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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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December 23, 2018, to January 06, 2019

N.J. Lawmakers Tackle Food Waste Problem With Package Of Bills

A N.J. Assembly committee has approved a package of bills aimed at reducing hunger statewide. Assembly Bill 4705 would create a 12-member New Jersey Food Waste Task Force whose purpose would be to devise ways to reduce wasteful food consumption in the state 50 percent by 2030. Assembly Joint Resolution 174, meanwhile, would urge retailers and consumers to find and adopt ways to reduce food waste. Suggestions outlined in the legislation for retailers include lowering “unreasonably high cosmetic standards” for their products, urging food manufacturers to drop “best by” labels and establishing systems for donating surplus foods to charities. To curb food waste among consumers, the resolution suggests retailers could provide food reduction tips and recipes to use leftovers and organize “waste less” campaigns.

Food Companies Finding Ways To Upcycle, Recycle For Profits, Sustainability

The packaged-food industry, both CPG giants and start-ups concerned about sustainability, along with foodservice chains and providers of plastic packaging, are seeing the benefits of the so-called “circular economy.” By recycling and upcycling as much as they can, they are benefiting their bottom line and helping preserve the planet. Many companies are engaged in efforts to try to reduce food waste. About two dozen CPG manufacturers and food retailers are working with the EPA as U.S. Food and Waste 2030 Champions, setting a target to cut food waste in half by 2030. An increasing number of start-up manufacturers are using food-waste reduction as a primary platform. Barnanas, for example, has become a $15 million company in six years, selling banana “bites” in several varieties made from bananas that were a bit ripe.

New Program From L.A. Food Delivery Company Cuts Food Waste, Feeds The Homeless

California food delivery service Postmates has launched a new endeavor: rescuing food before it is sent to landfills and taking it to where it will do the most good. The company’s drivers in Los Angeles are picking up leftover foodstuffs from local restaurants and delivering it to local homeless shelters. The FoodFight! program was incubated in the company’s social impact arm, Civic Labs, and launched in October.  Participating restaurants simply touch a button to coordinate food pickup at the close of business. Four hundred restaurants in the L.A. area are eligible to make surplus food donations. The biggest problem for the program is a logistical one: shelter hours. Many shelters close for donations earlier than restaurants are finished serving, so the Civic Labs team is working on creative solutions, including additional funding for staffing.

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December 09, 2018, to December 23, 2018

U.K. Grocers Sell Cheaper “Fauxdough” Bread In Place Of Expensive Sourdough

British Millennials love sourdough bread, which is more nutritious and easier to digest than conventional offerings. So the classic bread has become very popular in the U.K. Popular but, it turns out, very expensive: about $5 per bakery loaf. Which is why sales of cheaper sourdough bread at grocery stores are on the rise. But according to British consumer watchdog Which?, just four out of the 19 supermarket sourdough loaves tested contained the traditional four ingredients: flour, water, salt and what’s known as a mother or starter culture. Many of the loaves – dubbed “fauxdough” – contained yeast, ascorbic acid, yogurt and vinegar, added to speed up the rising process, boost volume or create sour flavor. And they defeat the purpose of eating the more healthful sourdough.

U.K. To Finally Act On Folic Acid Fortification Of Flour

British Prime Minister Theresa May is backing a plan to add folate supplement to bread flour to stem the tide of neural tube defects occurring in early stage fetuses: at least two pregnancies a week are terminated because of the defect, which leads to conditions like spina bifida. The U.K. has one of the highest rates of neural tube defects in Europe; folic acid fortification could help alleviate the problem. The Royal College of Midwives has urged the government to introduce mandatory fortification “as soon as possible.” Senior British government sources suggest the change could be made a reality within weeks. 

Once Considered Only Fit For Animals, Sorghum Makes Its Way Into The U.S. Diet

Gluten-free fans take note: sorghum, a whole grain commonly used for animal feed and ethanol production, is starting to make its way into the human diet.  An abundant crop in the U.S. – the largest producer in the world – sorghum is known for its natural drought tolerance and versatility but is also nutritious and gluten-free. It has been introduced into a variety of popular American foods, including Kind bars, Kellogg's cereals, and Ronzoni pastas as an “ancient grain.” Research has shown that some types of sorghum are rich in antioxidants that may help lower the risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and some neurological diseases.

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December 02, 2018, to December 09, 2018

Food Distributor’s Program Moves Ugly Produce To Restaurants Rather Than Landfills

One of America’s largest fresh food distributors is showing chefs and restaurants that “imperfect” produce – fruits and vegetables that don’t meet aesthetics and size requirements – has real value. Baldor Specialty Foods’ Imperfect Produce program allows farmers sell these commodities to chefs, and directly to the public through community-supported agriculture (CSA) models. An estimated 24.7 percent of on-farm produce waste occurs because of disposal of imperfect produce.

Celebrity Chef Teaches Whirlpool Employees How To Cut Down On Food Waste

Joel Gamoran, a national chef with Sur La Table and the host of a cooking show called "Scraps," recently gave a cooking demonstration for employees at the global headquarters of Whirlpool Corp. Michigan. His mission was to show his audience how common household foods normally tossed in a garbage disposal can be used to create nutritious meals. He pointed out that Americans waste $319 billion worth of food every year while one out of eight people go to bed hungry. For his TV shows he partners with food waste champions around the U.S. to celebrate the local cuisine and create a delicious meal with food items many consider to be waste, like banana peels, shrimp shells, chicken bones, and carrot stems. The program is sponsored by Whirlpool’s KitchenAid brand, so he uses the brand's stand mixers, food processors, and blenders throughout his travels.

Blockchain Technology Improves Walmart’s Food Safety, Reduces Food Loss

Walmart is using blockchain technology to help track and manage the chaotic and decentralized food supply system comprising producers, suppliers, and intermediaries such as processors that change constantly. Blockchain technology, like the food system, is based on a decentralized and distributed model that fits the modern food system perfectly. Each player in the network can update data, but also stops them from entering false data or making false changes. The speed with which blockchain enables companies to trace products and problems back to the source means improved food safety and less economic loss, and reduced food waste. It quickly and accurately identifies the source of a problem so that only impacted products are recalled or removed, rather than everything in the category.

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November 25, 2018, to December 02, 2018

Lidl In Ireland And Northern Ireland Is Eradicating Its Use Of Black Plastic

Lidl announced it is eliminating black plastic in packaging before Christmas from its fruit and vegetables in all of its stores in Ireland and Northern Ireland. It will be withdrawn from fresh fish products by February next year, and its poultry and fresh and cured meat products will follow by August. Lidl also announced that it had stopped selling single-use plastic items, such as straws, plastic plates, cups and cutlery. They will be replaced by biodegradable items. The retailer added that it continues to test unpackaged fruit and vegetables. Over a quarter of its fresh produce has no packaging. 

North London Budgens Opens Plastic-Free Zones

A north London branch of supermarket chain Budgens is introducing plastic-free zones. The Belsize Park outlet, Thornton’s Budgens, offers over 1,700 products in plastic-free packaging, using alternative materials such as beechwood nets, paper and glass to wrap foods. It enlisted the help of A Plastic Planet, a campaign group, and created the zone in 10 weeks. Mr. Thornton claims his store is just the second worldwide to have plastic-free zones, with Dutch supermarket Ekoplaza the first.

Seventh Generation Introduces ‘Game-Changing’ Innovation In Laundry Detergent Packaging

Unilever’s Seventh Generation detergent brand has launched what it claims is a game-changer. The 23oz bottle contains 100 per cent recycled PET and uses 60 per cent less plastic and 50 per cent less water than a typical 100oz bottle, for the same number of laundry loads. The product also features EasyDose™, a new automatic dosing technology in the cap. The EasyDose™ Ultraconcentrated Laundry Detergent was launched as an online exclusive. 

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November 18, 2018, to November 25, 2018

Premier Nutrition Corporation Partners With Tetra Pak To Launch A New Earth First Packaging Initiative For Its Premier Protein Shakes

In its commitment to reduce its environmental impact, Premier Nutrition decided to change the packaging for its Premier Protein shakes by using Tetra Pak cartons certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. The cap is durable, recyclable, free from genetically modified organisms and made from sugarcane. Company president, Darcy Horn Davenport, claims the growing environmental awareness of consumers prompted them to reevaluate the product line's packaging.

Novel Edible Utensils Enhance Customer Experience And Help Eliminate Plastic Waste

Companies are responding to consumer concerns about plastic pollution and regulation restricting the use of plastic straws, with a range of innovative solutions. After announcing it would remove single-use straws globally by 2020, Starbucks introduced a pumpkin spice cookie straw. In the summer Diageo introduced flavored edible straws that supposedly complemented its canned cocktails. Beyond straws, British packaging startup Skipping Rocks Lab partnered with delivery service Just Eat to offer seaweed-based edible sauce sachets. Consumer awareness continues to rise as the scale of the issue becomes clear. One study found that just 9 percent of the 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic produced worldwide is recycled, underling the work still to be done.

Multinational Corporations Support Campaign To Reduce Ocean Plastic Pollution

Multinational corporations, including Coca-Cola and Walmart, pledged their support for the Ocean Plastics Charter signed by Britain, Canada, France, Germany, and Italy in June 2018. Despite an abstention by the two other G7 nations, United States and Japan, several non-G7 nations supported the plan to achieve 100 percent plastics recyclability by 2030. An announcement by Canadian Environment Minister Catherine McKena to create a new partnership with businesses to reduce plastic waste secured support from several companies, including Loblaws, Walmart, and IKEA, and Nestle Canada. Separately, Unilever announced the launch of a not-for-profit venture to reduce consumer and business waste.

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November 04, 2018, to November 18, 2018

How Europe’s Wheat Farmers Can Plan For Climate Change-Induced Drought

Climate change in Europe is likely to bring frequent heat waves and drought, both of which will challenge production of wheat and maize, according to scientists at Denmark’s Aarhus University. Drought in particular will cause crops, especially those sewn in spring, to wither and die as they did in this past summer. The researchers wondered which was the bigger problem in the long run for winter wheat and maize: heat or drought. It is important to differentiate because the defense mechanisms of plants against drought are different from those used to protect against heat stress. Wheat and maize under climate change will be most affected by drought, less so by heat. Knowing this will help farmers and plant breeders develop suitable crop varieties and management systems. 

Ahold Delhaize Unit Commits To Removing Artificial Ingredients From House Brands

Salisbury, N.C.-based Retail Business Services, an Ahold Delhaize USA subsidiary, announced a commitment to making its house brands cleaner and more natural by 2025. The company promised to remove from its foods: synthetic colors; artificial flavors, preservatives, and sweeteners; MSGs; and high fructose corn syrup. It also plans to reduce salt and sugar, advance transparency and sustainable chemistry practices used in products and packaging, and reduce plastic and packaging waste. The company also promised to produce more allergen-free products. Retail Business Services, LLC, serves six East Coast grocery brands, including Food Lion, Giant Food, Giant/Martin's, Hannaford, Stop & Shop, and online grocery retailer Peapod.

Large 4-Year Study Finds Reduced Risk Of Cancer Among Eaters Of Organic Foods

French government scientists have published a study demonstrating that the risk of cancer declines significantly when people eat organic foods, especially those free from pesticides. The scientists tracked the diets of nearly 69,000 people over four years. Those who consumed the most organic foods were 25 percent less likely to develop cancers, including non-Hodgkin lymphoma, all lymphomas, and postmenopausal breast cancer. Pesticides linked to cancer include the weed killer glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup, and the organophosphate pesticides malathion and diazinon. The scientists focused on 16 organic food and beverage products, including fruits and vegetables, soy-based foods, eggs, dairy, grains, meat and fish, among others. The study was published in a journal of the American Medical Association.

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October 28, 2018, to November 04, 2018

Kroger Fund Food Waste Prevention Curriculum For El-Sec Students

Grocery chain Kroger has joined a Zero Hunger | Zero Waste partnership with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to prevent and recover food waste in U.S. elementary and secondary schools. WWF, whose WIld Classroom provides an environmental curriculum for teachers and parents, is expanding the curriculum with the help of a $400,000 grant from Kroger’s foundation to focus on promoting food conservation education and best practices. The Food Waste Warrior Toolkit, a classroom-friendly curriculum that aligns with USDA and state educational standards, turns the school cafeteria into a classroom to inspire students to become Zero Heroes by making a lifelong commitment to reduce food waste. The free toolkit was tested in Washington, D.C., using resources from science, math, ecology, conservation, and sustainability.

Austin’s Eateries Must Recycle Unsold Food – Or Compost It

Austin, Texas, has barred its restaurants from trashing unsold made-to-order and other processed foods, the city’s Universal Recycling Ordinance (URO), whose goal is greater sustainability, requires eateries to compost food scraps or give them away. Food enterprises covered by the new law include restaurants, shops, and farm markets that serve made-to-order food, as well as places that prepare and process food. Employees of these establishments are required to receive training in handling the waste. The ordinance also covers dirty or used paper, like cardboard, paper towels and napkins; flowers, and landscape trimmings from restaurant plants and gardens. Violators can be fined as much as $2,000. According to a local government study, 37 percent of materials sent to landfills is organic and could be donated or composted.

Kiwi Scientists Figure Out How To Convert Fermented Plant Pulp Into Flour

New Zealand scientists have developed a technology that transforms pinot noir grape – and other plant – fermentation by-products into zero-waste, gluten-free, vegan, low-carb, low-fat, fiber- and nutrient-rich flour. Greenspot Technologies has successfully created flour from pinot noir, sauvignon blanc, apple, beetroot, orange, carrot and parsnip pulp. The sophisticated fermentation process was developed in the research labs of the University of Auckland. The key to the process is the conversion of sugars in the pulp into nutritious protein. The flours can be used to make bread, snack bars, protein bars, biscuits, vegan products, pasta, pizza, or as a dietary supplement. The start-up is using an investment of $782,700 to spread the word in France.

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October 21, 2018, to October 28, 2018

The Romaine Lettuce E-Coli Outbreak Highlighted Blockchain Potential For Food Sector

Although Blockchain technology is penetrating the supply chains of many industries, the food sector has some catching up to do. The romaine lettuce e-coli outbreak in the U.S. earlier this year highlighted the need for the food industry to improve transparency in supply. Despite efforts from some companies, such as Walmart, to improve food safety procedures, much of the industry remains reliant on paper-based systems. There are a number of hurdles to overcome in switching to digital systems, including the cost, but new technologies like blockchain have the potential to improve safety for businesses and consumers. 

Hershey Rolls Out New Omnichannel That Blurs Online and Offline

Hershey Co. has a ‘digital’ strategy that is centered on four components, search, content, conversion, and community. It is designed to enhance the company’s competitive advantage and help it succeed in the emerging omnichannel marketplace and holds that there is no offline and online division, but rather a continuum between the two. The initial goal is to convert a purchase, but the long-term goal is repeat purchases and to earn a place on the consumers digital shopping list. Hershey is also experimenting with digital impulse sales.  

Australia To Use AI To Map Its 65 Wine Regions

An agreement between Wine Australia and Consilium Technology covers the use of artificial intelligence to accurately map Australia's 65 wine regions. A national census of the country's winegrape area will be conducted in mid-2019 using Consilium Technology's Geospatial Artificial Intelligence for Agriculture software equipped with high-resolution satellite images and advanced machine learning. The software's accuracy was previously tested in mapping the Margaret River and Tasmania. Information from the scan is expected to enhance Australia's biosecurity activities and wine label integrity.

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October 14, 2018, to October 21, 2018

Inventor’s “Twist & Grip” Bag Preserves Bread’s Flavor, Freshness Longer

InventHelp says it has helped an Atlanta, Ga.-based inventor develop a bread bag that seals more effectively, preserving the freshness, flavor and shelf life of the loaf. The “Twist & Grip” bag allows the package to open and close easily, and also contains an easy-to-grip handle for carrying. The bag is recyclable and reusable. The invention is available for licensing or sale to manufacturers or marketers by contacting InventHelp at its Pittsburgh, Pa., headquarters.

FDA May Soon Update The Definition Of, And Permitted Ingredients For, Yogurt

The FDA is looking into the possibility of “modernizing” regulations governing the content and even the definition of yogurt. The dairy industry has been pushing to open up the yogurt standard as manufacturing practices and consumer tastes have changed. The FDA established a standard for foods labeled as "yogurt" in 1981 that limited the ingredients. But the industry objected; the following year the agency suspended enforcement of various provisions and allowed the addition of preservatives. A 2009 rule that was never finalized created a unified standard that allowed emulsifiers as well, but yogurt makers said the rule created confusion and left it open to lawsuits. Meanwhile, milk producers hope the FDA’s “modernized” standards will soon crack down on soy and almond drinks that call themselves "milk," which current standards say must come from a cow.

Suit Alleges Pret a Manger’s Baked Goods Contain Weed Killer Ingredient

Washington, D.C.-based non-profit Beyond Pesticides announced it is joining GMO Free USA and Organic Consumers Association in a lawsuit charging restaurant chain Pret a Manger with “deceptive marketing and sale of certain bread and other baked goods” as "natural food" though they tested positive for glyphosate. The lawsuit accuses Pret of exploiting consumers' preferences and willingness to pay more for products marketed as natural. A component of Roundup weed killer, glyphosate is patented as a chelator and an antibiotic, but is linked to adverse health effects including cancer, infertility, and non-alcoholic fatty liver and kidney diseases. The suit would have Pret fully disclose glyphosate in its products and reformulate them to be glyphosate-free.

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October 07, 2018, to October 14, 2018

Alibaba Deploys Blockchain Pilot To Ensure Food Authenticity

Alibaba is testing blockchain technology to track products and ensure food authenticity. It is working with two food products, one from Australia and one from New Zealand – and giving consumers the ability to scan a QR code to verify product authenticity. Fake food has long been a problem in China and Michigan State University estimates it costs the global food industry $40 billion per year.  First announced in March 2017, the goal of this blockchain integration is to “achieve end-to-end supply chain traceability and transparency to enhance consumer confidence and build a trusted environment for cross-border trade,” said Alibaba.  Investment in blockchain technology has doubled to $2.1 billion and industry projections see that expenditure reaching $9.7 billion in 2021, according to reports from IDC. Numerous firms, such as Alibaba’s industry rival JD, are also delving into blockchain tech to streamline the supply chain, auditing, and compliance processes.

E-Coli Outbreak Underlines Key Blockchain Benefits For Agricultural Sector, Industry Regulators

Rapid and accurate tracking of food would help regulators better manage food contamination outbreaks, says SupplyBloc Inc. CEO Robert McNulty. McNulty used the April 2018 E. coli outbreak in romaine lettuce to illustrate how blockchain would have helped the FDA and CDC identify the cause and minimize collateral costs. According to McNulty, the blockchain technology’s decentralized ledger and smart contracts would ensure better business dealings among supply chain parties and improved tracking of the supply chain process, without room for data manipulation. All food products would be registered into the decentralized ledger, which would track the products’ movement along the entire supply chain process. This ledger, accessible to all supply chain participants, would be able to pinpoint any point of contamination or corruption, improving the sector’s transparency. 

Virginia Company Pervida To Launch Sugar-Control Beverage In 2019

Blacksburg, Va.-based functional beverage company Pervida next spring will debut Pervida Sugar Control, a beverage meant to support the body’s use of glucose, especially when combined with exercise. The drink uses an enriched fig extract to direct glucose from the bloodstream into your muscles, lowering blood sugar levels while boosting the available fuel for muscle endurance. A secondary effect is immunity and gut health, thanks to the addition of pomegranate seed oil. It contains carbonation, vitamins, but no sweeteners or calories, no preservatives, and no artificial ingredients. It is vegan, gluten-free, and non-GMO. Pervida Sugar Control will be available in orange flavor with a “splash of pomegranate.”,
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