BOSTON — Although there were few natural products formally shown at the NACDS Marketplace meeting held here, natural was all the buzz among buyers and suppliers alike.

The major issue: Is the mass market primed for natural products? Also top of mind was when it comes to beauty products, what constitutes natural or organic?

"I think the natural movement will stick this time," said industry consultant Allan Mottus.

Kathy Horton, category manager for Rite Aid Corp., said much of the decisions will involve the efficacy of natural products, especially for hair care. "The question is whether it is just hype," she said.

Already a handful of products with natural positioning are getting good results. Be Fine Food Skin Care is expanding rapidly in CVS.

CVS is increasing the number of products it's taking in from 14 to 26 items, said Florence Sender of Be Fine. Products, which were set in CVS planograms in March, doubled in sales and have so far generated $10 million in sales. Now the company is to focus on regional food retailers. Sender added that the line is entering Target next year. Year to date, the brand has generated more than $10 million in CVS' 6,100 doors.

While natural and organic firms pitched their wares, several show attendees shared which retailers are planning natural sets. Walgreens, it was said, will be launching 4- to 8-foot natural sections in 2,000 stores over the next two months. Target, said one supplier, is planning on a natural set for March 2008, while Rite Aid might make way for a natural set in the next six months.

Several chains, such as Walgreens, were also impressed with a hair care and skin line from Giovanni. The line from New Zealand uses herbs and pure vegetable proteins in formulations. Other natural lines at the show included Body America, which touts organics with attitude; Juice Organics, and Alba, which won an award for its packaging. Alba has an established following in health food stores, which is garnering it attention with mass marketers, according Tom Brown, vice president of sales.

Physicians Formula kept mum about its 2008 plans, but several show attendees said to expect an organic cosmetic line from the company. The new line, which will encompass as many as 100 stockkeeping units, is packaged in green biodegradable boxes. The line, buyers said, is sure to put more pressure in the beauty aisle.

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