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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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February 02, 2013, to February 09, 2013

Omega-3 Fatty Acid DHA Proves More Useful In Treating Fatty Liver Disease – Study

A U.S. study in lab animals comparing two omega-3 fatty acids finds that onehad the greatest effect on nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Researchers report that EPA did little to prevent the scarring (fibrosis) associated with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). DHA supplementation, however, reduced the proteins involved in liver fibrosis by more than 65 percent. Liver inflammation and fibrosis are common problems growing steadily as the obesity problem worsens among Americans. "Based on these results, DHA may be a more attractive dietary supplement than EPA for the prevention and potential treatment of NASH in obese humans," researchers concluded.

Canadian Study Suggests That Middle-Aged Men Need More Protein To Maintain Muscle Mass

A study by Canadian researchers finds that middle-aged men need more than current recommended daily amounts of protein in their diets to maintain muscle mass that is lost with aging. The study measured muscle protein synthesis in 35 men who exercised but did not lift weights. Researchers found that eating a six-ounce serving of 85 percent lean ground beef significantly improved the rate of muscle protein synthesis following exercise. Canada’s Food Guide currently recommends eating about three ounces of meat per serving to provide adequate protein to maintain muscle mass.

New Technology Boosts Omega-3 Content Of Ground Beef

A U.S. scientist has developed a technique to enhance ground beef with omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to have a positive impact on heart disease, cholesterol and blood pressure. A Kansas company is now selling the enriched meat under the brand name GreatO Premium Ground Beef in stores in Buffalo, N.Y.  A four-ounce serving of the enhanced hamburger delivers 200 mg of omega-3s and tastes the same as regular ground beef, according to the scientist. The enriched ground beef offers an alternative to people who want omega-3s in their diet but don’t want to eat fish or take supplements.

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January 26, 2013, to February 02, 2013

Innovation Based On An Understanding Of Changing Buying Patterns Could Boost Food Industry

Just-food.com writer Katy Askew notes in an overview of the state of the food industry that 2013 will be a tough year for food manufacturers everywhere. “Downbeat” consumers are keeping sales weak in developed markets and putting pressure on pricing. Marketers have a significant challenge persuading shoppers to “part with their heard-earned bucks”. But food companies do have a tool at their disposal – innovation driven by an understanding of changing consumer eating and buying patterns – that can help turn things around. The trick is to show consumers that brands and products offer real value – not just a lower price. Successful companies will be able to identify and fill the complex mix of emerging consumer demands.

Risk Of ALS Can Be Reduced Significantly By Making Your Diet More Colorful

The risk of incurring the devastating degenerative disease known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) can be reduced significantly by adding brightly colored fruits and vegetables to the diet, a U.S. study has found. Researchers examined data collected from five studies involving more than a million people. Individuals who consumed more carotenoids – compounds like beta-carotene that give fruits and vegetables their orange, red and yellow colors – and luteins (found in dark green vegetables) had a lower risk ALS. They were also more likely to exercise, have an advanced degree, have higher vitamin C consumption, and take vitamin C and E supplements. However, long-term vitamin C supplementation was not associated with lower ALS risk.

Green Tea Compounds Protect Against Sunburn, Long-Term UV Damage

Compounds known as catechins, found in green tea and also available in supplements, are absorbed by the skin when taken orally and protect the skin from the damage caused by ultraviolet rays (UV), according to the British study. The results were based on tests involving 14 healthy human subjects (12 women) with fair skin who were given green tea catechin supplements and then exposed to UV rays. Researchers measured the level of sunburn (erythema) before and after supplementation. Catechin supplements given at doses similar to amounts available in about two cups (500 ml) of green tea protected the skin from sunburn as well as long-term damage.

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January 19, 2013, to January 26, 2013

FMCG Companies In The Social Media Era Need To Pay Close Attention To Their Customers

With the power of social media at their disposal, the behavior of consumers in the FMCG market has changed permanently. Shoppers use social media to research products and prices, review options, seek recommendations, etc. FMCG companies who are implementing a social media strategy need to listen closely to consumers to find out how they can strengthen bonds between brands and customers. In an insightful look at the opportunities for FMCG companies in the era of social media marketing, Brands must engage with their market, reach out to customers, find out their needs, and directly connect with them. Marketing activities should be a part of customers’ lives: connect with them wherever they go, ask questions, and get ideas.

Weight Management Ingredient Green Coffee Extract Available To Functional Food Makers

Riding a wave of new interest in the health benefits of green coffee, NP Nutra has introduced a GMO-free green coffee extract for dietary supplements and functional foods that contains 50 percent chlorogenic acid, a phenolic antioxidant compound that is highly bioavailable in humans. Scientific studies have shown that green coffee extract induces reductions in body weight, body mass index and body fat percentage, probably because of the chlorogenic acid content. The extract comes as a light yellow brown powder, 100 percent water soluble and ready for use in supplements and functional products. It is available in large quantities at a very low price point, according to the company.

Unilever, Coca-Cola To Apply Facial Recognition Insights To 2013 Ad Campaigns

Two large clients of commercial testing company Millward Brown – Unilever and Coca-Cola – have signed on to use a facial recognition and analysis application on all of their 2013 advertising. The application – which uses software to interpret how viewers feel about ads by their facial expressions – has been tested on more than 400 advertising research projects globally. Millward cross-analyzes facial analysis with survey responses to determine how marketers might create ad campaigns using insights from messaging elements, such as emotional triggers, creative devices and product claims.

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January 12, 2013, to January 19, 2013

Unilever Relies On Innovation And Sustainability For Brand Building, Executive Says

Unilever’s vice president for brand building for food and ice cream, Jon Goldstone, said innovation and sustainability are the focus of his marketing strategy. Goldstone said he believes in the company’s “Crafting brands for life” approach to brand building, which Unilever uses to integrate creativity into its marketing efforts. Unilever’s ice cream business performed strongly in 2012 despite the economic slowdown; however, the company plans to push growth for its Flora brand of butter in 2013. Unilever’s Flora pro.activ brand of cholesterol-lowering spread partnered with the British Heart Foundation to launch a campaign to promote heart health among women.

Drinkable Peruvian Yogurt Now Includes Biothera’s Beta Glucan

Peru’s Grupo Gloria has included Biothera’s natural immune health ingredient Wellmune WGP in a new drinkable yogurt product. According to Biothera, Gloria’s product blends the clinically proven benefits of WGP with yogurt’s digestive probiotics. The yogurt – Pro Defensis –  is available in two flavors; each bottle contains 100 mg of WGP, a proprietary baker’s yeast beta 1,3/1,6 glucan that is “clinically proven to prime key immune cells that keep the body healthy”. Wellmune – which is patented, Kosher, Halal, non-allergenic and GMO-free – is available in 100 products in 50 countries.

Anthocyanins Found In Blueberries, Strawberries Reduce Risk Of Heart Attack In Women

Y oung women could cut their risk of heart attacks one third by simply increasing their intake of anthocyanins, the dietary flavonoids found in blueberries and strawberries, grapes, wine, blackberries and eggplant, a U.S. study has found. Researchers analyzed quadrennial questionnaires completed by 93,600 women (ages 25 to 42) for 18 years. Women who ate the most blueberries and strawberries had a 32 percent reduction in the risk of heart attack compared to women who ate the berries once a month or less, and even women who ate a diet otherwise rich in fruits and vegetables.

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January 05, 2013, to January 12, 2013

Four Key Trends That Restaurants Need To Monitor In 2013

Four key trends will affect the restaurant industry this year, according to market researcher Mintel. The higher cost of beef will force restaurants to offer smaller portions or premium meat alternatives to steaks, rather than raise prices. Restaurants will need to keep up with innovations like gourmet cocktails, craft beers and nutritious smoothies and juices, in one of their most reliable profit centers. Foodservice operators will need to be extra careful in sourcing their ingredients, thanks to recent food safety scares. And restaurants may need to adjust their business models to adjust to the impact of roaming food trucks, self-serve coffee kiosks and fancy vending machines that offer fresh, high-quality food.

Fresh Fruit Is America’s Top Snack Choice

America’s growing concern about eating healthier, more nutritious foods has given a boost to sales of fruit, market research NPD Group says. In fact, fresh fruit is not only the most popular snack food, it is the fastest growing. Fresh fruit ranks number one in satisfying five of the six main reasons people snack: convenience on-the-go, health and weight, satiety, routine/habit, and satisfying a craving. Between April 2010 and March 2012, Americans chose fresh fruit in 10 more “snack occasions” a year than the number two choice chocolate, and 25 more occasions a year than number three potato chips.

2013 Brings New Marketing Trends, Challenges For Consumer Goods Companies

Consumer goods companies face several challenges and trends in 2013 that can potentially affect their marketing and advertising strategies. Public focus on obesity will continue to drive beverage companies to emphasize products with low- and no-calorie options. Procter & Gamble and other companies are likely to use savings from cost cutting to engage in price-based marketing. More companies are expected to imitate Red Bull’s use of “branded experiences” in marketing.

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December 29, 2012, to January 05, 2013

Whole Foods To Offer “Engine 2 Plant-Strong” Snacks, Breakfast Foods

Beginning this month, Whole Foods Market stores will be selling a new line of plant-based, minimally processed snacks, breakfast foods and pantry staples. The products were developed with the help of Rip Esselstyne, author and founder of the Engibne 2 diet, and adhere to Engine 2 guidelines: lower in fat, minimal or no added sugar, no animal products or added oils, and a one-to-one ratio of sodium to calories per serving. An example of the product line is Rip’s Big Bowl, a whole grain and omega-3 packed cereal available in three flavors. Other products include hummus, almond milk, crisp breads, salsa and tortillas.

Stay-At-Home Men Catch The Attention Of Grocery Stores, Food Manufacturers

Recent consumer research has found that the number of men who are their family’s primary food shopped has risen six percent in five years. Another study found that 31 percent of grocery shopping is now done by men, up from 14 percent in the 1980s. The trend has not gone unnoticed by grocery stores and food manufacturers: they are paying much closer attention to the needs of men who are either working at home or looking for a job. About a year ago, for example, Shop ’n Save created an in-house gender-neutral private label line called “Essential Everyday,” packaged to appeal to both men and women. A small grocery chain in New York City is stocking end caps with man-centric items. And Target and Walmart, among others, are considering setting up “man aisles.”

Food Trends For 2013 Include Dishes Inspired By Asian Street Foods

NPR food writer Bonny Wolf sees Asian foods – pan-Asian, Asian fusion, Asian-inspired – as the big trend of 2013, especially street foods from Vietnam, Korea, Tibet, Singapore, China and Burma. She notes that the new comfort foods will include Vietnamese pho (beef noodle soup), Korean kimchi (fermented vegetables) fried rice and Chinese hot pots. She expects to see more fermented food this year. They are healthy because they produce probiotics. She’s also betting on dark, leafy greens, beet tops, collards and even more varieties of kale as entrees rather than sides. “And expect more seaweed,” she says. “It, too, contributes to long life.”

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December 15, 2012, to December 29, 2012

New Class Of Kitchen Appliances May Be “Laser-Enabled”

Japanese researchers envision the development of a new class of “laser-enabled kitchen appliances,” according to New Scientist writer Paul Marks. The researchers showed a workshop in Japan a prototype of the technology using a bench top industrial laser cutter. The device can generate different foodstuffs when linked with a computer running graphics software and a webcam. Possible applications of the technology include: toast laser-etched with camera-readable designs and bacon in which the fat is laser-cooked separately from the meat. As Marks notes, “Don’t all rush at once.”

Unilever Would Participate More In EU-Sponsored R&D, If Bureaucratic Roadblocks Were Removed

Unilever says it would participate in joint R&D programs sponsored by the European Union, but needs the EU to reduce the bureaucratic complexity that is currently a hindrance. According to the company’s R&D chief, Dr. Hans Dröge, Unilever is interested in participating in the EU's Horizon 2020 research program for 2014-2020, for example, because of its Compass strategy, whose goal is to double sales while cutting the environmental impact. The strategy requires R&D to come up with technology breakthroughs, and some of that R&D needs to be external. The barriers to participating in external R&D include the legalities associated with joining consortiums, problems with intellectual property and problems with process control in Brussels.

AHA Warns Consumers About Salt Content Of Bread And Other Common Foods

The American Heart Association’s compilation of the six saltiest foods in the American diet includes some fairly obvious ones: cold cuts and cured meats, soups and pizza. But also on the list are bread and rolls. Salt content of bread can be deceiving, because bread doesn’t really taste salty. But a slice of bread can contain 230 mg of sodium. Eating two sandwiches a day would mean consuming nearly 1,000 mg of salt –  nearly two thirds of the recommended daily intake of 1,500 mg – just from the bread. Add in the sodium content of the cold cuts in the sandwich and you’re easily in the 3,400 mg range, the average – and very unhealthy – sodium intake of Americans today.

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December 08, 2012, to December 15, 2012

Federal Court Kicks General Mills Yogurt Lawsuit Down The Road To The FDA

A federal court has decided the FDA is better equipped to decide whether the key complaint filed in a lawsuit against General Mills Inc. is valid. The judge dismissed the suit brought by a consumer who alleged that General Mills shouldn’t be labeling Yoplait Greek Yogurt as yogurt, because it contains milk protein concentrate (MPC), which does not appear on the FDA list of approved ingredients. U.S. District Judge Susan Nelson said the basic issue is whether MPC is a proper ingredient of yogurt, and that issue is not really within the court’s purview. "The resolution of this question falls squarely within the competence and expertise of the FDA,” Nelson wrote.

Restaurant Techniques For Cleaning Dishware, Silverware, Do Not Eliminate Harmful Norovirus

Current methods of cleaning restaurant dishware and silverware are effective at killing bacteria, but ineffective at completely removing harmful viruses that can cause gastroenteritis, a U.S. study has found. Norovirus, the leading cause of gastroenteritis and foodborne illness worldwide, is the root of all stomach virus outbreaks in the U.S. A team of virologists and public health experts tested foodservice cleaning techniques, including manual and machine dishwashing. They found that neither detergents nor sanitizers used in current cleaning methods were effective against the norovirus at recommended concentrations.

New Technology Could Help Food Companies Cut Salt Content, Without Loss Of “Saltiness”

NIZO food research scientists have developed a way to cut salt content in processed meats by as much as 15 percent by adjusting the juiciness of the products. The technology involves changing the structure of sausages, but not the firmness. Sausages with a high serum release while being chewed were perceived by a trained taste-testing panel to be juicier and therefore saltier, though less salt was actually used. The tissue’s ability to bind water is influenced by the salt content. NIZO researchers believe their findings will help the food industry develop healthier foods.

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December 01, 2012, to December 08, 2012

Thin Bagel Sandwiches Appeal To Weight-Conscious Bagel Lovers

Bagel restaurants in New York City have found that catering to consumer demand for healthier foods can pay off well. Manhattan Bagel, Einstein Bros., and others are now offering sandwiches featuring white Albacore tuna and lean turkey bacon served on thin-sliced bagels. The sandwiches contain half the calories, and only a fraction of the carbs and fat of regular bagels.

Acquisition Of Spanish Nut Producer Leads To Enhancement Of Barry Callebaut’s Product Line

Chocolate and cocoa manufacturer Barry Callebaut is introducing a range of high-quality nuts and nut-based products, a result of its acquisition earlier this year of premium nut producer la Morella of Spain. According to the company, its wider selection of nuts – processed “on the spot” – and nut-based products are incorporated into fillings, toppings and decorations offering a broader selection of tastes, textures and flavors. The line of nuts includes Spanish and American hazelnuts, almonds, pistachios, pecans, pine nuts and other varieties from cooperatives around the world.

Australian Bakers Provide Bread To Needy During Christmas Holidays

Australia’s largest hunger-relief organization, Foodbank, is partnering with bread manufacturers Helga’s and Wonder White to collect loaves of bread for needy families during the Christmas  holidays. Under the initiative, the bakeries will donate one loaf of bread for every two loaves sold in stores until December 25. Foodbank hopes to collect as many as three million loaves to deliver to 2,500 welfare agencies in the country.

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November 24, 2012, to December 01, 2012

ConAgra Buys Private Label Food Marketer Ralcorp Holdings

ConAgra Foods Inc. has agreed to pay $90 a share – a 28 percent premium – for Ralcorp Holdings Inc. in a $4.95 billion all-cash transaction that will create a huge packaged-food company whose annual sales will total $18 billion. The company has been under pressure from a leading shareholder to find a buyer, though it rejected earlier bids from ConAgra. The purchase adds to ConAgra’s existing private label business, valued at $950 million. Industry analysts told The Wall Street Journal that private label business now represents 18 percent of sales in the U.S. packaged food market. Growth has consistently exceeded the growth of the overall food market.

Cadbury Invents A Chocolate Bar That Lacks The “Melt-In-Your-Mouth” Quality

Engineers at Kraft-owned chocolatier Cadbury have developed a chocolate bar that stays solid at temperatures as high as 104°F, making it a perfect confectionery for warmer climates. But a Kraft executive conceded that the new bars would not have the same melt-in-the-mouth quality as normal Dairy Milk bars. The technology involves a change in the “conching step,” in which ingredients are ground smaller: the new process breaks down sugar particles into smaller pieces, reducing the amount of fat covering them. The bars then become more resistant to heat. Known as “temperature-tolerant chocolate”, the new version of Cadbury’s chocolate bars will not be available in the U.K.

Watermelon Genomic Sequence Could Provide Valuable Resource For Plant, Crop Research

Chinese scientists and colleagues said their recent completion of the genomic sequence of watermelon will shape future research on watermelon genetics while providing a resource for research on other plants and crops. Watermelon is considered an important cucurbit (gourd family) crop, and is favored for being sweet, low calorie, and fiber and nutrient rich. For the watermelon genome study, the researchers presented a high-quality genome sequence of an East-Asia watermelon cultivar. To determine the origin of modern cucurbit genome structures, the researchers analyzed the genetic relationships between watermelon, cucumber, melon and grape, and proposed an evolutionary model that has shaped the eleven watermelon chromosomes from plant ancestors with seven chromosomes.
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