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A Rye Renaissance

January 11, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Rye flour is beginning to show up in a lot of American baked goods, including breads, doughnuts, pie crusts, cookies, and croissants. Rye is a flavorful and hearty grain, prized by farmers in New England, for example, where it has been used as a cover crop, and wheat is tougher to cultivate in the humid summers. It is a traditional bread grain in Europe, where each region is known for its individual breads. But rye dough is not conducive to industrial scale bread making, mainly because the dough is so sticky. Nevertheless, rye is gaining popularity, as evidenced by the number of cookbooks and bakeries that devote so much time to it. [ Image credit: ©  USDA/ARS ]
"Rye Is Rising: The Age-Old Grain Spices Up Baked Goodies", Thomson Reuters, January 11, 2017, © NDTV Convergence
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Startup Turns Unsold Fruits, Vegetable Into Hummus

January 11, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A food waste-focused start-up is transforming leftover fruit and vegetables into a variety of flavored hummus products, and is using crowdfunding to pay for expansion into new markets. Hannah McCollum’s idea came when she noticed that current hummus products were bland and unhealthy, and tons of food was being wasted in the foodservice industry and in homes. She launched ChicP, which produces flavored dips using ugly or unmarketable vegetables rejected by supermarkets. The company offers several flavors, including banana and cocoa; beetroot, horseradish and sage; and carrot, ginger and turmeric. ChicP is using U.K. retailer Tesco's crowdfunding website to raise money to reach more retailers and suppliers in Europe and overseas. [ Hummus party; image credit: © ChicP ]
Emma Jane Cash, "Waste Not, Want Not: UK Start-Up Turns Leftover Food into Hummus", FOODnavigator.com, January 11, 2017, © William Reed Business Media SAS
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New Versions Of Consumer Goods Sound The Death Knell For Older Products

January 10, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
New versions of consumer staples – alkaline batteries, bar soup, ground coffee, etc. – have led to the gradual decline in sales of the older versions. As consumer habits evolve, devotees of the older versions of staples – which may start to disappear from store shelves – may have to start stockpiling. IRI tracks sales on the older iterations of products, and here are some examples of the trend since 2011: margarine sales have fallen 24 percent as consumers turn to full-fat dairy products like butter; bar soap sales have dropped seven percent, as body wash sales surged; powder laundry detergent is down 47 percent, surpassed by pods, pacs, and liquids; single-serve coffee pods have pushed ground coffee sales down by eight percent; and frozen juice concentrate sales are down 37 percent as shoppers buy refrigerated brands or skip juice altogether.
Ellen Byron , "Last on the Shelf: How Products Dwindle Out of Favor", The Wall Street Journal, January 10, 2017, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc
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Grocery Shoppers In The U.K. Made Merry Indeed This Christmas

January 10, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
British grocery retailers finished off 2016 with a very merry Christmas season in which shoppers spent £480 million more in stores than in 2015, a record sales period, according to Kantar Worldpanel. A Kantar analyst said the numbers certainly look good in comparison to a weak Christmas 2015,and were buoyed by “strong consumer appetite for festive celebration after a turbulent year.” The 12 weeks that ended January 1, 2017, showed the fastest supermarket sales growth – up 1.8 percent – since June 2014. Typical household grocery expenditure for December reached £365 this year, which was about £52 more than the average month. [ Image credit: ©  Jonathan Thacker, Geograph.org.uk ]
Fraser McKevitt , "Checkouts ring up a record Christmas", News release, Kantar Worldpanel, January 10, 2017, © Kantar Worldpanel
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General Mills Runs First TV Ads In The U.K. For Snack Brand Fiber One

January 10, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Snack brand Fiber One has launched its first TV ad campaign in the U.K. The $1.2 million effort is scheduled to run for four weeks in January, considered the peak diet season. It is expected to reach seven million consumers. The television campaign will be supplemented with a sampling effort in Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s supermarkets that will put the product into the hands of at least 500,000 people. Fiber One snacks contain 90 calories, and are high in fiber and low in fat.
Leia Taing, "Fibre One Launches its First TV Advertising Campaign", The Food & Drink Innovation, January 10, 2017, © Food & Drink Innovation
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Chinese Consumers Are Adapting Priorities As China Changes

January 10, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
In an interview, Delon Wang, Manager of Asia Pacific Trends at Mintel, warned that the rapid growth seen in China’s consumer goods industry might slow as economic growth decelerates and the population adapts priorities to the new China, focusing for example on buzzwords like ‘ancient’ and ‘old’. Mintel’s Global New Products Database indicates that product claims including the word "ancient” on packaging grew 56% in the first half of 2016 within China’s beauty and personal care and food and drink and categories. Wang said that consumers are demanding authenticity, and they are increasingly concerned about health and the environment. Value remains another key attribute for consumers. More consumers are also looking at opportunities to be entrepreneurs themselves in a bid to improve financial security during turbulent economic times, and many are choosing subscription purchasing for their fitness and beauty items. Brand loyalty is highest among the middle-class consumers (68% versus 50% for consumers overall). Other factors at work within China include technological advance – such as the Internet of Everything and smart devices – and retail innovation and evolution, such as pop-up stores.
Natasha Spencer, "China’s cosmetics and consumer trends in 2017 part I: A change of pace", Cosmetics Design, January 10, 2017, © William Reed Business Media SAS
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Kellogg Unleashes Barrage Of New Snack, Cereal, Frozen Products

January 10, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Kellogg has introduced 50 new products in its breakfast cereal, granola, toaster pastry, snack and frozen food lines. The company noted that many of the new products are made with natural flavors and colors, including Disney Princess cereal, Special K Nourish Bites and Nutri-Grain Bakery Delights crumb cake snacks, and all Eggo frozen breakfast products. Other new products include Special K Nourish granola, Cinnamon Frosted Flakes,Pop-Tarts coffee-inspired toaster pastries, Cheez-it Duoz Bacon & Cheddar crackers, five new flavors of Pringles LOUD crisps, and MorningStar Farms Veggie Bowls.
"Fun, Delicious, Nutritious: Kellogg Company Unveils Full Slate of New Products", News release, Kellogg Company, January 10, 2017, © Kellogg Company
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Aldi Continues To Deliver Grocery Value, Strong Sales

January 9, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Thanks in part to strong sales from its newly-launched premium product range, discount grocer Aldi reported a 15 percent increase in U.K. sales in December. The company opened 70 new stores in 2016, and plans to open 70 more this year. An industry analyst said shoppers are embracing value players like Aldi, which emphasizes value and quality, while bracing themselves for difficult economic times ahead. Analysts are expecting more conservative sales improvements from other grocery retailers, like Morrisons and Tesco, of about one percent. [ Image credit: © Rayon- Boissons, Wikimedia  Commons]
"Aldi reports record Christmas sales", BBC, January 09, 2017, © BBC
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Tesco Streamlines Distribution Network

January 9, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
British grocery chain Tesco is tightening and simplifying its distribution network, reducing the number of distribution centers (to 23 from 25) and bringing all warehouse operations handled by DHL and Wincanton in-house. The changes are part of the company’s two-year-old plan to “ensure Tesco is set up for the future in a rapidly changing retail sector.” The changes will create some redundancies, the company acknowledged, but will also create “new roles” in other parts of the network, including jobs at the Reading and Middlesbrough centers and colleague support roles in most centers. [ Tesco distribution center, Image credit:© Paul Anderson ]
 
"Tesco simplifies distribution operations", News release, Tesco, January 09, 2017, © Tesco PLC
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New DNA Editing Technology Is Sneaking Into The Food Chain

January 9, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Several companies are using a technology known as “gene editing” to tinker with DNA at exact locations and create crops that are more nutritious or more resistant to spoiling. Gene editing is not the same as genetic modification, so it is not covered by the federal law passed last year requiring labeling of food products containing GMO ingredients. The USDA has approved edited crops if the companies creating them show they do not introduce foreign genes from plant pests. The result is that hundreds of acres of gene-edited crops have already been grown in several states, without oversight or regulation. Companies active in plant gene editing technology include DuPont Pioneer and Calyxt, a subsidiary of Cellectis. Another company, Recombinetics, is applying the technology in farm animals. [Gene-edited soybeans; image credit: ©  Calyxt]
Kenneth Chang, "These Foods Aren’t Genetically Modified but They Are ‘Edited’", The New York Times, January 09, 2017, © The New York Times Company
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Canadian Shoppers Buying Less, Making Fewer Trips To Retail Stores, Study Shows

January 9, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Consumers in Canada are shopping less, with trips to the retail store per household dropping 2 percent in the year ending October 1, 2016, according to Nielsen. Data from the market research firm revealed 22 percent of Canadian consumers showed concerned about rising food prices. Results of a review of major channels in the country showed spending per trip for grocery and mass merchandisers dropped 1 percent from $51.6 and $63.3 to $51.2 $62.5, respectively. At present, consumers spend an average of $8,492 per year across all retail channels in consumer packaged goods.
"How Canadian Retailers Can Address The Shrinking Consumer Basket", Nielsen, January 09, 2017, © The Nielsen Company (US), LLC
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Jennie-O Sausage Is Now Leaner, Cleaner

January 9, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Sausage-maker Jennie-O has changed the formulation of its turkey product to contain less fat (six grams) and less sodium. The company now claims the product is “all natural” with a “simple, clean ingredients” that include turkey, salt, sugar, spices and rosemary extract. In addition, the 110 calorie sausage is “minimally processed” and is free of BHT, BHA and other common preservatives. [ Image credit: ©  Jennie-O ]
"Jennie-O Introduces All Natural Turkey Sausage With Simple, Familiar Ingredients, No Preservatives", News release, Jennie-O, January 09, 2017, © Jennie-O
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EFSA Safety Ruling Could Help Jumpstart Sales Of Antioxidant Compound

January 6, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A vitamin-like antioxidant compound found naturally in mushrooms and some beans and cereals has been approved by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for use in dietary supplements and fortified foods. The agency ruled that l-ergothioneine, also called EGT, is safe at dose levels of 30 mg a day for adults, and 20 mg a day for children, in food supplements, non-alcoholic drinks, cereal bars, milk, fresh dairy and chocolate. The ruling dispelled fears that the ingredient might increase susceptibility to diabetes mellitus, Crohn's disease or rheumatoid arthritis. Scientists say studies have shown that EGT is a powerful antioxidant that could have a major impact on extension of lifespan. With the EFSA safety ruling, EGT suppliers expect sales to pick up in 2017. [ Image credit: ©  Miranova Labs ]
Hank Schultz, "L-Ergothioneine Poised for Breakthrough in 2017, Experts Say", NUTRAingredients-USA.com, January 06, 2017, © William Reed Business Media SAS
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2017: The Year Of The Brand Chatbot?

January 6, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
2017 could the year of the chatbots for brands looking to automate consumer engagement. They reside within Messenger Services, like Skype and Facebook Messenger, as well as internal messenger services, like HipChat. They are becoming increasingly sophisticated with more user functionality, and as artificial intelligence becomes better understood, chatbots will be able to do even more, with development moving from what the bot builders believe consumers want to a machine-learned reflection of what they really want. Chatbots will proliferate and become an essential element of any integrated marketing campaign, supporting highly targeted campaigns delivered in the environment in which the consumer spends the majority of their online time.  
John Mccarthy, "What, Why and How: Chatbots for Brands", The Drum, January 06, 2017, © Carnyx Group Ltd.
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Starbucks Puts Food Waste To Good Use In New Line Of Lattes

January 6, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Starbucks has introduced a new latte line that not only tastes good but is eco-friendly. The new espressos are flavored with a syrup made from the husks of coffee cherries that are normally discarded when the beans are harvested. The company uses the syrup to flavor the Cascara line – the Spanish word means “husk” or “shell” – that is subtly sweet with hints of maple and brown sugar without being fruity.  [ Coffee cherries; image credit: © Jonathan Wilkins  ]
Carly Stern, "Good to the Last Drop! Starbucks Unveils New Latte Made with the WASTE of a Coffee Plant - and It's Surprisingly Delicious", Mail Escapes, January 06, 2017, © Associated Newspapers Ltd
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Produce Distributor Renames Its Vegetable Trimmings And Sells Them As “SparCs”

January 5, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A Canadian company believes that renaming the edible trimmings of vegetable processing – carrot tops, snapped-off green bean stems, etc. – transforms them from trash to saleable food. In much the same way that slimehead fish were renamed orange roughy, vegetable trim was renamed “SparCs” (pronounced sparks), which is actually scraps spelled backwards with a little stylization. Produce and specialty foods distributor Baldor says its Fresh Cuts program offers pre-sliced, diced or otherwise prepared vegetable trimmings – branded as SparCs – that it has saved for human or animal consumption, and kept from the landfill.  [ Image credit: © Tim Jewett ]
Maura Judkis, "How One Company Eliminated Food Waste: The ‘Landfill can no Longer be an Option.’", The Washington Post, January 05, 2017, © The Washington Post
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Even Guys Are Getting Into Veganism

January 4, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Food and restaurant industry observers have noticed an upsurge in the number of men eating vegan. For example, the lunch crowd at a Philadelphia eatery that offers vegan alternatives to fast-foods like burgers and chicken sandwiches is mostly guys in suits. Male food bloggers, cookbook authors, and food personalities praise nutritional yeast and beet pepperoni, signaling some kind of culture shift. Lastly, the journal Appetite in 2015 published a study whose participants said they did not associate veganism with low levels of masculinity. Veganism is, in short, becoming a mainstream diet option for all.
Elisa Ludwig, "Vegan eating: More men are going animal-free", The Inquirer (Philadelphia), January 04, 2017, © Philadelphia Media Network (Digital), LLC
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Gen Z Is Techno-Savvy, But More Cautious, Conservative, Industrious

January 4, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A college marketing agency survey has determined that Generation Z, known as the first “digital natives,” easily adapts to new technologies, expects instant gratification of needs and desires, and yet is more cautious and disciplined in the face of economic uncertainty than one might expect. The Fluent survey of 501 college students found that Gen Z-ers: have jobs (75 percent), spend less time gaming, use cash less often, prefer in-store shopping (54 percent), tend to avoid cable TV and radio, increasingly cook for themselves, are hooked on social media to connect with friends or get news updates, and want to work for midsize companies when they graduate.
"Fluent College Student Survey Reveals Rising, Falling Trends among Gen Z; New Behaviors Reflect Social and Economic Realities", Marketwired, January 04, 2017, © Nasdaq, Inc.
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Research Suggests An Omnichannel Strategy Can Boost Traditional Retailer Sales

January 3, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
In a rare piece of good news for traditional retailers that have for years seen slow growth and share declines – digital channel sales rose 23% in 2015 and 26% of all online retail sales now go to Amazon – research published in Harvard Business Review suggests that an omnichannel approach can give them an advantage. Omnichannel strategies aim to engage shoppers through multiple touchpoints and provide a seamless shopping experience across digital and brick-and-mortar platforms. Retailers that do this well can differentiate themselves through providing a multi-channel experience pure-plays simply can’t.  Researchers found that omnichannel consumers, which are by far the majority (73% in this study), commonly interact with retailers in many different ways – in-store, online, on mobile. Importantly, these consumer spend some 4% more per shopping occasion than single-channel shoppers, while customers who used 4+ channels spent 9% more in the store, on average, when compared to those who used just one channel. They are also more loyal, as measured by repeat shopping trips and likelihood they’ll recommend a brand to family and friends. [Image credit © Zero Creatives]
Emma Sopadjieva et al., "A Study of 46,000 Shoppers Shows That Omnichannel Retailing Works", Harvard Business Review, January 03, 2017, © Harvard Business School Publishing
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Look For A Revival Of French Cooking In 2017

January 3, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Culinary textbook author Priscilla Martel predicts that French cuisine will gain in popularity in 2017. Calling it the “new golden age of French food,” Martel sees especially a resurgence of French bread and classic French pastries. Look for American versions of patisserie, including well-crafted viennoiserie, the formal name for croissants, Danish and other pastries made with buttery flaky dough.
Stephen Fries, "Stephen Fries: Predicting food trends for 2017, plus a recipe for congee", New Haven (Conn.) Register, January 03, 2017, © New Haven Register
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Taco Bell Commits To Cleaner Ingredients In Menu Items

January 3, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Taco Bell announced that early this year it will remove all antibiotics used in human medicine from its chicken served in U.S. restaurants. By 2018 it expects to remove all preservatives and other additives from its food, and will serve only eggs from cage-free chickens, by 2018. The company reduced sodium content in its food by 15 percent in 2008, and now promises to reduce sodium by another 10 percent by 2025. [ Image credit: ©  Taco Bell  ]
"Taco Bell Rings In 2017 With New Year’s Commitments", News release, Taco Bell, January 03, 2017, © Taco Bell Corp
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New Lidl Tagline Hammers Home Emphasis On Quality And Price

January 3, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
German discount grocer Lidl is launching a new strapline to further emphasize its focus on lower prices but not at the expense of quality. The strapline – an easily remembered subheading or phrase – is “Big on Quality, Lidl on Price.” It is not clear whether the new strapline represents a broader brand repositioning, or will replace the old #LidlSurprises tagline, or run alongside it. The idea of the new strapline is to emphasize to skeptical consumers that Lidl’s product lines do indeed have a quality provenance. The company’s sales rose 5.7 percent in the 16 weeks ending December 4, representing a growth rate that is slowing somewhat, but still far outpacing the grocery market’s 0.7 percent. [ Image credit: ©  Wikimedia Commons.]
Sarah Vizard, "Lidl Reveals ‘Big on Quality, Lidl on Price’ Strapline", Marketing Week, January 03, 2017, © Centaur Communications Ltd (a member of the Centaur Media plc group)
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Burt’s Bees Extends Product Line Into Functional Foods

January 2, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Personal care company Burt’s Bees has entered the functional food market with protein shakes targeted at consumers seeking beauty from "the inside out." The company that has specialized for three decades in selling natural lip and skincare products has developed three protein shakes – Daily Protein, Protein +Gut Health with Probiotics, and Protein + Healthy Radiance with Antioxidant Vitamins A, C & E – that provide 15 grams of protein per serving from peas, rice, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, and oats. General Manager Jim Geikie said the move into functional foods “is a natural extension for us.” The shakes range in price from $29.99 to $39.99. Each contains 16-18 servings per tub. [ Image credit: ©  Burt's Bees  ]
"Burt's Bees Enters New Category with Plant-Based Protein Shakes", News release, Burt's Bees, January 02, 2017, © Burt's Bees
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Unilever, Coca-Cola And Lush Feature In Warc Brand Purpose Readership List

January 2, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Warc’s annual readership data indicates that a number of brands featured in articles on purpose-driven marketing over the last year. Warc said that Lush’s discussion of its mission and strategy was a particularly popular article, and the company says that it’s important to be both open and honest about where it buys its ingredients, how it runs its business, and the claims it makes. Unilever also featured, with one talking about its initiatives in brand activism, which goes beyond “beautiful narratives”. It also featured in another, in a report from the Guardian Changing Media Summit 2016 on how Unilever and Coca-Cola build brand purpose.  
"Best of 2016: Purpose", Warc, January 02, 2017, © Warc
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This Year Will See More Foods Made From Sorghum, Sprouts

January 2, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Among the top food trends for 2017 gleaned from experts and exhibitors at a recent nutrition expo are products made from fiber- and protein-rich sorghum and sprouted seeds, nuts, beans and grains. Sorghum is a U.S. whole grain that is not only gluten-free, it’s a good source of magnesium, phosphorous, iron and B vitamins. Look for sorghum in ready-to-eat breakfast cereals and baked chips, popcorn alternatives, protein bars, crackers, bread, and even alcoholic beverages. Health-conscious foodies, meanwhile, are attracted to sprouted foods because of their superior nutrition profile. Sprouting increases fiber and protein content while decreasing “anti-nutrients” like phytic acid, rendering protein and minerals easier to absorb. Look for sprouted vegan protein powders, sprouted breads, and cookies and crackers made from sprouted grain, seed and legume flour. [ Sorghum, image credit: ©  USDA ]
"2017 Food trends Look for new convenience in plant proteins", The Houston Chronicle, January 02, 2017, © Hearst Newspapers, LLC
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Mademoiselle Desserts Buys Britain’s Ministry of Cake

January 1, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
French pastry company Mademoiselle Desserts (Montigny le Bretonneux) has acquired U.K.-based Ministry of Cake, a 152-year-old supplier of cakes and other desserts to food service, catering, restaurant, and wholesale customers in the U.K., Europe, China and the Middle East. Ministry of Cake has an annual turnover of about £30 million and employs 400 people. Mademoiselle Desserts employs more than 1,400 in eight production sites in France, the U.K. and the Netherlands. [ Image credit: © Benjamin Sachs / Sidekick 2016  ]
"Ministry of Cake Bought by French Dessert Manufacturer", News release, Ministry of Cake, January 01, 2017, © Ministry of Cake
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Consumer Magazine Assesses Current Food And Drink Trends

January 1, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Food and nutrition experts at Consumer Reports evaluated food trends and advised on which should become a part of a healthy diet and which can be ignored. A few dark chocolate chips, for example, added to oatmeal or yogurt for breakfast once or twice a week could boost memory and concentration. But consumers should avoid calorie-packed chocolate cake, cookies, and brownies for breakfast. Jackfruit’s texture is similar to shredded meat. As a meat alternative, it is low in sugar but also very low in protein, And the ”pulled-pork” sandwiches made with jackfruit come with sugary sauces. The magazine looked at other food and beverage trends, including: plant waters (maple, artichoke, cactus, and cucumber); riced cauliflower; alternative pastas (chickpeas, lentils, other legumes); savory yogurts; fermented foods, “ugly produce;” purple foods; and power bowls. [ Image credit: ©  The Jackfruit Company ]
Trisha Calvo, "Eat This! The Healthiest Food Trends for 2017", Consumer Reports, January 01, 2017, © Consumer Reports
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Amazon, Target Were Only Retailers To Boost TV And Digital Holiday Advertising

December 29, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
It almost seems as if the big retail companies got out of Amazon’s way this holiday season, at least when it came to advertising on TV. Bucking the trend away from TV advertising – Target was an exception – Amazon aggressively boosted its ad spending on TV by 76 percent, at the same time increasing digital ad spending by 224 percent. Meanwhile, Walmart cut television advertising by 10 percent, Sears by 53 percent, and Nordstrom by 45 percent. Target was the only retailer to boost ad spending across every medium, including print, TV and online. Its spending on print ads went up four percent, while TV spending rose 54 percent. [Image credit: © Amazon ]
Deena M. Amato-McCoy, "Amazon increased holiday TV ad spend in a big way", Chain Store Age, December 29, 2016, © Chain Store Age
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Burger King’s Parent Company Promises To Get Rid Of Antibiotics In Chicken

December 29, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Restaurant Brands International, parent company of Burger King and donut chain Tim Hortons, has announced plans to reduce antibiotic use in its chickens. The company, which has been under pressure for months from public health advocates, has now updated the “responsibility” page of its website to explain the new commitment to curbing the use of antibiotics “deemed by the World Health Organization as ‘critically important’ to human medicine." The changes will be implemented in the U.S. this year and in Canada next year. [ Image credit: ©  Burger King Canada ]
Tom Polansek and Lisa Baertlein, "Burger King, Tim Hortons to curb antibiotics used in chicken", Reuters, December 29, 2016, © Thomson Reuters
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The World’s Consumers Really Love Coca-Cola

December 29, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Consumer researcher Kantar Worldpanel reports that Coca-Cola is the most popular brand in the world, based on the number of households that buy it and the frequency of purchases. Another soda brand, Pepsi, made the top ten list (#6), thanks in part to its popularity in Egypt. Filling out the top five brands were Colgate toothpaste, Lifebuoy soap, Maggi brand soups and noodles (Nestlé) and Lays potato chips (PepsiCo). The Kantar analysis covered 300 billion shopper decisions, 74 percent of the world's population, 15,000 brands, and 44 countries. [ Image credit: © Wikipedia ]
Kerry Close, "These Are the 10 Most Purchased Brands in the World", Time, December 29, 2016, © Time Inc.
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Online Grocery Deliverer Fulfills Orders Using Advanced Warehousing, Robotics

December 29, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
British online grocery delivery firm Ocado is applying an array of advanced technologies to speed grocery purchases to consumer homes. The company maintains a 350,000 square-foot warehouse near Birmingham that beats Amazon at automated order fulfillment. Most of the 48,000 lines of products it sells are perishable, many chilled or frozen. The complex, time-sensitive optimization challenge is handled by sophisticated technologies like swarm robotics – teams of robots that cooperate to find, lift and grab products from shelves – as well as autonomous delivery vehicles, and machine-learned preferences. The company is expanding its warehousing and robotics capabilities to be able to handle and deliver more products even faster in the future. [ Image credit: ©  Wikimedia  Commons ]
Jamie Condliffe, "The Robotic Grocery Store of the Future Is Here", MIT Technology Review, December 29, 2016, © MIT Technology Review
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Among This Year’s Culinary Trends: Frybread

December 28, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
The chefs, food journalists and critics that report to the New York-based James Beard Foundation have selected several culinary trends American diners can expect in 2017. Among these are a revival of the “grande cuisine” of France, the appearance of mini-cabbages called kalettes (a cross between kale and Brussels sprouts), cauliflower (instead of kale), and frybread. Inspired by Native American and Eastern European cuisine – and often served at state fairs in the U.S. – frybread will show up often on restaurant menus this year. Though a simple concept – dough that is deep fried – watch for chefs to embellish their versions of frybread with an assortment of toppings and garnishes. [ Frybread taco, Image credit: ©  John Pozniak, Wikimedia ]
"What diners will be eating in 2017", Malay Mail Online, December 28, 2016, © Malay Mail Online
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Beverage Maker Expands Production Facilities After Significant Fundraising

December 28, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Oregon-based beverage maker Humm Kombucha is moving into new manufacturing facilities after receiving $3 million in equity and debt financing raised from board members, friends, family and local businesses. This was the second round for Humm in 2016, and follows a $1 million investment from six investors. The new 40,000-foot factory will allow bottling of 1.5 million units a month and will accommodate twice that amount eventually. [ Image credit: ©  Humm Kombucha ]
Brad Avery, "Humm Kombucha Amps UP Production at New Facility", BevNET, December 28, 2016, © BevNET.com
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Extending The Bread Bowl Concept To Cinnamon Rolls

December 27, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Traditionally, bread bowls are small, hollowed out boules used to serve stew, thick soups, dips, or chili. When the contents are consumed, the bowls are eaten. But a Nebraska grocery store cake decorator had a new idea that has won a lot of converts. Instead of bread, she makes the bowl out of cinnamon roll dough, bakes it, and fills it with chili. Not everyone finds it an appealing concept. But a small bakery chain tried the idea – the cinnamon roll bowl has a rim of frosting – in one store ($3.47 for a pair of bowls) and may expand it to the rest. Using chili tends to make it a wintertime meal. But there’s talk of using an ice cream filling, which would transform the concoction into a year-round treat.[ Image credit: © Wikipedia ]
Cory Matteson, "A Cinnamon Roll Chili Bowl, Created in Lincoln", Lincoln Journal Star, December 27, 2016, © The Lincoln Journal Star
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Coca-Cola Appeals To India’s “Active Healthy Living” Market With Hydration Drink

December 27, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Coca-Cola India has launched an “active hydration” beverage in the country. Aquarius marks the expansion of Coca-Cola beyond carbonates, waters, teas and juices to a category “that has the potential to grow exponentially in the coming years.” New Coca-Cola drinks introduced in recent years include VIO in 2016, FUZE iced tea in 2015, and Coke Zero in late 2014. The target market for Aquarius is the “active healthy living and 24x7 lifestyle” segment, the company said. Aquarius is non-carbonated, low-calorie, and enriched with sodium, calcium and potassium. It will be offered in 400 ml packs. [ Image credit: © Coca-Cola Company  ]
"Coca-Cola India launches its First Active Hydration Product – Aquarius in India", News release, Coca-Cola India, December 27, 2016, © The Coca-Cola Company
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Premium Frozen Entrees Are A Smash Hit In The U.K.

December 25, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Frozen food companies in the U.K. are finding that so-called “upmarket” frozen entrees are catching on among consumers who are concerned about wasting fresh food. Research by Unilever determined that fresh food equal to about four million Christmas dinners was tossed in the rubbish this holiday season, including 17.2 million Brussels sprouts, 11.9 million carrots and 11.3 million roast potatoes. Available now from companies like Iceland are premium frozen versions of gourmet king prawns, sweet potato chips, quinoa, Canadian lobster tails (220g), en papillote sea bass fillets, luxury rack of lamb, potatoes, and desserts. They are “flying off the shelves,” according to trade magazinet The Grocer. [ Image credit: ©  ]
Katie Morley, "Posh Frozen Meals Winning Over Waste-Conscious Middle-Class Families", The Telegraph, December 25, 2016, © Telegraph Media Group Limited
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Grocers In Kentucky Cooperate With Gleaners To Reduce Food Waste, Feed The Poor

December 22, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
A Kentucky organization has enlisted the cooperation of Costco and other grocery merchants in its efforts to glean unsold foods – usually perishable goods pulled from shelves before the sell-by date – and donate them to charities that distribute them to the needy. GleanKy volunteers pick up the unsold products and cart them to local shelters, soup kitchens, churches and other organizations that operate food pantries. GleanKy says it has gleaned anywhere from 200 to 1,200 pounds of unsold food in a day: sometimes 500 pounds of potatoes, sometimes 400 pounds of bananas, etc. Besides Costco, volunteer gleaners gather produce from grocers like Lucky's, Good Foods Co-op, Fresh Thyme, Fresh Market and Whole Foods Market. [ Image credit: ©  GleanKy.org ]
Janet Patton, "400 Pounds of Extra Blueberries? No Problem; GleanKy gets Food to those Who Need It", Lexington Herald Leader, December 22, 2016, © Lexington Herald Leader
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Is The Contrary Consumer Simply Frustrated With Marketers?

December 22, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
The job of marketing is being complicated by contradictory consumer behavior. Consumers say they want a slower life but make quick purchase choices, and that health and wellness is a key priority for them, yet sales of products with unhealthy ingredients are still growing. The author wonders if the consumer is simply cynical of the marketers’ messages, and maybe that’s just a part of a broader feeling of distrust of a range of institutions, including government. Promises are made, and then broken. Trends help create the assumptions on which marketers base their approach to reaching the consumer, but those assumptions are increasingly being questioned. They are too general, unsophisticated and often flawed. There have always been “contrary consumers”, but now there is also a growing band of consumers that don’t like to be told what to do and like.  
"The Contrarian Consumer", Adworld, December 22, 2016, © Adworld Ventures Limited
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Fast-Food Restaurants Hope To Match Success Of Pizza Delivery Chains

December 22, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Competition from supermarket food, sluggish traffic, and even the grueling presidential election have all dampened restaurant sales. But not pizza chain sales, which are booming. The demand for pizza has pushed share of Domino’s Pizza up 45 percent, and Papa John’s up 60 percent. Analysts point to several key reasons for this: pizza is first of all cheap and fast. And thanks to smartphone apps and ordering technology on sites like Facebook, Twitter and Apple TV, pizza is increasingly easy to order. These factors together have insulated pizza chains from the woes afflicting restaurants that rely on walk-in or drive-through traffic. But that may be changing. McDonald’s and other fast-food eateries are testing delivery service, and may soon develop the kind of customer loyalty programs that have worked so well for Domino’s and Papa John’s. [ Image credit: © Papa John's  ]
Leslie Patton, "Nobody Is Eating Out Anymore, They're Just Ordering Pizza", Bloomberg Pursuits, December 22, 2016, © Bloomberg L.P.
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Functional Dietary Supplement Markets Are Thriving, With One Exception

December 22, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
An analysis of functional dietary supplements found some interesting sales and product trends. Sales of bone and joint supplements to baby boomers and post-menopausal women are expected to hit $9 billion globally this year, even though the numbers on established products like glucosamine and chondroitin are falling. Filling the void are alternative ingredients, including MSM, 5-Loxin, collagen, and plant-derived glucosamine. Except in Western Europe and Asia, where “beauty-from-within” products are on the rise, anti-aging supplements represent mostly an opportunity in the U.S. Sports nutrition has gone mainstream, becoming a $7.4 billion market dominated (72 percent of sales) by protein powder, Probiotic functional foods will be worth $50 billion by 2021, and probiotic dietary supplements are growing even faster and should hit $5 billion by 2021. [ Image credit: ©  Wikipedia.]
Adi Menayang, "Bone & Joint Health, Anti-Aging, Sports Nutrition, Pre- & Probiotics: Lessons from 2016’s Special Edition", NUTRAingredients-USA.com, December 22, 2016, © William Reed Business Media SAS
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Solving The Food Waste Problem By Extending The Shelf-Life Of Produce

December 21, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
The shelf-life of fresh produce is notoriously short, a fact that contributes to the growing food waste problem. But a start-up company may have developed an effective solution. Edipeel is an ultra-thin plant-based ultra-thin coating for produce that slows water loss and oxidation, two of the leading causes of spoilage. Apeel Sciences says odorless, tasteless, and invisible Edipeel extends "the typical edible shelf life" of fresh foods by two to five times. The extracts used to make the product are made from recycled agricultural byproducts, further reducing food waste. The Edipeel powder is reconstituted and applied through a spray-on or dipping process to create the thin protective coating. The company is applying to the USDA for organic certification. [ Image credit: © Apeel Sciences ]
Derek Markham, "Produce Covered with this Invisible Plant-Based Edible Coating Stay Fresh Twice as Long", TreeHugger, December 21, 2016, © Narrative Content Group
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Online Hub Will Help Disseminate U.S. Food Waste Solutions

December 21, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
More than a year ago, the USDA and EPA announced a food waste reduction target of 50 percent by 2030. The Rockefeller Foundation has announced a collaboration with those agencies, as well as with 10 private sector and nonprofit groups, to create an online hub to exchange of food waste solutions and information, encourage coordination, and reduce duplication of effort. “Further With Food: Center for Food Loss and Waste Solutions” (furtherwithfood.org), set to launch in January 2017, will feature practices for preventing, recovering, and recycling food loss and waste; educational materials; research results; and information on existing government, business, and community initiatives. [ Image credit: © The Rockefeller Foundation ]
"12 Organizations to Launch Online Hub Offering Food Waste Solutions", News release, The Rockefeller Foundation, December 21, 2016, © The Rockefeller Foundation
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Campbell’s New Soups Are “Clean Label”

December 20, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Campbell Soup Company has jumped on the “clean label,” wholesome ingredient bandwagon with a new line of soups made with “carefully selected and sourced” ingredients, including kale, quinoa, barley, beans, sweet potatoes and whole grains. The chicken meat contains no antibiotics. In addition, the Well Yes! soups contain no artificial colors, flavors, or ingredients, or modified starches. The cans themselves are not lined with BPA and are recyclable. The first nine soups in the family include black bean and red quinoa, chicken noodle, hearty lentil with vegetables, minestrone with kale, and roasted chicken and wild rice. [ Image credit: ©  Campbell Soup Co. ]
"Campbell Soup Company Launches New Well Yes! Brand", News release, Campbell Soup Company, December 20, 2016, © CSC Brands, L.P.
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Cargill Adds New Emulsifier To Product Line With Unique Benefits

December 20, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Deoiled canola lecithin is an emulsifier with some unique advantages for food manufacturers seeking to meet consumer ingredient demands. According to  Cargill, which just added deoiled canola lecithin to its product line, the ingredient is a versatile emulsifier and dispersing agent that can be used in chocolate and confectionery, bakery and convenience foods. Dispersibility, functionality, taste and color are comparable to soy and sunflower lecithin. Added advantages include the fact it is non-GMO option, may be used in organic products, and need not be declared as a major food allergen. [ Deoiled lecithin, image credit: © Cargill ]
"Cargill introduces canola lecithin for label-conscious consumers", News release, Cargill, December 20, 2016, © Cargill, Incorporated
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Sustainability Remained A Key Theme For Unilever In 2016

December 19, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
If there’s one message that Unilever is pushing at the moment above all others, it’s sustainability, and 2016 provided plenty of evidence, with a raft of corporate social responsibility initiatives and sustainability awards. With another 400 added during the year, it now boasts 600 zero waste to landfill sites, and it announced two major campaigns, one aimed at removing sexist and stereotype-based advertising and one from Dove to promote diversity and realism in marketing. Unilever admits it’s not all about altruism, but a strategic necessity. It claims that its brands that are in line with its sustainable living plan are growing faster. Its public image was, however, damaged as a result of a spat un the UK with Tesco over Brexit-related pricing. Also this year, it announced a new factory in Cuba, opened a new one in Ethiopia, is looking for sites in Colombia, and investing more in Nigeria. But, Unilever was relatively quiet on the acquisition front, although the Dollar Shave Club deal caused quite a stir.  
Georgina Caldwell, "2016 in review: Unilever – set on sustainability", Global Cosmetics News, December 19, 2016, © Global Cosmetic Media Limited
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Supermarket Trends Will Stress Gaining, Maintaining, Shopper Loyalty

December 16, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
A supermarket analyst says the top trends of 2017 will improve customer loyalty to stores and lead to better informed shoppers. Trends include greater use of digital technologies, faster checkout, greater variety in the produce department, more meal kits, and the availability of more detailed product information. One way to maintain shopper loyalty, according to John Karolefski, is for stores to increase emphasis on digital marketing. Grocers will embed beacons in shelves shelves, signs and product displays. The sensors interact with smartphones to provide coupons and other discounts. In addition, look for more mobile apps as a way to offer discounts and specials to shoppers. Lastly, expect online grocery ordering and delivery to grow as shoppers become accustomed to the convenience. [ Image credit: ©  Wikipedia ]
"Top Trends in Grocery Shopping for 2017 Announced", News release, GroceryStories.com, December 16, 2016, © GroceryStories.com
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Purple Yam Ignites Snack Treat Fad In U.S.

December 16, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Hipster foodies in U.S cities are into ube, the Philippines Tagalog word for purple yam. Chefs on the left and West coasts of the U.S are using ube in cheesecakes, doughnuts, ice cream, and homemade “twinkies,” the cream-filled sponge cake based on a snack product marketed by Hostess. U.S. restaurants, bakeries, and ice cream parlours are mixing it into everything. It’s an unusual flavor, but the pretty purple color has made ube-based snacks and treats a quick social media hit. [ Philippines Dessert Majaube; Image credit: © Wikimedia Commons ]
Carly Stern, "It sure is Pretty - but Would YOU Eat it? Colorful Dessert Trend Flooding Social Media Sees Picture-Perfect Treats Like Ice Cream, Macarons, and Cake Being Made with Ube - a Purple YAM", Mail Online, December 16, 2016, © Associated Newspapers Ltd
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Planned Gold Rush-Theme Ohio Eatery Will Feature Biscuits, Bourbon

December 16, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Two restaurant veterans plan to open a new bar/eatery in Pendleton, Ohio, next June that will “tell the story of the gold rush and westward expansion through frontier food and drink,” primarily biscuits and bourbon. An example of the cuisine to be served at the Boomtown Biscuit Bar is the Pick and Shovel open-face biscuit sandwich, including the Yukon with its buttermilk fried chicken, sawmill gravy, fried egg, smoked cheddar and thick-cut bacon. Also on the menu are Prospector Plates, like the Hidalgo: gluten-free corn griddle cakes topped with a poached egg, house chorizo, verde salsa and cilantro. The beverage menu will also stick to the “westward expansion” theme, centering on bourbon, “a favorite drink of prospectors.” [ Image credit: © Wikimedia Commons  ]
Andy Brownfield, "Cincinnati's First Biscuit Bar Coming to Pendleton", American City Business Journals, December 16, 2016, © American City Business Journals
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FDA Now Says Fresh Fruits, Vegetables Are Good For The Heart

December 16, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Four years after the American Heart Association asked for a change in a rule governing health claims for raw fruits and vegetables, the FDA has expanded the rule saying those foods can claim to be good for the heart. Under the old rule, some fruits and vegetables couldn’t use the claim because they did not meet requirements for containing a minimum amount of certain nutrients or did not meet the definition of a “low fat” food. For example, grapes and plums do not contain enough vitamins A and C, iron, calcium, protein, or fiber. Avocados do not meet the requirement for “low fat.” The interim final rule – which does not apply to frozen or canned produce – allows raw fruits and vegetables to claim that they reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. [ Image credit: ©  ]
"FDA Issues Interim Final Rule Allowing More Raw Fruits and Vegetables to Bear Health Claims about Relationship between Dietary Saturated Fat and Cholesterol and the Risk of Coronary Heart Disease", News release, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, December 16, 2016, © FDA
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With Cheese Sales Off The Charts, Manufacturers Tackle Clean Label Concerns

December 15, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Cheese is big business in the U.S., perhaps a reflection of the opinion that any food is better if topped with cheese. A dairy industry trade group says cheese sales in the U.S. reached $23 billion in 2015, and could hit $28 billion by 2020 – a hefty 24 percent growth rate over five years. So why do Americans consume an average of 34 pounds of cheese each year? High protein content, for one reason, and an increasingly positive attitude toward dairy fat. Cheese also tends to have high quality ingredients, is rich in calcium, comes in a wide variety of formats, is convenient as a snack, and is relatively affordable. Manufacturers are also paying closer attention to consumer demands for transparency in ingredient labeling – non-GMO and natural colors – especially when it comes to cheese-based snacks.
Maxine Weber, "Cheese strives for more transparency, clean label ingredients", Snack and Bakery, December 15, 2016, © BNP Media
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