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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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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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April 22, 2018, to April 29, 2018

C-Store Poll Shows Modest Rise in Coca-Cola, Monster 1Q Sales

A Wells Fargo Securities poll of 15,000 U.S. convenience stores found that first quarter Coca-Cola sales rose 2.3 percent in the channel, and retailers were pleased with the company’s recent relaunch of Diet Coke. Twenty percent of respondents plan to allocate incremental shelf space to the line. Some respondents complained about the company’s decision to take Smartwater “out of a beautiful sealed box with blue clouds,” a move that hurt stores’ ability to create displays. C-stores also reported that Monster Energy sales increased 5.4 percent in the quarter, and several praised the positive impact of RTD coffee innovations, such as Espresso and Caffe. Fifty-seven percent said Monster did the best job in introducing new innovations in the quarter, and 100 percent said they expected to give Caffe Monster shelf space.

Boxed Water Company Carves A Lucrative Niche In Packaged Water Market

Maryland-based beverage start-up Rethink Brands says it has found a lucrative niche in the $2.5 billion bottled water market by targeting health- and eco-conscious parents with zero-calorie, sugar-free flavored water in recyclable boxes. Co-founder Matthew Swanson says parents who wanted to give their kids water had to give them plastic bottles or sippy cups, but “Rethink Kids Water solves all those problems.” The Rethink Kids Water line provides a more healthful alternative to juices that contain sweeteners and other additives. Swanson says demand for the products has been strong enough for the company to double its offerings with four new flavors. The products are available in more than 10,000 stores, including CVS, Wegmans and Target. 

Fonterra Ups Capacity For Producing Fruit And Dairy Beverages In New Zealand

New Zealand dairy products producer Fonterra Brands has partnered with a local start-up to build a plant in Whakatu to make fruit and dairy beverages for the N.Z. market. Apollo Foods will apply its beverage filling technology in making and filling a range of containers on one production line. The plant will be able to produce millions of liters of beverages each year. The partnership was prompted by the rising global demand for dairy and fruit beverages, according to a Fonterra spokesman. The Apollo Foods plant is currently producing Fonterra’s Mammoth brand of flavored, low-sugar milk, with a shelf life of six months.

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April 15, 2018, to April 22, 2018

Edible-Insect Supplier Entomo Farms Attracts Grocers, Manufacturers

A co-founder of Canada’s Entomo Farms, an insect farmer and processor, says recent moves by grocery chain Loblaws and Maple Leaf Foods indicate that the edible insect movement may be gaining momentum. According to Jarrod Goldin, meat- and plant-protein company Maple Leaf Foods bought a minority stake in Entomo, and Loblaws is now marketing a private-label version of Entomo’s cricket powder. Some small food brands in North America buy cricket powder from suppliers in Thailand, Vietnam and other countries, but larger ones prefer dealing with suppliers closer to home They also prefer companies certified by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). Entomo Farms supplies more than 50 companies in eight countries with cricket and mealworm ingredients for protein bars, smoothies, chips, crackers, pasta and pasta sauce, baking mixes, hot dogs, and pet treats.

“Real Organic Project”: Assuring Consumers Their Food Comes From The Soil

Fifteen farmers and scientists from around the U.S. who are determined to stick to “the true spirit of the organic movement” recently met to create new standards for organic certification. The current USDA organic label certifies that fruits, vegetables, and meats have been grown without synthetic herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers, and without genetic engineering. The new, still unnamed, labels would tell whether the produce was grown in soil – rather than in water – and meat and dairy products came from animals that had been pastured. The new label is being created by the Real Organic Project, which says it is not abandoning the USDA’s National Organic Program, but merely supplementing it. The new standards will be tested on 20 to 60 farms this summer.

Dunkin' Donuts Tests Snacks in Boston

Dunkin’ Donuts is testing a $2 afternoon snacking menu in several Boston-area locations that features donut fries, Munchkin dippers, pretzel bites with honey mustard sauce, waffle-breaded chicken tenders, ham-and-cheese rollups, and gluten-free brownies. The test is designed to gather input from consumers, franchisees, and employees prior to a possible national rollout. A Reddit user review gave thumbs up to the pretzel bites and the donut fries, and thumbs down to the “gross” waffle-breaded chicken that was “way too greasy.” The batter is the “same batter used in the pancake bites that they used to have.” The company recently unveiled a value menu offering Wake-up Wraps for $2, breakfast sandwiches for $3, and croissant sandwiches for $5. 


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April 08, 2018, to April 15, 2018

Time For Healthful, Natural Energy Beverages, Says Mamma Chia

The Mamma Chia beverage company, whose functional product range includes health and energy drinks made with chia seeds, is basing its marketing strategy on the belief that “the traditional energy drink space” – dominated by chemical- and sugar-laden drinks – “is ripe for disruption.” Consumers are demanding more healthful, natural beverages. Its recently-launched “clean energy beverages” combine chia seeds with caffeine from organic yerba mate and organic green coffee beans to deliver 2,500 mg of omega-3 and 90 mg of caffeine per serving. Chia seeds also add fiber, healthy fat, and protein to the beverages. CEO Janie Hoffman sees “endless opportunities” in chia-based drinks, “and we seek to create more.”

Coca-Cola India Begins Campaign To Build Thums Up To Billion-Dollar Brand

Coca-Cola India’s new no-sugar variant of the Thums Up Charged cola is a first step in executing its goal of making Thums Up a billion-dollar brand by the end of 2020. The company is investing to boost customer loyalty, launch new packs, expand distribution (to Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka), and increase bottling capacity. Coca-Cola India is supporting the launch of Thums Up Charged with a marketing campaign featuring cans and PET bottles illustrated with four Marvel Avengers superheroes. The campaign will include TV commercials starring the Avengers, and social media promotions on the brand’s social media pages on the YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram platforms.

Nestlé Waters’ Plastic Packaging Is Recyclable, But Consumers Need To Recycle

Nestlé Waters has announced plans to make 100 percent of its packaging across the business recyclable or re-usable by 2025. But another goal – no packaging ending up in landfills or as litter – requires help from consumers. PET has the potential to be a reusable resource, but it’s a major challenge: industrywide only half of bottles are recycled. The company says nearly all of its bottles are recyclable now, and it is working on the exceptions. But to achieve the goal of zero-landfill-disposal, the company said it needs the cooperation of consumers globally. To that end, it is “raising their awareness” via brand platforms and corporate educational programs such as those implemented in Italy, Argentina, U.K., and Thailand. In the U.S., the company uses “clear and consistent How2Recyle instruction” on half-liter bottle labels of major brands.

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March 25, 2018, to April 08, 2018

Nestlé Acts To Increase Redistribution Of Its Surplus Food In U.K.

Nestlé has partnered with a British anti-food waste charity and a surplus food redistributor in a program to curb food waste by ensuring that more of its surplus food is available for both charitable and commercial use. The company says its arrangement with WRAP and Company Shop will mean that more of its part-processed products can be redistributed instead of being used for animal feed or anaerobic digestion. The approach will increase the levels of charitable redistribution from Nestlé’s U.K. operations by the equivalent of two million meals a year, on top of the products that already go to another redistribution organization, Fareshare.

High-Fiber Wheat Product Inches Toward Commercialization

Minnesota-based consumer-focused food company Calyxt announced that its high-fiber wheat product was declared a non-regulated article under the “Am I Regulated?” process by a unit of the USDA. The company said this is its first consumer-centric wheat product, second wheat product, and seventh product overall to be given this designation. Calyxt’s powdery mildew resistant wheat was awarded the non-regulated status by the USDA in February 2016. Consumer demand for flavorful high-fiber foods has been strong because they have the potential to not only decrease the risk of food-related coronary heart disease and diabetes, but also to lower cholesterol and control weight gain. Calyxt believes that once its high-fiber wheat flour is commercialized – it could happen in 2020 or 2021 – it can be used by food manufacturers to make premium bakery and pasta products that allow consumers to reach their daily fiber requirement.

New Healthful Doughnuts Feature Protein, Much Less Sugar, Much More Fiber

A Texas-based start-up thinks it has an answer for health-conscious doughnut lovers. Elite Sweets has debuted a more healthful, protein-based alternative to the calorie-packed breakfast pastry. The company says its "protein doughnuts" are the perfect post-workout snack for athletes. Each contains16 grams of protein, a significant contribution to the 56 grams recommended daily for the average sedentary man. Conventional doughnuts contain about 300 calories, 20 to 30 grams of sugar, and no protein. The Elite Sweets cinnamon sugar version, sweetened with stevia, contains about 200 calories, two grams of sugar, and 15 grams of fat, mainly from the almond flour used, and 12 grams of dietary fiber. The protein doughnuts also come in peanut butter, birthday cake, and chocolate chip flavors..

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March 18, 2018, to March 25, 2018

Food/Beverage Companies Using Texture To Elevate Flavor

Texture is increasingly important in the world of food and beverages, according to Mintel, which has been following texture trends in new product launches.  Several have used texture in novel, interesting ways, including jam with nuts for an extra crunch to drinks with basil seeds. Nature Valley granola-type bars, for example, feature a chocolate base, a nutty center, and a creamy nut butter topping. A German “superfood drink” (Friya Rose Blossom & Sour Cherry) contains water-soaked basil seeds rich in iron and magnesium, as well as polyphenols. Fanta Jelly Fizz is an Australia-launched soft drink that contains liquid jelly pieces “activated” after shaking the can. Other examples of new textured products include: Muso From Japan’s Sansho Pepper Furikake, Arteta’s DayUp Pearls, and Mindfuel Cacao & Cayenne Pepper Posh Teff Porridge.

Kraft Heinz Gearing Up To Enter Healthful Snack Arena With Nut-Based Treats

The burgeoning health and wellness trend in snacks has caught the attention of one of the major players. Kraft Heinz plans to launch healthful snacks that feature nuts as their main ingredient, mainly almonds, cashews, peanuts, and pecans. The planned launches were showcased at the recent Snaxpo meeting in Atlanta, Ga. Prototypes included Korean gochujang-spiced nuts, maple bacon-flavored roasted pecan clusters, and energy balls. In preparation for the entry into healthful snacks, the Kraft Heinz Ingredients business unit has been processing nuts for several years at its plants in the southeastern and southcentral U.S. It will use proprietary salting and roasting techniques to create the snacks.

U.K. Snackers Are Getting More Adventurous

Snack companies have detected that consumers in the U.K. are looking for more exotic, adventurous, bold flavors in their chips. So product launches there have included smoked salmon glitter chips, prawn cocktail chips, green lemon & pink peppercorn and serrano chili & Yucatan honey tortilla chips, beef barbacoa & dill pickle, Manomasa chargrilled pineapple & arbol, lime & coriander chutney poppadoms, and wasabi & ginger. Market data support the trend. The Grocer polled 1,185 Brits found 20 percent regularly sample new chips. Thirty-nine percent regularly or always experiment with new and exciting flavors, Harris Interactive found. Sixty percent of 25- to 34-year-olds experiment with snacks.

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March 11, 2018, to March 18, 2018

Artisanal Bakeries Thrive On Long Island

The term “artisanal” has become a handy marketing claim these days, but when applied correctly it means handmade using traditional production methods. Several bakeries on Long Island can now make that claim because they are baking hand-formed loaves of artisanal bread – baguette, batard, boule, ciabatta, Pugliese, sesame-seeded semolina or caraway-seeded rye — using techniques that originated in France, Italy, and Germany. The trend began nearly 20 years ago with the opening of Blue Duck Bakery in Southampton and has since spread to other counties. Five genuinely artisanal bakeries now flourish in a region once known as “a dead zone for great bread.”

South Dakota Governor Signs Bill Allowing Alcohol Use In Baked Goods

A small family-owned cupcake bakery in South Dakota is back in business now that Gov. Dennis Daugaard has signed legislation allowing the use of alcohol in baked goods and candy. Holly Jorgenson closed her Intoxibakes business when she found out that alcohol was an illegal ingredient, but local lawmakers rallied to her defense. The bipartisan legislation sailed through the state legislature. The new law allows mixing alcohol into confectionery and candy, as long as the alcohol volume is no more than .5 percent by weight. Businesses with a liquor license may use more if desired.

Restaurants Catering To Surge In Demand For Protein, Even The Plant-Based Variety

Restaurant chefs and food companies are responding to the increasing interest in plant-based protein as an alternative to pork, poultry, and beef. Though the Mayo Clinic says Americans already eat way too much protein, almost 40 percent of Americans are trying to increase their consumption of protein; 23 percent are turning to plant protein. An example of how restaurants are catering to the trend is the 28-location vegan chain Veggie Grill based in Santa Monica, Calif. It offers a wide variety of plant-based proteins, including several with a similar taste and texture as meat, such as a new Meatballs & Polenta Bowl made from pea, wheat, and soy proteins. It recently introduced a Wunderbrat made with producer Beyond Meat’s protein formulated with peas, fava beans, and rice.

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March 04, 2018, to March 11, 2018

Hain Celestial Debuts 75+ New Products At Trade Show

Hain Celestial Group said it is unveiling more than 75 new products at Natural Products Expo West, natural, organic and healthy products industry trade show. Among the new products to be featured are Arrowhead Mills Protein Flour and Protein Pancake and Waffle Mix; Bearitos snacks brand’s non-GMO Baked Veggie and Cheddar Baked Corn Puffs; Celestial Seasonings’ Vermont Maple Ginger Herbal Tea and Lemon Lavender Lane Herbal Tea; and Earth's Best Organic brand’s Gentle Infant Formula and Non-GMO Plant-Based Infant Formula.

If Customers Want Fresh Beef, McDonald’s Will Serve It

Beginning in May, McDonald’s will make its quarter-pound hamburgers from fresh beef in a move to satisfy customers who have gotten picky about eating processed food. The move will make logistics more complicated for the company and its 14,000 restaurants who have positioned themselves as the place to go for reliable, fast, cheap and delicious food. The company is convinced its basic business is selling burgers, and if consumers want the better quality – and pricier – offerings at fast-casual chains, McDonald’s will offer that. So, franchisees are installing new refrigerators and containers to store the fresh meat. It’s worth the effort, the company feels, to serve burgers that compete well with fast-casual offerings “without sacrificing the consistency and speed McDonald’s customers expect.”

Raw Pressery Juice Relies On Ethics, Innovation, Technology In Fast-Growing Market

In a recent interview, Sreejit Nair, sales director of India’s Rakyan Beverages, said its Raw Pressery juice brand is applying advanced technologies to maintain market leadership in clean-label, cold-pressed juices. The fruit-based beverage category has grown at a CAGR of more than 30 percent over the past decade, thanks to the rise of health-conscious beverage consumers looking to avoid preservatives, chemicals, sugar, and artificial colors. The company uses HPP (high pressure processing) technology to pasteurize its juices, made with fresh fruits and vegetables sourced from farmers across India and abroad. The pasteurization method extends the shelf life of the juices to 21 days. Robotics and inventory automation ensure proper warehousing. The supply chain is using digitization to control costs, quality, temperature, and time. The company is also working with technology developers to create heat sensing devices that help maintain chiller temperature. In terms of innovation, the company recently launched a cold-pressed almond milk in coffee, cacao, and turmeric flavors. This year it expects to introduce a grapefruit-flavored juice, and to extend its product line to both chilled and ambient retail shelves.

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February 25, 2018, to March 04, 2018

W.V. Legislature Considers Bill To Cut School Food Waste, Ease Hunger

A bill wending its way through the West Virginia legislative process will allow distribution of unused school food to students. The bill, which just passed the House of Delegates, is modeled after a nationwide initiative known as Share Table that has the approval of the USDA as a tool to reduce food waste. If enacted, the measure would allow schools to work with county health departments and the USDA to come up with guidelines to distribute unused food to students or have it collected and donated to charitable organizations. More than 79,000 children in the state lived with food insecurity in 2017. The measure now goes to the state Senate for consideration.

French Law Has Made It Much Easier For Grocers To Donate Food

France’s two-year-old food waste law bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food. Stores that violate the law can be fined $4,500 for each infraction. But the law has affected much more than grocery stores. A whole subculture of food donation, collection, and distribution has sprung up across the country. Five thousand charities depend on the food bank network, which now gets nearly half of its donations from grocery stores. The new law has increased the quantity and quality of donations, with more fresh foods and products available farther from their expiration date. The law has also cut back on food waste by eliminating certain constraining contracts between supermarkets and food manufacturers.

Brewery/Bakery Partnership Recycles Surplus Bread Into Brewskis

A New York City bakery is collaborating with a brewery in a project whose overall mission is to cut food – especially bread – waste. Startup brewer Toast Ale uses unsold, but still fresh, bread donated by artisanal bakery Bread Alone, which also donates much of its surplus to churches, food pantries, and other charities. Toast Ale, like all brewers, needs food starch to make its product. The company gets at least some of its food starch from bread donated by Bread Alone Bakery. The starch forms sugars, that are eventually fermented to make beer. According to Toast Ale, it has brewed more than 5,000 gallons of beer in New York, and “saved more than 2,200 pounds of bread."
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