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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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August 05, 2018, to August 19, 2018

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.

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.

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.

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July 22, 2018, to August 05, 2018

Students Turn Food Processing Waste Into Profit Center

Danish technology students who were asked to find a sustainable process to recycle carrot peels and pulp have come up with a way to turn to it into flour. Vegetable supplier Greens Wholesale generates 100 tons of biological waste every month as it produces fresh juices and produce. Much of the waste is converted to biogas or fertilizer, but the company wanted to optimize its production process to reduce costs and perhaps turn a profit. Turning carrot waste into flour was the winning idea: it can replace up to half of the wheat flour in a recipe. The company and the Technical University of Denmark students hope to commercialize the idea within a year.

U.K. Start-Up Recognized For Low-Carb Bread Dough



A British food technology start-up that invented a low-carb bread alternative was recently certified as “reduced carb” by Sugarwise, an international certification authority for sugar claims on food and drink. Manchester-based Lo-Dough was awarded the certification because its products have no more than 10 percent of calories coming from free sugars, and no more than five grams of free sugars per 100 grams. Lo-Dough has recipes for low-carb pizzas, pies, desserts and pastries.

British Company To Open Waste Food Catering Business

A British non-profit company is planning to use unused food to offer catering and meal services to people, businesses and organizations, beginning in September. Real Junk Food Manchester’s program will focus on commercial outside catering services such as buffets and hot meals. The venture will be housed in a large commercial kitchen in partnership with a local social housing provider and will collaborate with local charity and public-sector groups to supply meals to vulnerable people across the city. RJFM opened its first waste food pay-as-you-feel restaurant concept last year as a short-term pop-up concept and doubled in size.

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July 08, 2018, to July 22, 2018

Israeli Firm Develops Flavor Agent To Replace MSG

Israeli food company Salt of the Earth has replaced flavoring ingredient monosodium glutamate (MSG) in its ranch dressing with an all-natural sodium-reduction ingredient based on vegetable extracts and sea salt. Mediterranean Umami was tested in many ranch dressing formulations. The tests resulted in a compound that maintained the true flavor of Ranch dressing, but with 30 percent less sodium, and no MSG or yeast extracts. According to the company, MSG leads to “Chinese restaurant syndrome,” a group of symptoms now known as MSG Symptom Complex. They can include headache, skin flushing, and sweating. Mediterranean Umami does not trigger side-effects and is a clean-label product evoking no negative consumer health reactions, the company says.

Donut Monster Entrepreneur Puts Experience As A Chef To Work

An alumnus chef from Milwaukee’s Ardent restaurant has built a business by building a better doughnut to please his – at the time – eight-months pregnant wife. Former chef de cuisine at Ardent, Jackie Lee Woods applies his knowledge, experience and good taste to his doughnut business, dubbed Donut Monster. Woods looks for ingredients (many of them organic) that meet his standards, then tests and retests recipes. The business sells three basic styles of doughnut: old-fashioned, cake, and yeast, with a richer brioche-like dough. The rest of the product line is built on those basics. Current flavors include cherry cheesecake, lemon-butter glaze, and peanut butter and jelly with a Concord grape glaze and peanut butter buttercream filling. ]

Half Of Americans Worry About Health Impact Of GMO Ingredients

Research from the International Food Information Council shows that labels proposed by the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service to disclose “bioengineered” (BE) foods “dramatically increase a wide variety of consumer concerns.” The IFIC Foundation tested reactions to the three BE labeling symbols and two variations of text disclosures. Consumers were shown bottles of canola oil without any BE logo or text, with symbols (like a “plant”), with a symbol plus “bioengineered” in text, and with a symbol plus “may be bioengineered” in text. Half of the consumers had “human health concerns” when shown the BE “plant” symbol. The number rose to 51 percent when text was added to indicate that the product was “bioengineered,” and to 57 percent when “may be bioengineered” was added to the “plant” symbol.

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June 24, 2018, to July 08, 2018

Blockchain-Based App Helps Atlanta Businesses Reduce Food Waste

A technology that allows distribution – but not copying – of digital information, blockchain was originally devised for the digital currency Bitcoin. Now a food waste management company in the Atlanta, Ga., area is using a blockchain-based app to connect businesses with local charities to ease deliveries of leftover food. The idea behind the Goodr app is to reduce food waste by providing data about what types of surplus food app users are producing. The Goodr app keeps a data ledger for clients showing how much food is wasted, and where they might be losing money. Data indicate what food gets wasted the most, what the community connections are, and how the environment is affected. Goodr hopes to expand to Seattle, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Miami, Dallas, Houston and San Francisco by the end of 2019.

British Meal Powder Import Claims U.S. Market Success

A British company whose mission three years ago was to create a “nutritionally complete, convenient, affordable food” with minimum environmental impact, says its plant-based powdered meals are succeeding in the U.S. because they are clean label, healthful, and help eliminate food waste and hunger. Huel claims to have sold more than 17 million meals – $10 million in sales – since its debut here last summer. The company says its product is not a supplement like other powders, but a complete food that contains all the proteins, carbs and fats needed in addition to 100 percent of the FDA's "Daily Values" of all 27 essential vitamins and minerals. Huel blends oats, pea protein, flaxseed, brown rice protein, medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) from coconut, and other ingredients. The powder sells for $66 for two bags (28 meals total, 14 per bag, only $2.36/meal).

New App Helps Reduce Food Waste With Smart Shopping, Storage, Cooking

Silicon Valley-based Chefling, Inc., has created a smartphone app that helps consumers minimize daily food waste. Available now on the App Store and Google Play, the app includes food inventory organization, intuitive recipe suggestion, and shopping list management. According to the company, consumers using the app can track and make the most out of recently purchased and existing ingredients in the pantry. The app monitors the freshness of added foods, notifies the consumer when foods are about to expire, and suggests recipes for the foods already purchased. The app also features integration with voice assistant devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home: it will add foods to a shopping list and provide step-by-step cooking instructions.

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June 17, 2018, to June 24, 2018

Clean Label Muffin Start-up Secures $2.5M In Seed Funding

N.Y.-based clean label muffin bakery start-up Soozy’s has snagged $2.5 million in seed funding from two VC companies. The company's products are certified gluten-free, certified paleo, Non-GMO Project Verified, and contain no gums, fillers, refined sugars, grains, dairy, peanuts, soy or additives. Soozy's products can be purchased online or in 500 retail outlets in Texas, the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, including H-E-B and Wegmans. Investors include BIGR Ventures, a growth equity fund, and AccelFoods, an investment fund that focuses on innovative, high-growth packaged food and beverage companies.

Bakery Debuts Line Of Clean Label Minicakes

Family-owned California bakery Sugar Bowl Bakery has launched a line of clean label miniature “Button Cakes” in four flavors. The minicakes are made with butter and eggs, contain real fruit and vanilla bean seeds, but no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. The Button Cakes – available in tropical mango, wild blueberry, lemon zest and madagascar vanilla flavors – will be sold in eight- and 16-count packages in retail stores throughout the U.S.  They were introduced at the recent International Dairy Deli Bakery Association Show in New Orleans, La.

Healthful Baked Snacks For Kids Who Are “Picky Eaters”

Freedom Foods North America, a unit of the Australian company, is introducing a line of healthful, affordable snacks for kids who are “picky eaters.” Messy Monkeys are baked whole grain non-GMO sorghum and quinoa bites available in kid-friendly flavors, including pizza, cheese, and apple. Each serving contains 14 percent protein, seven percent fiber, one gram of sugar, and less than 100 mg of salt. Messy Monkeys are sold in a 10-pack for $5.99 and are available for now only through Amazon. The company said distribution partnerships with multiple natural foods retailers will be announced soon, and the snacks will be selling nationwide by the end of the year.

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June 03, 2018, to June 17, 2018

Lawmakers Ask Exemption For Maple Syrup, Honey From “Added Sugars” Labeling

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle and both houses of Congress asked FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb urging an exemption for pure maple syrup and honey from new “added sugars” disclosure requirements in any rewrite of the Nutrition Facts box on food labels. The FDA has proposed changes that would require an added sugar disclosure for most products. An added sugars declaration on pure maple syrup or honey products, the lawmakers wrote in their letter, “may signal to consumers that these pure products … actually contain added sweeteners such as table sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. This is patently false." The FDA's March 2, 2018, Draft Guidance allows manufacturers to add a symbol after the added sugars daily value pointing consumers to clearer language on the label, but that “seems unlikely to reduce consumer confusion.” ]

 

Elimination of “Country-Of-Origin” Labeling On Meat Sold Here Upheld By Court

Although federal judge Rosanna Malouf Peterson agreed with domestic livestock producers that the lack of country-of-origin labelling on beef and pork products sold here was harmful to business, she ultimately sided with the USDA and dismissed their lawsuit asking that such labeling be required. Meat producers filed suit in Spokane in June 2017 after U.S. legislation called for the USDA to remove the country-of-origin labeling requirements following sanctions imposed by the World Trade Organization. Peterson said that unfortunately the legal clock had run out for any challenge to the underlying 1989 federal law, and that the U.S. Congress had clearly intended to have the labeling end. The livestock producers vowed to continue the fight. 

Bipartisan Bill Seeks To Protect U.S. Consumers From Inaccurate Food Labels

Eight Republican and Democratic congressmen joined to introduce a bill that would provide American consumers with “clear, accurate, meaningful” nutrition information on food products and prevent inaccurate and misleading labels that drive up prices. According to lead sponsor of the bill Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), the Accurate Labels Act (H.R. 6022) would establish science-based criteria for labeling requirements and ensure that “legitimate risks” are taken seriously. The bill would allow state-mandated product information to be provided through smartphone-enabled "smart labels" and on websites and ensure that covered product information is risk-based. It has the support of the American Chemistry Council, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, and others.

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May 20, 2018, to June 03, 2018

Food Industry Paper Reports On Progress In Fight Against Waste Since 2016

After the British food waste experts at Wrap reported on the enormity of the problem, trade newspaper The Grocer in 2016 launched an editorial campaign to double the amount of edible food being redistributed, to lobby for governmental fiscal incentives to curb waste, and to encourage greater engagement and cooperation in the food industry. Wrap had reported that 1.9 million tons of edible food was being wasted annually, some by grocery stores, but the most by producers who left ugly but otherwise perfectly good produce in the fields to rot. A lot of edible food – 525 million meals – could have been donated to serve the hungry but wasn’t. Since the launch of the campaign, there have been some major changes in the U.K. food and beverage distribution system, particularly in the areas of redistribution; commitment by retailers, suppliers, trade bodies, and campaigners to waste reduction; and increased transparency about waste policies and practices in the food industry.

Snack Company Toosum Introduces Protein Cookies With No Added Sugar

Snack brand Toosum launched its Protein Cookies product at the recent Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago. The 180-200-calorie cookies contain no added sugar, contain ten grams of protein along with oat fiber, and are gluten-free, vegan, kosher, and non-GMO. They will be available in oatmeal peanut butter, oatmeal chocolate chip, and oatmeal double chocolate fudge. "Time continues to show that people are tired of eating dried up protein bars or processed junk food with high sugar and calorie counts," said Toosum founder Peter Guyer.

Americans Are Getting A Taste Of Canada’s Gooey Butter Tart Pastry

Canadian visitors to, or expats living in, the New York City area can now feast on one of their country’s most beloved pastries, a delicacy known as the butter tart. Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Btarts Sweet Canadian Treats company is working hard to make the butter tart as mainstream in the U.S. as it is in Canada. Founded by transplanted Canadians, Btart’s gooey treats are made with all-natural ingredients, including maple and pure syrup for the filling, but no shortening, lard, or corn syrup. The owners and their wares have been featured on national TV, and in various American food publications. Available online, they are shipped anywhere in the U.S., but not, unfortunately, into Canada.

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May 13, 2018, to May 20, 2018

FDA Menu Labeling Rules Take Effect, But Restaurants Should Do More

The FDA’s new menu labeling requirements, which went into effect on May 7, apply to restaurant chains with 20 or more locations. They must disclose the number of calories contained in standard menu items, and provide nutrition information, including total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, etc. A Virginia Tech food and nutrition policy expert called the FDA’s rules “an important first step.” But the restaurant industry, which has contributed to “poor diet quality, obesity and related chronic diseases," should voluntarily implement strategies to promote healthy foods and beverages. Specifically, the industry should improve the nutritional profiles of products to reduce calories, sodium and fat; and standardize and limit portion sizes to 600 calories for kids' meals and 700 calories for adult meals.

USDA Issues Proposed GMO Food Labeling Rules For Public Comment

The USDA has issued proposed rules on the labeling of foods that contain “bioengineered” ingredients, a more neutral term than “genetically modified organisms” (GMO). The rules implement a federal law enacted in 2016 (National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard, PL 114-216) that was a victory for backers of federal mandatory labeling, but also for opponents because it did not require all food companies to put readable information on packages. The law also barred states from writing their own mandatory labeling laws. The proposed rules allow small food manufacturers to inform consumers via websites or telephone numbers. Larger companies can use a label on packages, a symbol to be developed by USDA or bar codes, or other digital means scannable with smartphones. Public comment on the proposal is open until July 3; the final rules will be issued July 29.

FDA Extends Nutrition Facts Label Compliance By 18 Months

The FDA has extended the compliance date for the rules regarding the Nutrition Facts, Supplement Facts, and Serving Size labels, from July 26, 2018 to January 1, 2020, for manufacturers with $10 million or more in annual food sales. The American Heart Association lamented the extension, calling it a “disappointment.” CEO Nancy Brown was encouraged, however, by the fact that several major food manufacturers decided to stick to the original July 2018 and 2019 deadlines. She noted that 29,000 foods on the market now have the revised Nutrition Facts labels containing “critical” information for consumers. She urged other food manufacturers to follow that example because “Americans should not only enjoy the food they are eating, they deserve to know what’s in it.”

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May 06, 2018, to May 13, 2018

Tinkering With Sourdough Process To Improve Digestion

Canadian and U.S. wheat-promoting agencies are funding research into whether the fermentation process used to create sourdough bread could be tweaked to make it “a more easily digested food option” for people with wheat allergies. The sourdough fermentation process breaks down proteins and carbohydrates in wheat flour that are known to cause wheat sensitivity. Canadian food microbiologist Michael Gänzle's project aims to better understand whether this fermentation process is sufficient in reducing adverse effects and hopes to define the best practices for making easily-digestible bread. Funding for the three-year project will total $147,250. "This is a unique project that has exciting potential for the baking industry," said Laura Reiter of the Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission.

Mobile Trailer Bakery Specializes In Huge Cookies

One would think that housing a bakery in a mobile trailer is unique enough. Not so for Serious Cookie Co., which turns out hefty half-pound cookies in a variety of flavors, including chocolate chip, Macadamia nut, creamy peanut butter or pecan, all  topped with ice cream, whipped cream, or ribbons of chocolate and caramel sauce. The family-owned business – three generations participate – sells about 50 cookies a week, shrink-wrapped and boxed with a handwritten note. The cookie trailer appears at many Southwest Florida festivals, fairs and events, and can be booked for birthday parties, weddings and other private happenings. The company’s top seller? “Plain ol' chocolate chip.”

Panera Rolls Out Delivery Program Nationwide

Panera Bread is expanding its food delivery service nationally to 897 cities and 43 states via the Panera app or website. The company said its products will be available for lunch and dinner to officers, hospitals, college campuses and, in participating markets, to homes.According to CEO Blaine Hurst, "Delivery is fueling our next phase of growth.”Panera is using its own delivery drivers in the expansion – it has hired 10,000 so far – and says it has already created 13,000 jobs. Digital sales at Panera comprise online, app and kiosk orders and represent 30 percent of total company sales. Deliveries are possible with orders as small as $5 menu purchase plus tax and a $3 delivery fee in most markets. The company operates 2,076 bakery-cafes in 46 states and in Ontario, Canada.

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April 29, 2018, to May 06, 2018

Americans Replace Sugar With Natural Sweeteners

Americans are increasingly avoiding sugar, but they still want sweetness, as long as its not synthetic. A Nielsen survey finds that 57 percent of consumers say low-sugar is important in the foods they buy, up from 55 percent last year. Thirteen percent say they follow a specific low-sugar diet, five percent follow a diabetic diet, and others follow popular low-carb diets like paleo, keto, Whole30, and Atkins. Regarding alternative sweeteners, the jury is still out. However, “in most cases, it is natural sweeteners that are winning,” a Nielsen researcher said. 

Nature’s Own Introduces “Artisan-Inspired” Breads

Bread maker Nature's Own has added two new varieties to its “artisan-inspired” product line. Perfectly Crafted Thick Sliced Multigrain and Perfectly Crafted Thick Sliced White contain no artificial preservatives, color or flavors, no high fructose corn syrup, and are Non-GMO Project Verified. The “bakery style” breads feature thick slices, soft texture, a distinctive flour dusting, and fresh-baked aroma, the company says.

“Smart Packaging” Helps Extend Food Shelf Life, Reduces Waste

A New Zealand university scientist who specializes in “smart packaging” says there are a number of viable solutions that can cut food waste. Each type of packaging acts differently depending on the food being protected. According to Dr. Jenneke Heising, “active packaging” extends shelf life by reducing negative factors, such as oxygen, that react with the food. Active packaging can also react to ethylene gas, slowing the ripening process of produce, and can also regulate the level of moisture, other gases, and temperature. Still another type of packaging uses antimicrobial materials to curb bacterial growth on fresh produce, reducing the need for preservatives. 
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