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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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January 19, 2020, to April 12, 2020

Huge Market Opportunity Forecast Through 2026 For Pulse Flour Manufacturers

Pulse flour manufacturers can expect to benefit from rising global consumption of snacks such as nutritious soups, sauces, and nutrition bars, according to new research from Fact.MR (Dublin, Ireland). The world pulse flour market is projected to accelerate at a surprising CAGR of more than 10 percent from 2020 to 2026 – double the growth rate of the global flour market. Pulse crops such as lentils, beans, peas, and chickpeas are a good source of amino acids and plant-based proteins, a reason they are being incorporated into gluten-free products. Demand for pulse flour is expected to create a $15 billion market opportunity into 2026.

Break Your New Year’s Resolutions At Hotels.com’s “Bread & Breakfast” In New York City

Hotels.com, a website for booking hotel rooms online and by phone, announced it has introduced the “Bread & Breakfast,” a limited-time hotel room experience that opened at New York City's Refinery Hotel on January 17 – “which just so happens to be National Ditch Your Resolution Day.” After check-in, guests are treated to a “belt-bustin' carbo-load” in their rooms where they find a minibar with a bakery case stocked with an assortment of free pastries, bread, or a breakfast of cereal, bagels, and doughnuts, along with butter, jam, and cream cheese. The room service menu features “scrumptious starches,” including an array of pastas. The Hotels.com Bread & Breakfast is $225 a night, through January 31. 

California Bakery Expands To Whole Foods Markets In Two States With Plant-Based Pizzas

California-based Pizza Plant (Pasadena), known for its large 13-topping, CBD-infused, plant-based Nacho Pizzas, recently debuted a USDA certified organic take-and-bake plant-based pizza at Whole Foods Market locations in California, Arizona, and Nevada. Available organic plant-based pies include: house-made ancho chilled spiced tofu pepperoni slices, Italian spiced wheat crumble, bell peppers, onions, kalamata olives, and cashew nut cheese and marinara; roasted baby bella mushrooms, broccoli, house-made pumpkin seed pesto, red onion, and cashew nut cheese; and house-made Italian spiced wheat crumble, cured shiitake bits, shaved fennel, and cashew nut cheese and marinara. atop an artisan crust. The 10" pies are packaged in a microwavable TreeSaver Pizza Pan. Pizza Plant is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Plant Craft Foods, Inc.

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October 06, 2019, to January 19, 2020

Vegetables Are Gradually Taking Over Menus At High-End Eateries

A dietary and dining revolution is taking place in the U.S., as the American consumer moves gradually away from traditional meat and dairy. A 2018 survey by Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, for example, found that two-thirds of Americans said they were cutting back on meat. Meanwhile, from April 2017 to July 2019 plant-based food sales grew approximately 31 percent, to $4.5 billion and will probably reach $6.5 billion by 2023. But a quieter facet of the revolution is reflected in the fact that the number of courses in eateries that highlight beef, pork, lamb, and poultry is dwindling at places where a $200 tasting menu is a bargain. New values are changing what’s considered a luxury when it comes to dining. Many of the hot topics and trends in At fine dining restaurants, where meats such as imported Japanese beef and game like antelope and boar were invariably the star attractions, diners might now find well-dressed mushrooms and roots. 

University’s Grain School: Where Bakers, Farmers Get An In-Depth Look At The World Of Grain

A group of gardeners, growers, and baking enthusiasts from the Santa Fe, N.M., area this month is meeting up in Colorado Springs to attend the Grain School at the University of Colorado. The group has spent the past two years conducting production trials and milling and baking tests on 52 different rare varieties of wheat, barley, amaranth, and other grains. That was precisely the outcome Nanna Meyer was hoping for when she launched the Grain School five years ago after the school’s dining service dropped its contract with a big foodservice company in favor of doing all food sourcing in-house. But chefs at the school couldn’t find locally-grown specialty grains, even though the local climate is perfect for grain production. To fix that Meyer knew there had to be both education and collaboration. The intensive three-day course, which can be taken for credit or non-credit, offers a comprehensive deep-dive into the world of grain, from breeding and agronomy to end uses like milling, baking, and brewing. The Grain School has sold out in recent years and is likely to sell out again this year. 

University’s “Ancient Grains” Project Hopes To Build A Niche Industry

The mission of the First Grains project at the University of Wyoming is to not only successfully cultivate ancient grains but to make a profitable, sustainable niche industry with them. Emmer, einkorn, and spelt – considered "ancient grains" or "first grains" – were some of the earliest domesticated cereal crops, grown over 10,000 years ago in ancient Mesopotamia during the first agricultural revolution. The project is growing the grains under dryland and irrigated conditions, using no-till, conventional, organic, and non-organic methods to determine which conditions result in the best yields. The biggest obstacle, though, is the additional step – de-hulling – required after harvesting the grains. A de-huller machine solved the problem, and now “the project can start building the niche industry and take the first steps toward privatization," a project leader said, including exploring potential products and markets.

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September 22, 2019, to October 06, 2019

DuPont: Plant-Based Nutrition Is Better Served By Combinations Of Synergistic Ingredients

DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences says plant-based nutrition is moving beyond single-source ingredients to synergistic combinations that strengthen the nutritional and sensorial profile of final products. Providing single ingredients was once the most common way to serve the plant-based diet market. But now DuPont’s application and development teams are increasingly blending plant-based ingredients that include proteins, stabilizers, antimicrobials and antioxidants, among others. The idea is to take the best of each plant ingredient to develop higher-performance formulations, bringing synergy and leverage of one ingredient to another. An example would be combining soy with almond, or soy with pea or rice and pea. The combinations are better than a single source of protein, because one can bring texture and the amino acids, while another can bring a different sensorial aspect or better hydration.

Established Foods Are Repositioning As “Real Foods” For The Sports Crowd

Creating new foods, or repositioning established, traditional foods, as sports nutrition products is proving to be a profitable business tactic. As sports nutrition products move into the mainstream, so-called “real foods” – devoid of artificial ingredients – are moving into the world of professional and amateur sports. Example include: Veloforte's sports twist on a traditional Italian treat packed with fruit and nuts; California-based Clif Bar, now firmly tethered to sports and activity;  Soreen, a fruit-based cake from the U.K. repositioned for recreational cyclists; low-sugar protein bar Grenade Carb Killa, marketed as a real food alternative to sports nutrition bars. The trend is powered by sports dietitians whose first principle is that whole foods are the best fuel.

Restaurant Sales Growth Ebbs As Delivery Emerges As Growth Area

Sales growth for the top 500 U.S. restaurant companies slid in 2018 to 3.3 percent compared to the average 3.8 percent for the restaurants in the last five-year period, according to Technomic research. And while the fast-casual segment outpaced all other segments, its sales growth slipped to eight percent from an average 9.8 percent gain for the past five-year period signaling a cooling-off period. Meanwhile, delivery has emerged as a major growth area for all restaurants. This has caused companies to explore packaging that allows food quality to sustain itself in transit. It is also causing chains to reconsider their store designs to include a separate entrance for delivery drivers. 

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August 25, 2019, to September 22, 2019

For French-Born Entrepreneur, The American Dream Is Built On Macarons

The French patisserie business Rosalie Guillem founded with her daughter Audrey in Sarasota, Fla., is approaching its tenth anniversary and is flush with entrepreneurial success. The company owns a few corporate stores, but also some 50 franchise locations, in Florida, California, New Hampshire, Arizona, and seven other states. Another 30 franchises are in development, all based on the original flagship delicacy, an airy but decadent macaron – not to be confused with an American macaroon. The company did $11 million in sales in 2018, made the Inc. 5,000 list of the nation’s fastest-growing companies in 2016, and posted 259 percent growth over three years. Guillem’s Le Macaron stores now offer gelato, eclairs, napoleons, pies, cakes, croissants, and fine chocolates – all made with French ingredients. A catering unit handles parties, weddings and other events – all of it a testament to the dogged pursuit of the American dream, French-style.

“Bread Nerd” Uses Yeast Dormant For Eons To Bake “Incredible” Loaves Of Bread

Self-professed “bread nerd” Seamus Blackley, one of the developers of the Xbox, has created a stir in baking circles by experimenting with yeast extracted from a 4,000-year-old Egyptian loaf and from ancient artefacts. The artefacts, including Egyptian ceramics once used to make or store beer and bread, were found at museums in Boston with the help of an interested archaeologist. Blackley, who also collects wild yeast from medieval forests, created a loaf of sourdough bread with a “light and airy” crumb and an “incredible” flavor and aroma. He shared his results on Twitter, sparking interest among thousands of people. Useable thousand-year-old yeast? Yes, experts say: once yeast spores run out of food they go dormant, rather than simply dying, and stay quietly viable for thousands of years until they are extracted.

Ackee-Stuffed Patties Form The Core Of Jamaican Baker’s Growing Business

Jamaica native Chantal Thomas is a career baker and pastry chef who also blogs about her country’s national fruit, the avocado-like ackee, which she employs in numerous recipes, including one for a vegan ackee-stuffed patty. In addition to ackee patties, Thomas sells ones filled with eggplant, chickpea and zucchini, and lentil. For the crust, Thomas uses coconut instead of shortening. She formed her company, Amazing Ackee LLC, in 2017 and began baking out of a rented kitchen. She landed a spot at one farmers market last year and expanded to four markets this year. Thomas sells between 20 and 40 dozen patties a week at the farmers markets, the volume matching demand for vegan products.

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July 21, 2019, to August 25, 2019

Hilton Hotel Chain To Send Its Cookie Dough Into Outer Space

U.S. hotel chain DoubleTree by Hilton has partnered with space flight appliance company Zero G Kitchen and NanoRacks, which provides commercial access to space travel, to launch a batch of its DoubleTree Cookie dough and a prototype oven to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of a microgravity experiment. With the launch, Hilton becomes the first hospitality company to participate in research aboard the space station. The husband and wife team at Zero G Kitchen responsible for the space oven concept said the DoubleTree Cookie was their first thought when they began creating an oven to make space travel more comfortable.

Bimbo Bakeries Says Downsized Households Deserve A Downsized Loaf Of Bread

The Arnold, Brownberry and Oroweat bread brands of Bimbo Bakeries USA have single-person household in minds with their new Simply Small 10-slice bags. The idea is to provide just the right ammoungt of bread needed by smaller households while avoiding food waste. The single-person household is no small demographic: twenty-eight percent of U.S. households fit the category. And they often skip buying bread because they just don’t eat a regular loaf. Simply Small is available in Honey Oat and White with Whole Milk varieties under all three labels. They have no artificial preservatives, colors or flavors, no high fructose corn syrup, and no trans fat. Simply Small breads are available at major retailers on the East and West Coasts at about $2.49 a package.

Better Ingredients, Better Pizza – For Breakfast?

A recent survey of 9,000 customers commissioned by mobile pizza-ordering and delivery service Slice found that 53 percent preferred cold pizza for breakfast than cereal or eggs. Though it’s a finding that many nutritionists and cereal makers may find indigestible – some consider pizza at any time of the day a no-no – others argue that pizza has more nutrients than cereal or doughnuts. For example, a New York-based nutritionist says a slice of pizza contains more fat and much less sugar than most cold cereals, “so you will not experience a quick sugar crash.” Pizza also has more protein than a bowl of cereal. If the idea of pizza-for-breakfast catches on, “some pizza purveyors may want to think about opening earlier in the day to take advantage of the demand for pizza in the morning.” 

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June 16, 2019, to July 21, 2019

Organic Farming Has A Plastics Problem Too

Organic farming, like traditional farming, has hit an obstacle caused by the move to limit single-use plastic, which is used as mulch to suppress weeds, improve irrigation and water conservation, and support plant growth. Plastic film to cover acres of arable land represents miles of film, which is disposed of in landfills after one use. There are as yet no feasible alternatives. Biodegradable plastic, for example, is disallowed under existing organic rules in the US, and natural mulches are expensive and labor-intensive. Manufacturers of biodegradable options, including BASF, have been calling on the USDA's National Organic Program to change the rules, but the long-term impact has yet to be identified. 

Aldi UK Replaces Plastic Checkout Bags With Paper Or Compostable Options

Aldi in the UK will from July this year replace plastic bags in half of its stores with paper bags, and biodegradable bags at the other half. After the trial, Aldo will choose the most popular. The Bioplast 100% compostable bags will cost 6p. Aldo is charging 19p for the paper bags. 

Coca-Cola In Belgium Asks Consumers Not To Buy Its Products Unless It Plans To Recycle Them

Coca-Cola in Belgium is trying an ambitious approach to raising awareness of the need to recycle plastic, with a summer campaign that asks consumers not to buy Coke products if they aren’t willing to help the company recycle. Some 85% of Coca-Cola packaging in the country is currently recycled, but the company says this rate is not high enough. The campaign is also being adopted in the Netherlands, on TV ads as well as activations in towns and at festivals. Although the campaign ends in September, it will be incorporated in other advertising.

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May 26, 2019, to June 16, 2019

New Data On Bread Wheat May Help Improve Yield, Disease Resistance

For about 12,000 years, since the dawn of agriculture, humans have been selectively breeding plants with desirable traits, such as high grain yield and disease resistance. Bread wheat (triticum aestivum) during that time emerged as one of the world's most important crops. Together with the growing human population and the changing climate, the demand for wheat with a higher yield and additional resilience is increasing. However, for a few years now the average yield increase of wheat is stagnating. But, according to a new study (Pont et al., Nature Genetics, 2019; 51 (5): 905), high-yielding varieties of triticum aestivum can be found all over the world, each adapted to its growing environment. The study provides a rich genetic data resource that can be used to improve genetic traits in bread wheat, from environmental adaptation to improved yield and disease resistance. 

Hey America! Chickpea Flour Is Not A U.S. Innovation

Indians, Nepalese, Pakistanis, and others have been cooking with chickpea flour for centuries. And now that Americans are getting into the ancient ingredient, some Indians wonder whether their culinary heritage might be getting blurred. The popularity of chickpea flour in the U.S. has been traced to 2009, when it began to appear on gluten-free blogs. In a few years, cookbooks appeared with recipes, for example, like chickpea flour pancakes layered with tomatoes and onions. Gluten-free bakeries popped up, offering treats like chickpea chocolate cupcakes. But freelance food writer Priya Krishna, whose family has long cooked with chickpea flour, wishes cooks and bakers in the U.S. were aware of chickpea flour’s deep roots in South Asian cooking. “I'm not against chickpea flour entering the mainstream,” she writes. “But I wish that more of the stories I read about it, or the recipes I saw that featured it, didn't frame it as a brand-new discovery, and completely ignore its heritage.”

Whole Grain Reduces Gut Serotonin Levels – And Risk Of Diabetes

A new Finnish study finds that adults who eat whole grain rye products have lower plasma serotonin levels than people eating low-fiber wheat bread, and therefore possibly a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. Serotonin, best known as a neurotransmitter in the brain, is also produced by the intestines where it remains separated from the brain. In the gut it serves various peripheral functions. including modulation of gut motility, the ability to move food through the digestive tract. Increased blood serotonin is also associated with high blood glucose levels. The researchers noted that whole grain is known to reduce the risk of diabetes. “On the basis of these new results, the effect could at least partly be due to a decrease in serotonin levels," said researcher Kati Hanhineva from the University of Eastern Finland. (Pekka Keski-Rahkonen et al., The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2019.)

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May 05, 2019, to May 26, 2019

Perdue Expands Processing Operations In S.C. To Meet No-Antibiotics Demand

Privately-owned poultry processor Perdue Farms has spent $25 million on expanding its operations in South Carolina to satisfy consumer demand for antibiotics-free chicken. The company enlarged its portioning and marinating facilities, added a shipping cooler, and added installed automated pallet storage and office space. According to Perdue, all chicken, turkey, pork, and beef are now raised in antibiotics-free environments. It also offers a full range of no-antibiotics-ever products for foodservice operators, including restaurants, schools, colleges and universities, and hospitals. "The expansion will help us meet the growing demand for no-antibiotics-ever chicken products, and maintain the high level of customer service and reliability” expected from Perdue, CEO Randy Day said.

Rebellious Energy Of Teenagers Used To Change Attitudes Toward Junk Food

Research published in the journal Nature Human Behavior urges exposing naturally rebellious teenagers to the food industry’s manipulative marketing techniques to get them to rebel against the devious snack makers contributing to teen obesity. Teenagers can have “powerful feelings of outrage,” one researcher noted, that can be harnessed to promote public health. For the study, researchers designed an intervention in eighth grade classrooms in a Texas middle school, issuing a fact-based, exposé-style article on big food companies to the students. A control group was shown traditional healthy eating education material. The group that read the exposés chose fewer junk food snacks and selected water over sugary sodas the next day. However, the researchers puzzled over why girls who experienced a negative immediate response to junk food after the intervention didn’t really change their daily cafeteria purchases.

Hormel Launches National Ad Campaign To Inspire People To “Choose Good”

Austin, Minn.-based Hormel, maker of Natural Choice deli meats, has launched the “Good Feeds Us All” national advertising campaign to “inspire people to choose good whether it's in the food they eat or the actions they take.” The brand will incorporate a Good Feeds Us All national tour to spotlight individuals and organizations who have made it their mission to choose good. However, whether Natural Choice meats are really natural or good has spawned litigation. The D.C. Superior Court on April 8 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 antibiotics-treated pigs used to make its Spam meat product are also used in Natural Choice pork products. 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.”

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April 28, 2019, to May 05, 2019

Big Upper Midwest Food Distributor SpartanNash “Cleans Up” Its House Brands

Fortune 400 food distributor SpartanNash, which operates a chain of retail grocery stores in the upper Midwest and serves U.S military commissaries, is responding to customer preferences by accelerating a program to simplify private brand product ingredients and provide more transparency. “Our store guests are looking for healthier food options, clean labels and ‘free from’ formats when shopping at their local grocery store or putting food on the table," a spokesman said. In response, SpartanNash has reformulated or redesigned packaging for more than 425 products in its Our Family and Open Acres private labels since last year, removing synthetic colors, MSG, and other ingredients. Another 175 products will be added to the initiative during 2019. According to the company, the program focuses on providing customers with simpler products, shorter ingredient lists, and clean, easy-to-read labels. 

Genetically Engineered Salmon: Appearing Soon At Your Local Grocery Store

The FDA has lifted a ban on genetically engineered salmon, clearing the way for its appearance in grocery stores. The company AquaBounty may now import its AquaAdvantage Salmon eggs to a land-based facility in Indiana, where the salmon can be grown for food. The fish have been genetically engineered to grow faster than farm-raised Atlantic salmon. But Native American tribes, food groups, and environmentalists are concerned that there is no requirement that the gene-manipulated fish be labeled as “genetically engineered.” Instead, they can be labeled “bioengineered,” a less-loaded term that can appear on packages as a symbol that says “BE” or a QR code that can be scanned with a smartphone to find out if it's genetically engineered. "So it's quite a bit more burdensome,” according to a Center for Food Safety attorney. The FDA first approved genetically engineered salmon as safe to eat in 2015.

“Natural” Claim Continues To Lure Shoppers, Despite Lack Of Definition

A Label Insight-sponsored survey of 1,000 adult consumers finds that using the word “natural” on food packaging will motivate as many as 53 percent of Americans to make a purchase. Natural is generally accepted to mean the absence of artificial flavors, sweeteners, preservatives, and color additives in products that are minimally processed. Fifty-one percent of shoppers were swayed by "no preservatives," particularly older generations. Sixty-three percent of Baby Boomers say a product with that claim would motivate them to buy compared to 46 percent of Generation X and 41 percent of Millennials. Other ingredients Americans are concerned about include: high fructose corn syrup (57 percent of older adults) and sugar (all ages). And shoppers increasingly want to know the conditions under which the fish, poultry and livestock they're eating were raised: "antibiotic free" (34 percent); "free range" (26 percent); "grass fed" (25 percent); and "pasture-raised" (17 percent) are the key terms. Oddly, free range and pasture-raised are synonymous.

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April 07, 2019, to April 28, 2019

Paris Baguette Plans Aggressive Expansion Over Next Decade

The CEO of fast-casual bakery Paris Baquette, founded in South Korea in 1942, has big plans for expansion of the chain in the U.S. Paris Baguette has only 75 locations here, though there are more than 3,000 in France, Korea, Singapore, Vietnam, and China. Jack Moran, a former CEO of international bakery-restaurant chain Le Pain Quotidien, plans to open at least 1,000 U.S. cafés by 2030, with 38 opening this year. That includes a 50 percent increase in company-operated cafés and a 120 percent increase in the number of U.S.-franchised cafés. In addition, Moran will introduce U.S. customers to a more upscale version of Paris Baguette – Maison de PB – which will debut Singapore this year, and in Manhattan in 2020. Why the switch from Le Pain Quotidien to Paris Baguette? "I was knocked out by the quality and breadth of the baked goods selection," Moran said.

Slicing A Bagel: When Innovation Sparks A Social Media Controversy

It seems like a tempest in a teapot. But for some, especially devotees of the traditional bagel – sliced traditionally – it’s something of a typhoon. Social media foodies are engaged in an online battle over the advantages and disadvantages – or the virtues and horrors – of the “bread-sliced” bagel. Bread-sliced means sliced vertically instead of horizontally. The method was announced by someone in St. Louis who said he successfully introduced it to co-workers: “It was a hit!” he tweeted. But not for everyone, apparently. One shocked responder called it “an embarrassment to the whole sliced foods community." A bakery worker tweeted: “I have standards and a healthy respect for bagels." Others, however, lauded the slicing technique for creating a convenience: it’s easy to dip the slices in cream cheese “while walking, driving or typing at your desk.” Another said the bread-slicing "maximize[s] your surface area for spreads." And so the hullabaloo rages on.

Motivational Speaker Tony Robbins Launches Organic Bakery Inspired By Nuns

Self-help speaker Tony Robbins has announced the creation of Nunbelievable, Inc., a mission-based, direct-to-consumer premium organic baked goods company whose sales will support the work of soup kitchens and food pantries. Nunbelievable was inspired by the handmade cookies and confectionary creations of the friars and nuns of St. Roger Abbey in association with the Chicago-based religious order Fraternité Notre Dame. The nuns’ San Francisco branch – they also work in Chicago, Detroit, and New York City – was operating a soup kitchen in the Tenderloin District, and was in danger of eviction when Robbins stepped in. covering their expenses for six months and donating $1 million to help them open a new facility. Robbins leads Feeding America's 1 Billion Meals Challenge, which has provided 420 million meals in the past four years and is on track to provide a half-billion meals this year.
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