In designing our series on Natural Success Stories, we at WholeFoods Magazine needed to come up with ways to categorize success within the natural products industry. We quickly realized that most within the industry would measure it by the positive impact made on other people’s lives. Natural, healthful products are, of course, a beneficial presence in the lives of many. But companies that focus great effort and resources on those in special need fill out the rest of the positive impact equation.
Nearly all parents would do just about anything for their children, and that includes feeding them the best that stores have to offer. In fact, 47% of parents make sure at least half of the food they load into their grocery carts is organic (1). So says the Organic Trade Association’s newly released U.S. Families’ Organic Attitudes & Beliefs 2014 Tracking Study, which surveyed more than 1,200 families with at least one child under 18.
Not long ago, access to natural dietary supplements, gluten-free foods and organic produce in the Midwestern United States was extremely limited. It was here, in an area mainly barren of these options for health and wellness, where Barbara Hoffmann and her husband, John, decided to build an oasis for natural products shoppers.
What’s old has become new with ancient grains capturing the attention of shoppers nationwide. From freekeh to millet, Americans see the value of ancient grains in their diets, and manufacturers are responding with exciting offerings.
There’s a transformation underway in the natural retailing community. After decades of strong leadership, many pioneering retailers are scaling back their duties or passing the reins of their stores to the next generation of retailers—some family members, others young entrepreneurs. At the same time, we’re seeing stores grow from the ground up under the guidance of young owners who are new to natural or retailing or both.
If any consumer today feels that food is not a means of improving their lives, they are in a distinct minority. Data from the Natural Marketing Institute indicate nearly four out of five people believe “healthy foods and beverages can be used to increase the quality of their lives” (1). This explains the current zeal for what functional foods, from nutritious greens to probiotic-infused cookies, have to offer.
Here, grab a glimpse of who is buying functional foods, what they’re buying, and how they’re learning about their options.
All signs point to a continued rise in interest in alternative diets. A 2012 study from the Vegetarian Resource Group found that 2.5% of U.S. consumers self-identified as “vegan,” up from 1% since as recently as 2009 (1). Couple this with the documented decline in meat consumption, and it is clear that widespread dietary changes are afoot. Raw food-centered lifestyles also continue to garner interest. In each of these areas, food companies are stepping up to the plate to turn curious shoppers into loyal customers through marketing and innovation.
Pet products are a big deal. So much so that a slew of “big box” retail outlets are devoted to the business of pet ownership. But pet dollars can still be captured at natural retail by properly presenting safe, healthful offerings and the right variety of products to suit the needs of the most common pets.
A peanut butter sandwich on whole-wheat bread, washed down with a nice tall glass of cold milk sounds like a delicious and healthy lunch for kids and adults alike. Unfortunately, for nearly 15 million Americans today, that meal could lead to severe health consequences. Peanut, wheat and dairy allergies and intolerances are becoming more and more commonplace; between 1997 and 2011, food allergies among children spiked 50% (1). Though there are many theories as to why they are becoming more prevalent, a direct cause is still unknown. But the fact is, for those with peanut allergies, dairy intolerances or gluten sensitivities, these conditions are very real and can disrupt and even threaten their daily lives.