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Starbucks Tests Vegan-Friendly, High-Protein Lunch Menu In The Windy City

April 11, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
One hundred Starbucks stores in Chicago are testing the new Mercato lunch menu targeted at diners looking for a vegetarian, protein-based lunch. The new menu items include salads, sandwiches, yogurt and fruit. Salad options, available at $8 or $9, include za'atar (Mediterranean spice blend) chicken and lemon tahini, green goddess avocado, seared steak and mango, and turkey and fire-roasted corn. Sandwiches ($5 to $8) include a Cuban, a burrata and basil pesto, and an almond butter with strawberries and jam. If the new lunch items are successful, the menu will roll out nationally. [Image Credit: © Starbucks ]
Samantha Bomkamp, "Starbucks Debuts New Lunch Menu at 100 Chicago Stores", Chicago Tribune, April 11, 2017, © Chicago Tribune
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Acorn Flour Makes Delicious Pancakes, But Getting Flour From Nuts Ain’t Easy

April 10, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A bumper crop of acorns in the Belfast area of south central Maine last fall got one resident thinking about “food.” but not in the way squirrels, wild turkeys, deer, and rabbits think about it. Jim Merkel thought about processing the acorns into flour for pancakes and such. It’s a time-intensive process – removal of tannin is laborious – but it pays off admirably. Since the rise of the Paleo diet trend, interest in sustainable acorn harvesting and use has burgeoned, for good reasons. Acorns are a good source of vitamin C, protein, fat, starch, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus. The flour is gluten-free, has a high level of antioxidants and has a low glycemic index. And the pancakes are delicious.  [ Image credit: Public domain ]
Abigail Curtis, "Bumper Crop Leads to Acorn Flour Production for Belfast Friends", Bangor Daily News, April 10, 2017, © Bangor Daily News
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New Bottle Is Edible, Compostable, And Spherical

April 10, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Three London, U.K.-based university design students have developed a sphere-shaped gelatinous bottle, both edible and compostable, that they feel is ready for its market debut. An alternative to plastic bottles – and a potential solution to accumulation of them in landfills – Ooho is being developed by Skipping Rocks Lab. It is based on a technology known as spherification. A ball of ice is dipped in calcium chloride and brown algae extract. It forms a spherical membrane that keeps holding the ice as it melts and returns to room temperature. The membrane is edible – it can be flavored – and compostable. The company sees sales potential at cafes and outdoor events, like festivals and marathons, in fact anyplace people consume a lot of packaging in a short time. [Image Credit: © Skipping Rocks Lab ]
Adele Peters, "This Edible Water Bottle Is How You’ll Drink In The Future", Fast Company, April 10, 2017, © Mansueto Ventures, LLC
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Fighting Food Waste Has Become A Scottish Obsession

April 10, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Scots, especially those who dine out frequently, have come to terms with the fact that more than 53,000 tons of food are wasted each year in Scottish restaurants, and two-thirds of it could have been prevented. If they were ever skittish (or snooty) about using doggie bags or boxes, for instance, they are much less so now. More than 100 restaurants have committed to Scotland’s Good to Go scheme, under which eateries automatically pack leftover food in branded boxes and give it back to diners. A small change, yes, but experts say it could keep more than 800,000 edible leftover meals a year out of trash bins. It’s just one of the initiatives that have won Scotland a growing reputation as a leader in food waste prevention.  [Image Credit: © Zero Waste Scotland ]
Megan Tatum, "How Scotland Has Food Waste All Wrapped Up", The Grocer, April 10, 2017, © William Reed Business Media Ltd
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Yum Brands Caves To Pressure: KFC Will Transition To Antibiotics-Free Chicken

April 7, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Years of pressure from food safety and consumer advocates have finally nudged Yum Brands, owner of KFC, into the clean-label chicken camp. The company announced it plans to stop sourcing chicken from farms that use antibiotics over the next two years. McDonald's, Chick-fil-A, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell have all pledged to transition to antibiotics-free chicken because the widespread use of human antibiotics in animal husbandry seems to be contributing to the rise of drug resistant pathogens. With the shift by KFC, more than half of the nation's poultry supply chain will be antibiotic-free soon, according to advocates. [ Image credit: © KFC  ]
Geoffrey Mohan, "KFC Goes Antibiotic-Free", Los Angeles Times, April 07, 2017, © Los Angeles Times
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KFC Takes Big Steps Toward Clean Menu

April 7, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Kentucky Fried Chicken announced that by the end of 2018 it will only purchase chicken raised without antibiotics that are  “important to human medicine” for its U.S. restaurants. KFC noted that its commitment extends beyond boneless chicken menu items to chicken-on-the-bone items. The company said the change involves complex planning, including collaboration with more than 2,000 family-owned farms in a dozen states. Recently, KFC committed to eliminating artificial colors and flavors from core products by the end of 2018. The menu will be free of all “food dyes” by the end of 2017 (excluding beverages and third-party products). [Image Credit: © KFC Australia ]
"KFC Announces Commitment to Eliminate Antibiotics Important to Human Medicine from its Chicken by End of 2018", PR Newswire, April 07, 2017, © PR Newswire Association LLC
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Nestle CEO Says Corporate Growth Should Take Priority Over Short-Term Profits

April 6, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Nestlė’s CEO says the cost-cutting fad among food and beverage companies – think Kraft Heinz, Anheuser-Busch, Unilever, etc. – undermines efforts to grow. Ulf Schneider, an outsider from the healthcare industry who became CEO on January 1, told shareholders that the quest for short-term profit “is not sustainable.” His company certainly puts a priority on efficient business operations, he noted, but it is also hiking investment in its fastest-growing businesses and plans to expand digital ventures and online operations, which have experienced 20 percent growth in sales. Nevertheless, Schneider said, Nestlė will do whatever it has to where growth is slow.  [ Ulf Schneider, image credit: © Nestlė  ]
Corinne Gretler, "Nestle's New CEO Challenges Food Industry's Cost-Cutting Mantra", Bloomberg Markets, April 06, 2017, © Bloomberg L.P.
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Portland Ice Cream Parlor Uses Discarded Flavor Ingredients In Its Products

April 6, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A small-batch ice cream shop in Portland, Ore., with a reputation for adventurousness in flavor combinations, is applying its expertise to a social/environmental cause – namely, food waste. Salt & Straw’s June menu will be featuring flavors of food that were otherwise destined for the trash bins. Included in the offerings at the artisan eatery, for examples, will be rum-soaked spices salvaged from the nearby East Side Distilling company, including Moroccan peppercorns, Sri Lankan cinnamon, Mexican vanilla, and California orange peel. The flavors will be re-steeped in cream and blended into frozen treats. Local food redistributors and anti-food waste organizations Urban Gleaners and the Portland Fruit Tree Project are collaborating with Salt & Straw on the project.  [Image Credit: © Salt & Straw ]
Janan Jay, "American Ice Cream Parlor is Making Flavors from Recycled Food", Stuff, April 06, 2017, © Fairfax New Zealand Limited
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Panera’s Secret: Consumers Tend To Bypass Competitors To Get There

April 6, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Panera Bread Co., whose acquisition by Krispy Kreme owner JAB Holdings for $7 billion was recently announced, is a paradigm of success in today’s restaurant chain world. Its menu is upscale and distinctive, the service is fast. But it really began to surpass rivals when three years ago it adopted its ”2.0 plan,” which featured advanced technology for customer ordering and payment, a commitment to clean food (i.e., no preservatives, no artificial or other dubious ingredients), and a sophisticated delivery system. The philosophy is summarized by CEO Ron Shaich: competitive advantage means “being a place where people want to walk past your competitors to come in." 
Zlati Meyer et al., "How Panera Won the Restaurant Game", USA Today, April 06, 2017, © USA Today
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Unilever To Sell Its Margarine, Spreads Unit

April 6, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Like many big food companies, Unilever is struggling to keep with the times, and with evolving consumer tastes, preferences and health concerns. The latest manifestation of the strategic rethinking, revamping, cost-cutting process – spurred by the failed Kraft Heinz takeover bid in February – is its decision to sell its margarine and spreads business for a price upwards of $7.5 billion. In addition to cost cutting, the Anglo-Dutch multinational hopes to buttress returns by implementing a dividend boost and a share buyback. Unilever’s margarine and spread business includes familiar brands Country Crock and I Can’t Believe It’s not Butter. Other companies that have recently announced plans to divest or acquire businesses include Reckitt Benckiser, Danone SA, ConAgra Brands, Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc., and PepsiCo Inc.  [ Image credit: © Wikipedia  ]
Denise Roland et al., "Unilever Restructures Amid Food Industry Woes", The Wall Street Journal, April 06, 2017, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Frutarom, On Buying Binge, Acquires Vietnamese Flavors Company

April 6, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Israeli flavors and fragrances firm Frutarom has completed another Asian acquisition with the purchase of 60 percent of the Vietnam's Western Flavors Fragrances Production (WFF) for $1.3 million. Fourteen-year-old WFF’s sales volume in the 12 months prior to February 2017 totaled about $1.5 million. WFF has 44 employees and focuses on marketing sweet flavors in the dairy, beverages, confectionery and baked goods markets. Frutarom’s strategy is to expand in Asia through acquisitions. The company recently bought Indian flavors company Sonarome and the Chinese taste solutions company Inventive. Last year, it opened a modern flavors plant, including an advanced R&D laboratory, in Shanghai, China. Frutarom sells more than 60,000 products to more than 27,000 customers in 150 countries.
"Third Acquisition for Frutarom in 2017: Continues Expanding Its Global Reach and Deepening Its Presence in Growing Emerging Markets", News release, Frutarom, April 06, 2017, © Frutarom
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MIT Scientists Develop Faster, Cheaper Foodborne Pathogen Detection Method

April 5, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A new technology developed at MIT may help prevent the 60 deaths and 73,000 illnesses caused each year by the foodborne pathogen E. coli bacteria. The technology is based on a novel type of liquid droplet that binds to bacterial proteins They are then detected by a smartphone much more quickly and less expensively than by existing food safety tests, which often involve placing food samples in a culture dish for two or three days to see if harmful bacterial colonies form. According to one of the scientists who helped develop the process, “The great advantage of our device is you don’t need specialized instruments and technical training to do this.”  [Image Credit: © Jose-Luis Olivares/MIT]
Anne Trafton, "New Technology Could Offer Cheaper, Faster Food Testing", News release, MIT News, April 05, 2017, © MIT News Office
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Conagra Recalls Hunt’s Chili Kits After FDA Finds Salmonella Bacteria

April 5, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Conagra Brands has recalled Hunt’s Chili Kits because the FDA claimed the chili powder was tainted with salmonella. Conagra said the kits they had examined had no traces of the dangerous bacteria, but they implemented the recall “out of an abundance of caution.” The recall affects retail and online stores, as well as military commissaries. Symptoms of salmonellosis include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps that develop 12 to 72 hours after infection. The symptoms subside after a weak though there is a risk of dehydration. [ Image credit: © Conagra  ]
Mahita Gajanan, "Hunt's Chili Kits Were Recalled Nationwide Because of a Salmonella Risk", Time, April 05, 2017, © Time Inc.
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It’s Official: Panera Bread Sold To Krispy Kreme Owner

April 5, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Holding company JAB confirmed last week that it will acquire St. Louis-based retail bakery chain Panera Bread for $7.2 billion. JAB’s portfolio of companies includes Caribou Coffee, Krispy Crème Doughnuts and Keurig Green Mountain. Panera operates 2,000 bakery cafes in the U.S. Already a hit among health-conscious consumers, Panera lately has been taking steps to improve sales and service. It is growing its loyalty program, installing time-saving kiosks, and expanding delivery. Panera’s shares soared 14.2 percent to a record-high of $312.98 when the sale was announced. JAB is paying a 20.3 percent premium on the stock’s March 31 closing price. [ Image credit: © Panera Bread Co.  ]
Anya George Tharakan et al., "Krispy Kreme-Owner JAB to Buy Bakery Chain Panera Bread", Reuters, April 05, 2017, © Reuters
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Will Costco Put More Energy Into Online Bulk Sales?

April 5, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Costco has for the most part downplayed the e-commerce side of its business while emphasizing store traffic, impulse buying, and a “treasure hunt” atmosphere of constant churning of new products. It’s a strategy that continues to be profitable. But investors and analysts think it’s time the bulk-selling giant adapts to modern times. The logistical technology is certainly available, even for Costco-size shipments. A Costco spokesman says the company has been slow on the uptake “on purpose,” but acknowledges “there are things we can do or should be doing.” Now it may be getting tougher: carriers like UPS and FedEx Corp. are beginning to charge based on package size as well as weight. [ Image credit: © Wikipedia  ]
Sarah Nassauer et al., "Why Costco Loves Store Sales: You Try Shipping a Tub of Mayo", The Wall Street Journal, April 05, 2017, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Pizza Chain Experiments With All-Natural Toppings, Gluten-Free Crusts

April 4, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Papa John's announced it is test-marketing in Lexington, Ky., pizza with all-natural ingredients. The company is also offering customers the option of ordering gluten-free pizza crust. The company is partnering with an organic grocery delivery service, Green Bean Delivery, to home deliver pies topped with freshly-sliced roma tomatoes, green peppers and mushrooms, supplied by farms in Arizona, Florida, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Oregon, California and Indiana. Gluten-free pizzas will only be available in the company's Los Angeles, Phoenix, St. Louis and Nashville markets for the immediate future. [ Image credit: © Papa John's  ]
Lindsay Rittenhouse, "Did Papa John's Just Start Testing the Perfect Pizza?", The Street, April 04, 2017, © TheStreet, Inc.
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Panera’s Stock Price Soars As Rumors Of A Sale Swirl

April 4, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
After receiving “takeover interest,” $6.5 billion Panera Bread is purportedly consulting with business advisors about the possibility of putting itself up for sale. Likely suitors include Starbucks, Domino’s, and JAB Holding, owner of a variety of brands such as Krispy Creme doughnuts and Keurig Green Mountain coffee. Panera’s stock has risen 28 percent over the past year, reaching an all-time high of $261.87 through the end of March. The stock bounded to $282.45 on April 4 when word of a possible sale leaked. None of the potential suitors commented publicly on the news.[ Image credit: © Miosotis Jade  ]
Ed Hammond, "Panera is Exploring Possible Sale after Receiving Interest", Bloomberg Markets, April 04, 2017, © Bloomberg L.P.
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IRI Lists Most Successful 2016 CPG Product Debuts

April 3, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A new report from market researcher IRI lists the consumer packaged goods launches in 2016 that proved to be the big winners out of thousands. The analysis found that eight of ten of the top-ranking products came from small and medium-size manufacturers. They accounted for 64 percent of IRI’s Pacesetter dollar sales. The 200 bestsellers accounted for $5.8 billion. Brand leaders tended to stick to three key principles of innovation – namely, prevention, personalization and “pizzazz.” Quick summary: top ten food and beverage brands: DairyPure, Dunkin' Donuts K-Cups, Not Your Father's Root Beer; non-food brands Flonase, Gillette Fusion ProShield, Garnier SkinActive; and C-store brands: DairyPure, Red Bull Summer Edition, and Quest Bar. [ Dairy Pure products, image credit: © Dean Foods  ]
"New Products Pacesetters: Building Bridges to a Growth–Filled Tomorrow", Report, IRI, April 03, 2017, © IRI
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General Mills’ Hothouse Venture Unit Adds Another Partner

April 3, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
General Mills’ venture capital unit 301 INC has invested in start-up “lifestyle” breakfast food company Purely Elizabeth. The eighth company 301 INC has partnered with, Purely Elizabeth has positioned itself as a natural, nutrient-dense granola company. It has experienced rapid success since founder and CEO Elizabeth Stein, a former nutrition counselor, began eight years ago making her own granola from ancient grains and superfood seeds, selling it to clients, friends and family. 301 INC’s portfolio of start-ups includes, besides Purely Elizabeth, Beyond Meat, Rhythm Superfoods, Kite Hill, Good Culture, Tio Gazpacho, D’s Naturals, and Farmhouse Culture. [ Image credit: © Purely Elizabeth  ]
Laura Knutson, "Purely Elizabeth Joins 301 INC Portfolio", News release, Taste of General Mills, April 03, 2017, © General Mills, Inc.
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French’s Mustard Unit, No Longer Considered “Core,” Is Up For Grabs

April 3, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
After reviewing its range of businesses, the U.K.’s Reckitt Benckiser Group is putting one of its more successful food brands on the block. The company is looking to divest French’s, a best-selling mustard that is managed separately from RB’s cleaning products, over-the-counter remedies, and personal care brands. Reckitt was quiet about the reason for the sale, except to say that it was not considered a core product anymore. The French’s business – Frank’s RedHot pepper sauces and Cattlemen’s barbecue sauces – generated $513.4 million (4.2 percent) of the company’s overall revenue of $12.24 billion in 2016. It could be worth anywhere from $2.5 billion to $4 billion, according to analysts. The move comes as other CPG giants, particularly Unilever, ruminate over their business portfolios. [ Image credit: © Frenchs.com  ]
Denise Roland, "French’s Mustard on the Block Amid Reckitt Benckiser Review", The Wall Street Journal, April 03, 2017, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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FEATURE: Where Now For Unilever? We Lay Out Our Thoughts And Suggested Response To The Humbling Kraft Heinz Bid

April 2, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
The unexpected and deeply unwelcome Kraft Heinz takeover bid shook  Unilever* to its core. Analysts and commentators expected 3G to use Kraft Heinz as a vehicle for further acquisitions in the food space as it pushed to aggressively cut costs across larger businesses, but Unilever was thought to be above the fray.  In a tacit admission of past failure, Unilever convened a hurried review of ways to boost its valuation and in coming days or weeks we’ll see what this holds. Meanwhile, we have clarified our own thinking about how Unilever should move forward as a vibrant independent company that quickly surfaces its underlying value. You can read a summary of our analysis here and contact us if you want further details.
 
*Disclosure: Unilever is a client of ours, as are most of the companies we list as acquisition targets. Also, our newsletters are read by recipients at all companies mentioned in this piece.
 
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Hope For Food Companies Steering Through EU Health Claims Review Process

March 31, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A study by British, Slovene, and Danish researchers has found that the process of navigating complex EU food regulations written to protect consumers from false or misleading health claims isn’t easy but it’s also not impossible. The researchers said food manufacturers with long-term strategies that focus on health in foor innovation “have an advantage” when arguing their claims applications. They also found that generally good communication at the national level has provided a body of useful information on the health claim review process, including what counts as proper evidence and how claims should be worded. [ Image credit: © Food Standards Agency  ]
David Ferguson, "Researchers Show How to Navigate Complex EU Health Claim Regulations for Food and Drinks", News release,University of Surrey, March 31, 2017, © University of Surrey
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Mutant Wheat Boosts Phosphorous Content In Chicken Feed

March 31, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Researchers in Denmark have developed a new variety of wheat that, among other benefits, improves phosphorous digestion in broiler chickens. Minerals such as phosphorus are often tightly bound in phytate. The enzyme phytase helps to break down phytate, increasing mineral availability. Cereals contain genes that code for phytase activity, but not enough to break down phytates in any useful amounts. The Danish researchers discovered a mutant wheat variety that expresses the phytase genes more powerfully, resulting in increased phytase activity. They optimized the variety – dubbed HIGHPHY – and found that in chickens, digestion of calcium and phosphorus went up 14.6 and 22.8 percent, respectively, resulting in stronger legs.
D. Scholey et al., "P and Ca digestibility is increased in broiler diets supplemented with the high-phytase HIGHPHY wheat", Animal, March 31, 2017, © The Animal Consortium
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Panera Offers Greater Transparency Regarding Added Sugars, Calories

March 31, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Panera Bread Co., recently acquired by the owner of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, is the first restaurant chain to label its self-serve sodas and other foundation beverages with added sugars and calories. The federal government does not require such labeling by restaurants, thought it does for other food companies. The company also announced it is introducing six low- and no-sugar teas and lemonades. Panera is committed to phasing out artificial sweeteners and flavors, and is reviewing its entire menu based on the new sugar labeling guidance. The new drinks are being offered in New York, Washington, Atlanta and Charlotte, N.C. and will be available nationally later in 2017.
Chris Prentice, "Panera Rolls Out 'Added Sugars' Labeling on Fountain Drinks", Reuters, March 31, 2017, © Reuters
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Americans Prefer Natural Therapies For Coughs, Colds – Survey

March 30, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A survey of American consumers sponsored by a respiratory system dietary supplement brand finds that more than two-thirds of respondents prefer natural supplements to “synthetic, over-the-counter” products to ease coughing. Natural supplements were preferred because they tended not to induce drowsiness, according to Pohl-Boskamp, the makers of Myrtol 300. Sixty-nine percent of Americans said they have gone to work or school without taking cold meds to avoid drowsiness and stay clear-headed. Millennials up to age 35 said they were more likely to try a natural supplement to treat a cough or cold. Myrtol 300 is a blend of essential oils created in Germany and sold in Europe and elsewhere for four decades. [ Image credit: © Myrtol300.com  ]
Pohl-Boskamp, "Majority of Americans Prefer to Take Natural Supplements Instead of Over-the-Counter Medicines, Survey Shows", News release, Pohl-Boskamp, March 30, 2017, © Pohl-Boskamp
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McDonald’s Big Logistical Leap: Quarter Pounders With Fresh Beef

March 30, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
After successfully testing the use of fresh beef Quarter Pounder burgers cooked to order in more than 400 of its restaurants in Texas and Oklahoma, McDonald’s announced it will roll out nationally over the next year. To accomplish this massive change, the company has secured the cooperation of Lopez Foods and other beef suppliers who will deliver fresh, rather than frozen, ground beef patties. The company said it “received overwhelmingly positive feedback from customers and employees” during the Oklahoma and Texas market tests and the decision to go national represents “a watershed moment.” The Quarter Pounder line includes the classic Quarter Pounder, the Quarter Pounder with Cheese, Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese, the Quarter Pounder with Cheese Deluxe and Signature Crafted Recipe burgers.
"McDonald's USA Unveils Next Big Change: Fresh Beef Quarter Pounders", News release, McDonald's, March 30, 2017, © McDonald's
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Build-A-Roll Idea Garners Funding, Leads To National Bakery Chain

March 30, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
An appearance on the TV venture capital show Shark Tank led to start-up funding and the launch of a chain of build-your-own cinnamon roll franchises in California, Colorado, Georgia, Nevada and Texas. New Cinnaholic stores are being developed in North Carolina, Florida and Arizona. Each store bakes new vegan rolls every 20 minutes and offers customers a choice of 20 toppings and 20 frostings to create their own delicacies. Three years ago, investor Robert Herjavec offered Florian and Shannon Radke (left) $200,000 in exchange for 40 percent of the company. They accepted, and the rest is history. "We went from a local brand to a national one overnight," Florian said. [Image Credit: © Cinnaholic ]
Jacob Laxen, "Build-Your-Own Cinnamon Roll Bakery Plans Fort Collins Store", USA Today, March 30, 2017, © USA Today
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Dairy-Free Frozen Dessert Company Expands Product Line

March 30, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
The company that pioneered dairy-free frozen desserts with a soy milk-based product 30 years ago has added two new flavors to its line of cashew milk frozen treats: Dipped Salted Caramel and Double Chocolate Delight frozen dessert bars. So Delicious also produces coconut milk, almond milk and cashew milk frozen desserts. The products are Non-GMO Project Verified, certified vegan, and contain no artificial flavors, sweeteners, colors, or cholesterol. The chocolate flavored products use UTZ Certified cocoa. [ Image credit: © So Delicious  ]
"Dairy Free Frozen Dessert Options Continue to Grow! So Delicious Dairy Free Launches New Cashewmilk Bars", News release, So Delicious, March 30, 2017, © So Delicious
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Company Renovates Factory To Ramp Up Production Of Plant-Based Burgers

March 29, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A company that makes plant-based burgers wants to place its product in a thousand restaurants by the end of 2017. To achieve that goal, Impossible Foods is rapidly renovating a former baked-goods factory in Oakland, Calif., to scale up production of the Impossible Burger, a plant-based patty that looks and tastes enough like the real thing that meat eaters and vegetarians will want to order it. The Impossible Burger is already available at 11 restaurants, but the company wants to supply 1,000 eateries, and has even signed a contract feature the faux burgers at the San Francisco Giant’s baseball stadium. [ Image credit: © Impossible Foods  ]
Adele Peters, "In its New Factory, Impossible Foods Will Make 12 Million Pounds of Plant-Based Burgers a Year", Fast Company, March 29, 2017, © Mansueto Ventures, LLC
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Robots Join Domino’s Delivery Force In German Test

March 29, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
The Domino's pizza chain is testing robot-delivered pizza in Europe in partnership with an Estonia start-up. The project is launching in Hamburg, Germany, within the next couple of months. Starship Technologies uses six-wheeled robots that are about two feet tall, weigh 40 pounds when empty, and move at a speed of four miles an hour. Deliveries The robots will deliver food within a mile radius of select Domino's locations. They can mover independently, but during the test will have a human chaperone to make sure nothing bad happens. [ Image credit: © Domino's Pizza  ]
April Glaser, "Domino’s is going to Use Sidewalk Robots in Germany to Deliver Pizza", Recode, March 29, 2017, © Vox Media, Inc.
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Peapod Customers Shopping More Often, Buying More, CMO Says

March 28, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Peapod customers are using the online grocery delivery service more frequently and are increasing their basket size, according to the company's CMO Carrie Bienkowski. She said among the factors driving growth in the online grocery delivery service segment are millennials' preference for home-cooked meals and service providers' personalization strategies. Bienkowski described some of her company's personalization tactics, including customized homepage for existing customers and emails based on “transaction behavior.” Also, the company is focused on identifying customer segments, by evaluating transaction behavior.
Tricia Carr, "Peapod Customers Are Buying More, and More Often—Here's Why", eMarketer, March 28, 2017, © eMarketer Inc.
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Packaged Bread Continues To Slide, As Healthful, “Decadent,” Foods Surge

March 28, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Two seemingly contradictory trends – convenient, healthful nutrition and “decadent” indulgence – are driving the bakery and snacks markets, according to various research companies. Subcategories like gluten-free and ethnic breads are also thriving. Last year, bakery products market value in the U.S. was $32.3 billion, while the snacks market is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 3.4 percent to 2026.The loser in the surge of consumer preferences for more natural ingredients over processed ones, even in extravagant snacking, remains packaged leavened bread, which has suffered in volume (down 2.7 billion tons) and value ($11. 3 billion) since 2011.
Gill Hyslop, "Future of US Bakery and Snacks Driven by Healthy Indulgence, Say Analysts", BakeryAndSnacks.com, March 28, 2017, © William Reed Business Media SAS
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Chipotle Continues To Rid Its Food Of Artificial Ingredients

March 28, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Chipotle Mexican Grill announced it has eliminated all added colors, flavors and preservatives from the ingredients it uses to prepare its food, but not beverages. Chipotle says it’s the only national food chain to accomplish this. The company’s plan to eliminate artificial ingredients began two years ago with the decision to get rid of unnecessary additives in tortillas it uses to make burritos, tacos, and chips. The new flour tortillas are made using only flour, water, canola oil, salt and yeast. Corn tortillas used for the chips are made only with corn masa flour and water. The ingredients changes will be applied in all Chipotle restaurants in the United States.
"Chipotle Becomes Only National Restaurant Brand to Use No Added Colors, Flavors or Preservatives in Its Food", News release, Chipotle Mexican Grill, March 28, 2017, © Chipotle Mexican Grill
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Imported From Southeast Asia, “Blackened” Cuisine Is A Hit In Seattle

March 28, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A Seattle-based restaurant that focuses on Southeast Asian cuisine introduced a brunch menu item popular in Pacific Rim countries. The jet-black waffle took a while to catch on – except on Instagram – because Stateside restaurant customers weren’t quite sure what they were getting. Cooked-over charcoal? Burnt? Eventually people learned to love it, and other eateries in the region began featuring the blavk pwder ingredient it in breads, cakes, waffles, cookies and ice cream. Food-grade charcoal powder, made from bamboo or hardwood, has some interesting qualities. It absorbs food moisture, making waffles very crisp. It does not affect flavor, so one variety of black ice cream tastes the way it’s supposed to: like salted caramel ice cream.
Jackie Varriano, "Cooking with Charcoal: Yes, that Waffle is supposed to be Black", The Seattle Times, March 28, 2017, © The Seattle Times Company
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Chipotle Works To Put Its Food-Poisoning Nightmare In The Rearview Mirror

March 28, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Chipotle Mexican Grill continues to distance itself from the food-poisoning disasters it endured a couple of years ago by revamping the ingredients it uses in its menu items. In the latest move, the company announced its restaurants are now selling flour tortillas made without preservatives. In all, the chain uses only 51 ingredients – none are GMO – including some organic produce and meat raised without hormones. CEO Steve Ells said the strategy is to focus on “improving the basic, wholesome ingredients” rather than on limited-time offers, extra value meals or “menu proliferation.” The efforts to revive its tarnished reputation and boost sales have yet to kick in, however: same-store sales fell 4.8 percent in the most recent quarter.
Leslie Patton, "Chipotle's Menu Is Now Preservative-Free", Bloomberg Markets, March 28, 2017, © BLOOMBERG L.P.
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Advertising Standards Bureau Dismisses Complaints Against Unilever Ads In Australia

March 27, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Australia's Advertising Standards Bureau has ruled against claims of improper advertising against Unilever's Lynx personal care brand and Magnum and Streets ice cream brands. ASB disagreed with a complainant who claimed that an ad for Bubble O Bill ice cream promotes “sexual entitlement of men” with its “I can see your white bits” line. Also, the board dismissed a complaint against a TV ad showing a man spraying Lynx across his torso.
Lindsay Bennett, "Unilever Ads Cleared of Inappropriate 'Sexualised' Advertising", Adnews Media, March 27, 2017, © Yaffa Media
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Coconut Is Hot Now, But Some Predict It Will Go The Way Of Other Food Fads

March 27, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Coconut has undergone a complete makeover in recent years in the eyes of consumers. They no longer worry about the fat content and, in fact, now believe it to be a healthful ingredient in many foods and beverages, including water, milk, flour, yogurt, oil and snacks. Coconut sugar has a lower glycemic index than ordinary sugar, so blood sugar spikes less when it is consumed. Coconut-containing product launches increased an average of 21 percent a year since 2012. But some industry observers say coconut will suffer the same fate as other food fads – remember kale and broccoli rabe? “It’s going to wane,” says one food consultant. “I don’t think everything coconut is tasty.” [ Image credit: © Wikimedia Commons  ]
Anne Marie Chaker, "There Is Coconut Everywhere", The Wall Street Journal, March 27, 2017, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Amazon Working To Iron Out Kinks In Its Cashierless Store Model

March 27, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Technical glitches are delaying the debut of Amazon.com’s cashierless brick-and-mortar convenience store, Amazon Go,scheduled to open at the end of April in Seattle. The innovative store automatically charges customers when they exit.  No cash registers are used. The delay spotlights the difficulties the online retailer is experiencing as it implements a strategy to broaden its retail influence, especially in food sales. Observers say the cashierless technology works perfectly as long as there are 20 or fewer customers in the store. It also has a problem tracking items once they leave the store shelf. [ Image credit: © Amazon.com  ]
Laura Stevens, "Amazon Delays Opening of Cashierless Store to Work Out Kinks", The Wall Street Journal, March 27, 2017, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Flaws In France’s Food Waste Law Are Glaring

March 24, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
France’s year-old food waste law, which targeted supermarkets with fines for throwing out food that was edible or useable as animal feed, has been ineffective so far, according to consumer group QueChoisir. One key problem is a lack of government support across the supply chain. Supermarkets who have contracts with charities need better redistribution services, i.e., transportation services for collection and delivery of discarded food at the right times. They also need cooling facilities for the food, but these are expensive. The result? In the province of Isère, more than 75 percent of surplus foods never reach partner charities. The law also failed to set a minimum amount of surplus for donation. A supermarket that gives even one percent of its surplus food is in compliance. [ Image credit: © Wikipedia  ]
Louis Gore-Langton, "France's Food Waste Ban: One Year On", FOODnavigator.com, March 24, 2017, © William Reed Business Media SAS
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Mercury Intake From Fish Linked To ALS

March 23, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A preliminary study reports that eating fish with high levels of mercury – but not fish generally – is associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a mostly fatal neuromuscular disease. The U.S. researchers asked 518 people, 294 of whom had ALS, and 224 of whom didn't, how much fish and seafood they ate, which kind they ate, and how frequently. Researchers looked up the average mercury levels in various types of fish.  Among participants who ate fish and seafood regularly, those in the top 25 percent for estimated annual mercury intake were at double the risk for ALS. Sixty-one percent of people with ALS were in the top 25 percent of estimated mercury intake, compared to 44 percent of people who did not have ALS.
Elijah Stommel et al., "Fish Consumption, Mercury Levels, and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)", Preliminary study to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology annual meeting, March 23, 2017, © American Academy of Neurology
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Dunkin’ Brands Treasurer Jaspon Named Interim CFO After Carbone Resigns

March 23, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Kate Jaspon, Dunkin' Brands treasurer and vice president for finance, was named interim CFO after CFO Paul Carbone resigned. The company said Carbone quit to take a management job in retail, where he worked before signing on with Dunkin’. Jaspon will report to CEO Nigel Travis and will take on the responsibility for accounting, corporate tax, investor relations and competitive intelligence. She is now responsible for global financial planning and analysis, business analytics, debt and cash management, electronic payments and insurance. Jaspon joined Dunkin' Brands as assistant controller in 2005. [ Kate Jaspon, image credit: © Dunkin' Brands  ]
"Dunkin' Brands Announces CFO Leadership Transition", News release, Dunkin' Brands, March 23, 2017, © Dunkin' Brands
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Prebiotic Plant Fibers Benefit Good Gut Bacteria And Improve Sleep

March 23, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Nondigestible plant fibers, on which good bacteria in the human gut feed, seem to have an impact on sleep, according to new U.S. research. Fibers found especially in plants like chicory, artichokes, raw garlic, leeks and onions, improve non-REM (non-rapid-eye-movement) sleep and REM sleep by buffering the physiological impact of stressful events. The study found that rats fed a prebiotic diet spent more time in restful, restorative non-REM sleep. The findings show that when beneficial bacteria digest prebiotic fiber, they multiply, improving overall gut health, and release metabolic byproducts that influence brain function. [ Image credit: © Till Westermayer ]
Robert S. Thompson et al., "Dietary Prebiotics and Bioactive Milk Fractions Improve NREM Sleep, Enhance REM Sleep Rebound and Attenuate the Stress-Induced Decrease in Diurnal Temperature and Gut Microbial Alpha Diversity", Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, March 23, 2017, © Frontiers Media S.A.
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Eight Servings Of Fruits, Vegetables Daily Is Better For You

March 23, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Norwegian and British scientists report that nearly eight million deaths a year could be prevented if people ate eight servings of fruit and vegetables a day. The researchers scoured 142 publications from 95 population studies that examined the relationship between consumption of fruits and vegetables and the risk of chronic diseases. Each analysis included information on several hundred thousand people. They found that the risk of dying prematurely from all causes was reduced by almost a third, and the risk of cardiovascular disease by about a quarter in people who ate 800 grams of fruit and vegetables every day. The greatest benefit came from eating apples, pears, citrus fruit, fruit juice, green leafy vegetables, and fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C. [ Image credit: © Wikimedia Commons ]
Dagfinn Aune et al., " Fruit and vegetable intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer and all-cause mortality–a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies", International Journal of Epidemiology, March 23, 2017, © Oxford University Press
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Nestle Shows How To run A Dairy Factory With Waste Water

March 22, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
To celebrate World Water Day recently, Nestlé issued a press release describing the water conservation efforts of one of its factories in Mexico. The Nestlé dairy facility became the company’s first “zero water” manufacturing site in the world. Located in the central, water-stressed state of Jalisco, the factory turned off the taps completely, transforming its water consumption from 1.6 million liters a day to zero. The factory no longer draws water from the ground or water mains. It gets all its water from the milk it processes. It takes fresh cow’s milk – 88 percent water – heats it at low pressure to remove some of its water content. The steam is condensed, treated and used to clean the evaporating machines. The water is collected again, purified and recycled again. [ Dairy factory in Mexico, image credit © Nestlé ]
"A Significant Drop", News release, Nestlé, March 22, 2017, © Nestlé
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Pittsburgh-Area Food Businesses Know That Food Waste Is A Profit Issue

March 22, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
For a business, profit is a strong motivator, and when concern for profit dovetails with an environmental goal, the motivation is especially potent. In the Pittsburgh, Pa., area, the top chef at the Big Burrito Group is keenly aware that food waste is a bottom-line issue. Food tossed in the trash is a waste, not only of nutrition, but of dollars. Cooks at all 13 restaurants of the Burrito Group practice root-to-stem and tail-to-nose cooking. They gather scrap chicken carcasses and bones, leftover beef, and discarded fish bones and simmer them in water with vegetables to make stock. The basic idea of repurposing food scraps applies to retail grocery stores as well. The Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle chain, for example, donates six million pounds of unsold food a year to food banks. [ Image credit: © Big Burrito Group  ]
Gretchen McKay, "Restaurants Cut Down on Food Waste to Help the Bottom Line", Pittsburgh (Pa.) Post-Gazette, March 22, 2017, © PG Publishing Co., Inc.
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Lidl Supports NFU's Back British Farming Charter

March 22, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Lidl UK has signed the NFU's Back British Farming Charter, a campaign supporting British produce. Joining retailers Aldi, The Co-operative, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, and Waitrose, Lidl UK's move highlights its support for UK farmers. According to the charter, retailers need to have a transparent UK supply chain based on fair relationships, and labels UK produce with a Red Tractor or the UK flag.
Lucinda Dann, "Lidl Signs Up to Back British Farming Charter", Farmers Weekly, March 22, 2017, © Reed Business Information Limited
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Kraft Heinz Sets Social Responsibility, Sustainability Targets

March 21, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
As part of its mission to become “the best food company,” Kraft Heinz has expanded a commitment to three goals it believes will have the greatest global impact: combatting global hunger and malnutrition, boosting supply chain sustainability and protecting the environment. It will strive to meet these goals by: donating a billion nutritious meals to needy people by 2021; buying palm oil products in an ethical, transparent and sustainable manner (and only 100 percent certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil); and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, energy, water and waste in its operations 15 percent globally by 2020 (baseline 2015).
"Kraft Heinz Strengthens Corporate Social Responsibility Commitments in Support of Vision to ‘Grow a Better World’", News Release, Kraft Heinz, March 21, 2017, © The Kraft Heinz Company
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Hotel Industry Joins WWF To Test Ways To Reduce Food Waste

March 21, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
The hotel industry has joined with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to launch pilot projects testing ways to reduce food waste. Food production has the largest environmental footprint of any human activity, but a third of available food either spoils or is thrown out. Most food loss occurs in homes and the food service industries, including hotels. To combat the problem, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) is working with the WWF to develop actionable projects to prevent food waste through better food management. The effort is supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, as well as hotel chains Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott and others. [ Image credit: © Marriott Hotels ]
Susan McCarthy, "World Wildlife Fund, American Hotel & Lodging Association and The Rockefeller Foundation Bring Hotel Brands Together to Prevent Hotel Food Waste", News release, World Wildlife Fund, March 21, 2017, © World Wildlife Fund
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No Hurdle Too High For Growing Organic Bakery

March 21, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Pennsylvania’s three-year-old Lancaster Food Co. is a case study in how resolute entrepreneurs on a mission can find ways to reach their goal. The company’s founders are determined to make and sell high-quality organic bread while paying a living wage to their workers. In a state where the minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, Lancaster Food pays $15.00. They often hire people with criminal records. They ran into numerous obstacles – a certified organic operation requires special equipment and extra audits – especially when they decided to move to larger facilities. They struggled to get their loaves into retail outlets. But they, and their investors, persevered. Lancaster’s six varieties of organic sandwich bread are sold in more than 125 stores and restaurants from Virginia to New York.[ Image credit: © Lancaster Food Co. ]
"After challenging expansion, Lancaster Food Co. eyes boosting sales to become profitable", Lancaster (Pa.)Online, March 21, 2017, © LancasterOnline.com
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German Discounters Are “Disrupting” U.S. Retail Grocery Market

March 21, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
The combined sales of German discount grocery chains Aldi and Lidl in the U.S. could reach $67 billion over the next four years, according to two industry experts speaking at a food marketing conference. This will force U.S. grocery chains to re-examine their own business models while carefully analyzing why the discount model works so well. Aldi and Lidl will be disruptors and a “source of change influence” in the U.S. grocery business. But the two companies are also evolving, learning perhaps from their bigger competitors, by working to overcome product selection limitations, for example; renovating stores; moving beyond the “hard discount” model; creating a “hybrid promotional strategy’ that increases the size of sales flyers, and creates urgency with weekend deals, seasonal offerings and “while they last” promotions.
Jon Springer, "Aldi, Lidl growth to spark industry change", Supermarket News, March 21, 2017, © Penton Media
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