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Nutrition Business Journal: June 2017

In a presentation by Dr. Low Dog at NBJ Summit, she showed Centers for Disease Control data revealing the startling micronutrient deficiencies for many Americans. Iron, vitamin B12, iodine—the number of people who are deficient in these essential nutrients is shocking. And it’s not clear that the nutrition industry is doing a good enough job sharing the message Dr. Low Dog delivered.

There are a number of reasons for that, many discussed in The Case for Nutrition on page 1 of this issue, but there are no excuses. Vitamins and minerals may not sound exciting, but they’re essential, the foundation of good health. The supplement industry needs a consistent message, and that message needs to be built on that foundation. A better, bigger, broader and collective campaign is vital, one that wakes people up. Innovation is important for the industry, but what’s important for consumers is that they know what good nutrition means and they have access to it. We don’t need a new ingredient as much as we need a new way of talking about the ingredients we already have.

Learn about the state of the supplement industry in the Market Overview issue, and how the industry can start tackling the problems of public health, one vitamin and mineral at a time.

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Natural Products Expo

3 top plant-based proteins at Expo East 2017

Historically, the motivation for going vegan included a desire for improved health, an opposition to poor factory farming conditions for animals and the chance to reduce environmental impact on the planet. Given the plethora of new plant-based proteins exhibiting at Natural Products Expo East 2017, we can now add taste and thrill of discovery to the equation!

Here, New Hope Network editors Jenna Blumenfeld and Jessie Shafer share their favorite vegan finds on the show floor.

Keep up with the latest natural products by subscribing to the Natural Retail Today e-newsletter. Subscribe here.

[email protected]: Beans boost gluten-free pastas | Honest Tea lands in Happy Meals

gluten-free pasta

Beans add healthy fiber and protein to gluten-free pastas

Some favorite natural products brands like Tolerant, Banza and Ancient Harvest aren’t just making tasty gluten-free pastas—they’re making healthier pastas, too, with a lower glycemic index than corn or rice-based options and higher resistant starch content. Read more at NPR…


How McDonald’s Happy Meals are changing

Here’s another sign that organic is penetrating the mainstream market: Starting in November, Honest Tea’s organic juice will replace the conventional, higher-sugar beverage currently included in the fast food chain’s kid's meals. "We hoped one day we would find a way to make these drinks available not just in natural food stores (though we love those stores!), but to all Americans at an affordable price,” Honest Tea cofounder Seth Goldman wrote on the company’s blog. Read more at USA Today…


Who’s buying clean label products?

Some 93 percent of American shoppers have bought a clean label product at a grocery store, according to new research from Nielsen. Millennials and Generation X consumers place more importance on labels like organic, non-GMO and no added hormones. Read more at Nielsen…


Here’s what it takes to win the grocery wars

While Whole Foods continue to grow and adapt its lower-cost 365 chain, Germany’s low-cost grocer moves into the U.S. and Walmart invests in delivery. Read more at Fast Company…


The mysterious allure of LaCroix’s ‘natural flavors’

What’s behind LaCroix’s natural flavors? According to the company, it’s "natural essence oils ... extracted from the named fruit used in each of our LaCroix flavors.” Read more at Wired…

Should you call your innovation a supplement or a beverage or a food?

Thinkstock/Ekaterina79 Nutrition facts panel

If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it must be a duck. That’s the way the FDA looks at deciding whether products are foods, beverages or supplements—regardless of whether your company decides to use a Nutrition Facts or Supplements Facts panel.

“The brand owner can make the call,” counseled attorney Justin Prochnow, from the Greenberg Traurig law firm, at Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore. “But if you mix your messages—if you have a Supplements Facts panel and call it an energy drink or represent your product as a meal replacement with a Supplements Facts panel, then the FDA will make the call. And you don’t want the FDA to make the call.”

Brands should carefully consider any of a number of factors before making a decision on how to position their product. This includes labeling, communications, ingredient selection, marketing and risk-tolerance.

“Then, be consistent in your messaging,” said Prochnow. “The FDA is going to look and see if your message is consistent or not.”

This includes social media posts. So if you’re trying to market a 12-ounce drink but call it a supplement, you shouldn’t be referring to it as a beverage on Twitter or Pinterest. (Let alone that regardless of what you say about it, the FDA is not likely to look at a 12-ounce drink container at being anything other than a beverage, regardless of the number of servings you assert are contained in a package. Two-ounce shots are a better call here.)

There’s no shortage of companies that have felt the sting of FDA warning letters for positioning their product incorrectly.

Most infamously is Monster energy drink, which started out with a Supplements Facts panel but then shifted to a Nutrition Facts panel.

“One of the major issues with Monster was that you need to file an Adverse Events Report when you’re a supplement and you don’t need to do it for a beverage, so that cuts down on bad attention.”

Prochnow said there are also manufacturing differences between foods and beverages, specifically the need to test incoming ingredients and finished products as supplements. That makes costs higher for positioning products as supplements compared to beverages or foods. And then there’s the public perception that dietary supplements are the Wild West and unregulated.

“That one irks me more than anything else,” he said. “The dietary supplements industry has more regulations than most industries. But, beverages are looked at as more pristine and less stretching the envelope compared to supplements.”

Another significant issue is the dosage of an ingredient used in order to make a claim.

“This is one of the biggest issues when it comes to substantiation of claims,” said Prochnow. “The marketing department gets an article saying turmeric can do this and that. But unless you get science with the amount of turmeric in your product, you can’t make those claims. It’s the fairy dust principle­—the FDA doesn’t want you to splash a bit of turmeric in your product just so you can make claims about it when you know you don’t have enough of the ingredient in it to do anything.”

Still, there remains a tantalizing allure to call a product a dietary supplement when it’s not in a traditional pill or powder format, because supplements have a perception of being able to have some type of health claim around them. And also, traditionally there’s a larger swath of ingredients that can be accessed for supplements compared to foods or beverages.

Savvy companies would do well to weigh all these factors before going to market. Because if the FDA comes calling, it'll want changes made in a New York minute—and if you can’t make it there, you might not be able to make it anywhere.


Natural Products Expo

A know-brainer: Ketogenic coffee creamer company wins pitch slam

Shari Leidich founded Two Moms in the Raw (now called Soul Sprout) in 2006 and grew the company into a multi-million dollar business before departing. Her new venture is single-serve butter coffee creamer brand Know Brainer. Here, she tells us how she's taking advantage of all Natural Products Expo has to offer this time around.

Natural Products Expo

The best of the best: The Natural Products Expo East 2017 NEXTY Award winners

The competition was steep, but 21 products came out on top. The New Hope Network staff delivered the coveted NEXTY Awards to the winners' booths on the show floor of Natural Products Expo East 2017 on Friday, Sept. 15. 

Selected from 66 finalists across 21 categories, these winners were decided in a two-tier judging process that took place at New Hope Network in the months prior to Expo East by New Hope staff and a panel of industry judges. Editors' Choice awards were also given to five impressive companies that New Hope editors and trend researchers spotted at the show. Those were awarded on the final day, Saturday, Sept. 16.

Check out the awardees we thought truly showcased the integrity, innovation and inspiration driving today's natural products industry.

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Natural Products Expo

We're spilling this 2017 Expo East beverage trend: New alternatives in the dairy aisle

Move over, dairy milk. Sales of plant-based milk alternatives are on the rise, and new options like these from Organic GeminiElmhurst and Oatly are keeping the category fresh, interesting and delicious.

Natural Products Expo

Authentic natural leaders: 2017 Retailer of the Year winners

Natural retailers lead in many ways, starting in their communities while impacting the world in great ways. Here are this year's standouts for building community, renovating or building creatively, representing natural through the years and leading as women.


[email protected]: Amazon deal could trigger M&As | Baby food pouches bad for environment

Baby food pouches

Amazon's grocery threat could ramp up food M&A

Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods is expected to hurt brick-and-mortar grocers who, in turn, will likely seek greater concessions from suppliers. If Big Food and other suppliers see their profit margins drops, expect them to make their own acquisitions to generate revenue and consolidate expenses. Read more at Bloomberg …

Healthy baby food packaging is hurting the environment

The latest trend in baby food—single-serve pouches offering convenience for parents—is an environmental nightmare on par with Keurig coffee cups. The non-recyclable, non-reusable plastic pouches are loading up landfills and overflowing the oceans. Read more in The Daily Meal …

Lab-made meat, poultry get big funding boost from big food

Memphis Meats, which recently received a big funding boost, grows animal cells into real meat that doesn’t have to be slaughtered. What will this mean for ranchers, dairy farmers and the future of food? Read more at Food Safety News …

Tyson Foods, Kansas officials answer town’s fears about secrecy, immigrants and chickens

A tiny town northeast of Lawrence, Kansas, is preparing for an earthquake: Tyson Foods recently announced it plans to build a $320 million processing plant just south of the community. Residents are concerned about the development’s effects on their schools, the area’s air and water quality, the town’s ambience and character, and especially the influx of poultry producers Tyson will need. Read more at The Kansas City Star …

This once-obscure fruit is on its way to becoming pawpaw-pawpular

It’s native to North America. It’s the size of a mango and looks like a green potato. It’s squishy and sweet, but people describe the taste of its creamy insides differently. It’s the pawpaw, and this Westminster, Maryland, family grows an orchard of the fruit that online gourmet stores advertise as delicacies. Read more at NPR …

OTA survey: Millennial parents will be big organic food buyers

Thinkstock Preparing meals at home can reduce your exposure to harmful PFAS chemicals

Twenty-five percent of the millennials in America are parents. In the next 10 to 15 years, 80 percent of millennials will be moms and dads. What this means for the organic market could be transformative.

A new and expanded survey on the organic attitude of U.S. families released Thursday by the Organic Trade Association shows that millennials are big buyers of organic, and that becoming a parent will only deepen the strong affinity for organic shared by this powerful generation.

“Millennials are the largest consumer group in the United States, and they’re choosing organic. As more members of this generation become parents, their presence in the organic market will just get stronger,” said Laura Batcha, CEO and executive director of the Organic Trade Association. “This year’s survey findings clearly show the positive relationship between organic and parenting. Exciting times lie ahead for the organic sector. Over the next 10 years, we’ll see a surge of new organic eaters and consumers—the millennial parents of tomorrow and their children.”

For the first time in the eight-year history of the survey, the 2017 U.S. Families’ Organic Attitudes and Behaviors Study included households without children. Last year’s survey studied generational buying habits of U.S. households, and found that millennial parents—parents in the 18- to 35-year-old age range—are now the biggest group of organic buyers in America. This year’s study goes even deeper and looks at the organic attitudes and buying habits of today’s millennial without children.

Today’s definition of a family includes a diverse combination of household members, and this year’s survey reflects that. The study segmented the population in three household composition categories: (1) millennials without children, (2) millennials with children and (3) parents 36–64 years old.

The connection between organic and parenting

Becoming a parent is a life-changing event. Having children shifts our values, priorities and even our buying behaviors. And so it is with the organic consumer. The survey shows that heavy buyers of organic—consumers who always or most of the time choose organic—are driven by a strong belief that selecting organic for their family makes them better parents. That buyer is actively seeking out healthy, nutritious choices for themselves and their children—that’s the No. 1 motivator for this group when choosing food, followed by the product’s being organic.

Concerns about the effects of pesticides, hormones and antibiotics on an individual’s health and the health of that individual’s children, along with the desire to avoid highly processed foods and artificial ingredients for the family were also top reasons to buy organic.

Baby food ranked as the top category for which respondents said that buying organic is extremely important, surpassing the fruits and vegetables category for the first time in the history of the survey. Food targeted to kids was also among the categories most important for buying organic.

And the parenting kids receive also shapes their buying habits as adults. Heavy buyers of organic—millennials with or without children—are much more likely to have been raised eating organic foods and being taught to make organic choices. Today’s organic buyers with children are already passing their organic habits on to the next generation, and so will the millennial parents-to-be.

Online and meal kits

Today’s organic buyers are younger, and digital technology is an integral part of their daily lives.

More millennials shop for groceries online than older parents, 40 percent to 30 percent. Online grocery shopping is still in its early stages, but the survey revealed that attitudes regarding online grocery shopping point to a bright future for organic. Twenty percent of those surveyed said they like the quality of organic produce purchased online, 17 percent said online grocery shopping is a convenient and easy way to shop organic, and 10 percent reported an increase in organic purchases because of online shopping. This all suggests that online shopping has strong potential for increasing organic consumption among U.S. families.

Millennial parents use digital sources of information to learn about new products—online product reviews, blog posts and mobile apps—more frequently than older parents who prefer traditional information sources like commercials, coupons and recommendations from friends. The millennial device of choice is the smartphone, rather than other mobile or desktop devices.

As with online grocery shopping, millennial parents are much more likely to purchase or use online meal kits than older parents, 37 percent versus 27 percent. And while all groups liked the idea of getting meal kits as a gift, the millennial without kids was the most enthusiastic about that concept.

“Americans are eating more organic than ever before. Organic sales reached nearly $50 billion last year, driven in large part by the millennial consumer,” Batcha said. “Millennials having children over the next 10-15 years are projected to be a generation of highly engaged organic consumers. Our continually expanding knowledge about millennials will help us inform this important generation of consumers and give these future parents the necessary tools to enable them to make the best choices for their families.”

The Organic Trade Association has partnered with KIWI Magazine since 2009 to survey the organic buying patterns of households. The study reflects responses of more than 1,800 households throughout the country consisting of individuals between the ages of 18 and 64 years old. Responses were collected online between May 22 and June 7.

The full study is available for purchase. A 25 percent discount is available for Organic Trade Association members purchasing the study. For more information, contact Angela Jagiello.

Source: Organic Trade Association