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Period: September 23, 2018 to October 7, 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

Methane Producer To Build $120M Food Waste Digester In Philadelphia Area

Renewable methane producer RNG Energy Solutions has formed a joint venture with Philadelphia Energy Solutions, operator of the huge South Philadelphia refinery complex, to build a $120 million digester to convert more than 1,100 tons of food waste daily into methane gas. To be built on 22 acres of vacant land at the refinery, the Point Breeze Renewable Energy Project would take two to three years to permit and to build. The biogas project would divert food wastes from landfills, reducing the escape of methane from decomposing landfill waste into the atmosphere. The facility would produce three million cubic feet of gas a day. There is a strong market among owners of truck fleets and municipal buses for renewable methane to satisfy green-energy targets.

"Philly refiner plans $120M plant to convert food scraps to fuel for trucks and buses", Philadelphia Inquirer, August 28, 2018

Non-profit Atlanta Bakery Gives Refugees A Helping Hand – And Baking Skills

A start-up Atlanta bakery is getting a reputation not only for the treats it produces daily, but also for the atmosphere of good cheer and camaraderie. Just Bakery is unique for another reason: it is a non-profit operation housed in a Presbyterian church, and its seven workers are all refugees from other countries – Congo, Bhutan, Central African Republican – who fled their homelands to escape violence. They were selected from a pool developed by the International Refugee Committee. They produce bagels, cinnamon rolls, cookies, rye pretzels sprinkled with Gruyere, breakfast tarts and loaves of multigrain and sourdough bread. The motto of Just Bakery? "Eat well, do good, change lives.”

"Just Bakery of Atlanta’s goal: ‘Eat well, do good, change lives’ ", The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, August 29, 2018

Online Retailer In U.K. Sells Wonky Beef Cuts To Reduce Waste

Selling misshapen or “wonky” fruits and vegetables at a discount is a well-established practice, but now healthy eating firm MuscleFood.com has launched a discounted wonky steaks program, selling odd shapes and sizes of two beef cuts from just $1.30 each to reduce food waste. The British company is selling the imperfect steaks in packs of 10, 20, or 30 that weigh from 3.5 ounces to 6.5 ounces each. A $39 pack of 30 works out to be $1.30 each for rump steaks; a $44 sirloin pack is $1.56 per steak. The company says the meat is free-range and grass-fed and the same quality served in restaurants. Eateries reject the cuts as too big or too small and usually end up grinding them into mincemeat.

"Healthy eating brand launches the U.K.'s first 'wonky' rump and sirloin steaks that are too imperfect for restaurants from just £1 Each", MailOnline, August 31, 2018

Rockefeller Grant Funds Baltimore Food Waste Initiative

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh announced that the Rockefeller Foundation has awarded the city $200,000 to launch a long-term plan in partnership with the Natural Resources Defense Council to reduce food waste over the next 20 years. Baltimore becomes the second city, after Denver, to participate in the pilot initiative. The city’s sustainability agency will hire a full-time director to oversee the program for two years. The agency will award grant money to local organizations already working on food waste and composting. The program will also receive technical assistance form the NRDC. The main goals of the program are: reducing food waste by educating consumers about their role; boosting food recovery by working with grocery stores, hotels, restaurants and farmers markets to gather surplus food and distribute it to communities; and launching composting pilot programs.

"Baltimore launches plan to reduce food waste with funding from Rockefeller Foundation", Baltimore Business Journal, September 05, 2018

N.Y. State Allocates $2M For Pantries, Municipalities To Combat Food Waste

The N.Y. State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will award $2 million in grants to food pantries and other emergency food relief organizations as part of a comprehensive effort to reduce food waste and increase food waste recycling. Non-profit emergency food relief organizations are eligible to receive funding to purchase equipment such as refrigerators for fruits and vegetables and staff expenses that result in increased collection and distribution of food. Funds may also be used to promote the reduction of wasted food, increase food donation efforts, and to increase food scraps recycling through the construction of composting facilities or other means. Grant funding totaling $800,000 will be made available for emergency food relief organizations; $1.2 million is slotted for municipalities.

"DEC Announces $2 Million In Grants For Local Food Rescue Organizations And Municipalities To Increase Food Donation And Food Scraps Recycling", New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), September 06, 2018

Kruseaz Adds Flapjack Mix That Is High In Protein, Fiber

Baking mix maker Krusteaz as launched a Buttermilk Protein Flapjack & Waffle Mix that provides 15 grams of protein per serving and four grams of fiber. The mix is made from 100 percent whole grain flour and contains no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. The Krusteaz product line includes pancakes, waffles, muffins, quick breads and flatbreads, cookies, dessert bars, cornbread, crumb cakes and a line of gluten-free products. Krusteaz is a brand of Continental Mills, Inc., is a privately held manufacturer located in Tukwila, Wash.

"Hot Off The Griddle: Krusteaz Steps Up Pancake Game With Introduction Of New And Improved Buttermilk Protein Flapjack & Waffle Mix", PR Newswire, September 12, 2018

Bakery Shifts Focus From Healthy Snacks To Low-Carb Bread

Taking advantage of the growing low-carb and ketogenic lifestyles trend, the Stone Bank Baking Co. has shifted emphasis from healthy snacks to low-carbohydrate bread. The company produces SoLo Carb Bread, sold on Amazon.com and in Midwest retail locations such as Piggly Wiggly, Sentry Foods, Woodman’s, and Sendik's stores. In August, the company started selling the bread on its own website Sales were slow at first, but have grown every day.

"SoLo Carb Bread sees growth as low-carb diets spread", Milwaukee Business Journal (Wisconsin), September 12, 2018

Hershey’s Expands Into Healthful Cheese Puffs Snack Segment

Like other big food companies, Pennsylvania-based candy and snack company Hershey’s is investing heavily in healthful foods. It recently announced the $420 million acquisition of Pirate Brands, maker of Pirate's Booty, Smart Puffs, and Original Tings. Pirates snacks will help Hershey’s break into the more than $2.5 billion cheese puffs category.  In 2017 the company purchased Amplify Snack Brands and its SkinnyPop popcorn and Oatmega whey-protein bars, for $1.6 billion. Other companies investing in healthful snacks and foods include ConAgra (Pinnacle Foods) and PepsiCo (SodaStream and Bare Snacks). In 2014, General Mills bought Annie's, which makes organic pasta and snacks, for $820 million in 2014 and Campbell Soup acquired Bolthouse Farms in 2012, thought the company said it plans to sell the Campbell Fresh line, which includes Bolthouse. 

"Hershey's buys Pirate's Booty to double down on healthy snacks", CNN Wire, September 13, 2018

Starbucks Establishes Framework For Building, Operating “Greener Stores”

Starbucks Coffee Company announced a commitment to build and operate 10,000 “Greener Stores” around the world by 2025. The company will follow a “Starbucks Greener Stores” framework of comprehensive performance criteria for the new stores. The company also said it would audit all existing stores in the U.S. and Canada using the framework criteria, which will be shared with other retail businesses. The framework will be co-developed by experts, including World Wildlife Fund (WWF), and will be audited and verified by SCS Global Services, a third-party verification organization that also oversees Starbucks Coffee and Farmer Equity (CAFE) Practices. CEO Kevin Johnson said, “Simply put, sustainable coffee served sustainably is our aspiration."

"Starbucks Announces Global Greener Stores Commitment", Starbucks, September 13, 2018

Bakery Thrives On All Gluten-Free Menu

The founder of a Wisconsin gluten-free bake shop called The Naked Baker – the name has nothing to do with wardrobe and everything to do with excluded ingredients like corn syrup, GMOs, and artificial anything – started her business as a traditional bakery. She switched when demand for gluten-free became too heavy to ignore. She developed and tested a special flour blend and recipe – “I have a little ratio I keep in my head” – that uses less sugar. When the gluten-free creations started outselling her other items, Sue Knutson decided to focus entirely on gluten-free baked goods, including chocolate chip cookies, brownies, birthday cakes, etc. But whether traditional or gluten-free, she relies on her husband and four teenage sons – none of whom have any gluten-related allergy – to ensure that the quality is high. 

"Gluten-free experiment turns into popular business for 'Naked Baker' founder", The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, September 16, 2018

New Facility In Upstate N.Y. Will Reclaim, Convert Food Scraps Into Energy

A solid waste manager in the upstate New York city of Utica says about 14 percent of the 169,000 tons of municipal waste that ends up in a local landfill is food scraps. But Bill Rabbia believes there’s a better way to deal with discarded leftover food from restaurants and homes than dumping in the landfill. Construction is scheduled to begin next month on a $3.4 million facility with equipment that can separate food scraps from wrappers, packaging, utensils, etc., then turn it into a “slurry” that will end up in Oneida County’s anaerobic digester. There, in an oxygen-free setting, microorganisms break down biodegradable material and turn it into a gas – such as methane – that can be transformed into energy. 

"Project under way to recycle food waste in Oneida, Herkimer counties", Utica Observer-Dispatch (N.Y.), September 16, 2018

Bakery Draws Inspiration From 1950s-Style Snack Cakes, But That’s All

California bakery Cake Monkey hopes to please all age groups and generations with its upscale, all-natural takes on the cream-filled snack cakes of past decades. But its creations – e.g., Moguls inspired by Hostess Sno Balls and foil-wrapped Black & White Cakewich modeled after Ding Dongs – are most likely to push the nostalgia buttons of Baby Boomers who grew up in the latter half of the 20th century. The lineup isn’t just inspired by the Hostess product line. Other Cake Monkey creations give a nod to Little Debbie's Swiss Rolls and Drake's brand Ring Dings, Yankee Doodles, and Devil Dogs. But inspiration is where the imitation ends. Cake Monkey never uses candy coating chocolate or shortening in its products. “You can really taste the difference in our buttercream frosting."

"These retro snack cakes at Cake Monkey update your childhood favorites ", Redlands Daily Facts (California), September 16, 2018

Resorts, Hotels Adjust To The Evolving Era Of Legalized Pot

As legalization of cannabis-based foods and beverages for functional and recreational use spreads gradually across the U.S., hotels and resorts have geared up to offer cannabis-based menu items and wellness treatments. The Hollywood Roosevelt hotel, for example, serves a mojito ($18) infused with cannabidiol (CBD), a nonintoxicating cannabis compound whose relaxation effect is “even more profound” than a traditional mojito. The Spa Solage resort in Napa Valley offers a massage, facial and body scrub ($160 to $420), all of which feature CBD oil, a purported anti-inflammatory agent that is supposed to help with insomnia, pain relief, anxiety, and eczema. Lastly, The Thompson Seattle hotel sponsored two dinners where different strains of marijuana (this time with psychoactive THC) were paired with beets with herring, scallops with apples and anise, and veal cheeks with cauliflower and pecans.

"Cannabis on the Menu at Your Next Hotel Restaurant or Spa?", The New York Times - International Edition, September 17, 2018

Arkansas’ Food Companies Make Progress In Battle To Cut Food Waste

Food waste in manufacturing and packaging costs corporations $2 billion each year – in addition to $15 billion for farmers – while dumping 52 million tons of waste into landfills. In the state of Arkansas, food and beverage industry companies are taking steps to eradicate food waste. Tyson Foods this summer launched bite-sized chicken crisps, dubbed ¡Yappah!, made with upcycled chicken breast, rescued carrots, and celery puree from juicing, or malted barley from beer brewing. Walmart has introduced a technology that focuses on tracking the freshness of produce as it travels from farm to wholesaler to retailer to table. Eden’s sensors measure and report temperature, moisture and metabolite data used to assess carton-level freshness and shelf life based on FDA standards. And ConAgra Brands says it achieved an 81.7 percent landfill diversion rate in 2017 corporate-wide.

"How one state is fighting food waste", Brandpoint Content, September 17, 2018

Florida Bakers Offer Their Take On Desserts Trending On Social Media

Florida food writer Savannah Vasquez discovered that some mouth-watering dessert innovations posted on social media were actually available in locations across the northwest part of the state. Among the treats she happened upon – and food in several bakeries – were two-layered tart cakes, re-imagined by an Israeli chef and now trending on Pinterest and Instagram. Often shown in the shape of numbers or letters, they can feature “extravagant” toppings like edible flowers, macaron cookies, and fresh fruit. Also having their 15 minutes of fame on social media are: edible cookie dough, custom donuts, and Japanese crepes.

"Trending Desserts and where to get them", Northwest Florida Daily News (Fort Walton Beach, FL), September 18, 2018

Gluten-Free Ancient Grain From Africa Is Catching On In New York City

A Senegalese chef who last year began exporting a gluten-free ancient grain from the impoverished Sahel region of Africa plans to double production over the next five years to meet demand from New York City foodies. Fonio – known as “the lazy farmers’ crop” because it is easy to grow and requires little water – is now on the menus of 60 restaurants and will soon be available at Whole Foods Market locations, according to Pierre Thiam’s start-up company Yolele Foods. The idea behind the import initiative is to help the smallholder communities of the Sahel, which ranges from Mauritania in the west to Eritrea in the east and is home to more than 100 million people.

"Senegalese chef puts supergrain on NYC menus", Thomson Reuters Foundation, September 24, 2018

British Grocers, Producers, Hotels Commit To Food Waste Reduction Roadmap

A British charity dedicated to waste reduction and sustainability has launched a Food Waste Reduction Roadmap with the cooperation of government, large food retailers, food producers, manufacturers, and hospitality and food service companies. The Roadmap encompasses the food supply chain from field to fork, and outlines the actions large businesses will take to address food waste in their own operations, among their suppliers, and with consumers. The first major milestone on the Roadmap, set for September 2019, is to have fifty percent of the U.K.'s largest 250 food businesses measuring, reporting, and acting on food waste, with all 250 companies doing so by 2026. 

"A World First: U.K. Food Industry Commits to a Landmark Roadmap to Halve Food Waste", Waste and Resources Action Program (WRAP), September 25, 2018

“Waste Bread” Incorporates Unsold Sourdough Loaves Into New Ones

A British bakery has developed what it calls Waste Bread, made by crushing unsold loaves, rolls, and bloomers (London-style white bread) to make a porridge. A new batch of sourdough then incorporates the porridge.  Gail’s Bakery’s 43 sites in London, Oxford, and Brighton will introduce the sourdough in October at a price of $5.50 a loaf. The co-founder of Gail’s said the process took nine months to perfect because it is so complicated, but it is worth the effort because it continues the company’s commitment to sustainability and reduction of food waste.

"U.K. bakery chain has developed a sourdough made from surplus loaves to cut down on food waste", BakeryAndSnacks.com, September 25, 2018

Companies, Organizations  

Start-Up Launches Aronia Berry Beverages

Kansas City, Mo.-based Tohi Ventures has introduced four antioxidant-rich aronia berry beverages. Tohi – a Cherokee word meaning both “peace” and “wellness” – was founded by two female entrepreneurs with backgrounds in investment and science. The functional beverages are 30 percent single-strength aronia berry juice, 70 percent water, noncarbonated, low-calorie, and available in four flavors: original, blackberry raspberry, dragon fruit, and ginger lime. All are sweetened with monk fruit. The 12-ounce cans are available on Amazon.

"Tohi Ventures Launches New Aronia Berry Beverages", PR Newswire , September 26, 2018

Deals, M&A, JVs, Licensing  

Analysts Predict Nestlé Will Divest Skin-Health Business To Focus on Beverages, Food

Nestlé may be planning to divest its $2.79 billion skin-health business as a way to placate an activist investor who believes the company should focus on food and beverages. Selling the unit could generate $4.1 billion, according to analysts, but the company did not comment on the speculation. Investor Daniel Loeb took a $3.5 billion stake in Nestlé last year and has since pressured the company to sell its investment in L’Oréal SA and in the skin-health arm set up in 2014 after Nestlé assumed full control of Galderma. CEO Mark Schneider has said the key to reviving stagnating growth is to focus on core areas with growth potential like coffee, pet care, water, and infant nutrition. Regarding coffee, the company recently bought the rights to market and sell Starbucks coffee and tea products in grocery and retail stores, and last year bought a majority stake in U.S. premium coffee chain Blue Bottle.

"Nestlé Sharpens Focus on Food and Beverages With Review of Skin-Health Unit", The Wall Street Journal, September 20, 2018

Market News  

Czech Firm Isoline Debuts Functional Drink With Novel Three-Chambered Cap

Czech Republic beverage company Isoline has developed a functional drink that uses fruit and herbal extracts like schisandra, ginseng, matcha tea, ginkgo biloba and guarana, and is sweetened with stevia. A unique feature is the 3D SportTop cap composed of three chambers, each containing the drink concentrate. The cap makes it possible for buyers to obtain three drinks from one bottle. The company says Escalate’s ingredients fight fatigue, improve concentration, focus and memory, and support “regeneration after intense activity.” The beverage was developed with professional athletes and nutritional scientists from Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic.

"Escalate – The functional drink of the future", FoodBev Media, September 28, 2018

Marketing & Advertising  

Soylent Plans U.K. Launch

Los Angeles-based meal replacement company Soylent is expanding to the U.K. after market research found that skipping meals is becoming more commonplace there. Launched in the U.S. in 2014 after a crowdfunding campaign raised $1.5 million, Soylent has developed a significant following for its RTD beverages and powders among athletes and gym rats who use it as a high-protein workout supplement. It was the top grocery product on Amazon in the U.S. beginning in January 2018. The company is planning a soft launch because of the novelty of the meal replacement concept in the U.K. The strategy is to drive word of mouth, awareness and advocacy to educate consumers. Marketing will target gamers, urban Millennial achievers and busy students.

"Soylent ‘cult following’ in the U.S. leads to U.K. launch", beveragedaily.com, September 17, 2018

Products & Brands  

Nestlé, Unilever, Coca-Cola On Shortlist In Bidding For GSK Consumer Portfolio

As negotiations for the Indian GlaxoSmith-Kline nutrition portfolio, including Horlicks, begin to heat up, Nestlé, Unilever and Coca-Cola are among companies shortlisted for a second round of bidding. Other food and drinks companies that have shown interest in the auction include PepsiCo, Reckitt Benckiser, General Mills, Danone, and Kellogg’s, as well as India’s ITC and private equity buyout funds like KKR. It’s not clear how many bidders are still in the running. 

"Coke, Nestlé for second round in Horlicks race ", The Economic Times, October 01, 2018


Market Report Finds That Americans Want Functional Coffee

RTD coffee should be more than a caffeine-delivery vehicle, market researcher Mintel found in a survey of U.S. consumers, it should be functional, providing perhaps antioxidants, probiotics, and brain health benefits. The online survey questioned 613 U.S. Internet users aged 18 and older who drink any ready-to-drink (RTD) coffee products. Respondents said they want options that include antioxidants (47 percent), promote brain health (40 percent), are anti-inflammatory (35 percent), or have added probiotics (30 percent).The findings support the general trend that U.S. consumers want brands and products offering health and functional benefits.

"Consumers seek functional benefits even in their cup of joe, Mintel study finds", Beveragedaily.com, September 26, 2018

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