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A Gardener’s Spring Planting Possibilities Might Include Grains

January 22, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
A Texas food writer offers an interesting suggestion to serious backyard gardeners who might want to move beyond tomatoes and other traditional vegetables: try growing grains. It’s not an undertaking, however, for backyard farmers, unless the backyard is spacious, i.e. acres. The backyard gardener with the space can grow amaranth, which provides enough for a hot breakfast, a side dish for dinner, a casserole, an ingredient in baked goods, or added to a salad. Other fairly easy-to-grow grain possibilities: wheat berries, sorghum, and corn.
Jill Carroll, "Harvest backyard grain crops to make tasty treats in the kitchen", Houston Chronicle, January 22, 2016, © Hearst Newspapers, LLC
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New Generation Of Cake Mixes Says “No Thanks” To Fake Ingredients

January 21, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
As bake mix companies retool their stale, stodgy recipes to replace artificial ingredients with more natural stuff, young baking entrepreneurs are rushing to meet the demand from health-conscious Millennials for recognizable all-natural and organic ingredients. One of these entrepreneurs is Sarah Jones Garibaldi, whose Miss Jones Baking Company is playing the David to giants like Betty Crocker, Duncan Hines and Pillsbury. Her five products – two cake mixes, a brownie mix and vanilla and chocolate frosting – debuted in grocery stores last November, and the company is struggling to meet demand. Garibaldi says the concerns about synthetic cake mix ingredients are not just a health issue. More Millennial diners simply prefer not to “waste precious calories on mediocre food.”
Hadley Malcolm, "Millennial-focused all-natural baking line battling Betty Crocker", USA Today, January 21, 2016, © USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Satellite Information Network, LLC
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Bake Mix Entrepreneurs Target Health-Conscious Consumers With A Sweet Tooth

January 21, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Shifting diet trends toward natural, organic, and generally more healthful foods have taken their toll on bake mix brands like Betty Crocker, Duncan Hines and Pillsbury. U.S. sales of cake and pastry mixes fell 8.5 percent in 2015; frosting sales fell 5.3 percent. Meanwhile, sales of organic baking mixes grew more than 15 percent. It doesn’t mean traditional bake-at-home mixes will disappear from store shelves anytime soon (for one thing, they’re a lot cheaper). But their ingredients lists are being reworked to get rid of at least some of the unpronounceables and unrecognizables. Bake mix entrepreneurs focused on natural ingredients are convinced that mixes made with pure ingredients will find their market: health-conscious people with a sweet tooth who hate to waste decadent calories on mediocre treats.
Hadley Malcolm, "Millennial-focused all-natural baking line battling Betty Crocker", USA Today, January 21, 2016, © USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Satellite Information Network, Inc.
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USDA Testing Finds Pesticide Residue Levels On Food Are Safe

January 20, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
The USDA reports that 99 percent of the foods it tested – including fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, oats, rice, infant formula, and salmon – through its Pesticide Data Program had residue levels below EPA standards. The USDA said the pesticide levels it found “do not pose a safety concern.” The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) tested for pesticides in 10,619 samples of food. Seventy-six percent the samples were domestic in origin, 22.9 percent were imports, 0.7 percent were of mixed origin, and 0.9 percent were of unknown origin. Pesticide residues exceeding the EPA tolerance level were detected in 0.36 percent of the samples tested.
"USDA finds pesticide residues do not pose a safety concern", News release, USDA, January 20, 2016, © USDA
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Feds Open Gulf Of Mexico To Aquaculture

January 20, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
With increased demand for seafood comes an increased need for aquaculture (fish farming) for sustainable seafood production. To help meet that challenge, the federal government has opened the door to the seafood industry to expand fish farming in the federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued final rules implementing an environmentally sustainable program of aquaculture that will reduce U.S. dependency on seafood imports, provide a domestic source of sustainable fish protein, and create jobs. Under the new rules, NOAA Fisheries will issue permits to grow red drum, cobia, and almaco jack, among others, in federal Gulf waters for an initial period of 10 years. The rules took into account thousands of public comments, according to NOAA.
"NOAA expands opportunities for US aquaculture", News release, NOAA, January 20, 2016, © NOAA
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Artificial Colors, Flavors, Mostly Gone From General Mills Cereals

January 19, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
The General Mills Cereal Division announced that three quarters of its breakfast cereal products are free of artificial colors and flavors from artificial sources. The company said it just unveiled seven old favorites – Trix, Reese’s Puffs, Cocoa Puffs, Golden Grahams, Chocolate Cheerios, Frosted Cheerios and Fruity Cheerios – with new recipes that contain no artificial colors, flavors, or high fructose corn syrup. A new ad campaign, dubbed “Again,” touts the recipe changes while encouraging consumers to love General Mills cereals Again. The company has been working for more than a year trying to figure out how to get rid of the offending colors and flavors ”across some pretty big cereals where color was central to the product identity.” The process included investigating 69 colors and 86 flavors
Ashley Halladay, "Cereal team celebrates milestone", News release, General Mills, January 19, 2016, © General Mills Inc.
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Even Products Not Labeled “Gluten-Free” Benefit From The Phenomenon

January 19, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
The “most potent, generative force” in the food industry – gluten-free food and beverages -- is not going away. A visit to the recent Fancy Food Show bore that out: kombuchas, jerkies, prepackaged sauces, artisanal charcuterie, and small-batch jams were all labeled gluten-free. The U.S. market for gluten-free foods hit $11.6 billion in 2015, up 136 percent from 2013 (Mintel). But those figures only include products specifically labeled “gluten-free.” Other foods and beverages that just happen to be gluten-free are also benefiting. Examples include new dishes on San Francisco restaurant and café menus, in farmers markets and in pastry shops (e.g., almond flour cakes). The fact that gluten-free beer “tastes wretched” spurred the rise of wheat-free hard apple cider and honey-based mead.
Jonathan Kauffman, "Is that gluten-free? The movement’s impact on the food industry", San Francisco Chronicle, January 19, 2016, © Hearst Corporation
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Will Coke’s New Advertising Them Reverse Bleak Sales Trend?

January 18, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Coca-Cola is launching an ad campaign with a new theme – “Taste the Feeling” – in hopes of revving up sales in an era of anti-sugary drink hoopla. The ten-year slide in soda consumption continues: Coke’s sales rose only one percent in the first nine months of 2015. New ads will feature the refreshing taste of Coke and relate stories about special Coke-centered moments in life. The challenge for the company is to somehow counter the flood of criticism that ties sugary sodas to some major health woes, including obesity, diabetes and tooth decay. Coca-Cola says the criticism is unfair because soda drinking makes up only a small part of peoples’ diets.
Mike Esterl et al., "Coke Looks to Get Pop From New Ad Campaign", The Wall Street Journal, January 18, 2016, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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More Evidence That Expectant Mothers Who Eat Lots Of Fish Have Smarter Kids

January 18, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
A Spanish study of 2,000 mothers and children found that eating fish often during pregnancy has long-term health benefits for kids, especially in terms of brain development. And, the study found, there was no evidence of adverse effects from pollutants like mercury after that eating a lot of fish – 21 ounces a week on average. The researchers examined women’s consumption of large fatty fish such as swordfish and albacore tuna, smaller fatty fish such as mackerel, sardines, anchovies or salmon, and lean fish such as hake or sole, as well as shellfish and other seafood. The link between higher maternal consumption of lean and/or large fatty fish and better child brain development was especially apparent when kids were five.
Shereen Lehman, "High fish consumption in pregnancy tied to brain benefits for kids", Reuters, January 18, 2016, © Thomson Reuters
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Asians Can Now Afford Protein, But Are Also Choosing Wheat Over Rice

January 15, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Increasingly prosperous China has begun to satisfy its repressed demand for protein, mainly in the form of pork. In India, the price of the legume Dal, a major source of protein along with milk, has quadrupled in the last decade. But what might be called a sinister dietary trend is also taking hold in Asia. In the area of carbohydrates, consumer preferences are shifting away from rice toward wheat-based products like white bread. Nutritionists fret over the shift, as do healthcare providers who are already seeing the adverse results in increased numbers of obese patients and rising healthcare costs. They are also seeing a rise in the value of their stocks.
Andy Mukherjee, "Asia's High-Risk Diet", Bloomberg Gadfly, January 15, 2016, © Bloomberg L.P.
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America’s Love Affair With Diet Products Is Mostly Over

January 13, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
The shift in American consumers’ attitudes toward health and dieting is giving diet product marketers a sour stomach, according to Mintel. A Mintel analyst says “the diet industry faces downward pressure” because Americans are skeptical of diet product ingredients and their effectiveness in weight loss. In short, they believe “a magic weight loss pill likely doesn’t exist." The researcher found that 91 percent of U.S. consumers now believe a well-rounded diet is more important than using weight loss products. This shift is reflected in the fact that sales of weight-control tablets continue to decline steeply: nearly 20 percent for the 52-weeks ending July 2015. U.S. consumers agree diet products are not as healthy as they claim to be, and 61 percent believe most diets are not healthy at all.
"Balanced Eating vs. Dieting Plans", Prepared Foods, January 13, 2016, © BNP Media
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Food Commodity Prices Continue to Plummet

January 12, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Food and beverage manufacturers must be encouraged by the news that plentiful supplies and sluggish economic growth have depressed prices of meat, dairy and cereals, more than offsetting rising prices of sugar and vegetable oils. It is the fourth consecutive year that major food commodity prices have fallen, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The FAO Food Price Index ended 2015 at 154.1 points, lower than the year’s average of 164.1 points. An FAO economist pointed to “abundant supplies in the face of a timid world demand and an appreciating dollar” for the “general weakness” in food prices in 2015.
Judie Bizzozero, "Prices for Major Food Commodities Dropped 19% in 2015", Natural Products Insider, January 12, 2016, © Informa Exhibitions LLC
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Birds’ Nests Aren’t Just For Eggs

January 10, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
A cosmetics drink launched in the Asian market reduces wrinkles and slows the aging process of the skin, according to its maker, beauty brand Qiaohou. A primary ingredient of Qiaohou Miracle Essence is edible birds’ nests. The global market for “Beauty from Within” products is $4 billion, with the bulk of sales in the Asia-Pacific region. Anti-aging and natural ingredients are high-growth drivers for the beauty industry. The company says “early trials” of the birds’ nest drinks show that "consistent use helps reduce wrinkles and reverse the effects of aging on the skin.”
Lucy Whitehouse, "Drinkable cosmetic product claims all-natural anti-ageing properties", CosmeticsDesign-Asia.com, January 10, 2016, © William Reed Business Media SAS
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Technology Helps Irish Organization Distribute Surplus Food To The Needy

January 8, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
An Irish tech entrepreneur who is passionate about food waste developed a smartphone app and organization that links businesses that have surplus food with charities that will then redistribute it to the needy. Restaurants and grocery stores can upload the details of their donation on the Foodcloud.net app, which then sends a text message to organizations telling them where to pick up the food. Foodcloud has distributed almost 1.5 million meals since it was created, and is now facilitating distribution of a ton of food daily. In 2014, the FoodCloud partnered with Tesco to give all surplus food from its 146 stores to charities across Ireland.
Kelly O'Brien, "Irish entrepreneur's app solves waste of food by redistributing it to those most in need", Irish Examiner, January 08, 2016, © Irish Examiner Ltd
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Americans Still Consume Unhealthy Levels Of Sodium

January 8, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report that says almost all Americans – no matter the sex, race, or health status – consume too much sodium. The newly-issued 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting sodium to less than 2,300 mg (the amount in one teaspoon of salt) a day for people over 14 and less for younger children. But according to the CDC findings, based on the diets of 15,000 people, more than 90 percent of children and 89 percent of adults aged 19 and older consume much more sodium than that, and most comes from processed and restaurant foods. Evidence links excess sodium intake to high blood pressure and other health problems.
Sandra L. Jackson et al., "Prevalence of Excess Sodium Intake in the United States — NHANES, 2009–2012", Report, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, January 08, 2016, © U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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Campbell’s Supports Mandatory GMO Food Labeling

January 7, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
In a letter to employees, Campbell’s CEO Denise Morrison explained why the company supports mandatory national labeling of products containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and why it proposes that the federal government provide a national standard for non-GMO claims on food packaging. In addition to the fact that 92 percent of consumers say they want GMO ingredients listed on food labels, the “Campbell’s purpose” requires the company to acknowledge that people want to know what’s in their food “so they can feel good about the choices they make, for themselves and their loved ones.” Campbell’s also promises to set the standard for food transparency.
Denise Morrison, "Why We Support Mandatory National GMO Labeling", News release, Campbell Soup Company, January 07, 2016, © Campbell Soup
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The Short-Term Future For Bread, Pasta

January 6, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Bakers, restaurateurs, chefs, and food experts peered into their crystal balls to see what’s cooking in 2016. Among their predictions: artisan breads will grab more attention. Made from scratch, artisan breads can take four to five hours to rise. Partially baked breads will endure, but consumers are looking at more than price when they shop for bread. They want quality, of course, but also longer-lasting freshness and resistance to mold. Whole-grain wheat breads will continue to be popular, even as alternatives gain more shelf space. Pastas such as Italy’s strozzapreti “will be all the rage, says one restaurant owner. Long and slightly twisted like a rope, the pasta goes well with braised meat. Look also for simple pasta dishes with three to four ingredients and clean flavors.
Arthi Subramaniam, "Coming to a table near you: Food predictions for 2016", Providence Journal, January 06, 2016, © Gatehouse Media, LLC
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Once Unthinkable, Bagel Evisceration Is Becoming More Common In N. Y. City

January 3, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
The dubious practice of “scooping” bagels – hollowing them out to provide extra room for toppings or spread, or simply to cut calories – is anathema to many native New Yorkers. But it’s a growing practice that some nutritionists excuse as being healthy, if a bit wasteful. Anti-scoopers, however, say the calories saved are minimal, maybe 75 at best, about the number of calories in an apple. While the city’s bagel purveyors at first were horrified at the sight of their products being eviscerated, they have knuckled under to the trend. Terrace Bagels, Bagel Pub, Ess-a-Bagel, La Bagel Delight, and even fussy Murray’s Bagels all scoop on request.
Tim Donnelly, "Bagel scoopers are ruining NYC", New York Post, January 03, 2016, © NYP HOLDINGS, INC
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EU Authorizes Digestive Health Claims Of Company’s Inulin Ingredient

January 1, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
The EU Commission has approved a digestive health claim for a functional ingredients manufacturer’s chicory root inulin fiber product. German company Beneo says its customers may now use the claim: "chicory inulin contributes to normal bowel function by increasing stool frequency." In addition, the 13.5 authorization also applies to general health-related well-being claims under article 10.3. These include "promotes digestive health" or “supports a healthy and balanced digestive system." The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) reviewed the company’s scientific proofs, which included six human intervention studies that proved that consumption of Orafti Inulin increases stool frequency and supports a healthy digestive system.
"Authorised 13.5 health claim with proprietary use for Beneo’s inulin promoting digestive health", News release, BENEOnews.com, January 01, 2016, © Beneo
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MS Patients May Benefit Significantly From Very High Doses Of Vitamin D

December 30, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
High doses of vitamin D3 may prove to be an inexpensive, safe and convenient treatment for people with multiple sclerosis, according to a small U.S. clinical study. The vitamin was shown to help regulate a hyperactive immune response among the 20 participants who took a daily dose of 10,400 IU, significantly higher than the recommended daily dose of 600 IU. The high dose reduced the percentage of inflammatory T cells related to MS severity. The control group who took the 800 IU daily dose experienced no noticeable changes in levels of T cells. Side effects from the high dose were minimal.
Elias S. Sotirchos et al., "Safety and immunologic effects of high- vs low-dose cholecalciferol in multiple sclerosis", Neurology, December 30, 2015, © American Academy of Neurology
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Special K Backs Away From Dieting Message, Now Stresses Nutrition

December 29, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
J. Walter Thompson will continue the ad theme created by predecessor Leo Burnett for Special K cereal that emphasizes broad nutritional benefits for women rather than just weight loss. Sales of the brand have dropped off in recent years, and it became apparent to Kellogg’s that women wanted more than calorie counting. Still the biggest player in breakfast cereals, Kellogg’s nevertheless saw its share of the global market fall over the last five years from 30 percent to about 28 percent while PepsiCo and Post Holdings gained ground. Sales picked up last year when more freeze-dried strawberries were added to Special K, the company’s biggest brand, and the company got the message: “strong is the new skinny.”
Jessica Wohl, "Special K Recipe for 2016: New Cereal Promoted By New Agency", Advertising Age, December 29, 2015, © Crain Communications
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Magnesium Seen As Increasingly Important To Good Health

December 28, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Market researcher Packaged Facts says the current focus on whole food and natural food sources will mean that consumers will be looking for foods naturally rich in magnesium, a mineral that is increasingly recognized as a beneficial ingredient. Certain dairy products and milk and dairy substitutes, cereals, and breads will lead the trend, followed by baby food and food supplements, bars and beverages. Foods high in fiber are high in magnesium, including nuts, seeds, whole grains and legumes, which also happen to be good sources of plant protein.
"Magnesium Rising in the Food Industry", US Daily Review, December 28, 2015, © USDAILYREVIEW.COM
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Retail Industry Is Experiencing A Quiet, But Profound, Makeover

December 24, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Transformative new technologies, hotter and more exotic restaurant spices, and major shifts in food and consumer goods buying patterns will be the key themes in retail in 2016, according to experts. Restaurants will exploit the Sriracha hot sauce phenomenon with ever spicier concoctions, but also with more exotic ones: Indian ghost pepper from India, Southeast Asian sambal, Korean gochujang, and North Africa’s harissa, sumac and dukka. Millennials are gravitating away from status-badge consumer goods toward unique brands from niche and specialty retailers. Consumers can expect to see ever wider implementation of mobile wallet schemes that make the checkout experience super-fast. And brick-and-mortar stores, including grocers, will adapt dynamic pricing technologies – used routinely online – that allow prices to be changed quickly depending on demand, inventory levels and sell-by dates.
Sarah Halzack , "From secret entrances to the next Sriracha, here’s what experts predict will be hot in retail in 2016", The Washington Post, December 24, 2015, © The Washington Post
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No More Advertising Nesquik As Nutritious For Kids, Britain’s ASA Orders Nestle

December 23, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
The U.K.’s Advertising Standards Authority has forced Nestlé to drop ads for its Nesquik flavored drink powders that tout it as a “great start to the day” and nutritious for children. At the request of the Children’s Food Campaign, the ASA specifically banned Nesquik bunny ads that promote a product to children that is loaded with sugar (11 g, or 23 g when served with a cup of milk). Nestlé acknowledges the bunny ads appeal to children, but the message is to eat a balanced diet. The ASA has supported Nesquik’s nutritional claims in the past, but anti-sugar trends have begun to hold sway. The Nesquik ads were found on Asda’s house milk bottles.
Charlotte Mceleny, "Nestlé can no longer claim Nesquik is a ‘great start to the day’ following ASA ruling", The Drum, December 23, 2015, © Carnyx Group Ltd
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Demand For Nutritious Baked Goods Fuels Growth In Ingredients Market

December 22, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Robust demand for more nutritious retail baked goods will drive a baking ingredients market growth rate of more than five percent a year over the next five years, according to new market research. The global market will grow from $11 billion to $11.8 billion by 2020, about $600 million. The fastest growing segment geographically will be the Asia-Pacific region. Factors driving growth include: little time for home cooking; rise in per capita baked goods consumption; preference for gluten-free and nutrient-enhanced products; and rising demand for natural ingredients. Baking ingredients include emulsifiers, enzymes, baking powder and mixes, starch, oils, fats and shortenings, and colors and flavors.
Douglas Yu, "Healthy eating tipped to drive $600m growth in global baking ingredients", BakeryAndSnacks.com, December 22, 2015, © William Reed Business Media SAS
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Nestle Expects To Use Only Cage-Free Eggs By 2020

December 22, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Nestlé announced it will use only cage-free eggs in its food products within five years. The company uses 20 million pounds of eggs a year to make three brands of ice cream, Toll House cookie dough, Buitoni pasta, lean Cuisine and Stouffer’s breakfast foods. The move to using exclusively cage-free eggs isa response to consumers, the company says, that establishes “a precedent for farm animal welfare." Nestlé is also developing pilot projects with suppliers and the World Animal Protection group to create a roadmap for sourcing cage-free eggs in Europe and elsewhere.
"Nestlé to Use 100% Cage-Free Eggs for All U.S. Food Products by 2020", News release, Nestlé, December 22, 2015, © Nestlé
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What’s Hot In The Whole Foods Market Crystal Ball Of Food Trends

December 21, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Joining other end-of-year clairvoyants of the comestibles industry, Whole Foods Market experts have created a list of hot trends to keep an eye on in 2016 (and look for on Whole Foods shelves). At the top is uncommon protein sources, including ”once-overlooked” meat cuts like sirloin top, pork T-bone chop and Denver steaks, and seafood like farmed paiche and wild-caught blue catfish. The availability of these exotic fish will ease pressure on salmon, tuna, and shrimp. Other key trends: wine in a can, plant-based ingredients (like quinoa protein) in hair care products, fermented foods and products, non-GMO-fed verified foods, non-tomato heirloom products, alternative and wheat-free flours, and lots of bizarre flavors from Korea, Japan, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East.
"Whole Foods Market Experts Forecast Top 10 Food Trends For 2016", News release, Whole Foods Market, December 21, 2015, © Whole Foods Market
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Company Lists Emergent Beverage Flavors For 2016

December 17, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A fragrance and flavor technology company has created a list of beverage flavors it believes will become popular in 2016. At the top of the Sensient Flavors list is chamoy, a “mash-up” of flavors that blends the heat of ancho chilies with apricot preserves, lime juice, salt and sugar. The company says it’s time for the emergence of flavors associated with trees, especially their bark, roots and leaves. Honeyed evergreen, according to Sensient, is “a crisp, unpretentious pine flavor softened by honey.” Look also for sassafras among flavors based on bitters, roots, and craft soda flavors like root beer, and also for charred coconut, overripe melon, pandan, preserved cherry blossom and urfa chili.
Keith Nunes, "Sensient sees several unique flavors emerging in 2016", Food Business News, December 17, 2015, © Sosland Publishing Co.
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Organic Acreage In Oregon Increasing, As Smaller Farms Decline

December 17, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
In an interesting paradox that may reflect the impact of the recent recession on small organic farmers, the USDA reports that the number of organic farmers in Oregon dropped 18 percent between 2008 and 2014, but overall organic acreage nearly doubled. Agency experts said there was a “sharp decline” in farms with $25,000 in sales a year or less, but an increase in farms with $250,000. The smaller organic farms may have chosen to drop their organic certification – rather than shut down – when a USDA certification subsidy program lapsed. The 2014 Farm Bill restored the subsidy program. Nevertheless, "The smaller folks are having a harder time and the larger operations are getting bigger," a USDA official said, adding that the problem afflicts agriculture in general.
Mateusz Perkowski, "Oregon's organic acreage up despite drop in organic farmers", San Francisco Gate, December 17, 2015, © Hearst Communications, Inc.
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Trend Toward “Clean” And “Real” Eating Continues

December 17, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Consumer market researcher NPD Group says shoppers and diners will continue to shy away from foods containing additives and preservatives, and from any ingredient they don’t readily recognize. The so-called “real and clean eating” trend means especially that fat is taking a back seat to sugar as the most taboo food ingredient. In fact, consumers now recognize that some fats are nutritious, including those found in eggs and cooking oils. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) continue to worry some consumers, though they may not know why. They will buy more products labeled “Certified GMO-Free.” Also of concern: how foods are sourced and produced: i.e., locally, humanely, and without antibiotics or pesticides.
Kim McLynn, "“Real,” Clean, and Fresh Are the Attributes Consumers Will Look for in the Foods They Eat in 2016, Reports NPD Group", Report, NPD Group, December 17, 2015, © The NPD Group, Inc.
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Novel Food And Flavor Trends For 2016

December 15, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Food writers and industry experts foresee the emergence of new flavors and foods in 2016. Increased use by chefs means they will also be easier for the average cook to find. Among the culinary exotica for bakers are bean flours, such as black bean flour, fava bean flour and chickpea flour – “a delicious way to play around with recipes.” Also on the horizon: sauces and toppings made from umami-flavored sardines and anchovies, which are lower on the ocean food chain, relieving stress on populations of tuna, salmon, and other heavily fished species. Look for new uses for seaweed, especially nori; alternative sweeteners such as agave syrup, coconut, barley, brown rice, dates and apples; fermented umeboshi plums, used as a paste or as a vinegar for sauces; and, lastly, unusual grains and legumes, including those sprouted (germinated) before being dried and packaged.
J.M. Hirsch, "Heading into 2016, some ingredients to watch for _ and taste", AP, Yahoo! News, December 15, 2015, © The Associated Press
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Health Benefits Of Sprouted Grains Suggest They’re Here To Stay

December 14, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
The use of sprouted grains in U.S. health foods will be eight times greater in the next five years, boosted by major product introductions from big companies like Panera, Kellogg’s and Champion Foods. Many health-conscious consumers are now convinced that foods made with sprouted grains are more nutritious because of minimal processing and more healthful ingredients. The industry has caught on, accepting and marketing sprouted grains as a naturally functional – rather than a “fortified” or processed functional – food. Sprouted grains also dovetail with other trends, especially consumer demand for higher protein and fiber levels. These facts bolster the argument that sprouted grain foods are more than a fad or trend: they are a functional food that will endure.
Judie Bizzozero, "Guest Blog: Sprouted Grains: Functional Food of the Future", Natural Products Insider, December 14, 2015, © Informa Exhibitions LLC.
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Climate Change Can Be Reversed By Organic, Sustainable Farming

December 14, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Organic sustainable farming is a major way to reverse climate change, participants in the COP21 global climate summit agreed recently. Twenty-five countries and more than 50 international organizations, private foundations, international funds, and consumer and farmer groups committed to France’s “4 per 1000” initiative to promote healthy soils and “regenerative agriculture” to ensure food and climate security in coastal areas, island nations and poorer developing countries that are likely to be hit the hardest by global warming. “This is a game changer because soil carbon is now central to how the world manages climate change,” said the head of the world’s leading organic farmers and producers association.
Steven Hoffman, "Message from historic Paris climate summit: Organic food and farming can save the planet", NewHope360.com, December 14, 2015, © Penton
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Dunkin’ Donuts Promises 100% Cage-Free Eggs Within Nine Years

December 7, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Dunkin’ Donuts has clarified and strengthened its commitment to using only cage-free eggs in its U.S. menu. Earlier this year it said it would source ten percent of the eggs used in its breakfast sandwiches from cage-free sources by the end of 2016. In December, the donut chain and the Humane Society of the U.S. announced that the company would serve only cage-free eggs by 2025. The company also promised to “map” its worldwide egg supply chain to see whether it is feasible to transition to 100 percent cage-free eggs globally.
"Dunkin' Donuts, With The Humane Society Of The United States, Announces Timeline For Sourcing 100 Percent Cage-Free Eggs", News release, The Humane Society of the U.S., December 07, 2015, © The Humane Society of the United States
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Strategic Moves Are Paying Off For Kroger

December 4, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Grocery retailer Kroger, second only to Walmart in sales, recently reported strong revenue and profit performance, including the 48th consecutive quarter of higher same store sales and 7th consecutive quarter of earnings growth. All this despite a stagnating retail – including grocery – environment. The reason for Kroger’s continuing success can be traced to several key strategies. The company was among the first traditional grocers to apply customer data analytics to keep up with shopping trends. It has bet heavily on the move to natural, organic and “locally grown” foods. It has borrowed heavily from Walmart’s playbook. Some of its stores now look like Walmart supercenters, featuring high-margin general merchandise, health clinics, in-store pharmacies, and a mix of private-label and premium products.
Shelly Banjo, "Kroger Will Save the Grocery Store", Bloomberg Gadfly, December 04, 2015, © Bloomberg L.P.
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E. Coli Outbreak May Sabotage Chipotle’s “Buy Local” Tradition

December 3, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Thanks to a severe E. coli outbreak, Chipotle Mexican Grill is making some major changes in its supply chain practices that could adversely affect its seven-year-old “buy local” commitment. The outbreak, whose cause has not been pinpointed, sickened 43 people and led to the temporary closing of restaurants in six states for deep cleaning. The health scare has hurt the company’s stock price, which dropped 11 percent in October and 9.5 percent in November, and slowed sales. In response, Chipotle has tightened safety standards, especially ingredients testing, for produce suppliers. Smaller local suppliers may not be able to meet the elevated standards, the company acknowledged, putting a crimp in its promise of using food grown locally.
Leslie Patton, "Chipotle Tightens Standards Amid E. Coli Outbreak, Putting Buy-Local Pledge in Jeopardy", Bloomberg Business, December 03, 2015, © Bloomberg L.P.
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Greenhouse Builder Takes The “Locally Grown” Movement To A New Level

December 2, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A N.Y.-based company whose mission is to build greenhouse farms to supply fresh produce to regional supermarket chains is expanding its operations rapidly to take advantage of the “locally grown” trend. BrightFarms’s newest customer is Chicago-area Mariano’s stores, but it has built, or is building, greenhouses in Virginia, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Illinois. The business model seems sound, because the idea is to cut food transport costs by building the farms near stores. According to founder Paul Lightfoot, the Chicago greenhouse will produce a million pounds of fruits and vegetables a year, applying hydroponic technologies that use 90 percent less water, 75 percent less land and 98 percent less shipping fuel than conventional lettuce growers.
Rachel Cernansky, "Grocery and a greenhouse: How BrightFarms plans to shorten the produce supply chain for retail", NewHope360.com, December 02, 2015, © Penton
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Australia’s Blackmores Now Offers Natural Superfood Powders

December 2, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Australian food manufacturer Blackmores is expanding its product line into natural superfoods, including nutritional powders containing cacao, chia, matcha green tea, coconut water, super greens and wild blueberry. All of the products in the company’s Superfoods + Nature Boost line are fortified with concentrated vitamin C, antioxidants, magnesium and other nutrients. The new line of natural superfoods taps into a desire among Australians for health and wellbeing supported by optimum nutrition, the company says.
R. J. Whitehead, "Blackmores launches fortified superfoods range", FOODnavigator-asia.com, December 02, 2015, © William Reed Business Media SAS
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Climate Change Puts World’s Poorest At Great Risk Of Undernourishment

December 1, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A USDA report written by 31 U.S. and international experts warns that climate change is likely to seriously harm global food security and hamper progress on reducing malnutrition around the world, especially among the poor and people living in tropical regions. The scientific assessment, released during the COP-21 Paris Climate Conference, identifies the challenges facing farmers and consumers in adapting to changing climate. Climate change is likely to cause disruptions in food production and a decrease in food safety, which in turn leads to food shortages and higher food prices. Under one scenario posed by the authors, continued increases in greenhouse gas emissions would increase the number of people at risk of undernourishment by 175 million by 2080.
Brown, M. E. et al., "Climate Change, Global Food Security, and the U.S. Food System", Report, U.S. Department of Agriculture, December 01, 2015, © U. S. Department of Agriculture
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Boston Grocer Gathers, Prepares, And Sells Affordable Healthful Food

December 1, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A former Trader Joe’s executive has opened a nonprofit grocery store in Boston whose mission is to sell healthful, prepared food that poor people can afford. The basic business model of Doug Rauch’s Daily Table is to collect nutritious food destined for the waste bins, prepare it for busy shoppers, and sell it extremely cheaply. It attacks two problems at once: the huge amount (40 percent) of good food that is wasted and the fact that nutritious food can be too expensive in poor communities. “A healthy meal is a lot trickier [than junk food] because of the costs associated with fruits and vegetables, dairy, protein,” says Rauch. “These are expensive ingredients."
Adele Peters, "This Grocery Store From Trader Joe's Ex-President Makes Healthy Food As Cheap As Junk Food", Fast Company, December 01, 2015, © Mansueto Ventures, LLC
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Asian Urbanization Drives Demand For Convenient Snacks, Packaged Foods

November 28, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Rapidly urbanizing Asian countries – i.e., Vietnam, Philippines, India, Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia – with growing disposable incomes and aggressive investment from multinational companies, are increasingly interested in snacking. Growth is especially hot for sweet and savory snacks and frozen desserts. Consumers are especially attracted to Western-style snacks in addition to their traditional snacks. Hand-in-hand with the urbanization trend are impulse, indulgence, and convenience, a good sign for ready meals and processed food. Three countries – India, Indonesia and Vietnam – are booming markets for packaged food. In terms of companies, Mondelez International Inc. is doing especially well with their lines of cookies, snack bars and candy.
Emil Fazira, "Packaged Food in Asia at a Glance", Report, Euromonitor International, November 28, 2015, © Euromonitor
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New Vitamin K Supplements Are Highly Stable

November 27, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
An Australian vitamin supplement company has launched a line of products that contain vitamin K2 for bone and heart health. The products, developed with K2Vital producer Kappa Bioscience, were launched by Swisse Wellness Pty Ltd. in the U.K. in October and will be introduced in Europe with the help of venture partner PGT Consumer Healthcare. K2MK-7 is highly stable and pure. Vitamin K2 is found naturally in foods containing animal fats, such as cheeses, eggs and butter. Multivitamin formulations containing fat-soluble compounds usually contain minerals, which cause stability problems. The Swisse Wellness version, however, is double-coated and microencapsulated to preserve stability.
"Swisse Wellness Launches Vitamin K2 Mk-7 in Multivitamin", Nutrition Insight, November 27, 2015, © CNS Media BV
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Swiss Chocolate Maker Improves Sustainability Record

November 26, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Barry Callebaut reports that it continues to make progress in the area of sustainable cocoa production. The company sourced 159,000 tons of sustainable cocoa in 2015, an increase of 21 percent over 2014, and trained 70,000 farmers in better farming practices. The company created the independent, non-profit Cocoa Horizons Foundation to “drive change in cocoa sustainability.” It developed a new range of sustainable cocoa and chocolate products, Horizons, to support farm productivity and community development programs. Products are traceable from farm to warehouse. The company also distributed sustainability premiums of $20 million to farmers and farmer groups.
"The Barry Callebaut Group – Chocolate Sustainability Report 2014/15", News release, Barry Callebaut, November 26, 2015, © Barry Callebaut
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New Thanksgiving Trend Focuses More On Friends Than Family

November 25, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
It would seem to be a trend among affluent Americans – the Millennials demographic, actually – because it’s unlikely that anyone else could afford it. The trend is called “Friendsgiving,” and the idea is basically to stage a Thanksgiving dinner for family, then another one for single friends. If one Thanksgiving is expensive and time-consuming to provision and prepare, imagine two or even three. An example is the Riley family of Harrisburg, Pa., who prepare a big turkey and ham for 20 friends each year, each of whom brings a dish they cooked up. The idea, which exploded on social media over the past few years, has also caught on among grocery retailers. Some chains, including Peapod, created marketing campaigns and social media promotions around #Friendsgiving. They have also included recipes on their blogs targeting Millennial celebrations with friends.
Heather Long, "'Friendsgiving' -- America's new Thanksgiving trend", CNN Money, November 25, 2015, © Cable News Network
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Chinese Paradox: Overweight, Yet Malnourished

November 24, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A Chinese government foundation reports that 31.8 percent of the 3,885 elderly it surveyed were overweight and 11.4 percent were obese. However, the rate of malnutrition was still high among low-income households, the single and widowed, and those of advanced age. Nearly 13 percent suffered from anemia, the study by the China Development Research Foundation found. About 16 percent of elderly men in rural areas of six Chinese provinces suffered from malnutrition. As of the end of 2013, fifteen percent (202 million people) of China’s population were at least 60 years old.
R. J. Whitehead, "One-third of China’s elderly are obese, yet malnutrition still a worry", FOODnavigator-asia.com, November 24, 2015, © William Reed Business Media SAS
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Dietary Supplements Are Popular, Safe, According to Dietary Supplement Makers

November 23, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
More than two-thirds of American adults say they take dietary supplements, and a large majority (84 percent) believe supplements are safe, according to a survey sponsored by the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a trade organization representing dietary supplement makers. Americans have the most confidence in the vitamins and minerals category. The survey found that between 2014 and 2015, overall usage of vitamins and minerals and “specialty supplements” remained flat. Usage of “herbals & botanicals” and “sports nutrition & weight management” supplements grew five percent.
Nancy Weindruch, "Most U.S. Adults Take Dietary Supplements, According to New Survey", News release, Council for Responsible Nutrition, November 23, 2015, © The Council for Responsible Nutrition
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Universities Awarded Federal Grants To Study Food Aid Programs

November 23, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Two U.S. universities were each awarded $1 million by the USDA to create regional nutrition education “Centers of Excellence.” The money will be used by the University of Tennessee (Knoxville) and Utah State University to fund research into nutrition education and obesity prevention for disadvantaged children and families. The Knoxville Center will focus on reducing obesity by analyzing programs to identify facilitators, barriers, best practices, training and evaluation needs. Utah State will use its $1 million grant to compare the effectiveness of the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) programs on participants and non-participants of different ethnic and racial backgrounds in five states.
"USDA Awards $2 Million for Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Research", News release, U.S. Department of Agriculture, November 23, 2015, © USDA
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Americans Getting Comfortable With Exotic Cuisines

November 21, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A new report from the National Restaurant Association says Americans are growing more familiar with, and enamored of, unconventional international foods. At least 25 percent like to experiment with ethnic dishes. Ninety percent have tried Italian, Mexican and Chinese food, two-thirds know Mediterranean dishes, and half have tried Middle Eastern, Thai and sushi at least once. The cuisines of some nations, however, may be a little too exotic, or perhaps simply unavailable. Seventy percent are not at familiar with Ethiopian cuisine, and half don’t know anything about Korean or Brazilian/Argentinian food. But American testing of foreign foods is definitely on the rise: two-thirds surveyed say they eat a wider variety of ethnic cuisines now than they did five years ago.
Annika Stensson, "American diners have an appetite for ethnic cuisine", NRA report, SmartBlogs, November 21, 2015, © SmartBrief, SmartBlogs
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Regulate Safety, Not Efficacy, Of Dietary Supplements, Former FDA Official Says

November 20, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A former FDA official says don’t worry about the efficacy of dietary supplements – at least for now. Pay attention instead to their safety. Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, now at Johns Hopkins University, argues that many dietary supplements – vitamins, minerals, herbal extracts, etc. – are spiked with pharmaceuticals, are poorly manufactured, or lack the stated ingredients. Unfortunately, there is gridlock in dealing with the problem at the national level because manufacturers oppose closer scrutiny of efficacy and federal laws handcuff the FDA, keeping it from effectively monitoring the thousands of products on the market. But Sharfstein says that manufacturers would probably support stronger safety controls if they were not tied to analysis of product claims.
Akshay Kapoor & Joshua M. Sharfstein, "Breaking the gridlock: Regulation of dietary supplements in the United States. ", Drug Testing and Analysis, November 20, 2015, © John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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Junk Food May Be Harmful To Health, But It’s Not The Main Cause Of Obesity

November 20, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Junk food in and of itself may be nutritionally bankrupt, even harmful to health, but it is not the leading cause of obesity, Cornell University scientists say in a new study. It’s more complicated than that. For example,overall diet and amount of physical activity are also key factors. The study reviewed a representative sample of about 5,000 adults in the United States. It found that consumption of soda, candy and fast food is not linked to body mass index (BMI) for 95 percent of the population. Those on the extreme ends of the BMI spectrum – the chronically underweight or morbidly obese – are the exceptions because they are more likely to eat junk food and less likely to eat fruits and vegetables. The simple point is that narrowly targeting junk food is ineffective and self-defeating because “it distracts from the real underlying causes of obesity."
David Just, Brian Wansink, "Fast Food, Soft Drink, and Candy Intake is Unrelated to Body Mass Index for 95% of American Adults", Obesity Science & Practice, November 20, 2015, © Just & Wansink
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