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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.

<<9101112131415161718>> Total issues:453

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October 01, 2017, to October 08, 2017

Battling Hotel Food Waste Starts With Event Buffets

Experts from a global design firm analyzed each facet of a Florida hotel’s buffet operations – it handles more than 5,000 event buffets a year – finding to everyone’s surprise that half of the food put out for guests was left uneaten. Only 10 to 15 percent of the leftovers could be donated or repurposed because of food safety regulations: the rest ended up in the garbage. More waste was generated by coffee, juices, and other liquids. The executive chef at Orlando’s Hyatt Regency says some changes being tested include: sample plates of meats and cheese instead of large platters; single servings of yogurt instead of big bowls; smaller amounts of bread and butter instead of big baskets; and substituting finger pastries for whole cakes and pies. The changes have already cut food waste by ten percent without guest complaints.

Particle Accelerator Technology Leads To Food Waste Savings

Technology used in the Large Hadron Collider particle accelerator is being used by supermarkets like the U.K.’s Morrisons chain, to curtail food waste. An algorithm developed by Michael Feindt of the AI firm Blue Yonder not only predicts the activity of quarks, it accurately predicts supermarket stock needs so they can reduce the amount of unsold food that ends up in landfills. The Blue Yonder system’s efficiency savings come close to 30 percent, Feindt says, a considerable achievement considering that British supermarkets tossed 235,000 tons of food into the waste bins in 2015.

Frozen Cheesy Bread Offers New Takes On “Soft Middle” Baked Goods

Frozen garlic bread pioneer Cole's Quality Foods has introduced a stuffed bread inspired by popular bread and cheese combination snacks. Middles are baked goods in the tradition of “soft middle” items like bagels, Italian breads, and pretzel breads, stuffed with savory and sweet centers, including cheddar cheese, cream cheese, and beer cheese. The heat-and-serve snacks are available in the freezer sections of grocery, club, supermarkets, and convenience stores for an SRP of $3.99 for a 10-ounce box of eight bites.

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September 24, 2017, to October 01, 2017

Unilever Joins Better Than Cash Alliance's Push For Digital Finance

Unilever announced a collaboration with the UN-based group Better Than Cash Alliance, which promotes digital payment as a means of supporting women and smallholder farmers. Part of Unilever's Sustainable Living Plan, the consumer goods company's deal with the organization signals its commitment to move away from cash as a payment platform for its value chain. According to Better Than Cash Alliance, digital modes of repaying loans have enabled farmers to reduce payment losses and collections costs, as well as “improved transparency and efficiency.”

La Colombe CEO Says The “Mobile Experience” Is The Next Big Thing

Coffee roaster and retailer La Colombe’s socially-conscious CEO Todd Carmichael
believes his product’s ability to saturate roughly 37 percent of the grocery market in seven months is a sign that the coffee industry is ready for “the next big thing” – a mobile experience he wants to lead – involving the ability to have a crafted coffee drink anywhere using self-heating cans, or recyclable aluminum single-serve pods that make café-quality hot lattes at home. The company’s ready-to-drink Draft Latte will surpass its hospitality and café revenues this quarter. “The RTD thing is a monster,” he said, a $3 billion market, “and it’s growing fast.”

Lithuania Reports Big Differences In Major Food Brands Sold there

A study by tiny Baltic country Lithuania shows that the foods sold by major brands there are very different from those sold in Western and Eastern Europe, and more expensive. A government agency sampled 33 food products: 23 differed in composition, taste, color, and consistency. For example, the Nestlé ice tea brand Nestea sold in Lithuanian grocery stores contains more additives than the Nestea sold in Dutch supermarkets, the State Food and Veterinary service (VMVT) reported. Activia yogurts in Lithuania have fewer strawberries than those sold in Germany. A similar study by the Slovak government found significant quality differences in the same products sold in Slovakia and Austria. A spokesman for Coca-Cola Baltics, which makes Nestea, said the company changes product recipes to fit local tastes.

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September 17, 2017, to September 24, 2017

Time For Coca-Cola To Spread The Word About Its Product Line, Community Roots

Coca-Cola recently took its rebranding and refranchising campaign to national TV with an ad on NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” broadcast billing itself as the “total beverage company” with local community roots and an ever-expanding array of beverages. The new ad talks about a revamped Coca-Cola company whose 68 independent U.S. bottlers have deep connections in local communities. The TV ad will be bolstered by print ads in USA Today and The Wall Street Journal. Partners & Spade is doing the creative work, joined by Perfect Sense Digital on digital and UM for media buying.

Nestlé Buys Majority Stake In High-End Coffee Roaster, Retailer Blue Bottle Coffee

Global coffee producer Nestlé has purchased a majority stake in Oakland, Calif.-based Blue Bottle Coffee. The high-end specialty coffee roaster and retailer operates coffee shops – 55 by the end of the year – in major U.S. cities and in Japan, and has launched super-premium RTD and roast and ground products, sold online and in retail stores. Terms of the investment were not disclosed. Nestlé coffee brands include Nescafé and Nespresso.

Start-Up Hopes To Shake Up The Dairy Industry With Pea-Based Milk

Dairy is the largest contributor to carbon emissions by volume in food production. That fact inspired two entrepreneurs to launch a venture capital-backed Silicon Valley company, dubbed Ripple, to produce dairy alternatives that taste better and have the same amount of protein as dairy and soy milks, and much more than almond or rice products. Made from yellow peas, which are inexpensive to grow, their products aren’t strongly flavored but deliver the same amount of protein as milk from cows. The growing popularity of milk alternatives comes at the expense of the real thing, of course: sales of dairy milk declined seven percent in 2015 and are projected to fall another 11 percent through 2020.

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September 10, 2017, to September 17, 2017

McDonald’s To Work Toward Antibiotics-Free Meat

McDonald's announced it will phase out use cattle and pigs raised with antibiotics important to human medicine. It has already begun phasing out antibiotics-raised chickens in its 14,000 U.S. restaurants and the 36,000 locations globally. Meat suppliers in the McDonald’s supply chain will still be allowed to use ionophores antibiotics because they are not used to treat humans.

Foodservice Baked Goods Supplier Bans 150 Dubious Ingredients

N.J.-based based foodservice baker Bridor’s new “clean label program” bans 150 ingredients from its European-style croissants, pastries, savory bistro items and breads. The company, which serves the foodservice and retail markets, said the ban covers artificial colors and flavors, preservatives, artificial sweeteners, bleached flour, high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats. Bridor said the program affects 200 products and could encompass 300 by the end of the year.

Contrary To Lawsuit Allegations, USDA Is Studying QR Codes As Food Labels

The Center for Food Safety recently filed a federal lawsuit alleging that USDA missed a congressionally-mandated deadline of July 29 to study the “potential technological challenges” facing consumers who have to use electronic or digital disclosure methods, like QR codes, to research food ingredients. However, the agency actually is reviewing a feasibility study on that issue, a USDA spokesman said. The lawsuit says such a study is needed to help draft the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure standard because food companies should label packages with clear ingredient lists, including especially GMO information.

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September 03, 2017, to September 10, 2017

Unilever Tests High-Tech Direct-To-Consumer Marketing Scheme

Unilever’s Hellman’s mayo brand is working with the Quiqup on-demand delivery app and platform in a direct-to-consumer marketing test. Users will be able to choose a recipe, then have all of the ingredients delivered to their door within an hour. Hellman’s is betting that consumers will appreciate the free time provided by the service. Quiqup, a member of the Unilever Foundry’s network of start-ups, developed the concept that is targeted at Millennial shoppers in London who are likely to make “impulse purchases.”

Discount Grocer Aldi Gives Big Midwest Competitors A Good Run For Their Money

Data from grocery market researcher Shelby Report show that discount retailer Aldi is making headway in the Midwest against big players like regional retailers and Walmart. Aldi’s market share for its 45 stores in the Kansas/Missouri area was 2.8 percent of total retail sales (all commodity value) of $10.27 billion, compared with 1.5 percent in 2016. Market share in the $13 billion Missouri/Illinois/Indiana/Kentucky market increased from 2.4 percent to 4.4 percent; in the $10.88 billion Minnesota market it grew to 3.2 percent; and in the $18.79 billion Ohio/West Virginia/Kentucky market, it grew to 2.9 percent from 1.6 percent in 2016.

Plant-Based Burger Chain Poised For National Expansion From Pacific Northwest

Next Level Burger has opened a new plant-based burger joint in Seattle, Wash., its fourth after three in Oregon. Other locations are planned, along with an eventual national expansion, thanks to a partnership with Whole Foods Market. The company’s menu features a Signature Burger, Bleu BBQ and Sausage Bacon burgers, as well as “next level” hot dogs and sandwiches, fries, tots, and hand-spun dairy-free milkshakes. Menu item ingredients are “responsibly sourced” and non-GMO; all produce is organic.

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August 27, 2017, to September 03, 2017

Lucky British Pod People In Sainsbury’s Food Waste Test

British retail grocery chain Sainsbury’s is testing a device dubbed a “Fresh Pod” that sits in a household refrigerator and absorbs ethylene gas emitted by fresh produce as it ages, helping to keep it fresher four times longer. The technology, already in use in many commercial fridges, could help reduce the average £700 ($900) of food binned by U.K. homes every year. A village council in the U.K. won £32k ($41k) from Sainsbury’s to test the devices among its citizenry as part of the company’s five-year food waste initiative.

New Spray Coating Preserves Fruits Much Longer

An advanced plant-based technology developed by South Korean scientists not only adds nutrients to fruits, it prolongs their shelf life. The technology comes in the form of a five-second spritz coating of Iron (III)-tannic acid-metal-organic coordination complex (Fe(III)-TA-MOC) for fruits. The spray forms a five nanometers-thick layer (more after additional coats). A field test that analyzed the post-harvest shelf-life of mandarin oranges found that, after 28 days of storage at 77ºF, more than a quarter of the uncoated mandarin oranges (10 out of 37) were rotten and covered with mold. Those spray-coated remained edible. A similar test on strawberries found that, after 58 days of storage at 77ºF, 56.3 percent of sprayed fruit were edible, but only 6.3 percent of the unsprayed.

Food Scientist Welcomes Pasta’s Comeback

A Colorado State University food scientist laments the decline in popularity of pasta after some diet gurus demonized the word “carbohydrate” in the 1990s. Melissa Wdowik acknowledges there should have been some reduction in consumption of pasta: portion sizes had grown too large and unhealthful, especially when topped with fatty, salty sauces and gobs of Italian sausage. But pasta is inching its way back onto plates and menus, and that’s a good thing because it provides nutritionally rich, complex carbohydrates needed for brain and muscle health. Other benefits: enriched pasta is low in sodium, rich in iron and B vitamins; whole wheat pasta provides fiber and magnesium; bean-based noodles also offer fiber and minerals; and soba (buckwheat) noodles are a gluten-free source of antioxidants, carbs, fiber and minerals.

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August 20, 2017, to August 27, 2017

Use Of Biodegradable Materials Is Changing The Packaging World

Companies in the food, beverages, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals industries are heavy users of returnable bulk shipment packaging, including pallets, bulk boxes, barrels, and plastic drums. It’s a $9 billion market that depends heavily on synthetic, petroleum-based plastics – the bane of the enviro-conscious world. Companies like Dow Chemical and Braskem, experimenting with environmentally-friendly packaging materials, are investing in bio-based polymers and biomass. New packaging options have led to another emerging trend that offers an ancillary benefit to vendors: they are more easily customizable in terms of height, length, and breadth.

Company Certifies Gluten-Free Levels For Food Companies

As the market for gluten-free foods continues to expand, food companies need to be able to support gluten-free safety claims. Consultancy SGS provides three “gluten-free” certification levels. The crossed grain symbol gluten-free product certification vouches for 20 mg/km (ppm) or less of gluten; the gluten-free certification organization (GFCO) level assures 10 ppm or less of gluten and no barley; and the gluten-free certification program (GFCP) assures 20 ppm or less. According to SGS, allergen (including gluten) risk management should be a key part of any food safety management system, supported by good manufacturing practices (GMP) and hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) programs.

Smart Labeling Technology Could Revolutionize Retail Food Industry

Advocates of smart packaging and labeling that use short-range wireless technology – aka, near field communication – say that interactive labels can provide product information while reducing cost and waste, and boosting store profits. The technology doesn’t require a separate app like QR codes. Consumers need only tap the phone and receive info, without any additional steps. To advance the use of the technology, the NFC Forum has partnered with the Active & Intelligent Packaging Industry Association to create the smart labels. It will be a while before the technology hits grocery stores, but NFC is compatible now with millions of contactless cards and readers worldwide.

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August 13, 2017, to August 20, 2017

Courts Pass “Natural” Food Cases To FDA, Which Dithers About Definition

Food-related class action lawsuits have been rising over the last nine years, but dropped eight percent last year. A law firm that keeps track of the suits said the decline last year could be the result of the FDA grappling with the claim “natural.” There were 145 lawsuits filed in 2016, mostly in California and New York, alleging false labeling related to ingredients or the type of processing used in a product. The decrease in lawsuits seems to be related to the frequent application of the “primary jurisdiction” doctrine in food litigation. A judge can stay or dismiss actions pending an administrative agency’s resolution of a matter, viz., the FDA’s ongoing exploration of the definition of “natural."

NYC’s Chain Restaurants Sue Over Menu Nutrition Labeling Enforcement

Organizations representing New York City chain restaurants, convenience stores, and grocery stores with more than 15 locations nationwide have sued in federal court to stop enforcement of a menu nutrition-labeling law set to begin on August 21. The city decided to proceed with enforcement after the FDA delayed until 2018 implementation of requirements established under the Affordable Care Act. The suit claims its members would “face the risk of irreparable harm” – from fines and other business disruption costs – if the city goes ahead with enforcement.

Company Says Sweet Potato-Based Sweetener Is More Healthful Than HFCS

A North Carolina food ingredients company that specializes in pioneering applications of sweet potatoes grown in the state has developed a sweetener it says is a more healthful alternative to high-fructose corn syrup and honey. “Carolina Sweet,” developed by Carolina Innovative Food Ingredients, is a 75-Brix (a measurement of sweetness), vegetable-based clean label sweetener that is rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium. CIFI says it naturally adds consistency, allowing for the reduction or elimination of thickening agents.

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August 06, 2017, to August 13, 2017

Active Organic Chickens Offer Perdue Some Major Benefits

Poultry producer Perdue Farms is spurning traditional ways of growing chickens. Some long-time opponents – namely, animal welfare advocates – seem to approve. Representatives of the Humane Society of the U.S., Compassion in World Farming, and Mercy for Animals were positively impressed during a recent tour of facilities. They saw windows and light, and chickens flapping their wings and running around. The bright, airy environment and activity of the birds are very different from current methods of raising poultry. But Perdue acknowledges it’s not all about chicken welfare. The meat from more active, organically grown chickens is higher quality, more tender, and a different color. “Activity is the key,” says CEO Jim Perdue.

Direct-To-Consumer Distribution Of Vitamins: The Future Is Now

National Business Journal (NBJ) says vitamin supplement producers have embraced the trend toward direct-to-consumer distribution, now the largest sales channel for multivitamins. Use of vending machines and other novel modes of multivitamin delivery – could drone delivery be far off? – are gaining legitimacy. According to NBJ, new delivery technologies and formats could finally convince the federal government to allow multivitamins as a permitted purchase in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). At any rate, NBJ expects vitamin sales to surpass $15 billion by 2021, led by multivitamins.

FDA Allows Heart Health Claim For Soybean Oil

The FDA has approved a soybean producer’s health claim that soybean oil consumption cuts the risk of heart disease. According to industry analyst Hartman Group, heart health leads the list of health concerns among American consumers. Bunge, the world’s largest producer of soybean oil, said its FDA filing included summaries of clinical studies showing the potential benefits of soybean oil to heart health. Those benefits are based on soybean oil’s positive effect on cholesterol levels and its high concentration of polyunsaturated omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids versus other oils and fats. The FDA decision means companies can now claim that soybean oil as an ingredient replacing saturated fat may reduce heart disease risk and lower LDL-cholesterol.

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July 30, 2017, to August 06, 2017

Advanced Card Technology Ensures Food Safety, Prevents Waste

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, getting food to the table devours 10 percent of the U.S. energy budget, half of U.S. land, and 80 percent of fresh water. But 40 percent of the food in the U.S. – $150 billion a year – is never eaten. Natures Frequencies is well aware that the biggest concern of U.S. consumers who ponder whether – and when – to throw out food is safety.  With that in mind, the company developed the Food Freshness Card, a laboratory- and commercially-tested technology to keep food fresher longer. The card combines specific frequencies, elements and customized programs, encoding information on a substrate. It helps assist with freshness all along the food chain, from farm to retailer to the home. The card recently won the United Fresh Innovation Award for the best new food safety solution.

New York City Expands Organic Waste Collection Program

The N.Y. City Department of Sanitation is expanding its organics program of curbside collection of food scraps, food-soiled paper, and yard waste to more residential areas. The expansion to more neighborhoods in Brooklyn and the Bronx means two million residents will be able to participate. The department's goal is to make the program available to all New Yorkers by the end of 2018, through either curbside service or neighborhood drop-off sites. The "organic" waste collected is turned into compost, a soil amendment, or renewable energy.

U.K. Supermarket Chain Experiments With Smart Food Label

British supermarket chain Sainsbury’s is testing an advanced labeling technology to help customers avoid tossing edible food in the waste bin before its time. The company sticks a color changing label to packets of its own brand sliced ham. The smart label changes from yellow to purple the longer the packet has been open. It is sensitive to temperature as well, because an open pack of ham has a relatively long fridge life when kept below 5º C (41º F). The new label is being used on ham packages in all 601 stores and will be expanded to other foods if consumers like it.
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