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Food Business Insight Alert Archive

Have a look at some of our recent alerts. These give broad coverage of the industry - if you want something more specific create your own here.

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August 05, 2018, to August 19, 2018

Alibaba Cloud Creates System For Raising Better Hogs

Alibaba Cloud has developed ET Agricultural Brain, an artificial intelligence-enabled platform for helping agricultural enterprises, including hog farmers, in China. Proprietary in design, the system is aimed at helping farmers to improve their livestock raising and crop production through innovations. With a special focus on hog farming, ET Agricultural Brain uses algorithm-based models to develop an “exercise regimen” for pigs to improve their health, as well as their piglet yields. China is the world’s largest producer of pork, according to data from the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service. It also accounts for half of the world’s pork consumption, data from Singapore-based DBS showed.

High-Tech Indoor Farms Promise Improved, Better-Tasting Produce

Business startups, including Bowery farming, AeroFarms, and Lettuce Networks, are using data and artificial intelligence to operate indoor food farms more efficiently than conventional farms. Also, these companies keep their farms small-scale and locate them near population centers. Described by some experts as distributed farming, these indoor food farms are designed to provide food for more people, while keeping their environmental impact less than those of traditional, large-scale farms. Compared with conventional farms, these “unscaled farms” offer better produce, with food grown and harvested near urban centers. Investors believe indoor farms are the future of farming, with about $2 billion invested in hundreds of farming technology startups since 2013.

Blockchain Works To Improve Food Safety, Benefits Farmers

Blockchain technology has some positive impact on farming and the food industry. By integrating blockchain into the food industry’s supply chain, food safety scares can be easily detected, and their origin determined. Blockchain can also help prevent food fraud by making it easier to identify ingredients of finished products. Also, by removing paper-based processes and middlemen from the process, bitcoin can help lower food prices while improving farmers’ income.

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July 22, 2018, to August 05, 2018

Student’s Invention Helps Fight Food Waste At Home

Eleven-year-old British student Rumaan Malik didn’t like it when apples went bad while sitting in the fruit bowl at home. Concerned about wasted food, she invented what she calls the “Alarm Cup,” in the process winning online supermarket Ocado’s Food Waste Challenge award. The grocer then partnered with design website, Little Inventors, to create a prototype of the cup.  Her invention sounds an alarm before the fruit goes bad, thereby keeping it out of the trash. The cup also has a small touchscreen display with icons for different produce, and recipes such as apple crumble and banana bread that put aging fruits to good use.

PCC Community Markets Says To Remove Plastics From Delis by 2022

Food co-op PCC Community Markets has promised to stop using plastics in its delis by 2022. At present, the company uses more than 5 million plastic packaging containers every year. According to PCC, it plans to replace plastic packaging with biodegradable compostable containers. In 2015, the company replaced plastic straws and utensils with compostable alternatives. 

Expenditures On Food Waste Reduction Significantly Reduce Operating Costs

The Champions 12.3 organization has determined that every dollar food service operators spend on programs to curb food waste results in a six-dollar reduction in operating costs. Researchers looked at financial cost and benefit data for 86 sites – including hospitals, schools, sports arenas, and similar facilities – in six countries and found that within one year, the sites had reduced food waste by 36 percent on average, and 64 percent had recouped their investment. The food service operators involved in the study invested in various food waste reduction programs, including purchasing smart scales or similar technology to measure their food waste, training staff in measurement and techniques to reduce waste, and redesigning menus. Seventy-nine percent of sites were able to keep their total investment in food waste reduction below $10,000.

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July 08, 2018, to July 22, 2018

Carrefour Announces 100% Recyclable, Reusable Or Compostable Packaging Goal

French supermarket chain Carrefour is aiming for own-brand packaging that is 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025, and to stop using non-recyclable packaging for organic fruit and vegetables by the end of this year, as well as ending the sale of plastic straws. By 2022, it intends to use 50% recycled plastics in bottles for its juice, soda and water products. The announcement coincides with a European Commission announcement to ban single-use plastics like straws and drink stirrers in the European Union. Plans also cover plastic cutlery and cotton buds, and by 2025 EU states will be expected to collect 90% of single-use plastic beverage bottles.

Indian PM Announces Single-Use Plastic Ban By 2022


India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, announced that the country plans to scrap single-use plastic by 2022, as part of World Environment Day, which India is hosting this year. Modi also announced a scheme to address marine plastic, and agreed to join Clean Seas, a UN campaign.

TIPA Of Israel Develops Biodegradable Plastic Packaging

Israel-based TIPA said it has developed a fully compostable plastic packaging film. While the product has most of the characteristics of plastic packaging, it disintegrates into water, carbon dioxide, and organic matter that can be degraded by bacteria. In 2016, TIPA began selling its packaging film, which the company started developing in 2012. Later, the company secured the required certifications, including for food packaging. TIPA, which now has 30 employees, saw sales of its packaging films grow four times in 2017 from the previous year.Israel-based TIPA said it has developed a fully compostable plastic packaging film. While the product has most of the characteristics of plastic packaging, it disintegrates into water, carbon dioxide, and organic matter that can be degraded by bacteria. In 2016, TIPA began selling its packaging film, which the company started developing in 2012. Later, the company secured the required certifications, including for food packaging. TIPA, which now has 30 employees, saw sales of its packaging films grow four times in 2017 from the previous year. 

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June 24, 2018, to July 08, 2018

Australia’s Science Agency Pulverizes Surplus Broccoli To Make Beverage Powders

Australian vegetable farmers routinely leave 10 to 20 percent of their crop in the field as unsaleable surplus to be ploughed back into the soil. The country’s scientific research agency (CSIRO), however, has been working on ways to transform surplus produce from waste into nutritious, edible vegetable powders to fortify beverages, including coffee. Its latest coffee additive project – it has already tried beetroot, coconut, turmeric, and blue algae – is broccoli, a nutrient-rich vegetable with plenty of fiber, vitamins A, B1 and B6, potassium, zinc, magnesium, and other healthful ingredients. For coffee, the broccoli powder is added to a shot of espresso before the steamed milk is added, then also sprinkled on top. According to one CSIRO scientist, two tablespoons of broccoli powder is equivalent to one serving of vegetables.

Tesco Sells Greener Lemons To Help Prevent Food Waste At Home

British supermarket chain Tesco has relaxed its rules on the color quality of lemons it sells to prevent food waste at home. The company is selling lemons that are slightly green to extend the shelf like by an extra couple of days. According to the company, the lemons are as crisp and zesty as the fully yellow versions. Tesco imports most of its lemons from South Africa, whose lemon harvesting season begins in late June. The company will now take the greener South African lemons earlier than usual to keep supplies going.

Bimbo Debuts Organic Varieties Of Top Bread Brands In U.S.

Bimbo Bakeries USA has introduced organic varieties of its top commercial bread brands – Arnold, Brownberry, and Orowheat – that fulfill emerging clean label standards. The breads are USDA-certified organic and Non-GMO Project Verified, and contain no artificial preservatives, colors or flavors, no high fructose corn syrup and zero trans fat. Available nationwide in 27-oz packages, each loaf contains a blend of flaxseed, chia and ancient grains. According to an Organic Trade Association survey, organic bread ranks as the sixth largest organic category; consumer demand for organic options is at an all-time high.

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June 17, 2018, to June 24, 2018

Midwest Supermarket Chain Hy-Vee Has Success Selling Sourdough Breads

A Hy-Vee supermarket in Urbandale, Ill., sells about 400 half- and full-loaves of sourdough bread every week in four varieties: regular, roasted garlic, rye, and jalapeño-cheddar. The volume sold makes sourdough one of the most popular breads at the store and inspired the store manager to sell sourdough rolls. The Hy-Vee experience is an example of a trend among supermarkets to offer more natural, preservative-free breads. Authentic sourdough is made with only flour, water, and salt, and no other additives or preservatives. According to Mintel, sourdough bread is also a facet of another growing food trend: fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha.  About 50 Hy-Vee stores in the Midwest were taught how to make sourdough starter, and now bake the loaves on a regular basis.

Healthful Baked Snacks For Kids Who Are “Picky Eaters”

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

Bakery Debuts Line Of Clean Label Minicakes

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

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June 03, 2018, to June 17, 2018

WHO Asks World’s Governments To Ban Trans Fats By 2023

The World Health Organization (WHO) wants the world’s governments to eliminate trans fats – partially hydrogenated vegetable oil – associated with margarine, Crisco and other low-price, long shelf products linked to countless premature deaths. WHO’s guidelines suggest eliminating trans fats from global food supplies within five years, a move that would save as many as 10 million lives. WHO’s campaign was developed with the help of Vital Strategies, a global health group backed by Michael Bloomberg, who as mayor of New York City, introduced the first municipal ban on trans fats in 2006. Denmark, Switzerland, Canada, Britain, and the United States have all moved to restrict or ban trans fats.

Clean Label “Total Beverage Solution” Debuts

Global beverage supplier Arcadia Beverage has launched what it calls “a total beverage solution for foodservice and retail operations.” The Zumora beverage line is “high in flavors, low in calories, and contains no preservatives or additives. Available in 12 oz. ready-to-drink bottles and 50 and 128 oz. beverage base, is a ready-to-use 3:1 concentrate mix available in lemon, strawberry lime, cucumber mint, mango, pineapple coconut, and other flavors. "Developing beverages with a clean label is at the core of our formulation,” an Arcadia spokesman said.

Clean Label Seaweed-Based Pig Feed Debuts In America

Ireland’s Ocean Harvest Technology Ltd. announced it is introducing in the U.S. pork products from swine raised on its Oceanfeed Swine seaweed-based feed ingredient formulated for pork. Farmers supplying poultry and livestock producer Heritage Foods are feeding their pigs with the feed made from a proprietary blend of red, brown, and green seaweed species. Brooklyn-based Heritage Farms is committed to providing heritage breed poultry and livestock raised on pasture without antibiotic growth promoters to American consumers. Customers who have tried Oceanfeed, a natural prebiotic, see enhanced animal health, more efficient nutrient uptake, and reduced mortality rates.

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May 20, 2018, to June 03, 2018

Starbucks Hopes To Trim $75M In Food Waste by 2020

Starbucks Corp. is losing $500 million a year on waste in its more than 8,000 company-operated U.S. stores, but hopes to cut that by 15 percent ($75 million)over the next year-and-a-half through greater efficiency. The company says its business model – “strict product quality requirements” plus “product availability” – always results in some waste. Food discarded because after the expiration date, and lost sales associated with a lack of inventory, are part of the costs. During Starbucks' fiscal second quarter, it cut waste costs by focusing on “outlier stores” that had high waste as a percentage of sales. It also improved training on the process of pulling .

Dutch Restaurants Thrive on Sustainability, Re-Purposing, Zero-Waste

Restaurants in The Netherlands, particularly in the capital Amsterdam, are showcasing innovative and accessible sustainability projects that focus on zero-waste practices and creative reuse of buildings and materials. Moer Restaurant, for example, is housed in a former Michelin tire shop; its serving pans are made from old train tracks. It has replaced the traditional buffet table piled high with bound-for-the-bin meats, cheeses, and pastries with a buffet of all-organic offerings, including juices from Dutch orchards, dairy and egg products from a local farm, and homemade granola and breads made with grain and beer waste from brewery Gulpener. The Instock restaurant uses only surplus food for ingredients and wastes nothing. It gets unused food from Albert Heijn, the country's largest supermarket chain. There is so much discarded but edible food that the restaurant has set up a wholesale distribution center to serve other restaurants.

Japanese Entrepreneurs Tackle Food Waste Problem With Smartphone Apps

According to Japan’s agriculture ministry, 6.46 million tons of untouched food were discarded in 2015. Japanese entrepreneurs, however, are making progress using technology to tackle this crticial food waste issue. Among the advanced solutions are online services that link restaurants with consumers wishing to buy food at lower prices that would otherwise be discarded. An example is Shifft Inc., which launched the Reduce Go smartphone app service last month to offer registered users economic benefits by allowing them to pick up food directly twice a day from restaurants and food outlets for $18 (¥1,980) a month. About 25,000 users have signed up for the free version of the app, while 32 restaurants, bars, and shops in Tokyo and its environs have signed on to the food giveaway.

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May 13, 2018, to May 20, 2018

Avoid Processed Foods, Replace With “The Clean 20”

Processed foods – potato chips, snack cakes, frozen pizzas, etc. – may be tasty and convenient, but they are a major contributor to obesity and illness. Best-selling author Dr. Ian Smith says that transitioning away from processed foods to cleaner, more healthful edibles needn’t be difficult. In his new book, "The Clean 20: 20 Foods, 20 Days, Total Transformation," Smith lists the foods and the benefits of including them in our diets every day. They are: avocados, berries, cheese, chicken, chickpeas, eggs, kale, lemons, lentils, nuts, oatmeal, seafood, squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, turkey, quinoa,100 percent whole-grain or whole-wheat bread, whole-wheat pasta, and yogurt.

Company’s New Snack Foods Are Certified Palm Oil Free

The production of palm oil has a devastating effect on the planet, according to Enjoy Life Foods, a large marketer of foods in the “free from” category that is committed to sustainability. It announced that it is the first U.S. food company to receive Palm Oil Free Certification for its newest product launches (Grain & Seed Bars and plant-based Protein Bites) from the International Palm Oil Free Certification Accreditation Program (POFCAP). The goal, according to the company, is to show that delicious foods can be created “without having to utilize an ingredient that increasingly more consumers are looking to avoid." Enjoy Life Foods’ portfolio of 70+ foods are also Non-GMO Project Verified, kosher, and free from 14 allergens. Nearly 90 percent are Certified Vegan.  

Hey FDA, It’s Time To Update Those Rules About Labeling Eggs

An organic and free-range egg company has petitioned the FDA to modify its regulations to allow eggs to be labeled as a healthy food. New Hampshire-based Pete and Gerry's Organic Eggs is puzzled that many sugary foods, such as toaster pastries and pudding cups, are allowed to market themselves as "healthy," but foods widely known to be nutritious, such as eggs, are not. In fact, the FDA’s stance on eggs is out of step with the thinking reflected in the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, issued by the USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services (HSS). "Our goal with this petition is to encourage the FDA to bring outdated regulations in line with current nutritional science and general consumer awareness,” says CEO Jesse Laflamme.

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May 06, 2018, to May 13, 2018

Fast-Growing Danish Bakery Alights In Manhattan This Year

A 20-year-old Danish bakery chain has expanded to the U.K. and will soon open its first store in the U.S. Founded in Christianshavn Denmark, the Lagkagehuset chain is majority-owned by the Norwegian capital fund FSN, whose cash infusion – and an 18 percent increase in sales in 2017 – is making the international expansion possible. CEO Jesper Friis said Lagkagehuset is looking forward to “exporting a small piece of Danish cultural history” when its Manhattan location opens this year.

Nutrient-Dense Grain Foods Are Ideal For Older Americans

A new study has found that regularly eating a variety of grain foods, along with fruits and vegetables, contributes to the nutrient density needed by Americans over age 50. This age group is not getting those nutrients in their diets, according to the study published in the journal Nutrients and presented at a recent scientific meeting. The trade group Grain Foods Foundation said older people should think twice before giving up bread and other grain foods because they are nutrient-dense. They contain dietary fiber, folate, magnesium, calcium and iron, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin B12, niacin, and thiamin. Breads, rolls, and tortillas contain thiamin, niacin, dietary fiber, folate, and iron. These foods “can play a key role in helping older Americans meet recommendations for under-consumed nutrients and nutrients of public health concern," said one of the study’s authors.

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

Food Waste Collaboration Connects Farmers And Consumers

A group of organizations and companies concerned about food loss in food production have banded together to create he “No Taste for Waste” campaign. The initiative includes an interactive website, “bookazine,”, and social media resources for farmers and ranchers trying to reduce food loss in the fields and for consumers who want to reduce household food waste. One goal of the campaign is to connect consumers with farmers and ranchers who are using sustainable practices in land stewardship while reducing food waste. Participants in the campaign are the American Farm Bureau Federation, Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN, Valent BioSciences Corporation, FLM Harvest, the CropLife Foundation, and Meredith Agrimedia. 

U.K. Project Is Studying How Robotics Might Help Reduce Food Waste

Innovate U.K. has awarded $1.2 million to an industrial R&D project that will study the food waste problem to determine how robotics might reduce the inefficiencies that cause it. Roboticists engineers, computer scientists, and food specialists will work together to figure out how to eliminate the 51 percent of food waste that is avoidable. The goal of the two-year project is to remove the human error from the crucial early stages of handling, preparing and weighing raw ingredients. The project is led by Olympus Automation (OA), which will collaborate with the University of Lincoln's National Center for Food Manufacturing and supplier English Provender. 

Hotels Benefit Financially From Spending On Food Waste Solutions

A review of 42 hotels in 15 countries by Champions 12.3 has found that on average facilities achieved a 21 percent reduction of kitchen food waste by weight in just one year. Within the first year, more than 70 percent recouped their investment. The average hotel saved $7 for every $1 invested in reducing kitchen food waste. Within two years, 95 percent had recouped their investment. Nine out of ten sites kept their total investment in food waste solutions below $20,000, less than one percent of sales on average. The data came from budget, mid-range, casino resort, and luxury market hotels. Champions 12.3 comprises 40 executives in government, business, and civil society dedicated to achieving Target 12.3 of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals. 
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