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Danone Expects Significant Growth In West African Dairy Market

May 24, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Though African sales of fresh dairy products, early life nutrition, and waters, account for only five percent of Danone’s overall revenues, company expects substantial growth. With partner investors the Abraaj Group, company spent $25 million to build three production lines at subsidiary Fan Milk (Accra, Ghana), whose growth has been strong thanks to robust demand for dairy products in West Africa, including Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Togo, Benin and Nigeria. Larger factory capacity will be used to produce drinkable yogurt brand FanMaxx with four-month shelf life. Company says it expects to expand further in region.
Jim Cornall, "Danone and Abraaj Group Expand Fan Milk capacity in Ghana to Launch New Product", DAIRYreporter.com, May 24, 2017, © William Reed Business Media SAS
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BOTTLING STRATEGY: Coke’s Refranchising Plan Takes Major Step Forward

May 24, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
The nearly-completed Coca-Cola refranchising strategy is to build a team of bottling partners that can serve major customers while maintaining “strong, local ties across diverse markets” in Canada and U.S. To that end, company has signed letter of intent for major Northeast territories with Coca-Cola Refreshments executives Paul Mulligan’s and Fran McGorry’s new bottling company, Liberty Coca-Cola Beverages LLC. Territories include metropolitan New York, Philadelphia, most of New Jersey, part of Delaware, four production facilities.
"The Coca-Cola Company Nears Completion of U.S. Refranchising Plan with Letter of Intent for Territory in Northeast", News release, Coca-Cola Company, May 24, 2017, © Coca-Cola Company
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Canadian Grocers Use Smartphone App To Get Surplus Food To Consumers

May 24, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Grocery retailers in Ontario, Canada, have partnered with the developer of an app designed to make it easier to sell unsold surplus food to consumers at big discounts. Flashfood app users are notified and can dial up deals on their phones for food that is three days to a month away from its best-before date. Users then pay using their phones and visit the Flashfood zones in the stores to pick up purchases. Grocery retailers Farm Boy and Longo say they have diverted kept more than 1,500 meals from landfills. [Image Credit: © Flashfood ]
"Major Ontario Grocery Chains Set Precedent to Reduce Food Waste", News release, Flashfood, May 24, 2017, © Flashfood
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Hydrox Sandwich Cookies Are Now Clean Label

May 23, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Leaf Brands announced a clean-label improvement in its sandwich cookie brand Hydrox. A competitor of Mondelez’s Oreo brand, Hydrox now contains no artificial colors or flavors, no trans-fats or high fructose corn sweeteners, and is 100 percent non-GMO.  The company said the clean-label decision has meant higher production costs, without any change in retail price, but will be worth it because it will lead to “increased sales and consumer loyalty in the multi-billion-dollar cookie market.” [Image Credit: © Leaf Brands ]
"American-Made Hydrox Cookies Goes Clean Label!", News release, Leaf Brands, May 23, 2017, © Leaf Brands
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State Governments Target Hunger, Food Waste, Environment

May 22, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
As debates rage at the national level over healthcare, immigration policy, and other issues, state governments are tackling more mundane local problems like food waste, hunger, and environmental protection. California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont already have laws on the books that restrict the amount of food and other organic waste (e.g., soiled and compostable paper and yard waste) that can be dumped in landfills. Maryland, New Jersey and New York are pondering similar laws. States are offering tax breaks to farmers and small businesses that donate food rather than throw it into the landfill. They are also limiting the liability of food donors, and standardizing “use by” labels so consumers don’t toss food that is still edible. It’s a significant endeavor: one in seven Americans suffers from “food insecurity,” defined as “limited or uncertain access to adequate food.”
Jon Frandsen, "States Try to Reduce Food Waste with New Laws", SF Gate, May 22, 2017, © Hearst Communications, Inc.
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Nespresso Pop-Up Store Opens In Argentina’s Rosario City

May 22, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Nestlé has opened a pop-up Nespresso coffee machine and capsule store in a shopping mall in the Paraná River port city of Rosario, Argentina. Nespresso machines brew espresso and coffee from capsules, or pods, that contain single-use amounts of ground beans.
"Argentina: Nespresso to open new pop-up store on 1 June 2017", Esmerk Latin American News, May 22, 2017, © M-Brain
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Bread: It Really Is Good For You, When Done Right

May 22, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A coterie of unabashed bread champions has emerged from the shadows to proclaim the inherent goodness of bread, long reviled by nutritionists and other self-proclaimed health experts. Leading the charge is Michael Pollan, author of An Eater's Manifesto, whose TV show explains in detail what makes good food good. He is especially hard on the anti-gluten movement and so-called gluten sensitivity – a real problem for the tiny troop of celiac suffers in the U.S. – but little more than a fad diet for others. Bakers like Canada’s Bryn Rawlyk, meanwhile, say customers simply don’t have a problem with his bread, made from whole grains grown and milled locally. It’s the industrialized, mass-market loaves that seem to cause the health problems. Pollan says, “In the case of bread, what we may have overlooked is the importance of a long, slow, sourdough fermentation."
Corey Mintz, "Healthy bread exists and it’s the greatest thing since, well, you know", The Globe and Mail , May 22, 2017, © The Globe and Mail Inc
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Airport Donates Unsold Concession Foods To Needy

May 22, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
The Austin, Texas, airport has launched a program to salvage and share unopened, unsold concession foods with the 180,000 needy citizens of the city. Austin-Bergstrom International Airport’s Food Rescue Program has partnered with its concessionaires and with the nonprofit Keep Austin Fed to donate the food rather than sending it to the landfill. Begun in March, the program collected and donated more than 3,500 unsold food products in the first month, including sandwiches, salads, snack boxes and buns. The long-range goal of the program is to help reduce the 40 percent of food wasted in America. [Image Credit: © Austin-Bergstrom Airport ]
"Unsold sandwiches, salads donated to Keep Austin Fed", News release, City of Austin (Texas), May 22, 2017, © City of Austin
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Facebook Expands Food Order/Delivery Feature On Desktops And Phones

May 19, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Facebook users are now able to tap an icon on their smartphone or desktop to place food pickup and delivery orders from participating restaurants that use Delivery.com or Slice. The innovation means users needn’t leave the Facebook platform to visit a restaurant or delivery site. The new feature expands a deal with the two online ordering businesses announced last October that allowed Facebook users to order food from Facebook pages of supported restaurants using a “Start Order” button. The “Order Food” icon eliminates the need to visit restaurant sites because all participating restaurants are listed together on the user's Facebook page. [Image Credit: © Facebook ]
Sarah Perez, "Facebook Rolls Out a New “Order Food” Option in its Main Navigation", Tech Crunch, May 19, 2017, © AOL Inc.
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Potential Hikes In Prices, Fate Of NHS, Have British Consumers On Edge

May 19, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Mintel consumer research finds that Britons are worried about the prospect of higher prices of goods and services, including food, vacations and clothing. Eighty-three percent worry about price hikes generally, and 59 percent worry about more expensive groceries. With the impact of Brexit still largely unknown yet looming, and despite concerns about rising prices,  consumer confidence remains relatively strong. People still expect their personal finances to hold up well over the next year. However, the fate of the National Health Service (NHS) and the nation’s economy worry consumers.
"Britain braces itself for price hikes: 83% fear price rises on goods and services", News release, Mintel, May 19, 2017, © Mintel Group Ltd.
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As Retail Industry Continues To Sag, Walmart Booms

May 18, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Walmart bucked depressing retail industry trends in the first fiscal quarter, posting a 1.4 percent increase in revenue to $117.54 billion, slightly less than the $117.74 billion expected by Wall Street. Earnings per share were up by two percent to $1.00, better than analyst expectations of $0.96 a share. The glowing performance in a time of limp retail sales was generally driven by aggressive pricing that increased store traffic by three percent (on a two-year stacked basis) and by successful expansion of its online business. E-commerce sales soared 63 percent, up from 29 percent growth last quarter, mostly due to organic growth and not acquisitions. Same-store sales grew for the 11th consecutive quarter.
"Walmart U.S. Q1 comps1 grew 1.4% and Walmart U.S. eCommerce GMV grew 69%, Company reports Q1 FY18 diluted EPS of $1.00", Earnings release, Walmart, May 18, 2017, © Walmart Stores, Inc.
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Opportunities For Confectioners In Asia’s Functional Candy Market

May 18, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Concerns about health among Chinese consumers have both helped and hindered the country’s confectionery industry, according to Mintel data. On the one hand, there is growing anxiety that the Chinese diet contains far too much sugar. This is reflected in a decline in volume candy sales beginning in 2015, a trend not helped by a general economic slowdown. However, Chinese consumers are buying more functional candy, for example throat-soothing or vitamin C candies. This presents a product development and marketing opportunity for confectionery firms, especially those that analyze the demands of demographic segments in Asian countries. One functional ingredient in candy is collagen, an anti-aging protein. Another is iron, already available in candy in Japan and Taiwan. Associated with good health and energy, iron is beneficial for skin complexions, and often taken to prevent anemia. ][Image Credit: © Golden Throat Lozenge (Jinsangzi Houpian]
Loris Li, "China’s Sugar Confectionery Market Declines While Functional Candy Grows", News release, Mintel, May 18, 2017, © Mintel Group Ltd.
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It’s Official: McDonald’s Ice Cream Is Clean Label

May 18, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
McDonald’s has added its vanilla soft serve ice cream product to the list of menu items that no longer contain artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. The change began quietly last fall, and is now nearly completed at its 14,000 U.S. locations. Vanilla soft serve is used to make cones, McCafe shakes and McFlurry desserts – a total of about 60 percent of the desserts McDonald's serves. In addition, the chocolate and strawberry McCafe shake syrup no longer contains high fructose corn syrup; the whipped topping served on all three flavors of shakes is made with no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. [Image Credit: © McDonald's ]
"Sweet Surprise: McDonald's Unveils a Change to its Vanilla Soft Serve", News release, McDonald's, May 18, 2017, © McDonald's
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Hot New Manhattan Dessert Is Part Asia, Part USA

May 18, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
It’s called “Japanese bouncy cheesecake” and it’s the latest dessert craze in New York City. The fluffy sweet concoction, hugely popular in Asia, is sold at a newly-opened Pan-Asian bakery in Manhattan that already boasts long lines of customers waiting to indulge. Keki Modern Cakes owner Lawrence Wai recruited executive chef Kevin Kim to recreate the pastry, whose secret ingredient is the French meringue added for bounciness. It is made with cream cheese from Amish farms, organic milk and free-range eggs. The top is an airy cake that melds into a dense mousse. It may have its roots in Asia, but its “unmistakable richness and sweetness” are pure American cheesecake. [Image Credit: © Keki Modern Cakes ]
Eva Kis, "Japanese cheesecake finally comes to NYC at Keki Modern Cakes", Metro NY, May 18, 2017, © Metro Media US
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High-Protein, Natural Ingredient Spheroid Snacks Available In U.K.

May 18, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A British company has launched a new natural food brand – Boostball – that features six high-protein spheroidal snacks made with only seven natural ingredients. The snacks are rich in fiber, as well as vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, B, E, B12, calcium, iron and zinc. They are made with raw, cold-pressed ingredients such as natural sugars found in fruits and plants, and produced without baking or refining. The product range includes two vegan varieties. [Image Credit: © Boostball ]
Leia Taing, "Boostball Launches New Range of Natural Protein Balls", The Food & Drink Innovation Network, May 18, 2017, © Food & Drink Innovation Network
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Sustainable Living Brands Initiative Has Positive Impact At Unilever

May 18, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Products that Unilever six years ago designated as “sustainable living brands” – they offer a strong social or environmental purpose – have proven to be generally more successful than the rest of its product lineup, the company says. They have grown 50 percent faster and delivered more than 60 percent of the growth in 2016. Eighteen ended up in Unilever’s top 40 brands. Most successful sustainable living products include Lifebuoy, Ben & Jerry’s, Dove and Hellmann’s, with high single- and double-digit sales over the past six years. CEO Paul Polman said the results show that “sustainability is good for business” because consumers want sustainable products. A Unilever-commissioned survey found that more than half of all consumers already buy or want to buy sustainably. [Image Credit: © Ben & Jerry's ]
"Unilever’s Sustainable Living brands continue to drive higher rates of growth", News release, Unilever, May 18, 2017, © Unilever
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Target’s Q1 Numbers Are Promising, But There’s Still Work To Do

May 17, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Target seems to be on a path to recovery, if profit is any indication, though it reported a first quarter same-store sales decline of 1.3 percent due to drops in traffic and basket size. Digital sales were up 22 percent, however. Sales totaled $16 billion down from $16.2 billion last year. Earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter were $1.22, compared with $1.02 a year ago. Thomson Reuters consensus forecast was 91 cents. The company expects a “low single-digit decline” in same-store sales in the second quarter, and adjusted EPS of $0.95 to $1.15. For the full-year 2017, Target continues to project a low single-digit decline in same-store sales. CEO Brian Cornell said the company is in "the early stage of a multi-year effort to position Target for profitable, consistent long-term growth.”
"Target Reports First Quarter 2017 Earnings", Earnings release, Target, May 17, 2017, © Target Brands, Inc.
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Danone Buys Entry Into Smaller, Quicker, Tuned-In Food Companies

May 17, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
The venture funding unit of France’s yogurt multinational Danone has invested in a four-year-old, two-woman investment firm whose portfolio features small “disruptive food and beverage companies” in the natural and organic market that are “stealing shelf space and sales from established food companies.” AccelFoods of New York is nurturing 30 start-ups that produce everything from “better-for-you” bouillon cubes to calamansi juice drinks to flavored organic pressed teas. Adding Danone to the fund raised another $15 million, for a total of about $30 million. Danone’s investment comes at a time when Danone’s investment in AccelFoods is part of a strategy to boost sales by expanding in the U.S. It also acknowledges that smaller, more agile companies have a better grasp of the fast-evolving tastes of younger food consumers. [Image Credit: © Accel Foods ]
"Danone Announces Investment in AccelFoods", European Supermarket Magazine, May 17, 2017, © European Supermarket Magazine
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Barilla Unveils Line Of Microwaveable Pasta

May 17, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
The U.S. unit of Italy’s Barilla Group SpA. has developed a quick-cook pasta that delivers a tasty al dente texture within 60 seconds. The microwave pasta has only two added ingredients – sea salt and olive oil – and comes in four shapes: elbows, gemelli, penne and rotini. Ready Pasta is non-GMO certified and has no preservatives. It is packaged in an 8.5-ounce pouch (two servings) and is found in the dry pasta aisle of grocery stores. [Image Credit: © Barilla ]
"New Barilla Ready Pasta Delivers Perfect Pasta in 60 Seconds", News release, Barilla, May 17, 2017, © Barilla Group SpA
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U.S. Grocery Chain Owner Delhaize Honored For Diversified Hiring Practices

May 17, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Retail grocery chain owner Delhaize America was recognized by Web-based “diversity” publisher and event sponsor DiversityInc for its excellence in hiring, retaining and promoting women, minorities, people with disabilities, LGBT people and veterans. Delhaize, whose grocery chains include Food Lion and Hannaford, was ranked 10th among the top 11 “Companies for Progress,” a subset of the top 50 companies for diversity. It was the only grocery firm to make the top 50. Other retailers among the top 50 were Target (No. 22) and CVS Health (No. 50). CPG companies included Johnson & Johnson (No. 5), Procter & Gamble (No. 13), Kellogg Co. (No. 28), Colgate-Palmolive (No. 35), and McCormick & Co. (No. 45).
"Delhaize America Among Top Companies for Progress", Progressive Grocer, May 17, 2017, © EnsembleIQ
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Companies Develop Plant Steroid Dietary Supplement Applications

May 17, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Several companies have collaborated to introduce food and dietary supplement ingredients applications based on a plant sterol ester that has been approved by the EU (EFSA) for use by European food companies. BASF health unit Newtrition partnered with Aenova and Kappa to develop the Vegapure brand of plant sterol ingredient, made with phytosterols known to reduce high cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. The ingredient is available in several forms, including capsules, sachets and shots. [Image Credit: © BASF Newtrition ]
"BASF, Aenova and Kappa Develop New Dietary Supplement Applications with Phytosterol Vegapure", Nutrition Insight, May 17, 2017, © CNS Media BV
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Bagel And Doughnut Economics 101

May 17, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Doughnuts and bagels have a similar shape, including (usually) a hole in the middle. But they are not the same, not by a long shot, and neither are their respective small business models. Doughnut entrepreneurs like Rebecca Gullo say the economics of bagels “don’t work” for her mainly because it’s “unbelievably difficult to make great bagels.” And they’re not as profitable as doughnuts, primarily because bagel shops aren’t yet able to charge the premium prices for their product that doughnut shops do. Doughnuts are less labor-intensive to make: once glazed, they’re done. Bagels can be embellished with cream cheese or other spreads, sold as sandwiches, etc. But that requires extra work, and extra expense. 
Janelle Nanos , "Doughnut vs. bagel: a hole different game", The Boston Globe, May 17, 2017, © Boston Globe Media Partners, LLC
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Pizza Doughnuts: In An Age Of Doughnut Creativity, Why Not?

May 16, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Who says a pizza – despite its name – has to be in the shape of a pie? The West End Bistro in West Haven, Conn., has proven that pizza can look like a doughnut and sell just as well. Their creation – the idea came to the owner in a dream – begins with focaccia dough stuffed with Italian cheeses and shaped into a doughnut. It is then fried and “frosted” with what creator Jeff Lamberti calls “gravy” – pizza sauce – then baked, garnished with greens and served. Photos posted on social media were a viral hit; passels of orders soon followed. Lamberti said they sold two hundred of the junk food delicacies in a recent weekend. "I didn't think that it would take off the way it did,” he said.  [Image Credit: © NBC Connecticut ]
"The Pizza Donut: A Match Made in Junk Food Heaven", WHOtv.com, May 16, 2017, © WHO: A Tribune Broadcasting Station
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Trusted Brands In 40+ Product Categories Listed By Reader’s Digest

May 16, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
An online survey of 5,500 American consumers found that 49 percent are less trusting of brands these days. The survey, conducted by Reader’s Digest, sought to find the most trusted brands in 40 product categories, including food and beverage, beauty and healthcare, retail, etc. According to the company, which awards a “Trusted Brand seal of approval” to products, the survey found that trust outweighs product pricing and trust ensures customer retention and brand loyalty. (It doesn’t, however, equate with top sales: Ford is ranked as most trusted car company, but GM is the top seller.) More than half of participants said the Reader’s Digest seal of approval would increase their likelihood of trusting a brand.  [Image Credit: © Reader's Digest ]
"Reader’s Digest Annual Survey Determines the Most Trusted Brands in America", News release, Reader's Digest, May 16, 2017, © Reader's Digest
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Fast-Food Companies Deal With Menu Customization Trend

May 16, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A number of fast-food restaurants have begun to cater to customers who concoct their own entrees rather than order from the menu. The practice has led to rumors of “secret menus” on social media, complete with photos. McDonald’s restaurants have sometimes complied with requests (e.g., Chicken Cordon Bleu McMuffins), as have Chipotle (Quesaritos), and Shake Shack (Peanut Butter Bacon Burgers). The phenomenon has attracted legions of online fans who debate recipes and share ways to order custom items without ticking off stressed restaurant staff. Company reaction to the phenomenon varies. Some officially deny its existence, some acknowledge that their staff will do some customization, and others flat out welcome it. [Image Credit: © HackTheMenu.com ]
Corinne Ramey, "Can I Have That Burger With a Side of Peanut Butter?", The Wall Street Journal, May 16, 2017, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Chobani Strives To Be No. 1 In Yogurt, But Not Through Tactics Of “Desperation”

May 15, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
American yogurt fans have embraced Greek yogurt since Chobani introduced it here nine years ago, but the company is not satisfied. Fifty-four percent of U.S. yogurt sales are in the Greek category, but CMO Peter McGuinness says it is still “underpenetrated” and should be double what it is now. The market figures tell him that two-thirds of the country hasn’t had a Greek yogurt in the last 52 weeks. Chobani, with 20.4 percent of the overall yogurt market, will beat Yoplait and No. 1 Danone through “authentic innovation” within the category, rather than “desperation and discounting,” McGuinness says. [Image Credit: © Chobani ]
Mary Ellen Shoup, "Chobani CMO on Greek Yogurt: ‘We Think the Category Should be double what it is today’", DAIRYreporter.com, May 15, 2017, © William Reed Business Media SAS
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Toronto Chef Seeks To End Food Waste And Hunger

May 15, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Chef Jagger Gordon is on a dual mission – ending food waste and hunger – has opened a subsidized eatery that allows customers to pay what they feel they can afford. Gordon’s Soup Bar in Toronto (Ont.) is the direct beneficiary of his other program, Feed It Forward, that collects unsold, unused food otherwise bound for the landfill. Patrons not only pay for their own meal, if they can afford it they can contribute $2.50 extra. That buys a chip that goes in a jar to be redeemed by a needy patron. Is Gordon worried his system will be abused? Not at all: "If you are humble enough to come and utilize one of the chips for a meal, you've earned it." [Image Credit: © Jagger Gordon Catering]
Gilbert Ngabo, "Subsidized eatery opening soon in Toronto", The Toronto Star, May 15, 2017, © Toronto Star Newspapers Ltd.
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British Grocery Chain Seeks To “Rescue” Scorned Bananas

May 15, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Sainsbury’s is dismayed that so many of its countrymen, who enjoy bananas fairly often – 30 percent eat at least one a day – nevertheless turn up their noses at – and usually bin – the fruits if they have imperfections like bruises, black marks, or green spots. It’s a serious problem: Britons trash about 1.8 million rejected bananas a day. As part of its £10 million Waste Less, Save More initiative, the company has launched pop-up “Banana Rescue” stations in its 500 stores to offer not only recipes for banana bread, but all of the hardware necessary to make it. That includes mixing bowls, blenders, baking tins and storage solutions. [Image Credit: © Sainsbury's ]
"Sainsbury’s launches in store ‘Banana Rescue’ stations, giving new a-peel to bin-bound fruit ", News release, Sainsbury’s, May 15, 2017, © J Sainsbury plc
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Tesco Keeps Excess Crops From Ending Up In Landfills

May 13, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Unseasonable weather in the U.K. has spurred bumper crops of cauliflower, carrots, and small iceberg lettuces in danger of going unsold and clogging landfills. To help remedy the situation, retail grocery chain Tesco recently purchased thousands of heads of small lettuce from G’s Fresh, a supplier of salads and produce to retail food chains in the U.K. and Europe. As part of its Perfectly Imperfect initiative, Tesco is selling the small lettuces at deep discounts (29p a head as opposed to 50p). The program benefits G’s Fresh because the small lettuces are tricky to sell. Earlier in the spring, Tesco also bought 220,000 surplus cauliflowers and a million surplus carrots to take advantage of the excess crops while reducing food waste. [Image Credit: © G's Fresh ]
Beth Gault, "Tesco buys thousands of small lettuces from G's to avoid waste", The Grocer, May 13, 2017, © William Reed Business Media Ltd
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Fanta’s Novel Twisted Bottle Debuts In Armenia

May 12, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Branding makeover of fruit-flavored soda Fanta includes new bottle with ”unique twisted” shape featured in the 500 ml, one liter and 1.5 liter sizes. Bottle debuted in Armenia recently and will be “especially loved and well suited to the taste of dynamic and active Armenian youth,” according to local Coca-Cola (Hellenic Armenia) head. Launch will be accompanied by Fanta giveaways and “dancing celebrations” in capital, Yerevan.
"A refreshing twist: Fanta gets a new look", PanARMENIAN.Net, May 12, 2017, © PanARMENIAN.Net
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Consumers Contribute To Extended Economic Recoveries Because Of Buying Habits

May 12, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
“Jobless recoveries” from recessions have become the norm. Routine jobs eliminated during downturns never come back, thanks to automation and outsourcing. That makes recovery slow, dampening real wages for longer periods. But business researchers show that companies cutting costs during hard times isn't the only reason for slow recoveries. Consumers contribute by buying cheaper, lower quality goods – usually produced overseas – at discount retailers, a phenomenon called “trading down.” It’s a smart move for consumers, but ultimately the macro economy suffers. Lower quality goods and services don’t require skilled labor, so demand for U.S. labor slides, further crippling the economy. As the trend continues after the recession ends, the job market remains hobbled.
Sergio Rebelo, "Recessions Push People to Buy Cheap Things, Which Just Makes Everything Worse", Harvard Business Review, May 12, 2017, © Harvard Business School Publishing
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Innovation Program Puts Coca-Cola In Touch With Creative Entrepreneurs

May 12, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Innovation involves connection with partners and customers, as well as with fast-growing start-up companies, according to the head of Coca-Cola’s innovation program, The Bridge. Launched three years ago, the program picks 10 companies with potential each year and gives them access to its massive marketing resources. For its efforts, Coke gets early access to innovative consumer technologies. The program has produced 68 pilot programs, 15 license agreements and four global license agreements. Not content with this early success, Alan Boehme now wants to accelerate the initiative. [Image Credit: © Coca-Cola Company ]
David Needle, "Coca Cola’s investments in startups is the real thing for innovation", CIO, May 12, 2017, © CXO MEDIA INC., Inc.
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Innovation Drives Fight Against Food Waste, Climate Change, Hunger

May 11, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Megatons of wasted food ends up rotting in landfills daily, releasing harmful greenhouse gases, while 800 million people globally endure chronic hunger and malnutrition. A growing number of entrepreneurs recognize the connection between wasted food, hunger and climate change, and see an opportunity to deal with all three. Among the innovations they have developed: Demetra, a natural post-harvest treatment that extends fruit shelf life by retarding the ripening process; the Winnow smart scale helps commercial chefs cut waste by measuring just what they throw from the kitchen every day; and food tech startup RISE uses the spent barley by-product of beer production to make flour for bread, pizza, cookies and other baked goods. [Image Credit: © New York University ]
Umberto Bacchi, "Coffee flour, beer pizza on menu as innovators fight food waste", Reuters, May 11, 2017, © Thomson Reuters
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Knorr’s New Quick Meals Are Free Of Artificial Flavors, Preservatives

May 11, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Unilever brand Knorr unveiled quick stovetop meals made without artificial flavors, artificial preservatives or gluten. Ingredients are grown on Knorr Landmark Farms and include “responsibly sourced” rice from Arkansas, dairy from the Midwest, and garlic from California. Knorr said its farmers are encouraged to adopt sustainable practices on their farms, such as improving soil quality, reducing water usage, and increasing biodiversity. New Knorr Selects meals include Four Cheese Risotto, White Cheddar Broccoli, Roasted Garlic Alfredo, Rustic Mexican Rice & Beans, Spinach & Artichoke and Asiago Cheese & Cracked Black Pepper. [Image Credit: © Unilever U.S. ]
"New Knorr Selects Bring Quality, Flavor and Convenience to the Table", News release, Unilever, May 11, 2017, © Unilever
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Food Companies Further Spirit Of Obama-Era Nutrition Programs

May 11, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
The Trump administration’s USDA has made it a top priority to eliminate Obama-era nutrition initiatives. The agency has stalled or rolled back nutrition standards for school lunches, and postponed rules that require restaurants to put calorie counts on menus. But the changes are not having much impact on food companies that have gotten into the spirit of Michelle Obama’s programs, though perhaps not for altruistic reasons. Companies have financial and political motivations for making changes: consumers are clamoring for more healthful foods, and in smaller portions. The upshot is that big food firms are working with the nonprofit Partnership for a Healthier America to further the Obama legacy, despite what the new crop of regulators says or does.  [Image Credit: © USDA ]
Caitlin Dewey , "The one piece of Michelle Obama’s legacy that President Trump can’t wreck", The Washington Post, May 11, 2017, © The Washington Post
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Osteoporosis Risk Drops When People Eat More Yogurt

May 11, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A large study – 3,881 women, 2,053 men – by researchers at Trinity College Dublin has determined that people who eat more yogurt tend to have denser hip bones and thus a reduced risk of osteoporosis, a chronic condition leading to weaker bones and more bone fractures. The researchers looked at a wide array of possible risk factors, including BMI, kidney function, physical activity, servings of milk or cheese, calcium or vitamin D supplements, smoking, inactivity, and alcohol use. After adjusting for these, they found that a unit increase in yogurt intake in women was associated with a 39 percent lower risk of osteoporosis, and a 52 percent lower risk in men. Vitamin D supplements also helped reduce osteoporosis risk.
E. Laird et al., "Greater yogurt consumption is associated with increased bone mineral density and physical function in older adults", Osteoporosis International, May 11, 2017, © International Osteoporosis Foundation and National Osteoporosis Foundation
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Grocery Discounter Aldi Increases The Pressure On Low-Price Competitors

May 11, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
German discount grocery chain Aldi is solidifying its gains in the U.S. market by competing even more on price, enhancing its product line, and remodeling stores and adding new ones. Internal research shows that Aldi already undercuts Walmart prices by an average of 21 percent, and it plans to keep the pressure on. The pricing strategy, aimed directly at low-price competitors like Walmart, includes expanding its array of private-label products. The company will spend $1.6 billion to expand and remodel 1,300 of its 1,600 U.S. stores, while opening 400 new stores in Florida, Texas and on the East and West coasts within a year and a half. CEO Jason Hart said all of these moves are designed to convince grocery shoppers to start their shopping trips at Aldi. [Image Credit: © Aldi Corporation ]
Nandita Bose, "Exclusive: Aldi raises stakes in U.S. price war with Walmart", Reuters, May 11, 2017, © Thomson Reuters
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App Helps Companies With On-Site Catering Avoid Food Waste

May 11, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
An Irish software start-up that targets large companies with on-site catering operations says there are several benefits of using its Tabit app. The app allows employees to order food in advance, for example, from their workstations and avoid wasting time in queues. But a less obvious benefit for companies is the savings when employees are on vacation. Companies spend about $9 and $13 a day providing meals to staff, money – and food – that is wasted if an employee is on holiday (the meals are still produced). The Tabit app integrates with the HR department to avoid the waste, and it adds up when as many as 30 or 40 people are on vacation at the same time. “Multiplied by one or two weeks, that's a lot of money and a lot of potential waste," the company’s founder says. [Image Credit: © Tabit ]
Olive Keogh, "Tabit transforming corporates’ in-house food catering services", Irish Times, May 11, 2017, © The Irish Times
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PepsiCo Expands E-Commerce Relationship With China’s Alibaba Platform

May 11, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
PepsiCo’s China unit has extended its marketing relationship with giant online and mobile commerce company Alibaba with a new strategic agreement. The company said the pact is an effort to expand its own e-commerce capabilities while enhancing customer online experiences. PepsiCo will take full advantage of Alibaba's platform and data “to carry out more innovative experiments” and “perfect PepsiCo's products and services.” Cooperation with Alibaba began five years ago in the e-commerce segment when PepsiCo established a flagship store on Tmall  It has launched several online marketing campaigns, including the 2016 Super Brand Day, Quaker's co-branded campaign with Tmall, and Kumamon-branded Lay's gift campaign during Chinese New Year. [Image Credit: © PepsiCo ]
"PepsiCo Signs Strategic Agreement with Alibaba Group", News release, PepsiCo, May 11, 2017, © PepsiCo
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Feds Crack Down On Misleading Social Media Celebrity Product Endorsements

May 10, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
The Federal Trade Commission has warned companies that use celebrity endorsers on social media – notably Instagram – must disclose that the endorsements, which include photos of celebrities displaying products, are paid and not voluntary. The agency sent 90 letters to brand holders and endorsers allegedly in violation of federal law. Companies notified included dietary supplement firms, personal care brands, food companies and consumer goods companies like Adidas and Puma. Endorsers included Heidi Klum, Naomi Campbell, Allen Iverson, Jennifer Lopez, and former NFLer James Harrison. FTC guidelines say a company that has a “business relationship” with a celebrity endorser should “clearly and conspicuously” disclose that relationship in the endorsement ad. [Image Credit: © FTC.gov]
Hank Schultz, "FTC Tells Companies, 'Influencers' to disclose when Instagram Posts are Ads", NUTRAingredients-USA.com, May 10, 2017, © William Reed Business Media SAS
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Whole Foods Market Names Manbeck Chief Financial Officer

May 10, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Retailer Whole Foods Market, Inc., said it has named Keith Manbeck as executive vice president and chief financial officer effective May 17, 2017. With more than 20 years of experience as financial and operational executive at leading companies, Manbeck joins the retailer's management team implementing an expanded strategy to improve shareholder value. Manbeck was SVP of digital finance, strategy management, and business transformation at Kohl's Corp. since 2014 and, before that, was global VP and CFO for Nike's Direct to Consumer business.
"Whole Foods Market Appoints Keith Manbeck as Chief Financial Officer", Whole Foods Market, May 10, 2017, © Whole Foods Market
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Whole Foods Market Suffers Another Quarterly Drop In Same-Store Sales

May 10, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Whole Foods Market posted generally healthy second quarter financials, but endured another quarterly decline in same-store sales. Total sales were up 1.1 percent to a record $3.7 billion for the quarter. Same-store sales, however, slid 2.8 percent, the seventh consecutive quarterly drop. Profit was $99 million (2.6 percent of sales), or an expected $0.37 a share. The company returned $45 million in dividends to shareholders. CEO John Mackey said a key goal is to return to positive same-store sales and earnings growth next year, though the company expects same-store sales to remain depressed this fiscal year. It hopes to trim $300 million in costs this year, and has hired a consulting firm to help it figure out how. Keith Manbeck was named the new chief financial officer. [Image Credit: © Whole Foods Market ]
"Whole Foods Market Provides Shareholder Update on Accelerated Path to Delivering Shareholder Value and Announces Second Quarter 2017 Results", Earnings release, Whole Foods Market , May 10, 2017, © Whole Foods Market
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West Virginia Entrepreneur Shapes A Talent For Baking Into A Successful Business

May 10, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
It all started with a cake made for a friend who loves sushi. Fashioned by Erin Whitcomb to resemble a bento box packed with sushi rolls, the concoction so impressed the friend, who himself had a professional background in baking, that it led eventually to a business partnership and then a bakery in Martinsburg, W.V. Along the way, there was a stint at culinary school where Whitcomb mastered the science behind her baking. Edible Elegance by Erin now supports seven employees who produce breads (including gluten-free varieties), bagels, cakes and pastries with no added preservatives and mostly local ingredients such as fruit. Whitcomb has also stretched her range of unusual shaped cakes to include books, a guitar case, and an elaborate castle with a moat.   [Image Credit: © Edible Elegance by Erin ]
Jackie Puglisi , "Bakery begins with bento box cake idea", The Winchester Star (Virginia), May 10, 2017, © The Winchester Star
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Artisanal Small-Batch Pasta Maker Is A Florida Success Story

May 8, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A Sarasota, Fla., family with roots in Italy, Argentina and Maryland – and an old tradition of hand-made pasta – represents a growing trend in artisanal pasta whose motto could be: “Dry pasta is dead.” The family’s small-batch Peperonata Pasta comes in 20 flavors and 44 shapes, all made at their 800-square-foot facility using three machines. The Fochis began selling their products at local farmers’ markets in the Gulf Coast region. The Sarasota Whole Foods Market found them eventually and began stocking the products. They are now available at 20 of the chain’s stores. Three years ago the family opened their own store and café, selling pasta and empanadas. [Image Credit: © Sarasota Farmers Market ]
Maggie Menderski, "Passion and Fresh Ingredients", Herald-Tribune (Sarasota, Fla.), May 08, 2017, © GateHouse Media, LLC
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Uber Supports Volunteer Food Deliverers In Calgary

May 8, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A nonprofit organization based in Calgary (Alberta) rescues unsold perishable food and delivers it – with the help of 150 volunteers – to kitchens at 20 service agencies serving the hungry. A problem arises when a volunteer doesn’t own a vehicle, or wants to make a quick delivery on a lunch break. That’s where Uber comes in. The company has donated 40 free rides a month to LeftOvers Calgary, which works with 35 restaurants, bakeries, grocery stores and events across the city in a project that helps reduce food waste while alleviating hunger. [Image Credit: © RescueFood.ca ]
"LeftOvers Calgary partners with Uber", News release, LeftOvers Calgary, May 08, 2017, © LeftOvers Calgary
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Gilding The Lily: Why Mess With An Already Perfect Treat?

May 8, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Two Bloomberg food writers say that when it comes to variations on the doughnut, enough is enough already. The writers were once enthusiastic champions of the doughnut craze: ecstatic at each new adaptation. But doughnut re-invention has overstayed its welcome, as evidenced by the arrival of: sriracha and peanut butter doughnuts, doughnut ice cream cones, spaghetti doughnuts, sushi doughnuts, a JPMorgan Chase promotional doughnut the size of a pizza, doughnut sandwiches, etc. – all instant hits on, well, Instagram. What’s next? A doughnut chalupa from Taco Bell? Kate Krader and Chris Rovza say a doughnut is nearly perfect in and of itself. “The innovation is built in! Why do we need to take it to grotesque extremes?”
Kate Krader et al., "Doughnuts Are on a Global Rampage, and They Must Be Stopped", Bloomberg Pursuits, May 08, 2017, © Bloomberg L.P.
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Coca-Cola CEO Quincey Expects Robust Growth – Beginning Next Year

May 7, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
New Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey, who succeeds Muhtar Kent, says focus is on “next stage of growth," to be financed in part by cutting 1,200 jobs, saving $800 million. Problems plaguing company have included strong dollar (dampened profit), meager investment in “sparkling” brands, and need to shed bottlers to strengthen lineup of partners. Quincey doesn’t expect profit to rise this year, so focus is on 2018, 2019, and beyond.
Russell Grantham, "Coke’s new CEO: ‘The next stage has to be about growth’ ", The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, May 07, 2017, © Cox Media Group
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Boulanger Eric Kayser Expands Operations In U.S.

May 6, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
French baker Eric Kayser, who opened his first boulangerie in Paris in 1996 and now operates in Africa, South America, and Japan – is expanding his presence in New York City. The planned Maison Kayser café/restaurant – the latest of the 14 in the city – will open this spring near the Empire State Building. The ambitious boulanger is also planning to open stores in Washington, D.C. The stores serve more expensive versions of his Paris fare, including baguettes, viennoiseries, tartines, tarts, all made with local ingredients, except for the butter, which is imported from France. [Image Credit: © Maison Kayser ]
"French Boulanger Kayser Finds a Niche in US", The Express Tribune, May 06, 2017, © The Express Tribune
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Food Waste Repurposed Into Edible, Profitable New Products

May 6, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
The food waste problem is inspiring a lot of creative new product development these days. Among the ingenious products from socially aware entrepreneurs: Foxhole Gin, made with leftover grape skins, flesh and pips from winemaking; Toast Ale, made from surplus loaves of bread mashed into crumbs and mixed with malted barley, hops and yeast; ChicP hummus in four varieties made from discarded wonky fruit and vegetables; Hellmann's Ketchup, a new product made from imperfect discarded red and green tomatoes; Snacktivism snack bars made from excess fruit gleaned from London’s wholesale food markets; Spare Fruit premium crisps made from rescued wasted fruit; and Rejuce fruit and vegetable juices made from rejected produce that is transformed into flavors like Lime, Cucumber, & Mint, and Lemon, Beetroot & Ginger.  [Image Credit: © ChicP ]
Megan Tatum, "How food waste is fueling a new wave of NPD", The Grocer, May 06, 2017, © William Reed Business Media Ltd.
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Certification To Transform Unilever Philippines Factory Into “Halal Hub”

May 5, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Fortified with its new halal certification, the Unilever Philippines factory in Cavite will begin producing products across its home care, personal care, food, and refreshment segments for domestic and foreign Muslim markets. The company said the Cavite factory will become the “halal hub” for the Southeast Asia and Australia markets. A new mega-distribution center in Cabuyao, Laguna, expected to be finished by October, would handle distribution and transport of Unilever products manufactured in Cavite and Paco, Manila. [Image Credit: © Unilever Philippines ]
Arra B. Francia , "Unilever PHL to export halal products", BusinessWorld, May 05, 2017, © BusinessWorld Publishing Corporation
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