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Period: August 5, 2018 to August 19, 2018
Comment & Opinion or Companies, Organizations or Consumers or Controversies & Disputes or Deals, M&A, JVs, Licensing or Earnings Release or Finance, Economics, Tax or Innovation & New Ideas or Legal, Legislation, Regulation, Policy or Market News or Marketing & Advertising or Other or People & Personalities or Press Release or Products & Brands or Research, Studies, Advice or Supply Chain or Trends

IBM’s Blockchain Program Seeks To Eliminate Food Fraud By Partnering With Producers And Retailers

Announced in August 2017, IBM’s Food Trust is a blockchain-enabled cloud-based system designed to help retailers determine the sources of food contamination. Counting 10 food producers and retailers, including Dole, Driscoll’s, and Kroger, among its partners, the system uses blockchain to link the members using a “transparent, permanent and shared record” of the “most urgent areas” in the global food supply chain. At present, the IBM Food Trust system accounts for more than 350,000 food data transactions, covering dozens of food products, such as vegetables, meats, and spices.

"Understanding How IBM And Others Use Blockchain Technology To Track Global Food Supply Chain",, August 11, 2018

Einstein Says It Has Perfected Its Mobile App

Colorado-based Einstein Bros. Bagels is launching its “perfect” smartphone app with a rewards program and a one-day offer of a free bagel and shmear with purchase to anyone who shows a restaurant brand's mobile app on their device. To participate, customers need to download the app and sign up for the Shmear Society Rewards program. Members are eligible to enjoy a free egg sandwich with purchase on their birthday and two points for every $1 spent in-store, which can be redeemed at any time for food and beverages at participating locations. Einstein Bros. Bagels is part of the Coffee Bagel Brands family, which includes Caribou Coffee, Bruegger's Bagels, Noah's New York Bagels, and Manhattan Bagel.

"Einstein Bros. Bagels Extends Free Bagel and Shmear to All Restaurant Mobile App Users", PRNewswire, August 06, 2018

NRDC: Beef, Pork Producers, Fast-Food Chains, Should Reduce Antibiotics Use

The Natural Resources Defense Council is happy that poultry producers and fast-food chains are weaning themselves from chickens raised with human antibiotics, but wonder why beef and pork are ”another story.” Progress in the chicken industry is “in stark contrast” to what’s happening with pigs and cattle. In fact, according to the NRDC, pretty much the same amount of medically important antibiotics is sold for use in pigs as for use in treating sick people in the U.S. But pork producers in many countries raise pigs without routine use of antibiotics. Beef producers represented by the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (USRSB) – which also includes fast-food chains – are also falling short when it comes to antibiotics use. “It is time to clean up antibiotic use practices behind the beef and pork served on [fast-food] menus,” the Council said.

"More Chicken Antibiotics Pledges; Where's the Beef & Pork?", Natural Resources Defense Council , July 30, 2018

Hormel Removes Carrageenan From Line Of Natural, Organic Deli Meats

Hormel’s Applegate brand of natural and organic meats announced it has eliminated the controversial ingredient carrageenan from its deli meat products after consumers complained about it.  Carrageenan is a sulfated polysaccharide derived from seaweed that is used as a thickener and stabilizer in foods. The USDA now allows the use of carrageenan in natural and organic foods. Hormel also requires a no-antibiotics policy on the farms that produce meats for its Applegate products.

"Applegate Does Deli Better with Ingredient and Packaging Updates ", Hormel Foods Corporation, July 26, 2018

Next Major Food Trend Could Be “Allergen-Free”

Companies that sell foods that claim to not only be gluten-free but free of other ingredients that trigger allergic reactions expect solid growth over the coming years. Chicago’s Enjoy Life Foods, for example, saw an opportunity when the U.S. FDA designated eight common food allergens, including peanuts and gluten. The company has seen double-digit growth every year since 2011. No one is really tracking the allergen-free market yet, so there are no reliable measures of it. But the rate of anaphylactic reactions to food increased 377 percent between 2007 and 2016. Another company, Safe + Fair, says its chocolate chip cookie is free of nuts, but does contain wheat, egg and soy. The company, which recently completed a $10 million Series C funding round, is developing a line of nut-free cookies and crackers called Skeeter Snacks.

"Allergy-Free: The Next Gluten-Free?", NACS, July 24, 2018

US Foods Cleans Up Four Of Its Product Lines

U.S. Foods Holding Corp. announced that four of its product lines will be produced with clean label profiles. The Metro Deli, Rykoff Sexton, Chefs Line, and Stock Yards Exclusive Brand products will be made with simple, more recognizable ingredients by avoiding, removing or replacing ingredients and food additives found on the company’s new “Unpronounceables List.” The list comprises more than 80 ingredients the company will avoid using in more than 1,000 of its Exclusive Brand products. Product ingredient labels across the four best-quality Exclusive Brands will now be free of ingredients such as artificial flavors, artificial (FD&C) colors, high-fructose corn syrup, disodium guanylate, sodium benzoate, and monosodium glutamate.

"United States : U.S. Foods Introduces Clean Labels Across Four of the Company’s Exclusive Brands", Business Wire , July 13, 2018

Albertsons Extends Organic And Natural Foods Lines To Online Market

Privately-owned grocery chain Albertsons has launched an Instacart-powered virtual store offering organic and natural foods and beverages. According to the Idaho-based company, the O Organics Market will be available at first in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, Calif., but will expand to other locations in the future. The online market will carry more than 3,800 items from the O Organics, Open Nature, and other organic and natural brands available in its stores, which include Safeway, Albertsons, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Acme, Shaw’s, and United Supermarkets, among others.

"Albertsons Companies launches O Organics Market in San Francisco and Washington D.C.", GlobeNewswire , July 12, 2018

Technological Advances Disrupt Meat Industry, Prompt Industry Leaders To Adapt

Digital disruption, the process by which technological changes are forcing businesses worldwide to re-invent their operations and products, is also affecting the meat industry. Recent steps taken by industry leaders Cargill and Tyson Foods, Inc., are providing a clear insight on how digital innovations are upending the market. For example, Cargill has disposed of its 153-year-old business model to become a “modern, flexible, integrated food company.” For its part, Tyson launched its Tyson Ventures investment arm, which has invested in laboratory-grown meat startups Beyond Meat and Memphis Meats. Also, technology is transforming the industry’s supply chain into a “shortened, more transparent, completely disrupted” model. 

"Digital Disruption: Technology is Transforming the Meat Business",, July 12, 2018

Leading Brands Employ Blockchain To Get Most Value From Online Advertising

Leading brands, including Anheuser-Busch InBev, AT&T Inc., and Kellogg Co., are adopting blockchain technology to ensure that their online advertising is viewed by real people and not by computer-generated bots. Also, these major brands seek to use the technology to determine how much of their ad spending goes to middlemen. Designed as a “secure digital database” that can host a “record book” of transactions, blockchain lets business partners to maintain a record of their dealings and transactions. These data cannot be edited. 

"Big Advertisers Embrace Blockchain to Root Out Digital Spending Waste", Wall Street Journal, July 12, 2018

India’s Kerala State Taps Blockchain, IoT To Upgrade Food Supply Chain

In India, the state of Kerala is planning to use a combination of blockchain technology and the Internet of Things to improve its food supply, including milk, vegetable, and fish. Being implemented through the state’s Kerala Development and Innovation Strategic Council, the program aims to use separate ID tags for each food shipment to keep track of food products across the supply chain. To ensure fast and reliable delivery and prevent food waste, each part of the supply chain will include radio frequency identification or RFID tags integrated with mobile apps. 

"Kerala to use Blockchain Technology for Food Supply", Blockchain Council, July 08, 2018

SMC Nutrition Uses Blockchain Service To Offer Supply Chain Transparency And Prevent Food Fraud

Singapore-based food company SMC Nutrition is using a distributed ledger, which is hosted on a blockchain-based service developed by security services provider Certis Group. Designed to provide business partners and consumers access to information about the company’s supply chain, the system lets consumers see the information by scanning QR codes found on the food company’s products. According to Fuji Foo, VP for business digitization, the system is fraud-proof because only suppliers and distributors are granted control and access to the information.

"Singapore company turns to blockchain to improve food security", Computer Weekly, July 04, 2018

Olam’s Technology Empowers Farmers, Gives Them Real-Time Access To Information

Commodities company Olam’s Olam Farmer Information System is helping farmers innovate and increase their production. For example, Olam’s technology puts farmers, such as Ghana cocoa farmer Muhammed Adams, in touch with agricultural experts. From them, Adams learned that he did not have to use pesticides when he had an outbreak of disease. To make customized recommendations to farmers, the OFIS app gathers farm data and uses algorithms. Also, Olam apps let farmers monitor products when leaving the farm and enable them to check product prices and trade online. 

"The trick that turned seven bags of cocoa into 25", BBC, July 03, 2018

Chipotle Looks At Technology To Revive Sales Hammered By Outbreak

Chipotle is using technology to recover from a sales slump caused by an E. coli outbreak. One of the restaurant chain’s locations in New York City has functioned as a test site for many of the innovations Chipotle has implemented. According to the company, one of the biggest changes involved the company’s mobile ordering. Previously, customers have complained that its mobile ordering was confusing and came with wait times that could be as long as 45 minutes. Chipotle is using bold signs to help lead customers to mobile pick-up shelves and has reduced wait time to 12 minutes. Mobile orders account for 8.8 percent of sales, an increase of 40 percent from 2016 to 2017.

"We visited the Chipotle of the future. Here's what it's like", Business Insider, July 02, 2018

FSA Tests Blockchain As Regulatory Tool, Completes Pilot In Slaughterhouse

UK’s Food Standard Agency has completed a trial program involving the use of blockchain technology as a regulatory tool in a cattle slaughterhouse. Aimed at improving transparency in the food supply chain, the pilot allowed both FSA staff and the slaughterhouse to access data. According to the FSA, the agency will implement the same program in other food production plants.

"UK Food Standard Agency Completes Blockchain Pilot for Food Supply Chain", Cointelegraph, July 02, 2018

Blockchain’s Innovative Features Whet Restaurants’ Appetite For Safety And Openness

Restaurant companies are trying blockchain applications to manage their various operations, including customer loyalty programs and supply chains. For example, Chanticleer Holdings uses blockchain, which is a digital, peer-to-peer technology designed to store encrypted data and protect it from fraud, to manage its loyalty program. With blockchain, the company is letting customers earn points and rewards across its restaurant brands. Closely linked to the cryptocurrency bitcoin, blockchain lets users share and access data through a decentralized system that is both open and anonymous. However, developers can add safeguards and safety parameters to the technology. 

"Explaining the Rise of Blockchain in Restaurants", QSR Magazine, July 01, 2018

Blockchain Works To Improve Food Safety, Benefits Farmers

Blockchain technology has some positive impact on farming and the food industry. By integrating blockchain into the food industry’s supply chain, food safety scares can be easily detected, and their origin determined. Blockchain can also help prevent food fraud by making it easier to identify ingredients of finished products. Also, by removing paper-based processes and middlemen from the process, bitcoin can help lower food prices while improving farmers’ income.

"Blockchain's Impact on Food and Farming, Explained", Cointelegraph, June 30, 2018

High-Tech Indoor Farms Promise Improved, Better-Tasting Produce

Business startups, including Bowery farming, AeroFarms, and Lettuce Networks, are using data and artificial intelligence to operate indoor food farms more efficiently than conventional farms. Also, these companies keep their farms small-scale and locate them near population centers. Described by some experts as distributed farming, these indoor food farms are designed to provide food for more people, while keeping their environmental impact less than those of traditional, large-scale farms. Compared with conventional farms, these “unscaled farms” offer better produce, with food grown and harvested near urban centers. Investors believe indoor farms are the future of farming, with about $2 billion invested in hundreds of farming technology startups since 2013.

"Why You Should Hope Your Next Tomato’s Grown Indoors by Robots", Strategy+business, June 28, 2018

Alibaba Cloud Creates System For Raising Better Hogs

Alibaba Cloud has developed ET Agricultural Brain, an artificial intelligence-enabled platform for helping agricultural enterprises, including hog farmers, in China. Proprietary in design, the system is aimed at helping farmers to improve their livestock raising and crop production through innovations. With a special focus on hog farming, ET Agricultural Brain uses algorithm-based models to develop an “exercise regimen” for pigs to improve their health, as well as their piglet yields. China is the world’s largest producer of pork, according to data from the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service. It also accounts for half of the world’s pork consumption, data from Singapore-based DBS showed.

"That’s Some Pig: How AI’s Serving Up Better Pork in China", Alizila, June 07, 2018

Companies, Organizations  

Wahaha To Introduce Functional Probiotic Beverages For Women, Children, Elderly

China’s Hangzhou Wahaha Group is targeting women, children, and the elderly with three new functional probiotic beverages packaged in sachets. The products contain several probiotic strains, including several Lactobacillus and bifidobacterium strains. The children’s and women’s products contain five types of probiotics and three types of prebiotics (fiber). The product for the elderly claims to help to reduce blood sugar level and promote the absorption of calcium, while the product for women is said to aid detoxification. China accounts for almost half of all probiotic sales in the Asia Pacific region, at $8.3 billion. The Asia Pacific probiotics market is forecast to grow by a CAGR of 8.3 percent over the next seven years, but China will continue to track higher than the average.

"China beverage firm Wahaha to launch new probiotic range as it ramps up health focus ", Nutra-Ingredients, August 02, 2018

Deals, M&A, JVs, Licensing  

Coca-Cola To Acquire Minority Stake In BodyArmor Sports Drink Company

Coca-Cola is buying a minority stake in the sports drink start-up BodyArmor, and may soon begin distributing its products. The move is seen as another attempt to break Gatorade’s hold on the sports beverage market. Queens, N.Y.-based BodyArmor is backed by pro athletes Kobe Bryant, Mike Trout, and James Harden. Dr Pepper Snapple Group has a 12.5 percent stake as well as a distribution deal. Coca-Cola may also strike a distribution deal with BodyArmor, a move that would allow Coke to assume full ownership. Like hydration rivals Gatorade (PepsiCo) and Powerade (Coca-Cola), BodyArmor is rich in electrolytes, but uses coconut water, has less sodium and more potassium. It is marketed as a natural beverage that contains no artificial colors or high-fructose corn syrup. BodyArmor is expected to have about $400 million in revenue this year and could be valued at $2 billion.

"Coca-Cola Invests in BodyArmor as It Chases Gatorade", Wall Street Journal, August 14, 2018

Market News  

Nestlé Waters Adds Functional Variants To Levissima Range In Italy

Nestlé Waters is extending its Levissima mineral water brand in the Italian market with the launch of a functional water range in three flavors and variants offering added potassium (muscle function), magnesium (tiredness and concentration), or zinc (stress). Levissima + is marketed as a hydration solution that also can “perform additional functions.” The company’s Italian unit said early feedback from the market has been "strong," with other varieties scheduled to launch in 2019.

"Nestle Waters unveils functional water Levissima + in Italy",, August 14, 2018

Emerging Category Of Energy Drinks: Organic And Natural

The global energy drink market was worth about $43 billion two years ago, and could double in seven years. While traditional caffeine-laced energy drinks are still popular, health warnings about excessive caffeine intake are beginning to transform the category. More brands with organic or natural ingredients perceived as better-for-you are appearing on the market. Brands showcased as natural and organic energy drinks appeared at the 2018 Natural Products Expo West show, including Dark Dog Organic, Limitless, Guru and Zola. Researchers say natural and organic energy drinks sales will reach $32 billion – 40 percent of the market – by 2025. Key ingredients n the new ranges of energy drinks include green coffee, green tea, guarana, and ginseng, and combinations of these.

"Transforming energy drinks with natural, organic ingredients", Natural Products Insider, August 08, 2018

Life On Earth Acquires Relaxation Beverage Maker Just Chill

New York-based functional beverage company Life on Earth has closed the acquisition of The Chill Group, Los Angeles-based makers of natural relaxation drink line Just Chill. The deal is a common stock purchase agreement for 100 percent of The Chill Group, Inc. Eight-year-old Just Chil is a natural functional beverage formulated with the amino acid L-theanine, an amino acid, which is said to promote relaxation and sleep. The products are available in four flavors and sold in retailers such as Whole Foods (Southern California), Kroger, and H-E-B. Just Chill joins Latin drink brand Gran Nevada and Victoria’s Kitchen almond water in Life On Earth’s beverage portfolio. In April the publicly-traded company acquired The Giant Beverage Company, Inc., a Staten Island, N.Y.-based maker of shelf stable beverages.

"Life On Earth Acquires Just Chill",, August 08, 2018


Coca-Cola India Invests In Apple Cultivation For Its Fruit-Based Beverages

Coca-Cola India is partnering with an Indo-Dutch agribusiness to expand apple cultivation – via 110 orchards – in the northern hilly state Uttarakhand to locally source pulp for its fruit-based drinks. Project Unnati Apple was created as a catalyst to help India achieve self-sufficiency in apple production. The country ranks second in terms of area under apple cultivation, yet it imports the fruit and its concentrate as the average productivity per hectare is low. Coca-Cola has been investing in fruit-based beverages as consumers worldwide switch to more healthful beverages. In India the company agreed to nearly $2 billion to source fruits locally while diversifying its portfolio. Researcher Euromonitor expects sales of sodas in India grow at 3.4 percent by 2022, half the pace of the previous five years.

"Coca-Cola Turns Apple Grower In Push Beyond Sugary Sodas", BloombergQuint, August 03, 2018

Products & Brands  

To Reduce Product Line Complexity, Coke Is Targeting “Zombies” For Liquidation

Coca-Cola has developed a guide for executives in its various markets to identify underperforming products – dubbed “zombies” – that should be axed.  So far in 2018 the company has flagged 125 “underperforming SKUs for elimination” in in the Middle East and North African region alone. Sixty percent have already been dropped from the portfolio. The process of developing “zombie reviews” is a subcategory of innovation, according to CEO James Quincey, that requires ruthlessness. According to Quincey, product line complexity needs to be reduced to ensure the sales force is focused, the supply chain is efficient, and the innovation pipeline gains more space and visibility at the point of sale.

"Coca-Cola steps up the zombie hunt: More than 100 products identified for elimination", Beverage Daily, August 13, 2018


Drinkable Yogurts Gaining Market Share As Breakfast Options

Packaged Facts research finds that drinkable yogurts and smoothies are gaining popularity as breakfast options – up 20 percent over last year – while longtime favorite Greek yogurt slides. According to the report, suppliers are looking to attract younger adults to breakfast: most breakfast consumers today are baby boomers or families with children. Innovations in drinkable yogurt have included Chobani’s Apple Cucumber flavor, Dahlicious Organic’s single-serve lassi, and products from General Mills’ Yoplait and Pillars. The report predicts that the category will increase another 13 percent within the next four years.

"Drinkable Yogurt Is Becoming a Breakfast Staple", CSP Industry News, August 13, 2018

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