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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.

<<10111213141516171819>> Total issues:479

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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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December 17, 2017, to December 24, 2017

Restaurants Can’t Ignore Customers Looking To Avoid Certain Foods

Big restaurant chains are swerving from their standardized approach to foods and beverages to better serve customers trying to avoid gluten and dairy. Customers with food intolerances or allergies, or who are following avoidance diets, have become a market simply too large to ignore. Starbucks, for example, now sells a hot chocolate drink made with steamed almond milk. California Pizza Kitchen offers a gluten-free cauliflower crust for those who don’t eat wheat-based foods. Industry research has found that lactose comes in third, after high fructose corn syrup and GMOs, as America’s most-avoided ingredients. Gluten and wheat came in at No. 7.

“Free-From” Food Company Unveils Two New Product Lines

A Chicago-based company dedicated to providing food that is safe for people with food allergies has added two new product lines to their non-GMO, clean label portfolio. The Safe + Fair Food Company has announced the launch of two free-from brands: the Kid’s Stuff, and Good to Give. The Kid’s Stuff products, available in boxes of 36 for $14.99, are clean label and nut-free, made with whole grains and without GMOs, artificial ingredients or trans fats. Products include Abby’s Chocolate Chip Cookies and Remy’s Cinnamon Grahams. The Good to Give brand, priced between $1.99-$2.99, includes desserts, meals and snacks also made with clean ingredients, are nut-free, and free from artificial flavors and colors. The brand includes Brownie Mix, Pancake and Waffle Mix, Granola Cereal, etc.

Entrepreneurs Put Wood-Fired Pizza Ovens To Work Making Bagels

Two Syracuse, N.Y., baking entrepreneurs plan to open a shop in the spring that specializes in wood-fired bagels. In the meantime, they are learning all that they can about the unusual technique: consulting with other wood-fired bagel bakers and even attending a class. But the key is the recipe, which Meg Dellas and Luke Esposito have been testing. Their Water Street Bagel Co. bagels will be made New York style, using a yeasty dough containing malt barley that is boiled after a slow rise, then baked in a wood-fired pizza oven. It’s definitely non-traditional. Says Esposito, "Every city needs a bagel shop that's more unique than a chain." 

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December 10, 2017, to December 17, 2017

Brexit Consequences Will Make It Too Expensive For Some To Eat Healthfully

Great Britain’s Food Foundation says Brexit-related ramifications like unfavorable exchange rates, tariffs, and higher labor costs will make it too expensive for lower income families to afford healthful quantities of fruits and vegetables. The Brexit impact could add £158 ($212) a year to the amount a family of four spends on fruits and vegetables, especially if they try to meet the five-a-day eating target. The thinktank recommends: an expanded healthy food voucher system; increased production of homegrown fruit and vegetables; new measures to secure seasonal labor for farms; capital grants to farmers to expand production; and guidance to ensure British-grown fruit and vegetables are prominent in meals served in schools, hospitals, and jails. 

Almonds Are The Healthful, Sustainable “Feel Good” Snack

Market opportunities are increasing for food ingredients that are not only healthful but ecologically beneficial by fostering sustainability in relation to humans, animals, and the environment. Ingredients that fall into that category are generally natural, GMO-free, sustainable, and ethical. One ingredient that satisfies these concerns is almonds, a snack people can feel good about. New snack product launches have again made almonds the number one nut for new product introductions in Europe. 

Chipotle Founder Exits Company Battered By Food Safety Disasters

Chipotle Mexican Grill founder and CEO Steve Ells [left] has resigned under pressure from investors unhappy with the failure to turn around the troubled chain over the last two years. Chipotle’s sales have never fully recovered from a string of E. coli, salmonella and norovirus outbreaks that sickened hundreds of U.S. customers in 2015. Chipotle shares, down more than 20 percent this year, rose more than five percent to $301.99 with the news of Ells’ departure. Prior to the food safety problems, the stock had reached a high of $742.

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December 03, 2017, to December 10, 2017

Re-Used Bread Offers Many Benefits, Including Waste Reduction

Disturbed by the amount of bread wasted around the world every year – about 1.2 million tons – a New Zealand university professor figured out a way to take unsold bread from supermarkets and make new loaves. Collaborating with food company Goodman Fielder, Aydin Berenjian [left] developed a day-long process that produces one ton of fermented bread that has a high profile of essential amino acids, high resistance starch, and a higher shelf life – up to seven days. It tastes like a cross between white bread and sourdough, and because the microbes used in the fermentation system are all probiotics, the bread benefits the digestive and immune systems. 

Australian Scientists Create Machine That Turns Unsold Produce Into Healthy Snacks

Scientists at Australia’s national science agency CSIRO have developed an extrusion machine that can turn agricultural food waste into healthy snacks, cooking ingredients, soup premixes, etc. Powders produced [left] can be used in smoothies, dips, sauces, spreads, pasta, noodles, or bakery items. Growers could use the machine to generate a secondary income line by turning unharvested produce – e.g., broccoli or carrots – that might otherwise be left on the field into high-value food ingredients or healthy snack products, scientists said. According to CSIRO, the machine is ready for commercialization; the agency is demonstrating it to growers to determine the level of interest.

Food Donations Up 20 Percent In Italy Since 2016 Food Waste Law

Italians are donating 20 percent more food to charities since the enactment of a law designed to curb food waste, a politician says. The law, which went into effect in September 2016, expanded the types of foods that could be donated beyond products with a long shelf life. Cooked food, fruits and vegetables, much of it sourced from produce markets, cruise ships, and sporting events. can now be donated to the needy, said Maria Chiara Gadda. 

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November 26, 2017, to December 03, 2017

Start-Up Introduces Probiotic Beverages

A U.K.-based startup has introduced two probiotics drinks in citrus and raspberry flavors that deliver live bacteria and vitamins to support a healthy gut. Alive Biome’s mission is to provide beverages that could help solve many of the diseases and conditions that have been linked to an undernourished microbiome, the human gut’s collection of billions of beneficial bacteria. The drinks come in 375 ml water bottles, with a cap that safely stores the probiotics, vitamins, and botanicals. Twisting the cap releases the ingredients into the bottle when the consumer is ready to imbibe.

Coca-Cola Seeks Patent For Process That Naturally Protects Produce From Browning

Coca-Cola has applied for a patent with the World Intellectual Property Organization that would protect its discovery of a natural way to prevent “enzymatic browning” of fruit and vegetable juice that negatively affects color, taste, flavor, and nutrition. Browning is the result of oxidation of phenolic compounds by polyphenol oxidase. The company accidentally discovered a way to use the cherry-like fruit acerola to reduce browning and hopes to patent the process.

Top Coca-Cola Execs Discuss The Impact Of Culture Change On Innovation

At its recent investors day meeting, Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey and other top executives outlined for analysts how the company is changing its corporate culture to reflect shifts in consumer beverage and health trends. It is revamping e-commerce strategy, focusing on nutrition, and diversifying away from core soft drinks. Analysts were given examples of innovative international products in various markets and examples of incubating innovation and geographic scaling. Chief Growth Officer Francisco Crespo defined categories of innovation, including explorer brands (e.g., Honest Tea) that then graduate to challenger brands, and eventually to leader brands. Consumer-driven innovation is reflected in a growing presence in natural, craft, organic, and premium sparkling categories, and extension of the Coke brand to include Coca-Cola Coffee in Japan and Australia.
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