Wielding elephantine clout in how brands launch and trends evolve, Whole Foods is, without a doubt, a natural foods juggernaut. Yet with conventional retailers like Costco, Target, Kroger and Walmart increasingly giving greater shelf space to natural and organic products, Whole Foods has been under pressure to maintain and reassert its dominance as a thought leader, wading through an innovation boom in natural beverages to identify “the next big thing.”
At the recently held Natural Products Expo East 2014, BevNET Editor-in Chief Jeff Klineman spoke with a number of executives from the retailer, who noted that the show featured “a lot of power from brands like Suja and Harmless Harvest, who are almost poster children for these white spaces that Whole Foods is trying to exploit.”
“They don’t want to see copycats, but what they do want to see is folks who understand what kind of priorities the store is setting up,” Klineman said of Whole Foods.
Clearly, it’s cold-pressed brands that are having the biggest impact in natural beverages, with an ever-growing slew of companies leaping onto the shelf at Whole Foods and well beyond, and, in the process, reinventing the super-premium juice category. Despite an already crowded set, however, most brands appear to be making some headway (and avoid butting heads) with positioning that varies by price, purpose and composition.
In this video, filmed on location at the Baltimore Convention Center, BevNET CEO John Craven and Klineman, discuss more about the category as well as others including plant-based waters and kombucha, which, by comparison, were surprisingly underrepresented. Craven and Klineman also examine weaker-than-expected attendance at the show, and exhibitors’ reaction to the slower foot traffic, as well as the implication of fall retailer resets in how company decide to launch new products and revamps at the show.