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Key Takeaways and Why Fancy Food Show in NYC is Becoming A Lot More Like Expo West

I just spent a fantastic few days at the Fancy Food Show, and here are my thoughts:

* When I reflect back and think about how Fancy Food has evolved since I first attended in 2010, one thing is clear: the show is looking more and more like Expo West, which is a very positive development.

There is a heavy shift towards organic and Non-GMO, and a move away from a lot of the junk that used to dominate the show. Clean ingredients are becoming much more important, and the “food as medicine” philosophy, which I espouse, is being widely embraced.

* Not only did we see conventional food companies, such as The Pasta Shoppe, begin to offer organic products, but we saw big national brands, such as Suja, attending for the first time.

While many national organic brands did not have booths, a lot of these companies sent people to walk the floor. Increasingly, I predict that will change and more of them will have booths going forward.

* Was it a good show for brands, in terms of getting orders?

I spoke to numerous companies, and some said ‘yes’ while others said ‘not really’ and they thought it was a little ‘slow’.

However, I do not necessarily think that immediate purchase orders are the only way to gauge whether the show provided a positive ROI or not. A few pieces of meaningful press or a handful of good meetings could translate into real revenues down the line and make the show worth its investment.

Unless you are an extremely established national organic brand, having a presence at Fancy Food is important, even if it is just to stay in people’s consciousness.

* Here is some Whole Foods news that I heard at the show.

First, talk about Whole Foods implementing a “Good, Better, Best” rating system for some of its categories seems to be heating up. The goal would be to make it easier for shoppers to understand which brands are offering superior quality. Getting stuck with a “Good” rating is not going to make brands very happy.

Second, I heard that Whole Foods will be eliminating some local or regional brands in the pressed juice category. Not only is this space incredibly competitive, but Whole Foods wants brands that have staying power. This may all be a part of its category management strategy.

Third, there is still much uncertainty and confusion about the company’s centralization of purchasing and how it will impact brands in the near-term.

If you’re a small organic company just getting started, I cannot imagine this will be easy to navigate or manage, regardless of the assurances that Whole Foods is giving everyone.

* I am becoming more convinced every day that the proliferation of medicinal mushrooms will not stop anytime soon…..and for good reason. Brands are going to be incorporating them into their products as often as they can.

* I also believe there is still plenty of opportunity for organic sauces, marinades and dressings.

* The organic soda category is more interesting than it ever has been. Sipp continues to put out excellent flavors, and I discovered the fantastic-tasting Sap! maple soda for the first time.

And Tuesday night at the FutureFoodCo event with Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Moss, I got a preview of the soon-to-be released Ozuke drinks, a novel and compelling twist to healthy organic soda.

* Fancy Food is much more international than Expo West or Expo East, and the quality of organic products from around the world is incredibly impressive.

* The Non-GMO label is as abundant as ever. While I am for this label when used in conjunction with the USDA organic seal, I find it somewhat concerning when it is used alone, particularly on products with low-risk ingredients (things that are not made with corn, soy, canola, sugar beets, or cottonseed oil) or with ingredients that have never been genetically-engineered.

My worry is that consumers will think that Non-GMO is just as good as organic, which it is not. What this speaks to is that both the supply and price of organic remain a formidable challenge for many brands.

I have gotten word about a very big, very well-funded initiative that aims to address this problem, and I hope to be sharing it with you shortly.

* Lastly, on Living Maxwell, I just put up my Top 5 Organic Products of Fancy Food Show, two of which are produced abroad.

In next week’s newsletter, I will share with you other Fancy Food Show posts that will go up tomorrow on Living Maxwell but didn’t make it in time for today’s email.



Have a great holiday weekend!

Max Goldberg, Founder

This Week's News Items

Weekly News Summaries

First Course
Civil Eats

Rep. Chellie Pingree: More Must Be Done to Protect Organic

In order to protect the integrity of the organic seal, Representative Chellie Pingree calls for clearer organic standards and greater enforcement.


California: Glyphosate Causes Cancer

By Karl Plume

As of July 7th, California will add glyphosate, the primary ingredient in Monsanto's RoundUp, to its list of chemicals that cause cancer. Companies selling products that contain glyphosate will now be required to add warning labels -- a massive blow to Monsanto.

Daily Mail Online

Prince Charles: The Future of Humanity May Depend on Organic Farming

By Rebecca English

Prince Charles warns that organic farming may be the only way to reverse the devastating harm that chemicals have caused to our planet.

Food Navigator

Fake Organic Labels are a Big Problem for Europe

By Niamh Michail

Europol is reporting that organic fraud is a serious issue plaguing Europe.

Second Course

Syngenta Loses $218M Lawsuit Over GMOs, Faces Another One for $600M

By Margaret Cronin Fisk and Tim Bross

The case against Syngenta for carelessly marketing its GMO-seeds was so convincing that a Kansas jury awarded farmers full damages as well.

Civil Eats

An Investigation Into Organic Farms Having Chemicals Forced Upon Them

By Lisa Held

The case of Azure Standard in Oregon put the spotlight on a complicated issue -- organic farms having to deal with local governments who mandate the use of toxic pesticides.

The Epoch Times

Consumers are Still Very Unaware of the Risks of Gene-Edited Foods

By Tara MacIsaac

The next generation of GMOs -- gene-edited foods -- still remains a mystery to consumers, and they are unaware of the risks that these foods pose.

Third Course
U.S. Right to Know

Movie Review: Food Evolution is Nothing More Than Pro-GMO Propaganda

By Stacy Malkan

Unsurprisingly, Food Evolution turned out to be a "textbook case of corporate propaganda."

Daily Mail Online

How the UK's First Organic Supermarket Chain Got Started

By Liz Hoggard

Renée Elliot, founder of Planet Organic, talks about how a visit to an organic supermarket in the suburbs of Boston, presumably Bread & Circus, served as the inspiration for her own business.

The Orange County Register

Another California City Goes All-Organic in its Parks and Open Spaces

By Fred Swegles

Follwing the lead of Irvine, San Juan Capistrano has adopted an all-organic policy when dealing with weed and pest control.

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This Week's Quick Hits

Quick Hits

* Congrats to CEO/founder Matt McLean and his family for the sale of their company, Uncle Matt’s, to Dean Foods.

* Citrus greening is a major issue for the orange juice industry in Florida, and having a deep-pocketed parent company is going to help them continue to pursue important research — research that doesn’t involve genetically-engineered oranges.

* Another congrats to founder Scott Nash and MOM’S Organic Market in Maryland who are celebrating the company’s 30th anniversary on July 2nd.

* It is really hard to fathom that Rodale and all of its media properties may no longer remain in the hands of Maria Rodale and her family. For those who don’t know, Maria Rodale’s grandfather, J.I. Rodale, founded the organic food movement in the U.S. with the publication of Organic Gardening magazine in 1942.

* The family-owned, 87-year-old Rodale has hired Allen & Co. to pursue a sale of the company.

* As I posted on Facebook and reiterated above, it really was an amazing few days at the Fancy Food Show.

* I feel incredibly grateful to be able to do this work and spend time with people who love and care about organic as much as I do.

* And for those of you who read my newsletter each week, I am deeply appreciative of your support and that you take a few minutes out of your busy day to read what I have to say. So, thank you.

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