The votes have been cast and tallied. Now, it’s time to announce the results of the 2016 Natural Choice Awards!
This annual honor, now in its 14th year, recognizes and celebrates the natural industry’s top selling products and companies, whether they’re small and just starting out or seasoned veterans.
Winners in all 18 categories were based solely on confidential retailers’ votes of the best-selling supplements, foods and personal care products over the past year. All ties were broken by tallying placements in our monthly What’s Selling Column.
As in the past, we had some repeat best sellers such as derma e for Best Skin Care, which attributes its success to not only the company’s outstanding staff, but also to the value of its line. “We are honored to win the Natural Choice Awards for Best Skin Care products for the seventh time,” said Gina Ferrato, vice president of sales for the natural channel at derma e. “We are committed to developing doctor-formulated, clinically tested products that deliver real visible results. Each product is also formulated to adhere to our philosophy and standards. Therefore, the entire line is 100% vegan, gluten free, cruelty free and eco-friendly.”
Another winner in the Personal Care category stated that the Natural Choice Award is a symbol of the success of her brand’s mission. “Our mission at Emerita is improving the health and lives of women,” stated marketing manager Amy Spreadborough. “It’s what gets me excited to come to work every day. And, it infuses everything we do. So, it’s really an honor to be chosen and recognized like this.”
Meanwhile, Scott Hendren, sales director for Irwin Naturals, was thrilled that his firm won in the weight-management category. He stated that the honor speaks to his company’s “performance in such a competitive category.” He added, “The weight management market has been inundated [with new ingredients].” But, Irwin Naturals has stuck to its “tried-and-true formula,” which has resulted in its products withstanding the “test of time.”
Natural Choice Awards veteran Bluebonnet Nutrition Corporation believes the timeless relevancy of its mission wouldn’t be possible without the loyalty of independent retailers. “For all of our wonderfully natural food retailer partners who have supported us since our inception and made us their ‘go-to’ supplement brand, we want to share this award with you, too. We did not travel this journey alone…you have been right by our side every step of the way, and we can’t tell you in words how much we appreciate it.”
Just like many of our winners, WholeFoods Magazine would like to take the time out to also thank the retailers for their participation. Without them, the Natural Choice Awards would not be possible. We’d also like to recognize Northfield, NJ-based Essential Elements, which was randomly selected from our contributing retailers to win a $50 cash prize.
Congratulations, once again, to all of our 2016 winners and runner-ups.
Reporting by Maxine Bogle
SUPPLEMENTS: FULL LINE
Still family owned in its 25th year, Bluebonnet Nutrition Corporation has held on to its mission to supply the cleanest, most wholesome dietary supplements on the market, sold exclusively to natural food stores. With hundreds of products offered, the firm makes high-quality vitamins, proteins, amino acids, standardized herbal extracts and marine- and plant-based omega fatty acids that are specially formulated for children, pregnant and nursing women, seniors, as well as casual and serious athletes alike. Each product is made without artificially derived colors, flavors or sweeteners and unnecessary fillers, binders or excipients. Many products are alsoallergen-free and kosher certified.
SUPPLEMENTS: WEIGHT MANAGEMENT
Weight management supplements are hot, and retailers say their hottest offering is triple-tea fat burner from Irwin Naturals. This formula blends white, green and black tea extracts to supply thermogenic ingredients with antioxidant protection. EGCG and caffeine support thermogenesis, B-vitamins support sustained energy levels, green tea helps oxidize fat, and vitamins C and E offer antioxidant support. The addition of BioPerine—a branded extract derived from black pepper—helps enhance nutrient absorption. Triple-Tea Fat Burner comes in liquid soft-gel capsules for quick absorption in the body.
SUPPLEMENTS: SPORTS NUTRITION
Sports Nutrition is a crowded category, but one brand stood out as a best seller among natural products retailers: Whey Protein from NOW Foods. NOW Foods offers several types of whey protein blends, including:
Flavors include Berry, Vanilla, Mocha and Dutch Chocolate, and all are free of artificial sweeteners and other ingredients. “Our goal is to offer safe and effective products, and with sports nutrition that brings an added responsibility to prove that it’s a clean product. In fact, we developed and published a testing method specifically to test for adulterants commonly found in drug testing programs for athletes,” said Amber Cerda, marketing communications manager.
SUPPLEMENTS: BONE/JOINT HEALTH
Retailers are likely very familiar with our next honoree: Curamin Extra Strength from EuroPharma. According to the company, Curamin Extra Strength’s key ingredient BCM-95 Curcumin has been clinically studied and reviewed to offer excellent absorption of curcumin. The formula also includes nattokinase (helps support circulation), BosPure Boswellia (contains three important boswellic acids and offers anti-inflammatory properties) and DLPA (maximizes the effects of endorphins and enkephalins).
SUPPLEMENTS: HEART HEALTH
Omega-3s, red yeast rice, fiber…what’s the best-selling supplement in the heart health category? Retailers selected CoQ10 as their top heart health product, specifically Ubiquinol Active CoQ10 from Natural Factors. When the ability to naturally produce ubiquinol is diminished due to aging or genetics, Natural Factors says Ubiquinol Active CoQ10 offers the enhanced absorption and bioavailability consumers will need. Blended in a base of organic flaxseed oil for enhanced absorption, the active ingredient of choice is CoQ10 as Kaneka Q+ ubiquinol, which helps maintain cardiovascular health and offers antioxidant protection.
SUPPLEMENTS: IMMUNE HEALTH
According to SPINS data*, Host Defense - MyCommunity is the #1 best-selling mushroom supplement in the country, which may be the reason for Fungi Perfecti winning in the Immune Health category. The liquid and capsule product is formulated from 17 activated, freeze-dried and certified organic mushroom species such as Artist Conk, Lion’s Mane and Birch Polypore. In addition to supplements, the company is devoted to helping the community. With support from Host Defense, Washington State University investigates ways to help overcome honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder with the help of mushrooms.
SUPPLEMENTS: DIGESTIVE HEALTH
For the second time, Enzymedica has won for its enzymes in the digestive category. The full line includes 13 products that all use Thera-Blend technology to blend several strains of enzymes, like protease and amylase to break down fats, fibers, proteins, carbohydrates and other components for an optimal digestion. This approach also helps the body absorb nutrients and convert food into energy. Specific formulas in the line include Acid Soothe, DairyAssist, Digest Gold, Digest Spectrum, Enzyme Defense and GlutenEase.
For the fifth time, Nature’s Plus takes home the win in the children’s supplement category for its Animal Parade line. These kids’ vitamins, multivitamins and supplements come in animal-shaped gummies, liquids, liquid drops for babies and toddlers, whole food chewables, Warm Milk chewables, nutritional shakes and Tooth Fairy dental products available in a variety of flavors like cherry, grape and bubble gum. Each formula is made with whole foods, green super-food extracts, bioflavonoids and botanical extracts to support the needs of growing bodies.
Nature’s Way says it has become one of the most technologically advanced dietary supplement manufacturers in the U.S. and will continue to stay focused on product innovation and pushing the boundaries on quality research and testing. Perhaps this is very reason for a seventh win for Nature's Ways' full line of herbal supplements. Some of the many uses of the 200-product line are for immune support, cardiovascular support, digestive health, women's health, joint health and mobility and even visual function. In addition to herbal supplements, Nature’s Way also offers over 500 nutritional products, including homeopathic remedies, vitamins, minerals and specialty formulas.
As a cooperative started by seven Southwest Wisconsin farmers in 1988, cheese was the very first branded product made by Organic Valley. And, according to the company, it made the first nationally distributed certified organic cheese in the country—even before it ever sold milk. Clearly, shoppers still love this offering, the winner of the 2016 Natural Choice Award in the organic category. Organic Valley’s Organic Cheeses are available as shreds, sticks, singles and slices that can be used to top salads, breads and most other foods. All products are free of GMOs, toxic pesticides, synthetic hormones and antibiotics.
FOOD: SENSITIVE DIETS
For over 30 years, the Bob’s Red Mill Family has been committed to providing the very best in gluten-free flours, cereals, baking mixes and grains. This legacy, combined with continuous innovation in the line, has helped Bob’s Red Mill earn its place as the winner of the Foods for Sensitive Diets Natural Choice Award. To ensure gluten-free products are up to par, Matthew Cox, vice president of marketing, states, “All gluten-free products are produced in a 100% dedicated gluten-free facility and ingredients are batch tested in the company’s quality control laboratory with an R5 ELISA Gluten Assay test.” In addition to a line of gluten-free products, Bob’s Red Mill also has low-carb mixes and an extensive line of organic products, which include organic brown rice flour, organic quinoa grain and organic flaxseed meal.
Shoppers say taste is paramount in their food choices, but this criteria has historically been a challenge in the vegan cheese category (not to mention meltability!). Top-selling Daiya Foods’ dairy-free alternative Cheese Shreds are said to solve this problem, and offer variety to boot. Flavors come in classic blend, pepperjack, mozzarella and cheddar styles, which are also free of GMOs, cholesterol and trans-fat. Daiya Foods also offers additional vegan products like Cheezecake, cream cheese style spreads and Greek yogurt alternatives.
FOOD: NUTRITION BARS
Quest Nutrition takes first place for its full line of nutrition bars, making this the company's third win in the bar category. Each of the Quest Nutrition Protein Bars feature 20 g of protein, natural sweeteners such as stevia and erythritol and a protein blend of milk protein isolate and whey protein isolate. Flavors include Strawberry Cheesecake, Apple Pie, Chocolate Brownie and Mixed Berry Bliss. According to the company website, “We even manufacture the inclusions that we put in our bars. The chocolate crumbles in Cookies & Cream and the white chocolate chunks in the White Chocolate Raspberry…we make those from scratch. It’s the only way to get the perfect taste and nutritional profile you come to expect from Quest.”
If the WholeFoods Natural Choice Awards are any indication, probiotics are definitely on shoppers' radars. For the first time, KeVita’s Sparkling Probiotic Beverages takes home the gold in the beverage category! These USDA-certified organic drinks are non-GMO and contain several live probiotic cultures: Bacillus coagulans GBI-30 6086, L.rhamnosus, L.plantarum and L.paracasei. The 11 lightly carbonated beverages are naturally sweetened with stevia and contain no added sugar or dairy. Flavors include Lemon Cayenne, Lemon Ginger, Mango Coconut, Strawberry Acai Coconut, Blueberry Cherry and more.
HABA: PERSONAL CARE
Natural mid-life balance must be what female consumers are seeking, according to the results of this year’s Natural Choice Awards tally. The winner in the personal care category is Emerita’s Pro-Gest cream. According to Emerita, for over 35 years, women have relied on Pro-Gest Cream for support at midlife. The two-oz, four-oz and single-use packets all contain 450 mg of USP progesterone per ounce. Progesterone is a fat/oil extracted from a Mexican wild yam, and Emerita only uses progesterone that “meets the standards of the United States Pharmacopeia for strength, purity and quality.” New to market is Pro-Gest Cream with vitamin D.
HABA: HAIR CARE
Dr. Bronner’s popular line of soaps has caught the eye of shoppers. Dr. Bronner’s 18-in-1 liquid and bar soaps offer a combination of organic extra -virgin coconut, jojoba and hemp oils together with pure essential oils, to create a unique soap that the company says “cleans effectively without being abrasive and produces a velvety lather that leaves the skin silky-smooth and refreshed.” Dr. Bronner’s Soaps are not tested on animals, vegan, certified the USDA Organic and certified fair trade for all major raw materials. All products are packaged in 100% post-consumer recycled plastic bottles and 10% hemp-flax, 90% post-consumer recycled paper. Liquid and bar soaps are available in peppermint, lavender, almond, tea tree, eucalyptus, unscented baby-mild, rose and citrus.
HABA: SKIN CARE
For the seventh time, derma e has won a Natural Choice Award for its full line of skincare products that aim to target fine lines, wrinkles, loss of firmness, hyperpigmentation or dehydration with vitamins, antioxidants and botanicals. Such products include lotions, masks, facial cleansers, exfoliants, scrubs, toners and moisturizers. Each formula is 100% vegan and cruelty free as well as free of parabens, gluten, GMOs, phthalates, petrolatum and lanolin.
Shoppers are definitely not forgetting Fido and Fluffy when they shop for supplements. This year’s winner in the Pet Care category is the Omega-3 Pet Line from Nordic Naturals. According to the company, the same quality standards and oils used in their pet line are the ones used to manufacture its human products. Available in soft gels, liquids and drops, the Omega-3 Pet Line is derived from wild anchovies, sardines and wild Arctic cod for their omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which support the cardiovascular system, increase cellular health, benefit the immune system, support joint health and benefit skin and coat health. Each batch is third-party tested to guarantee freshness and to confirm that it has been purified of heavy metals and environmental toxins.
Natural Choice Awards Runner-Ups
Full Line: NOW Foods
Published in WholeFoods Magazine April 2016