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Articles from 2018 In September

[email protected]: Oat milk a favorite alternative | Two U.S. senators apply for farm bailout funds

Thinkstock/AlexPro9500 milk alternatives nondairy fresh

Sorry, soy. Adios, almond: Why oat milk has serious staying power

Baristas around the country are supporting their employers’ move to using oat milk instead of cow’s milk at their coffee shops. While the animal-welfare aspect attracts them and their customers, oat milk’s neutral flavor tastes better and doesn’t overwhelm beverages such as espresso and matcha, they said. Read more at


Two U.S. Senators applying for bailout money for farmers under White House program

Sen. Charles Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, and Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat from Montana, are applying for a share of the administration’s $12 million farm bailout program. The fund was set up to counter farmers’ losses triggered by President Donald Trump’s trade war with China. An advocacy group says their actions show that the bailout program is helping affluent farmers. Read more at The Washington Post


A new cannabis infusion bubbles its way into the non-alcohol wine category

Terra Tech, a “cannabis-focused agriculture company” in Southern California, is partnering with Valiente Group, a beverage production business in Washington, to create cannabis-infused beverages such as apple cider, lemon-line soda, sparkling water and sparkling wine. A patent-pending emulsion technology would eliminate any taste of cannabis from the products. Read more at Forbes ...


How the Mediterranean Diet could help with depression

A review of 41 studies found that the Mediterranean Diet might reduce people’s chances of developing depression or its effects. The diet features anti-inflammatory foods; researchers found that inflammatory foods such as processed meats and trans fats can lead to depression. Read more at Fortune


Olympia Auset is tackling systemic racism, one vegetable at a time

Even with 1.3 million people in South Los Angeles, only 60 grocery stores are located in the area—three fewer than can be found in white, affluent West Los Angeles, which has less than half as many residents. Olympia Auset is working to change that through her pop-up SÜPRMARKT stores, where residents can find low-cost organic foods. Read more at Civil Eats

Natural Products Expo

Hemp oil innovations bring buzz to the CBD market and Expo East

Is this the biggest natural product in the history of natural products? Dozens of companies were exhibiting their hemp-oil products at Natural Products Expo East 2018. Check out Health Matters America, and CV Sciences to grab a glimpse at the state of the art in CBD. 

Natural Grocers launches line of premium private-label organic products

Natural Grocers Natural Grocers Brand Products

Natural Grocers, a leading natural and organic retailer, has launched a new line of premium quality private label products, Natural Grocers Brand Products, that includes more than 35 different new items across 10 categories.

The launch continues Natural Grocers' commitment to its founding principles of highest quality products at Always Affordable Prices. Natural Grocers is extending the power and equity of the chain’s brand into a differentiated line of premium products.

“Our name has been defining the highest quality standards in the natural foods industry since before it really was an industry, so when it comes time to put our name on products, only the highest quality products will do, and we make sure that they are priced so that everyone can afford them,” said Kemper Isely, Natural Grocers co-president.

“We want products that represent our values: hormone and antibiotic-free meats; pasture-based dairy; pasture-raised eggs; no artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, sweeteners, hydrogenated oils or partially hydrogenated oils; and non-GMO,” Isely continued. “When it comes to house brands, our products are the highest quality at an affordable price.”

The new Natural Grocers Brand organic product lineup includes pasta sauce, olive oil, preserves, bread, tortilla chips, canned tomatoes, canned beans and vegetables, and more. The company plans to introduce them all in November.

Other exciting items such as organic and 100 percent grass-fed cheese, organic and free-trade chocolate, organic coconut milk, 100 percent grass-fed beef jerky and organic frozen vegetables are already in the pipeline and are expected to be in stores in 2019. The introduction of Natural Grocers’ new line of organic, private label products is expected to have a positive impact on the overall mix of organic products in the private label category, which according to Supermarket News, is at just 6 percent.

Natural Grocers has teamed up with How2Recycle to get more materials in the recycling bin by taking the guesswork out of recycling. A standardized labeling system clearly communicates recycling instructions to consumers. Recyclable packaging is an important component of Natural Grocers’ eco-friendly and sustainable practices. Their partnership with How2Recycle is a natural fit as it relates to its private label offerings.

Source: Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage

Badger’s second generation named co-CEOs

W.S. Badger Co. Emily Schwerin-Whyte, Rebecca Hamilton of W.S. Badger Co

On August 6, 2018, W.S. Badger Co. announced that Emily Schwerin-Whyte and Rebecca Hamilton, daughters of founder and CEO Bill Whyte and COO Katie Schwerin, have been named co-CEOs of the family owned business. Bill Whyte will continue in the role as founder of the company and Katie will remain as its chief operating officer.

Here, Schwerin-Whyte and Hamilton tell us what they’ll bring with them to their new role, what might change, and what will stay the same.

What lessons are you taking from your parents as you step into this new role?

Rebecca Hamilton: If you look at some of the initiatives we’ve taken on as a company, some are unusual and some are things other companies may say aren't practical, but it’s who we are as a business and it’s been beneficial in the long run. For example, we provide our employees with an organic lunch every day. There is a certainly a big cost that comes with that. But we do it because this program builds a unique culture that people are proud of, it helps us build bridges between departments, it helps us with good retention, and it puts our value of supporting organic agriculture into action. That’s what we learned from our parents—do the right thing, regardless of what kind of work it takes, and it will pay off.

How do you think you’ll make the role your own?

Emily Schwerin-Whyte: Because we’ve both worked here over 10 years and because of the collaborative nature of our company, we feel that we’ve already been doing this work alongside our parents for many years in a lot of ways. But we are excited to deepen our connection to our supply web going forward, lean in on regenerative agriculture, and travel to connect directly with farms. A 10-year vision may even include owning our own farms where we grow our own ingredients and process them ourselves.

How has it been going so far?

ESW: The biggest challenge so far has been freeing up time in our schedules to refocus our work. Traditionally, I’ve focused on sales and marketing and Rebecca has been on the R&D side, and while we’d like to move out of those more specific areas and be more connected outside of them, it’s not an easy thing to do in the short term. So we are excited to continue to work to develop our leadership within our team so we have more time to put towards whole-company work.

Where do you see the natural personal care industry going overall?

RH: If you look on macro level, our consumer base continues to get more well educated in demanding transparency and wanting brands they can trust. Especially with personal care, it's really hard to understand what’s in them, unlike food labels which often have recognizable ingredients. So, people are looking to find a personal care brand they can trust, as opposed to trying to read and decipher a label themselves. And people are looking to natural and organic for not only something that will be healthy for their skin, but that will also contribute positively to the planet.

What is your vision and hope for Badger under your leadership?

RH: We don't have a plan for how large we want to grow. Instead, we want to remain deep in our mission and become a better and better company. Better means that we’re stable but also healthy and good for our employees and community. We also want to have some kind of significant impact on the world around us and be a company using business as a vehicle for positive change. We aren't driven by profit—profit is the fuel that helps us bring change. That is our hope. That we will be able to impact the world around us outside our company.

ESW: We are excited about what Badger has done and is doing now, so we are just trying to figure out how to do more of and better that same approach. We think we’re in a good place to do that.

How VitaminEnergy boosted its advertising impact with Google Accelerator

Vitamin Energy cars

Earlier this year, VitaminEnergy team members were passing out samples of their vitamin- and mineral-infused energy shots in New York City’s meatpacking district, in an effort to finalize their flavor profile before launching in April 2018. “We got a call from Google’s Accelerator program, asking if we were interested in joining,” says vice president of sales Philip Gates. “Google’s corporate office is in that neighborhood, and I bet they stumbled upon us when we were there.” It was a happenstance that would launch the company to early success.

Just like that, VitaminEnergy applied to join the program, and was connected with a Google representative who served as a gatekeeper for the internet giant’s many resources. “Essentially, being in this program granted us access to ad services that would cost us tens of thousands of dollars otherwise,” says Gates, including Fortune 500 account representatives, endless data about platforms like Google Shopping and YouTube, and information about engagement rates, clicks, and consumer behaviors. “We made our own creative materials, but we leveraged Google’s ad team to manage our buys,” he says, “which was invaluable.”

The benefit, of course, is access to data and information that would normally eat up a large segment of any ad budget, especially for a startup. Plus, VitaminEnergy was able to target its advertising to the local consumers it most wanted. “Initially, we geo-targeted our ads in Brooklyn,” Gates explains. “As we looked to expand to the other boroughs, we expanded our media buyout. Google helped us hit the right people.” Thanks to the program, VitaminEnergy went from zero stores at launch in April 2018 to 800 stores by August, and projects to hit 12,000 New York City stores by March 2019. While the company started off self-distributing, it now has the help of a large distributor.

“My tips for other brands looking to apply is to have the distribution, so that when your ads hit, you can actually sell, and to have at least $30,000—ideally, $50,000—for your first six weeks of ad buys,” says Gates. “With those in place, we were able to run campaigns based on knowledge we could never afford to buy ourselves at that stage.”