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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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Shifts In Consumer Eating Preferences Drive New Food Product Development

November 17, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Clean eating, organic, “free from,” and “flexitarian” (i.e., part-time vegetarian) are some of the key trends in food and drinks for 2016, according to an analysis of product launches by Innova Market Insights. The desire for transparency in food ingredients showed itself in the form of the “clear label" trend, a step up from “clean label.” Though most consumers don't need foods “free from” gluten, wheat, or dairy, they want them anyway, making it a major trend. Part-time vegetarians have reduced meat consumption for health, sustainability or animal welfare reasons, and that’s having an impact on new food products. Consumers are looking for fresh alternatives to preservatives, like fermentation and other ancient techniques. Other new products exploit the newfound desire to eat more vegetables, though in different forms like smoothies and pastas.
"Top Food & Beverages Trends for 2016: "Clean Eating" Trend Inspires a Back to Basics Approach", News release, Innova Market Insights, November 17, 2015, © Innova Market Insights
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Health & Wellness Food Category Is Booming

November 17, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Foods perceived by consumers as “naturally healthy” – so-called “clean label” items like oatmeal and spring water, free from adulteration or refinement – dominate the health and wellness category, Euromonitor says, though all categories are performing well. Naturally healthy is largest in world sales ($276 billion) and the fastest growing. New superfoods and beverages will contribute to a forecast growth of $69.2 billion by 2020. But that doesn’t mean other categories of health and wellness foods are fading. Fortified/functional offerings, for example, are showing healthy growth, especially those containing protein and energy. Gluten-free is becoming a food industry behemoth, and gluten-free versions or bread and pasta are making impressive gains. Organic foods grew 4.5 percent in value this year, outpacing other H&W categories, reaching $34.5 billion globally.
Ewa Hudson, "Health and Wellness Market Performance 2015: What’s New?", Blog, Euromonitor International, November 17, 2015, © Euromonitor
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Hershey Kisses And Bars Transition To “Familiar” Ingredients

November 12, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
The Hershey Company announced that, for the 2015 holiday season, it was introducing Kisses and Chocolate Bars made with “simple ingredients” and without artificial flavors. The idea behind the move is to provide consumers with chocolate candies containing ingredients that are “familiar.” The new products are made with fresh milk from Pennsylvania farms, pure cane sugar, natural flavors, and cocoa beans “sourced responsibly from West Africa.” The packages for the simpler chocolates feature the SmartLabel, a mobile tool with a QR code providing product information such as nutrition facts, ingredients, and allergen alerts.
"Hershey’s Kisses Milk Chocolates and Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars with Simple Ingredients Roll Out This Holiday Season", News release, The Hershey Company, November 12, 2015, © The Hershey Company
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“Premiumization” Emerges As Southeast Asia’s Middle-Class Surges

November 11, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Evidence of Southeast Asia’s rising standard of living is found in the consumer trend toward “premiumization,” according Nielsen. By 2030, Southeast Asia will be home to three billion middle-class consumers. Seventeen percent already say they can spend freely, and do, especially on premium-price grocery and personal care products. In the past year, there has been a 21 percent increase in the proportion of premium-priced goods sold compared to mainstream and value brands. Mainstream products still dominate the market, but “a definitive shift” is taking place among middle-class consumers toward premium brands. Marketers can take advantage of this by introducing “innovative products that are competitively priced.”
"Premium Products Quench Southeast Asian Consumers' Thirst For Quality And Differentiation", Report, Nielsen, November 11, 2015, © The Nielsen Company
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Soy Protein Helps Expectant Mothers Control Blood Sugar Levels

November 11, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A small Iranian clinical study finds that expectant mothers with gestational diabetes –high blood sugar levels – might benefit from soy protein in their diet. Soy has been shown to help people with type 2 diabetes, so it’s not a big stretch to expect it would also help pregnant women. High blood sugar during pregnancy can lead to hypertension, heavier babies, and a greater risk of needing a C-section. For the study, participants were divided into two groups, one of which stuck to a diet in which 35 percent of their protein was soy-based. After six weeks, blood sugar and insulin levels had dropped in the soy group, but rose for women in the control group, who had eaten protein from normal plant and animal sources.
Kathryn Doyle, "Soy might benefit women with pregnancy diabetes", Reuters, November 11, 2015, © Thomson Reuters
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New Vitamin Biscuits Deliver Nutrients Without Nausea To Expectant Moms

November 11, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
The need to enhance one’s nutritional intake before, during, and after pregnancy, without having to take big, nausea-inducing vitamin pills, led an entrepreneur and her friend to develop ERZO vitamin biscuits. The biscuits offer a more palatable and convenient daily solution for expectant moms. The vitamin-fortified, whole grain cereal biscuits are a good source of fiber, and provide nutritional values similar to prenatal pills and gummies. They avoid common problems such as nausea, reflux and food aversions. And they dovetail neatly with a major food trend: the rise in popularity of breakfast biscuits.
Lisa Olivo, "ERZO Delivers a Functional Prenatal Biscuit", Nutraceuticals World, November 11, 2015, © Rodman Media
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FDA Recommends Limits On Daily “Added Sugar” Intake

November 9, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
The FDA has issued a recommendation that Americans limit "added sugar" consumption to no more than ten percent of daily calories. The agency also wants food labels to distinguish between natural sugar and added sugar. Except for children three and under, that would mean a limit of 12.5 teaspoons, or 50 grams, of added sugar a day, about the same amount as in a can of Coca-Cola. The problem for American consumers is that sugar, honey and high-fructose corn syrup are not only found in obvious things like sodas, cookies and candy. They are also in healthful foods like low-fat yogurt, granola, wholegrain breads, ketchup, pasta sauce, canned fruit, prepared soups, salad dressings and marinades. Food industry skeptics argue that new labels distinguishing between natural and added sugar will only confuse shoppers.
Roni Caryn Rabin , "Placing a Cap on Americans’ Consumption of Added Sugar", The New York Times, November 09, 2015, © The New York Times Company
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Consumer Acceptance Of Plant-Based Dairy Products Boosts WhiteWave

November 9, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Plant-based dairy company WhiteWave Foods, a spinoff of Dean Foods, is riding a trend of health-conscious shopping and nontraditional diets to increased profits. WhiteWave, maker of almond- and soy-based milk products like Silk, expects adjusted 4th quarter EPS of $0.34 to $0.35. The company also increased the full-year EPS guidance to $1.17 to $1.18 from $1.14-$1.17, beating consensus estimates of $1.15. WhiteWave cited cost leverage, higher productivity, improved commodity and other cost overlaps, and increased contributions from acquisitions as key drivers of better financial performance. Dean Foods, meanwhile, posted a 3rd quarter EPS of $0.30, up from a $0.03 loss year ago, thanks in part to a 30 percent decline in milk costs.
Bill Peters, "WhiteWave, Dean Foods Rise On Cheaper Milk, New Diets", Investor's Business Daily, November 09, 2015, © William O'Neil + Co. Incorporated
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African, Latin American, Middle East Seasonings To Become Commonplace On Menus

November 6, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Among the international foods and cuisines trending in 2016 are those with African flavors, according to a National Restaurant Association survey of 1,600 U.S. chefs. Diners will be introduced to the flavors of Ethiopia and Morocco especially, represented by spice blends like berbere, harissa, dukkah, ras el hanout and tsire. The seasonings will be used on fish, beef, chicken, goat and lamb, couscous, flat breads and vegetables. The chefs also indicated that Latin American and Middle Eastern flavors will appear more often on American restaurant menus, with dishes spiced with chimichurri, peri peri sauce and harissa.
"African spices predicted to trend on restaurant menus in 2016: report", Yahoo! News, November 06, 2015, © Yahoo!
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Panera Says Four More Years Until 100% Cage-Free Eggs

November 5, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Noting that it has been working for ten years to “reduce antibiotic use and confinement” of food animals in its supply chain, Panera Bread announced progress among pigs, poultry and beef cattle in 2015. However, it said its laying hens would not be cage-free for another four years. This year, pregnant pig sows would be 100 percent gestation-crate free; all chickens and turkeys used in sandwiches and salads would be raised without antibiotics; and 89 percent of beef cattle would be grass-fed and free range. CEO Ron Shaich said there was more work to do, but “we are within reach of a menu without antibiotics and unnecessary confinement.”
"Panera Bread says it will move to cage-free eggs by 2020", News release, Panera Bread, November 05, 2015, © Panera Bread
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Midwest Bakery’s Seven Grain Sprouted Bread To Be Sold At Costco

November 4, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A Wisconsin-based bakery that specializes in bread that has great taste and texture, top quality ingredients, less processing, and great nutrition has inked a distribution deal with regional Costco stores. Angelic Bakehouse’s Sprouted Seven-Grain bread – which has also received Non-GMO Project Verified status – will be available at 13 Costco locations in Wisconsin, Illinois and Pennsylvania, with more locations coming soon. The bread will be sold in three-loaf bulk packages for about $7, or roughly $2.33 a loaf. Angelic says it uses a unique sprouted grain mash process to make its bread.
Hilary Dickinson, "Angelic Bakehouse expands into Costco", BizTimes, November 04, 2015, © BizTimes Media LLC
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Energy Drinks Are A – Potentially Harmful – “Guy” Thing

November 4, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
The main consumers of energy drinks are men, suggesting a connection between “masculinity ideology” and energy drink use, according to a U.S. study. Drinking energy beverages may be a way of “performing masculinity... a way to raise masculine capital." The researchers analyzed data from 467 adult males who were asked if they agreed with statements that suggested traditional masculine attitudes. They also asked what participants expected from energy drinks and whether they felt that the drinks affected sleep patterns. Young white men especially associated the drinks with participation in extreme sports or leading an active and competitive lifestyle. But the researchers warned that the high caffeine content of the drinks can have adverse health effects, especially when it comes to sleep.
Ronald F. Levant et al., "Moderated mediation of the relationships between masculinity ideology, outcome expectations, and energy drink use.", Health Psychology, November 04, 2015, © American Psychological Association
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Soup Companies Ride A Growing Wave Of Interest In Home Cooking

November 2, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
As the fascination with home-cooked meals grows, consumers are showing renewed interest in soups, broths, and stews, hot or cold, and soup companies are responding. Consumers don’t mind paying more for convenience and quality ingredients, according to industry watchers. (Slow cooker sales have risen as well.) Campbell’s response to the trend provides an example. It has created a K-cup soup for Keurig coffee machines and a variety of soups for slow cookers. The company released 28 new soups that feature bolder flavors, healthful ingredients, unusual recipes and a variety of packages. New versions of Chunky Soups can be prepared quickly and poured over mashed potatoes or rice. Also unveiled; new Swanson concentrated broths, some salt-free, in easy-to-use packs.
Lauren R. Hartman, "Flavor Trends: Soups Ladle Up the Flavor", Food Processing, November 02, 2015, © Food Processing
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Teff Continues To Work Its Way Up To The Major Leagues Of Grain In The U.S.

October 30, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
An American doing public health work in Ethiopia forty years ago became enamored of the nutrient-rich native grain known as teff, the main ingredient in the flat bread injera, and a potential competitor of wheat. Back home in Idaho he decided to introduce teff to farmers in the region, including Oregon and Nevada. Wayne Carlson and his wife would mill it into flour. Customers for the flour were few and far between at first, but over the decades the Teff Company found an audience among Ethiopian and Eritrean immigrants in the U.S., and among farmers interested in growing it for livestock forage. It’s now big business. Teff production, which requires far less water and fertilizer, has gone from 1,200 hectares in 2003 to more than 40,000 nationally by 2010, a lot of it devoted to feed for horses.
Tom Banse, "Demand Rises for Teff, Other 'New' Alternatives to Wheat", Voice of America, October 30, 2015, © Voice of America
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A Disturbing Message For Big Food From Millennials

October 29, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Millennials are a key demographic for food manufacturers, because they will comprise a bigger proportion of the American population as older generations decline. Unfortunately, Millennials are much more suspicious of Big Food than older generations, and wish companies would be more transparent about product ingredients. Until they do, Mintel reports, Millennials will increasingly bypass grocery aisles stacked with processed foods. Forty-three percent said they don’t trust food manufacturers like General Mills, PepsiCo and Kraft Heinz. Only 18 percent of older adults are that mistrustful. Millennials make more trips to the grocery store, a fact that is probably associated with their desire to buy fresher, rather than longer shelf-life, foods.
Samantha Bomkamp, "Millennials skipping aisles of 'big food' at grocery stores", Chicago Tribune, October 29, 2015, © TRIBUNE PUBLISHING COMPANY
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A Wheat Scientist Hopes To Get Flour Back On A Nutritious, Flavorful Track

October 29, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
For a hundred years, American wheat has been grown – not for flavor or nutrition – but for industrial “profit and expediency,” says Steven Jones of the Bread Lab in Mount Vernon, Wash. Jones is on a mission to change all that. Long ago America milled flour from a wide variety of wheat. The flour made bread that was “astonishingly flavorful and nutritious.” Not so anymore. Part of the problem is that mass-produced flour, even purported whole wheat flour, is missing the nutritious stuff, all of which was sacrificed for, among other reasons, increased shelf-life. Jones’s answer is to breed new wheat varieties for ‘‘flavor, nutrition, funkiness.’’ He has succeeded. The Bread Lab’s reputation has grown quickly, drawing in a widening circle of bread masters and renowned chefs, including some from fast-casual chain Chipotle.
Ferris Jabr, "Bread Is Broken", The New York Times Magazine, October 29, 2015, © The New York Times Company
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Packaged Food Purchases Are On The Rise – An Unhealthful Trend

October 23, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
American consumers are buying more packaged foods, but the packaged foods they buy – especially at non-grocery sources – are less healthful than fresh foods purchased at supermarkets, according to a U.S. study. Packaged food purchases (PFPs) accounted for 78 percent of store-based food expenditures. Mass merchandisers, warehouse clubs and convenience stores are seeing an increase in food purchases. The top sources of calorie purchases are savory snacks, grain-based desserts, fruit drinks and juices, fresh plain milk, and regular soft drinks across all types of stores, including grocery stores. But these food and beverage groups are major sources of added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium.
Dalia Stern et al., "The Nutrient Content of U.S. Household Food Purchases by Store Type. ", American Journal of Preventive Medicine, October 23, 2015, © American Journal of Preventive Medicine
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Healthy Global Snack Market Continues To Evolve

October 21, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
The sweet and savory snacks market is not going away – it’s actually outperforming the rest of the packaged foods market – but is evolving or “repurposing,” according to Euromonitor. Meat-based snacks like Slim Jims have been “repurposed,” and are now popular among health-conscious consumers and selling much better than potato chips and candy in the U.S. and Europe. Millennials are eating fewer meals, and snacking more, especially on healthful snacks. Some traditional snack and candy companies are responding through acquisitions. Hershey, for example, bought Krave Jerky. And PepsiCo, which has seen major growth in potato and tortilla chip sales in Japan and China, is gradually turning toward healthier snacks to boost U.K. and U.S. sales.
Jack Skelly, "What’s New in Sweet and Savoury Snacks: Opportunities Abound for a New Wave of Products", Blog, Euromonitor International, October 21, 2015, © Euromonitor
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All Subway Meats Will Be Antibiotics-Free By 2016

October 20, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Subway Restaurants has expanded its policy of using only antibiotic-free chicken in its sandwiches and meals to include all meats. The chain will transition to serving only protein from animals that have never been fed antibiotics across all of its 27,000 U.S. restaurants by early 2016. In June 2015, the company said it would remove all artificial colors, flavors and preservatives from its sandwiches, salads, soups and cookies in North America by the end of 2017.
"SUBWAY® Restaurants Elevates Current Antibiotic-Free Policy", News release, SUBWAY, October 20, 2015, © SUBWAY
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China: Many Barriers To Health Food Land Of Milk And Honey

October 20, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Health food marketers may think of China as a sort of “promised land” of sales opportunities, if a Chinese food industry five-year plan is to be believed. By 2019, health food sales in the country are expected to reach $48 billion, for several reasons: a growing overall obesity rate (up 67 percent between 2002 and 2012), a doubling of the obesity rate for children and adolescents, severe vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and mounting high blood pressure and cancer rates. Though Chinese consumers want high-quality foreign health foods, it’s still a daunting procedure for multinationals to get their products to market. It can take two to three years, and up to $15,800, to get one health food product registered under China’s blue hat system. The new Food Safety Law, now in effective, adds other hurdles.
Hua Deng, "Chinese New Regulation for Health Food Products", Natural Products Insider, October 20, 2015, © Informa Exhibitions LLC.
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Millennials Not Content With Popping Nutritional Supplement Pills

October 20, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Younger generations of Americans, particularly Millennials, are no longer content with knowing that their vitamin C tablet contains, well, vitamin C. They want to know more about the dietary supplements they take, and because they grew up in an age of information explosion, they know they can get that information somewhere, if not from the manufactuer. Where Boomers are content to know what’s in a supplement, Millennials want to know how the pill was made and where the ingredients were sourced. They want, in other words, transparency and traceability. Other important desirables: whole food ingredients (like nutritional greens), and functional foods and beverages delivered – not by pills – but alternatives like gummies, satchels, powders, etc.
Todd Runestad, "Millennials demand transparency in supplements", NewHope360.com, October 20, 2015, © Penton
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A Quick Look At New Snacks That Portend Snacking’s Healthful Future

October 19, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Mintel analysts have pinpointed ten innovative food and drink products they think foreshadow trends of the future. At the top of the list is a new British chip (or, crisp) made of organic green kale leaves with fresh mint, cayenne chili and olive oil dressing, all delivered in a compostable bag. A harbinger of the “free of” trend, it also delivers at least one of the five recommended portions of vegetables. Other heralds of future snacks: a raw, vegan, gluten-free snack bar (Finland); a shelf-stable caffeinated coffee concentrate that can be squirted into a liquid (Kraft, U.S.); a “free of” hummus product that comes in a pouch (Canada); a chocolate nutrition bar for nighttime snacking (U.S.); and Barilla’s Pronto Penne pasta that requires no boiling and no draining.
"10 Innovative New Food And Drink Products From Around The World", Mintel News, October 19, 2015, © Mintel Group Ltd.
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Specialty Foods Are Especially Popular With Young People

October 11, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A Mintel survey conducted for the Specialty Food Association found that consumers aged 25 – 44 are the most likely purchasers of specialty foods, followed closely by those 18 – 24. This core group of younger consumers tends to be affluent, earning $75,000 or more annually, and is more likely to live on the East or West Coasts. Favorite specialty foods include cheese, chocolate, tea, nuts, seeds, dried fruit and vegetables, pasta, and pasta and pizza sauces. Oils and salty snacks were less popular this year than in the past. Forty-seven percent of all consumers said they bought specialty foods within the last six months.
"Today's Specialty Food Consumer 2015 Report", Report, Specialty Food Association, October 11, 2015, © Specialty Food Association, Inc.
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Diet Pepsi Stalwarts Give Thumbs Down To New Sucralose Formula

October 8, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
It’s been a month since PepsiCo’s newly reformulated Diet Pepsi – it’s sweetened with sucralose instead of aspartame – hit store shelves, and its performance so far suggests it’s not going to reverse plummeting industry-wide sales of diet sodas. PepsiCo’s CEO says it’s still too early to judge, but fans of the old formula have been using terms like “yuck” and “unpalatable” to express their aversion on social media. Initial consumer reaction to a change in an established product is often negative, the company says. PepsiCo has received only 3,000 complaints – it expected 9,000 – and nearly 370 positive responses.
Mike Esterl, "New Diet Pepsi Leaves Some Loyalists With Bad Taste", The Wall Street Journal, October 08, 2015, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Opportunities For Sorghum Farmers Beyond Animal Feed

October 7, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A sorghum farmer from Kansas saw the potential of sorghum as a food product several years ago. He started a sorghum milling business to take advantage of the fact that the non-GMO, gluten-free, sustainable ancient grain “fits with nearly every hot new food trend.” Earl Roemer’s Nu-Life Market –growing at an annual rate of 20 to 30 percent – sells wholesale food-grade sorghum that winds up in a broad range of products, from snacks to liquor to pet food that dogs and humans can share. His retail products include an all-purpose sorghum flour and a gluten-free pizza crust. He has also launched a seed business, and hopes to introduce new varieties of sorghum better suited to the high elevations of eastern Colorado.
Candace Krebs, "Expanding role for sorghum as food crop", AG Journal, October 07, 2015, © Gatehouse Media, Inc.
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Wine Contains Lots More Arsenic Than Water, But Poses Small Health Threat

October 7, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A U.S. researcher has determined that wine on average contains a lot more arsenic than the U.S. EPA allows in drinking water, but the risk of poisoning is small unless you’re also getting arsenic from other dietary sources, like apple juice, rice or cereal bars. The problem is especially worrisome for pregnant women, children and the elderly, the scientists said. They are more likely to consume large amounts of contaminated rice, organic brown rice syrup, seafood, wine, and apple juice. The study analyzed 65 wines from Washington, New York, California and Oregon. Washington wines had the highest arsenic concentrations, while Oregon's had the lowest. Arsenic leaches into water and soil – and then the food chain – when rocks containing the metalloid are eroded by rain, rivers or wind.
Denise Wilson, "Arsenic Content in American Wine. ", Journal of Environmental Health, October 07, 2015, © Denise Wilson
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Science Has Abandoned Its Advice To Avoid All Whole Fats... Will The Feds?

October 6, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Science has gradually reversed the conclusion first drawn by a scientist in the 1950s – namely, that America’s consumption of fat was the cause of the heart disease epidemic. Study after study over the last ten years has concluded that – contrary to the federal Dietary Guidelines for Americans – fat is not a cause of cardiovascular disease or obesity. And now a study shows that whole milk is not only not bad for you, it actually offers cardio-protective benefits. So, the question becomes, will the new federal dietary guidelines back off the warnings against consuming all fats? Will they suggest avoiding trans fats and encourage eating unsaturated fats found in fish, nuts and vegetable oils? One thing is sure, says one scientist: it is okay to have whole fat food, including whole fat milk, and that message “is slowly seeping into consciousness.”
Peter Whoriskey, "For decades, the government steered millions away from whole milk. Was that wrong?", The Washington Post, October 06, 2015, © The Washington Post
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Evidence Of Health Benefits Of Tea Is A Little Weak

October 5, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A New York Times health columnist recently assessed studies that examined the benefits of coffee, finding that drinking coffee is indeed healthful. He then looked at studies regarding tea’s benefits, finding that most of the research has been conducted in Asia, and conclusions may not apply to Americans (who drink a lot less tea daily). Studies, for example, somewhat inconclusively linked tea drinking with less risk of hepatocellular carcinoma, liver steatosis, cirrhosis, chronic liver disease, depression, stroke, heart disease, cardiac death, cerebral infarction and intracerebral hemorrhage. The upshot is that Aaron Carroll is “a little less impressed with the body of evidence regarding tea.” He says the data are not enough to “strongly recommend” drinking tea, but there may be some potential benefits, and no harms.
Aaron E. Carroll, "Health Benefits of Tea? Here’s What the Evidence Says", The New York Times, October 05, 2015, © The New York Times Company
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More Whole Grain Pastas Are Appearing On Grocery Shelves

October 2, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Nutritionists, dieticians and other food experts advise against eating white pasta because it’s made with white flour that loses its healthful bran and germ – along with fiber, protein, iron and B vitamins – when it is milled. It ends up as a high-glycemic, quickly digested carbohydrate. Food manufacturers know all this, too, and so have been developing alternative pastas made with whole grains rich in fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals. Shoppers can now find at least six types of whole grain pastas that are more heart healthy: whole wheat, quinoa, sprouted grain, buckwheat noodles, spelt and brown rice.
K. Aleisha Fetters, "The Healthiest Pastas: From Quinoa to Buckwheat Noodles", US News & World Report, October 02, 2015, © U.S. News & World Report LP.
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Kelp Is Beating Kale In The Snack Sales Competition

September 30, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Snack shoppers (and manufacturers) have discovered what coastal cultures around the globe have known for centuries – namely, that the edible algae known as seaweed -- the brown variety is known as kelp -- is a nutritious functional food. Seaweed snack sales have now surpassed kale-based snacks, with market growth surging to 30 percent in 2014. Seaweed is a “naturally functional” food: low in calories, rich in protein, fiber, trace minerals and vitamins. Snack brands are including seaweed in a variety of products, including seaweed-flavored rice chips. Another seaweed virtue: “impeccable sustainability credentials.”
"Seaweed could be ‘next big snacking opportunity,’ firm says", Foodbev.com, September 30, 2015, © FoodBev Media Ltd
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Fractured Prune Doughnuts: Hot, Made-To-Order, All Day

September 29, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
It’s not your grandfather’s doughnut shop. No more baking the standardized selection of treats before dawn, loading the display shelves, then selling them long after the baker has gone home. At the Fractured Prune, customers have a big variety to choose from, and the bakery chain, which sells hot, made-to-order doughnuts from dawn to long after dusk, is thriving. Customers pick the glaze and toppings they want from a list of 24 options, or choose one of the favorites. Top sellers include honey glaze and cinnamon sugar, banana glaze and vanilla wafers, and blueberry glaze and powdered sugar. The East Coast chain just opened its first California location in Santa Clara, and there are plans to open 20 more in the Bay Area.
Linda Zavoral, "Fractured Prune brings 'design your own doughnut' concept to Bay Area", San Jose Mercury News, September 29, 2015, © Digital First Media
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Anthony Bourdain To Open Huge N.Y. City Market In Two Years

September 28, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Chef, author and culinary traveler Anthony Bourdain has confirmed plans to open a food market in 2017 in the meatpacking district of New York City. He and his partners have subleased the main concourse and mezzanine of Pier 57 on the Hudson River. The market will feature a steaming noodle stall, a farmers’ market, and a mezzanine packed with food stations and bars. “Think of an Asian night market,” he said. “Eating and drinking at midnight.” The Bourdain market, set to open in two years, will house about 100 global retail and wholesale food vendors, including fishmongers, butchers, bakers and other artisans, and a full-service restaurant. Bourdain has signed deals with Geylang Claypot Rice of Singapore and Sabina Bandera, owner of the Ensenada, Mexico-based seafood restaurant La Guerrerense.
Florence Fabricant, "Anthony Bourdain’s Food Market Takes Shape", The New York Times, September 28, 2015, © The New York Times Company
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The Color Purple Shows Up In New Cereal Products

September 25, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Purple corn, a Peruvian staple packed with healthful anthocyanins, is making its way into commercially-available food products, several of which were touted at Natural Products Expo East recently. Suntava, Inc., says its non-bioengineered purple corn ingredients promise protection from cancer, obesity and inflammation. Back to the Roots developed a breakfast cereal made from U.S.-grown purple corn, organic cane sugar, and sea salt. Boston’s Late July Snacks introduced organic purple corn tortilla chips. Oregon’s Attune Foods (Post Holdings) unveiled a cereal made with lightly glazed flakes of organic purple corn and brown rice.
Monica Watrous, "Purple corn poised for superfood stardom", Food Business News, September 25, 2015, © SOSLAND PUBLISHING CO.
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British Bread Buyers Waste Many Tons Of Loaves Every Year

September 22, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A survey of U.K. bread buyers by an anti-food-waste initiative finds that nearly 20 percent toss unopened, stale loaves into the trash. The head of Love Food Hate Waste initiative said the group hopes to raise awareness of how much food is wasted in the country every day and to educate people on ways to cut the waste. U.K. households discard seven million tons of food annually at a total cost of $19 billion. This is just under half the 15 million tons of food wasted annually in the country, with the rest trashed by supermarkets, restaurants and other entities in the supply chain. The group says there are simple ways to use bread up or store it differently to reduce waste and save money.
Rebecca Smithers, "One in five UK households dump a loaf of bread in the bin, survey reveals", The Guardian, September 22, 2015, © Guardian News and Media Limited
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Eastern Europe Will Show Greatest Growth In Dietary Supplement Sales

September 22, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
The European dietary supplement market will grow 9.5 percent in the next five years to €7.9 billion ($8.8 billion) in market value, according to Euromonitor. Italy, Russia, and Germany remain the biggest consumers of dietary supplements, though Germany’s position is slipping. Eastern European countries – especially Romania, Turkey, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Russia, and Macedonia -- will be the fastest growing marketplaces to 2020. Top selling brands in Western Europe include Abtei (Perrigo), Linex (GSK), Enterogermina Sanofi), and Aboca. Among the top brands in Eastern Europe are Magne B6 (Sanofi), Herbalife, Nutrilite (Amway), and Bifiform (Pfizer).
Nathan Gray, "Number cruncher: Europe’s key supplement markets, brands & opportunities revealed", NUTRAingredients-usa.com, September 22, 2015, © William Reed Business Media SAS
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Grocery Chain Renames, Expands Its Natural, Organic Product Line

September 19, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A Michigan-based retail grocery chain is combining its house organic and natural foods line under one brand name and says sit plans to expand the 225-product family to 325. Meijer says the products – including granola chips, coconut oil, macaroni and cheese, juice boxes and spices – will be branded “True Goodness” to reflect consumer desire for healthier options, especially less-processed foods. They will contain no artificial ingredients or hydrogenated oils. USDA certified organic items will not contain GMOs, growth hormones, antibiotics, conventional pesticides, synthetic fertilizers or ionizing radiation.
Susan Selasky, "Meijer expands and renames organic and all-natural line", Detroit Free Press, September 19, 2015, © www.freep.com
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Causes Of Early Death Have Changed Globally Since 1980s

September 18, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Prior to the 1990s, the leading causes of death globally were child and maternal malnutrition, unsafe water, sanitation, and lack of handwashing. But a new study finds a whole slew of new culprits. The study, conducted by an international team of researchers led by the Universities of Washington and Melbourne, looked at 79 risk factors for death in 188 countries between 1990 and 2013. The top death risk factors include: high body mass index (Middle East, Latin America); household air pollution, unsafe water (South and Southeast Asia); alcohol (Russia); smoking (high-income countries, the U.K.); childhood malnutrition, unsafe water and lack of sanitation, unsafe sex, alcohol use (sub-Saharan Africa); high blood pressure (Australia) and HIV/AIDS (South Africa).
Christopher J. Murray et al. , "Global, regional, and national comparative risk assessment of 79 behavioral, environmental and occupational, and metabolic risks or clusters of risks in 188 countries, 1990–2013", The Lancet, September 18, 2015, © The Lancet / Elsevier Ltd
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Healthy Ancient Grain Phenomenon Keeps Growing

September 16, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A market research report finds that one-fifth of American adults have purchased menu items or grocery foods containing whole grains, including whole wheat and brown rice, but also ancient grains, because they believe they are more healthful. Quinoa is the most popular of the ancient grains, appearing more frequently than others on restaurant menus and in new food product announcements. But more readily sourced and generally cheaper ancient grains, such as sorghum and barley, are increasingly replacing conventional oats, corn or rice in grain-based products. An advantage for producers is ability to claim gluten-free, non-GMO and vegan in products using ancient grains.
Judie Bizzozero, "19% of U.S. Adults Buy Ancient Grains for Health Reasons", Food Product Design, September 16, 2015, © Informa Exhibitions, LLC
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New Generation Of Superfoods May Not Be So Super

September 12, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Foodies and health food groupies who thrive on the cutting edge of the superfood world have apparently moved beyond acai, quinoa and chia seeds, especially now that those once exotic foods are available at Walmart and Costco. Instead, they have latched on to the newest wave of rare, foreign and super-nutritious beverages: moringa, E3 live blue-green algae, citicoline, freekeh, turkey tail mushroom, sideritis, etc. All promise enhanced wellbeing or super energy. But nutritionists warn that a diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein, etc., is probably all anyone needs to stay healthy. And no one really knows whether these so-called superfoods are really any good for you at all. Some, eaten with certain medications, may actually be harmful.
Kavita Daswani, "New super-foods, from baobab to turkey tail, come with promises and caveats", The Los Angeles Times, September 12, 2015, © The Los Angeles Times
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Large Study Finds Link Between Diet Drinks And Junk-Food Consumption

September 11, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A U.S.researcher who analyzed dietary data from 22,000 American adults found a link between regular drinking of diet beverages and consumption of high-calorie foods packed with sugar, sodium, fat and cholesterol. More than 90 percent of the people in the study regularly ate “discretionary” foods that are energy-dense, nutrient-poor, and do not belong to major food groups. They include cookies, ice cream, chocolate, fries and pastries. Ruopeng An hypothesized that people who drink diet beverages may feel justified in eating more; or, to feel satisfied they feel compelled to eat more high-calorie discretionary foods. They also suggested a third possibility: people choose diet beverages because they feel guilty about indulging in unhealthy food.
Ruopeng An, "Beverage Consumption in Relation to Discretionary Food Intake and Diet Quality among U.S. Adults, 2003-2012. ", Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, September 11, 2015, © Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
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Sourdough On The Rise In U.K., Despite Sagging Overall Bread Sales

September 10, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
British bread lovers are discovering the unique virtues of sourdough, and are increasingly willing to put themselves through the grind of preparing and guiding the raising agent (also called the starter or ferment) to fruition. The starter itself is not complicated: it’s made from just flour and water and environmental bacteria. But it goes through several time-consuming steps before it is ready to use in making dough. Sourdough is a hot trend in the U.K. restaurant industry: theprocess is used to make not only delicious loaves, but also pastry, cakes, doughnuts, ice cream and chocolate bars. “Once the sourdough bug hits you, it’s hard to turn back,” says Britain’s so-called queen of sourdough.
Sue Quinn , "The rise and rise of sourdough", The Telegraph, September 10, 2015, © Telegraph Media Group Limited
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Steep Decline In Pasta Sales Traced To Consumer Aversions To Carbs, Gluten

September 2, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
The pasta industry is taking a beating from two major food industry “avoidance” trends: carbs and gluten. Consumers globally are convinced carbs, not fats, are the cause of the obesity epidemic. They are also convinced that gluten, the protein found in wheat, rye, and barley, is to blame for many maladies, beginning with the fairly rare celiac disease. Protein-rich and filling grains like quinoa, and other alternatives to pasta, are filling the void. The result: sales of dried pasta in North America have slid six percent since 2009; in the U.S. is expected to continue for another four years. The same trend is found in Australia and Europe. Even in Italy, dried pasta sales have plummeted 25 percent since 2009. The pasta industry is fighting back with gluten-free and high-protein varieties. But it will be a long, uphill fight.
Roberto A. Ferdman , "This is what happens when everyone is terrified of carbs", The Washington Post, September 02, 2015, © The Washington Post
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Slowly But Surely Americans Are Eating More Whole Grains

August 31, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
For a long time, Americans pretty much ignored federal dietary guidelines and advice from nutritionists and health experts to eat more whole grains. But the tide is turning, according to the Whole Grains Council. The majority of Americans are now eating more whole grains than they did back in 2010, and at least half say half of the grains they eat are whole grains. A poll of U.S. consumers found that 64 percent have increased whole grain consumption "some" or "a lot" in the last five years. And two-thirds of those who mostly choose whole grains now have increased their whole grain consumption “a great deal” compared to five years ago. The WGC says the next step is to get Americans to go beyond bread, cereal and brown rice when they buy whole grains, and look for spelt, farro, amaranth and teff.
"Most Americans Now Make Half Their Grains Whole", News release, Oldways Whole Grains Council, August 31, 2015, © Oldways Preservation Trust/Whole Grains Council
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Brits Are Ambivalent About Benefits Of Eating Breakfast

August 27, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A Harris poll finds that 25 percent of 2,032 Britons surveyed believe cooked breakfasts are protein-rich and 40 percent see eggs as a healthy breakfast food. However, 45 percent of those polled tend to skip breakfast altogether. Opinions about what constitutes a healthy breakfast vary widely. Twenty-seven percent of Brits worry about fat content of cooked breakfasts. Many worry about the carbohydrate content. And many just think cooked breakfasts are plain unhealthy. A sizeable number see cold breakfasts as unhealthy, as well: thirty-eight percent think kids cereals aimed are too sugary and the same percentage (mostly older adults) think breakfast biscuits are a total fad.
Amy North, "Half of Brits skip breakfast... but the fry up is flying!", The Grocer, August 27, 2015, © William Reed Business Media Ltd
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"Personalized" U.K. Breakfasts Increasingly Feature Added Fruits And Nuts

August 27, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
British breakfast eaters are into customizing their morning meal, as more and more are adding fruits, seeds, and nuts to their cereal, yogurt and other foods, or are purchasing products that already contain those ingredients. According to Kantar Worldpanel research, consumption of fruits and nuts grew nearly 10 percent last year. Fruit was eaten in 2.2 billion breakfasts in 2014, a rise of 8.9 percent, while nuts were eaten in 116 million breakfasts, a rise of 221.1 percent. Food companies are helping to fuel the trend. A Weetabix “Weetabuddies” ad campaign targeted at kids touted healthy fruit ingredients. Ads for Alpro’s Simply Plain yogurt boasted of the product’s “infinite” topping possibilities, including fruits and nuts.
Amy North, "Fruit, nuts and seeds benefit from DIY breakfast boom", The Grocer, August 27, 2015, © William Reed Business Media Ltd
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Splenda Dominates Sweetener Market, But Johnson & Johnson Will Sell Product Line

August 26, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Heartland Food Products Group, which already sells sweeteners based on sucralose, will acquire the Splenda product line from Johnson & Johnson’s McNeil Nutritionals business unit for an undisclosed amount. Sucralose recently surpassed aspartame as the sweetener market leader. But despite safety approval by the FDA and more than a hundred scientific studies, sucralose has fallen victim to a rising tide of food activist and consumer sentiment against artificial ingredients. The Center for Science in the Public Interest, for example, now tags sucralose as “caution” instead of “safe.”
Nick Turner, "Johnson & Johnson Will Sell Splenda Sweetener to Heartland Food", Bloomberg Business, August 26, 2015, © Bloomberg L.P.
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British Kids’ Snack Company Unveils A Line Of Veggie-Flavored Treats

August 25, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Ella’s Kitchen is introducing a line of kids’ snacks that have less sugar and more vegetable flavors. Packaging of the organic snacks, targeted at children ages three to five, features comic strips involving on-pack superhero characters, including a mischievous rabbit that causes trouble with a crew of fellow superhero animals. Packaging also includes pull-out superhero masks and collectible pop-out finger puppets. Fruit and vegetable combinations available in the snacks include mango and pumpkin, orange and carrot, strawberry and beetroot, and apple and cucumber.
"Ella’s Kitchen Launches New Kids’ Snacks Range", The Food & Drink Innovation Network, August 25, 2015, © Food & Drink Innovation Network
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