January 16, 2013

Natural Foodie: Online magazine in Portland tracks health food industry

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Dan McGovern

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This snapshot of the digital magazine sustainable Food News was taken on Jan. 11.


RECENT HEADLINES from Sustainable Food News, sustainablefoodnews.com, include:

"Whole Foods film shows organic dairy farmers gambling on entrepreneurialism" -- Available on the retailer's website, the film "Betting the Farm" profiles Maine's Own Organic Milk and was produced and directed by Mainers Cecily Pingree and Jason Mann.

"Half of U.S. adults ate local, natural food at restaurants at least weekly in 2012" -- Research from food-service consulting firm Technomic finds consumers are increasingly health conscious and prefer dishes made with 100 percent whole wheat and containing fruits and vegetables.

"Organic trend to 'grow exponentially' in coming years, says PricewaterhouseCoopers" -- The research finds 46 percent of shoppers currently seek out organic and local food and that this number will continue to increase.

"Moms turning to bloggers, peers for food info -- not doctors, dietitians, says survey" -- Conducted by Fleishman-Hillard and TheMotherhood.com, the study also found 78 percent of moms read labels and 49 percent of moms plan to buy less processed food in 2013.


He said the Non-GMO Verified label is the fasting growing label in the U.S. and points out that the issue of labeling genetically-engineered food has spilled over into the political sphere. California voters narrowly defeated a GMO labeling referendum last fall, and voters in Washington, Oregon, New Mexico, Vermont and Connecticut could all encounter similar ballot questions in the coming year.

Another challenge he sees for the industry is the continuing consolidation of brands. Conventional food companies are actively snapping up smaller brands that have built a loyal following in the natural foods marketplace.

McGovern said while the smaller companies are often focused on building a sustainable business that benefits workers, the environment and the bottom line, the big food companies (many of which are publicly traded) tend to put their emphasis on profits.

This can lead to situations such as Dean Foods quietly switching from using organic soybeans to conventional soybeans after it purchased Silk soy milk in 2002.

Or brands such as Kashi and Bear Naked, both of which are owned by Kellogg's, coming under fire for using genetically-modified ingredients.

In the age of Facebook and Twitter, these situations don't stay under wraps for long, McGovern said.

"Social media gives consumers great power and it also forces a food producer or manufacturer to be transparent," McGovern said. "Tell us what's in your products. Tell us what you're doing. (Because if you don't) everybody's going to find out about what you do anyway."


Staff Writer Avery Yale Kamila can be contacted at 791-6297 or at:


Twitter: AveryYaleKamila

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