LA Times shares the story behind Health-Ade Kombucha, one of America’s top kombucha brands that will sell more than 4 million cases this year. It’s hard to believe the mega kombucha label began at a farmers market in 2012, with labels attached to bottles with scotch tape. Health-Ade struggled at the start, getting evicted from their apartment for brewing kombucha and racking up parking tickets when they drove kombucha around for distribution in their own cars. CEO Daina Trout said the company’s founders “were ‘success at any cost’ types of people.”
Read more (Los Angeles Times)
Today, everyone is a natural and organic shopper. The natural products industry has experienced incredible growth over the past 20 years that, today, 99 percent of American consumers buy natural products.
“More than ever now, we’re hearing people talk about seeking top products, seeking unique products, seeking trending products and even seeking quote unquote ‘better’ products,” says Christine Kapperman, senior content director with New Hope Network.
SPINS released their latest State of the Natural Industry report in August, sharing industry trends and highlighting areas of growth. Leaders with SPINS (a data provider for natural, organic and specialty products) hosted a webinar discussing the report.
The natural products industry has seen incredible growth and evolution over the 20 years, more than doubling in dollar volume in the past decade,” says Molly Hjelm, vice president of marketing at SPINS.
Hjelm notes the current natural foods movements is increasingly personalized to consumer’s lifestyles. Consumers want their specific version of natural, like plant-based, grain-free, paleo or free form.
“In this moment in natural, consumers have the power and they’re increasingly personalized preferences have become a movement, disrupting previously untouchable boundaries like milk, immediate consumption beverage and pasta,” she says. “Products once relegated to specific retail outlets are now proliferating to the mainstream.”
Here are four trends in the natural food industry for fermented food brands to implement.
1. Natural Products Driving Market Growth
The latest statistics (tracking three years from May 2017 to May 2019), show the natural industry is selling $47.2 billion a year, growing 5 percent year over year. The conventional food marketplace is selling $448.2 billion a year, but only growing at 1.7 percent year over year. Natural foods have a 10.5 percent sales volume, and 29.3 percent of total market growth.
“Looking back at recent years, the trend is clear – natural products have been outpacing their conventional counterparts for some time in terms of dollar growth,” says Jessica Hochman, the senior manager for natural insights for SPINS.
The top 10 natural product categories: produce, refrigerated yogurt and kefir, shelf-stable chips, pretzels and snacks, refrigerated eggs, refrigerated juices and functional beverages, shelf-stable wellness bars and gels, shelf-stable water, frozen desserts, refrigerated milk and frozen and refrigerated meat, poultry and seafood.
Fermented products are exhibiting some of the strongest dollar share growth. Yogurt and kefir and functional beverages both over index in their respective categories.
2. Convenience Channel Growing
Conventional retailers are embracing natural products – and their returns are incredibly strong. The convenience channel stocks a small volume of natural products, but sales of natural products are growing three times faster than natural and specialty gourmet channels. Natural products are just 4.6 percent of volume in convenience channels, but contribute 15.9 percent of dollar growth.
“The real growth fueling the top line trend comes from the support received by the vendor community,” says Jeff Crumpton, SPINS’ retail solutions manager. The convenience channel is growing at a whopping 10 percent year over year. “Natural products have migrated from the innovation channels all the way to convenience.”
3. Consumers Want Grab-n-Go Options
Why is the convenience channel overdelivering in high amounts? Consumers want grab-n-go options in convenient locations.
“(It) aligns with our knowledge that consumers purchase natural products where it’s easier for them,” Crumpton says. “Retailers and other outlets should be mindful that the competitive pressure to their business means adjusting their assortment with innovative products and monitoring categories and items cross channel, which ensures they’re paying attention to the migration and planning accordingly.”
Traditional retailers are experiencing high growth in food service options, “they’re looking to it as a competitive edge,” Kapperman says.
Fifty-seven percent of retailers said strong sales come from their food service, like hot bars, grab-n-go shelves and in-store deli and cafes.
4. Mainstream Consumer
“Everybody to some extend is buying natural organic,” says Patrick Knight, SPINSprincipal of consumer insights. “And in that regard, we are truly mainstreaming. But not all natural consumers are created the same.”
The core of the natural segment is dominated by consumers defined as true believers and enlightened environmentalists, who make up 28 percent of natural/organic product sales. Next, aspiring natural shoppers defined as healthy realists and strapped seekers make up 16 percent of sales. Mainstream consumers, defined as indifferent traditionalists, struggling switchers and resistant non-believers, total 56 percent of natural/organic sales.
The mainstream category, Knight says, is where the greatest potential resides for the natural market growth.
“Our hypothesis is that mainstream consumers are starting to grow more than core natural organic consumers in purchasing of paleo position products,” Knight says. “Core natural/organic consumers are the first on the latest trends in the marketplace, and therefore can be a barometer for what’s coming.”
Farmhouse Culture is retooling their packaging, moving away from what the CEO calls “natural food cliches.” Using consumer research as their guide, the fermentation brand is using “always organic” on their labels, indicating quality to shoppers. Farmhouse Culture is also decreasing their emphasis on probiotics because, though shoppers want products with digestive health benefits, they’re confused over how to achieve digestive health. The Wisconsin-based brand makes sauerkraut, fermented veggie drinks and sauerkraut chips.
Read more (Nosh)
Thanks to new state law, “Maryland is fermenting as a rising powerhouse in the craft beer brewing industry,” writes the Baltimore Sun. Breweries in Maryland have an economic impact of over $910 million. As multiple breweries across the nation still face restrictive laws that keep them from operating at full capacity, new legislation in Maryland increased the number of barrels a brewery can sell from 500 per year to 5,000. After the local municipality of Carroll County changed zoning to allow breweries in industrial zones, there are now seven breweries in the county. Brewery Fire co-owner Jesse Johnson said: “The mayor and council laid out the rest carpet for us.” A brewer for 10 years, Johnson said counties are usually horrible to work with when opening a business brewing and selling alcohol, but Maryland’s lawmakers have “been a dream to work with.”
Read more (Baltimore Sun)
This morning, you probably had a cup of one of the most popular fermented beverages: coffee. The Growler magazine article “Science of Coffee: the changing chemistry of coffee beans from farm to cup” details how coffee makers have embraced fermentation in recent years “to take maximum advantage of beans’ unique potentials. … The fickle nature of fermentation’s microfauna plays a bigger role in coffee than even many coffee industry people understand.” One coffee company founder shared the story of buying a unique variety of Colombian coffee with incredible flavor. When he bought the brand a year later, the flavor wasn’t as good. The reason — the bean grower started making good money off the coffee, and upgraded the wood fermentation tank to a stainless steel tank. “That totally changed the coffee.”
Read more (The Growler)
The deadline for the annual Good Food Awards has been extended until tomorrow, August 2. The Good Food Awards invites food producers from across the country to submit their beer, charcuterie, cheese, chocolate, cider, coffee, confections, elixirs, honey, oils, pickles, preserves, preserved fish, spirits, pantry items, snacks and – new this year – grains! (Grains, you ask? We’re talking grits, rice, quinoa tortillas, pasta and more!) Click here to apply.
Award winners from 2019 featured multiple fermented products, like Forward Roots Fermented Vegan Kimchi Sauce, St. Benoit Creamery Plain Yogurt, Elevate Grain Naturally Fermented Beer Grain Crackers, Blue Bus Cultured Local Kraut-chi, Civil Ferments Ethiopian Sauerkraut, Little Apple Treats Original Apple Cider Vinegar, Barrel Creek Provisions Cucmbers, Lindera Farms Apple Cider Vinegar, Gold Mine Natural Food Co Organic Probiotic Golden Kraut, Hex Ferments Sauerkraut, St. Pete Ferments Jackfruit Kimchi, Oly Kraut Local Spicy Garlic Sauerkraut, Real Pickles Organic Garlic Dill Pickles & Organic Garlic Kraut.
Read more (The Good Food Awards) http://bit.ly/2ysMWed
(Photo by: Good Food Awards of 2016 winner, Wild West Ferments)
When Marcus McCauley started fermented hot sauce brand Picaflor, he knew he wanted to go beyond the organic label. The 40-acre McCauley Family Farm in Longmont, Colorado where McCauley grows thousands of pounds of red peppers a year for the hot sauce is fully regenerative.
“When I started, l knew all the best foods are fermented,” McCauley says. “My favorite hot sauces were fermented, but they are pasteurized and filled with preservatives. I thought it would be great to have one that was alive and full of probiotics.”
McCauley began selling Picaflor in 2014 at farmers markets in Colorado. Today, the hot sauce is sold in 400 stores in 12 states. The farm where McCauley, his wife and their 7-year-old son Hawk live, is central to Picaflor’s mission to heal bodies and the earth.
Check out our Q&A with McCauley, whose live culture hot sauce won a coveted Nexty Award at ExpoWest for best new condiment.
Q: How did Picaflor first get started.
Picaflor started as we faced this age old dilemma as farmers and growers of food — what do we do with the things that we don’t sell or how do we preserve the harvest for the winter?
A Farmer friend of mine had a couple thousand pounds of peppers that he wasn’t selling because they were past the time to sell and he said if you can do something with them you can have them. I immediately thought fermentation because All the best foods are fermented
I didn’t have to have a lot of equipment, I could do it with limited resources and low energy input. Just add salt and wait.
Q: Tell me about McCauley Family Farms.
We started seven years ago — we have a vision to be ecologically and economically sustainable for generations. We realized that very early on we needed to be regenerative. So a farm where it’s is a whole farm system — a place where animals, perennials, ruminants, birds, insects, fungi, humans all play a part and a roll together to create something more than the sum of the parts.
We’re trying to create a functioning whole farm ecology here.
We have a volunteer program on the farm too, for people who want to get involved who are inspired by regenerative farming and want to give more. They want to feel a part of a community that’s a part of the land and nourished by the land. We have a lot of programs — we host local culinary students each week, sponsor farm yoga Fridays and just had some of the Google here for a team build experience. They all work with us on the farm, then have a meal with us. The give back to us. It’s all about the reciprocity, reciprocity with people and reciprocity with the land.
Q: You have so many different people coming to the farm. What are people most surprised about when they come to the farm?
People are very surprised that the chicken that they eat at the store that is organic and free range is not required to be outside at all, let alone on a functioning pasture. They are surprised to learn that organic, free range chickens are 30,000 birds in a barn. I think people are surprised to learn that their organic, free range chickens live their life in a cramped barn.
We utilize a rotation of sheep and chickens to regenerate fragile front range pasture land. We call it carbon farming. That’s also what helps fertilize our pepper fields. We use some of the extra pepper mash and stems that goes back to the soil, so we’re creating these loops, these cycles, just like how our ecosystem works. But part of that is creating this fertility from living, thriving animals.
And I think people are surprised to learn that their plants, their organic plants, are basically fertilized from fish emulsion primarily. The fertility for organic agricultural is based off fish emulsion, so that bycatch from our ocean.
That’s where I’m talking about this living, whole farm functioning ecology that we have. Our whole farm system, the output for one part of the system is the input for another part of the system. Rather than having it shipped in from other parts of the world and screw up those parts of the world.
Q: So you are reusing your food waste?
There’s a number of our ferments that are based off of capturing waste streams and producing amazing food from it. We do a beet green kimchi, for example. Local farmers often top off the beets and compost it. Which beet greens are my favorite green to cook with. Another thing is radishes. Once spring starts to turn into the summer, radishes start to molt and farmers have to get them out of the field, so we come in and provide them cash for that lost yield of radishes that would normally get turned under and go into the compost pile. We make a radish kimchi out of it.
That’s how our pepper flakes came into being too. We kind of upcycled something we didn’t plan on having. It turned into the product that won the best new condiment at ExpoWest this year.
Q: Where did the name Picaflor come from?
I had a real vision to do the live fermented hot sauce, after I had already experimented with it when I was in Colombia on a vision quest in South America. That’s where it came really, really clear. The hummingbird in that tradition and culture is important as the bringer of life.
Picaflor means hummingbird in Spanish. But “pica” means picante like spicy in spanish and also “flor” is like gut flora.
Q: Your logo is so distinctive, people remember that. How did the logo come about?
That was Andrea at Moxie Soso, she did that. They’re a local design company here in Boulder. I said to them “I don’t know how you do your design process, but I want to tell you two things then do your thing.” One is how I kind of had the vision for the farm what I wanted it to be, about my mission is to heal people with delicious food. And I told them the history of peppers. Peppers want to be bird food. They co-evolve with birds to spread their seed. That’s why they’re colorful and they’re spicy spicy to deter mammals, but then humans came along very late in the game after that defense had been working for tens of thousand of years and we fall in love with the spice. We start to spread those seeds, much further than the birds ever did. In that process we start to change the pepper and the pepper starts to change us and becomes part of our culture. That co-evolution between birds, peppers and humans continues. The love of peppers and birds is reflected in our logo.
A lot of our food crops come from this long, long thousands and thousands of years free border crossing, migration, cultural exchange of movement of people and seeds. We are recognizing that, honoring that history.
Q: How did you learn to ferment?
I learned how to ferment by reading Sandor Katz, through trial and error, being self taught and experimenting.
We were doing a lot of experimentation on the farm, we had tried a lot of different things, and it wasn’t clear to me exactly what we were going to do, what our focus was, what our path forward was. There are a lot of farms in this area that don’t make it — there are farms all over that don’t make it. We knew It was a pivotal time and I was really thinking about where we should focus. That’s what I was holding in my heart and on my shoulders when I went on this vision quest. That was the first I had done a vision quest, it’s a long time commitment for me. It actually led me into farming and my family, all of that came from that vision quest. My farm, my family, my mission in life to serve the earth — it all came from this trip, I felt it strongly and wanted to give back. To give back to the earth and serve.
Q: What are the growing conditions like for your pepper seeds in Longmont.
We’re north of the historical range of the chili trail — as people and seeds moved north gradually away from the crop origin from Mexico and Central and South America, that migration didn’t quite make it here to Colorado. The horticultural culture wasn’t established in Boulder County. So we’re on the edge of it. We select seeds to be at home here, but high altitude, a shorter growing season, alkaline soils. It’s difficult to reliably get peppers to go red, to ripen all the way to red here. So green chili is here in Colorado for a reason, we love our green chili. So we’ve had to carefully select heirloom varieties that will grow red here in this part of Colorado. And We select seeds every year to help us do that.
Q: How important was it to you to become a certified organic brand?
I think it was important to at least do that. To give the consumer — we’re one step removed from our consumer than what we’re used to because we have a lot of connections with our neighbors and our local community in providing food. They know us. They know were beyond organic. They know organic is the bare minimum, and that standard is getting watered down all the time. It was important to at least start with that as a certification, but we really hang our hat and pride ourselves on being beyond organic.
Q: What do you mean by going beyond organic?
In whole farm systems, to truly walk that talk and to be regenerative. We are dedicated to improving soil fertility over time, increasing soil carbon over time.
Q: Tell me about the fermentation process for your sauce.
We add salt and let the microbes do the magic. They’re our coworkers. In a sense I think of myself as a microbe farmer or rancher. I’m a microbe rancher. We add some salt, we use real salt. We’re happy to be working with Redmond Salt and utilizing them, it’s our local pink sea salt from the Utah desert. We inoculate with a couple super star strains. So we use lactobacillus plantarum and locatobasiliam rhamnosus. We don’t go through a kill step, so there’s also the diversity of wild microbes included as well.
Q: How long are the peppers fermenting before bottled?
Because we do a blend and we’ve had bumper crops and less than bumper crops at different times. So It dependents – it be anywhere from 6 months to 2 years, sometimes even longer. We have a fermentation facility in Boulder, we call it a fermentarium.
Q: Why was it important to Picaflor to be a fermented hot sauce?
It gives you flavor you cannot get any other way. And we need more probiotics in our diet as Americans. We need a lot more live, fermented floods. Knowing that the popular Srirachas are fermented, but then it’s pasteurized and filled with preservatives. You’re taking this thing that could be inoculating and boosting the gut biome, but you’re adding preservatives to it and potentially harming it. We thought it ought to be alive. Plus it tastes better if it’s a raw ferment rather than a pasteurized ferment.
Q: Where do you see the future of Picalor and McCauley Family Farms?
I see us being a national brand and continuing to get delicious, live probiotic foods into people’s diets, I see us continuing to give people a compelling reason to choose to ingest more probiotics because they’re so delicious. We’re wanting to bring life back to people’s daily meal while bringing life back to the soil. While we’re doing that, getting this out there, we want to heal more land. We want to have a bigger impact on more acreage and bring more regenerative farm systems to the earth.
Q: What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs starting their own fermentation business?
I would say that really try to find a way to get started with the least amount of overhead as possible, that’s No. 1. And trial and error, start small, if you have a cottage food law in your state and you can operate under that, great, do it. If you don’t, move to a state that does. We didn’t have that, so we had to start a big fermentation facility at the beginning. It cost a lot of overhead. We had to get into distribution and sell a lot more just to be able to do that. It can be hard to find a commissary kitchen that will let you ferment because of the smell fermenting generates. Try to start with small overhead so you can keep iterating and improving your formulation, your packing, your labeling, your bottling processes. Build relationships through farmers market or small retailers locally, too.
Fermentation is a small food business community generally, and there are a lot of people who are very very helpful, it’s a supportive community. If you can join a networking group locally or even online, and just ask questions, meet people, go to a company and transparently tell them what you’re up to and maybe you can learn from them. We’ve had a lot of people come and stagiaire — which is common in restaurants — and they come and help and learn.
Q: Where do you see the future of the fermented food industry going?
The trend is going to continue, that people are going to continue to eat more fermented foods, that they’re going to eat more diverse and types of fermented foods that will be in the American diet. I think people are going to start caring more about where their food comes from. Fermented foods that come from farmers and soil that is improving and helping climate change rather than contributing to it. We only have about 12 more years to figure that out. People are going to really start to understand that and make choices based on that.
Q: What challenges do fermented food producers face?
One of the main things is just like an uncertainty in the food safety, health department world around fermented foods and how to deal with it. Some think that you have to have a hazardous plan and others think it’s not even a hazard. You could have your state thinks one thing, but your local municipality thinks another.
Q: Most food brands I interview mention food safety and regulation as a challenge. Will the government continue to regulate it more? What’s going to happen?
It’s interesting because it’s one of the easier ones. There’s never been a case of a foodborne illness from a live fermented foods. It’s been in the human diet for thousands of years. Not only is it safe — we need it. It is an incredibly easy and safe food, but one of the challenges is just to deal with the different, the degrading of knowledge in the public health sector.
Q: What unique strengths do fermented producers bring to the food industry?
Maybe we learn this from microbes, but our community ethic and cooperative ethic to help each other out. And so I think that’s the no. 1 thing. And our willingness to experiment and try new things out and our commitment to quality. The fermenters that I meet, they’re all obsessed with creating the best — the most nutritious and delicious food that they possibly can. There’s this aspect to bringing something back that we really need.
Q: Do you think consumer’s awareness of fermented foods is increasing?
Oh definitely. Our knowledge is increasing, we’ve waged an all out war on microbes for decades, which has had some benefits, but it’s had some drawbacks. We only sequenced the human microbiome in 2011, that was the first time we got a little peek into the diversity that’s in our gut. And that was just a small glimpse on the map. What does it do? We have no clue, but we’re finding out more and more everyday. And that is seeping into public awareness and mainstream consciousness. People are realizing “On my God, I’m not just a me, I’m a we.” All of that has a role to play in our health, our vitality, our wholeness.
Q: What myths do you hear the public still believing about fermented foods?
I think people are afraid that it’s going to make them sick and its rotting. I think there’s still a lot of fear around foodborne illness. I think that people are kind of confused when is food good and when is it bad.
Q: What can the fermentation industry do to better educate the public about fermented foods?
First of all, we’re doing a great job. But we need to work together. It’s not competitive, it’s not fighting over one piece of the pie but growing the pie. There’s so much we still have yet to do in educating the public about the role of fermented foods and why they’re important. How do we do that? I’m doing it one person at a time at the farmers market every single Saturday, sparking up a conversation about it. But there’s still a lot of people that don’t know and there’s a great opportunity for us to educate people. Of course the old channels of doing that aren’t as effective as they used to be. The most effective way for me is to connect with people one-on-one through farmers market, in-store demos, classes.
I think another thing, one of the things that really lights me up, working with schools and getting these kind of foods in schools. The literature is overwhelming about the benefits of probiotic foods in kid’s diets, for brain development and immune systems, there are such better health outcomes for kids who have that in their diet. I want to work with schools to provide them with these foods and also educate them on why it’s important. No one told me why it’s so important at my age. Let’s start a school program.
“I’ve Never Seen Such A Time of Challenge” Grocery Industry Ripe for Disruption from Small- to Mid-Sized Brands
The grocery market is being disrupted in a way never seen before – and the opportunity for success is great for small- to medium-sized food brands wanting to get in the door.
“I’ve never seen such a time of challenge up and down the value chain from the seed all the way to the table,” says Walter Robb, former CEO of Whole Foods and the founder of investment firm Stonewall Robb. “We’re going to see a whole explosion in the new types of foods that are coming to market.”
A report by Biodiversity International found that three-quarters of the world’s food supply comes from just 12 crops and five livestock species. That jarring lack of diversity in the average diet is changing, Robb said. We’re in a frontier where food “will come back in a way we’ve never imagined.” More than 10,000 new products are introduced to the grocery market every year, and customers Robb said are “clamoring” for something new.
“We have a disruption up and down the value chain like I have never seen,” Robb said. “Your chance to come and bring a new product to market is there.”
Robb spoke at the NOSH Live event in New York, and shared insights into where the food industry is headed. Here are Robb’s five main points.
- Integrated Shopping
“The integrated retail is the table stakes for the future,” Robb said. “We’re going to see the line between digital and physical is going to collapse and it’s really going to be all about the customer and how you’ll serve the customer.”
The food industry will thrive on an “extended experience,” a term Robb came up with in the ‘90s while at Whole Foods. The extended experience extends outside the four walls of the stores. The problem at Whole Foods, Robb pointed out, was the natural grocer didn’t digitize fast enough. So in 2017, Amazon bought Whole Foods in a $13.7 billion deal.
Though customers are making more digital purchases, they are not abandoning physical stores. In five years, 50-60% of business will be done via retail stores.
“The future is one that integrates humanity and technology,” Robb said. “Why? because human beings are human beings and they want connection and community and that’s simply not available online. The most successful brands today and the ones that do more physical and digital.”
He pointed to Target as an excellent integration example for modern shoppers. Shoppers can still go to the store, where Target is remodeling physical locations to enhance the in-store experience, but they can use the Target app to prepopulate a shopping list, check real-time stock and order at home for drive-up pickup.
“Data shows the customers likes to do both (online and in-store shopping),” Robb said. Brands who want a lifetime legacy need to be in both places. “The customer is clearly saying ‘Let me do what I want, when I want.’ And brands that don’t serve them in that way will not see the type of growth that they could if they would. The customer is in charge of the choices now.”
- Microbiome is the Future
The microbiome will “completely revolutionize the food industry” as the future of grocery retail is driven by customers who want to see authenticity with the brand they’re supporting.
Robb pointed t a New York Times article on personalized diets, “The A.I. Diet.” As more research publishes on the microbiome, personalized diets will play a huge role in shopping habits. Medicine and technology are converging with food.
- Create Purpose-Driven Brand
Brand leaders in the 21st Century must be authentic, vulnerable and humble. They must be purpose-driven to be successful, Robb said.
“The whole reason you’re in business is not to make money, money is a byproduct,” Robb said. “What you’re in business to do is to bring change to the world. That’s what purpose is. Purpose is the why, why do you exist as a company. You damn well better have a good answer to that question as to what you’re doing in business. You better be here for some great reason to make an impact on the world. And if you’re not playing on that level, either w your customer or your team members, you’re going to fall behind because the companies that are going to lead with some sense of purpose are going to be the companies that win in the next number of years.”
He advised brands to get fired-up about principles that support values. The company culture is a result of that principles and values, and culture is dependent on how team members feel working for the brand and customers feel buying from the brand.
“The winning formula today is road runners and roots,” Robb said. Roots ground a brand in purpose, but brands can’t cement themselves in the ground. They must be a road runner and change on a dime as the marketplace shifts.
- Solve Customer Confusion
The International Food Council found 80% of customers are confused on their food choices. There are dozens of food tribes dominating grocery shelves, like gluten-free, keto, paleo and Whole 30. With an overload of information, customers don’t know exactly what to buy for their desired health benefits.
Robb said one of the business opportunities for brands today is to figure out how to communicate more clearly with the consumer. Consumers want to make informed choices, but “that last mile of data has not been solved for.”
He pointed to solutions in connected homes devices like Amazon that will now populate a shopping list for the consumer based on past purchases. Consumers don’t even need to pick out what they want, their only roll will be to confirm the purchase.
- Natural Reigns
Organic has grown to a $65 billion industry, with a 7-8% growth rate; conventional food, meanwhile, is only growing at 1-2%. Major mainstream retailers are rushing to get into the natural food business today.
Robb said the best way for brands to get on the shelves at Whole Foods is to push the envelope. Whole Foods continues to lead the natural market, and the grocer wants to see edgy, new products with a new take.
Customers expect food brands today to be transparent, accountable and responsible. Robb said there are 2,000 natural flavors approved for use in food by the Food and Drug Administration. But Robb encouraged brands to solve that problem – use less processed ingredients and more natural ingredients, “let’s continue to lead by showing there’s a new edge in the food industry.”