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Plant-based food sales surge 8.1%

Plant Based Foods Association

Today, the Plant Based Foods Association and The Good Food Institute released new data commissioned from Nielsen, the leading retail sales research company, which shows the total market for the plant-based food sector (as defined below) in Nielsen’s Expanded All Outlets Combined Channel, tops $3.1 billion in sales.

The data scans all outlets, which include grocery stores, drug stores, mass merchandisers, club stores, dollar stores and military stores, plus Whole Foods.

According to the data, the growth overall in plant-based foods was 8.1 percent since last year, as compared to a decline of 0.2 percent all foods sold in the same channel. (All food departments include deli, grocery, dairy, meat, produce, bakery and frozen foods.)

This custom data set was compiled from specific lists of plant-based foods for each category that represents a replacement for animal products.

The data showed that plant-based dairy alternatives are a fast-growing category, with 20 percent growth, topping $700 million in sales over the past year. This category, which excludes milks, includes plant-based cheeses, yogurts and ice creams. Yogurt shows significant growth, at 56 percent since last year, according to the data.

The plant-based milk category is up 3.1 percent since last year. Over the same period, according to the Nielsen data, cow’s milk sales are down about 5 percent.

These findings come as a bill has been introduced in Congress that would prohibit plant-based food makers from using words such as “milk,” “cheese” or “yogurt,” even with appropriate modifiers such as “soy,” “almond” and “dairy-free.”

The results also showed plant-based meats growing at 6 percent compared to a year ago. Refrigerated meats are growing more than frozen, according to the data, at 23 percent since last year.

Plant-based meat claims 2.1 percent of sales in refrigerated and frozen meat products sold at retail, as defined by the Nielsen data set. Plant-based milk comprises 9.3 percent of milk sales.

“It’s exciting to see the steady growth of the plant-based foods industry,” said Michele Simon, executive director of the Plant Based Foods Association. “With this new baseline data, we have a solid foundation for this young industry to grow each year,” she added.

“There is a revolution going on in the plant-based meat space,” said Bruce Friedrich, executive director of The Good Food Institute. “Right now, the sector is small, but growing, and we are working hard to create a viable market sector. It is especially impressive to see that all the plant-based companies are working cooperatively, because a rising tide will lift all boats.”

Nielsen analyzed data in several categories over a 52-week period ending Aug. 12, 2017. The data represents foods that replace animal products, including meat, seafood, eggs and dairy, as well as meals that contain animal foods replacements.

The Plant Based Foods Association is a trade association representing 80 of the nation’s leading plant-based food companies.

The Good Food Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that uses markets and food technology to transition the global food system away from industrial animal agriculture.

The data represent plant-based foods that directly replace animal products, including meat, seafood, eggs, and dairy, as well as meals that contain direct replacements for these animal products. Within each category, both branded products and private labeled items were included. The market was segmented into the following categories:

  • Tofu and tempeh 
  • Meat alternatives
  • Milk alternatives
  • Other dairy alternatives, including cheese, yogurt, ice cream (novelty and frozen desserts), butter (vegan products marketed using the terms "butter," "buttery spread" or "vegan spread"), dips, dressings and sour cream, iced coffee and creamers)
  • Egg substitutes and mayo
  • Meals

Source: Plant-Based Foods Association

Natural Products Expo

'Eating Animals' author Jonathan Safran Foer to address Natural Products Expo East

Jonathan Safran Foer at Natural Products Expo East

In his book Eating Animals, Jonathan Safran Foer dissects what it means to eat meat and dairy products in today’s world, why we eat what we do and where hope for tomorrow resides. Foer will share his thoughts and the lessons from many months of researching the food industry at 8:30 a.m. ET on Friday, Sept. 15 at Natural Products Expo East.

Foer’s talk is free to all Expo East badge holders; and, if you’re in Baltimore, you won’t want to miss his astute take on the food industry, how we can use storytelling to shape a brighter food future and why we should be paying attention to college campuses to catch a glimpse of what that food future may look like.

If you have questions you’d like to pose to Foer during his keynote, tweet them to @carlottamast, using the hashtag #ExpoEatingAnimals.

Here is a glimpse into a few of the topics I will be discussing with Foer during his Expo East keynote address on Sept. 15.

In Eating Animals, you write about the power of story to shape how a culture views food and what it will eat or won’t eat. How can we use storytelling to change the way people eat in positive ways?

Jonathan Safran Foer: One of the mistakes that is often made when talking about food is reaching for one answer. What is the technology that is going to solve this problem we have? What is the story we can tell? What is the single piece of advice you’d give for how people should eat?

The most honest and humble and I believe effective approach is both flexible and eclectic. There are certain kinds of stories that reach certain kinds of people. The story of animal welfare reaches some people in ways that inspire them to make dramatic change. Other people might not like the way animals are treated in the meat industry but they won’t make changes in response. And yet these same people may care deeply about the environment and that is what motivates them to change. Still others may care most about the global economy or how farmers are treated. It is worth acknowledging that this reality is not a problem but another potential solution. Each person eats for his or her own reasons. There isn’t going to be a silver bullet. [For brands], the best approach is to invest energy in what you believe in yourself versus what you think others believe in. From this approach, you will find the answer.

Do you see change occurring?

JSF: Absolutely. We are seeing a cultural tipping point. There are more vegetarians on college campuses today than Catholics. This is not fringe anymore. In the near future the question won’t be why people don’t eat meat on college campuses; it will be why do some people still eat meat on college campuses.

What story motivated you to become a vegetarian?

JSF: The one thing that changed me was not an awareness of what is going on in factory farms but rather the scale of the domination of factory farming. If you would have asked me before I began my research how much meat is produced via factory farming, I would have thought 50 or 60 percent. But it is actually 99 percent that is factory farmed. I often say to people, ‘I don’t even know if I’m against meat.’ I really don’t, but I do know that I am against the way we are doing it. I also don’t know if there is a realistic way of changing the current system if people continue to eat as much meat as we currently do.

Does anything give you hope that the system can change and we as humans will consume less meat?

JSF: There is nothing but hope. The problem is the residue of an old way of thinking and eating, an old culture and habits. Those can be extremely hard to break free from, but again we are seeing it happen on college campuses and high school campuses.

How do we help farmers to see this hope and be part of the solution versus resisting change?

JSF: When I was doing my research, I heard farmers tell me again and again that they don’t grow what they want to grow; they grow what people want to buy. Farmers meet the demands of the public. As we ask for different things, they will grow different things and produce in different ways. I never met a farmer or heard of a farmer who wants to be a factory farmer. They become farmers not because they hate animals or want to destroy the environment. They went into it for extremely honorable and understandable reasons. They want to take care of animals and be stewards of the environment. These are very old values. These are biblical values. Factory farming has taken it from them, and consumers are as guilty as anyone.

We have the power to ask for something different, and we may have to pay more or eat things we might have forgotten how to appreciate, but that is all possible and it’s happened before. We eat 180 times as much chicken per person as we did a century ago. That change happened, and we can drive equally dramatic change to reverse that consumption.

Catch Jonathan Safran Foer at Natural Products Expo East.
What: Keynote
When: 9 - 10 a.m., Friday, Sept. 15, 2017
Where: Hilton, Holiday Ballroom 6
Free for all badge holders.


Aunt Fannie’s closes $2.5 million note round

Aunt Fannies healthy products

Aunt Fannie’s today announced the company has successfully completed an investment round of $2.5 million, bringing Aunt Fannie’s total funding to-date to more than $3 million.

RCV Partners and CircleUp led the round, with participation from angel investors Monica Nassif, founder of Mrs. Meyer’s and Caldrea; Ricardo Alvarez, former member of the board at Bush’s Beans; David Charne, former interim COO/CFO Talbots; and Kay Hong, CEO at Torrid; and others.

Aunt Fannie's mission is to create healthy homes and offices, restore the biome we live in, recharge our immunity and strengthen our families. The company’s products improve the health of indoor microbiomes by creating biodynamic cleaning and pest solutions from unique, whole and food-based ingredients. Created from ingredients that have evolved along over millennia, Aunt Fannie’s formulations are rated best-in-class as the healthiest and safest option for our homes, our bodies and our families.

“The entire team at Aunt Fannie’s is pleased to announce the close of this important funding round, and we are delighted to be in such a solid position of strength at this stage in our growth cycle,” said Mat Franken, CEO of Aunt Fannie’s. “This investment represents an important milestone and next step forward for our company, and will not only provide us with the necessary capital to advance our unique microbiomic product families, it also validates the investor and consumer appetite for the first-ever company to bring health and wellness back home to the biome.”  

In June, the Environmental Working Group, a global research and advocacy authority on human and environmental health and safety for cleaning and beauty products, added Aunt Fannie’s to its database with “A” ratings for its entire line of cleaning products. All cleaning products were scientifically evaluated based on asthma/respiratory, skin allergies and irritation, developmental and reproductive toxicity, cancer and environmental concern metrics.

“Many CPG categories have benefited immensely from innovations that bring healthier, more sustainable options to market in segments like food, beverage and personal care. However, home goods has been slower to adapt,” said Ben Lee, managing director of funds at CircleUp. “That's why we're excited to invest in Aunt Fannie's, which is seeing excellent traction bringing better-for-you products to homes. As people everywhere become increasingly concerned about how products negatively impact our environment and our health, Aunt Fannie's captures these consumer shifts in an important portion of the market."

Source: Aunt Fannie's

Organic Trade Association sues USDA over failure to advance organic livestock standards

Thinkstock Holstein cows eating on a dairy farm

The Organic Trade Association on Wednesday is suing the U.S. Department of Agriculture regarding its failure to put new organic livestock standards into effect.

“We are standing up on behalf of the entire organic sector to protect organic integrity, advance animal welfare, and demand the government keep up with the industry and the consumer in setting organic standards,” Laura Batcha, executive director and CEO of the Organic Trade Association, said in a released statement.

The lawsuit alleges the U.S. Department of Agriculture violated the Organic Foods Production Act and unlawfully delayed the effective date of the final livestock standards that industry developed in accordance with the congressionally established processes. Also, the lawsuit claims that the USDA abused the agency’s discretion because it has ignored the overwhelming public record supporting these organic standards.

The trade association further contends that the Trump administration’s regulatory freeze order—issued to federal agencies on Jan. 20—should not apply to organic standards because only farms and business that want to be certified organic are required to meet the standards. The Organic Trade Association’s board of directors voted unanimously to initiate the lawsuit.

 The Organic Trade Association is asking the court to reverse the agency’s decisions to delay and eliminate options proposed by USDA to further delay, rewrite or permanently shelve the rule—thereby making the final livestock rule effective immediately, as written.

Batcha said the Organic Trade Association is compelled to take legal action against the Trump administration because it has a duty to protect and advance the U.S. organic sector. The Association also must uphold the integrity of the organic seal and to honor the consumer trust in that seal.

“The organic industry takes very seriously its contract with the consumer and will not stand aside while the government holds back the meaningful and transparent choice of organic foods that deliver what the consumer wants,” Batcha said. “The government’s failure to move ahead with this fully vetted regulation calls into question the entire process by which organic regulations are set—a process that Congress created, the industry has worked within, and consumers trust.

“The viability of the organic market rests on consumer trust in the USDA Organic seal, and trust that the organic seal represents a meaningful differentiation from other agricultural practices,” Batcha said.

Other organizations harmed by this protracted government inaction include those representing organic livestock farmers, organic certification agencies, organic retailers and organic consumers.

What the organic livestock standard says

The Organic Foods Production Act, which established the federal regulations overseeing the U.S. organic sector, was passed in 1990, but not implemented until 2002.

The Organic Livestock and Poultry Production rule, commonly referred to as the Organic Animal Welfare Rule, is the result of 14 years of public and transparent work, and reflects deep engagement and input by organic stakeholders during multiple administrations, both Republican and Democrat.

The rule addresses four broad areas of organic livestock and poultry practices including living conditions, animal healthcare, transport and slaughter. The Organic Livestock and Poultry Production rule represents a refinement and clarification of a series of organic animal welfare recommendations:

  • Establishes minimum indoor and outdoor space requirements for poultry.
  • Clarifies how producers and handlers must treat livestock and chickens to ensure their health and well-being throughout life, including transport and slaughter.
  • Specifies which physical alterations are allowed and prohibited in organic livestock and poultry production.

The rule provides more than ample time for producers to become compliant with the new standards, including five years to establish outdoor access requirements for egg operations; three years for broiler operations to establish indoor space requirements; and one year for all other adjustments.

Thousands of recent comments support implementing the rule on Nov. 14

After extensive public input and a thorough vetting process—including reviews, audits and analysis by the National Organic Standards Board, the Agriculture Department’s Office of Inspector General and the National Organic Program—the National Organic Program released and published the final rule on Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices on Jan. 19.

A White House memorandum, released on Jan. 20 to federal agencies, requested a freeze on rules recently published or pending. Consequently, the effective date of the rule was delayed to May 19.

On May 10, the USDA delayed the effective date an additional six months, to Nov. 14, and opened a 30-day comment period asking for responses to four possible options for the Final Rule:

  • Let the rule become effective on Nov. 14.
  • Suspend the rule indefinitely, during which time the agriculture department would consider whether to implement, modify or withdraw the Final Rule.
  • Delay the effective date of the rule beyond Nov. 14.
  • Withdraw the rule.

During the 30-day comment period, more than 47,000 comments were received; 99 percent supported the rule becoming effective as written on Nov. 14.

“Producers are organic because they choose to be. It’s a voluntary system, and the organic sector welcomes clear and fair standards under which to operate,” Batcha said. “Organic regulations apply only to certified organic producers, and those organic producers are overwhelmingly in favor of this new regulation. Most of the criticism of the new organic animal welfare rule has come from outside the sector, and by special interest groups not impacted by the regulation, but which would like to override the will of our members.

“It is important to note this issue did not just arise in 2017, rather it is the result of many years of failure of good government,” Batcha added.

Jesse Laflamme, owner and CEO of organic egg producer Pete and Gerry’s Organics, said, “The organic industry has been fighting for this rule for years. Certified organic egg, dairy and animal producers hold their operations to a higher standard of animal welfare than is required, because it is the right thing to do and it is what our customers expect. The organic industry works hard to live up to the expectation of its consumers, and we expect the USDA to live up to its mandate to oversee the industry in a way that is fair and will enable us to continue to prosper.”

Organic farmer cooperative Organic Valley CEO George Siemon said the government’s failure to implement this rule could jeopardize consumer trust in organic.

“The organic consumer and community have worked closely with USDA to help craft this sound regulation, and have followed the established rulemaking process. For the administration to now let political pressure derail that progress is an assault on the trust in the organic process that the organic industry works so hard every day to earn,” Siemon said.

“Organic Valley works with thousands of organic dairy, laying hen, beef, hog and poultry producers, and has long advocated for action to clarify the living conditions and expectations for animal care in organic. Animal living conditions and welfare are a critical part of an organic livestock system. We in organic need to lead on this front, and the consumer’s trust in organic needs to be respected,” he continued.

Source: Organic Trade Association


100 natural products companies make climate commitments in 6 months

Erin Callahan Climate Collaborative

When we formally launched the Climate Collaborative at Climate Day at Natural Products Expo West back in March, we set ourselves an ambitious goal: to reach 100 natural products companies committing to climate action within one year.

Six months have passed, and as Expo East kicks off in Baltimore, I’m thrilled to share that we have shattered that goal in half the time! Companies in the natural products industry have spoken—loudly—that they are ready and eager to come together to tackle climate change.

Seventh Generation, the Vermont-based leading natural products company, is the 100th company to make a climate action commitment. The company announced today it is building on its ambitious climate portfolio by committing to packaging, renewable energy, policy engagement and energy efficiency through the Climate Collaborative, joining a growing list of companies including Annie’s, Dr. Bronner’s, Happy Family, National Co+op Grocers, Organic Valley and many more (You can see a full list of committed companies here).

“Seventh Generation has always believed that business can serve as a powerful force for change,” said Ashley Orgain, director of mission advocacy at Seventh Generation. “We’re proud to join Climate Collaborative in ensuring our planet is protected for future generations. In an era when the federal government is moving in the wrong direction, we pledge to continue to do our part to ensure a just and speedy transition to a low carbon economy, supporting progressive policies that put a price on carbon pollution.”

Seventh Generation has been prioritizing climate action for decades and has a company-wide goal of sourcing all energy from non-fossil fuel sources by 2020. On top of its direct mitigation efforts, the company also uses an internal carbon tax, which generates revenue for energy efficiency projects within its operations.

Companies in the industry have made over 400 commitments to climate action to date—to integrate carbon farming into their supply chains, switch to renewable power, reduce the climate impacts of their packaging, remove deforestation from their supply chains, engage on climate policy and more. These commitments send a powerful message that the natural products industry is stepping up to the climate challenge.

Robynn Shrader, CEO of National Co+op Grocers, stated, “Through the Climate Collaborative, our industry is once again demonstrating that when we come together on an issue, we work quickly towards success. The fact that 100 companies have already stepped up in just six months shows that our industry not only recognizes the urgency for action, but is also willing to invest the time, energy and money needed to make meaningful progress on the climate challenge, the most consequential issue we’ve tackled yet."

In the coming months, the Climate Collaborative will be expanding its programming to assist companies taking action with new initiatives like our carbon farming action group. Our goal is to give companies the on-ramps and practical solutions they need to accelerate their efforts to tackle climate change, minimize the risk it poses for their businesses and take advantage of the benefits that early action offers.

If you have not already done so, I encourage you to consider having your company make a commitment to climate action. You can visit to learn more and join the growing wave of natural products companies in tackling the climate challenge head on.

[email protected]: Some Florida produce unsafe after Irma | Whole grains becoming more convenient

Thinkstock Florida tomatoes

Floodwater pathogens can’t be washed off fresh produce

Florida is the country’s largest tomato producer, and it’s second only to California in growing fresh fruits and vegetables. But Hurricane Irma and its resulting floods have made many of those crops dangerous to eat. There’s no way to clean floodwater pathogens and parasites from the fresh produce, the FDA says. Read more at Food Safety News …

Quinoa, meet convenience: New products make whole grains less of a hassle

Americans are eating more whole grains, but still not enough: less than one serving per day. One hindrance might be that many whole-grain foods aren’t quick or convenient to prepare. However, an increasing number of food companies are solving this problem with innovative products that offer great taste and convenience. Read more at The Washington Post …

Coffee, bees and climate change are linked in ways you may not have expected

Bees are key to a healthy coffee harvest. They increase each plant’s production, and they make the coffee beans themselves a more uniform size. However, climate change is threatening the bees as well as the amount of land available to grow coffee, according to a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Read more at NPR …

'This is the last frontier': At a 5,000-acre organic ranch in Nebraska's Sand Hills, the buffalo still roam

Dave Hutchinson’s 5,000 acres in Rock County, Nebraska, was certified organic in 1980. His ranch attracts tourists, organic-food enthusiasts and even chefs—all to see his cows, chickens, vegetable gardens and, especially, his bison. He wants to see the bison market grow, and he wants to ensure his land and his animals are preserved in the future. Read more at the Omaha World-Herald …

Playing chicken with Maryn McKenna

In Big Chicken: The Incredible Story of How Antibiotics Created Modern Agriculture and Changed the Way the World Eats, author Maryn McKenna looks at the use of antibiotics in farm animals and its connection with Americans’ health. Consumer activism, she says, is key to cutting the industry’s use of the medications. Read more at Civil Eats …

Natural Products Expo

Live from Expo East: Trends and Products Likely to Succeed with Progressive Natural Channel Consumers

What’s NEXT? The Trends & Products Likely to Succeed with Progressive Natural Channel Consumers

Join New Hope Network’s director of business insights and senior content producer as they discuss the trends and products that are driving natural products innovation, and that have the highest probability of success with progressive natural channel consumers.

You’ll learn: 

  • The trends, products and early adopters driving industry innovation;
  • The results of a four-year, comprehensive analysis of 1,000+ innovative new product concepts;
  • How you can validate your product ideas and prioritize your time and financial investment in them; and
  • How to predict future trends.


Natural Products Expo

Live from Expo East: Natural Products Business School

Natural Products Business School Expo East 2017

This event has already occurred. Below are the time markers for each presentation in the archive of the livestream. Scroll down and click download to access the presentation slides.

Natural Products Business School is a full day of learning designed to provide entrepreneurs with targeted, in-depth solutions to common business challenges and an opportunity to connect with a diverse ecosystem of service providers.


9:45  Welcome

  • Rachael Shayne, Culture Architect & Brand Strategist 

15:36 Opening Inspiration: A conversation with Koel Thomae, Noosa Yoghurt

  • Koel, Thomae
  • Jane Miller, JaneKnows

44:50 Six Steps to an Effective, Retellable Story

  • Jay Golden, Retellable

1:31:44 Let's Be Real: Stories of Successful Impact Entrepreneurship 

  • Katlin Smith, Simple Mills

1:49:05 Profit with Purpose: Creating a Measurable Mission-Based Business Plan 

  • Terry Frishman, Culinest

2:30:15 Mission Possible: Staying True in a Changing World

  • Gina Asoudegan, Applegate

2:41:00 Fearless Fundraising: Understanding your Business Financials  

  • Tera Johnson, Food Finance Institute + Tera's Whey

4:14:14 Passion Isn't Found, It is Nurtured

  • Haile Thomas, The HAPPY Organization

4:27:24 Brands Just Want to Have Fun(ds): Exploring the Funding Landscape

  • Cheryl Clements, PieShell
  • Jessica Bates, Dwight Funding
  • Ross Davisson, CircleUp
  • Jackie Miller, Chobani
  • Zoe Feldman, Cleveland Avenue

5:25:09 What Does an Investor Really Want? 

  • Mark Haas, Helmsman Group 
  • Jon Marshall, VMG
  • Mark Shaw, Avocado Studios

6:10:06 Pitfalls to Avoid When Raising Capital 

  • Jennifer Rosenthal, KO Firm
  • Carole Buyers, BIGR Ventures
  • Duane Primozich, BIGR Ventures

7:11:36 Don't Go Alone: The Value of Mentorship + Finding your People

  • Rachael Shayne, Culture Architect & Brand Strategist
  • Jane Miller,

7:31:25 Impact Capitalism: Exiting Differently + New Ways to Think about Liquidity  

  • Nancy Rosenzweig, Big Path Capital
  • Diana Propper de Callejon, Cranemere Inc.
  • Ralph Carlton, King Arthur Flour Company
  • Chuck Holt, InvestEco

8:15:38 Breathe, Think + Do Like an Exponential Leader 

  • Jenelle Cobb, The Food + Health Collective


Click 'download' below to access the presentation slides.

Natural Products Expo

Live from Expo East: The State of the Natural Industry—How We Will Fuel Growth

The natural products industry is experiencing lots of growth and massive amounts of change. Whole Foods Market is now owned by Amazon, the availability of natural products in every channel is creating ubiquitous shoppers and consumers are demanding more from brands and retailers. How do you survive in such an environment—or better yet, thrive and create ripples of positive change?

This data-packed session will dig into these questions and more, as we provide a detailed overview of how each natural and organic products category is performing in each sales channel, and the macro forces and trends fueling growth for the industry.

You’ll walk away understanding:

  • Where the natural and organic products market is experiencing the greatest growth, and also the biggest challenges, and why;
  • How technology and changing consumer attitudes and behaviors are driving new requirements and new opportunities for brands and retailers;
  • Why the natural products industry is uniquely positioned to take advantage of the consumer trends shaping new market opportunities; and
  • How one leading natural brand is navigating and growing within an ever-changing market landscape while keeping its eye on its foundational purpose.

If you’re looking for a unique, data-backed view into the natural and organic products market, this session is for you.

Join the conversation with #ExpoEastTrends

What: Twitter Party live from Natural Products Expo East! Log on for the FREE livestream of the State of the Natural Products Industry presentation and use #ExpoEastTrends to join the conversation and win some of the show's hottest new products!

Who: @Mamavation @Bookieboo & @NatProdExpo will answers questions and pick a winner every 10 minutes for a prize pack of some of the hottest NEXTY Award and Best of East Award winning products!

When: 8:30 - 10 a.m. EDT, Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017

Hashtag: #ExpoEastTrends

Giveaway: Natural Products NEXTY Award prize packs with TONS of good stuff from some of the hottest new natural products hitting the store shelves very soon. 

How do I win? We'll be choosing winners randomly so use #ExpoEastTrends to be entered to win. Prizes will be announced after the show ends.

For a full list of panelists visit: