New Hope Network’s “Spark Brand Success,” featured three days of online, interactive sessions geared towards growing brands through positive impact. The event design was to “guide the natural and organic products community through a virtual journey of product discovery, education, and connection.”
TraceGains sponsored the inaugural event, and members of our team attended most sessions. Below is a summary of highlights from the event.
Natural and Organic Growth Sales Take Off
US Informa SVP and Market Leader Carlotta Mast kicked off the event with an opening keynote, “The State of Natural and Organic,” which highlighted the industry’s explosive growth.
Mast pointed out that sales of natural, organic, and functional foods and beverages jumped 13% in 2020, exceeding expectations while generating $186 billion in revenue.
She credits the record growth to “dramatic shifts to eating more meals at home, through the quarantine, and surging consumer interest in healthier foods and beverages, and health and wellness products.”
Five Macro Trends Revealed During Spark Brand Success
The conference also identified macro trends emerging in the natural foods industry that brands should pursue.
Plant Wisdom – Consumers are increasingly waking up to the social and environmental health benefits of plant-based foods. Brands have responded by offering better options that make it easier for customers to ditch traditional protein offerings. This growing market is also witnessing the emergence of fortified snacks and other functional food products.
Ancient Wisdom – Consumers are looking for more time-honored heritage ingredients in a collective pushback on processed foods, including products produced with preservation techniques that retain more nutrition. These include ingredients “rich in culture, history, and nutrients.” Brands experiencing success in this category include Ayo Foods, a West African food line, Rumi Spice, an Afghan spice producer, and Amlu Foods, an argan nut butter manufacturer.
Plant Power – In addition to ramping up plant-based products across the board, brands are working to create plant-based foods higher in nutrition. The market represents a massive innovation opportunity in terms of formats and applications, in addition to cleaner modifications of legacy plant-based foods, like tofu and seitan.
Material Optimization – Brands are coming up with better ideas to scale back and eliminate waste throughout the supply chain. Efforts include waste reduction, more environmentally responsible packaging, and renewed agricultural commitments.
Earning Consumer Trust – The industry has talked about transparency and traceability for years. Still, in the wake of the pandemic, it’s struck a chord with increasingly educated consumers who expect brands to communicate the origin and characteristics of the ingredients in their products.
How to Avoid “Regulatory Hot Water” with Label Claims
On the final day of the conference, Shelley Sapsin, Informa Director of MarketReady Insights, urged brands to consider who’s watching when making label claims during her session, “Avoiding Regulatory Hot Water: Everything You Didn’t Know You Needed to Know.”
Here’s Shelley’s list of who’s watching your label claims:
The FDA and FTC, which are focused on product safety and truthfulness.
The states with wildly different laws and regulations that can surprise brands.
The National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureau, which lacks enforcement authority but can refer action to the FTC.
Competitors who can file unfair competition claims.
Class action lawyers eager to take private action on behalf of consumers who they believe were misled or harmed.
Retailers, many of whom enforce specific requirements for brands.
Consumers who expect safe, legal products, especially from natural brands.
Overheard at Spark Change
“It’s clear that consumers are interested in product transparency. Brands and retailers are working toward better proficiency in managing this effort. Many retail channels are expecting deeper levels of compliance. They’re not only required to make sure products are lawful and safe – substantiating label claims, following labeling rules, working with a reputable testing facility, and documenting GMPs is critical.”
– Leah Johnson, TraceGains Account Executive
“What can brands do? Manufacture products under CGMPs. Work with a reputable lab and test. Follow the labeling rules. Substantiate claims.”
– Krista Skucas, Danodan Hempworks Co-CEO
“Regulatory compliance isn’t just about jumping through hoops – even if it feels that way sometimes. The purpose of the regulations is to keep products safe, effective, and pure – and ensure we’re truthful and not misleading consumers. The hard work of making that happen starts long before the label goes on the product.”
– Shelley Sapsin, Informa Director of MarketReady Insights
“True innovators are those who are placing bets that their trend positioning is going to win in the marketplace. They’re the leaders closest to consumers. Brands are embracing trends that align more around mission and values.”
– Amanda Hartt, New Hope Network Lead Market Analyst
How to Drive Better, Faster Innovation
The stakes for innovation are high, and there’s no margin for error when making label claims. TraceGains Networked Product Development suite allows teams to go beyond manual processes to automated results by digitizing and streamlining new product development for better, faster innovation. Network connectivity offers instant access to more than two million supplier-provided documents, where development teams can leverage existing supply chain data, specifications, and product-related information to build claims. And a library of more than 300,000 digitally integrated scientific studies lets teams search by health condition, study type, journal ranking, or published date range. Once teams locate the documentation they need, they directly link it to the ingredient or claim, ensuring all associated formulas contain the applicable documentation.
Watch our on-demand webinar featuring CRN President and CEO Steve Mister and TraceGains CEO Gary Nowacki to learn how dietary supplements companies can ease the burden of health claims substantiation, develop new products faster, and improve cross-department and supply chain collaboration. Watch the webinar here.