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    On a recent trip to India, we visited several farms with exclusive contracts for Sabinsa Corp. Here’s what we learned about the relationship with the farms—the source of botanical ingredient raw material.

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    It's not possible to know everything necessary to run a business. That's where partners come in.

    Carole Buyers and Duane Primozich of BIGR Ventures explain how choosing the right investment partner can benefit you in more ways than simply financing your company, and why knowing less can actually work to your advantage.

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    While many entrepreneurs spend much of their effort getting into stores, it may not be the right strategy.

    How many stores, shelves, doors, are you in or on? In some form, that is the most frequently asked question of a founder of an emerging brand. In my opinion, that question perpetuates the wrong strategic focus. Chasing all-commodity volume (ACV), getting sucked in by the allure of store count, can kill a brand before it ever really gets started.

    Unless an emerging brand has some compelling reason to be fast and first to market, focusing on building velocity is the smart strategic approach. I will give you five reasons why.

    1. It proves product/market fit. A brand learns if its value proposition resonates with its consumers.

    2. It allows for fast failure. A brand can experiment with placement, pricing, promotion, and gain critical insight without taking on significant risk.

    3. The insight gained allows a brand to optimize its go-to-market strategy setting the foundation for scale.

    4. It identifies the pain points and bottlenecks within a brand’s supply chain and order-to-cash process that need to be resolved prior to driving significant growth.

    5. It is what investors want to see. They’re interested in brands that can demonstrate traction with their consumers.

    I wanted to validate my thinking, especially as it pertains to investors. So, I asked some leading venture capitalists to share their insights.

    When evaluating a brand, what holds more weight: distribution (the number of outlets or ACV) or velocity (the number of units sold per point of distribution)?

    “At the beginning of a company’s lifecycle, when the team is battling for distribution and shelf placement, velocity should be the focus and we get excited when we see brands demonstrate exceptional velocity in a core set of blue chip retailers. If a management team can demonstrate strong velocity performance on the shelf versus competitors, then expanding distribution has the potential to accelerate growth. As a company matures and grows the base of distribution, % ACV becomes more important.”

    Nicolas Mindel—Managing Partner, Trail Post Ventures

    “When evaluating a brand, velocity holds more weight than ACV for us. We would rather see a company that has built a strong and growing tribe of devoted customers than one with low velocity that has placement in a lot of stores. If a company’s product isn’t moving off the shelf, a higher store count won't compensate for a brand that isn't selling.”

    Lauren Ivison—Partner, Ridgeline Ventures

    “In evaluating brands, our philosophy is that deeper is better than wider. What does that mean? We want to see early stage brands focus on driving velocity and building a strong consumer base in strategic geographies and retailers. This way, they can better connect with consumers and be nimbler in how they approach sales and marketing execution. As investors who work in a collaborative, hands-on manner, this approach is all about smart, sustainable brand building that creates longer-term value for all stakeholders.” 

    Frank Zampardi—Partner, AccelFoods

    “When looking at a brand’s initial traction, we like to see depth over breadth as measured by velocity. Depth of velocity indicates that consumers are coming back to the brand time and time again. If a brand—in a focused, narrow set of distribution points—can bring consumers back and create turns, then there is a story there that is potentially replicable. As the goal is to build brand equity, the starting block for brand awareness and a reason for being is the ability to effect and create velocity. Velocity is a metric that can empower a brand in talks with retailer partners to increase ACV based on an incremental gain-selling story. Velocity reigns all, especially initially; when a brand begins to scale, that’s when it’s important to turn the conversation to expanding ACV whilst maintaining strong velocities.” 

    Arif Fazal—Founder & Managing Director, Blueberry Ventures

    If you are a founder or a team member of an emerging brand, focus on building velocity. Find the outlets that are going to provide you with the learning, consumer traction and the story that can be leveraged as you scale.

    Elliot Begoun is the Principal of The Intertwine Group, a practice focused on helping emerging food and beverage brands grow.

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    Farm & Oven's go-to-market strategy is deeply steeped in digital-first retail. Learn how co-founders Kay Allison and Mike Senackerib designed packaging to entice online shoppers to click "buy."

    It’s hard to believe that the Boulder-based snack company Farm & Oven launched just a few weeks ago. Unlike many new brands, Farm & Oven’s packaging is polished, on-point and distinctly designed to join the scores of food brands now launching online.

    For a fledgling company, initially focusing on e-commerce sales over traditional distribution may be a smart option. While vastly more dollars are spent on natural and organic food and beverage in traditional grocery stores (by the end of 2017, Nutrition Business Journal estimates traditional retail sales will fetch $78.1 billion), natural e-commerce has already surpassed sales growth of brick-and-mortar. In 2017, internet sales of natural food and beverage grew 13.5 percent to $2.5 billion, while traditional grocery natural food and beverage sales grew 11.8 percent. NBJ expects internet sales to continue to grow 15.8 percent to $4.3 billion by 2021.

    It’s important to remember that traditional brick-and-mortar sales for natural products are stronger than ever. And they are expected to experience double-digit growth through 2021. But there is a shifting tide in retail that savvy brands—such as Farm & Oven—are starting to expertly navigate.

    Here, learn how (and why) Farm & Oven caters its packaging to reap improved online sales.

    Why are you focused on launching Farm & Oven primarily on e-commerce sites like Amazon first over brick-and-mortar?

    Kay Allison: We intend to be at the early stages of consumer trends that will transform the food industry. We know more consumers are buying food online and believe this will fundamentally reshape the food category. We want to be part of driving that transformation.

    E-commerce allows us to intimately know how our marketing is working and to adjust our strategy quickly to impact sales. By launching online, we are already seeing which ads, audiences and offers convert profitably. We're learning which consumers repeat and what the lifetime value of that customer is. Retail distribution doesn’t provide this level of knowledge. And, we believe, this knowledge is powerful and will be key to our success.

    E-commerce is simpler for a startup to handle. We aren't managing sales people, brokers and distributors. We ship directly to our customer or to Amazon and focus our advertising dollars online as well. We also believe that cash flows more quickly on e-commerce. The sales from our own website get deposited every day. Compare that to 60-day payment terms from retailers. For a startup company, this is a huge advantage.

    Could you describe the importance of designing packaging in the new digital retail landscape?

    KA: We believe consumers gravitate toward products that look, smell and taste great. And it's hard to get those sensory cues from a screen. It's critical that the look of the package makes people's mouths water. One great advantage of selling online is the white space background on the screen. Your pack isn't right next to another product's colors and images on shelf, so it can pop.

    Farm & Oven’s four flavors each have a color associated with them. For example, the Beet Dark Chocolate SKU features a bright pink color. In what ways does color play a role in package design or web? How did you decide on these specific colors?

    KA: Our primary visuals are consistent from package to package. Our first priority is the sensory appeal of our product—the look, the texture, the broken off crumbs from one of the pieces. Each package has large photos that show chocolate chips, poppy seeds, shoestring carrot shreds or pieces of pecan to create that sensory appeal.

    Our point of difference is that one serving of Farm & Oven Bakery Bites gives you 40 percent of the recommended daily vegetable intake. Communicating that—in an effective but not dominant way—is our second priority.

    The color banners on our packages are coordinated with the color of the vegetable featured in that flavor. The pink and purple tone is associated with the Beet Dark Chocolate, the green with the Zucchini Lemon Poppy Seed, bright orange with Carrot Cinnamon and the deep orange for Pumpkin Maple Pecan. Also, if you look closely at the color bands on the packaging, you will see subtle line drawings of the main vegetable from each flavor.

    How did you test the package’s effectiveness for e-commerce? What kinds of market validation did you conduct to arrive at the final product?

    KA: Mike and I have 50 years of combined experience in the food industry, as successful innovators of big food brands. And although we’ve brought our expertise to table, we’ve relied on input from the consumer every step of the way. Consumer insight and innovation are the interwoven DNA of our company, and we intend to keep it that way as we grow.

    Before we even started developing recipes, we conducted a concept test with a national sample of 750 respondents. Next, we ran a Kickstarter fundraising campaign using digital marketing that generated over $11,000 from 240 backers. As we developed our recipes, we assembled an ad hoc sensory panel of students from the University of Colorado-Boulder as taste-testers. Our designer then developed concepts to show us how our packaging would stand out in a retail shelf set of competitive products and how it would look on screen compared to competitors' digital presence. Finally, we relied on our professional network of colleagues and our own experience to make final decisions.

    What advice do you have for food entrepreneurs who are interested in catering their product’s package design for e-commerce?

    Spend the time, money and energy to get expert, sophisticated design. Be exceptionally clear with your design firm about your communication priorities (no more than three elements, in clear order of priority). And, focus on making your product look enticing to your target audience.

    Want to learn more about navigating the changes in retail? Don’t miss our Disrupted Retail Summit on March 8, 2018, available to all Super Pass badge holders.

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    Confidence in the supply chain is easy to understand, but difficult to achieve; what does it look like to you?

    When we talk about confidence in the supply chain, it may come down to having reasonable certainty in the integrity of ingredients and that the dosage and purity specifications promised are delivered. But simple definitions don’t always fit with complex situations. There’s more to it than the integrity/purity questions. With that in mind, as Nutrition Business Journal published our 2017 Confidence Issue, we asked a dozen industry figures what confidence in the supply chain means to them. This is what they told us.

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    New formulating opportunities with probiotics [mini guide]

    Just 10 or 15 years ago, the average American knew very little, if anything, about probiotics. Now more than 70 percent of consumers are familiar with these beneficial bacteria.

    Even if they don’t fully understand how probiotics work—that these “good” bugs crowd out pathogenic microbes in the gut and produce enzymes and other beneficial compounds—most know that they somehow help with digestion and immunity, maybe even memory and mood.

    Market data reflect this sea change. According to Nutrition Business Journal, sales of probiotic supplements hit $1.6 billion in the U.S. in 2015, making the largest sector—22 percent—of the specialty supplements market. 

    Download this mini guide to learn about new formulating opportunities with probiotics.

    Download now!

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    Dec 07, 2017

    Sales of probiotic supplements hit $1.6 billion in the U.S. in 2015, making the largest sector—22 percent—of the specialty supplements market.

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    A new meta-analysis published this week that cast aspersions on calcium supplements has re-opened the debate over the value of calcium for bone health, particularly for postmenopausal women concerned about osteoporosis. Whether the published report is to be believed or not, it certainly begs formulators to build better bone-health supplements. Here's the story. 

    A new study published this week that cast aspersions on calcium supplements has re-opened the debate over the value of calcium for bone health, particularly for postmenopausal women concerned about osteoporosis.

    The study brings up issues of food vs. supplement sources, over what a proper bone-health supplement should look like, over bias in scientific studies, and over the best way to attain optimal health as women age.

    The study in question  was a re-analysis of data from the Women’s Health Initiative, a study of 36,282 postmenopausal American women. In this particular arm, women were given either 1,000mg/day calcium carbonate and 400 IU vitamin D/day or placebo for 7 years.

    Those study results, published in 2009, found 744 women died who supplemented, compared to 807 women who died in the placebo group. The researchers concluded there was a non-significant trend of reduced risk of death from stroke or cancer, with no difference in other causes of death, including coronary heart disease.

    The study published this week in the British Journal of Medicine took another look at the WHI data.

    Researchers found that women who were taking calcium already at the start of the study were just fine. But women who were not taking calcium supplements at the start of the study (the age range of participants was 51 to 82 years old) suffered a few more deaths.

    By itself, there was nothing much to conclude. So the researchers gathered 15 other studies, involving about 29,000 additional women, and came up with a headline: 25 to 30 percent increased risk of heart attacks and 15 to 20 percent increased risk of stroke.

    Before you get out of the calcium supplements business, it’s important to note that that 25-30 percent increase, according to the researchers, meant that for every 1,000 patients, taking calcium or calcium with vitamin D “would cause an additional six myocardial infarctions (heart attacks) or strokes and prevent only three fractures.”

    The three additional fractures prevented were called a non-issue, while the six additional heart attacks were called significant.

    Calcium is good for bones

    So what’s the real story with calcium? It’s the No. 2 supplement, behind vitamin C, with about 43 percent of Americans saying they take it. Everyone knows that calcium is good for bones. From an intuitive standpoint, bones are white and so is calcium. From a metabolic perspective, bones store minerals, most notably calcium as well as phosphorus. In fact, 99 percent of the calcium in the body is found in bones, and calcium by itself makes up about three pounds of weight in an average person.

    That calcium is good for bones is not in dispute, and that’s why so many postmenopausal women take calcium supplements – because they are concerned with osteoporosis, with breaking bones. If you are elderly and fall and break your hip, you are not likely to live to see your next birthday.

    On the other hand, the other great fear of the postmenopausal set is heart attacks – once menopause hits, women catch right up with men in cardiovascular disease and heart attack incidence. Two forms of cardiovascular disease in particular are atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, and the sudden-death heart attack. The thing that hardens arteries is calcium. And sudden-death heart attacks occur because an arterial plaque deposit breaks off and blocks off blood flow. While American doctors routinely counsel patients that cholesterol is the culprit to watch, the fact remains that plaque is comprised, by and large, by (you guessed it) calcium.

    Some studies show that calcifications of arteries are associated with an increased risk of heart attacks, and of associations between calcium intake and cardiovascular calcifications and osteoporosis.

    Other studies show that low calcium intake equates with higher blood pressure – not good for heart health.

    So, have we all been fed a line? Is calcium, at least by itself, not the answer for postmenopausal cardio health? That is to say, is this week's study results valid?

    Should women stop taking calcium?

    It’s important to remember the first two rules of scientific research. One is that a single study does not a conclusion make. Two is that meta-analyses – studies that pool data from a number of studies to try to form a grand conclusion – are always liable to be biased.

    “Meta-analyses like the one in BMJ are a good example of how confirmation bias can influence an author’s assumptions – you find what you are looking for,” said Robert Rountree, MD, a physician in Boulder, CO. "As was the case, not one of the trials included was designed to look for an effect of calcium supplements on cardiovascular disease or heart attacks, so that automatically raises a question about the accuracy of the data."

    The same researchers in this study have tilted at the calcium/cardiovascular link before. It started with a study also published in the British Medical Journal finding that 1,000mg/day calcium led to increased trends in cardiovascular events.

    "The problem here is that only one group of researchers has been involved in all three of the negative studies of calcium supplementation," noted Rountree. "At this point, no other researchers have replicated these findings.  But that doesn’t stop the researchers from basically telling the press that calcium supplements are dangerous." 

    Indeed, in an editorial that appeared in the same issue of BMJ in which the 2010 meta-analysis appeared,  Dr. John Cleland strongly challenged the conclusion drawn by the author of the first study. He asked, "Why should calcium supplements increase cardiovascular risk? Calcium supplements may improve some conventional cardiovascular risk factors including blood pressure and lipids. Accumulation of calcium in the arterial wall leading to reduced compliance would be expected to take years, but the increased risk of myocardial infarction reported by Bolland and colleagues occurred early after calcium supplementation (median follow-up of 3.6 years). An alternative possibility is that the increased risk of myocardial infarction is not a true effect."

    Other unassailable calcium notes: The best determinant of whether or not you’ll suffer from osteoporosis is your bone calcium content when you’re a growing adolescent. All the calcium in the world after age 50 just won’t make up for a puberty sans milk and ice cream and grilled-cheese sandwiches. A study that began in the 1930s and published in 2009 concluded that children whose family diet in the 1930s was high in calcium were at reduced risk of death from stroke, and they lived longer overall.

    If it’s too late for that, calcium from dietary sources seems to be better for you than supplemental calcium. Besides dairy foods, other excellent food sources of calcium include leafy greens, especially broccoli, spinach and kale. Beans, peas and tofu also rate, as do salmon and sardines (also good sources of omega-3s).


    Formulate better bone health supplements

    The reason foods are better than supplements likely has to do with the bone matrix as well as the food matrix. Bones are more than calcium deep. Bones are actually living tissues that grow and degrade and reform. Keeping calcium in bones certainly helps, but calcium is hardly the only nutrient at play here.

    This is an opportunity to formulate bone-health supplements with more than merely elemental calcium carbonate.

    • Magnesium has long been a staple of calcium formulations, generally at a 1:2 ratio. It interrupts calcium crystals to produce flexible rather than brittle bone.
    • Phosphorus, by volume the second-most prevalent element in bones, would also be a good idea.
    • Vitamin D helps bones absorb calcium.
    • Vitamin K2 uniquely does double-duty in both helping keep calcium in bones while also removing calcium from arteries.  It has been shown to increase bone strength in animals given a low calcium diet after only three weeks.
    • Boron is another nutrient of note.

    Focusing on a single nutrient is likely too reductionist in thinking. Supplement makers who develop bone-health pills would do well to formulate products that more closely approximate the calcium matrix found in foods – and in bones. And then this entire calcium conundrum will be entirely academic.


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    Functional Ingredients managing editor Hank Schultz traveled to Bloomingdale, Ill., to get an inside look at the manufacturing facilities of supplements giant NOW Foods. Here, Schultz talks with company representatives Aaron Secrist and Beth Pecenka about how NOW Foods maintains its vast product line while keeping prices low.

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    Company introduces Exfoliating Cleanser, Facial Cream, Body Lotion and Hydrating Serum for healthier, more radiant skin.

    SeabuckWonders, a trusted expert and source of sea buckthorn products with the highest natural concentration of omega-7 for nearly 20 years, enthusiastically unveils its revitalizing new line of sea buckthorn-infused personal care products. These organic, nutricosmetic products will be showcased at the Natural Products EXPO West Show in Anaheim, Calif., from March 8 to 10, in booth #1764/1766.

    SeabuckWonders‘ new personal care line is the perfect complement to the company’s existing line of sea buckthorn supplements and oils and provides a comprehensive way for consumers to fully integrate sea buckthorn into their daily routines. High in omega-3, -6, -7 and -9, the sea buckthorn berry offers healing power from the inside out. This “miracle berry” has innumerable topical benefits for skin, hair and nails, as well as internal health-boosting benefits.

    Differing itself from other sea buckthorn companies in the marketplace today, SeabuckWonders believes quality and quantity are both important to maximizing the benefits of their products. Because sea buckthorn is expensive, many manufacturers minimize costs by producing skincare products with little to no sea buckthorn. SeabuckWonders, however, provides a visibly higher concentration of sea buckthorn in their entire line of personal care products; the higher dose results in a noticeably bright, yellow-orange glow—a mirror reflection of the sea buckthorn berry’s natural vibrant color. This intense concentration of sea buckthorn makes SeabuckWonders the superior product line for skin healing and beauty enhancement.

    And because SeabuckWonders is involved in every step of developing their products—from growing the sea buckthorn plants in the Himalayas, to harvesting and extracting the seed and berry oils that are the foundation of these products, to mixing and testing the final formulas—consumers can be assured they are receiving truly natural products with a high concentration of sea buckthorn, which maximizes the benefits and desired results.

    Stop by the SeabuckWonders booth and sample these new products.

    SeabuckWonders Exfoliating Facial Cleanser – Ideal for all skin types, this invigorating cleanser leaves skin feeling clean, balanced, and beautiful and is an excellent first step in any skincare routine.

    SeabuckWonders Facial Cream – This hydrating yet lightweight formula absorbs quickly and nurtures the skin for a soft, smooth complexion while minimizing fine lines and protecting the skin from the damaging effects of the sun and environmental pollutants.

    SeabuckWonders Deep Hydrating Serum – Nourishing and supporting cell regeneration to minimize fine lines and help maintain a youthful, healthy glow, the serum is ideal for all skin types and will not leave skin oily or irritated.

    SeabuckWonders Body Lotion – With a potent infusion of omega-3, -6, -9 and the powerful skin-healing omega-7, this lotion provides nourishment with age-defying properties for soft, healthy skin.

    All products from SeabuckWonders are made with 100 percent pure, certified USDA organic sea buckthorn oils from the pristine Himalayan mountain region. As a result, these sea buckthorn products contain the highest listed omega-7 content currently available, a minimum of 30 to 35 percent. This significant level of omega-7 provides impressive skin balance and maximum beauty-intensifying properties without staining.

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    Trust in the U.S. regulatory framework designed to safeguard food, beverage and supplement ingredient safety affords consumers the ability to shop with a healthy assumption of product quality. Our Quality, Testing & Validation content program aims to acknowledge the progress that's been made in assuring ingredient and product quality, but also to unearth transparently the pitfalls and challenges that the industry faces. View the webinar on-demand! - Quality Testing: Opportunities & Pitfalls

    On-Demand Webinar - Quality Testing: Opportunities & Pitfalls

    Trust in the U.S. regulatory framework designed to safeguard food, beverage and supplement ingredient safety affords consumers the ability to shop with a healthy assumption of product quality. Behind the scenes, oversight is upheld by ingredient suppliers, regulatory agencies and manufacturers who observe the tenets of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) to ensure the quality and validity of their products atmultiple touch points along the supply chain. Affirming quality and validating ingredient efficacy and purity is no easy task but it is necessary to preserve product safety and efficacy. Because when the unthinkable happens, the specter of doubt targets the commitment of the industry as a whole.

    The industry has come a long way in recent years but that’s not to say all of the bugs have been eliminated from these processes. One of the lingering issues is that not everyone observes (or upholds) the same definitions of quality, testing and validation.

    We agree with what we hear from quality testing professionals that a comprehensive process validation of the quality system would ensure that all individual components adhere to the quality function as designed.

    Unfortunately a comprehensive standardized system does not exist for ingredient QA protocols. In our Quality, Testing & Validation content program we aim to acknowledge the progress that's been made related to cGMPs, but also to unearth transparently the pitfalls and challenges that the industry faces.

    We hope you fins the content provocative and invite your comments.

    Essential resources on quality & testing for ingredients:

    View the on-demand webinar!

    Our webinar will vet requirements for testing and validation on the ingredient side, view progress on quality assurance and unearth the pitfalls.  We will also dive more specifically into testing and outline a basic roadmap for best practice-right methodology for right ingredients.  Register today!

    FREE Digital Guide

    In our FREE DIGITAL GUIDE, we dig into the progress that's been made toward improved quality practice for ingredients, and the pitfalls that still present challenges. 



    • Introduction
    • Expectations and Realities
    • Validating Ingredients
    • Tackling Adulteration
    • The Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) Connection
    • Keeping Supplements Safe
    • Branded Ingredients
    • What the Future Holds for “Quality”
    • Directory Listings

    This INFOGRAPHIC provides an excellent at-a-glance tool to share with your networks and educate customers. Use it online and print it for your breakroom!


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    Consumers are looking beyond products that are healthful and taste great; they want products that support their values. Sustainability means many things down the supply chain—from how ingredients are grown or produced, to the way workers are treated and paid. Brands want sustainability claims on their labels to help consumers know that their products match their values, but how can retailers, and ultimately consumers, know with certainty that sustainability claims are meeting the practice commitments?

    This webinar will examine some of the certification programs in the market that are doing the work behind the scenes to validate sustainability claims. We’ll help product developers and retailers know the right questions to ask to support their purchasing decisions.



    Moderator: Fran Schoenwetter, Managing Director Content, Engredea 


    Liz Fernandes, Program Associate, Measure What Matters - at B Lab, the certifying body of B Corporations


    Jasmine Jones, Standards Analyst - at B Lab, the certifying body of B Corporations


     Register Below to View: 

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    What brands and retailers need to know.

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    Unlocking the secrets of Ayurveda [infographic]

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    The benefits of traditional Ayurvedic herbs are being unlocked by science and the market is noticing.

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    This founder says it all comes down to speaking their language.

    Katlin Smith, founder and CEO of Simple Mills, tells us what lessons she's learned about successfully pitching to investors. Smith secured $3 million from private investors in 2016 for her line of baking mixes and snacks.

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    The snack bar brand's new, heartwarming campaign transcends politics.

    ‘Tis the season for sweet treats, heartfelt toasts, gifting that perfect find to your loved ones and practicing radical kindness. Kind Snacks recently embraced the holiday mentality with this beautiful, inspiring video shot by legendary filmmaker Emmanuel Lubezki (who happened to film both Birdman and The Revenant, too).

    Titled “More Than Nice,” the video is a central part of Kind’s new campaign, designed to distinguish between being nice and being kind. “We’ve all been overwhelmed by the historic rifts tearing our country apart. The empathy and respect that are part of America’s DNA and part of what make our country so exceptional cannot be taken for granted,” said Kind founder and CEO Daniel Lubetzky of the new campaign. “For years, Kind has explored how difficult it is to step out of one’s comfort zone and practice kindness—especially toward someone with whom you disagree. Now, more than ever, that extra effort is required to rediscover our shared humanity and tackle challenges related to misunderstanding and intolerance.”

    As an example, “More Than Nice” chronicles an outstanding organization based in southern Arizona called No More Deaths, whose mission is to provide lifesaving supplies such as water, food, blankets and socks to immigrants traveling into the United States via the Mexico-U.S. borderlands. While No More Deaths operates in a politically charged space, the reality is that people place themselves at risk of dehydration and hypothermia while walking 30 to 80 miles through the desert. In the film, volunteers express how placing jugs of water in the desert—which they often emblazon with loving messages—transcends politics and speaks instead to true human connection. The message: Be brave, be kind!


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    The natural products industry is leading the way not just in food and beverage trends but in CPG packaging, too.

    In its new Packaging Trends 2018 report, market research firm Mintel highlights five ways that CPG packaging is evolving in the global market. Interestingly, all five of the trends it notes have already begun to materialize in the natural products market in recent years.

    Here's a look at what Mintel sees happening in the world of packaging, and how we see it playing out in natural products. 

    Addressing waste. Packaging isn’t just a throw-away—smart companies see packaging as an opportunity to innovate to reduce their overall waste and to help consumers waste less, too. In the natural products industry, OSC2 is spearheading collaboration on the development of functional and sustainable flexible packaging. Other companies are working on methods to extend the freshness or shelf life of foods, such as Apeel Sciences, which created an edible spray intended to prolong produce’s shelf life.
    Example: Snack companies Boss Food Co. and Sheffa Foods were some of the first brands to use a new compostable plastic pouch packaging developed by TIPA.

    Designing for online. As online grocery sales continue to inch up, brands are taking a new look at their approach to packaging with e-commerce in mind. Products look different online than they do on a store shelf, and it’s a different experience for customers to interact with a product for the first time by taking it out of a box, rather than picking it up in a store. Mintel also notes the opportunity for brands to develop packaging that transports better and addresses sustainability issues related to shipping.
    Example: New snack brand Farm & Oven took an online first approach to its product and packaging.

    Clean label clarity. There’s a delicate balance in giving consumers just enough of the information they truly want to know in order to make an informed decision without overloading them with claims and messages. For brands, simplifying and highlighting certain certifications that are most important on-package can bring clarity to consumers in a crowded retail environment.
    Example: New e-commerce site Brandless takes a straightforward approach, offering better-for-you products in the simplest of packaging for $3 each.

    Saving the seas. Our oceans are polluted with plastic, and brands are on the firing line. Many CPG companies have developed initiatives to use recovered ocean plastic in their packaging.
    Example: Rainbow Light teamed up with 5 Gyres to convert all of its supplement packaging to recycled plastic containers, which also reduced its carbon footprint.

    Center store refresh. Just as retailers are refreshing their formats for today’s fresh- and convenience-seeking consumers, brands can use new packaging formats to bring excitement to uninspired aisles or categories, too. Mintel notes the use of transparent materials, contemporary designs and unique shapes.
    Example: Pasta Bow Ties teamed up with Tipsy Elves to create some holiday-inspired packaging aimed at millennials.

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    Lawyer Justin Prochnow outlines regulatory issues and considerations for claims and whether to label a product as a food, beverage or supplement. Here’s what you need to know as you formulate your product and plan your packaging.

    "The No. 1 thing the FDA is going to look at is the product name and how you are talking about the product on the label."
    —Justin Prochnow, lawyer

    Part 1: The process of analysis for marketing and selling new product


    • How do you determine if a product is a food/beverage or supplement?
    • What is the difference between nutrition facts versus supplement facts? 
    • The factors to review when deciding. 


    Part 2: Food ingredient regulation


    • Typically, companies label products as food rather than supplements.  
    • How do you define food ingredients versus approved food additives?  
    • What is GRAS?


    Part 3: Supplement ingredient regulation


    • Dietary ingredients differ from dietary supplements.

    • The scope of permissible dietary ingredients is larger than those that have been approved as food additives or GRAS.


    Part 4: Ingredient differences 


    • Caffeine is an example of an ingredient with labeling issues.
    • The major differences between supplement facts and nutrition facts.
    • "You don't register as a dietary supplement. There's no registration of supplements or foods and beverages. What you put out on the market and your labeling is basically your statement of what you are."


    Part 5: Food/beverages vs. supplements 


    • Key factors to consider, other than regulations of ingredients, are manufacturing, labeling and claims. 
    • The FDA regulations covering structure-function claims are less regulated for foods than supplements.
    • Companies are selling products as supplements because of the difference in treatment of ingredients.


    Part 6: Liquid product regulation 


    • The growth of "energy drinks," labeled as both beverage and supplement, spurred FDA's concern for how products are sold.  
    • The product name is perhaps the most important factor to FDA. 
    • The labeling and advertising of how a product will be used is highly scrutinized.  


    Part 7: Risk assessment 


    • Some examples of FDA case files.
    • Tips for success: long-term intentions and target customers.
    • The threat of litigation does not mean a requirement to pay. 


    Part 8: Q&A 


    • If you settle a class-action lawsuit, is there a public record and is that an admission of guilt? 
    • What is the Jelly-Bean Rule?
    • What is the FDA's standard of substantiation? 

    This session—Supplement or food? Products labeling opportunities & limitations—was recorded at Natural Products Expo East 2017. Click "download" to access the presentation slides.