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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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October 28, 2018, to November 04, 2018

Kroger Fund Food Waste Prevention Curriculum For El-Sec Students

Grocery chain Kroger has joined a Zero Hunger | Zero Waste partnership with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to prevent and recover food waste in U.S. elementary and secondary schools. WWF, whose WIld Classroom provides an environmental curriculum for teachers and parents, is expanding the curriculum with the help of a $400,000 grant from Kroger’s foundation to focus on promoting food conservation education and best practices. The Food Waste Warrior Toolkit, a classroom-friendly curriculum that aligns with USDA and state educational standards, turns the school cafeteria into a classroom to inspire students to become Zero Heroes by making a lifelong commitment to reduce food waste. The free toolkit was tested in Washington, D.C., using resources from science, math, ecology, conservation, and sustainability.

Austin’s Eateries Must Recycle Unsold Food – Or Compost It

Austin, Texas, has barred its restaurants from trashing unsold made-to-order and other processed foods, the city’s Universal Recycling Ordinance (URO), whose goal is greater sustainability, requires eateries to compost food scraps or give them away. Food enterprises covered by the new law include restaurants, shops, and farm markets that serve made-to-order food, as well as places that prepare and process food. Employees of these establishments are required to receive training in handling the waste. The ordinance also covers dirty or used paper, like cardboard, paper towels and napkins; flowers, and landscape trimmings from restaurant plants and gardens. Violators can be fined as much as $2,000. According to a local government study, 37 percent of materials sent to landfills is organic and could be donated or composted.

Kiwi Scientists Figure Out How To Convert Fermented Plant Pulp Into Flour

New Zealand scientists have developed a technology that transforms pinot noir grape – and other plant – fermentation by-products into zero-waste, gluten-free, vegan, low-carb, low-fat, fiber- and nutrient-rich flour. Greenspot Technologies has successfully created flour from pinot noir, sauvignon blanc, apple, beetroot, orange, carrot and parsnip pulp. The sophisticated fermentation process was developed in the research labs of the University of Auckland. The key to the process is the conversion of sugars in the pulp into nutritious protein. The flours can be used to make bread, snack bars, protein bars, biscuits, vegan products, pasta, pizza, or as a dietary supplement. The start-up is using an investment of $782,700 to spread the word in France.

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October 21, 2018, to October 28, 2018

The Romaine Lettuce E-Coli Outbreak Highlighted Blockchain Potential For Food Sector


Although Blockchain technology is penetrating the supply chains of many industries, the food sector has some catching up to do. The romaine lettuce e-coli outbreak in the U.S. earlier this year highlighted the need for the food industry to improve transparency in supply. Despite efforts from some companies, such as Walmart, to improve food safety procedures, much of the industry remains reliant on paper-based systems. There are a number of hurdles to overcome in switching to digital systems, including the cost, but new technologies like blockchain have the potential to improve safety for businesses and consumers. 

Hershey Rolls Out New Omnichannel That Blurs Online and Offline

Hershey Co. has a ‘digital’ strategy that is centered on four components, search, content, conversion, and community. It is designed to enhance the company’s competitive advantage and help it succeed in the emerging omnichannel marketplace and holds that there is no offline and online division, but rather a continuum between the two. The initial goal is to convert a purchase, but the long-term goal is repeat purchases and to earn a place on the consumers digital shopping list. Hershey is also experimenting with digital impulse sales.  

Australia To Use AI To Map Its 65 Wine Regions


An agreement between Wine Australia and Consilium Technology covers the use of artificial intelligence to accurately map Australia's 65 wine regions. A national census of the country's winegrape area will be conducted in mid-2019 using Consilium Technology's Geospatial Artificial Intelligence for Agriculture software equipped with high-resolution satellite images and advanced machine learning. The software's accuracy was previously tested in mapping the Margaret River and Tasmania. Information from the scan is expected to enhance Australia's biosecurity activities and wine label integrity.

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October 14, 2018, to October 21, 2018

Inventor’s “Twist & Grip” Bag Preserves Bread’s Flavor, Freshness Longer

InventHelp says it has helped an Atlanta, Ga.-based inventor develop a bread bag that seals more effectively, preserving the freshness, flavor and shelf life of the loaf. The “Twist & Grip” bag allows the package to open and close easily, and also contains an easy-to-grip handle for carrying. The bag is recyclable and reusable. The invention is available for licensing or sale to manufacturers or marketers by contacting InventHelp at its Pittsburgh, Pa., headquarters.

FDA May Soon Update The Definition Of, And Permitted Ingredients For, Yogurt

The FDA is looking into the possibility of “modernizing” regulations governing the content and even the definition of yogurt. The dairy industry has been pushing to open up the yogurt standard as manufacturing practices and consumer tastes have changed. The FDA established a standard for foods labeled as "yogurt" in 1981 that limited the ingredients. But the industry objected; the following year the agency suspended enforcement of various provisions and allowed the addition of preservatives. A 2009 rule that was never finalized created a unified standard that allowed emulsifiers as well, but yogurt makers said the rule created confusion and left it open to lawsuits. Meanwhile, milk producers hope the FDA’s “modernized” standards will soon crack down on soy and almond drinks that call themselves "milk," which current standards say must come from a cow.

Suit Alleges Pret a Manger’s Baked Goods Contain Weed Killer Ingredient

Washington, D.C.-based non-profit Beyond Pesticides announced it is joining GMO Free USA and Organic Consumers Association in a lawsuit charging restaurant chain Pret a Manger with “deceptive marketing and sale of certain bread and other baked goods” as "natural food" though they tested positive for glyphosate. The lawsuit accuses Pret of exploiting consumers' preferences and willingness to pay more for products marketed as natural. A component of Roundup weed killer, glyphosate is patented as a chelator and an antibiotic, but is linked to adverse health effects including cancer, infertility, and non-alcoholic fatty liver and kidney diseases. The suit would have Pret fully disclose glyphosate in its products and reformulate them to be glyphosate-free.

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October 07, 2018, to October 14, 2018

Alibaba Deploys Blockchain Pilot To Ensure Food Authenticity

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

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

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

Virginia Company Pervida To Launch Sugar-Control Beverage In 2019

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

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September 23, 2018, to October 07, 2018

Methane Producer To Build $120M Food Waste Digester In Philadelphia Area

Renewable methane producer RNG Energy Solutions has formed a joint venture with Philadelphia Energy Solutions, operator of the huge South Philadelphia refinery complex, to build a $120 million digester to convert more than 1,100 tons of food waste daily into methane gas. To be built on 22 acres of vacant land at the refinery, the Point Breeze Renewable Energy Project would take two to three years to permit and to build. The biogas project would divert food wastes from landfills, reducing the escape of methane from decomposing landfill waste into the atmosphere. The facility would produce three million cubic feet of gas a day. There is a strong market among owners of truck fleets and municipal buses for renewable methane to satisfy green-energy targets.

Non-profit Atlanta Bakery Gives Refugees A Helping Hand – And Baking Skills

A start-up Atlanta bakery is getting a reputation not only for the treats it produces daily, but also for the atmosphere of good cheer and camaraderie. Just Bakery is unique for another reason: it is a non-profit operation housed in a Presbyterian church, and its seven workers are all refugees from other countries – Congo, Bhutan, Central African Republican – who fled their homelands to escape violence. They were selected from a pool developed by the International Refugee Committee. They produce bagels, cinnamon rolls, cookies, rye pretzels sprinkled with Gruyere, breakfast tarts and loaves of multigrain and sourdough bread. The motto of Just Bakery? "Eat well, do good, change lives.”

Online Retailer In U.K. Sells Wonky Beef Cuts To Reduce Waste

Selling misshapen or “wonky” fruits and vegetables at a discount is a well-established practice, but now healthy eating firm MuscleFood.com has launched a discounted wonky steaks program, selling odd shapes and sizes of two beef cuts from just $1.30 each to reduce food waste. The British company is selling the imperfect steaks in packs of 10, 20, or 30 that weigh from 3.5 ounces to 6.5 ounces each. A $39 pack of 30 works out to be $1.30 each for rump steaks; a $44 sirloin pack is $1.56 per steak. The company says the meat is free-range and grass-fed and the same quality served in restaurants. Eateries reject the cuts as too big or too small and usually end up grinding them into mincemeat.

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September 16, 2018, to September 23, 2018

General Mills Drops “Natural” Claim For Granola Bars


General Mills will no longer claim on its Nature Valley granola bars that they are 100 percent natural, according to a news report. The company recently settled a 2016 lawsuit that said that oats used in the bars contained the herbicide glyphostate, the active ingredient in the Monsanto product Roundup that has been connected to cancer. Tests by an independent lab found .45 parts per million glyphosate in the Nature Valley products. The company reportedly settled instead of going through "the cost and distraction of litigation" and instead will focus on making sure products have 100 percent whole grain oats.

Perdue To Begin Offering Lower-Priced Organic Chicken Products

Maryland-based Perdue Farms announced its Simply Smart Organics chicken products – including frozen and refrigerated whole grain, gluten-free, and lightly breaded nuggets, strips and tenders – will be available next month at about half the cost of other organic brands. The company says the new organic products will be more affordable relative to other similar products, without compromising organic standards, convenience or taste. The line of chicken products can already be found in stores, but beginning in October they’ll carry the USDA certified organic seal. U.S. sales of organic broiler chickens were up 78 percent in 2016 from the previous year, totalling $750 million, according to the USDA.

Entrepreneurial Couple Succeeds With Mobile Cookie Dough Cart

Wife-and-husband entrepreneurs Katie Pollock and Andy Simms of Ohio are fulfilling their dream of making and selling edible cookie dough in a variety of flavors. But they didn’t open a bakery, restaurant, shop or even a food truck. They operate from a mobile cart that allows them to service weddings, corporate events, bar mitzvahs, family events, graduations, birthday parties, and other Cleveland-area events. They got the idea while on a trip to California where, at Fishermen’s Wharf in San Francisco, they noticed a line snaking around outside a cookie dough eatery. Several bakeries in Northeast Ohio sell edible cookie dough, but the Dough Street mobile cart is the only one selling it exclusively.

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September 09, 2018, to September 16, 2018

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

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

Detoxwater Adds Aloe Shot To Its Portfolio

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

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

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

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September 02, 2018, to September 09, 2018

The US And Other Countries Should Look To Norway For Possible Solutions To The Plastics Problem

Norway is being seen as a standout for innovation aimed at reducing plastic use. It recycles all but a small percentage of plastic bottles, using a bottle deposit scheme nationally that enables consumers to exchange containers over the counter in a range of stores as well as reverse vending machines in public spaces. In return, consumers receive cash or store coupons. The recycled plastic is used in a variety of ways, including packaging, textiles and new bottles. With China, for example, backing away from accepting recyclable materials from other countries, the US and other economies are having to look at alternative approaches to dealing with the problem of plastic trash, and some of the reactions, such as Oregon recycling processors being allowed to send recyclable materials to landfills, are not long-term solutions. Dune Ives, executive director of the Lonely Whale Foundation, believes the US should look at the way Norway and other countries are tackling the issue, by improving the messaging and changing consumer behavior. Ives said that US consumers were surprised at how much wasn’t being recycled and were open to ways to improve the situation. Bottle deposit schemes might be one approach that US consumers might embrace, but brands must also explore other possible solutions, including next-generation plastics that can be composted, reused, eaten or more easily recycled. Norway, for example, chose two PET resins for manufacturers to work with and then established a value chain that focused on recycling them.

Start-Up Hopes To Make A Big Splash In U.S. Market With Antioxidant-Rich Aronia Juice

Los Angeles-based beverage start-up Truronia has launched four flavors of antioxidant-rich fruit juice made with 100 percent organic aronia berries. The antioxidant-rich RTD drink can be consumed by itself or mixed into smoothies and recipes. According to the company, aronia berries contain more antioxidants than cranberries, blueberries, blackberries, or raspberries. The fruit is a common staple in Europe, though it is also native to the United States. Health benefits include improved digestion, reduced inflammation, and a boosted immune system. The company says its goal is to reintroduce the superfruit to the United States, where the berry is still relatively unknown. Truronia juice is stocked in stores like Erewhon and Mother’s Market & Kitchen throughout southern California and Nebraska, with plans to expand into more cities across the U.S. The juices can also be found online in packs of six, or in variety packages that include mango, pineapple, coconut, and original aronia flavors,

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



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

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August 26, 2018, to September 02, 2018

Which? Study Shows A Third Of Plastic Packaging Used By UK Retailers Hard To Recycle

Results of an analysis by Which?, a consumer group, revealed that as much as 29 percent of plastic packaging used by UK retailers is non-recyclable through the usual collection schemes or hard to recycle. Results of the study of packaging used for 27 everyday private-label products sold by 10 leading retail chains showed Lidl had the lowest percentage of easily recyclable packaging at 71 percent. Morrisons topped the results with 81 percent of tested products with packaging considered widely recyclable.

Just Eat Tests Seaweed-Based Sachets Developed With Skipping Rocks Lab

Online food-ordering company Just Eat has partnered with packaging technology firm Skipping Rocks Lab to develop a sachet made from seaweed. Part of the company's efforts to cut the volume of plastics used by its restaurant partners in the UK, the seaweed-based sachets can be composted and are environment-friendly. According to Just Eat, the company will test the sachet for six weeks with The Fat Pizza in Southend, and determine the possibility of introducing the packaging to its 29,000 partner restaurants. 

Aramark Aims To Reduce Or Remove Plastic Straws From Facilities It Serves

Food service company Aramark said it plans to reduce the use of plastic straws and plastic stirrers and provide environment-friendly alternatives at food and dining facilities it serves. Aramark, which manages food service operations for various locations, including schools, convention centers, and arenas, across the US, said the reduction will depend on the location. According to the company, it plans to have 100-percent removal of plastic straws from parks and residential dining halls of colleges and universities.

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August 19, 2018, to August 26, 2018

Kraft Heinz Commits To Environmentally-Friendlier Packaging By 2025

The Kraft Heinz Company has committed to making its packaging 100 percent recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025, and it will also work towards reducing the amount of packaging. The CEO, Bernardo Hees, said that the company needs to look at how its greenhouse emissions are generated throughout the supply chain, and not just from direct operations. The initiatives are a part of its ‘Growing a Better World’ program it announced in 2017.

Aldi In Australia Justifies Its Use Of Fruit And Veg Packaging

With more and more attention being focused on single-use plastic, Aldi in Australia has been forced to explain its use of plastic packaging for fruit and vegetables. The company says its down to its focus on cost efficiency, by making the checkout process easier, but it is working to minimize the use of plastics. However, some shoppers have responded by removing the packaging at the tills. Aldo also said it keeos the items fresher and avoids customers handling the food. It added that “over the coming years our customers can expect to see changes in our stores that reflect our commitment to protecting the environment.” 

Retailers Back The New Zealand Government’s Ban on Single-Use Plastic Bags

New Zealand retail companies have added their support to Government plans to ban single-use plastic bags. The Countdown chain was the first to commit to stopping by the end of this year, and more chains have joined the list of those making similar commitments. Foodstuffs, which includes a number of supermarket banners, such as Pak'nSave and Liquorland, will stop providing single-use bags from January 2019. Steve Anderson, managing director, said the Government’s plans level the playing field, but the company will ensure every customer is offered an affordable alternative.
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