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Food Trends Insight Alert Archive

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Food Trends

News and developments about food trends and food innovation
<<12345678910>> Total issues:159

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April 15, 2020, to August 15, 2020

Snack Innovators Are Focusing On Zesty Flavors, Strong Nutritional Profiles

As snacking takes on greater importance in the on-the-go and, perhaps paradoxically, pandemic-induced stay-at-home lifestyles, snack companies have ramped up innovation. Leading advances in snacking include exotic flavors, “plant-forward” products, high-protein treats, and zesty nutritional snacks. Examples of plant-forward snacks include: Wholly Rollies (3One), a round, nut-based snack; and Power Veggie Bites (Appleton’s Market), a muffin-like snack made with broccoli, carrots, and Swiss chard. High-protein snacks feature peanuts, beef jerky, or pork rinds. Trendy flavors that appeal to snack lovers: international, savory, spicy, smoky, and umami, often combined with traditionally sweet products, like sea salt caramels or smoked almond toffee. Bold, spicy flavors are also having their day – “the hotter the better.” An example of healthful+zesty is Spicy Peri Peri Biltong Sticks (Stryve): the clean-label beef stick snack contains only common foodstuffs like beef, vinegar, salt, chili pepper, coriander, black pepper, nutmeg, clove, and lamb casing.

Nestlé Europe Unveils New Plant-Protein Range Of YES! Snack Bars

The Swiss food company’s new YES! snack bars contain 10 grams of plant protein derived from nuts and peas. Like other YES! bars, the bars are high in fiber, use no artificial colors or preservatives, are gluten free and suitable for vegetarians. Available in almond, peanut and double dark chocolate, and cashew, blueberry and dark chocolate flavors, the bars are drizzled with dark chocolate made with sustainable cocoa. They will be sold beginning in September in European countries, including the U.K., Germany, Netherlands, and the Czech Republic.

Insane Grain Introduces Snacks Made With African Supergrain Sorghum

The sorghum-based Insane Grain “crispy and melty puffs” from the U.K. start-up are gluten-free, contain under 100 calories, B-vitamins, dietary fiber, and folic acid. The vegan-friendly snacks are available in cheese, salt and vinegar, and salted caramel flavors. The company claims its new snack, available in 24-gram packs, offers gut-health benefits, contains more potassium than a banana, and 1.8 times more iron than spinach. Packets of Insane Grain are available to purchase in Whole Foods Market and Selfridges in the U.K., with more retailers to be announced.

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September 15, 2019, to April 15, 2020

Sprouted Buckwheat Entrepreneur Slams Into A Coronavirus-Induced Supply Problem

Whole Foods Market locations in Chicago this month will start selling a crunchy sprouted buckwheat breakfast cereal topping known as Lil Bucks. Creator of the brand Emily Griffith has been obsessed with sprouted buckwheat ever since she first tasted it in Australia. She hopes to expand into other Whole Foods regions in the future if the rollout proves successful. In Australia, sprouted buckwheat is a common health-food cereal, but in the U.S., buckwheat mostly appears in pancakes, soba noodles, and buckwheat groats, also called kasha. Technically not a grain, buckwheat is actually the seed of a fruit related to rhubarb and sorrel and is a highly-sustainable crop. It’s gluten-free, suitable for paleo diets, low on the glycemic Index, and high in magnesium and antioxidants. Unfortunately, Griffith has a supply problem: because she sources her buckwheat from China, “the coronavirus epidemic is affecting all parts of the supply chain, from logistics to labor,” she says. “Fortunately, we have enough buckwheat to get us through the next year at least.”

The Search For A Healthful Whole-Grain Bread That Appeals To The Masses

Bread makers who consider themselves purists – healthful ingredients only, no preservatives or other additives, no pre-slicing, no pan baking, and no plastic packaging – have had to deal with a harsh reality: the market often rejects what they’re selling. As Vermont baker Blair Marvin discovered, some compromise has been necessary though the goal – a soft, sliced, affordable, and healthful whole wheat bread – is still the goal. So Marvin and colleagues in a baking collective that is helped by the famous Bread Lab of Washington State University are working toward making a whole-grain loaf that’s familiar-looking and affordable enough to appeal to a mass audience. The result, dubbed “The Approachable Loaf,” is now made in 20 states, as well as in England, Canada, and Australia. Disguised as a standard-issue sandwich bread that kids will eat, the loaf contains fiber and other nutritious ingredients, but no chemical preservatives or additives (i.e., flavor enhancers or sugars), found in mass-produced whole-wheat breads.

Barilla’s Protein+ Pastas Are Now Made 100 Percent From Plant-Based Ingredients

Pasta company Barilla Group announced its Protein+ line is now made entirely with plant-based ingredients, specifically semolina durum wheat mixed with protein from lentils, chickpeas, and peas.  new recipe removes the egg whites from the formula, while maintaining the same great taste and "al dente" texture of traditional semolina pasta, the company says. The new formula includes shorter cook times to achieve al dente texture for all seven varieties: spaghetti, angel hair, thin spaghetti, farfalle, penne, elbows, and rotini. Protein+ pastas have the same amount of protein per serving (10g/2oz serving) as before, but now derived from plant-based sources. The pastas, a good source of iron, thiamin, folic acid, riboflavin, and niacin, are non-GMO project certified, vegan-certified, and kosher.

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June 01, 2019, to September 15, 2019

Grain, Baking Groups Urge Maintaining Carb Intake Levels

Representatives of the American Bakers Association (ABA) told a U.S. dietary guidelines advisory panel recently that carbohydrate intakes should remain at the 2015 recommended level of between 45-65 percent of daily calories.  Registered dietician Kathy Wiemer also recommended six servings daily of traditional grains with at least half as whole grains, “given that Americans continue to under-consume whole grains.” She also urged American to eat at least three servings of enriched grains. The recommendations in the advisory committee's scientific report, due next year, will form the basis of the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs). Other organizations testifying before the panel as part of an umbrella group known as the Grain Chain included the Wheat Foods Council, the Independent Bakers Association, the Grain Foods Foundation, the Grain Chain, the North American Millers' Association, the Wheat Foods Council, the USA Rice Federation, and the Retail Bakers of America.

New Branched-Chain Amino Acids Drinks From Celsius

Florida-based functional drinks maker Celsius Holdings Inc., announced expansion of its product portfolio to include branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) drinks that purportedly fuel muscle recovery. The new products, launched in three flavors: blood orange lemonade, tart cherry lime and tropical twist – will be introduced initially into the fitness channel. The company says the new BCAA extension is the first post-workout, recovery beverage that Celsius has introduced in the U.S.

Consumer Interest In “Food As Medicine” Fuels Continued Growth Of Functional Beverages

About 25 percent of American consumers are attempting to manage a medical condition through diet – the concept of “food as medicine.” That fact is reflected in the growing number of innovative beverages that deliver functional nutrients via a grab-and-go drink. Beverage companies are catering to strong consumer interest in antioxidants, digestive health, and the as yet unproven benefits of cannabidiol (CBD). Other functional ingredients companies are experimenting with include: mushrooms, the ashwagandha herb and other adaptogens, turmeric, ginger, prebiotic fibers, and probiotics. Companies active in functional drinks include: Mamma Chia (Chia Prebiotic Squeeze and Chia Energy Squeeze); Remedy Organics (Golden Mind with omega-3 fatty acids and adaptogenic herbs); Kiito Inc. (plant protein drinks for keto dieters); Kitu Life Inc. (Super Espresso with caffeine, whey protein concentrate, and coconut MCT oil); Uptime Energy Inc. (L-theanine-based energy drink); Jade Leaf Matcha (tea latte in four functional formulations); and Dona Chai (carbonated beverages with functional ingredients).

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May 01, 2019, to June 01, 2019

Perdue Expands Processing Operations In S.C. To Meet No-Antibiotics Demand

Privately-owned poultry processor Perdue Farms has spent $25 million on expanding its operations in South Carolina to satisfy consumer demand for antibiotics-free chicken. The company enlarged its portioning and marinating facilities, added a shipping cooler, and added installed automated pallet storage and office space. According to Perdue, all chicken, turkey, pork, and beef are now raised in antibiotics-free environments. It also offers a full range of no-antibiotics-ever products for foodservice operators, including restaurants, schools, colleges and universities, and hospitals. "The expansion will help us meet the growing demand for no-antibiotics-ever chicken products, and maintain the high level of customer service and reliability” expected from Perdue, CEO Randy Day said.

Rebellious Energy Of Teenagers Used To Change Attitudes Toward Junk Food

Research published in the journal Nature Human Behavior urges exposing naturally rebellious teenagers to the food industry’s manipulative marketing techniques to get them to rebel against the devious snack makers contributing to teen obesity. Teenagers can have “powerful feelings of outrage,” one researcher noted, that can be harnessed to promote public health. For the study, researchers designed an intervention in eighth grade classrooms in a Texas middle school, issuing a fact-based, exposé-style article on big food companies to the students. A control group was shown traditional healthy eating education material. The group that read the exposés chose fewer junk food snacks and selected water over sugary sodas the next day. However, the researchers puzzled over why girls who experienced a negative immediate response to junk food after the intervention didn’t really change their daily cafeteria purchases.

Hormel Launches National Ad Campaign To Inspire People To “Choose Good”

Austin, Minn.-based Hormel, maker of Natural Choice deli meats, has launched the “Good Feeds Us All” national advertising campaign to “inspire people to choose good whether it's in the food they eat or the actions they take.” The brand will incorporate a Good Feeds Us All national tour to spotlight individuals and organizations who have made it their mission to choose good. However, whether Natural Choice meats are really natural or good has spawned litigation. The D.C. Superior Court on April 8 dismissed a lawsuit by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) alleging Hormel was misleading consumers. But in statements disclosed in the court filing, a Hormel executive said the same antibiotics-treated pigs used to make its Spam meat product are also used in Natural Choice pork products. An ALDF attorney said Hormel was engaged in “a massive attempt to manipulate and dupe the consumer to purchase something they have no intention to purchase.”

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April 01, 2019, to May 01, 2019

Genetically Engineered Salmon: Appearing Soon At Your Local Grocery Store

The FDA has lifted a ban on genetically engineered salmon, clearing the way for its appearance in grocery stores. The company AquaBounty may now import its AquaAdvantage Salmon eggs to a land-based facility in Indiana, where the salmon can be grown for food. The fish have been genetically engineered to grow faster than farm-raised Atlantic salmon. But Native American tribes, food groups, and environmentalists are concerned that there is no requirement that the gene-manipulated fish be labeled as “genetically engineered.” Instead, they can be labeled “bioengineered,” a less-loaded term that can appear on packages as a symbol that says “BE” or a QR code that can be scanned with a smartphone to find out if it's genetically engineered. "So it's quite a bit more burdensome,” according to a Center for Food Safety attorney. The FDA first approved genetically engineered salmon as safe to eat in 2015.

“Natural” Claim Continues To Lure Shoppers, Despite Lack Of Definition

A Label Insight-sponsored survey of 1,000 adult consumers finds that using the word “natural” on food packaging will motivate as many as 53 percent of Americans to make a purchase. Natural is generally accepted to mean the absence of artificial flavors, sweeteners, preservatives, and color additives in products that are minimally processed. Fifty-one percent of shoppers were swayed by "no preservatives," particularly older generations. Sixty-three percent of Baby Boomers say a product with that claim would motivate them to buy compared to 46 percent of Generation X and 41 percent of Millennials. Other ingredients Americans are concerned about include: high fructose corn syrup (57 percent of older adults) and sugar (all ages). And shoppers increasingly want to know the conditions under which the fish, poultry and livestock they're eating were raised: "antibiotic free" (34 percent); "free range" (26 percent); "grass fed" (25 percent); and "pasture-raised" (17 percent) are the key terms. Oddly, free range and pasture-raised are synonymous.

Big Upper Midwest Food Distributor SpartanNash “Cleans Up” Its House Brands

Fortune 400 food distributor SpartanNash, which operates a chain of retail grocery stores in the upper Midwest and serves U.S military commissaries, is responding to customer preferences by accelerating a program to simplify private brand product ingredients and provide more transparency. “Our store guests are looking for healthier food options, clean labels and ‘free from’ formats when shopping at their local grocery store or putting food on the table," a spokesman said. In response, SpartanNash has reformulated or redesigned packaging for more than 425 products in its Our Family and Open Acres private labels since last year, removing synthetic colors, MSG, and other ingredients. Another 175 products will be added to the initiative during 2019. According to the company, the program focuses on providing customers with simpler products, shorter ingredient lists, and clean, easy-to-read labels. 

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March 01, 2019, to April 01, 2019

Pulse-Based Peatos Snack Beards The Lion – Er, Cheetah – In Its Den

A Los Angeles-based start-up believes it is offering a more healthful alternative to the current orange-colored puffy snacks – read Frito-Lay Cheetos – that Americans love so much.  Peatos from World Peas Brand have replaced the traditional corn or potato base with a pulse (peas) base and have “cleaned up” the seasonings – all while maintaining “the explosive flavor and vibrant colors.” Peatos are a crunchy puffed snack that contain twice the protein (four grams) and three times the fiber (three grams) of competitor Cheetos. They are made with non-GMO ingredients, have no artificial flavors, no synthetic colors, and no added MSG. PepsiCo, parent company of Frito-Lay's Cheetos, last May sent a cease-and-desist letter to World Peas after Peatos began hitting store shelves. According to reports, PepsiCo said Peatos (tiger image) "is confusingly similar to and dilutes the Cheetos (cheetah image) brand." 

EPA Plans To Regulate Toxic Chemicals Found In Drinking Water

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last month announced plans to set a maximum drinking water contaminant level for polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a man-made substance found in food packaging, cleaners, water-repellent fabrics, Teflon-coated cookware, and cleaning products. The contaminants are also found in firefighting foams, which have seeped into groundwater sources that reach millions of drinking taps. The process could take months at least, and critics say the move is a stalling tactic to protect industry interests, given the health risks known. The chemicals have been linked to reproductive and developmental conditions, as well as liver and kidney, and immunological effects. They also contribute to low infant birth weights, thyroid problems, and some cancers. By the end of the year, the agency will propose a regulatory determination, which is the next step legally required under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Natural Sweeteners Are Replacing Sugar, Artificial Sweeteners In Beverages

American shoppers are overwhelmingly – 73 percent – concerned about food and beverage packaging claims, according to a recent survey. The top claim is low sugar (tied with low sodium), with 35 percent of survey respondents identifying it as significant. The second significant claim is no artificial ingredients Beverage formulators are exploring the use of sugar with other sweetening ingredients or creative combinations of other naturally sweet ingredients, such as steviol glycosides, juices, flavors, and taste modulators. Among the companies and brands experimenting with natural sweeteners are: Blossom Water (Mass.), using natural fruit, flower essences, and stevia; Petal (Chicago) sparkling water, sweetened with organic agave and sugar; Teatulia (Denver) organic Tea Soda, brewed with fruits, herbs, and sugar; and Bitter Love (Maine), whose shelf-stable, RTS beverage is sweetened with fruit juice, and contains a blend of ashwagandha root, gentian, artichoke, and artemisia plant extracts.

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February 01, 2019, to March 01, 2019

Professor’s Research Helps Candy Firm Mars Achieve Its “No Artificial Dyes” Goal

Candy company Mars Inc. has patented an Ohio State professor’s method of extracting the natural pigments – anthocyanins – that give red, purple, and blue fruits and vegetables their colors. Three years ago, Mars announced a "five-year effort" to remove all synthetic dyes from its products. Before research by Monica Giusti's lab, there was no method of anthocyanin extraction that produced the specific blue pigment of blueberries. Though anthocyanins are difficult to work with, her research helped the company reach its natural dye goal. Giusti's work is allowing companies such as Mars to incorporate real nutritional value into foods that are typically perceived as unhealthy. "The real beauty is that the pigments that we extract from nature tend to be those phytochemicals that make plants good for us," Giusti said.

Israeli Company Uses Zero-Waste Process To Make Plant-Based Yogurt

Israel’s Yofix Probiotics Ltd. has launched a dairy-free, soy-free yogurt alternative line using a clean-label formula involving a few natural ingredients. The yogurt is traditionally fermented and contains live probiotic cultures, plus the prebiotic fibers that feed them. The products, available in three fruit flavors, use no cow milk and, unlike almond or cashew, do not require a great amount of water. The production process is carefully designed to ensure zero waste: all raw materials used in production remain in the final product. The company plans to launch globally, and will also debut plant-based dairy substitutes for milk, yogurt drinks, cream cheese, coffee creamers, and ice cream. 

Market For Citrus Essential Oils Expands Rapidly

An analysis by Fact.MR finds that citrus essential oil sales increased by 3,000 tons between 2017 and 2018. The oils are used in industrial and other applications, including aromatherapy, cosmetics, health care, and food and beverages. Citrus essential oils manufactured using grapefruits are expected to witness relatively faster momentum, as chemical constituents of grapefruit are sought by various industries. Grapefruit-derived citrus essential oil sales are expected to grow twice as fast as their counterparts in 2019. Purported health benefits of grapefruit essential oils include weight loss, improved immunity, and alleviation of stress. With the oils approved as safe for consumption by regulatory authorities, food and beverage companies have continued to incorporate them as a “clean label” ingredient into multiple products. Their antimicrobial and antifungal properties have opened up new avenues for citrus essential oils in the packaging industry, and as a natural preservative. 

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January 01, 2019, to February 01, 2019

Food Label Transparency Trend To Gather Momentum This Year

A report from Label Insight and the Food Marketing Institute finds that a majority of shoppers have transparency on their minds when grocery shopping: 86 percent would feel a higher sense of trust for food manufacturers and retailers that provided access to complete, “easy to understand” ingredient information. One solution is to use new methods like Smart Label, from Label Insight, to provide that information. According to Label Insight, transparency initiatives led by retailers will continue to spread in 2019. “Retailers will move beyond health and wellness as brand positioning by leveraging new approaches to data and omnichannel integration,” the data insight company said.

Report: The Emergence Of “Clean Packaging”

A report based on an online survey on packaging trends finds that “clean packaging” is the next step following clean label and clean processing. Evergreen Packaging says need to make their packaging protect taste, freshness, and nutrients; align with ingredients; be responsible; and share values. Consumers felt that packaging should protect flavor: packaging like steel cans, aluminium cans, and plastic bottles were most cited as altering product flavor. In terms of consumer values, the environmental responsibility interests of many grocery shoppers go much deeper than the package itself and the label information. In addition to environmentally-friendly products and packaging, many shoppers expect brands and retailers to demonstrate social responsibility as a company.

Antibiotic Use Declining In Meat Industry, But Still Dangerously High

Though use of antibiotics important to human medicine is dropping in the livestock industry it is still dangerously high, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The FDA reported recently that such sales dropped 28 percent between 2009 and 2017. But the latest numbers also show the beef and pork industries remain high users of these drugs at 5.1 million pounds and 4.5 million pounds in sales respectively in 2017, compared to 590,000 pounds in the chicken industry. The NRDC called the downward trend “real progress,” but warned that “the American meat industry continues to have a drug problem.” A positive sign is that major beef buyer McDonald's announced it will reduce use of the drugs across its global beef supply chain, offering hope it will spark a wave of change.

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December 15, 2018, to January 01, 2019

U.K. To Finally Act On Folic Acid Fortification Of Flour

British Prime Minister Theresa May is backing a plan to add folate supplement to bread flour to stem the tide of neural tube defects occurring in early stage fetuses: at least two pregnancies a week are terminated because of the defect, which leads to conditions like spina bifida. The U.K. has one of the highest rates of neural tube defects in Europe; folic acid fortification could help alleviate the problem. The Royal College of Midwives has urged the government to introduce mandatory fortification “as soon as possible.” Senior British government sources suggest the change could be made a reality within weeks. 

Once Considered Only Fit For Animals, Sorghum Makes Its Way Into The U.S. Diet

Gluten-free fans take note: sorghum, a whole grain commonly used for animal feed and ethanol production, is starting to make its way into the human diet.  An abundant crop in the U.S. – the largest producer in the world – sorghum is known for its natural drought tolerance and versatility but is also nutritious and gluten-free. It has been introduced into a variety of popular American foods, including Kind bars, Kellogg's cereals, and Ronzoni pastas as an “ancient grain.” Research has shown that some types of sorghum are rich in antioxidants that may help lower the risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and some neurological diseases.

Lawsuits Claim AriZona Ice Tea Misleads Consumers About Ingredients, Labeling

AriZona Ice Tea’s parent company is being challenged in two federal lawsuits filed in New York courts that could achieve class-action status over issues related to ingredients and labeling. One suit accuses the company of “deceptively” labeling its drinks as having no preservative, despite containing the preservatives citric or ascorbic acids. The second suit accuses AriZona Beverages USA LLC and affiliate Beverage Marketing USA Inc. of misleading consumers about the amount of sugar and number of calories in their beverages by using a serving size of eight fluid ounces on its labels instead of the actual 16-ounce container size. Both lawsuits seek jury trials, unspecified monetary damages, legal costs, and court orders demanding that the company change its practices. AriZona Beverages did not respond to requests for comment.

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November 01, 2018, to December 15, 2018

Consumer Food Choices Change As Perceptions Of What’s Healthful Change

Technomic’s 2018 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report finds that consumers are increasingly taking on a more personalized, holistic view of health, making food and beverage choices – e.g., natural, organic, high-protein, functional – based on their personal definition of health. But they may still reconsider restaurant orders if they think an item has too many calories. These views have implications for restaurants, especially as some are now required to post calorie counts and consumers increasingly rely on foodservice for meals. Other key findings: 40 percent of consumers say their definition of health has changed over the past two years; 66 percent look for calorie counts on restaurant menus; and 34 percent are likely to order dishes made with vegetables instead of carb-rich items.

Lonza Now Offers Clean-Label Colors For Its Vegetarian Supplement Capsules

Greenwood, S.C.-based pharmaceutical and biotech ingredient supplier Lonza is now offering diet supplement manufacturers its plant-based Capsugel Vcaps Plus in a range of clean label colors. The vegetarian capsules have been around for a while, but coloring the shell has previously required an E-number. The new food-colored capsules, labeled as natural colorants in the U.S., allow manufacturers to create bright-colored supplements that also appeal to consumers looking for supply chain transparency and a “natural” claim. The capsule shell is made using plant-based hypromellose (HPMC) and water only, without any preservatives. The first of Lonza’s clean label solutions is the Vcaps Plus Purple Carrot capsule, following the successful introduction of the Vcaps Plus Blue Spirulina capsule in Europe earlier this year. 

Some Very Popular Breads Feature Candy-Like Levels Of Added Sugar

Added sugars should account for no more than ten percent of the average daily calorie count – about 2,000 – for Americans. It’s easy to consume those 200 sugar calories, however, if you eat bread made by companies like Martin’s, Dave’s Killer Bread, Vermont Bread, Wonder Bread, the Cheesecake Factory, Udi, Pepperidge Farm, Arnold, and others. Two slices of Martin’s Potato Bread, for example, deliver more sugar (six grams versus 4.7 grams) than a Twizzler. A slice of Dave's Killer Bread’s Raisin' the Roof has six grams of sugar. The Cheesecake Factory's "Famous 'Brown Bread” has about the same amount of sugar as a nibble of its cheesecake. A sandwich made with Freihofer's 100 percent Whole Wheat Bread has the same amount of sugar as a Jolly Rancher. And so on. 
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