For those still wondering if "natural foods" will continue to reach deeper into the mainstream consumer market, they should probably set those doubts aside. Sunflower Farmers Markets, a Boulder, Colo.-based natural foods retailer that positions itself as a low-price alternative to Whole Foods, will open 16 new stores by the end of 2009.

After receiving $30 million in venture capital money late last year, Sunflower expects to expand its presence in Colorado and then move into Utah and Texas. By mid-next year, the retailer will have doubled its current lineup of 13 stories in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico.

"We tend to attract the crossover shopper versus the hard-core natural foods shopper," Marketing Director Colein Whicher said. "We pull more from conventional retail shoppers, folks who are looking to make lifestyle changes."

Source: The Packer