Once Again Nut Butter, located in Nunda, N.Y., is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year. Without a doubt, the company sticks to its promise of integrity like peanut butter on bread.

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Be they energetic or docile, pocket-sized or king-bed-sized, pets of all shapes and sizes are warming the hearts of Americans. Millions of households consider their furry friends to be lifelong companions, and they’re treated as such. States Butch Smith, natural national sales manager for WellPet, Tewksbury, MA, “There’s no doubt that pet parents have developed a more intimate relationship with their pets than ever before…As people are adopting healthy, natural diets for their families, they also want to provide the same for their pets.”

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Of the two words making up the term “functional food,” the operative one in a commercial sense is most definitely the latter. Consumers will not buy a product, even one with great health claims, that does not meet their basic criteria for a satisfactory food experience: convenience, familiarity and taste.

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For years, WholeFoods Magazine has shined a light on natural products companies that market some of the country’s best top-selling products and has honored them with a Natural Choice Award. This year is no different. Once again, we are proud to honor some of the many excellent products that the natural products industry calls its own.

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Snack foods can be a blessing or a curse. Done well, a nutrient-dense pick-me-up is an important tool in helping to maintain a proper weight, healthy blood sugar levels, proper focus and good energy. But if you regularly pick the wrong snacks, well, expect the opposite to happen: weight gain, see-saw blood sugar and trouble concentrating.

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Vegetarianism and veganism are increasingly common lifestyle choices, while raw foods constitutes a health craze that is gaining in popularity. But practitioners of the three diets discussed in this article are all likely looking, at least in part, to further their wellbeing.

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Everyone likes to eat tasty food, and every human being needs to consume healthy fats. The influx of options in the healthy cooking oils category fills both needs amply. For their part, oil makers are eager to share their product knowledge with retailers, so that they in turn can give their customers the information needed for healthy cooking.

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In the natural food flavors and colors market, staying current and diversifying is the name of the game. Only the strongest, most palatable natural flavors and the brightest, most appealing colors survive, and jumping on the right bandwagon can be just as important as forging bold, new paths.

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Today’s natural consumers are savvy about labels. As the implications of understanding label claims and seeking out reputable certifications and stamps increases, shoppers are taking a closer look at their products before they buy.

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Chances are, you've heard "times are tough" a lot this year. But, just how tough has it been on natural products businesses? Well, according to the 2010 WholeFoods Retailer Survey, many stores are pulling out of the recession in stride as they report strong, even thriving sales.

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