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Sprouts CEO sharpens focus on new items

Sprouts Farmers Market CEO Amin Maredia on Wednesday said he was impressed with advances in the quality of new natural and organic products on display at Natural Products Expo West last week in Anaheim, Calif., and said the retailer keeps an eye on such items as it moves to become a food "trendsetter."

"It is amazing [to see] the continuation of the technology and investment in natural and organic food that's coming over the last 10 years, and it's definitely showing up in the products in everything from taste to packaging," Maredia said in remartks at the Bank of America Consumer and Retail Tech conference in New York. "Ten years where we used to joke that some of the products — you didn't know if you were eating the cardboard box or the product itself. But today the food is tasting so much better, the quality of the ingredients are so much better. The transparency of packaging and telling the customer, what's in the product is getting so much better."

Maredia said Sprouts, based in Phoenix, hunts the new product show — run by SN's sister company New Hope Network — with an eye identifying ingredients and product trends that will "blow up." Sprouts works with manufacturer partners to develop offerings on those trends throughout the store, he said.

"We're very quick to react and push that ingredient throughout our store, whether it's coconut or almonds or whatnot," he said. "We would like to think of ourselves as getting closer and closer to becoming the trendsetter in the industry."

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