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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.

<<78910111213141516>> Total issues:453

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March 18, 2018, to March 25, 2018

McDonald’s Sees Better Quality Chicken As Vehicle For Extending Growth Curve

McDonald’s, which is in the midst of a three-year growth period, is betting that offering “Better Chicken” will keep that growth bubbling along. The company’s plan is to upgrade the chicken items on its menu to achieve a premium status similar to Chik-fil-A. It has already implemented some customer-pleasing changes to its McNuggets and sandwich lines: it has promised to stop serving poultry with antibiotics; removed artificial preservatives from McNuggets; and launched Southern-style sandwiches and tenders coated in a crispy buttermilk breading. It’s a major shift for the decades-old burgers-and-fries company, whose customers see chicken as a healthier protein. "It's definitely a transformational era for McDonald's," said an analyst at Motley Fool. "Chicken is part of that."
 

New Plant-Based Burger’s Veggie Fats Sizzle On The Grill

California-based Don Lee Farms has begun distributing nationally its Organic Plant-Based Raw Burgers, made with beans and seeds, and certified organic, vegan, non-GMO and gluten-free. The burger is free from artificial ingredients or preservatives. According to the company, the burger “bleeds” organic beet juice and sizzles on the grill from organic vegetable-based fats. “It’s a burger made with plants, not with science,” said a Don Lee Farms spokesman.

Strict Clean Label Grocery Chain Introduces Thousand Hills Grazed Beef In Stores

Colorado-based Natural Grocers is introducing the “exceptional quality” Thousand Hills Lifetime Grazed beef, raised on family-owned U.S. farms, in its grocery stores in 19 states. Natural Grocers maintains strict clean label standards – stricter than USDA standards – for its beef suppliers, requiring all unprocessed, fresh and frozen meat to be humanely-raised without hormones, growth-promoting drugs, antibiotics or animal by-products. The company also “prefers” non-genetically modified feed. According to the company, the USDA allows meat to be labeled as 100-percent grass fed even if cattle are confined in feed lots and fed distillers’ grains, GMO alfalfa, and antibiotics.

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March 11, 2018, to March 18, 2018

Pulse-Based Mac And Cheese Now Available In U.S.

Already available in Canadian grocery stores, Chickapea has launched its organic chickpea and lentil mac and cheese in the U.S. Using a sauce made from real organic cheese, the product is non-GMO, kosher, vegetarian, and gluten-free, contains 19 grams of protein, 8 grams of fiber, and less than 500mg of sodium per serving. Launched in July 2016, Chickapea mac and cheese is available in three varieties – mac with classic cheddar, mini spirals with classic cheddar, and shells with white cheddar – in 2,000 stores in North America as well as online at choosechickapea.com and on Amazon. 

Quick Breads Have Several Advantages Over The Yeast-Based Stuff

Quick breads have remained popular over the years because they are easy to make, economical – they make use of ingredients often past their prime – and can be whipped up in far less time than yeast-based breads. Cookbook author Rose Levy Beranbaum says making quick breads – e.g., zucchini bread, apple bread, banana bread, etc. – is “comfortable baking” that is “no fail.” They owe their continued success to the introduction of two leavening agents that offer an alternative to yeast: baking soda and baking powder.

N.Y. Breweries Send Spent Grain To Flour Company Instead Of Landfill

Several breweries in the New York City area are sending their spent grain to a local flour company instead of the landfill. Rise Flour turns the grain into a “super flour” that contains 12 times the fiber, twice the protein, and a third of the carbs of standard all-purpose flour. The breweries are not only reducing their operational costs, they are also becoming zero waste businesses.

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March 04, 2018, to March 11, 2018

Will Big Food Get Ahead Of The Niche Curve At Natural Expo?

Vexed by consumer preferences evolving toward more-healthful, less-refined foods, and other threats, big manufacturers, retailers and investors have flocked to the Natural Products Expo West – a gathering place for natural, organic, and niche food and ingredient purveyors – to gather hints of what might be the next game-changing food trends. It’s bad enough that Big Food has to deal with rising retailer fees and trucking costs, competition from deep discount food retailers and now even Amazon. There’s also the fact that sales of food made with less-processed ingredients have risen 15 percent since 2014. The top 25 food and beverage companies in the U.S. collectively lost $5 billion in market share to smaller brands from 2012 to 2016. “It’s not a niche thing anymore. It’s mainstream,” said a Kroger exec. “That’s where the customer is going.”.

Raw Pressery Juice Relies On Ethics, Innovation, Technology In Fast-Growing Market

In a recent interview, Sreejit Nair, sales director of India’s Rakyan Beverages, said its Raw Pressery juice brand is applying advanced technologies to maintain market leadership in clean-label, cold-pressed juices. The fruit-based beverage category has grown at a CAGR of more than 30 percent over the past decade, thanks to the rise of health-conscious beverage consumers looking to avoid preservatives, chemicals, sugar, and artificial colors. The company uses HPP (high pressure processing) technology to pasteurize its juices, made with fresh fruits and vegetables sourced from farmers across India and abroad. The pasteurization method extends the shelf life of the juices to 21 days. Robotics and inventory automation ensure proper warehousing. The supply chain is using digitization to control costs, quality, temperature, and time. The company is also working with technology developers to create heat sensing devices that help maintain chiller temperature. In terms of innovation, the company recently launched a cold-pressed almond milk in coffee, cacao, and turmeric flavors. This year it expects to introduce a grapefruit-flavored juice, and to extend its product line to both chilled and ambient retail shelves.

Sonic’s New Mushroom-Beef Burger Has Flavor, Fewer Calories, And Eco-Benefits

A new-product test at a few Sonic Drive-In locations found that an experimental burger made with a mixture of 30 percent mushrooms and beef was a hit. It not only tastes good, it has fewer calories and is better for the environment. The burger is now being offered at all 3,500 Sonic eateries. Although a burger with less beef has a smaller environmental footprint – the company didn’t advertise that – consumers were impressed that Sonic’s offering starts at around 350 calories. An environmental advocacy group said that if all 10 billion burgers eaten in the U.S. each year used blended patties, 10.5 million tons of annual CO2 emissions would be eliminated, 83 billion gallons of water a year would be saved, and the amount of global farmland needed would be reduced by more than 12,000 square miles.

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February 25, 2018, to March 04, 2018

DoorDash, Feeding America Partner To Deliver Surplus Food To Charities

Meal delivery company DoorDash has partnered with Feeding America to tackle two daunting problems at the same time: food waste and hunger. The fundamental problem for foodservice companies who want to donate surplus food to food banks and shelters is logistics. San Francisco-based DoorDash works with local and national restaurants in more than 600 cities across the U.S. and Canada. It has been running a pilot program using their drivers to deliver donated meals to recipient agencies, but had trouble identifying those agencies. Feeding America provided the answer: the partnership gives DoorDash access to the hunger-relief organization’s network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs.
 

Companies Introduce Better-Tasting Chickpea Flour For Gluten-Free Formulations

Nutriati and PLT Health Solutions have introduced a premium quality chickpea flour solution to the North American food market. Artesa Chickpea Flour features a taste profile similar to premium wheat flours, along with similar mouthfeel and texture characteristics, according to the companies. The manufacturing process removes much of the bad-tasting pulse oil from the finished product, producing a clean, neutral flavor and a white color. Food manufacturers will be able to use the ingredient in gluten-free food products such as breads, baked goods, and pasta. The flour contains a minimum of 12 percent protein, is a source of resistant starch, and has a lower glycemic index compared to wheat and other pulse flours.

Company’s Edible Produce Spray Extends Shelf Life

California-based Apeel Sciences has developed a plant-based edible skin – dubbed “Edipeel” – that quadruples the shelf life of fruits and vegetables, and reduces need for fungicides and refrigerated produce transport. Edipeel creates an “idealized little micro-climate inside of each piece of produce” that retards spoilage, according to the company founder, who has convinced investors to pump $40 million into the venture since 2012. The company uses materials extracted from plants, usually agricultural by-products such as tomato skins, combines them, then processes them into a water-soluble powder. When mixed with water, the material can be sprayed on produce or the produce can be dipped in it.

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February 18, 2018, to February 25, 2018

Calif. Dairy Introduces Non-GMO, Lactose-Free Milk Products

A family-owned California dairy says it has developed a non-GMO Project verified lactose-free milk for consumers who are lactose-intolerant and hoping to avoid genetically modified organisms in their food and beverages. According to Clover Sonoma, the product is available in whole milk, two percent reduced fat, one percent low fat and fat free, as well as a chocolate whole milk option. Nearly two-thirds of the U.S. population has a reduced ability to digest lactose, a condition caused by the body’s inability to produce enough of the lactase enzyme to fully break down the natural sugar lactose found in milk. 

Natural/Organic Is Increasingly Attractive To Hispanic Grocery Shoppers

The organic and clean label foods and beverages movement is permeating nearly every segment of the American consumer population, and especially Hispanics, whose buying power has reached $1 trillion annually. A new Packaged Facts report finds that more than half of Hispanic shoppers routinely buy natural/organic groceries, and 60 percent say they are buying more natural/organic foods than ever. Forty percent of Hispanic adults say a store's organic vegetable and fruit selection is an especially important factor when choosing where to shop for groceries, while 33 percent say the store's selection of organic packaged foods and beverages is important. In each of these cases, Hispanics are 15 percent or more above the average for all adults. 

iFresh Adopts Alipay Mobile Payment Platform For Online, Store Purchases

Asian-American supermarket chain and online grocer iFresh announced it is partnering with Alipay and CITCON to provide customers with access to the Alipay mobile wallet function to make purchases at stores and online. Digital payment platform Alipay, operated by Ant Financial, is popular among Chinese consumers.  iFresh will provide Alipay services online and in stores in the U.S. through CITCON, a cross-border mobile payment and marketing solutions provider that helps connect merchants with Chinese mobile wallet users.

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February 11, 2018, to February 18, 2018

Would Knowing What The USDA Means By “Natural” Make For Smarter Meat Buying?

New research from Arizona State University shows that food shoppers not only misinterpret labels on food products, they’re willing to pay a premium price for a “natural” steak without really knowing the USDA’s explanation of the term: no artificial ingredients or added color and only minimally processed. The online study of 663 beef-eaters tested their willingness to pay for steak labeled with different attributes, such as natural, grass-fed, or raised without growth hormones. Half were given the definition of natural, half were not. Uninformed consumers were willing to pay $1.26 more per pound for the “natural” beef, and $2.43 more for natural beef with no growth hormone. Informed consumers, however, were unwilling to pay a premium for the “natural” claim alone, but were willing to pay $3.07 more per pound for steak labeled as natural with no growth hormones.

It’s Not Easy To Find Out Whether Meat Is Ethically Raised

Americans are eating 50 pounds more meat per person than they did in 1960. An increasing number of them want to be certain their meat was ethically raised. But that’s not easy to do. Labels like “all natural” or “free range” on meat packages are no help, and few many consumers are likely to visit farms to observe animal husbandry practices. That’s where independent third-party certification comes in. Whole Foods Market, for example, requires its fresh meat to be certified through the nonprofit Global Animal Partnership, a somewhat expensive procedure that involves regular farm audits. Other third-party organizations that assure customers that the meat they are eating was ethically raised include Animal Welfare Approved, Certified Humane, and American Humane Certified, as well as the Non-GMO Project and Where Food Comes From, Inc.

Chicken Producer Predicts Oversupply Of Expensively-Raised Antibiotic-Free Meat

A major U.S. poultry producer said in a regulatory filing that the supply of antibiotic-free chicken is outstripping the demand. Nearly 41 percent of chickens produced in the U.S. through October 2017 were antibiotic-free, though only 6.4 percent of sales were for products sold as antibiotic-free (ABF). Sanderson Farms said this overproduction could begin to erode processor profits. Sanderson is the only large U.S. chicken producer that has not committed to limit the use of antibiotics. However, it does have a plan to do that if it decides it is in the company’s best interest. A Sanderson spokesman said selling chickens raised using antibiotics allows the company to produce meat more profitably.

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February 04, 2018, to February 11, 2018

Tyson Foods Invests In Another Alternative To Livestock-Sourced Protein

Meat producer Tyson Foods, which markets about 20 percent of the meat sold in the U.S., has invested in a company whose mission is to eradicate farm-raised protein. The company invested in Silicon Valley-based Memphis Meats, which is trying to grow meat from animal cells, through its venture capital arm, joining Cargill, Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Atomico, and DFJ. Memphis Meats CEO Uma Valeti said he hopes his company will benefit from the Tyson and Cargill investments because of their deep knowledge of meat distribution. “They really understand how to scale up,” he says. “They’ll help us learn a lot about getting meat on the shelf.” Tyson has also backed Beyond Meat, which is attempting to replicate the taste of meat with plants. 

McDonald’s Beats 4th Quarter Estimates

McDonald’s profit totaled $698.7 million ($0.87 a share) on $5.34 billion in revenue in the 4th quarter that ended December 31. Adjusted earnings were $1.71 per share, which beat the Wall Street forecast of $1.59 per share, as did revenue performance. U.S. same-store sales were up 4.5 percent during the quarter, due mainly to the two-for-$5 special known as McPick 2, to soda promotions, and to new Buttermilk Crispy Tenders. Early in the New Year, the company revived its McDonald's revived its popular Dollar Menu with $1, $2, and $3 items. One retail analyst called value meals a "necessary evil," however, because they lower profits and hurt sales of more expensive items even though they draw more customers. 

“Blue” Chocolates Debut In Japan

Japanese confectionery innovators have developed a naturally blue-tinted chocolate in two tones. Novelty store Village Vanguard said the chocolates come in two styles: one resembling the complex night sky, and the other suggesting the still winter atmosphere “where the air remains clear throughout.” The introduction of blue chocolate follows naturally-pink-colored ruby chocolate, dubbed the “fourth type of chocolate” in the world. Kit Kat Japan commercialized it last year. Village Vanguard said it was difficult to color the chocolates a deep blue. It solved the problem by adding blue-colored herbs from Thailand. 
 

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January 21, 2018, to February 04, 2018

U.K. Supermarket Store Gives Away Cartloads Of Unsold Holiday Produce

An Asda supermarket branch in Wales decided it didn’t want to waste the unsold produce accumulated over the holidays. It created a sensation in the Barry community as shopping carts full of leftover carrots, broccoli, parsnips, and brussels sprouts were given away free of charge to surprised and happy shoppers. Some of the food was collected for the homeless, charities, soup kitchens or owners of livestock. Store managers at other Asda outlets apparently were free to do the same thing at their own discretion.

Potato Chip Company Turns Ugly Spuds Into Gold

Rather than discard potatoes deemed too small or too large or too blemished for regular potato chip production, Pennsylvania’s Dieffenbach Potato Chips has launched the “It’s Good to be Ugly” campaign to reduce waste and fight hunger. The campaign follows the launch of its Uglies Kettle Chips last year. The company works with local farmers to acquire surplus and blemished potatoes, which are cooked in small batches like its regular potatoes. A total of 350,000 pounds of potatoes have been kept from landfills since the launch of Uglies Kettle Chips last year, according to the company.. 

Walton Family Invests In Colorado Food Waste Company

A Colorado-based start-up whose mission is to cut food waste by buying at a discount excess or rejected foods from supermarkets and selling it to foodservice companies has caught the eye of an investment arm of the billionaire Walton family. Foodmaven completed an $8.6 million fundraising round, including Walton money, to continue acquiring, for example, still edible frozen pizzas with a mistake on the box, excess chicken from supermarkets, and produce rejected for cosmetic reasons. FoodMaven has 700 customers in Colorado, including restaurants, hospitals, and large institutional cafeterias, and expects $10 million in revenue this year.

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December 31, 2017, to January 21, 2018

When It Comes To Diet Sodas, Moderate Imbibing Is Fine

A pediatric physician/researcher says consumers needn’t worry too much about drinking a Diet Coke once in a while. Aaron Carroll M.D. writes in “The Bad Food Bible” that if someone has a yen for a soft drink, a diet version is a better health choice, because the danger is “incredibly small.” It’s better to skip the sugar, which has been strongly linked to diabetes and obesity. Artificial sweeteners just haven’t been scientifically proven to be harmful to humans. However, a researcher who specializes in the health effect of artificial sweeteners says studies have  shown that regular ingestion has been linked to Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, strokes, dementia and obesity. But she agrees that a Diet Coke once in a while is okay.. 

Mass. Cage-Free Eggs Law Is Targeted By 13 States In Supreme Court Suit

Led by Indiana, thirteen states have sued Massachusetts in the U.S. Supreme Court to prevent enforcement of a state law that bans the sale of eggs produced by caged chickens, and meats from caged pigs or calves. A similar action is being pursued by states against California and its cage-free law. The plaintiffs claim that Massachusetts is attempting to impose its own regulatory standards on farmers in other states, in violation of the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution. The Massachusetts law defines an overly restrictive cage as one that would prevent an egg-laying hen, breeding pig or calf raised for veal from standing up, turning around or fully extending its limbs. 

Pork Suppliers Say They Have Greatly Reduced Reliance On Antibiotics

The National Pork Board, which represents the 60,000 pig farmers in the U.S., says its constituents have made great strides in reducing the use of antibiotics while continuing to protect the health and welfare of pigs. Data from the USDA support the progress, says NPB President Terry O'Neel, a Nebraska pig farmer, though figures for antibiotic use are not species-specific. Nevertheless, USDA numbers show that America's pig farmers produced over five million more market hogs in 2016 than in 2009, as market weights increased by 16 pounds. The figures suggest that pig farmers are using far less total antibiotics per pound of pork produced, and are using them in close cooperation with veterinarians to ensure that they are FDA-approved. 

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December 24, 2017, to December 31, 2017

British Government Issues New Standards On Food Storage

The British government and anti-waste organizations have issued an advisory on ways to cut food waste through better storage practices. Supermarkets will be expected to use a new Little Blue Fridge icon for foods that should be kept chilled at home, or benefit from being kept in the fridge to prevent them going bad. The icon will be placed on many foods not typically kept in the refrigerator, including fruits like apples, pears, and oranges. In addition, supermarkets should only select a Use By date when there is a food safety concern. A Best Before date should be used otherwise. Stores must also include only one date label on any product, and no Display Until date. The anti-waste charity Wrap says businesses are also exploring whether the Open Life date on bagged salads could be extended so people would have an extra day to eat the salad once opened. 

How Online Grocery Shopping Could Worsen Food Waste Problem

The increase in the number of online food grocery options may exacerbate America’s food waste problem: 130 billion pounds of food are wasted a year. Online grocery sales are growing at an incredible pace. Amazon’s U.S. grocery sales, for example, surged 93 percent year-on-year to $575 million in the third quarter of 2017. But a new scientific paper by a Hofstra University professor says that trend could make the food waste problem even worse. Consumers shopping in a store invest energy and time buying food, and feel responsible for its use and disposal. But with online food purchases, that energy is transferred to the store’s employees. This impacts the “psychological ownership” of the food, reducing responsibility. And that leads to food waste.

Reduction Of Food Waste Is Only One Benefit Of N.Y. City App

New York-based goMkt, which provides a multi-channel, end-to-end smartphone platform to manage food and organics waste streams, has launched a food shopping app designed to match consumers with retailers offering discounted food that could otherwise go to waste. Participating retailers advertise on the app in the form of discounted "flash sales." Once an offer is published, goMkt users can then make a purchase before heading to the retailer to pick up their items. Transactions are completed electronically, and thus seamlessly. Aside from the savings – and helping to reduce food waste – consumers connect with their favorite stores to easily find discounts and specialty items, as well as discovering new locations. 
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