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Live From Expo East: Thriving Organic Sector Demands New Products


At the current rate at which its growing, the market for organic products will double within six years.

That’s among the messages from the Organic Trade Association, which hosted a media breakfast Thursday morning on the first day of Natural Products Expo West in Baltimore.

Repeating and reinforcing her message from last year’s show, OTA Executive Director/CEO Laura Batcha said that acreage of organic farms has not been able to keep up with demand, steeling the trade group’s mission to help farmers convert their conventional operations to organic.

That effort needs better regulatory cooperation and enhanced lobbying efforts by OTC, declared Thomas Harding, president of Lehigh Valley Organic Growers and winner of OTC’s 2015 Growing the Organic Industry Award. Harding also urged better consumer education on the “real cost of food” and the inherent value of organic products, arguing that organics are not “premium priced” but “fair priced” based on the cost of production.

Batcha said better education is also needed to help consumers understand the relationship between “organic” and “non-GMO” (organic production forbids GMO ingredients). Short of non-GMO certification, organic products can legally be labeled as “produced without GMOs,” Harding asserted.

The media breakfast also hosted OTA’s other two 2015 award winners: Michael Berger, founding partner and VP of supply chain for Elevation Burger, winner of the Rising Star Award; and Benny McLean, production manager for Uncle Matt’s Organic, winner of the Farmer of the Year Award.

The meeting came amid OTC’s “Organic Myth-Busting Month,” a 30-day social media effort aimed at dispelling public misconceptions about organic products.

Meanwhile, On the Show Floor …

The show floor at Expo East is a frenzy of the latest and greatest in clean-label products, encompassing food; health, beauty and wellness; and general merchandise. Trending highly: anything free-from (gluten, dairy, soy, GMOs), minimal processing (raw foods, raw-milk cheeses), traditional and alternative proteins (e.g., jackfruit masquerading as barbecue), natural alternative sweeteners (stevia and monkfruit), whole grains, ancient grains, probiotics and fiber.

Here’s just some of what I saw at the show on Thursday:

Bob’s Red Mill: Displayed its new line of gluten-free instant oatmeal, in four varieties (received these at the office this past week and enjoyed them). The company also touted its vast line of baking mixes, including best-selling almond flour. “The alternative baking thing is really big,” Marketing VP Matthew Cox said.

Enjoy Life Foods: Displayed its new line of gluten-free baking mixes, including the PG Editors’ Picks-winning Pizza Crust Mix.

Hampton Farms: Rolled out its new line of flavored cashews, including Honey Sweet and Honey Chipotle, along with Sweet & Salty and Honey Smoked Peanuts. The company also touted its in-store nut butter mills, used by several leading grocery retailers.

House-Autry Mills: In a direction that Marketing VP Michael Ganey said is “totally the opposite of our core brand,” the company unveiled its Our House line of “deliciously gluten free” baking mixes. Leading the pack is consumer favorite cornbread, along with pancake and waffle, bread, cookie, brownie and all-purpose flour. The mixes are also vegan and non-GMO.

LaCroix: The unsweetened sparkling water brand sampled three new flavors in its Curate line – Melon Pomelo (cantaloupe/pink grapefruit), Mure Pepino (blackberry/cucumber) and Kiwi Sandia (kiwi/watermelon). They’ve launched at Target and Jewel stores.

Litehouse: Its line of organic salad dressings sported a fresh packaging redesign, alongside samples of the company’s new Green Gardens olive oil-based dressings unveiled at Expo West last March.

Mason Vitamins: Displayed several new additions to its extensive line of supplements, including Graviola (for the immune system), Alpha Liporic Acid (blood sugar), Lutein Plus (eye health), Dual Action Enzymatic Digestant (upper and lower digestive tracts), Peppermint Oil (irritable bowel syndrome), Turmeric (nervous system and heart health), and Healthy Kids Probiotic with Fiber (immune and digestive support for children).

Reed’s: Offered samples of its all-natural soft drinks, including its Stronger Ginger Brew, a more robust version of its flagship beverage and a 2015 PG Editors’ Pick (I quaffed a few of these as the day progressed).

Sweetwood Cattle Co.: Sampled its new Bully beef bar snacks, made with no gluten, nitrites or MSG.

Follow our show coverage on Twitter: @jimdudlicek and @pgrocer.


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