Organic nutrition products maker to be acquired

Orgain
Orgain to sell a majority stake in the company to Butterfly.

LOS ANGELES – Orgain, a manufacturer of organic nutrition products, will be acquired by Butterfly. The Los Angeles-based private equity firm specializes in the food sector.

Earlier this month, both companies announced Butterfly had signed an agreement to purchase a majority stake in the company. Orgain’s Founder Dr. Andrew Abraham, M.D. will retain a significant minority ownership position and will continue as Chief Executive Officer.

“We are excited about this next phase of growth for our brand, the ability to expand globally, and the opportunity to inspire so many more healthy, vibrant lives,” Abraham said in a statement.

A cancer survivor, Abraham launched Orgain in 2009 with the industry’s first organic ready-to-drink nutrition shake.

According to Orgain’s website, Abraham was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cancer in his teens.

“During chemo and radiation, I lost my appetite entirely and experienced alarming weight loss,” he said. “When my doctors recommended nutrition shakes to get my weight up, the only options available were full of unhealthy and synthetic ingredients. So my mother and I started making our own organic shakes at home.

“The power of clean nutrition stayed with me as I entered my medical career. As I treated patients, I was consumed by the idea that I could help millions more people a day by bringing a healthier, organic nutrition shake to the market.”

Abraham took that desire to help others and quit his medical practice to start Orgain.

Since then, the company has produced numerous organic nutrition products from protein powders to shakes and bars.

Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, a limited partner of Butterfly, will also be a new minority investor alongside Butterfly and Abraham.

Organic ground beef recall

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WASHINGTON –  Approximately  130,464 pounds of raw ground, organic beef from Nature’s Rancher brand was recalled due to potential contamination with plastic, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The products in question were produced from Oct. 3, 2019, through Oct. 15, 2019, and are labeled as follows: “Nature’s Rancher 100% Grass Fed Organic Ground Beef 85% Lean, 15% Fat” and “Nature’s Rancher 100% Grass Fed Organic Ground Beef 93% Lean, 7% Fat.”

NaturesRancher93The USDA says the items were shipped to distribution centers and then to retail locations in Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, and Maryland.

The recall was prompted by consumer complaints received through the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline and directly by the company that produces Nature’s Rancher, Rastelli Bros., Inc., doing business as Rastelli Foods Group, located in Swedesboro, N.J.

“When the complaints were identified by USDA, we immediately initiated an investigation into the source of the alleged object, monitoring the entire manufacturing process and examining every piece of equipment, and modes of transportation to determine the root cause of these complaints,” said Carl Zerr, director of food safety and quality assurance for Rastelli’s Food Group. “Additionally, we independently purchased the products from various retail locations to inspect the quality of the consumer-facing packages. After said inquiries, we have yet to find additional foreign material in any of the products nor have we determined an explanation of how these alleged plastics could have materialized.”

Although there have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products, the USDA urges consumers who purchased the products in question to throw them away or return them to the place of purchase.

 

 

 

Simple Mills CEO on a mission to promote clean eating

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Simple Mills creates natural and gluten-free baking mixes. Photo: Michaelle Bradford

Simple. Clean. Whole. Three words that characterize current healthy lifestyle trends centered around clean eating, non-processed, simple foods and low carb, gluten-free, non-inflammatory diets.

From Whole30 to Paleo, these popular diets encourage a focus on clean eating and healthy meals made from scratch with whole and nutrient-dense foods.

As a result, entrepreneurs like Katlin Smith, founder and CEO of Simple Mills, have created successful niche businesses based on the demand for clean, natural and non-artificial products.

How Simple Mills started

Simple Mills, which Smith launched six years ago, began as a natural baking mix company. It has grown tremendously in those six years and nearly tripled brand growth and revenue in 2018.

Its expanded product line now includes crackers, cookies, and frostings. Its footprint encompasses 16,000 grocery stores, up from 1,600 just 3 years ago.

In an interview on NBC’s Today Show, Smith said her company is the largest natural baking mix brand, second largest natural cracker brand and third largest natural cookie brand in the United States. And, Simple Mills has more than doubled in size every year it’s been in business.

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Katlin Smith, CEO and founder of Simple Mills, spoke at Startup Grind Chicago. Photo: Michaelle Bradford

Not bad for someone who didn’t plan on starting her own company. Smith told entrepreneurs at Startup Grind Chicago’s May meeting that although she didn’t envision starting on this path, “I think you kind of end up in the place you’re supposed to end up.”

Employed as a consultant for approximately three years, Smith said she worked long hours and traveled a lot. “I was eating a lot of processed food, and a lot of things I probably shouldn’t have been eating,” she added.

“I really wasn’t feeling my best, and I wasn’t feeling like myself. And I was talking to my friend about it, and he suggested to me that I might clean up my diet, and that might change my health. It really didn’t occur to me at the time that food impacts more than your waistline.”

So, Smith decided to experiment with clean eating alternatives. She replaced the processed food and sugar in her diet with simple, wholesome ingredients.

“[The results] shocked me,” she said. “Everything changed. And I just couldn’t believe that food could impact all these aspects of our mental and physical well-being. And once I realized that I was like, ‘I have to do something about this.’”

Smith decided to start her own food company because that was the best way to change what people eat.

“I think business drives a lot of what happens in the world,” she explained. “It’s much easier to change the world through business than it is through other things. So, I kind of realized that if I could make a company that made a product out of very simple, whole food ingredients, things that were more nutrient dense and worked harder for you, but also kept it really simple and tasted really good, then eating well would be a lot more personal for people. And the more personal for people, the more people are going to do it. That’s the easiest way to change how people are eating.”

Smith used her spare time on the weekends developing recipes, baking and doing product demos at Whole Foods.

Within three months of launching in stores, Simple Mills became the best-selling launch of mixes on Amazon, she said.

When asked what’s next for Simple Mills, Smith said “… we in general really just believe in taking all of these places in the grocery store where you see a lot of processed ingredients, a lot of ingredients you can’t pronounce, and also a lot of empty food. Food that has a lot of carbs and sugar and isn’t working very hard for you. We have a lot of ideas. Certainly, in the categories where we play and in other categories as well. And I just think there’s a lot of places in the grocery store where we can help make things easier and tastier.”

Farmers face organic food fraud charges

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Midwest farmers convicted of fraudulently selling $142 million of grain as organic. Photo by LilacDragonfly from Pexels

The conviction of five Midwestern U.S. farmers of selling non-organic grains as organic intensified growing concerns over organic food fraud.

John Burton, a farmer from Clarksdale, Missouri, pled guilty, Friday, May 10, and was convicted on one count of wire fraud for fraudulently selling $142 million in organic grain.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in a statement, Burton admitted that grain grown on non-organic fields was marketed and sold as organic along with the use of unapproved substances on certified organic grounds.

Ongoing investigation

Three additional farmers from Nebraska pled guilty and were convicted of one count of wire fraud in October 2018 as part of an earlier, broader probe by the United States Department of Agriculture – Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Tom Brennan, James Brennan, and Mike Potter, from Overton, Nebraska, all admitted to growing non-organic grain that they knew was being marketed and sold as organic.

According to the DOJ, from 2010 to 2017, each of the three farmers received more than $2.5 million for that grain.

All four plea deals are related to a case involving Randy Constant, owner of the grain brokerage firm, Jericho Solutions, located in Ossian, Iowa.

Constant, a resident of Chillicothe, Missouri, was convicted on December 20, 2018, of one count of wire fraud for fraudulently selling $142,433,475 worth of non-organic grain as organic.

According to the DOJ, Constant falsely told customers he sold grain grown on his certified organic fields in Nebraska and Missouri.

However, the grains were not organic because he either purchased them from other growers, sprayed certified organic fields with non-GMO substances, or mixed organic grain with the non-organic grain.

As part of his plea deal, Constant agreed to forfeit $128,190,128 in proceeds from the scheme.

The judge set sentencing for Constant, Tom Brennan, James Brennan, and Potter on August 16, 2019. Scheduled sentencing for Burton occurs after preparation of a presentence report, the DOJ says.

All five men face a maximum sentence of 20 years, a $250,000 fine, and up to three years of supervised release following any imprisonment.

Growing problem

A 2017 report by the Washington Post discovered weaknesses in the U.S. Agricultural Department’s ability to verify the chain-of-custody of supposed “organic” grains imported from Eastern Europe.

According to the paper, three shiploads, equating to “millions of pounds of ‘organic’ corn or soybeans,” entered the country during that period.

Those grains, designated as animal feed, have a direct impact on the authenticity of organic food. “Organic eggs, organic milk, organic chicken and organic beef are supposed to come from animals that consume organic feed, an added expense for farmers that contributes to the higher consumer prices on those items,” the Post says.

While a great deal of focus is on the import of fraudulent organic food, the conviction of the five Midwestern farmers indicates the problem is not just with imports but with domestic suppliers as well.

In a nod towards the problem, the Organic Trade Association recently rolled out a plan it had been developing for the past two years. Its Organic Fraud Prevention Solutions program is designed to fight fraud in the global system.

“Fraud in the global organic supply chain poses a significant threat to the integrity of the organic brand,” said Laura Batcha, CEO and Executive Director of the Organic Trade Association, in a statement. “For the past two years, the Organic Trade Association has prioritized significant time and resources into organic fraud prevention solutions. We are fighting fraud on many fronts, including through the 2018 Farm Bill and through private sector initiatives. The more companies that join this industry-driven program, the stronger the organic supply chain will be.”

The organization says the program is not a label, and it does not involve certification or verification. It is merely a quality assurance program in which organic businesses can voluntarily enroll to help minimize or eliminate organic food fraud both inside and outside of the United States.harges

Natural Grocers celebrates 1 million customer loyalty members

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Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage is a specialty retailer of organic and natural groceries, body care products and dietary supplements.

DENVER – Organic and specialty retailer Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage recently announced a sweepstakes contest to celebrate its customer loyalty program {N}power, which is expected to surpass one million members this summer. The grand-prize winner of Natural Grocers’ 1 Millionth {N}power Member Sweepstakes will receive one year of free groceries.

{N}power launched in May 2015 offering Natural Grocers’ customers digital coupons, personalized offers, rewards, and other benefits. According to the company, the program has seen more than 50 percent growth in its membership in the last year alone.

“The program has grown steadily for two reasons,” said Natural Grocers Co-President Kemper Isely. “First, more people than ever are learning how to better take care of their bodies by eating organic and natural foods. Second, the {N}power program makes embracing a healthy lifestyle more affordable than ever with personalized offers, digital coupons, and rewards for purchases made.”

Additional 1 Millionth {N}power Member Sweepstakes prizes include:

  • Five second-place winners will win free groceries for six months.
  • 150 third-place winners will win a $50 Natural Grocers gift card.

Founded in Colorado in 1955, Natural Grocers has more than 3,500 employees and operates 152 stores in 19 states.

For more information, visit www.naturalgrocers.com/millionth.

Goop Founder Gwyneth Paltrow chats with Sarah Jessica Parker in new podcast

Goop podcast, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sarah Jessica Parker

On the heels of a humorous and disturbing article published in The New York Times Magazine on lifestyle and wellness brand Goop, actress and CEO and Founder Gwyneth Paltrow chatted with former Sex and the City star Sarah Jessica Parker in a newly released Goop podcast. The topics ranged from motherhood, business, and books, to former co-star Cynthia Nixon’s campaign for New York governor.

Goop, a $250 million company, has come under fire recently for making unsubstantiated health and wellness claims. The Times article goes over many of them in amazing depth and witty and condescending detail. These “cultural firestorms,” as Paltrow refers to the accusations of critics, have prompted the company to hire a lawyer to vet claims made on the popular site with traffic of more than 2.4 million unique visitors, as well as hire professionals with science degrees and a full-time fact checker.

Enso Beauty, a 100% USDA certified organic skincare line, launches

Enso Beauty skincare

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. –  The new Enso Beauty skincare line just hit the market bearing the USDA Organic logo certifying that its ingredients are 100 percent natural and organic.

Adria Andrews, who started the company with her husband Phillip, says the products were developed due to her skin sensitivity. According to the company’s website, Adria recognizes her husband’s knowledge of plants and herbs as the root of the new line: “Passionate about organic ingredients for home cooking and his vegetable gardening projects, he had amassed knowledge on botanical specimens and extensively studied Earth-grown ingredients. I parlayed Philip’s wisdom, and together we created Enso Beauty.”

Enso Beauty is free from GMOs, parabens, palm oil, hydrogenation, potassium sorbate, potassium benzoate and toxic preservatives, the company says, and uses Indian Gooseberry, an anti-aging extract, as its first ingredient in the following products:
• Amla Antioxidant C Serum
• Amla Repair C Balm
• Amla Revitalizing C Eye Cream
• Amla Sensitive Skin Cleanser
• The Amla Antioxidant C Mist contains rose flower water, witch hazel extract then Amla extract.

Visit ensobeautyco.com for more information.

Korean firm acquires $29.29 million stake in online organic grocer Thrive Market

Thrive Market
Photo: Thrive Market

LOS ANGELES – Online organic and natural foods grocer Thrive Market, based in Los Angeles, California, sold a $29.29 (US) million stake in its firm to Seoul, Korea-based GS Retail, according to The Korea Herald.

The Korean firm, parent company of GS25 convenience stores and GS Supermarket, is looking to not only learn from Thrive’s unique business model, which saw exponential growth since its start in 2014 but feature several of Thrive’s more popular items in its own retail operations.

Thrive Market
Photo: Thrive Market

Earlier this year, Thrive co-founder Gunnar Lovelace told FoodNavigator-USA that the company has experienced such a growth spurt over the past few years that it “had to stop marketing because the business was growing so fast we couldn’t handle the scale. This year alone we’ll grow well over 50 percent,” he said.

Lovelace also told FoodNavigator that the company had identified more than $250 million in potential capital from interested aligned investors.

How it works

Thrive has streamlined the retail model offering its more than 400,000 members access to a curated list of organic and non-GMO products including food and health and beauty products at a wholesale cost. All items are shipped to its customers in 100 percent recyclable packaging and its shipping facilities are zero waste.

Memberships cost approximately $59.95 for a year. According to the company, each new membership sponsors a free membership for a low-income family.

For more information, visit thrivemarket.com.

 

 

 

How long does it really take you to decide what to eat?

refrigerator-1809344_1920While it may feel like deciding what’s for dinner while standing in front of the fridge with the door open takes forever, a new national survey of 1,000 men and women by market researchers OnePoll and commissioned by Orgain, says Americans actually spend more time deciding what to watch on Netflix.

The research looked at the amount of time Americans spend making various decisions. It revealed that while they spend an average of more than 23 minutes deciding what to watch on Netflix, more than half (55 percent) choose their food almost instantly and almost a quarter (24 percent) do so without reading ingredient labels at all, uncovering opportunities to improve food choices and overall health.

The survey asked respondents to rate how much consideration they give to decisions – both large and small – and found that 31 percent of people take time to carefully consider the pros and cons of both big purchasing decisions (such as buying a car) and small ones (such as a kitchen gadget). They spend more than an hour researching their next vacation (34.2 percent), TV (49.9 percent) or phone (24.8 percent.) However, most people said they spend less than 5 minutes when deciding on a new food brand to eat (55.7 percent) and almost three quarters spend less than three minutes reading food labels or checking the ingredients of what they’re eating.

Findings revealed that people considered decisions around finances (84.1 percent), relationships (55.5 percent), careers (58.8 percent) and even what to wear (60.5 percent) and how to decorate their homes (79.5) worthy of long consideration. Yet, when it comes to food choices, Americans don’t take the time to consider what they are eating.

The Orgain research found that when it comes to food:

  • Fifty-five percent say they pick their food almost instantly
  • Almost 3 out of 4 people spend less than 3 minutes reading food labels while grocery shopping
  • Just four percent say they carefully plan or think about what they’re eating
  • Two-thirds said they aren’t picky about their choices when it comes to food
  • Twenty percent said they aren’t at all picky when it comes to their diet

Airline food study gives Virgin America top marks in healthy eating options

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A new study from NYC Food Policy Center at Hunter College and DietDetective.com ranks Virgin America as one of the top airlines offering healthy food options.

“This year Virgin America wins the top spot again with the “healthiest” food choices in the sky with Delta and Air Canada tied for second,” said Charles Platkin, PhD, JD, MPH, the executive director of the NYC Food Policy Center at Hunter College and editor of DietDetective.com.

Twelve airlines were rated based on 10 criteria including health and calorie levels of meals, snack boxes and individual snacks, improvement and maintenance of healthy offerings, menu innovation and cooperation in providing nutritional information. The survey includes health ratings, average calories per airline, cost, comments, best bets, food offerings, calories, and exercise equivalents.

Summary of Health Ratings (5 stars = highest rating): Virgin America 4.25 stars, Delta 4 stars, Air Canada 4 stars, Alaska Air 3.75 stars, JetBlue 3.5 stars, United Airlines 3.25 stars, American 3 stars, Southwest Airlines 2 stars, Allegiant Air 1.75 stars, Hawaii 1.75 stars, Spirit Airlines 1 star, Frontier Air 1 star

The study noted that overall there was an 8 calorie decrease in the food offered this year over last year. Since 2012 the calories in airline food had been increasing slightly: The average number of calories per food item was 360 in 2012; in 2013 it was 388; in 2014 it was 397, 2015 it was 400, and this year it was 392. The survey also looked at the nutrients in the foods when they are provided, as well as innovations moving towards healthy, tasty, inexpensive, sustainable foods.

See the full study at http://www. dietdetective.com/ airline-food-investigation/.