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Food Trends Insight Alert Archive

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Food Trends

News and developments about food trends and food innovation
<<45678910111213>> Total issues:159

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September 15, 2014, to October 01, 2014

SNAP Keeps Low-Income People From Going Hungry, But Dietary Quality Is Low

Compared to families eligible for, but not participating in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), those in the program tend to eat less nutritious food, a U.S. study finds. In 2013, about 48 million Americans participated in SNAP, once known as the food stamp program, which helps low-income households buy groceries. The study found that SNAP participants had lower dietary quality scores overall than nonparticipating low-income people, and lower scores for fruits and vegetables, seafood and plant proteins. They also consumed more empty calories.

U.K. Potato Chip Company Launches Innovative “Peel And Share” Package

A British potato chip (crisp) marketer is launching a new package that allows customers to peel open the front to allow sharing at parties, for example. Seabrook Crisps’ peelable package, which has a tamper proof seal, has no impact on shelf life. Designed for “on the go” snacking and sharing, the innovative package will be sold at gas stations and other retail convenience locations. The peel-and-share design will only be available on the lattice-cut 40-gram crisp packs.

Most Popular New Grocery Products Are High-Carb Comfort Foods

A rating service that gauges the popularity of newly-introduced items on grocery store shelves finds that high-carb comfort foods are grabbing a lot of attention. This despite reports that Americans are increasingly rejecting carb-rich processed foods in favor of “cleaner” foods. UStamp’s Instant.ly Shelf Score Index ranks Eggo’s blueberry cobbler waffle at No. 1, tied with a new artisanal bread mix from Pillsbury, while DiGiorno’s new Design a Pizza product came in at No. 3.  “Interestingly,” says uStamp’s CEO, “in addition to being comfort foods, two of the top three products this month also require some degree of preparation by the consumer.”

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September 01, 2014, to September 15, 2014

French Bakery Workers At High Risk Of Job-Related Asthma

Research presented at a recent European medical conference confirms that flour was the main cause of occupational asthma in 20 percent of 330 cases in France. Known as “baker’s asthma”, the condition occurs when flour – including its dust and enzymes – irritates the respiratory system, causing allergy-related symptoms. The second leading cause of occupational asthma was cleaning products containing ammonia (15 percent of cases). Workers in food manufacturing were at greater risk for asthma than farm workers, and women were at greater risk than men.

Fruit Juice-Sweetened Carbonated Drinks Doing Well For Several Reasons

Consumption of ready-to-drink fruit juices has been declining in developed countries but, paradoxically, the use of fruit juice as a sweetener in sparkling waters and sodas is on the rise.  According to Euromonitor, fruit juice-sweetened carbonated drinks offer several advantages. They are lower in calories, so they can win back, or lure new, customers – especially older ones – by offering unfamiliar flavors that are “drier”. Using juices as sweeteners allows marketers to claim that the sugar is not added but naturally occurring. Lastly, fruit-flavored carbonates take advantage of the rise of the “cocktail culture” and growing interest in alcoholic mixed drinks.

Major Changes In Food Production Are Necessary To Avoid Climate Change Calamities

British researchers, using what they call a “transparent, data-driven model”, show that reducing food waste by half and diverting global diets away from environmentally-damaging food products – making them more healthful -- might reduce greenhouse gases and boost food security. Currently, the global population is increasing and people’s food tastes are shifting to meat-heavy Western diets. Increased agricultural yields will not meet food demands, however, so more land will need to be cultivated, reducing forested areas and increasing methane emissions. Unless changes are implemented, food production by itself could exceed global targets for total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050.

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August 15, 2014, to September 01, 2014

U.K. Vitamin D Intake Estimates Are Inaccurate, Misleading

British researchers found significant discrepancies between lists of vitamin D-fortified foods and vitamin D data gathered from industry Web sites, trade associations and manufacturers and government vitamin D databanks. They compared 289 foods fortified with vitamin D catalogued by the UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) Nutrient Databank in 2008 and 2010 to the data they compiled. They concluded that the U.K. should update vitamin D food and supplement content estimations because they underestimate population intake levels of the vitamin by about three percent.

Online Tool Might Help Diet Supplement Advertisers Avoid FTC Fines

A trade association that represents diet supplement companies has developed a Web-based tool that members can use to avoid running afoul of FTC rules on weight loss and other spurious ad claims. Bogus claims made by weight loss supplement makers generate the highest settlement costs in the dietary supplement and functional food category, according to the Council for Responsible Nutrition, which developed the quarterly-updated online tool. Members can use the tool to view all available FTC advertising enforcement actions related to dietary supplements and functional foods since 2003. Bogus weight loss claims generated the highest settlement costs at $438.4 million, followed by immunity claims ($47.2 million) and impermissible cancer claims ($5 million).

Chinese Shoppers See California As An Exporter Of High-Quality Foods

Food shoppers in China and Hong Kong are paying closer attention to nutrition, sustainability, safety and – logically enough – country of origin, a fact that is driving demand for better quality food products. That’s good news for California food exporters, who are perceived by the Chinese as high quality producers. California has exported about $4 billion worth of food products – fresh produce, health foods, organic foods and premium wines – to Hong Kong and China so far in 2014, a nearly 20 percent increase over 2012. Forecasters see a similar double-digit increase by the end of the year.

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August 01, 2014, to August 15, 2014

Entrepreneur Sees Crickets As The Next Culinary Sensation

The entrepreneur who founded Bitty Foods, a company focused on using crickets as ingredients in baked goods, believes she’s on the leading edge of an emerging culinary sensation bigger than quinoa. She first tasted – and liked – cooked mealworms and crickets on trips to Southeast Asia and Mexico. Back home she did some experimenting and eventually launched her current business. Roasted mealworms have a nutty flavor, and could appeal to people following the Paleo diet, says Megan Miller, but they have one major drawback: they trigger Americans’ gag reflex. Crickets, however, evoke memories of  “pleasant summer nights and crickets chirping”.

Federal Nutrition Standards Raise Havoc In School Fundraising World

A federal anti-obesity law that takes effect this fall will put a crimp in school fundraising efforts like bake sales and candy sales. The sales must adhere to nutrition requirements meant to lower calorie, fat, sugar and salt consumption by schoolchildren. The rules govern food and beverages sold during the school day in vending machines, snack carts and daytime fundraisers. "Infrequent" fundraisers are okay, and states can decide themselves how many questionable bake sales would be allowed. School administrators, parents and others worry that the well-meaning federal standards will not only hurt fundraising, they will push schools to sell more processed-food products to raise money.

Concerns About Sugar Content Of Soft Drinks Depress Sales In The U.K.

Mintel research finds that fewer British consumers are drinking soft drinks today than six months ago, mainly because of the sugar content. Twenty-five percent of Britons in total – 34 percent of those aged 16 to 34 – are drinking fewer carbonated soft drinks (CSDs). Half said they were cutting back on CSDs because of the high sugar content. The drop in consumption is reflected naturally in the marketplace. Britons drank 5.96 billion liters in 2010, and 6.17 billion liters in 2011, but will drink only 5.95 billion liters in 2014. CSD sales will reach just £7.5 billion in 2014, compared to £8.3 billion in 2011. Nevertheless, 55 percent of CSD consumers still drink them to quench their thirst, and 37 percent drink them with a meal.

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July 15, 2014, to August 01, 2014

Too Little Protein In Western Diet Has Contributed To Obesity Epidemic

New research on non-human primates suggests that weight management programs focusing too much on calorie intake ignore the complex interaction of carbs, fats and proteins that is so important to appetite regulation and energy intake. Primates – whether spider monkeys, orangutans or humans – “prioritize protein” over carbohydrates and fat. If we eat too little protein, we compensate by eating too much fat and carbs. According to Australian nutritional ecologist David Raubenheimer, obesity in the West has soared over the past 60 years because the proportion of protein in our diet has dropped considerably. Which, he says, is probably why high-protein diets like Atkins have been shown to aid weight loss.

Hershey Bumps Up Candy Prices As Ingredient Prices Soar

Faced with soaring ingredients costs, Hershey Company has raised prices on certain of its candy lines by eight percent. The commodity cost inflation is taking a toll on the company’s bottom line: Hershey adjusted its 2014 profit forecast downward. Spot prices for candy ingredients such as cocoa, dairy and nuts have risen “meaningfully” since January, Hershey said. Cocoa futures reached a near-three-year high this month. The price hikes will affect instant consumable, multi-pack, packaged candy and grocery lines.

Cargill To Sell Only Turkeys Raised Without Growth-Spurring Antibiotics

Cargill says consumer research coupled with federal government initiatives have led it to source and sell only turkeys that were raised without antibiotics. The company worked with the USDA on developing a verification plan that ensures that turkeys it buys from independent farms were not given antibiotics to spur growth. Last year, the FDA announced a three-year plan to phase out the use of antibiotics used to improve growth or feed efficiency in livestock and poultry.  “Ending the use of antibiotics to promote growth in turkeys is an important step that provides consumers with nutritious and affordable options,” a Cargill executive said.

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July 01, 2014, to July 15, 2014

Fungal Pathogens Can Be As Dangerous As Bacteria, Viruses

Last September, Chobani recalled Greek yogurt manufactured in its Idaho plant after customers complained of severe gastrointestinal discomfort. The company said the yogurt had been contaminated by a relatively harmless fungus dangerous only to people with unhealthy immune systems. After complaints from otherwise healthy individuals, however, scientists took a closer look. They found that the yogurt had been tainted by one particular fungal strain that, unlike other strains, showed an ability to cause lethal infections in mice when spores were injected into the bloodstream. They also  survived passage through the GI tract when ingested orally. The conclusion? “Fungal pathogens can threaten our health systems as food-borne pathogens."

Mustard’s Growing Stature In The Condiment World

Mustard, a spicy sauce known to the ancient Romans and to cultures worldwide, is today's trendy condiment. Industry researchers report that U.S. sales of mustard brands hit $508 million in 2012, an 11 percent rise over five years. Though cousin ketchup still leads the spicy sauce market – $743 million in 2012 – mustard is positioned to grow in popularity. It is global, low in calories, available in a wide variety of brands and flavors, and versatile, spicing up an array of foods, from pretzels to hot dogs to roast beef, etc.  “Mustard is the new butter, the new mayo,” says one chef and restaurateur.

Cocoa-Rich Dark Chocolate Makes Walking Easier For PAD Patients

Reduced blood flow to leg arteries – called peripheral artery disease or PAD – can make it painful for people to walk. A new clinical study in Italy suggests that eating dark chocolate might provide some relief from the pain, cramping and fatigue associated with PAD. Twenty patients aged 60 to 78 walked on a treadmill in the morning and later after eating 40 grams of dark and milk chocolate on separate days. Participants increased their ability to walk unassisted after eating dark chocolate (85 percent cocoa content and rich in polyphenols), compared to eating milk chocolate. The authors suggested that the polyphenols in the dark chocolate reduced oxidative stress and improved blood flow in the leg arteries.

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June 15, 2014, to July 01, 2014

Shoppers In U.K. Are Comfortable Buying Store Brand Foods

A survey of a thousand British food shoppers finds that a majority (55 percent) believe the best of the “own label” (i.e., store or house) brands are as good as national brands, and 63 percent regard “regular” own-label brands the same quality as major brands. The bottom line is that shoppers have grown very comfortable buying store brands in most – but not all – categories. Sixty-one percent of shoppers regard “value” own-label brands as worse than manufacturer brands. Only 27 percent see them as the same. A spokesman for the research company that conducted the survey says the results certainly show the impact of the recession on food shopping. But they also show a longer-term trend: retailers are more sophisticated in developing and marketing their store brands.

A Whole Grain Revolution In The Making On The West Coast

The West Coast is home to a growing phenomenon in the bread industry: local grain economies whose goal is to scale up production of whole grain products in a way that is profitable for farmers and competitively priced for consumers – “a true alternative to an industrial economy”. The whole grains movement is based on locally grown grain varieties that result in flour very different from what’s available commercially today. The grains are milled without ever separating the germ, the embryo of a grain kernel, and the bran, the protective outer layer. Baked goods – from cookies to bread – not only taste better than the so-called whole grain products available in supermarkets today, they may also be healthier. Advocates and scientists say people who are gluten sensitive – but not celiac sufferers – report they can enjoy breads made from whole grains without the adverse effects.

“Gluten-Free” Seems To Be America’s Answer To A Laundry List Of Dietary Concerns

Only one percent of Americans – 316,000 – suffer from celiac disease, a severe gastric reaction to gluten, the protein found in wheat, barley and rye flour. Another two million or so are considered gluten intolerant. But more than a quarter of Americans – about 79 million – are trying to become gluten-free, and that’s what’s driving the multi-billion-dollar gluten-free foods market. The trend is here to stay, according to food industry experts. Top restaurants in New York City, for example, are all serving gluten-free versions of their most popular pastas. But why? A “perfect storm” of trends: an increase in food allergies, growing concerns about digestive health, worries about genetic modification of grain, and other dietary qualms “are at an all-time high and food itself is the current cultural currency”. Gluten-free seems to be the panacea.

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June 01, 2014, to June 15, 2014

Demands For Higher Wages At Quick-Serve Eateries May Accelerate Automation Trend

Software and machines may not replace fast-food restaurant workers in the foreseeable future, but automation is beginning to play a part in food service. Some industry observers say the demand among low-wage fast-food workers for higher pay may actually speed up the development of food service automation. Others say it takes a lot of time to introduce advanced technology and it’s not likely to eliminate the need for human interaction. Nevertheless, restaurant chains are tiptoeing into the future: Panera Bread is introducing self-service ordering kiosks. Chili's and Applebee's are putting tablets on their tables that would give customers the ability to order and pay without any contact with human wait staff at all.

Company Unveils Smart Assistant That Takes Guesswork, Innacuracy Out Of Baking

Targeting the 30 million home bakers looking for reliable recipes at their fingertips, Drop is introducing a tablet and iPad-connected kitchen scale via a pre-order marketing campaign. The app features photographs of step-by-step recipes with tips, rescaling quantities and suggestions for ingredient substitutes. Instead of measuring materials using cups and spoons, ingredients are placed in a bowl on the interactive scale. The idea is that measuring by weight, instead of volume, is more accurate by eliminating variables that can ruin a recipe. “In my opinion,” says Drop’s team baker, “cups are for bra sizes.” The Drop scale/app baking assistant combo is expected to retail for $99 after the 20 percent pre-order discount expires.

Germany’s Local Bakeries Struggle, Thanks To Mass-Production Technology

Technology has nearly dealt a death blow to Germany’s neighborhood bakeries, which until recently supplied the lion's share of the breads and rolls so important to the German diet.  Mass-produced loaves, rolls and pastries are now mostly baked on an industrial scale, then frozen for shipment to supermarkets around the country. Stores reheat and sell them for a fraction of the price of the handmade versions. Old-style bread makers, like Fritz Trefzger in Schopfheim, are fighting back, opening their kitchens to the public so customers can see and appreciate the old-fashioned craft. The national bakers association is even seeking special protection. But the trend may be unstoppable: as of 2013 only 13,171 bakeries remain, down from 55,000 sixty years ago.

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May 15, 2014, to June 01, 2014

Company Unveils Smart Assistant That Takes Guesswork, Innacuracy Out Of Baking

Targeting the 30 million home bakers looking for reliable recipes at their fingertips, Drop is introducing a tablet and iPad-connected kitchen scale via a pre-order marketing campaign. The app features photographs of step-by-step recipes with tips, rescaling quantities and suggestions for ingredient substitutes. Instead of measuring materials using cups and spoons, ingredients are placed in a bowl on the interactive scale. The idea is that measuring by weight, instead of volume, is more accurate by eliminating variables that can ruin a recipe. “In my opinion,” says Drop’s team baker, “cups are for bra sizes.” The Drop scale/app baking assistant combo is expected to retail for $99 after the 20 percent pre-order discount expires.

Germany’s Local Bakeries Struggle, Thanks To Mass-Production Technology

Technology has nearly dealt a death blow to Germany’s neighborhood bakeries, which until recently supplied the lion's share of the breads and rolls so important to the German diet.  Mass-produced loaves, rolls and pastries are now mostly baked on an industrial scale, then frozen for shipment to supermarkets around the country. Stores reheat and sell them for a fraction of the price of the handmade versions. Old-style bread makers, like Fritz Trefzger in Schopfheim, are fighting back, opening their kitchens to the public so customers can see and appreciate the old-fashioned craft. The national bakers association is even seeking special protection. But the trend may be unstoppable: as of 2013 only 13,171 bakeries remain, down from 55,000 sixty years ago.

Super-Food Chia May Be Next Super-Ingredient In Baking Industry

The gel produced by chia seeds when placed in water could be used in food formulation as a thickening agent, emulsifying agent, and as a stabilizer in frozen food product, a new Australian study has found. Chia, an ancient crop cultivated by the Aztecs in Mexico, is high in fiber, protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Chia gel is a polysaccharide consisting of crude fiber (58 percent) and carbohydrate (34 percent). with good water binding and oil-holding capacity, viscosity, emulsion activity and freeze-thaw ability comparable to guar gum and gelatin, common ingredients in baked goods and sauces.

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May 01, 2014, to May 15, 2014

More Younger Consumers Admit They “Got Milk”, Thanks To Enhanced Protein Content

Consumption of liquid milk has been dropping in the U.S. since the 1940s. The number of consumers who drank milk three or more times a day fell from 13 percent in 1977-78 to four percent in 2007-08, according to the USDA’s Economic Research Service. But the fluid milk market may be turning around, thanks to a “flurry of innovation in the cow’s milk sector” that is addressing America’s burgeoning interest in functional foods. Market researchers find that protein- and calcium-enriched milks have attracted consumers aged 15 to 34 looking to boost protein intake. Examples of the new product trend include a Swedish milk that boasts 50 percent more protein, a Japanese milk that claims 1.8 times the protein in regular milk, and an American milk that promises 30 percent more protein and 30 percent less sugar.

In The Game Of Healthy Nutrition, Snacks Provided At Youth Sports Events Strike Out

Children who participate in organized youth sports like baseball usually benefit from the increased physical activity, social interaction and other positive health behaviors. But they are also increasing their risk for being overweight or obese because of the constant exposure to junk food, U.S. researchers report. The observational study tracked foods consumed by players (boys ages 8 to 12) and family members during 12 games at a youth baseball field in North Carolina. Most of the snacks provided at concession stands were high-calorie food items like French fries, candy and cookies. Most beverages were sugar-sweetened. The findings suggest that Little Leaguers may be leaving the ball park having consumed more calories than they expended.

Developers Of Lab-Grown Meat Products Face A Tough Market

The founder of a company developing lab-engineered meat and leather products – a.k.a., cultured, test tube, in vitro or, less charitably, “frankenmeat” – recently conducted taste tests of his “steak chips” at the South by Southwest festival in Texas. Tasters seemed to like the stuff, one comparing it favorably to “a thin piece of beef jerky”. But entrepreneur Andras Forgacs and others like him face an uphill battle for market acceptance. A recent Pew survey found that four out of five Americans – increasingly picky eaters paying closer attention to food sources and ingredients – said cultured meat was neither natural nor appealing and they would not eat it.
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