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Philadelphia Prison System Becomes Thriving Example Of Sustainability

October 17, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
In 2011, the National Institute of Corrections in the U.S. began to encourage prisons to pay closer attention to energy consumption, waste, and re-use, and to train prisoners for obtaining green jobs. One prison system that took the suggestions to heart was the Philadelphia Department of Prisons. It now operates a three-acre organic farm and food waste diversion program at one facility – once a construction site – that houses high-custody, long-sentence inmates. Workers on the farm are from a nearby minimum security prison. The Philadelphia mayor’s office says the program diverts 685 tons of food waste a year into compost, saving the city more than $40,000 in landfill costs.
Amy McKeever, "Philadelphia’s Prison System is Fighting Food Waste and Recidivism with an Organic Farm", Civil Eats, October 17, 2016, © Civil Eats
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Gluten-Free Market Is Booming, For No Good Reason

October 14, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
U.S. sales of gluten-free foods hit $1.57 billion, in 2015, an increase of 11 percent from 2014. That’s a slower increase than the 81 percent in 2013, but still beats overall grocery sales growth of three percent. The explosion of gluten-free products is a “blessing” for celiac disease sufferers. The odd fact, however, is that only one percent of the U.S. population actually suffers from gluten intolerance. Surveys have found that the rest buy gluten-free foods because they believe they are “generally healthier” or will help them lose weight. About 25 percent of consumers think "gluten-free is good for everyone." Health professionals, however, say this is a misconception, and that those without a diagnosis of gluten intolerance don't need to avoid gluten.
Deena Shanker, "You Can Eat Gluten Again, America", Bloomberg, October 14, 2016, © Bloomberg L.P.
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Perdue Confirms It No Longer Raises Chickens Without Use Of Antibiotics

October 7, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Chicken supplier Perdue Farms says it has ended the routine use of antibiotics at all of its facilities, a process it began in 2007. It still uses antibiotics when chickens get sick, something that happens to about five percent of its flocks each year. Other poultry producers have promised to reduce antibiotics use, but Perdue has taken it a step further. It has eliminated not only human antibiotics, but also a class of antibiotics known as ionophores, which are toxic to humans. Other poultry companies that have committed to a no-antibiotics program include Tyson Foods, Foster Farms and Pilgrim's Pride. However, one producer, Sanderson Farms, has mocked the term "raised without antibiotics" as a worthless marketing gimmick.
Dan Charles, "Perdue Goes (Almost) Antibiotic-Free", NPR, October 07, 2016, © NPR
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Ardent Mills Displays Flour Innovations At Baking Industry Show

October 7, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Ardent Mills recently exhibited at a major baking industry exposition, where it featured some of its newest grain-based industry solutions. Among the showcased innovations were a line of clean label flours containing no bleach, bromate or other additives, grown and ground the old-fashioned way. The company showed an array of ancient grains and new heirloom wheats that included quinoa, organic spelt and triticale. Also displayed: sprouted wheat and new sprouted wheat blends, and new blends made with Sprouted Wheat Ultragrain High Performance that offer whole grain nutrition, gluten strength, higher absorption, and lower formula costs.
"Ardent Mills Introduces New Products, Highlights Portfolio of Premium Multi-Use Flour, Organic Flours and Grains at the IBIE Show in Las Vegas", News release, Ardent Mills, October 07, 2016, © Ardent Mills
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McDonald’s Joins Environmental Group In Promoting Sustainable Coffee Farming

October 5, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
McDonald’s has enlisted the help of Conservation International in reaching a goal of serving only sustainable coffee by 2020. The goal is a nod to the growing interest among consumers in knowing where their food comes from. But there’s a practical consideration as well: to make sure it has a sufficient supply of high-quality coffee for the long run. Helping coffee farmers furthers that goal. Conservation International’s mission is to transform the coffee industry, which has been under stress because of climate change and fungal disease. Sustainability is a key part of that mission.
Leslie Patton, "McDonald’s Is Moving to Sustainable Coffee in Latest Menu Change", Bloomberg Market, October 05, 2016, © Bloomberg L.P.
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Rapid Growth Creates Problems For Unique Silicon Valley Venture Blue Apron

October 5, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
An NPR reporter who interviewed 14 former employees of meal kit delivery service Blue Apron heard tales of violence and code violations at one of its main packing facilities in California. They described violence among staff members, police visits, telephoned bomb threats, evacuations, and threats of gun violence. The police in the city (Richmond) chalked up the problems to growth so rapid that security was lax or non-existent. And early on, hiring was handled by incompetent temp agencies. But perhaps the basic difficulty was that the Blue Apron facility is both a warehouse and a manufacturing facility involved in fresh food handling, packaging, and delivery – not a typical Silicon Valley start-up model at all.
"Meal Kits And Chaos: Report Reveals Unsavory Side Of Blue Apron Warehouse", National Public Radio, October 05, 2016, © npr
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Papa John’s Says It Has Eliminated Unwanted Ingredients From Menu

October 4, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Papa John’s International pizza chain CEO John Schnatter announced that the company has kept its promise to eliminate 14 dubious ingredients from its menu by the end of 2016. The list of unwanted ingredients includes artificial flavors and colors, corn syrup, flavor enhancers, thickeners, and preservatives. The company did not say what replacement ingredients were used. Schnatter also noted that the chicken the company uses in its chicken poppers and to top its grilled chicken pizza are all fed a vegetarian, antibiotics-free diet. It is also using only cage-free eggs.
"Papa John's Completes Removal of 14 Unwanted Ingredients", News release, Papa John's, October 04, 2016, © Papa John's International, Inc.
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Ads For Naked Juice Are Clothed In Misleading Statements, Lawsuit Alleges

October 4, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
The nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest has joined with a New York law firm to sue PepsiCo in federal court for false and misleading advertising for their healthful juice line, Naked Juice. According to CSPI, Naked Juices says its products are packed with acai berry, blueberries, kale, and mango, but actually contain mostly cheap, nutrient-poor apple jor other juice. The company also claims on labels and in advertising that the juices contain “no added sugar,” implying that they are low in sugar. In fact, however, they are high in sugar, and PepsiCo does not tell consumers that the beverages are “not a low-calorie food” as the FDA requires. A 15 oz. bottle of Kale Blazer has eight teaspoons of sugar, mostly from orange and apple juice.
"PepsiCo’s Naked Juices Mislead Consumers, Says Lawsuit", News release, CSPI, October 04, 2016, © Center for Science in the Public Interest
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Natural Sweetener Could Give Stevia A Run For Its Money

October 2, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
New Orleans-based Swerve Sweetener is offering U.S. consumers an all-natural, zero-calorie sweetener suitable for baking and cooking – used cup-for-cup like sugar – without the bitter aftertaste of the sweetener stevia. The product, which sells for about $10 per 16-oz. bag, is made from a blend of non-GMO ingredients derived from fruits and vegetables. The company got a jump start in sales in 2007 when it began selling at a Whole Foods Market in Baton Rouge, La. It is now available in more than 4,000 retail stores and has posted $2 million in sales a year.
Richard Thompson, "Sweet idea: New Orleans-Based Swerve Offers Consumers an All-Natural Sugar Substitute", The Advocate, October 02, 2016, © The Advocate
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Study By McNeil Nutrionals Finds Sucralose Not Carcinogenic

October 2, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
A study funded by the creator of sucralose, McNeil Nutrionals, has found that the artificial sweetener does not cause cancer. The British researchers said earlier studies found a link between sucralose and cancer only after administering extremely high amounts unlikely to be reflective of everyday use. The acceptable daily intake (ADI) for sucralose established by the World Health Organization is a maximum of 15 mg per kilogram of body weight a day (or about 1.5 grams a day for someone weighing 104 kg). In the reviewed studies, exposure levels several orders of magnitude – hundreds to thousands of times – greater than the ADI did not cause cancer.
Colin Berry et al., "Sucralose Non-Carcinogenicity: A Review of the Scientific and Regulatory Rationale. ", Nutrition and Cancer, October 02, 2016, © Informa Group plc
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For A Healthier Diet, Eliminate Processed – Not Whole – Grains

September 30, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
People who try to eliminate all grains from their diet – many say it makes them feel better – are missing the point. Grains are in fact an excellent source of nutrients, but only when they are not highly processed. Whole grains retain B vitamins and fiber, minerals like selenium and copper, as well as carbohydrates and varying amounts of protein. Processed grains contain significantly lower amounts of these nutrients. Studies have shown that eating whole grains is associated with lower risk of heart disease, cancer, and death from all causes. But diets high in refined grains seem to increase the risk of these health problems.
Jenna Flannigan, "Is a Grain-Free Diet Healthy?", Healthline, September 30, 2016, © Healthline Media
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Progresso Soup Is Taking Clean-Label Seriously

September 26, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
The Progresso soup brand of General Mills announced that all of the chicken breast meat used in its 36 chicken soup varieties is free of antibiotics and hormones. In addition, the soups contain no artificial flavors and 60 percent of them contain no artificial colors. The company hopes to eliminate all artificial colors within three years.  The soup brand has reduced sodium levels in more than 40 soup varieties, added seven soups to its certified Gluten Free product line and is increasing its vegetarian soup options.
"Progresso Completes Move To Antibiotic And Hormone Free Chicken Breasts In All Chicken Soup Varieties", News release, Progresso, September 26, 2016, © Progresso
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Mango Flour Proving To Be Suitable Substitute For Wheat In Baking

September 26, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
A Philippines-based baking company is now offering “healthilicious” treats made with mango flour. Because it is gluten-free, the flour is trickier to use, requiring substitute ingredients that provide binding capacity. In the case of Magic Melt Foods, egg white was the gluten substitute along with other healthful ingredients. This allowed them to make muffins, bread, energy bars, and sandwiches using mango flour. Their decision to offer mango-based baked goods is well-timed: market research projects consumer demand for natural and healthy bread and baked food products to reach $310 billion this year.
Jeandie O. Galolo, "Pastry chain goes gluten-free, using mangoes", Sun Star , September 26, 2016, © Sun Star Publishing, Inc.
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Sodexo’s Deli Eateries Serve Up Exotic Bread Varieties

September 22, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Foodservice facilities manager Sodexo’s deli unit has introduced a line of freshly baked breads with nontraditional compositions and flavors. More than 100 SubConnection eateries are located at schools and universities, corporate offices and healthcare facilities in the U.S. The new bread flavors include maple bacon and jalapeno cheddar Old Bay cheddar, roasted garlic and parmesan, salt and pepper, sriracha and orange peel, thai, buffalo, parmesan herb, pretzel, white wheat, Southwest white wheat, and rolled oat white wheat. Customers at the delis can pair their bread selections with quality meats, fresh vegetables, toppings and sauces.
"Sodexo's SubConnection Rolls Out New Bread Flavors for the Adventurous", News release, Sodexo, September 22, 2016, © Sodexo
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Plant-Based Pastas Deliver High-Protein, High-Fiber, Gluten-Free Nutrition

September 21, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Ancient Harvest says its new family of plant-based pastas contain simple, recognizable ingredients such as beans, lentils, or quinoa that deliver twice the protein of traditional pasta. Naturally gluten-free, the new fiber-rich varieties include black bean elbows, red lentil rotini and linguini, and green lentil penne and spaghetti. Also available are mac & cheese mild cheddar elbows, mac & cheese sharp cheddar shells, mac & cheese white cheddar shells, and     pasta meals Cubanitos and Italiano. All are available at select natural food stores and grocery stores across the country.
"Ancient Harvest POW! Pasta Packs a One-Two Punch", News release, Ancient Harvest, September 21, 2016, © Ancient Harvest
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Selling Surplus Food Is Easier With New Online Auction Marketplace

September 21, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Selling surplus food – caused by overruns, irregular sizing, package changes, discontinued items, overstock, etc., – is a real hassle because the process is “chaotic, difficult, frustrating and extremely time consuming.” The key problem is the lack of a true marketplace where surplus product is exposed and sold. That problem may be solved, however, with the emergence of My FoodBids, a sort of eBay for food. The auction-style online marketplace is a quick, easy and safe way for food manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers to sell surplus inventory anonymously. The service is free to buyers; sellers pay a standard 10 commission on a sale.  It is designed to encourage higher bid prices, and faster sales, through open bidding without pricing caps. 
"My FoodBids: The First Online Food Auction Marketplace for Surplus Foods. Think Ebay for foods", News release, My FoodBids, September 21, 2016, © My FoodBids
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Most Of The Top 25 Fast-Food Chains Flunk The Antibiotics Use Test

September 20, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
The Natural Resources Defense Council and other consumer advocates have flunked 17 of the top 25 fast food chains in the U.S. on the basis of antibiotics use in their menu items. Big name eateries that earned the F grade because of a lack of a strong policy on antibiotics use include KFC, Burger King, Starbucks, IHOP, and Little Caesars. The stars of the class, earning A’s, were Chipotle and Panera Bread. Subway and Chick-fil-A earned a B, while McDonald’s snagged a C+. The FDA discourages producers from using antibiotics routinely in feed to promote growth, but does not prohibit the practice. It also supports routine use in meat and poultry production for disease prevention. The ratings appear in NRDC’s “Chain Reaction” report.
Tara Duggan, "Chipotle, Panera lauded over antibiotics rules; many chains fail", San Francisco Gate, September 20, 2016, © Hearst Communications, Inc
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Widespread Contamination Found In Baby Food Products

September 20, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
A new nonprofit watchdog organization has compiled a list of baby and toddler foods that are contaminated by harmful ingredients. The Clean Label Project’s list highlights the products that meet or exceed standards established by its medical advisors based on independent lab analyses. Eighty-one percent of the 628 tested products failed to meet the standards. Baby foods were tested for toxic and heavy metals – e.g., arsenic, lead, cadmium – pesticides, bisphenol A (BPA), antibiotics, food coloring and flavors, and other unwanted substances that do not appear on ingredient labels. Eighty percent of infant formulas and 60 percent of meat and dairy baby food jars contained detectable antibiotic residues. One-third of jars and meals tested had detectable pesticide residues.
"Clean Label Project reveals baby food brands with least contaminants", News release, Clean Label Project, September 20, 2016, © Clean Label Project
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Real Junk Food Project Repurposes Surplus Food In A Network Of Affiliated Cafes

September 18, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
While Britain’s lawmakers ponder possible legislation on curbing food waste, private organizations and entrepreneurs have taken matters into their own hands with some eye-popping success. The Real Junk Food project, founded only three years ago, maintains a 6,000-square-foot warehouse in the city of Leeds that collects between two and 10 tons of food daily from a variety of sources, including supermarket chain Morrisons. Food collected is then distributed to one of 30 Real Junk Food cafes around the city. There are 125 such cafes throughout the U.K., and in Israel and Australia, and is growing exponentially worldwide. The surplus food is sold to anyone for any amount they can afford, including donated labor and services.
Carole Cadwalladr, "The Real Junk Food Project: Revolutionising How We Tackle Food Waste", The Guardian, September 18, 2016, © Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies
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Canadian Educators Tackle Waste Problem With “LItterless Lunch” Policies

September 16, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Canadian school children who eat a disposable lunch – e.g., a Lunchable plus fruit juice or soda – generate about 67 lbs. of packaging waste in a school year. That adds up to 1,625 lbs. a year for a class of 25. To battle this problem, school boards are increasingly introducing “litterless lunch” policies that encourage parents to pack home-made sandwiches wrapped in cloth or reusable waxed paper, stainless-steel lunchboxes, and drinks in thermos flasks. It helps solve the waste problem, and saves families money. Parents can save over a dollar a day by sending their kid to school with a sandwich, a reusable water bottle, and fresh fruit or yogurt.
Charlie Sorrel, "With Litterless Lunches, Canadian Schools Try To Get Parents To Pack Zero-Waste Meals", Fast Company, September 16, 2016, © Mansueto Ventures, LLC
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Composting Service Helps Consumers, Farmers, And The Environment

September 16, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
A Massachusetts start-up is offering a composting service that benefits consumers, businesses, farmers, and the environment. Bootstrap Compost provides its customers with composting buckets with compostable liners and lids. The buckets are filled with fruit and vegetable scraps, then picked up by the company either weekly or biweekly. Once finished, the compost is taken to farms, but some is reserved for customers to use in their own gardens. Using a composting bucket saves the water that would be used to run food scrapes down a kitchen disposal, and makes household waste lighter, less smelly and easier to manage.
Emma R. Murphy, "Local Company Brings Easy Composting to Needham", Needham Wicked Local, September 16, 2016, © GateHouse Media, LLC
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Nissin Moves To Make Its Salty, Fatty Cup Noodles More Healthful

September 15, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Acknowledging healthful eating trends and consumer concerns about processed food ingredients, Nissin has reduced the sodium content of its Cup Noodles – to 45 percent of a person’s recommended daily salt intake from 60 percent – and eliminated artificial flavors and colors. The move follows on the heels of last year’s decision to enlarge the styrofoam cups and make them microwaveable. Nevertheless, the soup still contains more than a third of the saturated fat an adult should eat in a day.
Annie Gasparro, "Cup Noodles Dials Down the Salt", The Wall Street Journal, September 15, 2016, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Chickpea-Based Spaghetti Joins Banza’s Past Family

September 14, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Already noted for its high-protein chickpea-based boxed pastas, Banza has introduced spaghetti to its product line. The company’s offerings – penne, rotini, elbows, and shells, all made from chickpea flour – have twice as much protein, and four times as much fiber, as conventional wheat-based pasta. They also contain 40 percent fewer net carbs, are gluten-free, low glycemic, vegan, Kosher, and Non-GMO Project Verified. The products, which also include macaroni and cheese, are available at the company’s website (eatbanza.com) and on Amazon.com, as well as at HEB, Jewel-Osco, and ShopRite stores.
"Banza Launches Spaghetti Noodle, Giving Pasta Night a Healthy Twirl", News release, Banza, September 14, 2016, © Banza
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KFC Continues To Use Chickens Raised With Antibiotics

September 11, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Representatives of U.S. conservation and consumer groups never got to deliver their anti-antibiotics petition – with 350,000 signatures – to KFC executives in Louisville, Kentucky. But they were gratified to learn later that KFC parent company Yum! Brands is reviewing its position on the use of antibiotics in its chicken supply chain. Whether anything comes of that is impossible to predict. Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health experts continue to warn that livestock and poultry use of antibiotics contributes to the pressing public health threat of antibiotics resistance. 
Lena Brook, "Over 350K Urge KFC to Change Chicken Antibiotics Policy", News release, Natural Resources Defense Council, September 11, 2016, © Natural Resources Defense Council
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Whole Foods’ Expansion Plan Is Heading In The Wrong Direction

September 7, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Whole Foods Market’s aggressive expansion plan has led to the building of stores in neighborhoods and malls that don’t quite fit with the grocer’s upscale product line and image, or its market demographic. The company is steadily losing the natural-and-organic crowd to lower-priced competitors like Walmart, Trader Joe’s and Kroger. So it seems like a mistake to put new stores next to Dress Barns, Kmarts and Shoe Carnivals. Wall Street analysts say the grocer should be building stores where wealthy shoppers can afford expensive cuts of meat and exotic facial oils. With the grocer’s stock already down by 50 percent since 2013 and same-store sales slipping, expansion into lower-income neighborhoods “will trip them up” further, a Motley Fool analyst says.
Craig Giammona, "Wall Street Wants Whole Foods to Stick to the Quinoa Crowd", Bloomberg, September 07, 2016, © Bloomberg L.P.
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“Dairy-Free” Tops List of Better-For-You Food Claims

September 7, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
A national health food survey by Earth Balance finds that the top better-for-you food claim is dairy-free. Twenty-nine percent of survey respondents cited dairy-free as their favorite, followed by (at 28 percent) superfoods (e.g., chia, acai and quinoa), alternative snacks (e.g., gluten-free crackers, nut butters and Greek yogurt) and alternative oils (e.g., avocado, coconut and sunflower). Plant-based proteins, such as hemp hearts, lentils and spirulina, came in at 18 percent. Important considerations when shopping were buying local (37 percent), organic (33 percent) and non-GMO (30 percent). Foods most often consumed were green tea (33 percent), dairy alternatives (31 percent), kale (21 percent) and quinoa (16 percent). “Plant-based eating” was also shown to be a major trend.
"New Study Reveals More Americans Embracing Plant-Based, Organic and Non-GMO Foods", News release, Earth Balance, September 07, 2016, © Earth Balance
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Saturated Ice Cream Market Still Has Room For Quality, Wholesomeness, Smaller Portions

September 1, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Market researcher Mintel has found that 92 percent of Americans have bought frozen treats of various kinds in the last six months, but 22 percent indicated they are buying less than before. Portion control is becoming a significant purchase consideration – 32 percent now buy single-serve products – and consumers are more concerned about quality. That means they are willing to pay more for ice cream that tastes better. A Mintel analyst says the saturated ice cream market leaves little room for expansion of the customer base. But there is an opportunity to promote products that communicate quality, health and wholeness, as well as smaller, snack-like portions.
"Less Is More: Americans are Eating Less Ice Cream but are Willing to Pay a Premium", News release, Mintel, September 01, 2016, © Mintel Group Ltd.
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Rollout Of Certified Organic Gatorade Coming Soon

August 31, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
PepsiCo is nearly finished test-marketing a USDA-certified organic version of Gatorade in some Kroger stores. It plans a rollout in a few grocery, natural and convenience stores over the next few weeks. To obtain the organic certification the company had to make sure G Organic Gatorade contained no artificial ingredients and had to refine its manufacturing process. Though the brand controls 70 percent of the sports drink market, it is facing heavier competitive pressure from challengers like coconut water, as consumers increasingly prefer more natural ingredients in foods and beverages. G Organic will be available in strawberry, lemon, and mixed berry flavors at a suggested retail price of $1.69 for a 16.9-ounce bottle, $0.50 more than the standard version.
Jennifer Kaplan, "Gatorade Goes Organic as PepsiCo Joins Natural-Product Push", Bloomberg, August 31, 2016, © Bloomberg L.P.
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People Worldwide Want Healthier Foods, And Are Willing To Pay More For Them

August 30, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Nielsen global consumer research finds that seven in ten consumers worldwide consciously choose foods that will help them avoid obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. But consumers can’t achieve the goal of healthier eating without the help of food manufacturers, retailers and the medical community, Nielsen says. Consumers need foods formulated with good-for-you ingredients. Retailers need to stock shelves with right-priced healthful options. And the medical community needs to provide guidance on diets that ensure a healthy way of life. The survey also found that 68 percent of global respondents are willing to pay more for foods and drinks that don’t contain undesirable ingredients.
"Ingredient Inspectors: Consumers Embrace Dietary Diligence", News release, Nielsen, August 30, 2016, © The Nielsen Company
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Days Seem Numbered For The Frozen Concentrated O.J. Market

August 28, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Fresh (not-from-concentrate) orange juice overtook the frozen concentrate market more than 30 years ago. Americans still drink about 1.4 million gallons of frozen concentrate each month, but that’s 17.7 million gallons less than fresh juice. Rampant disease –  the incurable citrus greening bacteria – in orange groves and tricky weather conditions have contributed to a supply problem. But the biggest trend is the fact that Americans don’t sit down for breakfast very much anymore, and they seem to prefer exotic tropical smoothies and energy drinks over orange juice. The result? A disaster for growers, juice processors, and orange juice futures traders.
Julie Wernau, "The Frozen Concentrated Orange-Juice Market Has Virtually Disappeared", The Wall Street Journal, August 28, 2016, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Stone Milling Of Flour: Ancient Technology Is Catching On Again

August 24, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
A young Vermont couple who got hooked on selling bread baked with a friend’s home-milled flour now find themselves – and their bakery, Elmore Mountain Bread – in the vanguard of the burgeoning stone-milling movement. Grinding wheat between stones is an ancient technology, long since replaced by the roller milling process used by today’s industrial baking companies. Wheat ground by stone not only tastes better, it is more nutritious, advocates say. Unfortunately, it has a short shelf life, because the flour retains the wheat berry’s bran, endosperm and fiber- and omega 3-rich germ. If farmers can grow the right wheat for stone milling, it might mean better bread for consumers, and growing competition for Big Flour from regional bakers like Elmore Mountain.
Sujata Gupta, "Bread Grains: The Last Frontier In The Locavore Movement", National Public Radio, August 24, 2016, © npr
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Bumble Bee Expands Clean Label, Traceability Programs

August 23, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Shelf-stable seafood company Bumble Bee announced that its line of solid white albacore tuna in water and oil has been Non-GMO Project Verified. The rest of its family of canned and pouch tuna products would be verified by the end of the year. As part of its “clean label” strategy, the company recently switched to sea salt in all of its canned tuna products. Bumble Bee said it’s committed to traceability of its seafood, noting that all of its tuna comes from wild caught fisheries. Its Trace My Catch website for tuna products was expanded to include salmon, sardines and clam products.
"Bumble Bee Moves TO Non-GMO Project Verified Tuna", News release, Bumble Bee, August 23, 2016, © Bumble Bee Seafoods
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GMO Labeling Continues Though Federal Law Gives Companies Three Years To Comply

August 22, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Several big food companies are moving forward with their own GMO ingredient labeling initiatives as they await USDA rules implementing the new federal law. Some companies – Campbell, Mars, et al. – acted earlier this year to voluntarily comply with Vermont’s short-lived law (in effect on July 1 but superseded by the July 29 federal law). Campbell’s relabeled products were distributed nationwide, not just to Vermont. Though compliance with the federal law is not required for three years, Dannon has also committed to GMO labeling and to reformulating its product line by 2019 to include “fewer and more natural ingredients that are not synthetic and non-GMO.”
Julie Gallagher, "Big Food Companies Volunteer GMO Info", Supermarket News, August 22, 2016, © Penton
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U.K. Unveils Details Of Plan To Deal With Childhood Obesity

August 18, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
The British government has crafted a plan to fight childhood obesity that asks food and beverage manufacturers to voluntarily trim sugar levels by 20 percent within five years, and five percent in the first year. “Other levers” will be applied if the voluntary targets are not met. The plan includes a two-level sugar tax that treats sugar content of five grams per 100 milliliters differently from sugar content of eight grams per 100 milliliters. The plan does not include a ban on advertising sugary drinks. Lastly, the plan stresses exercise in school, calling for primary school children to get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a day.
Becky Waller-Davies, "Sugar Tax Included In Strategy To Tackle Childhood Obesity", Retail Week, August 18, 2016, © EMAP PUBLISHING LIMITED
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Entrepreneurs To Introduce Vegan Cheese And Yogurt Made From Dairy Yeast

August 18, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
A start-up company that acknowledges the often unacceptable vegan substitutes for milk, cheese and yogurt is working on an "animal-free dairy milk" that is somehow real milk without the involvement of a cow. One of the founders says the idea is to combine the best of a real dairy product with the best of a dairy substitute. Perfect Day milk is made from a dairy yeast that can be optimized to produce real milk proteins, including casein, the main protein in cheese. Supported by $4 million in venture funding, the company still hasn’t decided what its first product will be, but is leaning toward vegan yogurt or cheese, rather than milk, because “that’s where the real lack of alternatives is.”
Jessica Leber, "These Vegan Dairy Products Are Made From Milk—There Just Aren't Any Cows Involved", Fast Company, August 18, 2016, © Mansueto Ventures, LLC
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“Geode” Wedding Cake May Be Ahead Of Its Time For Most Couples

August 17, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
The latest trend in wedding cakes is the geode cake, made with rock candy, coarse sugar and modeling chocolate crafted to look like a hollow round geode rock bursting with crystals. The cake is colored to look like a multihued geode has crystallized inside of a wedding cake. The focus, bakers say, is on texture, color and shape, ensconced in a basic cake in such a way that the colorful geode bursts against traditional white fondant. Bakers admit it’s far from an established wedding cake variety. One baker says it is for a more “trendy and unorthodox couple who wants some extra ‘ooh la la’ in their cake.”
Alexis Book, "Geode Cakes are the New Wedding Trend", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 17, 2016, © PG Publishing Co.
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Big Food Needs To Adjust To Needs Of Millennials To Stay Competitive

August 17, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
A new report by business management consultant A.T. Kearney and The Hartman Group, a food and beverage industry researcher, finds that the largest companies are experiencing slow growth because of the success of small and medium-sized purveyors of products that meet younger consumers' needs. Big Food is growing at a rate of 1.8 percent a year compared with 11 to 15 percent growth for smaller companies. The key to success? Products are delivered when and where Millennials shop and with transparency and authenticity in sourcing, production, and marketing. To compete, big food companies need to provide real food that maintains heart health, digestive health, and higher energy levels.
"Major Food Industry Players Struggle as Smaller Companies Gain a Competitive Edge", News release, A.T. Kearney, August 17, 2016, © A.T. Kearney Holdings Limited
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Ethiopia Worries That Popularity Of Native Grain Will Make It Too Dear For Citizens

August 16, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Big Food has gotten the message about the mineral-rich Ethiopian whole-grain teff. The message is simple: teff is a more nutritious – and gluten free – alternative to wheat. But growing interest in teff has alarmed Ethiopia, where teff is a staple and very popular among endurance athletes. Health-conscious American consumers realize that teff is a nutrient-dense ancient grain, and this has pushed sales to extraordinary heights. Americans, however, eat domestically cultivated teff, because Ethiopia, hoping to keep the grain affordable for its citizens, has banned exports.
Anahad O'Connor, "Is Teff the New Super Grain?", The New York Times, August 16, 2016, © The New York Times Company
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Well-Intentioned Government-Funded School Meals Programs Are Making Kids Fat

August 11, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Low-income students in the Northeast, South, and rural U.S. who participate in federally-subsidized school breakfast and lunch programs are at the greatest risk of becoming overweight, a study has found. The researchers noted that the meal programs are well-intentioned, but are actually contributing to the obesity epidemic among schoolchildren. According to the study, nutrition standards of the subsidized meals programs need to be raised, but in a way that makes the food acceptable and appetizing to children. The study was based on data collected from 21,260 students whose dietary habits were monitored from kindergarten to eighth grade.
Kristen Capogrossi et al., "The Influence of School Nutrition Programs on the Weight of Low-Income Children: A Treatment Effect Analysis", Health Economics, August 11, 2016, © John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
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Millennial Moms Want Food/Beverage Transparency, And Are Increasingly Getting Just That

August 10, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
CPG food and beverage brands are increasingly aware that health-conscious Millennial consumers are concerned about the ingredients in the products they buy, and where they came from. Even companies like healthy beverage producer AquaBall, which introduced a novelty round-shaped package several years ago, concluded that the ingredients list was more important than package shape. To remove preservatives, it had to switch to a process that precluded the round shape. It ended up with oval. A large number of CPG firms are cleaning up their nutrition panels by reducing the overall number of ingredients, and particularly preservatives, artificial flavors and colors, and even strange-sounding but natural substances. “Transparency is the coin of the realm,” said Campbell Soup CEO Denise Morrison recently.
Dale Buss, "Clean Labels Become CPG Imperative in Era of Healthier Food", Brandchannel, August 10, 2016, © Interbrand
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Cargill Turkeys Will Be Antibiotics-Free By 2017

August 9, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Food and agricultural production giant Cargill announced it has ended the use of the antibiotic gentamicin – used to prevent disease in animals and humans – in its turkey business. The company’s two largest turkey brands, Honeysuckle White and Shady Brook Farms, will be affected; antibiotics-free birds will be available in stores in 2017. However, birds will continue to receive antibiotics for control and treatment of disease. The company also announced it is expanding its antibiotics-free turkey products through the creation of a new Honest Turkey product line, whose birds have never been treated with antibiotics. Cargill says it is committed to reducing use of shared-class – i.e., for human and animal use – antibiotics in food animals processed for protein and by-products.
"Cargill Turkey Slices Antibiotic Use, Creates Honest Turkey Antibiotic-Free Product Line", News release, Cargill, August 09, 2016, © Cargill, Incorporated
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Trend Toward Sugar Substitutes Takes Hold In N.Z.’s Soft Drink Industry

August 7, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Last year, two of New Zealand’s big soft drink manufacturers began offering their flagship colas with the sweetener stevia substituting for sugar. Coca-Cola Amatil (NZ) launched Coca-Cola Life; Frucor Beverages followed with Pepsi Next. Both brands contain fewer calories and could have a major impact on cola carbonates generally, and strong growth expected in low-calorie cola carbonates. Euromonitor expects that low-calorie colas will account for almost 50 percent of total cola sales within four years. Energy drinks, sports drinks, and fruit juices are also expected join the no-sugar bandwagon. With that in mind, Euromonitor sees increased efforts to find other sugar substitutes besides stevia.
Sara Agostino, "Commitment from New Zealand Manufacturers to Reduce Sugar Content in Soft Drinks", Blog post, Euromonitor International, August 07, 2016, © Euromonitor International
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Wendy’s Creates Timeline For Making Its Chicken Antibiotics-Free

August 5, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Fast-food chain Wendy’s, like McDonald’s, has caught on to the fact that drug-resistant pathogens are a growing health problem linked to the widespread use of antibiotics in beef, pork, and poultry. Or at least they’ve caught on to the fact that their customers are aware of it. Wendy’s hasn’t acted as quickly as McDonald’s, which recently announced its chicken is 100 percent antibiotics free. The company says it’s establishing a timeline for eliminating drugs from its poultry supply chain, after the Natural Resources Defense Council awarded Wendy’s and a dozen other fast-food chains a grade of “F” because they lacked a timeline or firm policy for ridding their birds of antibiotics.
Chris Morran, "Wendy’s Quietly Getting Rid Of Antibiotics In Chicken", Consumerist, August 05, 2016, © Consumer Media LLC
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Consumers Still Waiting For FDA Definitions Of “Natural” And “Healthy” Foods

August 3, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Food shoppers want to buy “natural” and “healthy” foods,” but there is still no way of verifying what manufacturers claim on their labels. The FDA reportedly is redefining the term “healthy” due to new scientific findings – food science is evolving rapidly –  regarding ingredients like fats. And the agency is pondering what makes a “natural food.” It’s not an easy task. Any new definition of natural has to meet standards of common sense, as well as satisfy the general public, consumer advocacy groups, food manufacturers and retailers. Though lawsuits have made food companies more cautious about using the natural and healthy claims, the words still appear on many products. Without conclusive definitions from the FDA, it remains a “buyer beware” situation for shoppers.
Neal Ungerleider, "The Epic Fight Over How To Label "Natural" Foods", Fast Company, August 03, 2016, © Mansueto Ventures, LLC
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Millennials Ask: Is It Local? Is It Healthy? The Food Industry Responds

August 2, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Eighteen- to 35-year-olds – Millennials – are now the biggest demographic in the U.S., and their food preferences have changed the industry. For several years now consumers – especially Millennials – have increasingly chosen locally- or regionally-produced foods, giving a big sales boost to those brands. The Winn-Dixie grocery chain, for example, no longer sells Mike’s Pies under the Winn-Dixie label. The result: sales of Mike’s Pies are up 57 percent. "Millennials are asking: Is this healthy, is this local?" said a representative of the Food Marketing Institute. Grocery chains have responded by highlighting locally-produced and so-called natural foods, prospering in the process.
Alli Knothe, "Millennials Drive Grocers Like Publix and Winn-Dixie to Feature Food Produced Around Tampa Bay", Tampa Bay Times, August 02, 2016, © Tampa Bay Times
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Chocolate Grabs Lead From Vanilla In U.K. Ice Cream Launches

August 1, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Researcher Mintel reports that the launch of chocolate ice cream products outpaced vanilla products in the U.K. for the first time in eight years. Twenty-two percent of all new ice cream launches in 2015 were chocolate flavored, compared to vanilla (18 percent), caramel or caramelized flavors (13 percent) and strawberry (12 percent). The trend applies to both “healthy” ice cream products and “decadent” varieties. The company tied the rise in chocolate flavored products to the continued popularity of ice cream bars. But it also noted that U.K. ice cream trends tend to follow the U.S., where chocolate has been the leading ice cream launch for years. Forty-eight percent of British ice cream buyers want to see a variety of products made with high-quality chocolate from premium chocolatiers and cocoa from a specific region.
"Choc Scoops Top Spot in UK Ice Cream Innovation: 22% Of New Ice Cream Products Launched In The UK Is Chocolate Flavoured", News release, Mintel, August 01, 2016, © Mintel Group Ltd.
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PowerBar Unveils Clean-Label Protein Products

August 1, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Energy snack company PowerBar has launched a line of “clean” protein bars and drinks. They contain no artificial sweeteners, colors, or flavors, but deliver 2,000 mg. of sugar plus a stevia-based no-calorie sweetener and “high quality” whey protein. The 70-calorie clean whey protein drink is made with 15 g. of whey protein and seven other ingredients, but no sugar. A company representative said the new clean whey product line “is just another step in our journey to become more transparent.”
"PowerBar Launches Clean Whey Product Line", News release, PowerBar, August 01, 2016, © PowerBar
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McDonald’s Menu Gets Cleaner And Cleaner

August 1, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Facing stiff competition from restaurant chains whose foods are less likely to contain questionable ingredients, McDonald’s announced a handful of menu updates intended to appeal to picky eaters. The company removed artificial preservatives from Chicken McNuggets, pork sausage patties, omelet-style eggs, and scrambled eggs. It introduced buns without high fructose corn syrup that will eventually replace the buns used in Big Macs, Quarter Pounders, hamburgers, etc. And, lastly, it has completed a transition to antibiotics-free chicken, 12 months ahead of schedule. A company spokesman said “it’s time for all fast and casual restaurants to address the growing crisis of antibiotic resistance” by working with suppliers who provide antibiotics-free poultry.
Chris Morran, "McDonald’s Removing Preservatives From Some Items; Nuggets Now 100% Antibiotics-Free", Consumerist, August 01, 2016, © Consumer Media LLC
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Adding Nuts To Diet Reduces Inflammation That Worsens Chronic Diseases

July 29, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Inflammation tends to worsen the impact of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. U.S. researchers report that eating nuts three to five times a week reduces the biomarkers of inflammation and, in turn, the effects of those diseases. Though the researchers aren’t sure which ingredients exactly are responsible for the improvement, peanuts and tree nuts contain magnesium, fiber, L-arginine, antioxidants and unsaturated fatty acids. All are known to protect against inflammation. The study analyzed data from food-frequency questionnaires and plasma biomarkers from 5,013 participants.
Stephen Feller, "Regular Nut Consumption Linked To Less Inflammation", United Press International, July 29, 2016, © United Press International, Inc.
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Clean Label Baking Company Inks Deal With Southern Calif. Grocery Chain

July 27, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
A Los Angeles-based start-up baking company announced a deal with California grocery chain Gelson’s to stock its line of USDA-certified organic, non-GMO baking kits and mixes. Foodstirs, co-founded by three women, including actress Sarah Michelle Gellar, uses cane sugar, Equal Exchange fair trade cocoa and chocolate chips, organic pastry flour, organic unbleached wheat flour, and dye-free sprinkles. The baking kits and mixes feature cake pops, cupcakes, sugar cookies, brownies, chocolate chip cookies and vanilla cake. Baking kits ($17.99) contain 12 to 20 servings, while the baking mixes ($5.99) serve 12 to 16.
"Foodstirs Launches First All Organic, GMO free Line of Baking Kits & Mixes into Retail", News release, Foodstirs, July 27, 2016, © Foodstirs
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