectory. It’s worth mention that herbs and botanicals turned out to be one of the strongest categories in 2015, but the NYAG story proved to be a catalyst that set a wide range of reforms into motion. Trade groups and companies are working together on a set of programs designed to increase confidence in supplements.

Since February 2015, DNA testing has become a pill that the industry has already half swallowed. Companies are either doing it or planning on doing it. News Wednesday that NBTY had agreed to use the genetic techniques is still news, but it’s not the news it was when GNC settled within weeks of the New York prosecutor’s action, agreeing to DNA testing and other measures.

The New York Times covered the NBTY announcement Wednesday too. Writer Annahad O’Connor took the time to mention the industry argument that DNA doesn’t survive the extraction process. But he also took the time to mention that the whole investigation was based on a story he wrote in 2013, using DNA testing to show that herbal supplements contained none of the promised ingredient. He doesn’t mention that GNC, the first company to settle, was allowed to prove their products were legitimate and put them back on the shelves.

DNA testing has its place and its limitations, but performed correctly it adds an aura of accountability and confidence that the industry can use as a defense the next time The New York Times or some other news outlet tries to write a bold-faced headline out of a small type story.

All of this begs the “What took NBTY so long?” question.  The NYAG’s press statement declares that in addition to DNA bar coding, NBTY agreed to “other testing, labeling and manufacturing reforms.” Maybe there’s something in there that drew out the negotiations, but Nature’s Way settled a year ago. What did NBTY get that Nature’s Way and GNC did not?

Maybe they should have sauntered a little faster.

And where does Pharmavite and Nutraceuticals Corp. think their even slower stroll is going to take them?

All of these measures cost money. According to the agreement, NBTY will phase in the testing over time, and in two years all ingredients will be DNA authenticated. That’s obviously expensive, but the industry needs to see ingredient testing as more of an investment than a cost.

At NBJ Summit in June, I heard an industry insider remark that “self-regulation will be expensive for small companies.” My immediate thought was that lack of self regulation could be even more expensive. NBTY is obviously not a small company, but the same logic holds.

Herbs and botanicals did surprisingly well in 2015, growing at 7.5 percent, faster than the supplement market as a whole for the second year in a row. But like everything in the supplement business, success is nothing to count on. That the world didn’t end last year doesn’t mean the possibility of future catastrophes can be shrugged off. Reforms across the industry will undoubtedly help make every category less vulnerable to the charges like we saw coming out of New York last year.

The march toward transparency is going to be uneven, but it has to be inevitable. It doesn’t look like a time to saunter.


CircleUp's top trends and brands from Expo East '16

Allie Rabman

While Fashion Week comes in full force each fall, and retailers swap out inventory for the latest trends, the natural products world has its own show—Natural Products Expo East. Last week, natural food and beverage products from all over the nation gathered in Baltimore to debut new offerings and hear from those at the forefront of the industry’s innovation.

Based on the conversations and products at Natural Products Expo East this year, cross checked with data from CircleUp's marketplace, there are a few pertinent trends that have been on the rise over the last year, as well as new trends just emerging in the natural food and beverage industry. These trends span products revitalizing classic staples, and products creating entirely new experiences.

When it comes to shaking up old, traditional staples, it's hard to imagine a category better poised for disruption than condiments. Ketchup, mayo, mustard and even hot sauces have largely come from a monopoly of big brands putting out unhealthy products that contain a laundry list of foreign ingredients. Large brands in almost every subcategory of the condiment space have been losing share to smaller brands.

This category has faced increased scrutiny as people continue to demand quality in all aspects of their consumption. But now, we're seeing new condiment brands reinventing traditional sauces, ketchups, butters, oils and more. A few of our favorites:

  • Fourth & Heart is a leader in innovation in the condiment space with its grass-fed, spreadable clarified butters that are lactose- and dairy-free.
  • Red Duck Foods is pioneering better ketchups and curry sauces to give consumers traditional products with cleaner and high-quality ingredients.
  • Primal Kitchen offers everything from avocado oils to dressings to spreads. These products are antioxidant-rich, contain healthy fats and have no synthetic or artificial ingredients.

When it comes to creating new product experiences, the beverage category in particular is pulling ahead, as confirmed by the lines of beverage at Expo East. Popular new beverage brands spanned a slew of ready-to-drink products like cold brew, drinkable proteins and bottled soups, as well as emerging lines of herbal and matcha alternatives. These products, which are defining entirely new categories or product experiences, include:

  • REBBL: REBBL is the fastest-selling super herb beverage at natural foods stores, according to SPINS data. These coconut milk-based drinks contain super herbs that have used in eastern medicine for decades to relieve stress, and are only now making their way into mainstream America.
  • Owl's Brew: Owl’s Brew tea-based cocktail mixers, and new line of tea-brewed beers are on-trend with low-alcohol beer and beverages, which are seeing impressive growth.
  • Live Kombucha: Kombucha is still on top when it comes to functional beverages. The trend shows no sign of slowing down. Live Kombucha is taking advantage of this trend with its line of sparking drinking vinegars. A big perk of vinegars and probiotics is they keep your stomach acid levels in check, helping the body further break down proteins and fats.

Expo East was chock full of new and familiar brands reviving classic staples and creating new categories altogether. We're excited to see, and taste, the rest of what they have to offer in years to come.

[email protected]: How Denmark cut food waste by 25% | Food cluster emerges in Baltimore

Baltimore sunrise

Denmark capitalizes on culture to stop food waste

How did this small country cut its food waste by 25 percent in five years? A store devoted to edible but unsellable groceries, a food waste pop-up market, an app that helps consumers find just-before-closing bakery and restaurant food, and a very powerful activist, for starters. Read more at National Geographic...


Food incubators take root in Baltimore

Baltimore Food Hub broke ground last week on a five-building campus that will include a commercial kitchen, office space and manufacturing facilities for small-scale food businesses. B-More Kitchen also opened earlier his month. Read more at Baltimore Sun...


Starting Handsome Brook Farm, a 'pasture-raised' egg business, helped Betsy Babcock recover from a devastating loss

Every family business has a story, and this is one of healing. Following the loss of their son, the Babcock family moved to a farm and opened a bed and breakfast. After hearing so many guests rave about the eggs from their chickens, which had plenty of room to roam on the farm, they launched a business in 2007 selling pasture-raised eggs to locals. Today, their eggs are sold in more than 4,500 stores and they've built a community of small farmers. "With the eggs we’re able to promote animal welfare and support family farms," says Betsy Babcock. Read more at Forbes...


Our kids learn their ABCs in school. But why not climate change?

The reality of global warming is here, yet many people still don't understand how it will affect us, or what we can do about it. The Climate Change Education Act aims to change that. It would require the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to create an education program geared toward teaching students about climate change and solutions. Read more at The Guardian...


A Toronto school bans juice boxes from kids' packed lunches

Instead, Jackman Avenue Junior Public School in Riverdale has asked parents to send their kids to school with drinks in reusable containers. Read more at FastCo Exist...


Natural Products Expo

Natural brands put their B Corps forward at Natural Products Expo East

The B Corp community was loud and proud this year at Natural Products Expo East. Over the last several years, B Corp certification has filled a need in the CPG marketplace (and other markets, too!) as a way to verify a company's social and environmental performance and transparency efforts through a rigorous assessment of its corporate impact. Socially and environmentally conscious businesses seek certification as a way to formalize and verify their commitment to using business as a force for good.

The first B Corporation was certified in 2007; nine years later, more than 1,750 companies internationally are certified. Displaying the seal on their packaging, website or marketing materials provides a way for these companies to prove to shoppers and retailers that they're prioritizing environmental responsibility, transparency and social good. Check out some of the displays we saw at Expo East.

Natural Products Expo

What's new in vegan foods at Natural Products Expo East 2016

Consciously sourced, grass-fed meat and dairy products seemed to be everywhere at Natural Products Expo East 2016. But the special diet that kept appearing again and again was vegan. Rather than focus on the foods you can't eat—eggs, dairy, meat, seafood and often honey—these vegan products celebrate the bounty of nutrient-dense, plant-based foods. Here, beans, grains, vegetables, nuts, seeds and spices boost traditionally maligned foods like meatless meatballs with flavor, texture and protein. Another example: while conventional dairy-free creamers are rife in chemicals and artificial flavors, the folks at Laird Superfood innovated to produce an effective, shelf-stable coconut product that melds seamlessly into coffee and tea.

It's tempting to pass these products off as items that cater to a niche demographic, as surveys conducted by New Hope Network's NEXT team found that only between 6 and 8 percent of U.S. consumers identify as vegan. But as people grow increasingly interested in products that don't contain cholesterol, don't contain possible allergens like dairy and are produced humanely, the audience for vegan food and beverages has skyrocketed—even if shoppers don't call themselves vegan eaters.