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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 05, 2019, to May 26, 2019

Perdue Expands Processing Operations In S.C. To Meet No-Antibiotics Demand

Privately-owned poultry processor Perdue Farms has spent $25 million on expanding its operations in South Carolina to satisfy consumer demand for antibiotics-free chicken. The company enlarged its portioning and marinating facilities, added a shipping cooler, and added installed automated pallet storage and office space. According to Perdue, all chicken, turkey, pork, and beef are now raised in antibiotics-free environments. It also offers a full range of no-antibiotics-ever products for foodservice operators, including restaurants, schools, colleges and universities, and hospitals. "The expansion will help us meet the growing demand for no-antibiotics-ever chicken products, and maintain the high level of customer service and reliability” expected from Perdue, CEO Randy Day said.

Rebellious Energy Of Teenagers Used To Change Attitudes Toward Junk Food

Research published in the journal Nature Human Behavior urges exposing naturally rebellious teenagers to the food industry’s manipulative marketing techniques to get them to rebel against the devious snack makers contributing to teen obesity. Teenagers can have “powerful feelings of outrage,” one researcher noted, that can be harnessed to promote public health. For the study, researchers designed an intervention in eighth grade classrooms in a Texas middle school, issuing a fact-based, exposé-style article on big food companies to the students. A control group was shown traditional healthy eating education material. The group that read the exposés chose fewer junk food snacks and selected water over sugary sodas the next day. However, the researchers puzzled over why girls who experienced a negative immediate response to junk food after the intervention didn’t really change their daily cafeteria purchases.

Hormel Launches National Ad Campaign To Inspire People To “Choose Good”

Austin, Minn.-based Hormel, maker of Natural Choice deli meats, has launched the “Good Feeds Us All” national advertising campaign to “inspire people to choose good whether it's in the food they eat or the actions they take.” The brand will incorporate a Good Feeds Us All national tour to spotlight individuals and organizations who have made it their mission to choose good. However, whether Natural Choice meats are really natural or good has spawned litigation. The D.C. Superior Court on April 8 dismissed a lawsuit by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) alleging Hormel was misleading consumers. But in statements disclosed in the court filing, a Hormel executive said the same antibiotics-treated pigs used to make its Spam meat product are also used in Natural Choice pork products. An ALDF attorney said Hormel was engaged in “a massive attempt to manipulate and dupe the consumer to purchase something they have no intention to purchase.”

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April 28, 2019, to May 05, 2019

Big Upper Midwest Food Distributor SpartanNash “Cleans Up” Its House Brands

Fortune 400 food distributor SpartanNash, which operates a chain of retail grocery stores in the upper Midwest and serves U.S military commissaries, is responding to customer preferences by accelerating a program to simplify private brand product ingredients and provide more transparency. “Our store guests are looking for healthier food options, clean labels and ‘free from’ formats when shopping at their local grocery store or putting food on the table," a spokesman said. In response, SpartanNash has reformulated or redesigned packaging for more than 425 products in its Our Family and Open Acres private labels since last year, removing synthetic colors, MSG, and other ingredients. Another 175 products will be added to the initiative during 2019. According to the company, the program focuses on providing customers with simpler products, shorter ingredient lists, and clean, easy-to-read labels. 

Genetically Engineered Salmon: Appearing Soon At Your Local Grocery Store

The FDA has lifted a ban on genetically engineered salmon, clearing the way for its appearance in grocery stores. The company AquaBounty may now import its AquaAdvantage Salmon eggs to a land-based facility in Indiana, where the salmon can be grown for food. The fish have been genetically engineered to grow faster than farm-raised Atlantic salmon. But Native American tribes, food groups, and environmentalists are concerned that there is no requirement that the gene-manipulated fish be labeled as “genetically engineered.” Instead, they can be labeled “bioengineered,” a less-loaded term that can appear on packages as a symbol that says “BE” or a QR code that can be scanned with a smartphone to find out if it's genetically engineered. "So it's quite a bit more burdensome,” according to a Center for Food Safety attorney. The FDA first approved genetically engineered salmon as safe to eat in 2015.

“Natural” Claim Continues To Lure Shoppers, Despite Lack Of Definition

A Label Insight-sponsored survey of 1,000 adult consumers finds that using the word “natural” on food packaging will motivate as many as 53 percent of Americans to make a purchase. Natural is generally accepted to mean the absence of artificial flavors, sweeteners, preservatives, and color additives in products that are minimally processed. Fifty-one percent of shoppers were swayed by "no preservatives," particularly older generations. Sixty-three percent of Baby Boomers say a product with that claim would motivate them to buy compared to 46 percent of Generation X and 41 percent of Millennials. Other ingredients Americans are concerned about include: high fructose corn syrup (57 percent of older adults) and sugar (all ages). And shoppers increasingly want to know the conditions under which the fish, poultry and livestock they're eating were raised: "antibiotic free" (34 percent); "free range" (26 percent); "grass fed" (25 percent); and "pasture-raised" (17 percent) are the key terms. Oddly, free range and pasture-raised are synonymous.

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April 07, 2019, to April 28, 2019

Paris Baguette Plans Aggressive Expansion Over Next Decade

The CEO of fast-casual bakery Paris Baquette, founded in South Korea in 1942, has big plans for expansion of the chain in the U.S. Paris Baguette has only 75 locations here, though there are more than 3,000 in France, Korea, Singapore, Vietnam, and China. Jack Moran, a former CEO of international bakery-restaurant chain Le Pain Quotidien, plans to open at least 1,000 U.S. cafés by 2030, with 38 opening this year. That includes a 50 percent increase in company-operated cafés and a 120 percent increase in the number of U.S.-franchised cafés. In addition, Moran will introduce U.S. customers to a more upscale version of Paris Baguette – Maison de PB – which will debut Singapore this year, and in Manhattan in 2020. Why the switch from Le Pain Quotidien to Paris Baguette? "I was knocked out by the quality and breadth of the baked goods selection," Moran said.

Slicing A Bagel: When Innovation Sparks A Social Media Controversy

It seems like a tempest in a teapot. But for some, especially devotees of the traditional bagel – sliced traditionally – it’s something of a typhoon. Social media foodies are engaged in an online battle over the advantages and disadvantages – or the virtues and horrors – of the “bread-sliced” bagel. Bread-sliced means sliced vertically instead of horizontally. The method was announced by someone in St. Louis who said he successfully introduced it to co-workers: “It was a hit!” he tweeted. But not for everyone, apparently. One shocked responder called it “an embarrassment to the whole sliced foods community." A bakery worker tweeted: “I have standards and a healthy respect for bagels." Others, however, lauded the slicing technique for creating a convenience: it’s easy to dip the slices in cream cheese “while walking, driving or typing at your desk.” Another said the bread-slicing "maximize[s] your surface area for spreads." And so the hullabaloo rages on.

Motivational Speaker Tony Robbins Launches Organic Bakery Inspired By Nuns

Self-help speaker Tony Robbins has announced the creation of Nunbelievable, Inc., a mission-based, direct-to-consumer premium organic baked goods company whose sales will support the work of soup kitchens and food pantries. Nunbelievable was inspired by the handmade cookies and confectionary creations of the friars and nuns of St. Roger Abbey in association with the Chicago-based religious order Fraternité Notre Dame. The nuns’ San Francisco branch – they also work in Chicago, Detroit, and New York City – was operating a soup kitchen in the Tenderloin District, and was in danger of eviction when Robbins stepped in. covering their expenses for six months and donating $1 million to help them open a new facility. Robbins leads Feeding America's 1 Billion Meals Challenge, which has provided 420 million meals in the past four years and is on track to provide a half-billion meals this year.

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March 24, 2019, to April 07, 2019

Starbucks Meal Donation Program In Canada Will Reduce Hunger, Cut Food Waste

Starbucks Canada has launched a national initiative to provide ready-to-eat meals through its more than 1,100 company-owned stores. FoodShare builds on a successful pilot program with Second Harvest, the largest food rescue organization in Canada. The initiative launched in February at 250 stores in the greater Toronto area, and will expand to more cities and provinces and eventually to the whole country. In Canada, the company has always donated unsold pastries and baked goods, but will now donate more healthful breakfast sandwiches, paninis, protein boxes, salads, yogurt, milk, and dairy alternatives like soy and coconut. The company says the initiative not only helps combat hunger, it diverts food surplus from landfills, helping to minimize the company's environmental footprint. 

Milk Dispensers In Schools Reduce Milk Waste, Eliminate Milk Carton Waste



Harrisonburg (Va.) City Public Schools measured milk waste for a week in January, finding that on average students consumed 220 cartons of milk at lunch a day, adding to about 39,000 cartons each school year. Because they are not recyclable, they end up in the trash. Moreover, students consumed about 70 percent of the milk in the cartons, wasting 30 percent, or about four gallons a day. To combat the problem, Bluestone Elementary School, and others in the state, are installing $3,000 milk dispensers in the cafeteria that allow students to fill their own reusable cups with as little or as much chocolate or regular milk as they want. The savings on milk aren’t much, about a cent per 8-ounce serving, but with a tight budget every little bit helps, a school representative said. Not to mention the complete elimination of trashed milk cartons.

Developers Of New Food Spoilage Sensor Technology Seek Development Funding

A new technology that will “smell' when fruit or vegetables are deteriorating is in the works in the U.K. and, once some technical bugs are dealt with, could someday save tons of food waste. The quick and cost-effective quality assessment system would apply a technique commonly used in space science to allow food suppliers to pinpoint the peak condition of produce. The researchers have identified the unique molecular markers given off by rocket (arugula) leaves before they spoil, and want to see if the technique can be applied to other produce. The big challenge, however, is to take the complex technology and apply it to a cost-effective platform so that it can be used at different points in the supply chain, from production through to retail, the researchers said. They have a working prototype but now need funding to conduct the production design and develop an affordable device.

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March 10, 2019, to March 24, 2019

Pulse-Based Peatos Snack Beards The Lion – Er, Cheetah – In Its Den

A Los Angeles-based start-up believes it is offering a more healthful alternative to the current orange-colored puffy snacks – read Frito-Lay Cheetos – that Americans love so much.  Peatos from World Peas Brand have replaced the traditional corn or potato base with a pulse (peas) base and have “cleaned up” the seasonings – all while maintaining “the explosive flavor and vibrant colors.” Peatos are a crunchy puffed snack that contain twice the protein (four grams) and three times the fiber (three grams) of competitor Cheetos. They are made with non-GMO ingredients, have no artificial flavors, no synthetic colors, and no added MSG. PepsiCo, parent company of Frito-Lay's Cheetos, last May sent a cease-and-desist letter to World Peas after Peatos began hitting store shelves. According to reports, PepsiCo said Peatos (tiger image) "is confusingly similar to and dilutes the Cheetos (cheetah image) brand." 

EPA Plans To Regulate Toxic Chemicals Found In Drinking Water

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last month announced plans to set a maximum drinking water contaminant level for polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a man-made substance found in food packaging, cleaners, water-repellent fabrics, Teflon-coated cookware, and cleaning products. The contaminants are also found in firefighting foams, which have seeped into groundwater sources that reach millions of drinking taps. The process could take months at least, and critics say the move is a stalling tactic to protect industry interests, given the health risks known. The chemicals have been linked to reproductive and developmental conditions, as well as liver and kidney, and immunological effects. They also contribute to low infant birth weights, thyroid problems, and some cancers. By the end of the year, the agency will propose a regulatory determination, which is the next step legally required under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Legalized Marketing Of Homemade Baked Goods Is Boon For Cottage Bakers

In the 48 states that permit the it, sale of homemade baked goods is improving lives in big and little ways, according to a public-interest law firm that represents the interests of home bakers in several states. Median monthly sales are a modest $200, but to many home bakers the money “makes a big difference to their financial well-being," the Virginia-based Institute for Justice states in a report drawn from a survey of 79 home-based bakers in Wisconsin, where a circuit court judge ruled in 2017 that laws against selling homemade baked goods are unconstitutional. Only New Jersey still bans the sale of bakery items made in a home oven. Wisconsin still bans the sale of homemade chocolate candy, cheesecake, cream pies or no-bake desserts. 

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February 24, 2019, to March 10, 2019

Canadian Start-Up Gets $1M Investment To Develop An Upcycling Machine

Halifax-based Beyond Food Inc. has raised $1 million from a range of investors – including several NHL players – to develop its first Zero Waste Pod and launch a partnership with a Canadian supermarket chain. The company’s mission is to reduce food waste – $31 billion a year in Canada – by using supermarket produce that is about to be tossed out to make a nutritional food ingredient. The patent-pending Zero Waste Pod is a modular facility about the size of a shipping container that can process aging fruits and vegetables into a fine powder for use as a nutritious ingredient in food manufacturing.

Home Bakers Seek Easing Of NM Rules On Sales At Farmers Markets

Home-based bakers in New Mexico are eagerly supporting a bill in the state legislature that would legalize the limited sale of un-inspected food items, including bread, at farmers markets. The bill –House Bill 463, or the Food Freedom Act – was referred to, but not heard by the pertinent House committees. New Mexico has some of the most restrictive rules in the U.S. regarding cottage industries. Proponents of the bill say they would like to see a law similar to one in Texas – “a more lenient approach” – that acknowledges that customers at a farmers market know they are purchasing food prepared in someone's home. The New Mexico legislative session ends in mid-March.

Panera Bread Re-Introduces Double Bread Bowl For Two Weeks



Panera Bread introduced a double-bowl version of its bread bowl nationally on February 14 for two weeks only. The Double Bread Bowl was available starting at $9.99 and is essentially the same as the classic bread bowl but twice as long, allowing for double the amount of soup or mac-and-cheese filling. Panera tested the Double Bread Bowl in Philadelphia in 2018. The company said a test launch  resulted in “an overwhelming response on social media from fans asking, 'When will Double Bread Bowls come to my city?'" 

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February 03, 2019, to February 24, 2019

Professor’s Research Helps Candy Firm Mars Achieve Its “No Artificial Dyes” Goal

Candy company Mars Inc. has patented an Ohio State professor’s method of extracting the natural pigments – anthocyanins – that give red, purple, and blue fruits and vegetables their colors. Three years ago, Mars announced a "five-year effort" to remove all synthetic dyes from its products. Before research by Monica Giusti's lab, there was no method of anthocyanin extraction that produced the specific blue pigment of blueberries. Though anthocyanins are difficult to work with, her research helped the company reach its natural dye goal. Giusti's work is allowing companies such as Mars to incorporate real nutritional value into foods that are typically perceived as unhealthy. "The real beauty is that the pigments that we extract from nature tend to be those phytochemicals that make plants good for us," Giusti said.

Israeli Company Uses Zero-Waste Process To Make Plant-Based Yogurt

Israel’s Yofix Probiotics Ltd. has launched a dairy-free, soy-free yogurt alternative line using a clean-label formula involving a few natural ingredients. The yogurt is traditionally fermented and contains live probiotic cultures, plus the prebiotic fibers that feed them. The products, available in three fruit flavors, use no cow milk and, unlike almond or cashew, do not require a great amount of water. The production process is carefully designed to ensure zero waste: all raw materials used in production remain in the final product. The company plans to launch globally, and will also debut plant-based dairy substitutes for milk, yogurt drinks, cream cheese, coffee creamers, and ice cream. 

Market For Citrus Essential Oils Expands Rapidly

An analysis by Fact.MR finds that citrus essential oil sales increased by 3,000 tons between 2017 and 2018. The oils are used in industrial and other applications, including aromatherapy, cosmetics, health care, and food and beverages. Citrus essential oils manufactured using grapefruits are expected to witness relatively faster momentum, as chemical constituents of grapefruit are sought by various industries. Grapefruit-derived citrus essential oil sales are expected to grow twice as fast as their counterparts in 2019. Purported health benefits of grapefruit essential oils include weight loss, improved immunity, and alleviation of stress. With the oils approved as safe for consumption by regulatory authorities, food and beverage companies have continued to incorporate them as a “clean label” ingredient into multiple products. Their antimicrobial and antifungal properties have opened up new avenues for citrus essential oils in the packaging industry, and as a natural preservative. 

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January 27, 2019, to February 03, 2019

Missouri Lawmakers Are Considering Bill To Require Food Donations


Lawmakers in Missouri are considering legislation that would require foodservice and other food companies with revenues of $5 million or more to donate ten percent of any excess edible “to needy individuals or to nonprofit organizations that provide food to needy individuals." If passed, the bill would make it a misdemeanor punishable by a $25,000 fine if it is discovered that a business is making their food inedible to avoid the donations.

Oregon Is Latest State To Legalize Harvesting Of Roadkill For Use As Food

Oregon recently enacted legislation that legalizes the harvesting and use of roadkill as food. The state is the latest of about 20 states that allow people to scoop dead animals off the road and serve them for dinner. One of these is the state of Washington, which issued 1,600 roadkill salvaging permits within one year of legalizing the practice in 2016. The rules vary by state, though most require timely reporting of the collection to authorities, and most absolve the state of responsibility if the meat turns out to be stomach-churning. Oregon allows the salvaging of deer and elk and for human consumption only. People who pick up a carcass must apply online for a free permit within 24 hours, and they must turn over the animal's head and antlers to the state wildlife agency within five business days.

Japan Offers Its Own Versions Of Bread

Though Japan is not generally known as a bread-eating country, bread has become more popular, especially among young people, and the country does have its own unique varieties. Introduced in Japan by 16th century Portuguese traders – the Japanese word for bread, "pan," is derived from Portuguese – bread grew rapidly after World War II. The Japanese have adapted foreign bread-making techniques to create their own variations, including curry pan (doughnut-like bread filled with curry), melon pan (fluffy bread covered with a sweet cookie dough crust), anpan (bread filled with sweet bean paste), and katsu-sando (pork cutlet sandwiches). Japanese bakeries in New York City offer wasabi-butter breads, wasabi-sausage items, and pizzas with green shiso leaves.

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January 13, 2019, to January 27, 2019

Antibiotic Use Declining In Meat Industry, But Still Dangerously High

Though use of antibiotics important to human medicine is dropping in the livestock industry it is still dangerously high, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The FDA reported recently that such sales dropped 28 percent between 2009 and 2017. But the latest numbers also show the beef and pork industries remain high users of these drugs at 5.1 million pounds and 4.5 million pounds in sales respectively in 2017, compared to 590,000 pounds in the chicken industry. The NRDC called the downward trend “real progress,” but warned that “the American meat industry continues to have a drug problem.” A positive sign is that major beef buyer McDonald's announced it will reduce use of the drugs across its global beef supply chain, offering hope it will spark a wave of change.

Food Label Transparency Trend To Gather Momentum This Year

A report from Label Insight and the Food Marketing Institute finds that a majority of shoppers have transparency on their minds when grocery shopping: 86 percent would feel a higher sense of trust for food manufacturers and retailers that provided access to complete, “easy to understand” ingredient information. One solution is to use new methods like Smart Label, from Label Insight, to provide that information. According to Label Insight, transparency initiatives led by retailers will continue to spread in 2019. “Retailers will move beyond health and wellness as brand positioning by leveraging new approaches to data and omnichannel integration,” the data insight company said.

Report: The Emergence Of “Clean Packaging”

A report based on an online survey on packaging trends finds that “clean packaging” is the next step following clean label and clean processing. Evergreen Packaging says need to make their packaging protect taste, freshness, and nutrients; align with ingredients; be responsible; and share values. Consumers felt that packaging should protect flavor: packaging like steel cans, aluminium cans, and plastic bottles were most cited as altering product flavor. In terms of consumer values, the environmental responsibility interests of many grocery shoppers go much deeper than the package itself and the label information. In addition to environmentally-friendly products and packaging, many shoppers expect brands and retailers to demonstrate social responsibility as a company.

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January 06, 2019, to January 13, 2019

Supermarkets In Australia Seeing Up To 90 Percent Reduction In Single-Use Plastic Bag Use

Since July, 1.5 billion fewer single-use plastic bags have been used by large Australian supermarkets. A ban by Coles and Woolworths were added to a total ban across the state of Queensland. Reusable options have helped bring about an 80 percent drop in plastic bag use, and some retailers have reported a 90 percent reduction. The supermarkets have donated profits from the sale of reusable bags to community organizations, including Clean Up Australia, Little Athletics Australia and Guide Dog.

Kellogg Europe Executive Outlines Bio-Based Cereal Pouches Goal

According to Rupert Maitland-Titterton, Kellogg Europe’s senior director of sustainability and corporate communications, the company is working towards its pledge to ensure 100 percent of its packaging is recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025. An interim goal is to develop bio-based cereal pouches, recyclable in all Kellogg’s markets, to replace oil-based pouches by the end of next year. Although it’s up to consumers to contribute to the recycling process, he says, food companies must work with stakeholders, including suppliers and waste management companies, to design packaging that can be recycled and to improve the infrastructure. Kellogg Europe has started an audit of recycling structures in its largest 25 markets. Kellogg is one of the 250-plus signatories to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, which aims to eliminate single-use plastic. Maitland-Titterton believes this scale of collaboration is crucial and that the food industry can’t solve it alone.

Starbucks Says Plastic-Lined Coffee Cups Can Be Converted Into New Cups


Coffee chain Starbucks says it has converted 25 million of its coffee cups into new cups as part of a pilot scheme introduced earlier in 2018, overturning conventional wisdom that the plastic lining means they couldn’t be recycled. Mike Mueller of WestRock, the company that recycled the cups, said the company is aiming to raise awareness about how it can be achieved and scaled. Other initiatives used by Starbucks include charging a small fee to its London customers for single-use cups, and it is working on a cup that can be easily recycled and composted. Customers in most stores can expect a discount if they bring their own reusable cup.
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