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Food Business Insight Alert Archive

Have a look at some of our recent alerts. These give broad coverage of the industry - if you want something more specific create your own here.

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July 21, 2019, to August 25, 2019

Coca-Cola Ireland Moves To 50 Percent Recycled Plastic Packaging

Coca-Cola Ireland announced that all of its 500 ml and smaller packs are now being made from 50 percent recycled plastic (rPET). “Take-home" packs, which include all bottles larger than 500ml, have moved to 25 percent rPET. The recycled material will be incorporated across Coca-Cola's full portfolio, which includes Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, Diet Coke, Fanta, and Sprite. The company said the investment in recycled PET, combined with other sustainability measures across its packs, will take approximately 2,000 tons of virgin plastic from circulation in Ireland each year.

Family Bakery In Upper Wisconsin Focuses On Healthful Breads Made From Ancient Grains

A Michigan couple who started baking bread together for fun and relaxation eventually abandoned their careers and moved away from Detroit, eventually launching a bakery in Egg Harbor, Wis., north of Green Bay on Lake Michigan. Over the years Michael and Jenny MacReady’s bakery has expanded, hiring mostly retirees, but at its core has remained a family business that stresses healthful baked goods. Bread baker Michael makes whole grain breads, turning out loaves made from locally grown emmer (farro), spelt and einkorn, and rye flour. The MacReady Artisan Bread Company is now famous for its bread, which is wholesaled to local restaurants, but also for their sandwiches, soups, pastries, and pies.  

Grain, Baking Groups Urge Maintaining Carb Intake Levels

Representatives of the American Bakers Association (ABA) told a U.S. dietary guidelines advisory panel recently that carbohydrate intakes should remain at the 2015 recommended level of between 45-65 percent of daily calories.  Registered dietician Kathy Wiemer also recommended six servings daily of traditional grains with at least half as whole grains, “given that Americans continue to under-consume whole grains.” She also urged American to eat at least three servings of enriched grains. The recommendations in the advisory committee's scientific report, due next year, will form the basis of the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs). Other organizations testifying before the panel as part of an umbrella group known as the Grain Chain included the Wheat Foods Council, the Independent Bakers Association, the Grain Foods Foundation, the Grain Chain, the North American Millers' Association, the Wheat Foods Council, the USA Rice Federation, and the Retail Bakers of America.

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June 16, 2019, to July 21, 2019

Reuse Models Through The New Plastics Economy Lens

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy initiative published research it has conducted on how to convert some 20% of global plastic packaging into reuse models, and how this could represent a US$10 billion opportunity for business. The study looked at over 100 initiatives and interviewed more than 50 experts. The report identified six key benefits in reuse models: lower packaging and transportation from using refills in a compact form (e.g. concentrates and solids); more consumer control over the product; brand loyalty and customer retention through deposit and reward schemes; improved user experience; optimized operations, such as economies for scale in standardizing reusable packaging; and opportunities to gather information on consumer preferences by incorporating digital technologies (RFID tags, GPS, and sensors) in reusable packaging. The study also looked at four main reuse models (refill at home; refill on the go; return from home; and return on the go), and presented 69 examples, across a range of categories.

Swedish Startup Introduces The Veggio Reusable Bag For Fruit And Veg

Carrinet, a Swedish startup, has developed a machine-washable, reusable drawstring bag, called Veggio, made from 100% recycled PET bottles, for fruit and vegetables. Each bag can hold up to 10kg and the netting design allows the produce to be rinsed while still in the bag. 2Tech is distributing the bags in the UK. It says the bags give consumers an alternative to using the free plastic bags provided in supermarkets, and it aims to persuade supermarkets to stock the Veggio bags.

McDonald’s UK & Ireland Makes Further Plastic Use Reductions

The McFlurry’s ice cream range at McDonald’s in the UK and Ireland will be sold without the single-use plastic lids from September this year. McDonald’s will also use 100% renewable and recyclable cardboard packaging for all main meals and side salads, replacing the plastic containers. The cardboard will contain 50% recycled content. The company says that the changes will reduce plastic waste by nearly 500 million tonnes a year. Its global commitment is to use only renewable or recycled packaging by 2025 and it has started replacing plastic straws with paper straws. 

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May 26, 2019, to June 16, 2019

Churros On The March, In San Diego At Least

Food experts may disagree about its origins, but most concede that the deep-fried, cinnamon-and-sugar-dusted churro fritter has been around since the 16th century. A long-time cheap snack in San Diego and Tijuana, the churro has begun popping up in unique ways at local restaurants, bars, and food stands. Among the offerings:  Punta Mita-style churros (crispy on the outside, soft on the inside; the churro doughnut (rolled in cinnamon sugar and served with vanilla ice cream); churro bagel (coated in cinnamon sugar and paired with dulce de leche cream cheese); churro waffle sticks ( coated in cinnamon sugar, served with maple cream cheese sauce, jalapeño-blackberry jam and fresh fruit); and churro waffles (fresh-baked Belgian waffles dredged in cinnamon sugar, then paired with ice cream). Also available: churro ice cream sandwiches, pancakes, and French toast.

Innovative Ways To Integrate Wheat Products Into Menus

Can kids be tricked into eating healthful vegetables? One chef’s answer: yes, by creating tortillas made from carrots. Josh Kranz of South Dakota recently participated, along with 12 colleagues, in the Wheat Foods Council’s Wheat Immersion Program, where they brainstormed ways to incorporate more wheat products into menus. The immersion program gave the chefs opportunities to work with wheat in innovative ways. Kranz, for example, used whole kernel grain to blend wheat into a salad much like beans or quinoa are used with leafy greens. He soaked the grain much like you would dry beans, then cooked it, cooled it down, and tossed it with a vinaigrette.

Ardent Mills Shows Pizza Expo Attendees What Authentic Really Means

As consumer food preferences change, pizza bakers need to adapt to new trends and ingredient choices, including unusual flours like heirloom and ancient grains. The Ardent Mills culinary team recently showcased top flour-and-grain trends at the recent International Pizza Expo, a gathering of pizza-making experts and enthusiasts from the restaurant industry. In the process, the team whipped up a variety of brick-oven style pizzas at the expo, including five that illustrated current ingredient trends (and featured company flours): traditional Neapolitan-style pizza; margarita pizza; farm stand pizza made with whole wheat flour and red quinoa; Mardi Gras pizza with Cajun chicken and andouille sausage; Mediterranean pizza with grilled chicken and roasted peppers; and savory garlic parmesan pizza.

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May 05, 2019, to May 26, 2019

Company Provides DNA Trace Back System To Assure Origins Of U.S. Food

A 2017 survey by Label Insights found that three-quarters of consumers would exchange their favorite food brands for ones that provide more in-depth product information beyond the physical packaging. With that in mind, Virginia-based Performance Food Group Company (PFG) has been working with European technology innovator IdentiGEN for 10 years to align supply chains, building the first complete DNA trace back system to the farm. The idea is to provide greater accountability, improve sustainability, ensure quality, and prevent fraud. For example, Braveheart Black Angus Beef, a premium Midwest-raised beef that is traceable back to its origins with DNA technology, has been added to the menus of 18,000 U.S. restaurants in 900 U.S. cities since its debut. The fastest growing part of PFG's protein program is fresh meat produced under PFG's proprietary PathProven program, PFG's assurance that the product is traceable, auditable, and meets a specific set of farming and processing standards established and controlled by PFG. 

U.S. Food Exporter Helps West African Farmers Get The Grain Fonio To Market

Brooklyn’s Yolélé Foods, which imports the sub-Saharan African grain fonio, is working with SOS Sahel to help farmers in the semi-arid region increase their productivity, improve the supply chain, and in turn enhance their livelihood. The farmers cultivate nutritious fonio – gluten-free, high in protein, iron, and fiber – on land that is sandy, rocky, and generally unfriendly to most crops, hard to process  without good equipment, and saddled with a fragmented supply chain. It’s difficult if not impossible to bring substantial quantities to the marketplace. But Yolélé Foods and SOS Sahel have spearheaded the creation of the first industrial scale mill in Dakar (Senegal) to efficiently process the grain and boost supply. "People should expect to find it on store shelves within the year," says a spokesman for Yolélé Foods. 

History Of Eating Disorders Predisposes People To "Clean Eating" Obsession

Researchers at York University's Faculty of Health (U.K.) say those who have a history of an eating disorder, obsessive-compulsive traits, dieting, poor body image, and a drive for thinness are more likely to develop a pathological obsession with healthy eating or consuming only healthy food, known as orthorexia nervosa (ON). Although eating healthy is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, for some people this preoccupation with healthy eating can become physically and socially impairing. The researchers reviewed studies published through the end of 2018 in two databases to determine the psychosocial risk factors associated with orthorexia nervosa. "When taken to the extreme, an obsession with clean eating can be a sign that the person is struggling to manage their mental health," they concluded (McComb et al., Appetite 2019)

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April 28, 2019, to May 05, 2019

Fast Food Restaurants Are Selling Roundup Herbicide With Their Entrees

Nonprofit foodservice industry watchdog GMO Free USA published a report detailing the results of food tests for glyphosate residue across fifteen popular fast food and casual restaurants in the U.S. A Panera Bread sample had the highest level of glyphosate of all 44 restaurant foods tested. The irony is that the company’s primary marketing claim is: "100 percent of our food is 100 percent clean." Other restaurants tested include Chili's Grill & Bar, Domino's Pizza, Dunkin' Donuts, IHOP, Le Pain Quotidien, McDonald's, Olive Garden, Outback Steakhouse, Papa John's, Pizza Hut, Pret a Manger, Subway, Taco Bell, and Whole Foods Market. Glyphosate has been linked to cancer, disturbances in the microbiome and the depletion of our bodies' ability to detoxify." A growing body of peer-reviewed science links glyphosate to numerous health harms at levels found in some restaurant foods tested. 

Baked Goods Ingredient Raises Risk Of Obesity And Diabetes

A study published in the journal Science Translational Medicine reports that propionate, an ingredient widely used in animal feed, artificial flavorings, and baked goods, may cause a spike in hormones that can raise the risk of diabetes and obesity. Propionate consumption can increase substances in the human body that create excessive insulin and insulin resistance. The researchers observed significant weight gain and a rise in glucose in lab mice, which led to hyperglycemia in the animals. They also tested it in humans, finding that propionate eaters had significant increases in norepinephrine, along with FABP4 and glucagon. These results suggest that propionate could lead to both obesity and diabetes.

Aryzta Now Selling Frozen Danish Pastries To U.S. Foodservice Market

Swiss frozen baked goods company Aryzta has launched Mette Munk branded Danish pastries into the U.S. and Canadian marketplaces. Produced at its bakery in Denmark, the frozen products are for retail, convenience, and foodservice customers. The Mette Munk premium line of Danish pastries is made with real fruit, free-range eggs, certified sustainable palm oil, Bourbon vanilla, and pure maple syrup at the bakery in Odense. Other Aryzta brands include La Brea Bakery, Otis Spunkmeyer, Oakrun Farm Bakery, and Pennant.

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April 07, 2019, to April 28, 2019

A La Mode Ice Cream Gets Rid Of All Artificial Flavors, Colors

Egg-free ice cream brand A La Mode of New York announced it is transitioning to all-natural ingredients while introducing a packaging update to the current upbeat and playful cartons, most notably including color changing spoons. The nut-, sesame- and egg-free line is being revamped with all-natural coloring and ingredients now available in pints and soon to be offered in cups and bars. The company also noted that its cartons will be fully recyclable in an effort to further A La Mode's mission to be fully sustainable.

Meat Companies May Be Misleading Consumers By Claiming Products Are “Natural”

Although American consumers want “all-natural” meats – with no antibiotics, hormones, or preservatives – the USDA says that in meats and poultry “natural” only means no artificial ingredients and minimal processing. Major meat companies, meanwhile, are catering to consumer desires by claiming or implying in advertising that their products are natural. Those claims are legal, as long as they follow USDA guidelines, even if they mislead shoppers. That was basically the ruling of the D.C. Superior Court when on April 8 it dismissed a lawsuit by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) alleging Hormel was misleading consumers. But in statements disclosed in the court filing, a Hormel executive said the same pigs it uses to make its famous Spam brand meat product are also used in Natural Choice pork products. Those pigs are often given antibiotics and are rarely allowed outdoors. An ALDF attorney said Hormel was engaged in “a massive attempt to manipulate and dupe the consumer to purchase something they have no intention to purchase.” 

Barley: Not Just For The Farm Trough Anymore

A chef in the Pittsburgh area sings the praises of his “favorite grain,” barley – the No. 4 whole grain produced in the world, but the least eaten at the table. Joe Carei acknowledges that barley hasn’t quite made it to the mainstream of home-cooking ingredients – it’s mostly used to feed animals – but home cooks should give it a chance. He suggests, for example, substituting it for side dishes like rice, pasta, and risotto because the healthful grain is inexpensive, filling, a great source of fiber, and easily added to the diet. It can be incorporated into soups, salads or bread. In terms of health, barley can be classified as a superfood: it helps control blood sugar, prevents diabetes, reduces blood pressure and cholesterol, prevents gallstones, and helps with prevention of colon cancer. So “if you are tired of rice or potatoes,” Carei says, “give barley a call. It's waiting.”

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March 24, 2019, to April 07, 2019

Campus Education Programs Alone Won’t Cut Waste At All-You-Can-Eat Buffets

According to a University of Illinois study, diners at all-you-can-eat buffet-style restaurants or university dining halls have little incentive to pile less food on their plate. The result? They tend to overindulge, but don’t necessarily consume all that they heap on their plates, and a lot of food is wasted. A food waste-reduction campaign might serve as a low-cost way to extol moderation at the buffet line. Unfortunately, however, such campaigns don’t seem to work. Consumer economist Brenna Ellison suggests that for greater waste reduction, education campaigns should be combined with environmental changes such as removing the flat-fee pricing structure or pre-portioning food items.

Community Refrigerators Reduce Food Waste While Helping To Feed The Needy

A British environmental charity is turning to community refrigerators set up in public spaces as a way to reduce food waste and foster more nutritious eating.  The refrigerators, set up in community centers and churches, for example, would give restaurants, supermarkets, home cooks, and others a place to drop off excess food as a donation and ensure it remains fresh. The food would then be picked up by people in need, free of charge. Hubbub, the charity installing the fridges, has placed  50 community refrigerators so far, and hopes to install another 50 across Britain by the end of 2020. On average, a community refrigerator site is visited by more than 200 people a month, though that number could climb to about 1,000 visitors for busier locations.

Arizona Bakery Chain Celebrates French Bread Day With Discounted Loaves

To celebrate “National French Bread Day,” family-owned, Arizona-based Bashas' supermarkets offered customers special discounts on its fresh-baked crusty bread from March 21 through March 26. The price of loaves of crusty bread varieties such as Multi-grain, Poppy Seed, Sesame and Original was reduced to $1.50. The price was reduced to $0.99 a loaf on March 21, the actual day of the French bread celebration. Bashas' crusty bread is baked from scratch in a hands-on process that spans a full 24 hours. Ingredients are measured and mixed by hand, then allowed to sit for 30 minutes while the yeast starts to ferment. Then the dough is cut by hand and weighed to exact proportions for consistent sized loaves. The dough rests for another 30 minutes before entering the roller, a machine that stretches the dough into its familiar log-like shape. Loaves rest on trays for a night in the cooler, spend 40 minutes in the proofer, then steam bake for 23 minutes. After a brief cooling period, the loaves are hand-bagged and placed on Bashas' bakery shelves.

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March 10, 2019, to March 24, 2019

Milk Producers Urge FDA To Enforce Legal Definition Of “Milk”

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) has filed a citizen petition with the FDA proposing that plant-based brands that do not match dairy counterparts nutritionally should use the term imitation (e.g., imitation milk); while those that do match dairy nutritionally should use terms such as substitute or alternative (e.g., yogurt alternative). The NMPF said dairy milk is a key source of nutrients, including vitamin D, a nutrient in milk that has virtually eliminated the disease known as rickets. The Federation says the FDA’s decades lack of enforcement of laws that limit the term milk to the lacteal secretions of cows has allowed marketplace chaos to grow exponentially. The Plant Based Foods Association, however, argues that requiring a disparaging word such as imitation on labels would violate the First Amendment. Moreover, the NMPF is trying to solve a problem that does not exist: consumers are not confused, and they are not being misled.

USDA, FDA To Jointly Regulate Cultured Meat Products

Federal agencies USDA and FDA will share regulatory oversight duties for culture meat production to ensure food safety and correct labeling practices. The FDA will oversee cell collection, cell banks, and cell growth and differentiation. During the harvest stage, regulation will shift to the USDA’s FSIS, which will oversee the production and labeling of human food products derived from the cells of livestock and poultry. The USDA said consumers trust the USDA mark of inspection to ensure safe, wholesome and accurately labeled products. The U.S. Cattlemen s Association (USCA) said it was encouraged by the joint regulatory oversight of cell-based meats, and pleased that FSIS will have pre-market labeling authority. The association, however, reiterated its stance that the term meat, and more specifically beef, refers to products derived exclusively from the flesh of a bovine animal harvested in the traditional manner. 

North Carolina Baker Seeks To Revive The Community Bakery Tradition

A North Carolina baker has launched a Community Supported Bakery (CSB) at a location in a small town that has housed several start-up bakeries over the years. The idea is based on a European tradition that arose at a time when many individual homes lacked ovens; outdoor ovens became community gathering places. The space in Marshall does not have a retail facility, but has been used for baking workshops, a tradition Brennan Johnson and his Walnut Schoolhouse bakery plans to continue and grow. Johnson says he will sell sourdough breads at local farmers markets, and his workshops will focus on Scandinavian baking. Other bakers will teach cakes, croissants, bagels and other subjects. Johnson has been baking since high school. He travelled to Europe with his parents in ninth grade to research old community ovens to learn how they became community-gathering places.

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February 24, 2019, to March 10, 2019

Rosy Outlook For World Functional Flour Market

Market researcher Fact.MR expects “impressive growth” in the global functional flour market, thanks to the consumer preferences shift toward healthful foods and ingredients. Global sales of functional flour will grow at a CAGR of over 6.5 percent through 2025, driven by the health and wellness trend that is creating sustained opportunities for the manufacturers of functional flour. The segment is controlled by a few leading companies with global and regional reach. However, smaller companies predominantly operating across local markets are also in play. The leading companies will continue to focus on strategic collaborations, such as mergers and acquisitions with the small players to boost their production abilities and gain substantial profits, the company said.

Are “Newfangled Devices” The Answer To The Food Waste Problem? Maybe Not

Nonprofit coalition ReFed says start-ups dedicated to fighting food waste attracted $125 million in venture capital and private equity funding in the first ten months of 2018. Products included smart tags that change color when milk goes bad, a mist to prolong the shelf life of fruit, and software to help grocery stores order the right amount of produce. Investors see food waste as “a big business opportunity," according to a marketing exec at Apeel Sciences, which sells a water-based solution that extends the ripeness of avocados by four days. But the products – and the trend – have their skeptics. Elizabeth Balkan, director of the Natural Resource Defense Council’s food-waste program, says, "I worry about this food-tech, food-waste boom becoming a food-waste bust."  Consumers are a major contributor to the food waste problem, so if they want to throw away less food, what they have to do is plan better and store smarter. “Newfangled devices” may not be the answer.

Some Grocery Chains Are Backing Away From Ugly Produce Promotion

The "ugly produce'" trend may be fading at U.S. supermarkets. Walmart, Whole Foods and other stores experimented with selling blemished or “wonky” fruits and vegetables at a discount to keep them out of trash bins. But the two chains and others have quietly ended their tests: selling dented apples and undersized potatoes may not be all that appealing next to better looking fruits and vegetables. Though many stores and chains are still interested in ugly produce – Kroger and Hy-Vee are notable examples – others like Meijer in the Midwest, Hannaford of Maine and Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle have backed away, citing lukewarm shopper interest. "Customers didn't accept it as much as we had hoped," said Mona Golub of Price Chopper, a grocery chain in the Northeast that also discontinued sales of cheaper ugly produce.

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February 03, 2019, to February 24, 2019

Dairy Co-op Demands That FDA Enforce Rules Regarding “Milk” Labeling

Wisconsin’s Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative has demanded that the FDA “no longer turn a blind eye to misleading labeling” of plant-based beverages as “milk.” In comments submitted to the agency, Edge called on the FDA to "take immediate action" to enforce existing regulations that define dairy foods as originating from cow's milk. The enforcement is “long overdue and increasingly important,” the co-op said. The FDA has asked for public input to help determine customers' understanding of the labeling and differences between dairy products and plant-based non-dairy products and the effects on purchasing decisions. The FDA says the input could affect any industry guidance it might issue.

Vegetable-Based RightRice Debuts At Whole Foods Markets

Popchips founder Keith Belling has introduced a vegetable rice made with lentils, chickpeas, green peas, and rice. San Francisco-based RightRice is a shelf-stable blend of more than 90 percent vegetables comprising 10 g of complete protein and five grams of fiber per serving, but has 40 percent fewer net carbs than traditional white rice. RightRice, available in original and three savory flavors, cooks like rice in about 10 minutes.  Each flavor comes in a seven-oz. pouch (about four servings) at a suggested retail of $3.99, and is non-GMO, vegan, kosher and gluten-free. RightRice is available at Whole Foods Markets nationally and online at Amazon.

French Bakery Chain Opens Locations In N.Y. Area

French bakery and café chain Marie Blachère is setting up shop this month in the Long Island village of Great Neck, N.Y., and next month in Greenwich Village (Manhattan). The 35-year-old chain, with more than 500 locations in France, is known for its baguettes, but also sells croissants, brioches, fruit tarts, and – especially for Americans – muffins, doughnuts, sandwiches, and pizza. 
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