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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 18, 2018, to November 25, 2018

Loliware Introduces Edible Straws Made From Seaweed

As pressure intensifies on single-use plastics, one bioplastics company claims to have the answer to eliminating plastic straws. Loliware has developed the LOLISTRAW, made from a bio-degradable and marine-degradable material sourced from seaweed. They come in different colors, last for a day in a beverage, become soil in around 60 days, and are edible - flavors include “citrus” and “vanilla dust”. One variant – “air” – is clear and has no flavor. The straws follow the company’s edible cups, which it pitched to the Shark Tank reality investor TV program in the US in 2015.

AlgoTek Develops An Algae-Based, Degradable Plastic For Single-Use Market

Startup AlgoTek has developed an edible and biodegradable plastic made mainly from brown algae powder. The plastic, which is created using a proprietary process, is durable and can be used for various single-use products such as capsules and bottles. The plastic, which is degraded by water, can withstand heat up to 140 degrees F and cold down to 10 degrees F. AlgoTek was established by chief executive officer David Crinnion and his college friends to help address the global plastic waste problem. AlgoTek has raised 35,000 dollars, is looking for manufacturing partners and aims to secure patents so it can license its technology to other users.

Multinational Corporations Support Campaign To Reduce Ocean Plastic Pollution

Multinational corporations, including Coca-Cola and Walmart, pledged their support for the Ocean Plastics Charter signed by Britain, Canada, France, Germany, and Italy in June 2018. Despite an abstention by the two other G7 nations, United States and Japan, several non-G7 nations supported the plan to achieve 100 percent plastics recyclability by 2030. An announcement by Canadian Environment Minister Catherine McKena to create a new partnership with businesses to reduce plastic waste secured support from several companies, including Loblaws, Walmart, and IKEA, and Nestle Canada. Separately, Unilever announced the launch of a not-for-profit venture to reduce consumer and business waste.

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November 04, 2018, to November 18, 2018

Common Farm Insecticides Increase Risk For Neurodevelopment Disorders

A scientific review of earlier studies has found sufficient evidence that prenatal exposure to widely used insecticides known as organophosphates puts children at risk for neurodevelopmental disorders. Published in the journal PLoS Medicine, the study by public health experts urges governments to ban the chemicals from the food chain. Organophosphates, used to control insects at farms, golf courses, shopping malls, and schools, kill pests by blocking nerve signaling. In addition to recommending that the pesticides be removed from agricultural and non-agricultural uses and products, the researchers urged greater medical and nursing education on organophosphates to improve treatment for and patient education on avoiding exposures.

Some Very Popular Breads Feature Candy-Like Levels Of Added Sugar

Added sugars should account for no more than ten percent of the average daily calorie count – about 2,000 – for Americans. It’s easy to consume those 200 sugar calories, however, if you eat bread made by companies like Martin’s, Dave’s Killer Bread, Vermont Bread, Wonder Bread, the Cheesecake Factory, Udi, Pepperidge Farm, Arnold, and others. Two slices of Martin’s Potato Bread, for example, deliver more sugar (six grams versus 4.7 grams) than a Twizzler. A slice of Dave's Killer Bread’s Raisin' the Roof has six grams of sugar. The Cheesecake Factory's "Famous 'Brown Bread” has about the same amount of sugar as a nibble of its cheesecake. A sandwich made with Freihofer's 100 percent Whole Wheat Bread has the same amount of sugar as a Jolly Rancher. And so on. 

“Clean Label” Appearing More And More On Foods, Despite Lack Of Standard

Though there is still no firm definition of the term, the “clean label” claim is joining other food marketing words and phrases like “natural” and “artisanal” on packaging. As the phenomenon grows, organizations have appeared claiming to test and certify food products and award a "clean label" seal of approval. The Denver-based Clean Label Project, for example, tests products for 130 harmful environmental and industrial contaminants and toxins, including heavy metals, pesticides, BPA, BPS, acrylamide, and melamine and its analogs. But “clean label” can mean other things as well – no artificial flavors, no artificial colors, no preservatives, and no high-fructose corn syrup – depending on the product. What may be needed is for regulators to nail down the definition of clean label so it can have some universal application.

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October 28, 2018, to November 04, 2018

Using, Rather Than Tossing, Surplus Foods Saves A Lot Of Money For Family Of Four

A Boston globe writer who decided earlier this year to spend more time with her children says she needed to trim grocery costs to make up for lost income.  By cutting food waste – using instead of throwing away things like wilted celery and cherry jar syrup – she got her monthly grocery bill down to about $420. That’s considerably less than a “liberal” grocery budget of $1,016, and $100 less than what the USDA calls a “thrifty” plan of $520 for a four-person family with young kids. At a time when the average American family wastes about $1,600 in food a year, Elspeth Hay says preventing food waste wasn’t really a chore this summer: “frugality tasted more like freedom.”

No Longer Discarded, Experimental Spuds Head To Oregon’s Food Banks

Until recently, the batches of experimental potato varieties grown at an Oregon agricultural research facility were deemed unsuitable for commercial sale and carted off to landfills. But thanks to a partnership between the Hermiston Agricultural Research and Extension Center and the Walchli Farms potato processors, most of the potatoes will go now to the Oregon Food Bank to be distributed to community food pantries across the state. The endeavor involves many hands: donated labor and equipment to harvest the potatoes; trucks provided by a trucking company; donated processing, washing, and packaging; and storage provided by a local farmer. The total haul surpassed 100,000 pounds of potatoes.

Big Food Adjusts The Portfolio To Lure Big Spending Millennials, Gen Z-ers

Big food makers, including J.M. Smucker, General Mills, and ConAgra Brands, are looking to shed low- or no-growth businesses and refocus toward foods that will increase revenue among high-spending Millennials and Gen Z-ers. Smucker is selling its U.S. baking unit, including Pillsbury, to boost innovation in coffee, peanut butter, and snacks that can be touted as healthful. General Mills wants to divest five percent of its portfolio to pursue growth in cereals and yogurt with less sugar, among other things. Young execs at Mondelez International and Hershey realize that they need to market to younger consumers who have no loyalty to established brands. With Millennials embracing cheaper and more convenient frozen meals, ConAgra, which in June agreed to buy Pinnacle Foods to expand in the freezer aisle with brands such as Birds Eye and the Gardein line of vegetarian products. But it is likely to jettison some Pinnacle brands that don’t fit the strategy.

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October 21, 2018, to October 28, 2018

Land O’Lakes Launches Digital Tool To Help Farmers Get More Sustainable

Land O'Lakes SUSTAIN is to launch Truterra Insights Engine, an interactive digital platform to help farmers and food companies measure their sustainability in real time. The platform combines agronomic expertise and technical capabilities from several contributors, including the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service, and combined with other tools can help farmers measure the economic and environmental benefits of their sustainability efforts. It also helps them identify farm management options. The company claims Truterra Insights Engine is better suited to farmers since it was created by a farmer-owned cooperative.

Dutch Supermarket Chain Uses Blockchain To Make Orange Juice Supply Chain Transparent

According to International Supermarket News, Dutch supermarket chain Albert Heijin is using Blockchain to make transparent the supply chain for its orange juice. The new system will be launched in partnership with Refresco, one of the company’s suppliers and will enable customers to track the product’s journey from Brazil to the Netherlands by using a QR code on the carton. The food industry is beginning to discover and embrace the potential of blockchain, helped by tech companies working on solutions for the sector. For example, Walmart has been working with IBM on a blockchain system to reduce food waste and improve food safety.

Irish Agricultural Technology Companies See Export Opportunities in the North American Agricultural Market

Enterprise Ireland sees large opportunities in the US for Irish agricultural technology companies and recently opened a Chicago office to help companies to secure business. It seeks to help companies that offer a range of products, often leveraging digitalization to help farmers optimize efficiency, maximize profitability, and reduce costs. For example, Moocall sells wearable sensors to the bovine industry to improve calving, MooMonitor provides a system to monitor animal health and fertility and MagGrow has technology that improves spraying efficiency and reduces spray drift by up to 70 per cent.

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October 14, 2018, to October 21, 2018

Fast-food, Restaurant Chains Wooing Millennials Spurn Processed Cheese

Fast-food and fast-casual restaurant chains bowing to the demands of the Millennial generation are spurning the century-old sandwich favorite processed American cheese – made with sodium citrate, calcium phosphate, natamycin, modified food starch, and milk – in favor of premium cheeses that contain no synthetic or artificial ingredients. Wendy’s, for example, offers asiago, AW's Canada locations use real cheddar, McDonald's replaced its Big Mac American cheese with a version that contains no artificial preservatives, and Panera Bread is now using a four-cheese combo of fontina, cheddar, manteau and smoked gouda to make its grilled cheese sandwich. The result is higher sales for the restaurants, and a significant drop in American cheese sales for the fourth straight year. U.S. sales of processed cheese, including brands like Kraft Singles and Velveeta are projected to drop 1.6 percent this year.

FDA Drops Seven Approved Flavoring Chemicals After Data Prove They Cause Cancer

Responding to two food additive petitions, the Food and Drug Administration has removed seven synthetic flavoring substances and flavor enhancers (adjuvants) from its list of approved ingredients because they have been proven to be carcinogenic. Data presented in one of the petitions submitted to the FDA by Breast Cancer Fund and nine other watchdog groups show that six of the synthetic substances caused cancer in laboratory animals under the conditions of the studies. The seventh synthetic flavor was dropped from the list because it is no longer used by industry. The six flavoring substances include synthetically-derived benzophenone, ethyl acrylate, eugenyl methyl ether (methyl eugenol), myrcene, pulegone, and pyridine. 

Belgians Adopt Food Nutrition Labeling Scheme Developed In France

The Belgian government has introduced a voluntary scheme for front-of-pack nutritional labeling that is now being implemented by the country’s grocery retailers. The Nutri-Score scheme was developed by the French government and put in place in France a year ago. The system was designed to inform consumers about the nutritional quality of a product by using color coding associated with letters from A to E. Five levels range from the most nutritionally favorable product (class A) to the least (class E). U.S exporters to Belgium will not have to comply with the scheme if they don’t want to. Two large retail chains, Ahold Delhaize and Colryut, have committed to applying the scheme by the end of 2018.

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October 07, 2018, to October 14, 2018

E-Coli Outbreak Underlines Key Blockchain Benefits For Agricultural Sector, Industry Regulators

Rapid and accurate tracking of food would help regulators better manage food contamination outbreaks, says SupplyBloc Inc. CEO Robert McNulty. McNulty used the April 2018 E. coli outbreak in romaine lettuce to illustrate how blockchain would have helped the FDA and CDC identify the cause and minimize collateral costs. According to McNulty, the blockchain technology’s decentralized ledger and smart contracts would ensure better business dealings among supply chain parties and improved tracking of the supply chain process, without room for data manipulation. All food products would be registered into the decentralized ledger, which would track the products’ movement along the entire supply chain process. This ledger, accessible to all supply chain participants, would be able to pinpoint any point of contamination or corruption, improving the sector’s transparency. 

Alibaba Deploys Blockchain Pilot To Ensure Food Authenticity

Alibaba is testing blockchain technology to track products and ensure food authenticity. It is working with two food products, one from Australia and one from New Zealand – and giving consumers the ability to scan a QR code to verify product authenticity. Fake food has long been a problem in China and Michigan State University estimates it costs the global food industry $40 billion per year.  First announced in March 2017, the goal of this blockchain integration is to “achieve end-to-end supply chain traceability and transparency to enhance consumer confidence and build a trusted environment for cross-border trade,” said Alibaba.  Investment in blockchain technology has doubled to $2.1 billion and industry projections see that expenditure reaching $9.7 billion in 2021, according to reports from IDC. Numerous firms, such as Alibaba’s industry rival JD, are also delving into blockchain tech to streamline the supply chain, auditing, and compliance processes.

Virginia Company Pervida To Launch Sugar-Control Beverage In 2019

Blacksburg, Va.-based functional beverage company Pervida next spring will debut Pervida Sugar Control, a beverage meant to support the body’s use of glucose, especially when combined with exercise. The drink uses an enriched fig extract to direct glucose from the bloodstream into your muscles, lowering blood sugar levels while boosting the available fuel for muscle endurance. A secondary effect is immunity and gut health, thanks to the addition of pomegranate seed oil. It contains carbonation, vitamins, but no sweeteners or calories, no preservatives, and no artificial ingredients. It is vegan, gluten-free, and non-GMO. Pervida Sugar Control will be available in orange flavor with a “splash of pomegranate.”,

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September 23, 2018, to October 07, 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. 

“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.

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.

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September 16, 2018, to September 23, 2018

California Bake Mix Company Ventures Into Snack Bars

Baking and cake mix maker Cherryvale Farms of California has launched a line of plant-based, clean-label whole grain snack bars. Love It! Bars, available in three flavors, are made with whole grains and real fruit flavor. They are also Non-GMO Project Verified, egg-free, dairy-free, nut-free and contain no preservatives, artificial colors or flavors. The line of snack bars is Cherryvale’s firs step beyond the baking aisle.

How Companies Are Working To Meet Demand For “Free From” Foods

As American consumers increasingly seek out foods that are “free from” gluten, antibiotics, pesticides, and genetic modification – sales of which are poised to grow 15 percent by 2022 – food manufacturers are taking extraordinary measures to ensure they are meeting that demand, changing the way they procure, process, and package food. General Mills Inc., for example, which was forced recall gluten-free Cheerios – oats do not naturally contain gluten – because wheat flour got into a facility in California. The company built a special eight-story sorting plant to make sure gluten particles from neighboring fields did not end up in their oat-based cereals.

Barilla Introduces Four Varieties of Legume-Based Pastas

Acknowledging two key consumer food preference trends – plant-based and high-protein – pasta maker Barilla has launched a line of one-ingredient legume pastas made with chickpeas or red lentils. The products are available in four varieties: red lentil rotini, red lentil penne, chickpea rotini and chickpea casarecce. All are certified gluten free and Non-GMO Project Verified. They retail for $2.99 each and can be found at Amazon.com and select retailers nationwide.

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September 09, 2018, to September 16, 2018

Direct-To-User Model Promises To Do More Than Typical DTC Does

Consumer packaged goods companies, whether users of the direct-to-consumer model or not, should focus on evolving from DTC to direct to user. By adopting a DTU approach, brands can expand their horizons when it comes to customer engagement. DTU provides brands the opportunity to avoid retail costs and the need to compete with established brands. Instead of focusing on what users think of a brand, companies should concentrate on what users experience during engagements. Also, a DTU model also offers brands an opportunity to have an uninterrupted exchange with users that can retain and protect user engagement that can help long-term growth. 

Detoxwater Adds Aloe Shot To Its Portfolio

New York-based Detoxwater has introduced an aloe supplement shot containing 1.7 fluid ounces of highly-concentrated aloe vera extract. Veralixir is a vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free prebiotic with zero calories. It contains “clinically-proven” ACTIValoe hand-harvested aloe that, the company says, delivers optimal benefits for immune, skin, and digestive health. The company recommends that the beverage be taken once a day before or after a meal “to promote digestive health, skin elasticity, nutrient absorption, and immune health.” In addition to aloe-based probiotic Detoxwater, the company produces Cryptokiwi, a beverage made with kiwi and cucumber.

Coca-Cola A Major Contender For Kraft Heinz Consumer Products In India

Coca-Cola is competing against Indian pharmaceutical company Zydus Cadila Group to purchase the Indian consumer portfolio of Kraft Heinz for approximately $1 billion. The portfolio includes the children’s milk drink Complan. At one time, suitors included Tata Group, Wipro Consumer, Dabur India and Danone, companies that have been shortlisted along with Coca-Cola and Zydus Cadila. Other contenders have included Nestlé, Emami, and ITC. Some potential purchasers have expressed concerns about the future of products like Complan as consumer preferences continue to evolve. Coca-Cola India is also pursuing GlaxoSmithKline’s consumer nutrition business, which owns malted milk brand Horlicks. The asking price is reportedly $4 billion. Coke’s strategy is to acquire established or high-potential brands in India’s non-soda beverage space, especially health-based hydration that includes glucose and milk-based drinks.

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September 02, 2018, to September 09, 2018

Asia-Pacific Is Ramping Up Efforts To Reduce Single-Use Plastic

There is a growing awareness of single-use plastic in the Asia-Pacific region, with governments and companies acting to reduce the volume of plastic waste. However, there are also concerns that too little is being done, and too slowly. In India, PepsiCo has committed to using 100% compostable, plant-based packaging for some of its snack brands, and Nestle plans globally to make 100% of its packaging either recyclable or reusable by 2025. Unilever has a similar target. In South Korea, supermarket chains Lotte Market, E-Mart, Mega Mart, Homeplus and Hanaro Mart, announced plans to reduce the number plastic shopping bags and encourage the use of reusable ones. In Singapore, a new zero-waste store opened in May 2018. Unpackt uses no packaging, inviting customers to bring their own containers. Governments too are acting. In India, the state of Maharastra introduced a ban on single-use plastics, and the whole country aims to be free of single-use plastics by 2022. A senate inquiry in Australia has recommended a national ban on single-use plastics, following state bans of single-use bags in Victoria and New South Wales. 

KFC Initiative On Single-Use Plastic in Macau and Hong Kong

KFC outlets in Hong Kong and Macau will stop automatically giving out plastic straws and lids for customers eating in the store, but will provide them if asked. They will also be added to takeaways and select items. KFC made the decision following a trial in which most customers were happy not to have a plastic straw or lid. Greenpeace has acknowledged the move but added that plastic straws and lids are just a fraction of the plastic disposables used by the chain. The environmental group estimates that KFC uses some 42 million plastic disposable items each year, but even this is less than some local chains, according to Greenpeace.

Aramark Makes Inroads To Eliminating Single-Use Plastic In Its Operations

Customer service business, Aramark, which operates in the food and facilities management sectors, announced a commitment to reducing significantly single-use disposable plastics globally by 2022. To date, it has eliminated over 400,000 plastic straws from locations in the UK, with another 418,000 planned in Ireland by the end of the year. It has also replaced with a compostable substitute some five million plastic-lined coffee cups and soup containers. It is now setting its sights on other single-use plastics items, including bags and cutlery.
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