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Q&A: How Hain is bringing thought leadership to the better-for-you category

Hain Celestial's New North America President Chad Marquardt discusses "Hain Reimagined" and accelerating growth in the better-for-you category.

6 min read

CPGFoodFood Retail

Hain Celestial Group's better-for-you product offerings

Hain Celestial Group

It’s only been two months since Chad Marquardt took the reins as president of Hain Celestial’s North America operations, but the seasoned industry veteran – who began his career with Unilever – is already busy solidifying the company’s position as an expert and thought leader in better-for-you categories that span snacks, baby/kids food, beverages, meal prep and personal care. Here, he discusses the company’s Hain Reimagined strategy and how the company is collaborating with customers to elevate the growing better-for-you category. By working closely with partners across the retail landscape, Hain aims to make better-for-you more attainable to more consumers, whenever and wherever they are shopping.

Chad Marquardt, president, North America, Hain Celestial Group

What brought you to Hain, and since you’ve joined as the company’s President of North America, what are some of your early observations of the company and of the industry as a whole?

Throughout my career, I’ve had the pleasure of working for some great companies within CPG, including Unilever, Mead Johnson, and Reckitt. Each experience was remarkable and showcased leadership and solutions across various categories. However, the opportunity with Hain has been extraordinary, as the company has been uniquely focused in better-for-you for more than 30 years. That level of expertise, along with an outstanding portfolio, gives us credibility. We know the better-for-you customer, we understand how the category is evolving, and we can bring that knowledge to our customers to help grow not just their business but help elevate the category overall. We have amazing products across snacks, baby/kids, beverages, meal preparation, and personal care. Some of our leading brands across these categories include Garden Veggie™ snacks, Terra® chips, Garden of Eatin’® snacks, Earth’s Best® baby and toddler foods, Celestial Seasonings® teas, Greek Gods® yogurt, Imagine® soups, Yves® meat-free, and Alba Botanica® natural sun care, among others. An early observation in my first month is Hain’s ability to work with the agility of a startup but backed with a traditional scale CPG growth model. This enables Hain to generate ideas, collaborate, and speed up breakthrough innovations, whether it’s launching a new product, developing packaging, or creating marketing strategies that connect our brands with consumers. Our goal is to be first to mind and first to find.

Could you provide further insights into Hain’s Reimagined strategy and your vision for its implementation in North America?

Our vision is to be the global leader in better-for-you brands. In September 2023, we launched Hain Reimagined, our multi-year transformation plan designed to drive long-term sustainable growth. We are in the foundational year of our strategy, focusing on building a winning portfolio, streamlining operations to reduce supply chain complexity, and investing in essential capabilities.
North America is key to our company’s success. An important aspect of our strategy is brand building and enhancing our marketing efforts to connect with more consumers. We recently launched a multi-brand snack activation, ‘Savor Your Summer,’ and are expanding the availability of our beloved brands with groundbreaking innovations such as our Garden Veggie™ Flavor Burst™ tortilla chips. Another example is Celestial Seasonings® tea, where our beloved mascot Sleepytime® Bear continues to be a TikTok sensation, driving remarkable engagement with consumers.

How does sustainability play into the Hain Reimagined plan?

Sustainability, though not a new trend, is increasingly vital for consumers looking for better-for-you options. At Hain, our purpose is to inspire healthier living for people, communities and the planet through better-for-you brands. This year, we launched a 2030 sustainable packaging strategy, and we are working to bring sustainable packaging to life with our brands. A notable example is Celestial Seasonings®, which removed plastic overwrap from the packaging of over 130 tea varieties. This initiative is estimated to prevent up to 165,000 pounds of plastic waste from reaching landfills in 2024 alone. These figures, based on global shipment volumes for 2023, showcase our commitment to bringing sustainable packaging to life for our consumers.

Additionally, we recently announced the appointment of a Global Head of Impact. This role will oversee our Global Impact Strategy, highlighting Hain’s commitment to our mission of inspiring healthier living.

What are some emerging trends that you see potential in or that excite you most about being a player in the better-for-you category?

Consumers are increasingly seeking better-for-you options in all aspects of their lives, without compromising on quality.

We’re witnessing a resurgence in cooking meals from scratch as individuals strive to make healthier and more informed choices. The proliferation of social media has made ingredient trends and recipe sharing readily available, offering solutions at a moment’s notice.

For Hain, the key lies in two main areas: firstly, continually enhancing our consumer messaging and solutions to ensure we’re “First to Mind” every day. Secondly, we’re dedicated to assisting retailers in providing the right in-store solutions, both in terms of home location and off-shelf merchandising, to ensure we’re “First to Find.” This way, consumers won’t have to search for better-for-you options; they’ll find them exactly where they expect them to be within their preferred categories.

Do you think there is an opportunity for retailers to be better partners for both brands and consumers when it comes to the better-for-you food category and its growth?

To become our customers’ partner of choice, we need to balance better-for-you brands with conventional ones. Too often, retailers choose one over the other, but true consumer satisfaction comes from integrating both. This can be achieved through strategic product positioning, thoughtful shelf placement, and impactful merchandising experiences. Effective communication across all channels — digital, print, and advertising — ensures this balance is part of the store’s fabric. By creating a cohesive narrative that highlights the benefits of both types of brands, we can meet diverse consumer needs and strengthen our brand as one that values quality and well-being.

With that in mind, we have kicked off our “Savor Your Summer” multi-brand snack activation this summer to ensure that consumers have plenty of better-for-you snack options instead of just the usual snack brands. Many of our strategic retail partners have supported this with tremendous merchandising support to help consumers find options in their stores.

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