Educational Sessions Wrap Up

Expo East 2012 Wrap-Up

WholeFoods editors attending many of the educational sessions at Expo East 2012. The following are a few of the highlights.

In a session on “Organic Product Development,” Lisa Brines of the National Organic Program told the audience that getting on and off the list of allowable ingredients is a multistep process that involves petitions, NOSB recommendation, NOP rulemaking, sunset review. A re-review happens every five years.

Panelists in “Smoking Hot Beauty Trends” made several interesting points about the beauty market. Robert Genco of Weleda says many natural food shoppers compromise with skincare. For example, many shoppers don’t even think about buying natural hair color because of the misconception that the color isn’t up to par. He says messages must be clearer, more concise and do a better job of telling the natural stories. “We need to convince these people that just because it's natural, it doesn’t mean it’s not going to work,” he stated. “Dispel the notion that people aren’t making products in their bathtubs anymore. Explain how products are made, preserved and stabilized.” Rebecca Hamilton of WS Badger Company added that it’s not just enough to be organic. Shoppers want function and eco-social responsibility.

Cara Welch, Ph.D., of the Natural Products Association

In the FDA and GMPs Update, Cara Welch, Ph.D., of the Natural Products Association (NPA) said as of September 1, 2012, 293 FDA inspections had occurred in supplement manufacturing plants. “Retailers can be in a really powerful position…ask the difficult questions of suppliers and require more of manufacturers,” she advised. Such questions include: Have you visited your contract manufacturer? Did FDA inspect your facility? Did you receive a Form 483? If so, what did you do to address these issues?

Introduced by a group of smiling, female drummers, keynote speaker Tieraona Low Dog, M.D., (sponsored by MegaFood) discussed her journey on “the road less traveled” and overcoming hardships in her own life and in her children’s lives. “Even if you’re not happy with where you are at this very moment,” said Low Dog. “Your life is good. Your life is blessed.” She promoted walking 10,000 steps a day, taking a multivitamin everyday, the power of breathing and meditation and eating simply, after posing the question, “When did food become so complicated?” Later, Low Dog walked through the Expo floor accompanied by her drummers on her way to sign copies of her new book, Life is Your Best Medicine.

Michael T. Murray, N.D., director of product development and education at Natural Factors

Michael T. Murray, N.D., director of product development and education at Natural Factors, taught a crowd of retailers about the rise in baby boomer women’s concern for bone health, stating that 1,500 bone fractures happen a year, more than heart attacks, strokes and occurrences of breast cancer combined.  “A whole generation of women has been misled into relying on drugs to try to improve their bone health when diet and lifestyle and proper supplementation is the answer to building strong healthy bones,” said Murray. He stated that we build our strong bones in our youth, activating our osteoblasts that make bone, so it is common for bone loss to occur as we age; rapid loss leads to osteoporosis. He went on to say that bone quality is more important than bone density, something drug companies have yet to understand because the $10-billion bone drug industry does the opposite by causing brittle bones and continued bone loss, he stated. Give customers an alternative to these bisphosphonate drugs by leading them to your bone health supplements section.

Dr. Oz Effect session

At the “The Dr. Oz Effect,” hosted by Todd Runestad of Functional Ingredients/Engredea, attendees learned the strict dos and don’ts of promoting a product featured on The Dr. Oz Show. Companies are allowed to post an alert on their websites that their products will appear on the prigram up to five days in advance, but it must be taken down within 48 hours after the show airs. Companies are not allowed to use Dr. Oz’s name or likeness on any promotional materials, since Dr. Oz does not personally promote products.

At a session titled “Turning Your Waste into Massive Equity,” founder and CEO of TerraCycle Tom Szaky presented attendees with new ways of looking at garbage, and shared some visionary methods for how to deal with it. “We don’t really think about what constitutes waste. Why does it exist?” he asked. He described his company’s use of worms to process organic waste into fertilizer as an example of how society can recycle, “upcycle,” and reuse virtually everything.

Alice Waters, chef and owner of the restaurant Chez Panisse

“A Delicious Evolution” was a well-attended, after-breakfast session presented by chef and owner of the restaurant Chez Panisse, Alice Waters. Speaking of her subject, she said, “It’s something I feel is the biggest challenge facing us. Not just our industry, but all of us.” She was referring to the “fast-food paradigm” we find in our diets, which she went on to describe as emblematic of the larger culture. We live in an increasingly homogenized global culture where values such as uniformity and cheapness lead the way, she argued, and we must not be so willing to compromise on standards like organic and natural.

In “The Latest on GMOs” presented by the Organic Trade Association (OTA), keyed-in panelists talked about the up-to-the-minute happenings in the world of GMO policy and GMO-labeling activism. Panelists included Grant Lundberg, CEO of Lundberg Family Farms; Zea Sonnebend, member of the NOSB Ad Hoc Committee; and Laura Batcha, executive vice president of the OTA.

“State of the Industry: NEXT Report Overview” with Kevin Whitcher of the ad agency Sterling Rice Group laid out several macro forces set to affect the natural products industry. Once such influence is the growing consumer demand for sustainability, transparency and the use of whole, clean ingredients.

Drummers at the Keynote Seminar.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, November 2012 (online 9/24/12)


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