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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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Starbucks Unveils Gluten-Free Menu Items

March 21, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
One of the more fascinating phenomena in the food industry in recent years has been the transformation of gluten into a dirty word. A tiny fraction of Americans with celiac disease, a severe intestinal allergic reaction to gluten, needs to avoid the wheat protein. But a whole anti-gluten movement – and a multibillion-dollar industry – has arisen to accommodate people convinced that gluten is generally unhealthful. Researcher Technavio says the gluten-free food market is expected to grow at an annual rate of roughly 12 percent through 2021, Tecnomics advises food companies to go along: "if you're not speaking their language, you risk losing [them]." The latest company to “speak their language” is Starbucks, which is launching gluten-free food options – like the gluten-free smoked Canadian bacon and egg sandwich – in U.S. stores.   [ Image credit: © Starbucks  ]
Lauren Thomas, "Starbucks Rolls Out Gluten-Free, Vegan Food Options", CNBC, March 21, 2017, © CNBC LLC
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Organic Food Ingredients Supplier Expands Into Sports Products

March 21, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Organic and GMO-free food ingredients maker Garden of Life is expanding into sports nutrition with a line of pre- and post-workout protein powders and bars. The Sport line consists of five plant-based clean products that are USDA organic, Non-GMO Project Verified. Among the products are a pre-workout energy-boosting drink derived from organic coffeeberry, kale, spinach, beets, and whole-food vitamin B-12. The post-workout product is designed to reduce muscle soreness and support recovery after exercise. It consists of antioxidant-rich organic tart cherries, turmeric, goji berries, blueberries, organic apples and rooibos.  [ Image credit: © Garden of Life  ]
"Garden of Life Enters Sports Nutrition Arena with Launch of Garden of Life SPORT, the Cleanest Performance Line Ever", News release, Garden of Life, March 21, 2017, © Garden of Life
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Unilever's Indonesia Unit Posts Strong Net Growth In 2016

March 20, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
PT Unilever Indonesia reported net profit rose 9.2 percent to Rp 6.39 trillion, or $479.7 million, in 2016, compared with the previous year. Net sales jumped almost 10 percent to Rp 40.05 trillion from the previous year's Rp 36.48 trillion. Cost of goods sold increased almost 10 percent year on year to Rp 19.59 trillion.
Prima Wirayani, "Amid Weak People's Purchasing Power, Unilever Reaped Rp 6.39t Profit Last Year", Jakarta Post, March 20, 2017, © PT. Niskala Media Tenggara
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Target Appoints Burt SVP For Grocery, Fresh Food, Beverage

March 20, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Target Corporation said it has named Jeff Burt as senior vice president for grocery, fresh food, and beverage. According to the retailer, Burt's role will include promotion and execution of the company's food and beverage business strategy. He will report to Mark Tritton, Target's EVP and chief merchandising officer.
"Target Names Jeff Burt Senior Vice President, Grocery, Fresh Food and Beverage", Business Wire, March 20, 2017, © Business Wire, Inc.
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1990s Music Inspires Young Bakers To Create Donuts Based On Treats Of Their Youth

March 20, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
The music – and favorite eats – of the 1990s inspired an entrepreneurial husband-wife baking team to change the direction of their year-old bake shop in Providence, R.I. Social media, particularly Instagram, gave them the shot in the arm that has launched their business skyward. A year into the operation of PVDonuts, Lori and Paul Kettelle were baking in the wee hours of the morning, listening to the golden oldies of the 1990s, the music of their youth. Wouldn’t it be fun to recreate the beloved treats from that era? And so were born the purple-and-blue-frosted Wildberry Pop-Tart donut and the Pop Rocks donut topped with the famous crackling candy. The creations are eminently Instagrammable: the young couple has 30,000 fans on the social media platform. [ Image credit: ©  ]
Valerie Siebert, "Providence Bakery Wins a Legion of Fans on Instagram with Delicious Donuts Based on Popular 90s Treats, from Pop-Tarts to Dunkaroos", Mail Online (U.K.), March 20, 2017, © Associated Newspapers Ltd
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Natural and Organic Personal Care Products More Popular Among Parents And Younger People

March 20, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
More parents are buying personal care products that are natural and organic because they believe these are safer, healthier and better for the environment, according to a 2016 study by Mintel. Over one third of US consumers say they have bought more natural and organic personal care (NOPC) products in 2016 more than they did in the years prior and parents with children under18 lead this group. Additionally, more NOPC consumers (67%) than non-NOPC consumers (54%) believe they are trying to live a healthier lifestyle, showing that health and wellness is no longer just limited to diet and exercise.  Jana Vyleta, Health and Personal Care Analyst at Mintel said parents are more aware of ingredients they need to avoid because they are information seekers when it comes to raising their kids. Consumers know if a personal care product is natural or organic by looking at the types of ingredients and what certain ingredients are excluded, as well as product claims such as 'made with natural ingredients', 'no artificial ingredients', and 'contains organic ingredients'. Still, a large chunk of the consumer market needs to be convinced of NOPC products' health benefits as many consumers believe it is more costly and could be a marketing scheme.
"Parents Driving the US Natural and Organic Personal Care Market", Mintel, March 20, 2017, © Mintel Group Ltd.
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South Korea’s Strict Food Waste Program Is Paying Dividends

March 19, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Under South Korea’s food waste law, residents are required to separate food waste from garbage and to recycle food. Seoul used to spend $600 thousand dollars a day on food waste disposal. That money is now saved through recycling. Beginning in 2013 consumers in Seoul were required to pay for food waste by weight. The city set up a sophisticated system for tracking and weighing the waste that is placed in special bags (sold by the city) and then into bins that determine the fairly small fee to be charged. Since the law went into effect, the city’s food waste has decreased 10 percent – more than 300 tons a day. The Environmental Management Division wants to triple that amount over the next four years.
Mori Rothman et al., "These Policies Helped South Korea’s Capital Decrease Food Waste", PBS Newshour, March 19, 2017, © NewsHour Productions LLC
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Unilever Plans Sale Of Brands To Appease Angry Shareholders

March 19, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Unilever said it plans to sell a number of brands worth a total of at least ₤6 billion. Part of the company's efforts to placate shareholders frustrated with the company's rejection of Kraft Heinz's $143-billion takeover bid, the proposed sale will be followed by a range of cost-cutting and restructuring measures. While company CEO Paul Polman does not want to split the company into its food and personal care businesses, he is seen willing to get rid of under-performing brands.
Peter Evans and Daniel Dunkley, "Unilever lines up £6bn sale of Flora and Stork", The Sunday Times, March 19, 2017, © Times Newspapers Limited
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Retail Responds To Lower Profits By Dumping Some Stores, Revamping The Rest

March 18, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Retail chain CEOs are wondering what to do over the long term about declining store traffic and slipping profit margins. At the core of the problem, some analysts say, is the overheated expansion of brick-and-mortar outlets in the 1980s and 1990s. So far, the options seem to be: filing for bankruptcy (Gander Mountain) or closing stores (Macy’s, Sears). Money saved using these tactics can be applied toward reworking e-commerce operations. Other options include: online buying/store pickup, launching exclusive brands, keeping prices competitive, and installing gadgets and software to make better use of stores. The goal of today’s retail stores, one consultant says, is transformation by “leveraging existing resources.” [ Image credit: © Gander Mountain  ]
Khadeeja Safdar, "Retail Store ‘Bubble’ Has Burst and CEOs Search for Answers", The Wall Street Journal, March 18, 2017, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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3-D Pizza Printer Start-Up Gets Cash Injection

March 18, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A start-up company specializing in 3-D food printers has garnered $1 million in seed funding to launch a pizza printer this year. The founders of BeeHex adapted their original idea – a food printing system for astronauts – into a pizza dough printer. The company has mastered the technology – the printers use pneumatic systems, rather than traditional additive manufacturing technologies -- to move ingredients around. Retailers, restaurants, amusement parks and festivals serving food on site, would all benefit from 3-D pizza printers. The next step might be to expand into other baked goods. [ Image credit: © BeeHex ]
Lora Kolodny, "BeeHex Cooks Up $1 Million for 3D Food Printers that Make Pizzas", Tech Crunch, March 18, 2017, © AOL Inc.
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Nestle Expands Its Line of Ready-To-Drink Teas

March 18, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Nestlé Waters North America is delivering on its consumer research-based strategy to reformulate and revamp its Nestea bottled products, packaging, and marketing strategy. The company says the repositioning – adding, for example, fruit-flavored and “real-brewed” bottled versions to its powdered instant teas – will improve its profile in the 4.5 billion ready-to-drink tea category. The new bottled teas are also clean-label: no high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors or flavors, or GMO ingredients. They are sweetened with sugar and stevia extract, and contain only water, tea, rooibos plant and citric acid. They teas are packaged in transparent bottles with wider mouths and easier “grippability.” [ Image credit: © Nestlé Waters NA ]
"The New Nestea Hits Retail Shelves in the US", News release, Nestlé Waters NA, March 18, 2017, © Nestlé Waters NA
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County Food Waste Composting Program Saves Real Money

March 17, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Residents of a Massachusetts county are able to trade scrap food for compost in a program that includes seven towns. The scrap food is emptied into a dumpster at a transfer station, then trucked to a farm. Composting takes about four months, after which residents can buy it for use in organic gardens. The county learned years ago that trash disposal is expensive, so whatever can be composted or recycled saves the towns – and its citizens – money. It’s also a better option than home composting, which should not add animal products such as meat, bones, dairy, and fats like peanut butter and mayonnaise. Decomposing meats, fats and dairy smell bad and attract pests. And they produce anaerobic bacteria that interfere with normal composting. [ Image credit: © Franklin County Solid Waste Management District  ]
Aviva Luttrell, "Area Composters Encourage Making Good Use of Food Waste", The (Franklin County, Mass.) Recorder, March 17, 2017, © The Recorder
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Organic Bread Brand Provides Detailed Ingredient Source Info To Consumers

March 16, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Thirty-five-year-old Rudi's Organic Bakery, owned by Hain Celestial, has launched two breads that provide consumers detailed information about the source of the grain in each loaf. The traceability information comes thanks to a partnership with Community Grains, which gathers information from the local farmer suppliers. Community Grains monitors each step of flour production, from sourcing seed, growth through harvest, and preservation of nutrients and flavor with whole milling. The two new Rudi’s breads are certified USDA organic and use only organic cracked wheat, organic rolled oats and organic sunflower oil, all without genetically modified organisms (GMOs). [ Image credit: © Rudi's Organic Bakery ]
"Rudi's Organic Bakery® Launches New Traceable Organic Bread Line with Community Grains", News release, Hain Celestial, March 16, 2017, © Hain Celestial
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Unilever Shareholders Wanted Talks With Kraft Heinz, Survey Reveals

March 16, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Unilever should have negotiated with Kraft Heinz instead of abruptly rejecting its $143 billion takeover bid, according to 53 percent of Unilever shareholders surveyed by stock brokerage firm Bernstein. Among shareholders who favored negotiations, the majority wanted a 40-percent premium to Unilever's share price, instead of the 18 percent offered by Kraft Heinz. Kraft Heinz promptly withdrew its offer following its rejection by Unilever.
Scheherazade Daneshkhu, "Unilever investors favoured talks with Kraft Heinz", The Financial Times, March 16, 2017, © The Financial Times Limited
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Decadence Plus Health: Formula For Success Of California Doughnut Shop

March 16, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A Sacramento, Calif., doughnut enterprise is expanding, thanks to its focus on healthy products. Dr. Bob’s Donuts & DoYos steams its doughnuts and tops them with hemp seeds and acai chia pudding, quite a departure from the sugary glazes so familiar to doughnut lovers. Other toppings including banana chia pudding and milled flaxseed and agave pumpkin seeds. Sugar glazes are available but are "made in a mindful way," The co-owner and chef of Dr. Bob’s says its success is based on the "growing market" of health-conscious consumers. [ Image credit: © Dr. Bob's Donuts & DoYos ]
Sonya Sorich, "Goodbye, Gluttonous Glaze: Healthy Doughnuts are coming to Folsom", Sacramento Business Journal, March 16, 2017, © American City Business Journals
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Meijer Expands Home Delivery Service Across Midwestern Market

March 16, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Retailer Meijer is expanding its home delivery service across the Midwestern market. Meijer's move follows the success of a test of the service in the Detroit area where more than 65,000 orders for home delivery were received by the company. Mejier, in partnership with Shipt, offers the membership-based service with $99 annual subscription fee and offers unlimited free grocery deliveries on orders worth more than $35. Meijer president Rick Keyes said the company learned many lessons from the Detroit test, including the demographic groups that used the service.
Dale Buss, "Groceries on Demand: 5 Questions With Meijer President Rick Keyes", Brandchannel, March 16, 2017, © Interbrand
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Purchase Of Thanasi Extends Conagra Brands Into Premium Meat, Seed Snacks

March 16, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Conagra Brands announced it is acquiring the protein-based snacking business Thanasi Foods, maker of Duke’s meat snacks and BIGS seed snacks in a transaction expected to close this summer. Conagra manages the Slim Jim meat stick brand and the DAVID Seeds brand. The Duke's product line includes Smoked Shorty Sausages and Steak & Brisket Strips. BIGS’s products include jumbo in-shell sunflower seeds, sunflower seed kernels and roasted pumpkin seeds. Conagra Brands CEO Sean Connolly said the purchase is part of a strategy to extend into “faster-growing, more premium segments” of the meat and seed snacks market. Financial terms were not disclosed. [ Image credit: © Conagra Brands ]
"Conagra Brands Enters Into Definitive Agreement to Acquire Thanasi Foods, Maker of Duke's® Meat Snacks and BIGS® Seeds", News release, Conagra Brands, March 16, 2017, © Conagra Brands, Inc.
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Technology That Creates Lab-Grown Chicken Meat Intrigues Big Food

March 15, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A San Francisco-area start-up says it has developed the first chicken product from lab-grown cells. If the technology catches on with Big Food – Tyson Foods calls the cultured-meat technology “a good long-term proposition” – it could solve a lot of problems associated with meat processing. It might reduce the need for land and facilities to grow cattle, pigs, and poultry; cut the waste produced in meat processing; and help eliminate the costs of grain, water and waste-disposal associated with livestock. (It would also make groups like PETA happy.) It’s not exactly a cost-effective process yet, though. Boneless chicken breasts cost an average $3.22 a pound in U.S. grocery stores. Memphis Meats, which uses stainless-steel bioreactor tanks to produce its chicken, says its technology yields one pound of chicken meat for around $9,000. [ Image credit: © Memphis Meats ]
Jacob Bunge, "Startup Serves Up Chicken Produced From Cells in Lab", The Wall Street Journal, March 15, 2017, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Low- Or No-Content Claims Mislead Food Shoppers About Nutritional Content

March 15, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
People should not assume that food package claims -- no salt, no fat, low fat, no sugar, etc. -- guarantee that the foods are nutritious. In fact, these claims hardly ever reflect the actual nutritional quality of food, U.S. researchers concluded. The findings come at a time when food regulators, producers, and interest groups debate nutrition claim rules for packaged foods and beverages. The study analyzed data that included more than 80 million food and beverage purchases from more than 40,000 households from 2008 to 2012. Products with the least nutritional value – high in calories, sodium, sugar or fat – were more likely to have low- or no-content claims. They concluded: “Claims may have differential utility for certain foods or nutrients and, in some cases, may mislead about the overall nutritional quality of the food.”
Lindsey Smith Taillie et al., "No Fat, No Sugar, No Salt . . . No Problem? Prevalence of “Low-Content” Nutrient Claims and Their Associations with the Nutritional Profile of Food and Beverage Purchases in the United States. ", Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, March 15, 2017, © Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
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Ferrero Acquires Fanny May Confectionery Assets From 1-800-Flowers

March 15, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Italian confectioner Ferrero International is acquiring the Fannie May confection brands of 1-800-FLOWERS.com, including Fannie May and Harry London chocolate brands, in an all-cash $115 million transaction. Ferrero will acquire all related assets and liabilities including Fannie May’s e-commerce business,79 retail stores located mostly in the Chicago area, as well as a factory, warehouse and distribution facility. As part of the deal, 1-800-FLOWERS will continue to sell Fannie May and Harry London chocolates through its e-commerce and wholesale channels, and will add some of Ferrero’s chocolate brands, including Nutella, Ferrero Rocher and Raffaello, to its offerings. [ Image credit: © Fannie May ]
"1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. Announces the Signing of a Definitive Agreement to Sell Its Fannie May Confections Brands, Inc. Business to Ferrero International S.A. for $115.0 Million", News release, 1-800-FLOWERS, March 15, 2017, © 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc.
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McDonald’s Enters The World Of Smartphone Food Ordering

March 15, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Hoping to win back the drive-in customers it lost over the past four years, McDonald’s is at last testing a mobile ordering app it is satisfied with. The company is showing off the technology in Chicago where a new high tech demo restaurant was built with a redesigned kitchen that speeds order flow. McDonald’s hopes to avoid the disasters Starbucks encountered when its app generated a flood of orders that overwhelmed stores and drove away impatient walk-in customers. The company says order automation will cut transaction times, reduce errors, and free up workers to deliver food to tables or to cars parked in mobile order spots.[ Image credit: © McDonald's Corp. ]
"McDonald’s Finally Has Mobile Ordering", Fortune, March 15, 2017, © Time Inc.
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Unilever Continues Review Of Operations To Find Ways To Boost Shareholder Returns

March 14, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Responding to what CEO Paul Polman called the “near-death” experience of Kraft Heinz’s recent failed takeover bid, Unilever is thoroughly reviewing operations to see where it can boost shareholder returns. The company is requiring division heads in all of its businesses – from ice cream to shampoo and deodorants – to to conduct the reviews. It is unlikely the company will untangle its food, home, and personal care businesses, but it could make medium-sized acquisitions  One area of concern is actually a strength: its low debt balance. The small amount of debt gave Kraft Heinz a strategy for financing the acquisition. Unilever could cut costs more deeply in low-growth businesses to boost profit. And it may sell its Flora margarine unit to Kraft Heinz. [ Image credit: © DFID - UK Department for International Development  ]
Scheherazade Daneshkhu, "Pressure is on Unilever to meet investor expectations", The Financial Times, March 14, 2017, © The Financial Times Limited
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People Who Eat Healthy Diet Don’t Benefit Much From Probiotic Supplements

March 14, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
New findings from Australian research suggest that supplementing a healthy diet with probiotics may do more harm than good. Rats in the study were fed either a healthy diet or one high in saturated fat and sugar, both with a probiotic supplement. The probiotics improved the bacterial make-up in the “grossly disregulated” digestive tract of obese rats eating the junk food diet. They also improved brain function: spatial memory loss was prevented. Not so for the rats on the healthy diet. The probiotics had almost no impact on microbial diversity and actually impaired recognition memory.
J. E. Beilharz et al., "Cafeteria diet and probiotic therapy: cross talk among memory, neuroplasticity, serotonin receptors and gut microbiota in the rat. ", Molecular Psychiatry, March 14, 2017, © Macmillan Publishers Limited
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Consortium To Accelerate Technology That Turns Plant Protein Into “Beefsteak”

March 13, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Several food companies, including Unilever, have formed a consortium with a Dutch university to advance a technology that transforms vegetable protein into a layered fiber structure that mimics the taste, texture, and appearance of beefsteak. The Plant Meat Matters consortium comprises Swiss flavor house Givaudan, French agri-food giant Avril, and plant protein supplier Ingredion. Wageningen University researchers developed the shear-cell technology that can use protein from soy, wheat, pea, rapeseed or corn. The consortium hopes to scale the technology to produce industrial quantities, and to make it available to industry as well as chefs and consumers. Global sales of meat substitutes increased from 163,000 tons in 2015 to 183,000 tons in 2016, according to Euromonitor. [ Image credit: © Beyond Meat, Wikipedia ]
Niamh Michail, "Plant Meat Matters: Unilever, Givaudan and Ingredion Invest in Vegetarian Steak", FOODnavigator-USA.com, March 13, 2017, © William Reed Business Media SAS
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Cognitive Functions Improve Among Older Adults Who Consume Blueberry Powder

March 13, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
U.S. researchers who tested the impact of consuming 24 grams of blueberry powder – about a cup of fresh Highbush berries – daily on older adults found measurable improvements in cognitive function among the blueberry group over the placebo group. The randomized 90-day test included 37 healthy men and women between the ages of 60 and 75. The researchers tested participants for balance, gait and cognition at baseline, and again at 45 and 90 days. The group that consumed the blueberry powder showed significantly fewer repetition errors compared to the placebo group in the California Verbal Learning Test (CLVT), which assesses verbal memory abilities.
M.G. Miller et al., "Dietary blueberry improves cognition among older adults in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial", European Journal of Nutrition, March 13, 2017, © Springer Verlag
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Baked Snack Makers Go Heavy On Indulgent, Healthful, Functional

March 13, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Thirty-one percent of Americans say they often try new snacks, both “decadent” and healthful, a fact that caught the attention of bakery manufacturers. Many new product introductions offer indulgent, as well as functional and clean label, snacks. New ingredients are all the rage. On the indulgent side are treats like warmable gooey bun bites (Cinnabon) and seasonal treats like Italian rainbow pastries repurposed as everyday Raindow CakeBites (Cookies United). Other snack innovations that popped up in 2016: wide use of once seasonal flavors like pumpkin spice; artisan offerings; “healthy” snacks made without wheat or gluten; smaller portion sizes; protein-packed snacks; indulgent cookie flavors; candy-laden cookies; functional cookies laced with caffeine, omega-3 fatty acids, or probiotics; and crackers made with almonds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, chickpeas, sweet potatoes, or ancient grains. [ Rainbow CakeBites, image © Cookies United ]
Tom Vierhile, "2017 Bakery Trends: Flavor and Function", Prepared Foods, March 13, 2017, © BNP Media
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Carrefour Spain To Go On Youth Hiring Spree In Spain To Boost Marketing Strength

March 13, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
French multinational grocery  retailer Carrefour says its Spanish unit will invest in youth employment to support its “omnichannel transformation” by hiring young people with sales experience, digital know-how, client service skills, and teamwork ability. About 4,300 jobs will be filled by integrating staff from stores acquired from Basque cooperative Eroski. The total of new “stable” jobs to be created in the country will be about 5,300 this year, bringing the company’s workforce in Spain to 49,000. [ Image credit: © Carrefour  ]
"Carrefour Spain to Create 5,300 'Stable' Jobs in 2017", European Supermarket Magazine, March 13, 2017, © European Supermarket Magazine
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Iowa Municipality Implements Curbside Food Waste Pickup Program

March 13, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Residents of Iowa City, Iowa, are now allowed to put food waste, including meat and eggs, as well as uncoated paper products, into 35-gallon waste bins – they hold up to 50 pounds – marked with special stickers for curbside pickup. Iowa City officials hope to divert some of the 18,000 tons of food waste that end up in city landfills to composting facilities. The town has been composting food waste since 2007, getting about 600 tons a year from various sources, including the University of Iowa dining halls and hospitals. Officials expect the new curbside program will add another 500 to 1,000 tons a year. [ Food waste bin, image credit: © City of Iowa City  ]
Erin Jordan, "Food Waste Joins Curbside Composting in Iowa City", The Gazette (Iowa City, IA), March 13, 2017, © The Gazette
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Antibiotics-Free Cattle, Pigs Could Be Next, But It’s More Complicated

March 12, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
The antibiotics-free chicken movement may have caught on big in the U.S. – about half of chicken sold is free of antibiotics – it hasn’t spread to pork or beef. But that may change soon, as advocates pressure companies to reduce or eliminate antibiotics use in cattle, pigs, and turkeys. Tyson already plans to move in that direction, though it’s more complicated because, unlike in-house chicken production, food companies have to contract with beef and pork producers. And some, like Sanderson Farms, deny there’s a connection between antibiotics use in animal raising and increased resistance to antibiotics in humans. But industry analysts say they’re missing the point. Antibiotics-free meat offers a new way to sell pricier products. [ Image credit: © Wikipedia ]
"Antibiotic-Free Meat Gets a Foothold in US", The Express Tribune, March 12, 2017, © The Express Tribune
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Scientists Hope New Technology Will Replace Non-Recyclable Food Packaging

March 10, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
To replace non-recyclable plastic food packaging, researchers in Lithuania are developing cellulose-based packaging that would be biodegradable – turning into fertilizer within two years – anti-oxidative (keeping foods fresher longer), and antimicrobial to help reduce foodborne illnesses. To achieve these goals, they are testing active components of clove ethereal oil – a combustible liquid that is soluble in ether – that enriches packaging with anti-oxidizing qualities, keeping food fresh. They added ionic silver particles to the packaging, making it antimicrobial, more elastic and stronger. The researchers hope to commercialize their technology “in the near future.” [ Image credit: © Kaunas University of Technology ]
"Biodegradable Packages Will Keep Your Food Fresh", News release, Kaunas University of Technology, March 10, 2017, © Kaunas University of Technology (Lithuania)
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Rotisserie Chicken Chain Pledges Antibiotics-Free Chicken By March 2018

March 10, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Add Boston Market to the list of restaurant chains committed to serving only antibiotics-free chicken. The company says that by July 2017, 75 percent of its chickens will have been raised without the drugs; within a year all of its chickens will be raised without the drugs. Boston Market unveiled a “quality guarantee” in January that states it will serve all natural, fresh, whole chickens that are U.S.-farm raised without added hormones or steroids,100 percent antibiotic-free, MSG free, and gluten free. [ Image credit: © Boston Market ]
"Boston Market Commits To Serving 100 Percent Antibiotic-Free Rotisserie Chicken", News release, Boston Market, March 10, 2017, © Boston Market
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General Mills Subsidizes Commercial Development Of Western Asian Grain

March 9, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Breakfast cereal maker General Mills bestowed its imprimatur on a fairly obscure cousin of wheat when it announced it would buy a significant supply of wild triga, known commercially as kernza, for use in its Cascadian Farm organic food brand. A perennial plant originating in the Caspian Sea region, triga was domesticated by scientists in Kansas. General Mills also donated $500,000 to find good ways to commercialize the grain, perhaps touting its potential as a new superfood. Kernza has several cultivation advantages over wheat: its roots stretch 10 ft into the earth, locking in nutrients and water, anchoring the plant and protecting against erosion. But the fact that General Mills is backing it suggests it will show up someday on store shelves as a breakfast or snack food. [ Image credit: © The Land Institute ]
Chase Purdy, "Is Kernza the New Quinoa? The maker of Cheerios is Investing in the Experimental and Sustainable Grain", Quartz, March 09, 2017, © Quartz
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Gluten-Free Diet Increases Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

March 9, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A small percentage of Americans cannot tolerate the protein gluten (found in wheat, rye, and barley) due to Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. But a multibillion-dollar industry has sprouted up in recent years because many people believe eating gluten-free foods is healthier, though they are often less nutritious and more expensive. Harvard University researchers now report that gluten-free diets may actually be less healthful. In a 30-year observational study that took into account the potential effect of cereal fiber, individuals in the highest 20 percent of gluten consumption had a 13 percent lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in comparison to those with the lowest daily gluten consumption (less than four grams).
"Low gluten Diets may be Associated with Higher Risk of Type 2 Diabetes", American Heart Association, March 09, 2017, © American Heart Association, Inc.
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Carrefour Posts Solid Fiscal 2016 Financial Performance

March 9, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Despite continued softness in the French market, retailer Carrefour SA posted full-year earnings of $1.01 billion, close to the $1.15 billion that Wall Street analysts had expected. Full-year net sales were $80.7 billion, 2.7 percent higher than last year. The company did not change its full-year dividend. The group had said earlier this year that fourth quarter sales were 3.9 percent higher at $24.9 billion. Operating profits in France, which represents about 25 percent of its total profit, fell 13.4 percent to $1.1 billion. The company said performance in the food sector was good in all countries; sales growth was “excellent” in Brazil and “continued positive momentum” in Europe, “reflecting the relevance of the predominantly food-based multiformat model.” [ Image credit: © Carrefour ]
"Carrefour 2016 Full-Year Results", Earnings release, Carrefour, March 09, 2017, © Carrefour
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Great Brownies, Cookies, And A Progressive Hiring Policy

March 8, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
New York’s Greyston Bakery is launching a line of “grab-and-go” cookies baked without preservatives, and with cage-free eggs and fair trade sugar. Greyston is already famous for its brownies, which are the key ingredient in Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream. The new cookie line features Harvest Cookies and Chocolate Chunk Cookies, sold, like the brownies, exclusively at Whole Foods Market stores. Greyston is also noted for its impact on the community. The company has an open hiring policy: it hires people with barriers to employment, no questions asked. CEO Mike Brady says, “We don’t hire people to bake cookies, we bake cookies to hire people.” Its partnership with Whole Foods Market has created 20 full-time positions at the bakery, [ Image credit: © Greyston Bakery ]
Kerry Sesil, "Greyston Launches New Cookies at Whole Foods Market®, Expands Job Impact", Specialty Food Association, March 08, 2017, © Specialty Food Association, Inc.
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Indian Research Uncovers Health Benefits Of Baking With Coconut Flour

March 8, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Research by Indian scientists has found evidence that coconut flour would make a healthful substitute for wheat flour in baking. The researchers said coconut flour is gluten-free, rich in dietary fiber and protein, low in digestible carbohydrates, and may help prevent cancer, heart disease and diabetes. They said it can be added into oatmeal to slow the sudden increase in blood sugar. It can also be mixed with beverages, soups, hot cereals and be used for making cookies and biscuits (rusk).[ Image credit: © Bob's Red Mill ]
"Coconut Flour a Healthy Product, Say Researchers", Business Standard, March 08, 2017, © Business Standard Private Limited
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School’s Composter Teaches Environmental Lessons While Reducing Food Waste

March 7, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A school in Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) has installed a food composter that “digests” as much as 200 pounds of food waste a day – not including avocado pits and beef bones. Since November the small, quiet machine has processed 7,000 pounds, turning the waste into non-potable water. The Power Knot Liquid Food Composter uses food-grade plastic pellets with enzymes that help break down the food as it’s agitated in water. Major benefits of the machine: it has so far reduced the school’s trash disposal fees of about $1,400 by $300; it has kept a lot of food waste out of the landfill where decomposition would have created methane gas; and it teaches environmental lessons in recycling and ecology to the students. The water produced is drained away and can be used to water lawns and gardens. [ Liquid Food Composter, image credit: © Power Knot  ]
Sarah Peters, "How a Gardens School’s Lunch Leftovers are Being Converted to Water", PalmBeachPost.com, March 07, 2017, © Cox Media Group
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