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Food Trends Insight Alert Archive

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Food Trends

News and developments about food trends and food innovation
<<3456789101112>> Total issues:159

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April 01, 2015, to May 01, 2015

Food Safety “Traffic Light” Placard System Approved For Restaurants In Calif. County

A new program to inform restaurant patrons in San Mateo County (Calif.) of the results of a facility’s most recent food safety inspection has won approval by the county board. The program, which will begin a training period soon and will take effect next year, requires restaurants to post a placard that uses familiar traffic signal colors to show whether the facility passed its last safety inspection (green), received a provisional pass (yellow), or failed (red) and will be closed until problems are fixed. The placard system affects 3,000 permanent food facilities, including restaurants, mobile food trucks, bakeries, schools, licensed health care facilities, and some convenience stores.

Analysis Of Food Buying In G8 Countries Finds Some Major Differences

Euromonitor has developed a nutritional data gathering system that compares consumer eating patterns – including calories and micronutrients -- in the G8 countries, finding some “striking” differences. Italians, for example, buy eight times more pasta per capita than Americans, with eight times more calories (199 a day) coming from pasta than the average U.S. consumer (12 times the average Japanese). Yet only 11 percent of Italians are considered obese. When it comes to buying packaged foods, Germany ranks No. 1 at 1733 calories per person per day, followed by France, the U.K., Italy and the U.S. Only three percent of the total population of Japan are considered obese, compared to 42 percent in the U.S. With these findings in mind, Euromonitor says it might be time to take a closer look at the benefits of the “Washoku” diet, based on traditional Japanese cuisine. 

Listeria Contamination Continues To Prompt Product Recalls

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has confirmed that the dangerous, potentially lethal, bacterium listeria has tainted food products from two different companies, causing deaths and illnesses in two states and prompting recalls. Sabra Dipping Company recalled 30,000 cases of hummus after several listeria-contaminated tubs were found in Michigan, though no illnesses were reported. CDC said tainted Blue Bell ice cream led to the illnesses of three people in Texas, and five others in Kansas between 2011 and 2014. Blue Bell has expanded a recall of frozen snack items because of listeria contamination discovered last month.

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March 01, 2015, to April 01, 2015

Mondelez Hopes Gum Sales Will Improve With Strategy Targeting Generation Z

With its chewing-gum sales stalling, Mondelez International is trying a somewhat arcane marketing strategy to revitalize Trident products among post-millennials in an era of social media and smart devices. Gum revenue was down three percent in 2014, though market share grew or remained stable in four of six markets. The company thinks the key reason for this sales decline is that Generation Z spends too much time on its smartphones, reducing personal human contact and eliminating daily rituals like gum chewing. So Trident commissioned a Japanese designer to create clothing that blocks radio signals. Whether the strategy is boosting gum sales is known so far only to Mondelez.

Freekeh May One Day Give Quinoa A Run For Its Money

Another exotic grain that has caught the attention of foodies is a Middle Eastern variety described as “an earthier faro or a chewier barley”. Freekeh is made by sun-drying harvested green wheat and then roasting it to remove the chaff and straw. The process gives the grain a smoky flavor, which can be deepened by further brief toasting. Freekeh is cooked much like rice: simmered in water – there is some disagreement over the proper ratio -- until all of the liquid is absorbed. It is then served warm, as in a pilaf, or cooled and added as a base to whole-grain salads. Not easily found, except at Middle Eastern grocers, it may take a while to catch up to quinoa in popularity.

Tiny African Grain Teff Is Gluten Free And Packs A Nutritional Punch

The search for gluten-free grains has led some people to experiment with teff as a nutritious replacement for wheat, barley and rye. Native to Africa, teff is a tiny grain rich in protein, calcium and vitamin C, most often associated with the Ethiopian bread injera. But works well when making polenta, porridge or even waffles. It can be purchased as a brown or ivory whole grain or flour from companies like Bob’s Red Mill or the Teff Company.

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February 01, 2015, to March 01, 2015

Grain Guild Fights An Old “Axiom”: You Can’t Grow Wheat For Food In Illinois

An Illinois food movement hopes to convince the state’s farmers that they can grow wheat specifically for bread making. The goal of the Grand Prairies Grain Guild is to boost the supply of locally grown bread and baked goods on restaurant menus and grocery shelves. Illinois is no stranger to grain production. The USDA says farmers there harvested 44.8 million bushels of wheat from 740,000 acres in 2014. But the Grain Guild, convinced that wheat can be a local food product, wants to see farmers planting “food-grade, hard winter wheat for regional bakery products". The Guild is focusing for now on Illinois wheat, but also hopes to eventually include oats, buckwheat, rye, corn, soybeans and sorghum.

Bread Making Technique – Not Ingredients – May Be At Root Of Health Issues

Though humans have been grinding wheat into flour and baking bread for thousands of years, there’s suddenly a widespread belief that bread – made from today’s high-tech flours -- is the source of all our health problems. But Washington State University wheat breeder Stephen Jones says it’s not the wheat itself that’s causing the problems. It’s how we make bread these days. For one thing, commercial bakeries actually add extra gluten to whole wheat bread dough to increase the elasticity. In addition, industrial dough rising time amounts to mere minutes (thanks to fast-acting yeasts and additives), instead of the hours or even days it should take. In his laboratory, he lets dough rise for as long as 12 hours, resulting in a less potent gluten. One caveat: Jones’s theory, while plausible, has not yet been scientifically proven.

Economic Signs Suggest Lower Prices At Grocery Stores, Too, Not Just Gas Stations

The most visible drops in commodity prices – oil and gasoline – are not the only ones that could have an impact on consumers in the near future. Farmers and miners are keenly aware that prices of copper, iron ore and corn are way down, along with soybeans, tin, sugar, wheat and cotton. So when will these price drops begin to help consumers? It’s difficult to predict because lower commodity prices are rarely passed on quickly to consumers. Producers concerned about volatility want to be sure cheaper raw material prices remain low. But there is reason for grocery shopper optimism, perhaps later this year. Farmers are experiencing bumper crops and surpluses; there’s plenty of cheap feed for livestock; farmer energy costs are lower; food imports are cheaper; and there’s reduced foreign competition for food.

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January 15, 2015, to February 01, 2015

Poultry Buyers Neither Handle, Nor Cook, The Birds Safely, Study Finds

A large percentage of consumers who buy poultry neither handle nor cook it properly, according to a U.S. study. Less than two-thirds of consumers own a food thermometer to check whether poultry is properly cooked, and less than 10 percent who own thermometers use them. It was also found that only 18 percent of consumers correctly store raw poultry products in the refrigerator, and only 11 percent of consumers who thaw raw poultry in cold water do it correctly. Nearly 70 percent rinse or wash raw poultry before cooking it, a possibly dangerous habit because of the risk of splashing contaminated water around the kitchen.

Consumers Will Pay More For Healthful Biofortified GMO Crops -- Study

Belgian researchers show in a new study that genetically modified crops fortified with increased vitamins and minerals have huge market potential, but remain in limbo because of negative public attitudes. The first GMO crop engineered 15 years ago to be more healthful – “Golden Rice” – still has not been approved for cultivation, nor have six other transgenic biofortified crops. Despite lingering negative public opinion,the Belgian research finds, many consumers are willing to pay a 20 percent to 70 percent premium for GMOs with health benefits, but not GMO crops with farmer benefits, which consumers will only buy at a discount.

Food Manufacturers Need To Capitalize On The Protein Trend

Ingredient and food manufacturers have managed to turn the demand for protein in the U.K. into a long-term, sustainable trend. Market researcher Canadean finds that half of British consumers understand the importance of protein in their diet; 16 percent have increased purchases of foods rich in protein. Eight percent use protein supplements, but 68 percent of these would substitute protein shakes for alternative sources like protein-fortified foods and drinks. A Canadean analyst says the challenge for food manufacturers now is to turn the newly available protein ingredients into “convenient and tasty protein enriched food and drinks.”

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January 01, 2015, to January 15, 2015

2015: The Year Of Chickpea Flour?

Food writer Alison Spiegel predicts that chickpea flour – a “truly awesome flour” – will become a culinary star in 2015. It has virtues that foodies will appreciate, she notes, including being naturally gluten-free, high in protein, and rich in iron and fiber. In addition, chickpea flour’s versatility and subtle flavor make it useful for cooking both savory dishes and sweet desserts. A friend of hers uses chickpea flour to make Iranian dumplings, vegetable fritters, flatbreads and biscuits. It also works well in soups and yogurt sauces where it acts as a thickener that prevents curdling.

It’s Not The Pain Of Spicy Foods That’s Enjoyable, It’s The Relief Afterwards

Nature apparently created capsaicin, the heat-generating molecule found in spicy foods, to deter our interest in such foods. But instead we enjoy them, having apparently adapted to the painful sensation that accompanies eating chili, jalapeños, ancho and cayenne peppers, etc. University of Pennsylvania Prof. Paul Rozin began studying the phenomenon back in the 1970s, discovering that animals really don’t like eating spicy foods. And there’s not that much difference in the tolerance levels of super hot foods between Mexicans and Americans. A lot of further research led to the following conclusion: whatever enjoyment might come from eating chili flavors, real satisfaction comes afterwards with “the relief at having endured, and survived”.

Online Grocery Shopping/Delivery Company Raises Another $210 Million

A company whose app allows shoppers to order groceries from several stores at once using only one Web site has raised another $210 million from venture capitalists after raising $44 million last June. Instacart, which also provides same day delivery of purchased groceries, is reportedly now valued at $2 billion. The company did not say how it would use the funding from the current round, but indicated in June that the first round of funding would be used to expand into new regions, improve customer service and experiment with new delivery models.

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December 01, 2014, to January 01, 2015

Energy Drink Consumption Leads To Too Much Caffeine Intake By Children

About 20 percent of the children and adolescents in Denmark who drink energy beverages consume way too much caffeine, according to Danish scientists. Of adolescents aged 15 to 17 who drink cola or eat chocolate, as many as 33 percent take in too much caffeine. Energy drinks are sweetened soft drinks that contain 150 to 320 mg of caffeine per liter. Sales of such drinks have tripled in Denmark to about 11 million liters in 2013. Denmark’s National Food Institute recommends a maximum intake of 2.5 milligrams of caffeine per kg of body weight a day. People who drink too many energy drinks often experience insomnia, restlessness and heart palpitations.

High Sugar, Cocoa, Butter Costs May Force Confectioners, Bakers To Hike Prices

High costs of ingredients are pummeling bakeries and confectioners and may force price increases for the first time in years. Sugar, cocoa, and butter are all more expensive these days. Throw in a higher minimum wage and you have a recipe for higher candy and baked goods prices. U.S. sugar prices have risen to 24.6 cents a pound in the last 18 months, even though a glut of sugar globally drove prices this past summer to their lowest level since 2009. A Montana confectioner said his company hasn’t raised prices in two years, “but we're getting to the point where we're going to have to do it again”.

New York-Based Online Grocery Company Has The Formula For Success

A 12-year-old Long Island City online grocery business, one of the five largest in the country, may epitomize the future of the $700 billion grocery industry. Nationwide, online business still accounts for less than four percent of grocery sales. But industry experts say it is the “the next frontier”, a fact well understood by Amazon and Walmart. From the beginning, online grocer FreshDirect operated under a unique vision, despite skepticism. It is not a delivery service for an established supermarket chain. Rather, the founders built the company independently, sourcing products directly from farms, and always emphasizing quality. So far, FreshDirect is available in five East Coast states, and would love to expand. But not, its owners say, at the expense of quality.

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November 15, 2014, to December 01, 2014

Kellogg’s Bets Some Of Its Breakfast Fare Can Succeed As Anytime Snacks

Breakfast cereal companies like Kellogg are having to adjust to a new fast-moving, eat-on-the-go culture. Sagging boxed cereal sales – a two percent drop in the 3rd quarter -- have forced Kellogg’s to expand its product horizons beyond mornings. One possibility is a rebranding into anytime snacks. Kellogg’s is spending a lot of marketing dollars trying to convince people, for example, that its Pop-Tarts brand, once strictly a breakfast toaster pastry, is actually great for lunch or late-night snacking. According to PR Daily, Kellogg’s brand managers view Pop-Tarts as a “stepping stone to a massive expansion and rebranding campaign” that will include crackers, chips and other non-morning snacks.

New Coca-Cola Life Fits Today’s Health And Wellness Trend

Coca-Cola believes the health and wellness trend is a permanent phenomenon that is having a profound effect on consumers, and consequently on food and beverage companies. Coca-Cola North America President J. Alexander M. Douglas told analysts recently that Americans want fresh and natural food. The company’s new reduced-calorie soft drink, Coca-Cola Life, fits well with that trend. Its formula “tastes great” right now, but is evolving and will eventually have even fewer calories and better flavor. Douglas said the company will keep working on it until “it’s the perfect Coca-Cola for people who are looking for more natural ingredients and natural positioning”.

Maine Grist Mill Breathes New Life Into Organic Flour Production Locally, Nationwide

Growing demand for locally grown organic flours led to the creation of Maine’s Somerset Grist Mill, one of whose goals is to “reinvigorate the grain production market” in the state. The Skowhegan stone grist mill itself – acquired in Austria -- stands eight by five feet in a pinewood frame, housed in a 112-year-old former jail. Two round four-foot stones turn slowly atop one another at low temperatures that preserve the nutritional value and taste of the grain grown by local farmers. The product – mostly certified organic flour and rolled oats – is sold wholesale to bakers, grocery stores, and smaller markets in five- and 50-pound bags. The venture faces challenges, like finding skilled manpower and further funding for growth. But it has reinvigorated interest in local milling both in Maine and nationwide.

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November 01, 2014, to November 15, 2014

GM Potato Approved By USDA For Planting

The USDA has approved for commercial planting a genetically engineered potato -- dubbed Innate -- that contains less of the suspected carcinogenic chemical acrylamide, which is produced when potatoes are fried. Developed by the privately held J. R. Simplot Company, the new biotech spud also resists bruising, a trait that could reduce costs for growers. The USDA approval is a boon for growers, but is not without controversy. Consumers have been questioning the safety of genetically engineered foods and asking that the products made from them be clearly labeled.

Stevia-Sweetened Coke To Launch in Australia, New Zealand

Coca-Cola will introduce its stevia-sweetened Coke beverage in Australia and New Zealand in 2015. Coca-Cola Life, already introduced succcessfully in the U.S. and several South American countries, contains 35 percent less sugar than regular Coke. According to the company, the launch of Coca-Cola Life is “another positive step in fulfilling the business commitment made in July 2013 to offer more lower kilojoule options”.

Diet Soda Debate Fed By Inconclusive, Contradictory, Scientific Evidence

A new study on the impact of diet sodas on gut microbes contributes more insights -- and probably more confusion – to the debate over whether diet drinks are good or bad for health. Some research suggests that diet drinks do help people cut calories and ward off weight gain. But the new study says diet sodas alter intestinal microbiota in such a way that the risk of metabolic disease, including type 2 diabetes, increases. Skeptics warn that one study among seven people does not provide enough scientific evidence. So, as the debate rages on, everyone agrees that more, and larger, studies are needed to settle the issue.

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October 15, 2014, to November 01, 2014

The Brain Makes Food Choices Based On Caloric Content

The human brain chooses one food over another because of its caloric content, the higher the better, according to a Canadian study. Researchers based their conclusions on brains scans and other factors of healthy participants who were asked to look at pictures of different foods and then rate them. They also estimated caloric content. Though they weren’t able to accurately guess calories, the foods they said they would like to eat tended to be the highest calorie ones. “We found that brain activity tracked the true caloric content of foods,” the researchers said, noting that understanding why people choose certain foods could help control the factors that lead to obesity.

McDonald’s Profit Continues To Sag As It Works To Become More “Relevant”

McDonald’s stock dropped after the company posted a 30 percent drop in third quarter profit and significant declines in restaurant traffic globally. CEO Don Thompson acknowledged the company, which serves 70 million customers a day, has some image problems – is it still relevant? -- especially in an era of growing consumer interest in fresh, unprocessed food. To help solve the problem, Thompson said McDonald's is simplifying menus, tailoring food to local tastes, offering custom burger and sandwich options, rolling out mobile services, and launching a social media "dialogue" with customers.

Consumer Pressure On Flavor Companies Mounts

Consumer and environmental groups have asked the FDA to take a closer look at the currently self-regulated flavors industry to make sure so-called natural and artificial flavors are really safe. Consumer watchdog scientists argue that if the stuff is so safe, why is it so secret? The global flavor industry is pegged at about $23.91 billion, up 19 percent from $20 billion in 2000, about half of which is for food, the other half for fragrances. The Flavors and Extract Manufacturers Association says it has found around 3,000 different flavors to be safe, and most are used in minute quantities. FEMA companies worry that disclosing their ingredients even in such small amounts, would spur more consumer complaints, something flavor companies would like to avoid. Nevertheless, consumer concern about the safety of ingredients is increasing steadily.

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October 01, 2014, to October 15, 2014

Heart, Gut, And Brain: Three Key Focus Areas For Functional Drink Makers

Manufacturers of functional drinks should pay attention to several key health concerns among young and old consumers, according to market researcher Canadean. A survey of all age groups found that 75 percent – including many aged 18 to 24 – were "very interested" or "interested" in beverages that promoted a healthy heart. Older consumers, especially women, expressed an interest in drinks that foster gut or digestive health, including those that boost fiber consumption. Brain health drinks were interesting to all ages, but for different reasons. Older consumers want to maintain healthy brain function; middle-age consumers want to prevent cognitive decline; and younger consumers want to boost mental development and sharpness.

Glanbia’s Gluten-Free Oats Exceed EU Labeling Requirements

Glanbia Nutritionals has developed a process to ensure that its OatPure oats are free of gluten contamination. The oats are certified at 10 parts gluten per million (ppm), exceeding EU standards that require a maximum of 20 ppm gluten to be labeled gluten-free. Oats do not contain gluten naturally, but can be contaminated when milled in facilities that also produce wheat products. The company’s OatPure gluten-free oats are manufactured at a contamination-free milling facility in Ireland. Glanbia personnel apply an audited labeling and tracking process with guaranteed gluten-free equipment to deliver a fully traceable end product. OatPure gluten-free oats will be available in Europe beginning in November.

Pepsi Joins Coke In Experimenting With Online-Only Soda Marketing

The latest version of the 120-year-old soft drink once known as Pepsi-Cola will be sold exclusively by online retailer Amazon.com. Pepsi True, sweetened with sugar and stevia, is a mid-calorie soda that will launch in mid-October to compete with mid-calorie Coca-Cola Life, also sweetened with sugar and stevia. Coke is marketing another of its soft drinks, Coca-Cola Surge, exclusively online. Analysts say introducing new beverages online is a “good move”, because online sales will “build scale” in the market before expanding to traditional retail outlets. Sales of diet sodas are sagging as consumers grow more concerned about soft drink consumption and obesity.
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