The Organic Trade Association (OTA), as part of its All Things Organic Conference Track, hosted a session at Expo East on the state of the organic industry. A panel of speakers provided updates on the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and other issues. The panel included moderator Samuel Fromartz, editor in chief of the Food and Environment Reporting Network; Doug Crabtree, farmer and co-owner of Vilicus Farms; Anne Alonzo, administrator of the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service; Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group and Laura Batcha, executive director and CEO of OTA.
Some 23,000 natural products industry members convened at the 29th annual Natural Products Expo East, held September 17–20 at the Baltimore Convention Center. More than 1,275 exhibitors attended the show, and many product trends were evident at this year’s event. Gluten-free foods, for instance, continue to be a hot commodity.
Sacramento, CA—The first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags has been signed into law in California. By July 2015, grocery stores and supermarkets will no longer be allowed to offer plastic bags to customers. Convenience stores face the same ban starting in July 2016.
Monrovia, Liberia—While health officials worldwide are consumed with containing the Ebola outbreak in West Africa that has killed more 3,000 people as of press time, some individuals are looking into whether supplements like selenium can have any effect.
Washington, D.C.—In a move that has riled up critics of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and synthetic pesticides, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved modified corn and soybean seeds that are resistant to the pesticides 2,4-D and glyphosate.
Princeton, NJ—As part of a new strategy to reclaim some market share from competitors, Whole Foods Market is testing out a customer loyalty program in its Princeton, NJ, store. Shoppers can use a mobile-phone application to earn points for discounts and promotions. The test program is slated to last for six to eight months, with plans to expand to Philadelphia if all goes well. The program could roll out nationally in 2015.
Sugar Land, TX— Dietary supplement manufacturer Bluebonnet Nutrition Corporation hosted Congressman Pete Olson of Texas’s 22nd District on a tour of its headquarters to show the growth and sophistication that has taken place in the natural products industry.