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Educating and Informing the Natural Products Industry
Updated: 11 min 14 sec ago

Palko Services Brings In New CEO

October 19, 2020 - 9:18am
Tom Grillea, CEO of Palko Services.

Michigan City, IN—Tom Grillea is joining Palko Services as the distributor’s new CEO, according to a press release from the company. He will begin on November 2.

Grillea brings over 25 years of experience from other distributors, as well as retail experience from his time at Vitamin Shoppe.

Grillea said in the press release: “For years, I’ve been an admirer of the Palko family business, and I’m beyond excited to finally join this wonderful organization. They have built a tremendous industry reputation that has always displayed strong relationships with vendors and customers that is based on integrity. Together, we will increase our portfolio of brands bringing in new and exciting business to grow brick & mortar retail, natural product chain stores and ethical e-commerce. My objective is to create growth for our brands, our customers, and for the Palko organization as a whole. I’m eager to show the industry what Palko can do and take us to new heights.”

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Steve Palko, President, added: “We are excited to bring in Tom Grillea to contribute to the success of our family business. We pride ourselves on who we are and believe Tom fits in perfectly with our core values. Our quest is to become the best independent distributor through excellent service and strong personal relationships with our stores and our brands. We are certain Tom can help us achieve this goal and look forward to the many positive changes he will accomplish as our new CEO.”

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NPA Big Natural Virtual Event Planned

October 19, 2020 - 7:40am

Washington, D.C.—The Natural Products Association (NPA) announced that its annual conference, The Big Natural, will take place virtually on November 30-December 1. The event will offer industry-driven educational sessions, workshop programming, case studies, interactive discussions, and networking, and will give attendees access to experts in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis and the election year.

“This is an event that no one in the industry can afford to miss,” said NPA President and CEO Daniel Fabricant, Ph.D., in a press release.  “While we may be doing things a little differently this year, we are moving full speed ahead and addressing the issues that are most impacting our industry. We are tailoring the program this year to make sure that attendees are still engaged and have the same access to the world’s leading experts in the natural products industry. This is also an excellent opportunity for the industry to make a direct investment back into the industry, with 100 percent of profit going directly to education and advocacy initiatives.”

Event highlights:

  • A keynote address with Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighter Daniel Cormier discussing his life in the ring and what he’s doing to stay healthy in retirement.
  • Industry-specific educational sessions such as probiotic regulatory hurdles with Amy Smith from DuPont Nutrition.
  • In-depth discussions of real-world challenges, issues, and practical lessons with executive-level speakers such as Rich Cleland of FTC.
  • Focus on business innovation, finance, investment, and global market opportunities relevant to the natural products space with David Thibodeau from Dunn Rush & Company.
  • Breakout sessions that will explore discrete issues faced by business unit and department heads spanning regulatory, compliance, legal, marketing and business functions.
Related: Sneak Preview! Driving Opportunities in the Microbiome Space Virtual Event
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The two-day event is open to both NPA Members and Non-Members, and will be attended by diverse cross-section of senior executives spanning the C-suite as well as department leadership within the Retail, CPG, Natural, Health Foods, Supplements and Investment sectors with budget and/or human capital responsibility.

Additional speakers and more information about the conference will be announced over the next several weeks.

RELATED: Education opportunity For a deep dive into the microbiome market, join WholeFoods Magazine and Trust Transparency Center on October 20-21, 2020 for a free virtual event: Driving Opportunities in the Microbiome Space. This #NaturallyInformed event will provide expert insights on the latest science and technologies driving development, merchandising, and communication strategies, and the inside scoop on what will drive new opportunities in the market. Registration is open now at https://naturallyinformed.net/driving-opportunities-in-the-microbiome-space/.

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SFA Swaps Winter Fancy Food Show for Virtual “Specialty Food Live”

October 15, 2020 - 1:36pm

New York, NY—The Specialty Food Association has canceled its 46th annual Winter Fancy Food Show scheduled for January 17-19, 2021 at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco. Instead, SFA will go virtual with “Specialty Food Live!” on January 19-22, 2021.

“We’re excited about our new series of virtual events. We received great feedback from the September launch, including a request from buyers and makers during the event that we extend it by one day, which we happily did,” said Bill Lynch, Interim President, Specialty Food Association in a press release.

Related: SFA Cancels Summer Fancy Food Show, Looks to Support Members
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The January virtual show will be an all-inclusive digital marketplace event, featuring networking programs, education and a virtual product tasting experience.

“With over 11,000 buyer/maker connections and buyer demand to extend the event by one more day, we are confident that we can continue to build on that success and deliver more opportunities for our members to grow their business in January,” added Lynch.

For more information about the January event, click here.

RELATED: Education opportunity For a deep dive into the microbiome market, join WholeFoods Magazine and Trust Transparency Center on October 20-21, 2020 for a free virtual event: Driving Opportunities in the Microbiome Space. This #NaturallyInformed event will provide expert insights on the latest science and technologies driving development, merchandising, and communication strategies, and the inside scoop on what will drive new opportunities in the market. Registration is open now at https://naturallyinformed.net/driving-opportunities-in-the-microbiome-space/.

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GNC Receives Approval for Bankruptcy Plan

October 15, 2020 - 8:30am

GNC Holdings Inc. has received approval for a bankruptcy reorganization plan centered around a $770 million sale to Harbin Pharmaceutical Group Holding Co., its largest shareholder, according to Bloomberg Law. The sale raised security concerns when the plan was put into motion in September.

The plan will keep open at least 1,400 GNC stores and save thousands of jobs.

The plan was approved by Judge Karen B Owens of the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, Bloomberg Law reports. It follows a global settlement between GNC, the creditors committee, Harbin, and other creditors. It will pay unsecured creditors from a pool of $4.5 million in cash, plus another $20 million in convertible and non-convertible notes payable in up to eight years.

Related: GNC Reports 1st Quarter Results, Net Losses
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Update: Impact of Coronavirus on Supplement Industry

Unsecured creditors can choose to be treated in a “convenience class,” created for holders of claims up to $50,000. Those creditors—or those with larger claims that choose to limit those claims to $50,000—should recover about 7% of their claims, as stated by attorney Richard Levy of Latham & Watkins LLP in a hearing on Wednesday. Other unsecured creditors will likely receive a smaller percentage of their claims.

Some of the future payments to unsecured creditors will come from notes issued by Harbin.

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SupplySide East 2021 Rescheduled

October 6, 2020 - 11:06am

Phoenix, AZ—SupplySide East 2021, originally scheduled for April 2021, has been rescheduled as a result of COVID-19. Informa Markets announced that the event will take place June 22-23, 2021, at the Meadowlands Expo Center in Secaucus, NJ.

“While we’re optimistic for the recovery of our country in the wake of the pandemic, we believe the best decision for our industry is to reschedule SupplySide East 2021 to June allowing further time for increased health and safety,” said Jon Benninger, Vice President and Market Leader for SupplySide, in a press release. “Our focus will continue to be the health and safety of our community and supporting the many businesses and people who make up this great industry.”

Benninger added, “New Jersey and the Meadowlands Expo Center have been wonderful partners and hosts for SupplySide East dating to 2000, and this event and location is part of the success story of many companies in our industry. We look forward to again connecting with such amazing health and nutrition professionals in-person.”

Information on the evolving health and safety measures for the event will be available here. Informa also announced that SupplySide Network 365, described as a hub for health and nutrition professionals to discover, connect, meet, learn and source, will help users connect with other members of the SupplySide community. More information is available here.

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CRN Announces Keynote Speakers for October Conference RELATED: Education opportunity For a deep dive into the microbiome market, join WholeFoods Magazine and Trust Transparency Center on October 20-21, 2020 for a virtual event: Driving Opportunities in the Microbiome Space. This #NaturallyInformed event will provide expert insights on the latest science and technologies driving development, merchandising, and communication strategies, and the inside scoop on what will drive new opportunities in the market. Registration is open now at https://naturallyinformed.net/driving-opportunities-in-the-microbiome-space/.

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Belcampo Loses 8,000 Acres of Farmland to California’s Zogg Fire

October 1, 2020 - 8:20pm

Oakland, CA—Belcampo has reported that approximately 8,000 acres of land on its farm at the base of Mount Shasta have burned in the Zogg Fire. No employees, animals or structures have been harmed or lost and the supply chain is not expected to be affected, according to a company press release. Still burning in Shasta and Tehama Counties in California, the fire has destroyed 40,000 acres of land so far.

“We’re devastated by the losses experienced by our communities, friends, and neighbors due to the ongoing wildfires, and are so fortunate that our team members, animals and farm buildings were unharmed,” said Anya Fernald, Co-founder of Belcampo, in the release. “We feel fortunate that our supply chain will be able to support our business’ planned growth despite this setback, and our hearts go out to all in our area who have also been impacted. The destruction these massive wildfires have caused to the land and infrastructure is real—in our case it will take at least two years for the land to regenerate so our herds can graze there again.”

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The burned pastures represent nearly a quarter of company’s 25,000 total acres of organic and regenerative farmland. The company is currently seeking land to lease as mother cows were scheduled to begin grazing on the now lost winter pastures in November, the press release says.

“Unfortunately we’ve had to recognize the harsh reality that wildfires are now a part of our lives in rural California,” said James Rickert, Farm and Procurement Director of Belcampo, in the press release, “All we can do is lean aggressively into our recovery and continue our fight to be a part of a larger solution for the future.”

 For more information about Belcampo, visit www.belcampo.com.

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Expo West 2021 Rescheduled

September 29, 2020 - 12:46pm

Anaheim, CA—New Hope Network announced that Natural Products Expo West 2021, which had been scheduled for March, is being rescheduled to May 24-27, 2021, due to the uncertainty that continues to be caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the announcement, Group Show Director Lacey Gautier explains, “We hope the additional 12 weeks will result in more of the progress and recovery needed to return to travel and gatherings with the necessary security and safety assurances in place.”

Notable changes, as outlined in the announcement:

  • The event will have a new day pattern of Monday through Thursday, ending before Memorial Day weekend.
  • Events and education will be held Monday through Thursday.
  • Exhibits will take open Tuesday through Thursday.
  • There will be no Super Pass Upgrade. “We have decided to discontinue the Super Pass upgrade for the entirety of 2021,” Gautier shared. “All education sessions will now be included in an Exhibit Hall badge.”
  • Virtual options will be offered for most of education sessions due to decreased room capacities and as a convenience for those who are unable to travel or attend the rescheduled show.
  • Some larger networking events will be altered or cancelled to maintain health and safety measures.

“We are committed to providing timely and transparent communication as we navigate this next phase together,” Gautier said. An outline of current health and safety policies for Expo West 2021 can be found here, and Gautier noted in the announcement that these efforts will continue to evolve as show organizers collaborate with health authorities. More information regarding how the show will transform will be provided in the upcoming months, and exhibitors will be contacted via email regarding next steps and options. Answers to FAQs regarding transferring exhibit space fees, marketing or sponsorship opportunities, and more can be found here.

Related: SOHO Expo 2020 to Take Place In-Person
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#NaturallyInformed Virtual Event: Advice for Retailers

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Rodale: Shift to Regen Ag Could Sequester 100% of Annual Carbon Emissions

September 28, 2020 - 3:19pm

Kutztown, PA—A global switch to regenerative crop and pasture systems could drawdown more than 100% of annual CO2 emissions, and regenerative can feed the world while stabilizing the climate, regenerating ecosystems, restoring biodiversity, and enhancing rural communities. Those are the major takeaways from a new white paper released by Rodale Institute, which analyzed the data on soil carbon sequestration potential from the past decade.

The white paper, titled “Regenerative Agriculture and the Soil Carbon Solution,” makes the case for regenerative agriculture as a tool to combat the climate crisis. The paper builds on claims made by Rodale Institute in the 2014 white paper “Regenerative Organic Agriculture and Climate Change: A Down-to-Earth Solution to Global Warming.” The latest paper integrates the most recent research data while providing actionable steps for consumers, policymakers, farmers, and more, according to a press release.

Key findings, as outlined in the release:
  • The combined shift of both crop and pasture management globally to regenerative systems could drawdown more than 100% of annual CO2 emissions, pulling carbon from the atmosphere and storing it in the soil.
  • With appropriate grazing management, livestock can increase carbon sequestered in the soil that more than offsets their greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Crop yields in regenerative systems outcompete conventional yields for almost all food crops, which the institute says proves that regenerative can feed the world while stabilizing the climate, regenerating ecosystems, restoring biodiversity, and enhancing rural communities.
  • Eaters, farmers, and policymakers can help fight the climate crisis by:
    • Supporting and implementing regenerative practices
    • Encouraging adoption of regenerative systems by peers and governments
    • Divesting from systems that destroy soil health

“Humans broke the planet with grave agricultural malpractice,” said Tom Newmark, Chairman of The Carbon Underground, a contributor to the paper, in the release. “With this white paper, Rodale Institute shows us how regenerative agriculture has the potential to repair that damage and actually reverse some of the threatening impacts of our climate crisis. This is a compelling call to action!”

Related: Regenerative Agriculture in the Age of COVID-19 & Beyond
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Available for download at RodaleInstitute.org/Climate2020: The full paper; a fact sheet, social media graphics; and an action toolkit that includes a guide to buying regenerative products, tools to support regenerative farming policy. Rodale Institute’s hope: to invite those in the food, farming, and health spaces to rethink the future they want to see for both people and the planet, and what steps can be taken to achieve it.

For More on Regenerative Agriculture

Watch Newmark’s keynote presentation, as well as a panel discussion featuring Rodale Institute’s Diana Martin, at Driving Value Through Sustainability Across the Supply Chain, available on demand.

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Increased Omega-3 Intake Linked to Cardioprotection

September 21, 2020 - 8:21am

Rochester, MN—Research study commissioned Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s (GOED) and published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, provides “the most comprehensive analysis of the role of omega-3 dosage on cardiovascular prevention to date.” That’s according to a press release from Elsevier, which publishes the peer-reviewed medical journal. The meta-analysis, which is an in-depth review of 40 clinical trials, concludes that intake of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) omega-3 fats is associated with reduced risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) events and reduced risk of myocardial infarction (heart attack), including fatal heart attack. As the release notes, CHD is the cause of 7.4 million deaths globally each year.

As outlined in the release, EPA+DHA supplementation is associated with:

  • 35% reduced risk of fatal myocardial infarction
  • 13% reduced risk of myocardial infarction
  • 10% reduced risk of CHD events
  • 9% reduced risk of CHD mortality

“The study supports the notion that EPA and DHA intake contributes to cardioprotection, and that whatever patients are getting through the diet, they likely need more,” said study co-author Carl “Chip” Lavie, M.D., a cardiologist at Ochsner Health in New Orleans, LA.

Adding an extra 1,000 mg of EPA and DHA per day decreased the risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attack even more, according to the release, with risk of cardiovascular disease events decreasing by 5.8% and risk for heart attack decreasing 9.0%. Researchers looked at the effect of dosages of up to 5,500 mg/day.

The release notes that this research corroborates the results of an earlier meta-analysis from Harvard School of Public Health. The total population analyzed in that research included more than 120,000 adults; this new paper represents the totality of the evidence to date and includes more than 135,000 study participants.

“When separate analyses arrive at similar results, that’s not only validating; it also underscores the science base needed to inform future intake recommendations,” said co-author Aldo Bernasconi, Ph.D., Vice President of Data Science for the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s (GOED), in the release. “Because this paper included more studies and all dosages, the estimates for a dose-response are more precise and the conclusions stronger.”

Dr. Vavie’s takehome: “People should consider the benefits of omega-3 supplements, at doses of 1,000 to 2,000 mg per day – far higher than what is typical, even among people who regularly eat fish. Given the safety and diminished potential for interaction with other medications, the positive results of this study strongly suggest omega-3 supplements are a relatively low-cost, high-impact way to improve heart health with few associated risks and should be considered as part of a standard preventive treatment for most patients with cardiovascular diseases and those recovering from myocardial infarction.”

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GNC Plans Sale to Chinese Investor; Security Concerns Raised

September 16, 2020 - 9:53am

Pittsburgh, PA—GNC Holdings, Inc. has canceled its auction and now aims to sell the company to China-based Harbin Pharmaceutical Group Holding Co. As Bloomberg reported, GNC said that since no other qualified bids had emerged by last week’s deadline, the company is seeking approval to sell its assets to Harbin, and a court hearing to approve the sale will be held Thursday, September 17.

GNC had reported this as an option in June, issuing a press release explaining that GNC, Harbin, and a majority of GNC’s lenders reached an agreement in principle for the sale of GNC’s business with a $760 million purchase price.

Retail Dive reported that U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) has called for a review of the deal, writing a letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to request that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States look at the deal. Rubio outlined his concerns in a press release: “The Chinese government engages in persistent efforts to obtain a broad range of sensitive American personal data through illicit means such as state-sponsored theft from government agencies and private companies. The acquisition of a major health and nutrition chain with over 5,200 retail stores in the United States and an expansive customer base presents the opportunity for state-directed actors to purchase this information legally. Efforts to obtain personal and sensitive data related to health information and financial transactions of U.S. persons must be reviewed with an understanding of the malign foreign policy and intelligence aims of the Chinese government and Communist Party.”

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Industry Groups Have Mixed Reactions to Legislation to Regulate CBD

September 8, 2020 - 7:05am

Washington, D.C.—Bipartisan legislation introduced by Representative Kurt Schrader (D-OR) and Representative Morgan Griffith (R-VA) has been is being both applauded and rejected by leading industry associations.

The Hemp and Hemp-Derived CBD Consumer Protection and Market Stabilization Act of 2020 (H.R. 8179) would make hemp, cannabidiol (CBD) derived from hemp, and other hemp-derived products lawful for use unless otherwise directed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), according to a press release from Griffith’s office. “Hemp was historically an important crop for Virginia farmers, and dietary supplements made from it do not possess dangerous addictive qualities,” Griffith said in a statement. “Nevertheless, the current state of regulation creates confusion about its legal uses. I joined this bipartisan bill to provide certainty for hemp farmers that their crop may find legal uses.”

AHPA, CHPA, CRN, UNPA Express Support

A joint statement issued by the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), and the United Natural Products Alliance (UNPA) said the legislation, if enacted, directs the FDA to use its authority and resources to set a clear regulatory framework for hemp and hemp-derived CBD and assure consumer protection. The statement explained that the legislation would allow hemp and hemp-derived CBD to be legally marketed in dietary supplements so long as manufacturers comply with new dietary ingredient requirements and other Food and Drug Act dietary supplement policies. “This pathway for hemp and hemp-derived CBD products to be legally marketed, would put in place necessary safeguards to protect public health,” the groups stated. “A legal hemp and hemp-derived CBD pathway would also provide much needed certainty to hemp farmers.”

“CRN is grateful for the introduction of this bipartisan legislation,” said Julia Gustafson, Vice
President, Government Relations, CRN, in a separate release. “It is critical that FDA allows a legal pathway to market for CBD dietary supplements for the benefit of the agency, industry, retailers, and ultimately, consumers. CRN will continue to work with the bill sponsors and other lawmakers to advance and help pass this critical legislation to ensure consumer safety to the 20 million Americans who use CBD dietary supplements.”

Gustafson added, “Over one year has passed since FDA held its public meeting to better understand hemp-derived substances, and almost two years have passed since the Farm Bill was enacted, legalizing hemp-derived CBD. During this time, the agency has taken no action to legalize this ingredient, facilitating an unregulated marketplace. CRN urges Congress to pass this critical legislation and open the marketplace to CBD dietary supplements, providing FDA enforcement authority over the category to assure consumers have access to safe and beneficial products to support their health and wellness.”

NPA Rejects the Legislation

The Natural Products Association (NPA) issued a a release outlining why it is rejected the legislation, explaining that it fails to set a safe level of daily consumption and “would do more to undermine public trust in the safety of supplement products and do nothing to promote public health.”

Daniel Fabricant, Ph.D., President and CEO of NPA, stated, “We support a science-based pathway to allowing CBD in food products, but this is not the right approach and will do more to undermine public trust in the safety of dietary supplements without promoting public health. The Food and Drug Administration already has the authority to regulate CBD products by setting a safe level of daily consumption. Setting a safe level of daily consumption is a better pathway and will do much more than introducing legislation to appease special interests.”

U.S. Hemp Roundtable Urges Action

The U.S. Hemp Roundtable said the bill would “help stabilize the hemp markets, open up a promising economic opportunity for U.S. agriculture and honor our commitment made to farmers in the 2018 Farm Bill,” and noted that the bill is receiving support from a growing list of organizations in hemp and dietary supplement industries, as well as major national retail and farming organizations.

The Hemp Roundtable released a white paper on H.R. 8179 and issued an action alert, calling on hemp supporters to contact their U.S. Representative to urge lawmakers to co-sponsor the bill. The call to action states: Our online Action Center makes it super easy. Simply click here, fill out our form, and a message pops up with your Congressperson’s email address. Please contact your Representative TODAY. Together we can ensure that hemp farmers, small business, and CBD consumers can benefit from these amazing products.

Related: FDA Releases CBD Marketplace Report; Industry Responds
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Jarrow Formulas Sold to Private Equity Firm

September 3, 2020 - 12:26pm

Los Angeles, CA—Jarrow Formulas has been bought by New Mountain Capital, effective September 1, 2020, according to a video of the signing ceremony released by the company on YouTube.

Jarrow Formula’s Clay DuBose opened the ceremony by providing background regarding the company, which was founded by Jarrow Rogovin in 1977, and joined by Ben Khowong—who became CEO—in 1988. “Together they built out a team and the company grew from a boutique, west-coast vitamin company to a nationally successful brand, known particularly for its focus on clinical data and emerging science.

“Today, we have some exciting news,” DuBose continued. “Jarrow Formulas has found a partner. New Mountain Capital, a highly regarded private equity firm, is investing in Jarrow Formulas, and has appointed two very impressive individuals to the leadership team.” DuBose said Ojesh Bhalla is now the CEO of Jarrow Formulas, and Wayne Grubbs will be the CFO. Rogovin will stay on as Chairman of the Board, while Khowong will retire.

Rogovin then addressed the company’s employees and spoke to the future, explaining that New Mountain Capital brings resources that will promote the growth of the company. “Currently, Jarrow does international sales,” Rogovin said. “But with the new partnership, Jarrow will become a global brand. This transaction ensures the continuation of the companies, your futures with the companies, and the continuation of a legacy you have helped create.”

Expanding on that legacy, Rogovin said, “Jarrow Formulas has been an industry pioneer—products, quality standards, truth in labeling, legislative and regulatory affairs, and—of great importance—consumer confidence…It is difficult for me to express everything I feel, but the time has come for Jarrow Formulas to start journeying into the next generations, and generations it will be. That is an amazing accomplishment in itself.”

Khowong added, “We have grown Jarrow to a certain point where—every company has a life cycle, and at a certain point you need to move onto a larger stage. And at this point, with New Mountain…they will be able to bring us to the next stage. So let’s look forward to the next stage of our success.”

Related: #Naturally Informed: Immune Health Supplement Education
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Skin Health from the Inside Out 

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#NaturallyInformed: Saving the Planet, Soil First

September 1, 2020 - 6:15pm

One alarming statistic that was referenced repeatedly throughout the Naturally Informed sustainability conference, which took place on August 26-27: We have around 50 years left before we’re out of topsoil.

“What we’re looking at is man-made desertification,” said Josh Tickell, Director of the  movie Kiss the Ground (available to stream on Netflix September 22), in his keynote speech at Driving Value Through Sustainability Across the Supply Chain.

Fortunately, Tickell explained that this can be reversed—and he explained how.

“Regeneration means to ‘repair damage,’” said Tickell. “We learn about lizards—they can lose their tails, and then regenerate them. With the environment, we want to accomplish multiple benefits per action. We want to reduce atmospheric CO2, restore ecosystemic habitats, make healthier food, and create water—and we can do all that by helping the soil, and regenerating the soil.”

What makes healthy soil? Microbes, carbon, and water. “If there’s no carbon in the soil, there’s no nutrition in the plant. If the microbes aren’t active, if you don’t have a soil strata that’s full of life, then no plant is getting the nutrients it could be getting—and even if you eat plants, you’re not getting the nutrition you could be getting. And microbes exist in an aqueous solution, so if there’s no water in the soil, there’s no microbes, and again there’s no nutrition in the plant.”

How did the soil get to where it is now—ever-decreasing, with little life, not enough carbon, and no water? In the U.S., Tickell explains, our farm system is driven by corn, soy, wheat, and hay—and this is hurting the soil. “Field corn, to feed cattle, makes up the majority of our acres. And most of that is sprayed with glyphosate, which is in the water, in the rain, and we know it’s in our bodies. In the U.S., we produce three pounds of toxic chemicals per person per year. We are trying to export that to other countries. And this is all to create the densest form of calories—meat. But herds of animals used to run the country, and when they did—grazing and leaving behind manure—they made healthy soil, which is the bank from which we draw today. But as is, we’re losing topsoil.”

That feels like a lot—but Tickell put forth solutions. “In general, in regenerative agriculture, you don’t till the soil, because when you do, you break the fungi, you break the connections in the root infrastructure. You use cover crops—five, 10, 20 different species mixed together so roots pull carbon down, into the soil; when roots and plants cover an area and rain falls down onto that area, instead of running off as it would on bare soil, it trickles down the plants and into the soil, storing the water where it can be used. Regenerative agriculture uses planned mob grazing instead of confining animals, using animal waste to increase the health and fertility of the soil and getting nutrients from the land rather than requiring feed crops—this captures water and greenhouse gasses instead of creating more.”

Another solution Tickell suggested: small water cycles. “Most of the time, if you think about water cycles, you think about the big one—water from the ocean evaporates and turns into precipitation. And this is where up to 60% of the world’s water comes from. But we’re interested in transpiration—the water that comes from trees, from plants. If we take the trees and plantlife out of an area, we stop transpiration from happening, and we suddenly have a situation where we’re suddenly needing to provide all the input needed for plant growth. You can create a transpiration cycle on less than an acre, with constant plant coverage. This reduces the need for water and produces nutrient-rich food.”

Tickell pointed to the Loess Plateau in China as one example of a successful regeneration. He explained that it had effectively lost its topsoil—it was down to rock. The World Bank and partners in China funded two projects to restore it. According to the World Bank, grasslands and tree and shrub cover came back. Perennial vegetation cover increased from 17 to 34%. Sedimentation of waterways was dramatically reduced, which in turn reduced risk of flooding. Average yields were increased, and became more secure, more resistant to drought. On the human end, more than 2.5 million people were lifted out of poverty; farmers’ incomes doubled, and employment rates increased. The World Bank reported: “Even in the lifetime of the project, the ecological balance was restored in a vast area considered by many to be beyond help.”

And regenerative agriculture could have impacts beyond soil and food. All that carbon required for healthy soil? It can come from what’s in the atmosphere—and it will. “The largest carbon sink we have is the soil,” Tickell said, “and it’s largely unused.” And looking at the carbon in the atmosphere and existing projects intended to solve the issue, Tickell says that they’re not enough—it’s going to take regenerative agriculture to solve the issue. “We can’t just level off the amount of carbon we use; that leaves a teraton of carbon in the atmosphere, and that’s too much, we’d be sitting here hoping the warming effect doesn’t kill us. We need to draw it down.” Regenerative agriculture does that—and creates more nutritious food in the process.

Tickell also says that, as consumers realize that regenerative food is more nutritious, the market for it will grow. “Organic is going to taper off. If you’re really looking to push market growth, you should look at regenerative. You’re not going to be competitive in 10 or 20 years if you’re not.”

Missed the event? You can access the educational sessions, including Tickell’s keynote and slides to learn more about his solutions, on demand here

Along the same lines, Diana Martin, Director of Communications and Marketing, Rodale Institute, says “sustainable” is going out of fashion. “Robert Rodale thought that we couldn’t just live in a sustained environment—we need to make it better,” she explained in the session Beyond Sustainability: The RegenAg Movement. And this, she says, is what regenerative agriculture is. “Organic has a very set definition that we’re all working from, but one thing you’ll find is that there’s still varying definitions regarding what regenerative agriculture is, how it works, and how you measure outcomes. We all agree that it’s a holistic way of looking at farming. It rehabilitates an entire ecosystem and enhances natural resources, rather than depleting them.

“There’s not really a single description,” Martin continued. “It’s really about knowing your land and what’s best for your farm, but some practices are things like having a diverse crop rotation—like people, soil needs a diverse diet—plant cover crops, because when we leave soil bare it can wash away in wind or water; use compost instead of synthetic fertilizers; use highly managed grazing; reduce tillage; move away from synthetic chemicals.

Like Tickell, Martin said this: “It all starts with the soil.” She expounded: “There are more living organisms in a teaspoon of healthy soil than there are people on the planet. It can sequester carbon, helps us have resilient agriculture so we can produce food in drought or flood conditions, helps farmers be more profitable. It can resist erosion and runoff. Healthy soil keeps chemicals out of our water, and it can help produce healthier, nutrient-dense foods.” And that’s not something we’ll get by stopping at sustainable. Healthy soil requires regeneration.

MegaFood is looking into ways of accomplishing and quantifying this. “Especially in this time where there’s so much to do and so much change that needs to happen and so many deserving areas for people to spend time on,” explained Bethany Davis, Director of Advocacy and Government Affairs for MegaFood, in the same session, “we as a brand are asking ourselves where we can do the most and pull the most levers, what is uniquely ours to do, and the answer to that is regenerative agriculture. And while we do outreach and education, we have to start at home.” Part of that is the Healthy Farm Standard—a scorecard that looks at MegaFood’s suppliers and incentivizes farmers through on-farm investment to help problem solve on the farm to help move them forward on regenerative agriculture. Part of every MegaFood product that’s sold goes directly into this bucket of money that goes straight back to farmers.”

Soil Carbon Initiative is a major step towards this goal. “What does healthy soil look like?” Davis asked. “How do you measure that? We’ve created this standard, and we’re piloting it within our supply chains. And we’re encouraging everyone else to pilot this in their supply chains—and retailers can work with farm partners to do the same. And if you’re interested in that, please contact me.” Her message: “Every farmer can take an action tomorrow that moves them incrementally towards regenerative agriculture. Every brand needs to care about regenerative agriculture if we want to move the needle. There’s room for everybody.”

This is not all the information that came out of this conference; it’s just a fraction of it. For more, keep an eye on our #NaturallyInformed tag; sign up for our newsletters, if you’d like to have this reporting sent directly to your inbox; and if you’d like to learn more,all of these sessions are available on-demand. This includes presentations on real-life experiences like those of  Thomas M. Newmark, Founder and Chair of The Carbon Underground and Co-owner of Finca Luna Nueva Lodge, who saved his farm by transitioning to regenerative, and Kamal Bell, Owner of Sankofa Farms, who started a farm with the hopes of creating a space for black people to get involved in the land and is learning and growing right along with his students. Their powerful, inspiring, and informative talks can be accessed on demand here.

There were several case studies from Indena, proving that regen ag and sustainable business involves helping people directly. The sessions also include business tips regarding a circular economy; tips from retailers on sustainability in retail; the necessity of transparency.

One final message from Tickell, for those looking to take steps into regenerative agriculture: “There’s always a cost to changing. But the cost for not changing, in this system, is higher.”

Related: #NaturallyInformed: Food First
Regenerative Agriculture in the Age of COVID-19 & Beyond

The post #NaturallyInformed: Saving the Planet, Soil First appeared first on WholeFoods Magazine.

ABC: Record-Breaking Herbal Sales Predicted for 2020

August 31, 2020 - 1:26pm

Austin, TX—U.S. consumers spent an estimated $9.602 billion on herbal dietary supplements in 2019, according to the American Botanical Council’s (ABC) 2019 Herb Market Report. That’s an 8.6% increase in total U.S. sales from 2018. And the growth continued as COVID-19 became a public health crisis: During the first six months of 2020, “steep sales increases” were seen for some ingredients. The are based on U.S. retail sales data provided by SPINS and the Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ), and published in issue 127 of ABC’s quarterly, peer-reviewed journal HerbalGram, according to a press release from ABC.

Some highlights of the report, as outlined by ABC:

  • Cannabidiol (CBD) made the list of 40 top-selling ingredients in the U.S. mainstream channel for the first time. It ranked 9th with retail sales just under $36 million, which is a 872% increase over 2018 sales in this channel. ABC reports that CBD was the top-selling botanical ingredient sold as a dietary supplement in natural retail outlets for the second consecutive year.
  • Herbs commonly used for immune support saw significant sales increases in 2019, ABC shared. Elderberry had the second-highest sales increase in the mainstream channel, making it the third top-selling ingredient in that channel.
  • Sales of immune health-related ingredients, such as echinacea, elderberry, and others, saw continued growth in the first six months of 2020. Elderberry sales increased 126% and 241% in the natural and mainstream channels, respectively, compared to sales during the same period in 2019. Echinacea products experiences growth of more than 50% in both channels during the first six months of 2020.

“Sales of CBD products in natural retail stores have been steadily increasing for years, but in 2019, mainstream shoppers appeared to fully embrace the cannabis compound,” said Tyler Smith, Managing Editor of HerbalGram and co-author of the report. “Consumer sales of herbs and fungi with potential immune health benefits also remained strong in 2019 and, unsurprisingly, the first half of 2020. We are grateful to SPINS and NBJ for generously supplying the data for the report and for their invaluable insights.”

Mark Blumenthal, Founder and Executive Director of ABC and Editor-in-Chief of HerbalGram, added, “These retail sales data demonstrate the continued increase in consumer interest in and demand for herbal dietary supplements, representing a steadily growing trend toward natural health as a solid lifestyle shift, especially proactive attempts to enhance immunity.”

The 2019 Herb Market Report is available for free on ABC’s website. It features eight tables and four charts, including tables of total U.S. herbal supplement sales from 2000 to 2019 and the 40 top-selling herbs in the U.S. mainstream and natural retail channels, ABC shared in the press release. It also includes tables of sales broken down by product type (single-herb supplements vs. combination formulas) and retail channel (mass market, natural and health food, and direct sales).

A closer look at how the report was created, according to ABC:

  • Sales estimates for individual herbs and fungi discussed in the report reflect sales of herbal dietary supplements in which the particular herb is the primary ingredient.
  • Sales of most herbal teas, botanical ingredients used in cosmetics, or government-approved herbal drug ingredients in over-the-counter medicines are not included in the report.
  • NBJ based its total herbal supplement sales figures for 2019 on data from market research firms, company surveys, interviews with major retailers and industry experts, and other secondary materials.
  • SPINS determined herbal supplement sales in two retail channels: the conventional multi-outlet (mainstream) channel powered by IRI, and the “natural enhanced” retail channel. SPINS’ mainstream channel includes select grocery stores, drug stores, and mass merchandisers such as club, dollar, and military stores. The natural channel includes co-ops, associations, independent retailers, and large regional chains (excluding Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe’s).

The post ABC: Record-Breaking Herbal Sales Predicted for 2020 appeared first on WholeFoods Magazine.

Vote Today for the 2020 Retailer of the Year

August 31, 2020 - 8:48am

To all the natural products retailers out there who have been working so hard on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic, we thank you. Every year, WholeFoods Magazine honors retailers who go above and beyond, and in 2020, as our nation was in crisis, retailers throughout the industry stepped up and made all the difference in their communities. Narrowing down a winner is always difficult, and this year it will be especially hard.

Please share your nomination for the 2020 WholeFoods Magazine Retailer of the Year. If you know a retailer who has been a real-life superhero, let us know!

To submit your nomination, include the following in an email to Maggie Jaqua at maggiejaqua@wfcinc.com. Please include the word NOMINATION in your subject line.

Your nomination must include:

  1. Your name (this will be anonymous).
  2. Your affiliation/company name.
  3. Your phone number.
  4. Name of retailer you are nominating, and why they deserve to win.
  5. Location and contact information or website for the retailer.

Deadline for submitting a nomination is SEPTEMBER 10, 2020. We’ll announce the winner later this year, and share what makes this retailer exceptional in our November issue.

Last year the honor went to Rainbow Blossom, and in 2018 it was Mama Jean’s. Who will earn the honor in 2020? Help us decide!

The post Vote Today for the 2020 Retailer of the Year appeared first on WholeFoods Magazine.