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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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November 19, 2017, to November 26, 2017

Milk Producer Group Adds Examples Of “Fear-Based” Labeling To Its List

The National Milk Producers Federation, based in Arlington, VA., has added more items to its list of foods found to be misleadingly labeled “non-GMO,” “no added hormones,” etc. The organization has launched a “Peel Back the Label” campaign targeting “fear-based” labeling such as non-GMO on foods or products that contain no DNA to modify – e.g., table salt – and “no added hormone” labels on poultry products that are already barred from adding hormones by federal law. New examples of deceptive labeling include canned sliced carrots with "non-GMO" labels, a "GMO-free" label on lettuce, and mandarin oranges. None of these foods have ever been genetically modified, the group says.

San Francisco Requires Reporting Of Antibiotics Contained In Grocery Store Meat

The San Francisco board of supervisors has passed a law requiring larger grocery retailers in the city report the type of antibiotics used in raw meat products they sell. Grocery stores with 25 locations or more will have to report antibiotic use by their suppliers to the city Department of the Environment. The department’s website would make the information available to consumers. Meat and grocery industry representatives have panned the law as costly, unnecessary, and potentially confusing to consumers. Last month, in a victory for the meat industry, the U.S. Congress repealed a law requiring that packages of pork and beef sold in grocery stores be labeled with country of origin. 

Food Retailer Partners With Iowa Farmers To Obtain GMO-Free Pork

California food retailer Raley's has launched a program to offer non-GMO and antibiotics-free pork in its stores. The company has partnered with supplier American Homestead Pork, a group of 35 family farms in Iowa whose animals have never been given antibiotics or growth-promoting chemicals, and have never been caged. Family-owned Raley’s says it now offers more than 15,000 natural and organic foods.

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November 12, 2017, to November 19, 2017

L’Oreal And Nestle To Face Ownership Options For French Cosmetics Group

The death of heiress Liliane Bettencourt, whose family owns 33 percent of L’Oréal, will likely force key investors to address the company’s ownership structure. Nestlé SA, which owns 23 percent, agreed with the Bettencourts not to increase stakes in L’Oréal, but this agreement expires in six months.  Nestlé could then purchase a controlling share in L’Oréal but is more likely to sell its stake, a move that would force L’Oréal to accept wider (and potentially hostile) ownership or opt to invest further funds in the company, boosting earnings per share but reducing funds available for acquisitions.  For Nestlé, the resulting 24 billion euro windfall brings a dilemma. It could payout funds to appease shareholders and especially its activist investor, Third Point, or use the funds to double down on its currently lackluster food and nutrition business.

U.S. Consumers Need To Know About Benefits Of Unrefined Whole Grains

Australia’s Freedom Foods Group is on a mission to educate American consumers about the benefits of unrefined whole grains, the kind it uses to make its range of Barley+ breakfast muesli products and snack bars. According to the company, the highly refined carbohydrates in the American diet not only do not deliver nutritional benefits like a healthier gut, they increase the risk of disease. Kroger Supermarkets in the U.S. is selling the Barley+ range, with distribution expanding in both the U.S. and Australia. The toasted muesli collection is available in three flavors: cranberry and nuts, pink lady and macadamia muesli, and maple and nut. They retail for $6.49. 

Italian Fashion Company Adopts Food Theme As It Partners With Pasta Maker

The Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana has partnered with Italian pasta maker Pastificio di Martino to produce a limited-edition tin of pastas accompanied by a D&G-designed apron. Just 5,000 of the tins will be available worldwide, only a fifth of which will be sold in the U.S. Pastificio di Martino, based in Naples, produces more than 9,000 tons of pasta a day from 100 percent Italian durum wheat. Dolce & Gabbana has designed the packaging for three of Pastaficio’s 125 shapes: spaghetti, the tubular paccheri, and penne mezzani rigate. In September, D&G’s line of food-oriented outfits walked the runway at the Paris show for its spring 2018 collection. 

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November 05, 2017, to November 12, 2017

Data Analytics Platform Helps Tesco India Detect, Prevent Shopping Fraud

The Indian technology center for supermarket chain Tesco has created a platform and team that detects online and offline fraud involving its massive amounts of collected customer data. The 18-member staff is focused on combating fraud for online businesses (food and non-food), buyer-supplier collusion fraud, and employee fraud at checkout counters. The platform is programmed to detect anomalies in purchasing patterns that might indicate fraud, such as bulk purchases of products like alcohol and cigarettes. 

Australian-Made Beauty, Personal Care Products Attract Chinese Consumers

Chinese consumer demand for Australian-made beauty and personal care products is strong, thanks to the country’s clean and green reputations, strict regulations, and quarantine control. Demand for Australian products will remain strong, according to Euromonitor, because they are more trusted and perceived as higher quality, with consumers willing to pay a premium. Australian companies can expect increasing sales, including via direct-to-consumer channels like Chinese e-commerce sites Tmall and JD.com. Australian companies and retailers have opened their own sites through these channels as well. 

Stagnant Indonesia Economy Could Drive Unilever To Tinker With Product Portfolio

A PT Unilever Indonesia executive said a stagnant business environment tends to increase the cost of living and push middle-class consumers toward smaller, cheaper products. More affluent consumers, however, continue to buy premium-priced goods. Consumer research in Indonesia shows that the composition of high-income, middle-income, and low-income consumers is now 10 percent-40 percent-50 percent, respectively. The middle-income segment could decline, however, if the stagnant environment persisted. Anticipating that, Unilever would “need to change our portfolio." 

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October 22, 2017, to November 05, 2017

Ex-Microsoft Tech Guru Explores Nexus Of Tradition, Innovation In Making Bread

Former Microsoft technology chief Nathan Myhrvold, who has written a 2,642-page book on bread making, says the craft is ancient, but it’s golden age is now. Myhrvold collaborated not only with co-author Francisco Migoya, but also with an army of chefs, scientists, writers, and researchers over four years to create the five-volume opus, “Modernist Bread.” It is partly a cookbook, once you get past the first three volumes. But the real focus is the intersection of tradition and innovation in making bread. An example is the debunking of the traditional technique of kneading dough. It’s just simply not necessary: “… to a large extent kneading is a fraud,” he says. “Kneading does not do what most baking books say it does.”

Airline Reclassifies Unopened Snacks, Beverages As Safe For Future Use

In a bid to not only save costs but also reduce food waste, Air New Zealand has launched a program to recycle sealed and unopened beverages and snacks. Project Green, a collaboration of the airline, its catering partner, and the Ministry for Primary Industries, allows reclassification of unopened in-flight food and beverage products so they can be redistributed on future flights. So far more than 40 such products are included in the reclassification scheme. In the first month, the airline diverted 266,000 plastic cups, 480 kg of sugar packets, and 3.5 tons of bottled water from landfills – 13 tons total.

San Francisco Grocery Delivery Service Uses AI To Cut Food Waste

San Francisco Bay Area food delivery service Farmstead, powered by artificial intelligence (AI) technology, sources and delivers exact amounts of food in less than an hour in an effort to cut grocery industry food waste. Farmstead’s AI software helps customers select food items from a “carefully curated array of local farm produce and grocery products.” AI calculates and predicts users' habits to know exactly how much food to order from local sources daily, weekly, seasonally, and annually. Customers can choose one-hour, same-day and weekly services. Customers who are part of a weekly eco-optimized delivery route, their order is delivered for free. Otherwise delivery is $3.99; one-hour delivery is $4.99.

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October 15, 2017, to October 22, 2017

It’s Not Really A Gluten Problem, Nutritionist/Author Says

A former nutrition counselor – and current director of player development for the NBA’s New Jersey Nets – says it’s time to dial back the anti-gluten frenzy that has spawned a $16 billion industry. While acknowledging that people suffering from celiac disease – perhaps one percent of the U.S. population – do need to avoid gluten, the rest of us don’t. John Douillard’s book, Eat Wheat: A Scientific and Clinically Proven Approach to Safely Bringing Wheat and Dairy Back into Your Diet, suggests that processed foods in the American diet are the real cause of digestive problems, not wheat or gluten. He suggests, among other things, avoiding processed foods, and eating more fiber in the form of green vegetables, and starchy and protein-rich foods to get the digestive system back in shape.  

Judge: Plaintiff In Added-Sugar Suit Against Kellogg Has An Adequate Case

A federal judge in California has refused to dismiss a lawsuit against Kellogg, agreeing essentially with the plaintiff that most of the claims made by the company about the nutritional value and wholesomeness of its breakfast cereals seem to be refuted by the fact that they contain “excess added sugar.” Judge Lucy Koh dismissed five of the claims because she agreed they were essentially harmless advertising “puffery.” But she allowed claims regarding 24 other products to move forward because “these products contain at least one statement that the court found was not pre-empted, non-misleading, or puffery as a matter of law." The case is Hadley v. Kellogg Sales

USDA Says Its Organic Police Are Slacking Off

The inspector general of the USDA has found that agency officials tasked with monitoring imported foods labeled “USDA Organic” have been sleeping on the job, allowing, for example, millions of pounds of imported conventional soybeans and corn to reach U.S. grocery stores with bogus certified-organic labels. The audit of the Agricultural Marketing Service determined that the agency could not “provide reasonable assurance” that those items from abroad are actually “from certified organic foreign farms and business.” The inspector general suggested that the USDA needs to find a way to get the organic food-monitoring staff to do its job properly.

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October 08, 2017, to October 15, 2017

Lidl Sees Share Of Shopper Traffic Drop In US

Months after opening its stores in the US in June 2017, German discount retailer Lidl saw its share of store visits declined, according to an analysis by location-based data firm inMarket. Local rivals, including Kroger Co. and Wal-Mart, have recovered much of market share they lost when Lidl after Lidl opened its first nine US stores in June 15. Lidl grabbed 11 percent of customer visits to traditional grocers in nine markets in Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, inMarket data revealed. Lidl's share of traffic fell below 8 percent in August, inMarket revealed.

Aldi Plans To Build ₤75-Million Warehouse In UK

German discount retailer Aldi plans to invest ₤75 million to build a distribution center in Bedford, England, to support the company's growing network in the UK. Aldi said it remains committed to expansion plans in the UK retail market despite reporting its third year of declining profit. By 2022, the retailer expects to have 1,000 stores in the country from its current 726 locations.

Amazon Angers India’s Big Retailers With Unapproved Gift Coupon Scheme

Big retail chains in India are crying foul over what they feel was a sneaky tactic by Amazon to steal their customers using gift coupons distributed via ITC, Nestlé, and Coca-Cola products. The tactic – dubbed “below the belt” and “ambush marketing” – infuriated Big Bazaar, Hyper-City, Star Bazaar, Walmart-owned Best Price Modern Wholesale, and others. The brands involved in the Amazon campaign include ITC’s Yippee Noodles, Nestlé’s KitKat chocolate, and Coca-Cola’s Sprite and Fanta soft drinks. The stores have since removed products carrying the coupons. A D-Mart executive criticized the brands for not talking to his company first. Amazon downplayed the ruckus, calling the campaign a normal promotional activity.

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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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