For the past 10 years, WholeFoods Magazine has honored outstanding natural products industry companies with our Natural Choice Awards.

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Those that self-define as vegans or vegetarians were once a rare breed, at least in Western culture. Less so today: Last year’s Gallup poll revealed that 5% of people in the United States think of themselves as vegetarians. 2% identified as vegan, and there’s not a lot of overlap between the two; most respondents that called themselves vegan marked down that they were not vegetarians (1).

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It’s that time of the year again! Natural Products Expo West, hosted by New Hope Natural Media, is once again coming to the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, CA from Thursday, March 7th to Sunday, March 10th. On Friday and Saturday, the show floor is open from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and on Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Co-located with several other events (Engredea; Nutracon; Fresh Ideas Organic Marketplace; and Beer, Wine, and Spirits Marketplace), Expo West provides invaluable knowledge for those looking to improve their stores and products.

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Most pet owners say they are willing to do anything to give their pets long, healthy, happy lives, just like they would for their human family members. So, why feed, reward or supplement them with anything but the best? Pets are part of the family and have their own set of dietary and hygienic needs that can be amply addressed through natural products. Animal-loving, natural lifestyle customers will surely embrace these products to support many more years with their furry friends.

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The pressure is on. You are charged with making an important decision about an issue that affects millions of people. Worse, you’re really not well versed on all its complex potential ramifications. Wouldn’t it be great to have a helping hand, someone knowledgeable to tell you what you need to know in 15 minutes and leave you with a clear one-pager to remind you about everything you discussed?

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Those determined to flip the script on their digestive woes will first need to learn which types of food are up to the task. They’ll want to know how, by changing or adding to their diet, they can make their entire experience with food go more smoothly. Possessing that knowledge, and the product offerings to match, will make you the ally of such customers in their quest to digest.

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Try to convince your customers that healthful food that also manages to satisfy is more than myth. It might be a difficult task.

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According to the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI), over 400 registered green logos exist worldwide (1). Most consumers say they are more likely to buy products with green seals, says NMI (1), and there are good reasons why. Certifications help a product standout in saturated markets.

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With a wide enough selection and a nudge in the right direction, even your most cooking-averse customers will find themselves dashing in the sea salt and peppering over the stew. The spice suggestions to follow will surely bring variety to their palates and their lives, but before we can apply these tips to great and tasty result, we must learn the basics on approaching spices, along with a few extra insights that any aspiring home cook must know.

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The financial figures are getting more and more impressive. Private label food and beverage sales surpassed $98 billion in the United States in 2011, according to Packaged Facts (1). That accounts for 17.6% of total food and beverage sales.

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