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The Green Evolution

| April 1, 2011

Once purchased solely by hardcore health consumers, green food supplements are attracting a wider audience.Product innovation and strong supplier partnerships are keys to satisfying this widening demographic.

Although recent SPINScan data shows that green food supplement dollar sales are down 1.3 percent, at the same time unit sales are up 4.7 percent. Roy Upton, RH, Dayu with Planetary® Herbals and executive director with American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (Soquel, CA), said he doesn’t feel that’s indicative of how popular these supplements have become.

“Interestingly, while SPINSScan Data suggests that green foods sales are down, this does not account for the incredible growth in green foods available in smoothy-bars and elsewhere.Almost all smoothy-bars and health food stores serve a wide array of green food drinks. Similarly, there is more competition and variety of fresh green drinks,” said Upton. “Given this huge new availability of fresh green drinks, not to mention other green-fortified foods like protein-bars, I expect the market is incredibly robust and not down at all.”

Take Clarksville, MD-based Roots Market’s, for example. When the company opened the doors of its flagship location in 2000, it only had one small shelf of green foods: some barley and wheat grass, spirulina, chlorella and Klamath Lake blue green algae. Today, the two-store operation (a second location in Olney, MD is in its third year of operation) has more than 40 SKUs of green foods that cover six shelves.

And as product variety has grown, so has the green customer base, according to Ellen Joy, wellness specialist. “Green foods were of interest to some of the more ‘hardcore’ customers who were really interested in alternative medicine and health food,” she said. “The customers who are asking for greens these days range from parents who can’t get their kids to eat their vegetables, to customers who have been reading or hearing about the impact of eating green foods on their health and feel they don’t eat enough of them as adults.”

Across the country, Wynant’s Family Nutrition, Inc. dba Wynant’s Family Health Foods (Springfield, OR) has experienced a similar green foods expansion. When family owned and operated single store opened its doors in 1981, Lillie Wynant, mother of current Company President Joan Haydn, started by selling barley, wheat grass and spirulina. Today, the store carries 12 or more different brands of green foods products that consist of several green foods in formulas (i.e., wheat grass, barley grass, alfalfa, oat grass, spirulina, chlorella, etc.), according to Haydn.

“Green foods are very important to my customers and, therefore, are one of my best-selling categories. Some come in just for the greens, but many are also purchasing other items, and I have noticed an increase over the last year,” said Haydn, adding that she, too, has observed the demographic of green foods buyers grow. “They range from people in their mid-20s, to middle aged, to Baby Boomers, to the elderly, and are all looking for the most nutritional value available.”

Green foods may be available in outside channels, but for this category in particular, consumers want the highest quality products that deliver the healthiest bang for their buck. This has them actively seeking unique products only available in the natural channel. While product innovation and proliferation has created challenges for retailers, strong supplier relationships can prove invaluable in finding exactly what will complete offers to meet customer needs.

Meeting Consumer Needs

Even for customers who consciously try to eat balanced, healthful diets, concerns about food nutrient depletion from factory farming and the impact of The environment on health has more consumers finding their way to the green foods category, according to Julie Dennis, national science educator with Source Naturals®/Planetary Herbals (Scotts Valley, CA).

“Increased exposure to pesticides, fumigants, radiation and heavy metals are challenges of our modern culture,” said Dennis. “Incorporating green superfood supplements into our daily health habits may help protect us against some exposure to environmental toxins.”

Source Naturals recently launched its Life Force® Green Multiple to meet this consumer need, with one formula containing over 50 green superfoods including sea grasses, high ORAC-value fruits and vegetables, mushrooms, flora, enzymes and antioxidant herbal extracts, said Dennis. “This product provides key organ-specific nutrients to support the body’s energy, heart, brain, immune, skin, liver and eye needs,” she added. “We’re seeing a healthy demand for Life Force Green Multiple from consumers recognizing the need for increased dietary nutrition and the benefits of additional antioxidant support.

After experiencing great success with its Cran-Gyn DDS® product, created through a partnership with raw material supplier Valensa International (Eustis, FL), UAS Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN) saw an opportunity to create a synergistic combination of conditionspecific DDS® Probiotics and Parry Organic Spirulina (part of Valensa’s portfolio since partnering with EID Pary/Parry Nutraceuticals in2008) to offer a complete nutritional supplement. The end product, ProbioGreen™, was launched at this year’s Natural Products Expo West, and will be available as a finished product or as a raw material that can be added to food products or other multiple-ingredient supplements.

“Compared to other green foods, ProbioGreen offers more complete nutrition than any other substance,” explained Dr. S.K. Dash, president of UAS Laboratories. “DDS probiotics produces vitamins, enzymes and natural antibiotics in the body, whereas Parry Organic Spirulina contains numerous Vitamins, essential fatty acids and minerals like potassium, iron and calcium. It is a rich source of GLA (gamma linolenic acid) and is an excellent source of cyanocobalamin (an analogue of vitamin B12) especially important in vegetarian diets and most importantly antioxidant carotenoids such as betacarotene and zeaxanthin.

Spirulina also offers a 60 percent protein level, which is better than red meat (~27 percent protein) and soy (~34 percent protein).This protein content is biologically complete, containing all of the essential amino acids needed for human health.

“Consumers are looking for an all-in-one, total health product that provides gut health, digestive health, immune health and antioxidant protection,” Dash added. “Even within the spirulina category, consumers are responding to products that have higher levels of carotenoids, phytopigments, such as phycocyanin and chlorophyll, as well as the essential fatty acid, GLA. They are gravitating to products that can offer significant health benefits and that are higher in nutrition.”

Purest Possible Products

The same concerns that have consumers pondering using green food supplements is exactly what has them more critically considering the types of green food supplements they’ll purchase.

Vincent Philip, marketing coordinator with Valensa International, offered a recent Consumer Report illustrating that consumers are more aware of the quality and specific nutritional value of green foods and grasses. “The study focused on contamination levels of a wide range of green foods—with some of the products showing levels that are considered unacceptable,” he said. “Issues of cultivation and quality control are increasingly a concern for consumers.
Organic certification and adherence to standards such as USP verification program are also increasingly important issues.

Due to these trends, marketers are also becoming conscious about the source And quality of green foods with respect to nutrition and contamination limits.

“At the same time, consumers are looking ‘under the hood’ of green foods to take a look at the specific types of nutrition they provide,” Philip added.
“There is awareness that not all ingredients and formulated products offer the same nutritional value.”

But as consumers are looking more closely, according to Ron Seibold, president of Pines International (Lawrence, KS), he’s not seeing manufacturers focusing on quality as much as they should.“Unfortunately, we are seeing more low quality products in the marketplace,” he said. “Instead of getting more nutrients per dosage, shortcuts in growing, harvesting, processing and packaging have lowered nutrient levels. The only way to increase nutrient levels is through better farming, harvesting and packaging practices.”

The company’s foundation product has been its Pines Wheat Grass. It has since added other products such as Pines Mighty Greens and Pines Green Energy, but its focus on quality and control of its processes has been what’s made it a trusted name in the category for 35 years.

“Pines is one of the few companies that grows, harvests and packages on it own organic farm. We seek to separate ourselves from other companies who do not grown their own green foods, especially those who source their green food ingredients based on price rather than quality,” said Seibold. “We have seen a plethora of green food products hit the market in recent years. Some are excellent, but others are not grown, harvested and packaged in accordance with the research. Our facilities are frequently inspected by state and federal agencies, two different organic certifying organizations, as well as kosher inspectors and other certifying organizations.”

Similarly, Valensa’s secure partnership with Parry ensures the purity of the organic spirulina, the only spirulina currently with certified Organic status as per all the major global organic standards such as USDA NOP, Naturland (Germany). ECOCERT (France) and OCIA (USA). In addition, it is the only spirulina product verified under the US Pharmacopeia ingredient verification program and is also GRAS affirmed, according to Valensa’s Philip.

“To meet these standards, no artificial or synthetic fertilizers and trace minerals— such as iron—are added in the spirulina cultivation process,” he explained. “Parry uses 100 percent pure plant-based nutrients and purified ground water. Quality control includes HACCP (food safety standards), ISO 14001 (environmental management systems) and ISO 9001 (quality management systems) certified by Bureau VERITAS.The manufacturing practices and usage of pure vegetarian organic nutrients ensures that the heavy metals in its spirulina are the lowest possible. This allows Parry Organic Spirulina to have the highest recommended intake (20g/ day as per the self-affirmed GRAS status) of any spirulina product on the market.”

Tackling Taste

While consumers are more readily recognizing the value of green foods, one longstanding obstacle for the category has been taste.This has given way to numerous delivery methods— from capsules and tablets to powders to liquids— all seeking to make these products more palatable to encourage repeat purchases and brand loyalty.

Wynants’ Haydn has seen manufacturers actively trying to address the taste concern. “My customers are primarily looking for greens content and taste, and every customer has his or her own preference as to which delivery method they want to use,” she said.“Many manufacturers have created some pretty decent tasting products, but some customers choose to take capsules or tablets if they don’t like the taste, or they may just prefer the convenience of that form,” she said.

While some of Haydn’s best sellers include Health Force Vita-Mineral Greens, Paradise Herbs and Green Vibrance, she’s seen a recent introduction deliver what her customers have been looking for.

“Energy28 is awesome,” she said. “It delivers a level energy without stimulants and tastes pretty good. My customers love it. We brought it in several months ago and it has been well received by customers looking for quick energy.”

Energy28 is a vegan liquid wholefood energizer from Natural Vitality (Austin, TX). Along with organic broccoli sprouts, kale, peas and spinach, Energy28 features Golden Chlorella™ Omega. “This is an ultra-pure mircoalgae, sustainably grown in the US without chemicals,” explained Ken Whitman, President of Natural Vitality. “It’s a complete nutrient-dense green food. One gram (the amount in each serving of Energy28) contains 500mg of hearthealthy omega 3-6-9 and 200mg of fiber, along with naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, amino acids and micronutrients. We add to these greens organic superfruits and fruits plus D-ribose, rhodiola and organic maca root.”

Initially launched in single-serving packets, Haydn expressed that Energy28’s convenience aspect has resonated with her on-thego customers. Due to its warm reception, Natural Vitality is introducing the product in a 30-oz. Bottle.

Education

Even with a category that has had a loyal following of hardcore consumers, education is always the best sales tool for old and new alike. And a retailer’s best resource for that education is its supplier partners.

“One challenge of the green foods category is that there are so many different options available, so it takes time to research and choose the best ones (we can’t carry everything),” said Haydn. “Our suppliers are very helpful in making sure our staff is well educated about the products. They are also very good at making sure we are able to educate our customers by providing handouts and pamphlets.”

Joy also credits her suppliers with being great partners in education, which ultimately allows Roots Market’s to provide better service. “We educate customers via the information on products.Source Naturals does a great job of describing the benefits of a product like Yaeyama Chlorella on its packaging,” she said, adding that the store also has a reference book area that help her staff direct customers to the perfect product for their needs.

“For some types of green superfoods, it’s important to be aware of the form and the source.For example, chlorella is a valuable nutritive single celled micro-algae but it has a cellulose wall. Humans can’t digest cellulose unaided, so we recommend our Source Naturals Yaeyama Chlorella, created by a special spraydry technique that breaks the cell wall, yet preserves the valuable nutrients within which would include chlorella growth factor (CGF), vitamins, minerals, chlorophyll, beta-carotene and other phytonutrients,” said Dennis. “Besides offering gold-standard quality, both Planetary Herbals and Source Naturals offer a unique customer service support team, inside and outside rep support, as well as educational training for retail staff.”

Once purchased solely by hardcore health consumers, green food supplements are attracting a wider audience.Product innovation and strong supplier partnerships are keys to satisfying this widening demographic.

Although recent SPINScan data shows that green food supplement dollar sales are down 1.3 percent, at the same time unit sales are up 4.7 percent. Roy Upton, RH, Dayu with Planetary® Herbals and executive director with American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (Soquel, CA), said he doesn’t feel that’s indicative of how popular these supplements have become.

“Interestingly, while SPINSScan Data suggests that green foods sales are down, this does not account for the incredible growth in green foods available in smoothy-bars and elsewhere.Almost all smoothy-bars and health food stores serve a wide array of green food drinks. Similarly, there is more competition and variety of fresh green drinks,” said Upton. “Given this huge new availability of fresh green drinks, not to mention other green-fortified foods like protein-bars, I expect the market is incredibly robust and not down at all.”

Take Clarksville, MD-based Roots Market’s, for example. When the company opened the doors of its flagship location in 2000, it only had one small shelf of green foods: some barley and wheat grass, spirulina, chlorella and Klamath Lake blue green algae. Today, the two-store operation (a second location in Olney, MD is in its third year of operation) has more than 40 SKUs of green foods that cover six shelves.

And as product variety has grown, so has the green customer base, according to Ellen Joy, wellness specialist. “Green foods were of interest to some of the more ‘hardcore’ customers who were really interested in alternative medicine and health food,” she said. “The customers who are asking for greens these days range from parents who can’t get their kids to eat their vegetables, to customers who have been reading or hearing about the impact of eating green foods on their health and feel they don’t eat enough of them as adults.”

Across the country, Wynant’s Family Nutrition, Inc. dba Wynant’s Family Health Foods (Springfield, OR) has experienced a similar green foods expansion. When family owned and operated single store opened its doors in 1981, Lillie Wynant, mother of current Company President Joan Haydn, started by selling barley, wheat grass and spirulina. Today, the store carries 12 or more different brands of green foods products that consist of several green foods in formulas (i.e., wheat grass, barley grass, alfalfa, oat grass, spirulina, chlorella, etc.), according to Haydn.

“Green foods are very important to my customers and, therefore, are one of my best-selling categories. Some come in just for the greens, but many are also purchasing other items, and I have noticed an increase over the last year,” said Haydn, adding that she, too, has observed the demographic of green foods buyers grow. “They range from people in their mid-20s, to middle aged, to Baby Boomers, to the elderly, and are all looking for the most nutritional value available.”

Green foods may be available in outside channels, but for this category in particular, consumers want the highest quality products that deliver the healthiest bang for their buck. This has them actively seeking unique products only available in the natural channel. While product innovation and proliferation has created challenges for retailers, strong supplier relationships can prove invaluable in finding exactly what will complete offers to meet customer needs.

Meeting Consumer Needs

Even for customers who consciously try to eat balanced, healthful diets, concerns about food nutrient depletion from factory farming and the impact of The environment on health has more consumers finding their way to the green foods category, according to Julie Dennis, national science educator with Source Naturals®/Planetary Herbals (Scotts Valley, CA).

“Increased exposure to pesticides, fumigants, radiation and heavy metals are challenges of our modern culture,” said Dennis. “Incorporating green superfood supplements into our daily health habits may help protect us against some exposure to environmental toxins.”

Source Naturals recently launched its Life Force® Green Multiple to meet this consumer need, with one formula containing over 50 green superfoods including sea grasses, high ORAC-value fruits and vegetables, mushrooms, flora, enzymes and antioxidant herbal extracts, said Dennis. “This product provides key organ-specific nutrients to support the body’s energy, heart, brain, immune, skin, liver and eye needs,” she added. “We’re seeing a healthy demand for Life Force Green Multiple from consumers recognizing the need for increased dietary nutrition and the benefits of additional antioxidant support.

After experiencing great success with its Cran-Gyn DDS® product, created through a partnership with raw material supplier Valensa International (Eustis, FL), UAS Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN) saw an opportunity to create a synergistic combination of conditionspecific DDS® Probiotics and Parry Organic Spirulina (part of Valensa’s portfolio since partnering with EID Pary/Parry Nutraceuticals in2008) to offer a complete nutritional supplement. The end product, ProbioGreen™, was launched at this year’s Natural Products Expo West, and will be available as a finished product or as a raw material that can be added to food products or other multiple-ingredient supplements.

“Compared to other green foods, ProbioGreen offers more complete nutrition than any other substance,” explained Dr. S.K. Dash, president of UAS Laboratories. “DDS probiotics produces vitamins, enzymes and natural antibiotics in the body, whereas Parry Organic Spirulina contains numerous Vitamins, essential fatty acids and minerals like potassium, iron and calcium. It is a rich source of GLA (gamma linolenic acid) and is an excellent source of cyanocobalamin (an analogue of vitamin B12) especially important in vegetarian diets and most importantly antioxidant carotenoids such as betacarotene and zeaxanthin.

Spirulina also offers a 60 percent protein level, which is better than red meat (~27 percent protein) and soy (~34 percent protein).This protein content is biologically complete, containing all of the essential amino acids needed for human health.

“Consumers are looking for an all-in-one, total health product that provides gut health, digestive health, immune health and antioxidant protection,” Dash added. “Even within the spirulina category, consumers are responding to products that have higher levels of carotenoids, phytopigments, such as phycocyanin and chlorophyll, as well as the essential fatty acid, GLA. They are gravitating to products that can offer significant health benefits and that are higher in nutrition.”

Purest Possible Products

The same concerns that have consumers pondering using green food supplements is exactly what has them more critically considering the types of green food supplements they’ll purchase.

Vincent Philip, marketing coordinator with Valensa International, offered a recent Consumer Report illustrating that consumers are more aware of the quality and specific nutritional value of green foods and grasses. “The study focused on contamination levels of a wide range of green foods—with some of the products showing levels that are considered unacceptable,” he said. “Issues of cultivation and quality control are increasingly a concern for consumers.
Organic certification and adherence to standards such as USP verification program are also increasingly important issues.

Due to these trends, marketers are also becoming conscious about the source And quality of green foods with respect to nutrition and contamination limits.

“At the same time, consumers are looking ‘under the hood’ of green foods to take a look at the specific types of nutrition they provide,” Philip added.
“There is awareness that not all ingredients and formulated products offer the same nutritional value.”

But as consumers are looking more closely, according to Ron Seibold, president of Pines International (Lawrence, KS), he’s not seeing manufacturers focusing on quality as much as they should.“Unfortunately, we are seeing more low quality products in the marketplace,” he said. “Instead of getting more nutrients per dosage, shortcuts in growing, harvesting, processing and packaging have lowered nutrient levels. The only way to increase nutrient levels is through better farming, harvesting and packaging practices.”

The company’s foundation product has been its Pines Wheat Grass. It has since added other products such as Pines Mighty Greens and Pines Green Energy, but its focus on quality and control of its processes has been what’s made it a trusted name in the category for 35 years.

“Pines is one of the few companies that grows, harvests and packages on it own organic farm. We seek to separate ourselves from other companies who do not grown their own green foods, especially those who source their green food ingredients based on price rather than quality,” said Seibold. “We have seen a plethora of green food products hit the market in recent years. Some are excellent, but others are not grown, harvested and packaged in accordance with the research. Our facilities are frequently inspected by state and federal agencies, two different organic certifying organizations, as well as kosher inspectors and other certifying organizations.”

Similarly, Valensa’s secure partnership with Parry ensures the purity of the organic spirulina, the only spirulina currently with certified Organic status as per all the major global organic standards such as USDA NOP, Naturland (Germany). ECOCERT (France) and OCIA (USA). In addition, it is the only spirulina product verified under the US Pharmacopeia ingredient verification program and is also GRAS affirmed, according to Valensa’s Philip.

“To meet these standards, no artificial or synthetic fertilizers and trace minerals— such as iron—are added in the spirulina cultivation process,” he explained. “Parry uses 100 percent pure plant-based nutrients and purified ground water. Quality control includes HACCP (food safety standards), ISO 14001 (environmental management systems) and ISO 9001 (quality management systems) certified by Bureau VERITAS.The manufacturing practices and usage of pure vegetarian organic nutrients ensures that the heavy metals in its spirulina are the lowest possible. This allows Parry Organic Spirulina to have the highest recommended intake (20g/ day as per the self-affirmed GRAS status) of any spirulina product on the market.”

Tackling Taste

While consumers are more readily recognizing the value of green foods, one longstanding obstacle for the category has been taste.This has given way to numerous delivery methods— from capsules and tablets to powders to liquids— all seeking to make these products more palatable to encourage repeat purchases and brand loyalty.

Wynants’ Haydn has seen manufacturers actively trying to address the taste concern. “My customers are primarily looking for greens content and taste, and every customer has his or her own preference as to which delivery method they want to use,” she said.“Many manufacturers have created some pretty decent tasting products, but some customers choose to take capsules or tablets if they don’t like the taste, or they may just prefer the convenience of that form,” she said.

While some of Haydn’s best sellers include Health Force Vita-Mineral Greens, Paradise Herbs and Green Vibrance, she’s seen a recent introduction deliver what her customers have been looking for.

“Energy28 is awesome,” she said. “It delivers a level energy without stimulants and tastes pretty good. My customers love it. We brought it in several months ago and it has been well received by customers looking for quick energy.”

Energy28 is a vegan liquid wholefood energizer from Natural Vitality (Austin, TX). Along with organic broccoli sprouts, kale, peas and spinach, Energy28 features Golden Chlorella™ Omega. “This is an ultra-pure mircoalgae, sustainably grown in the US without chemicals,” explained Ken Whitman, President of Natural Vitality. “It’s a complete nutrient-dense green food. One gram (the amount in each serving of Energy28) contains 500mg of hearthealthy omega 3-6-9 and 200mg of fiber, along with naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, amino acids and micronutrients. We add to these greens organic superfruits and fruits plus D-ribose, rhodiola and organic maca root.”

Initially launched in single-serving packets, Haydn expressed that Energy28’s convenience aspect has resonated with her on-thego customers. Due to its warm reception, Natural Vitality is introducing the product in a 30-oz. Bottle.

Education

Even with a category that has had a loyal following of hardcore consumers, education is always the best sales tool for old and new alike. And a retailer’s best resource for that education is its supplier partners.

“One challenge of the green foods category is that there are so many different options available, so it takes time to research and choose the best ones (we can’t carry everything),” said Haydn. “Our suppliers are very helpful in making sure our staff is well educated about the products. They are also very good at making sure we are able to educate our customers by providing handouts and pamphlets.”

Joy also credits her suppliers with being great partners in education, which ultimately allows Roots Market’s to provide better service. “We educate customers via the information on products.Source Naturals does a great job of describing the benefits of a product like Yaeyama Chlorella on its packaging,” she said, adding that the store also has a reference book area that help her staff direct customers to the perfect product for their needs.

“For some types of green superfoods, it’s important to be aware of the form and the source.For example, chlorella is a valuable nutritive single celled micro-algae but it has a cellulose wall. Humans can’t digest cellulose unaided, so we recommend our Source Naturals Yaeyama Chlorella, created by a special spraydry technique that breaks the cell wall, yet preserves the valuable nutrients within which would include chlorella growth factor (CGF), vitamins, minerals, chlorophyll, beta-carotene and other phytonutrients,” said Dennis. “Besides offering gold-standard quality, both Planetary Herbals and Source Naturals offer a unique customer service support team, inside and outside rep support, as well as educational training for retail staff.”

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