Demand for natural products is as strong as ever, according to data collected in the 36th Annual WholeFoods Retailer Survey. Independent stores that participated in this year’s survey had a strong showing in 2013, selling a combined $741 million throughout their more than 1.24 million ft2 of total retail space. Most stores reported gains this year, and businesses are optimistic about the outlook for 2014, all excellent news for those who value the expertise and unique flavor that independent stores contribute to the natural and organic supplements, grocery, HABA and home products industries.

It happens nearly every day: you’ve eaten lunch, dinner isn’t for another three hours and your stomach starts rumbling. Time to grab a quick snack! But looking at the vending machine in your office, all you see are potato chips fried in genetically modified oils and candy bars that are just chocolate-covered sugar with a side of artificial flavorings. If you and your shoppers are like millions of others today, these options just aren’t good enough anymore. You’re hungry for something healthy.

Sophie’s Kitchen has three new items: Breaded Vegan Coconut Shrimp, Breaded Vegan Fish’less’ Sticks and Vegan Smoked Salmon. All products are made with konjac root, an Asian superfood low in calories and high in fiber.

Raw Foods International now offers an all-natural Mango Guarana RAAW Juice that provides an effective, healthy stimulant in the form of a juice. The Mango Guarana juice is a fresh blend of fruits and vegetables with no added sugars or preservatives. Guarana has about twice the concentration of caffeine found in coffee beans, and is known to increase endurance and reduce fatigue.

Little Me Tea’s kid-friendly fruit tea line of the same name has no added sugar and no caffeine. Made from a blend of white, rooibos, chamomile and hibiscus teas, Little Me Teas are sweetened with fruit and vegetable juices from apples, sweet potatoes, mangoes, grapes and more. The 25-calorie boxes are 6.75 oz and currently come in two flavors: Julia’s Tropical Tea and Zane’s Grape Tea.

News from industry food companies.

Chicago, IL—A whopping 65% of consumers who have tried gluten-free foods said they did so in part because they thought they were healthier, according to new research from Mintel. Perhaps more interesting are the 27% of consumers who responded that they eat gluten free as part of their efforts to lose weight.

London—Although about 70% of the work done in agriculture is performed by women, their contributions often go unrecognized and underpaid, according to a new report collaborated on by the ethical trade group Twin and the Fairtrade Foundation, both based here. Empowering Women Farmers in Agricultural Value Chains details the glass ceiling women farmers face in the food industry, and what can be done to improve their status.

Election Day on November 5 brought a setback to the GMO labeling movement, as the state of Washington’s ballot Initiative 522 was voted down. The vote as of November 7 was 54% No to 46% Yes, though votes were still being counted. Earlier polls had staked the initiative to a sizable lead, but the gap closed as the election neared and many voters minds apparently changed. The initiative would have required foods containing genetically modified ingredients to convey that fact on the label.