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Analysis Of Food Buying In G8 Countries Finds Some Major Differences

April 11, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Euromonitor has developed a nutritional data gathering system that compares consumer eating patterns – including calories and micronutrients -- in the G8 countries, finding some “striking” differences. Italians, for example, buy eight times more pasta per capita than Americans, with eight times more calories (199 a day) coming from pasta than the average U.S. consumer (12 times the average Japanese). Yet only 11 percent of Italians are considered obese. When it comes to buying packaged foods, Germany ranks No. 1 at 1733 calories per person per day, followed by France, the U.K., Italy and the U.S. Only three percent of the total population of Japan are considered obese, compared to 42 percent in the U.S. With these findings in mind, Euromonitor says it might be time to take a closer look at the benefits of the “Washoku” diet, based on traditional Japanese cuisine. 
Filippo Battaini, "Washoku vs Mediterranean diet: Italians do it well, but Japanese do it even better", Euromonitor International, April 11, 2015, © Euromonitor International
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Entrepreneur Bets On Growing American Interest In Healthy Fast-Casual Food

April 10, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Fast-casual restaurants are the healthy growth sector of the foodservice industry, but one entrepreneur is planning to exploit a major gap in the market. Celebrity chef Franklin Becker has teamed with Aurify Brands (Five Guys, Dunkin’ Donuts and Melt Shop) to launch Little Beet in New York City, a fast-casual that focuses on better ingredients and “overall better human health.” The average meal at fast-casual giant Chipotle has a thousand calories and is loaded with salt. A Little Beet chicken plate with a side of sweet potatoes comes in at 470 calories. And, says an Aurify exec about the rest of the menu, “you can actually taste the broccoli, cauliflower, string beans.”
Kimberley Bainbridge , "Celeb chef's new recipe for success: Healthy fast casual", CNBC.com, April 10, 2015, © CNBC LLC
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Listeria Contamination Continues To Prompt Product Recalls

April 9, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has confirmed that the dangerous, potentially lethal, bacterium listeria has tainted food products from two different companies, causing deaths and illnesses in two states and prompting recalls. Sabra Dipping Company recalled 30,000 cases of hummus after several listeria-contaminated tubs were found in Michigan, though no illnesses were reported. CDC said tainted Blue Bell ice cream led to the illnesses of three people in Texas, and five others in Kansas between 2011 and 2014. Blue Bell has expanded a recall of frozen snack items because of listeria contamination discovered last month.
Rachel Abrams, "Listeria in Sabra Hummus Prompts New Wave of Recalls", The New York Times, April 09, 2015, © The New York Times Company
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Specialty Foods Are Becoming More Mainstream Grocery Items

April 7, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
As grocery shoppers increasingly look for foods considered more natural, less processed or locally produced, retail sales of specialty food items have been rising steadily, reaching $51 billion last year. Stores have begun stocking shelves with new, smaller brands of high quality, limited supply or “exotic” foods. The category accounted for 13.7 percent of retail food sales in 2013, up from 12.7 percent in 2012. That makes specialty foods – imported cheese, high-quality coffee beans, etc. -- less of a niche market, because the trickle-down effect eventually pushes them into big retail stores, like Walmart.
Leslie Josephs, "Specialty Food Products Taking Up More Space in Grocery Carts", The Wall Street Journal, April 07, 2015, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Hilton Hotels Announces Animal Welfare Policy In Its Supply Chain

April 6, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
In a joint statement with the Humane Society of the U.S., hotel chain Hilton Worldwide announced it would eliminate caged egg-laying chickens and gestation crates for breeding pigs from its supply chain within two years. Affected by the announcement are 19 countries and all hotels in the Hilton Hotels and Resorts, Waldorf Astoria Hotels and Resorts, Conrad Hotels and Resorts, Canopy and DoubleTree. They will have to switch all egg usage to cage-free by December 31, 2017. All pork products must be purchased from suppliers that house breeding pigs in groups rather than gestation crates by the end of 2018. A Humane Society spokesman said the Hilton commitment “will substantially improve countless animals’ lives.”
"Hilton Worldwide Commits To Improving Animal Welfare In Supply Chain", News release, Humane Society of the U.S., April 06, 2015, © The Humane Society of the U.S.
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Omega-3s Lacking In Diet Of Canadian Mothers-To-Be

April 3, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Most of the first 600 (of 2,000) expectant mothers surveyed in a Canadian pregnancy and nutrition study did not include  enough omega-3 fatty acids in their diets. It is recommended that healthy adults, including pregnant and lactating women, consume at least 500 mg of omega-3s daily. The European Commission recommends a minimum of 200 mg of DHA daily for pregnant and lactating women. Only 27 percent of women during pregnancy, and 25 percent at three months post-delivery, met the recommendation for DHA. Seafood, fish and seaweed products contributed to 79 percent of overall omega-3 fatty acids intake, with the most coming from salmon.
Xiaoming Jia et al., "Women who take n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid supplements during pregnancy and lactation meet the recommended intake. ", Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, April 03, 2015, © Canadian Science Publishing
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Growth May Be Slowing, But Chocolate Candy Sales Are Still Sweet

April 2, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Though the pace of growth in the U.S. chocolate candy market continues to slow year over year, the market still surged 24 percent between 2009 and 2014, and is now worth $21 billion, according to Mintel. New product launches worldwide increased 18 percent between 2013 and 2014, with Europe accounting for more than half. Eighty-five percent of American adults buy chocolate candy, but rising costs, competition from chocolate-flavored foods and drinks, and concerns about health are putting pressure on the sector. Nevertheless, Mintel predicts steady growth in chocolate confectionery through 2019, when the value will hit $25 billion.
"US Chocolate Market On Track To Hit $25 Billion In 2019; Lags Behind Europe In Product Innovation", News release, Mintel, April 02, 2015, © Mintel Group Ltd.
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Americans Buy A Lot Of Processed Foods High In Fat, Sugar And Salt

March 29, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A twelve-year U.S. study – 2000 to 2012 -- that collected barcode data on groceries purchased by 157,000 households found that 60 percent of the foods bought were highly processed and contained much higher levels of fat, sugar, and salt on average than unprocessed foods. There was a significant increase in the proportion of calories purchased in “ready-to-heat” foods -- about 15.2 percent in 2012. The study also found that more than 80 percent of calories were purchased in ready-to-eat or ready-to-heat form in 2012.
Jennifer M. Poti, "Highly processed foods dominate U.S. grocery purchases", News release, study presented at the American Society for Nutrition (ASN) annual meeting , March 29, 2015, © FASEB
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A Basic – Scientifically Proven – List Of Nutritious Seeds, Superfruits

March 22, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A food writer who surveyed recent scientific studies found nine seeds and so-called “superfruits” that are packed with nutrients and minimally processed. At the top of her list are chia seeds, once smeared over novelty plant pottery, but now used in yogurt, baked goods, nutrition bars, etc. They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, phytonutrients and other good things. Also on the list: flax seeds (protein, antioxidants), sunflower seeds (protein, fiber), pumpkin seeds, blueberries, acai berries, tart cherries, avocados, and cranberries.
Linda Ohr, "The Rising Status of Superfruits and Super Seeds", Food Technology, March 22, 2015, © Institute of Food Technologists
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Mondelez Hopes Gum Sales Will Improve With Strategy Targeting Generation Z

March 19, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
With its chewing-gum sales stalling, Mondelez International is trying a somewhat arcane marketing strategy to revitalize Trident products among post-millennials in an era of social media and smart devices. Gum revenue was down three percent in 2014, though market share grew or remained stable in four of six markets. The company thinks the key reason for this sales decline is that Generation Z spends too much time on its smartphones, reducing personal human contact and eliminating daily rituals like gum chewing. So Trident commissioned a Japanese designer to create clothing that blocks radio signals. Whether the strategy is boosting gum sales is known so far only to Mondelez.
Seb Joseph, "Mondelez’s Trident mines fashion and privacy shared themes to get closer to Gen Z", The Drum, March 19, 2015, © Carnyx Group Ltd
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U.K.’s “Shopping Basket” Undergoes Some Major Changes

March 18, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
British government statisticians have determined that shoppers in the U.K. are increasingly buying more healthful foods and specialty items that might be more expensive. In the so-called “national shopping basket,” chilled pizzas have replaced frozen, for example, and melons and protein shakes have replaced probiotic yogurts. Also added to the official list of what shoppers buy are sweet potatoes, craft ales, and offal (liver and kidney). Nonfood items added to the list included electronic cigarettes, and colorful wall paints. (White emulsion paint was removed from the basket.) A Kantar Worldpanel analyst said the changes reflect a growing economy and more optimistic national mood. "Families are more happy to use their money to eat well and try different tastes."
Dan Hyde, "Why sweet potato, protein shakes and craft ales are on 'national shopping list'", The Telegraph, March 18, 2015, © Telegraph Media Group Limited
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Snack Bar Makers Are Missing An Opportunity In The Heart-Healthy Market

March 17, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Despite growing consumer demand for heart-healthy and convenient – “grab-and-go” – foods, like bars and snacks, few food manufacturers are developing such products. A recent article notes the tremendous opportunity awaiting snack and bar makers who have yet to take advantage of FDA-approved heart health claims for ingredients like soy protein, phytosterols, fiber, nuts and omega-3s. Marketers, of course, also need to pay attention to the taste of products – consumers won’t swap flavor for health -- but adding ingredients (e.g., high fructose corn syrup, sugar alcohols, etc.) that may be perceived as unhealthy is risky. Still, the author of the article says, “not to be building bars that target heart health is the definition of a missed opportunity."
Alissa Marrapodi, "Grab-and-Go Heart Health", Food Product Design, March 17, 2015, © Informa Exhibitions LLC
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New Healthful Breakfast Cereal Contains Only Three Ingredients

March 17, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A six-year-old food company dedicated to the idea of “undoing” food has introduced what it says is the first completely stoneground cereal on the market. Organic Stoneground Flakes are made from organic, non-GMO stoneground whole wheat, sea salt and organic cane sugar, and are high in fiber, protein and whole grains. The company says the new product provides “a simpler, delicious, and more nutritious cereal packaged in innovative, fun and sustainable packaging." Back to the Roots also markets organic breakfast toppers and stoneground crisps, both of which are made with fruits, nuts and seeds.
"Back To The Roots Launches First U.S. Grown, 100% Stoneground Breakfast Cereal ", News release, Back to the Roots, March 17, 2015, © Back to the Roots
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Spicy Flavors, Pork, And Bread Mentioned A Lot In Social Media Posts

March 7, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A National Pork Board-sponsored analysis of 30 million Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts finds great diversity in food preferences in the U.S. But some of those preferences stand out, including smoked foods, hot and spicy flavors paired with proteins. Those accounted for more than half of all social media mentions. The most popular ethnic flavor is Cajun, followed by Mexican and Asian. Most frequently mentioned among grain products was bread: 22 percent of mentions alongside proteins. Pork was cited as a spicy option in 41 percent of the postings, bacon was the most favored pork product, and cheese of any kind was the favorite food topping.
"Social media survey pinpoints food trends", Rapid City Journal, March 07, 2015, © Rapid City Journal
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Freekeh May One Day Give Quinoa A Run For Its Money

March 6, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Another exotic grain that has caught the attention of foodies is a Middle Eastern variety described as “an earthier faro or a chewier barley”. Freekeh is made by sun-drying harvested green wheat and then roasting it to remove the chaff and straw. The process gives the grain a smoky flavor, which can be deepened by further brief toasting. Freekeh is cooked much like rice: simmered in water – there is some disagreement over the proper ratio -- until all of the liquid is absorbed. It is then served warm, as in a pilaf, or cooled and added as a base to whole-grain salads. Not easily found, except at Middle Eastern grocers, it may take a while to catch up to quinoa in popularity.
Russ Parsons, "Embracing a grain called freekeh, with help from the experts", LA Times, March 06, 2015, © Los Angeles Times
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McDonald’s To Eliminate Antibiotics From Its Chicken Supply Chain

March 4, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
McDonald’s USA has announced a commitment to sourcing only chicken not raised with antibiotics, and milk from cows never treated with the artificial growth hormone rbST. The new antibiotics policy, developed with the cooperation of sourcing farmers, supports the company's “Global Vision for Antimicrobial Stewardship in Food Animals,” introduced in 2003. The company said it hopes to implement the new antibiotics policy to its supply chain over the next two years. Instead of antibiotics, farmers who supply chicken to McDonald’s will use ionophores, an antibiotic not used for humans that helps keep chickens healthy.
"McDonald's USA Announces New Antibiotics Policy and Menu Sourcing Initiatives", News release, McDonald's, March 04, 2015, © McDonald's
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Tiny African Grain Teff Is Gluten Free And Packs A Nutritional Punch

March 3, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
The search for gluten-free grains has led some people to experiment with teff as a nutritious replacement for wheat, barley and rye. Native to Africa, teff is a tiny grain rich in protein, calcium and vitamin C, most often associated with the Ethiopian bread injera. But works well when making polenta, porridge or even waffles. It can be purchased as a brown or ivory whole grain or flour from companies like Bob’s Red Mill or the Teff Company.
Laura B. Russell, "Versatile teff offers a protein-rich way to break free from gluten-free grain rut: Gluten Freedom", Oregon Live, March 03, 2015, © Oregon Live LLC
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Physicians Castigate Harmful, Addictive “White Foods”

February 27, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A growing number of physicians warn of the health dangers of white bread, pasta and other high-glycemic “white foods” like potatoes, rice and sugar. A neurosurgeon who specializes in treating back pain says he won’t eat bread or pasta because they are high on the glycemic index, are not whole foods, and are “tremendously delicious and addictive”. A child psychiatrist says bleaching flour removes the nutrients. “Best to eat fresh breads made from whole or sprouted grains,” says Dr. Rohit Chandra. And Dr. Michael Hirt, a board-certified nutritionist, says GMO standard wheat is particularly harmful, adding that, "If Americans gave up gluten and dairy, 75 percent of the world’s health problems would go away."
Lauren Gordon , "Delicious but Addictive: Why Some Doctors Avoid Eating Bread", The Daily Meal, February 27, 2015, © Spanfeller Media Group, Inc.
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Want Less Processing? No Problem, Says Big Food

February 24, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Consumers around the globe are demanding food that be less processed, and the big U.S. manufacturers are responding. General Mills, for example, is cutting the amount of sugar in its Yoplait Original line by more than 30 percent and promising that Cheerios will be gluten-free by the summer, replacing wheat and barley with sorghum and millet. Kellogg this summer will launch the Origins line of muesli and granola cereals containing "no preservatives, no artificial colors, no artificial flavors” Campbell Soup promises to unveil a new line of "ultra-premium" cold pressed organic drinks. And, lastly, Hershey’s is modernizing its chocolate bars, eliminating lactose, the emulsifier PGPR, and vanillin, an artificial vanilla flavoring ingredient.
Jessica Wohl , "Food-makers' new products promise to be less processed", Chicago Tribune , February 24, 2015, © Chicago Tribune
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Green Banana Flour: A More Healthful Substitute For Wheat?

February 21, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
It's a little more expensive than wheat flour, but green banana flour might be a more healthful ingredient for baking bread and cakes. Banana flour is made from unripened fruit and does not taste like ripe bananas. But it contains resistant starch that behaves like fiber, helping to control sugar levels and prolong satiety. As a starch that is not absorbable, it contains fewer calories, though it is rich in potassium and magnesium, both healthful minerals. British company Nutryttiva sources green bananas from Brazil, and so far its flour is selling well. “We only started selling it last month, but so far sales are doubling each week,” a representative says. The company notes that green banana flour costs more than wheat flour, but about 25 percent less is used in baking.
Sophie Freeman, "The latest wonder food: More and more crave banana flour as a way of curbing the carbs because it helps you feel fuller for longer ", Daily Mail, February 21, 2015, © Associated Newspapers Ltd
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Sluggish Sales Of “Diet” Foods Prompt Repositioning Of Major Brands

February 20, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Big food companies are trying to adjust quickly to a trend in U.S. consumer eating preferences that is having a negative impact on sales. Americans apparently care more about simple, natural ingredients, gluten-free products, protein and ethnic flavors -- and less about calories. Nestlé, for example, is dealing with this new reality by repositioning its Lean Cuisine frozen dinners as a ”healthy eating and healthy lifestyles” brand, rather than a diet food. The company is also introducing new ethnic flavors such as Sweet & Spicy Korean-Style Beef. Kellogg is deemphasizing weight loss in its Special K snack bar line to focus more on healthy ingredients, even if they are calorie-packed.
Anjali Athavaley, "Food companies aim to reinvent diet foods to stay relevant", Reuters, February 20, 2015, © Thomson Reuters
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Bread Making Technique – Not Ingredients – May Be At Root Of Health Issues

February 18, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Though humans have been grinding wheat into flour and baking bread for thousands of years, there’s suddenly a widespread belief that bread – made from today’s high-tech flours -- is the source of all our health problems. But Washington State University wheat breeder Stephen Jones says it’s not the wheat itself that’s causing the problems. It’s how we make bread these days. For one thing, commercial bakeries actually add extra gluten to whole wheat bread dough to increase the elasticity. In addition, industrial dough rising time amounts to mere minutes (thanks to fast-acting yeasts and additives), instead of the hours or even days it should take. In his laboratory, he lets dough rise for as long as 12 hours, resulting in a less potent gluten. One caveat: Jones’s theory, while plausible, has not yet been scientifically proven.
Tom Philpott, "The Real Problem With Bread (It's Probably Not Gluten): One wheat scientist has a compelling theory. ", Mother Jones, February 18, 2015, © Mother Jones and the Foundation for National Progress
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Grain Guild Fights An Old “Axiom”: You Can’t Grow Wheat For Food In Illinois

February 18, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
An Illinois food movement hopes to convince the state’s farmers that they can grow wheat specifically for bread making. The goal of the Grand Prairies Grain Guild is to boost the supply of locally grown bread and baked goods on restaurant menus and grocery shelves. Illinois is no stranger to grain production. The USDA says farmers there harvested 44.8 million bushels of wheat from 740,000 acres in 2014. But the Grain Guild, convinced that wheat can be a local food product, wants to see farmers planting “food-grade, hard winter wheat for regional bakery products". The Guild is focusing for now on Illinois wheat, but also hopes to eventually include oats, buckwheat, rye, corn, soybeans and sorghum.
Tim Landis, "Group promotes homegrown grain products", The State Journal-Register (Ill.), February 18, 2015, © Gatehouse Media, Inc.
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Online Grocery Shopping Is Booming Globally, Except In U.S.

February 18, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A report on global trends in online grocery shopping shows that emerging markets, including the U.S., are growing 97 percent year-on-year while established markets are growing by more than 30 percent. The report by Dunnhumby shows that even the most established online grocery categories are seeing significant growth, while online sales of frozen meat, baby food and baby care, and canned food are growing at an annual rate of 21 percent. However, online grocery shopping in the U.S. has been slow to catch on and still trails France, South Korea and the U.K. And American shoppers seem to need the physical presence of a retail store before they are confident enough to buy new grocery products on the Internet.
"The Multichannel Movement Report", Report, Dunnhumby, February 18, 2015, © dunnhumby
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Economic Signs Suggest Lower Prices At Grocery Stores, Too, Not Just Gas Stations

February 12, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
The most visible drops in commodity prices – oil and gasoline – are not the only ones that could have an impact on consumers in the near future. Farmers and miners are keenly aware that prices of copper, iron ore and corn are way down, along with soybeans, tin, sugar, wheat and cotton. So when will these price drops begin to help consumers? It’s difficult to predict because lower commodity prices are rarely passed on quickly to consumers. Producers concerned about volatility want to be sure cheaper raw material prices remain low. But there is reason for grocery shopper optimism, perhaps later this year. Farmers are experiencing bumper crops and surpluses; there’s plenty of cheap feed for livestock; farmer energy costs are lower; food imports are cheaper; and there’s reduced foreign competition for food.
Marilyn Geewax, "As Commodity Prices Plunge, Groceries May Be Next", National Public Radio, February 12, 2015, © npr
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Why Carbs – Refined Or Otherwise – Are Not Necessarily A Dietary Desperado

February 9, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
The current “wisdom” about beneficial versus harmful foods may not be so "wise" after all. There is a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding about carbohydrates, the glycemic index (GI), etc. The foodie trend these days is to avoid white bread, pasta, refined sugar and other high GI foods to feel better and live healthier. But the fact is that carbs can be healthful or harmful, “depending on which, and how many, you eat”. The real problem is overconsumption, experts note. There’s no rational reason to avoid bread, pasta and refined sugar – regardless of the GI rating – as long as they are consumed in moderation. Another key fact: low-GI foods like whole grain bread or legumes contain more nutrients. That may be the main reason – not the low GI rating – scientific studies have found that disease risk is lower when you eat them.
Tamar Haspel, "Is it really worth not eating bread, pasta and other carbs?", The Washington Post, February 09, 2015, © The Washington Post Company
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Calorie-Free Sweetening Compound Eludes Commercial Development

February 8, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A compound produced by a “miracle berry” native to West Africa may provide the solution to an age-old puzzle. Is it possible to create a dessert that contains no sugar or artificial flavors but tastes as sweet as the real thing? Miraculin could provide the answer, though it may be years before a commercial product is developed. It works by distorting the taste receptors on the tongue, making them super-sensitive to sweet signals from even sour foods. High-end restaurant patrons have experienced the sensation by eating the berries before consuming other foods, a fairly inconvenient process. But chef Homaru Cantu is working on a way to integrate the berry powder into foods by creating a heat- and refrigeration-stable version. So far, the goal is elusive.
David Cox, "This miracle berry could replace sugar", The Atlantic, February 08, 2015, © The Atlantic
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Overweight Kiwis Present A Marketing Opportunity For Healthful Food Manufacturers

February 5, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Manufacturers of healthful foods should find reasons for optimism in a Nielsen survey taken recently in New Zealand. Nearly 60 percent felt they were overweight and would probably pay a premium for foods that were more healthful or would help them lose weight. Four out of five New Zealanders trying to lose weight are changing their diet to shed pounds. Nielsen says suppliers and retailers should take advantage of the opportunity to offer consumers “innovative, tasty foods with health benefits”.
Lance Dobson, "A Hunger For Healthy: New Zealand's Appetite To Battle The Bulge", Report, Nielsen, February 05, 2015, © The Nielsen Company
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Campbell Targets Younger Soup Buyers With New Organic Line

February 5, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Though Campbell Soup Co. has been selling organic soups under the Wolfgang Puck label for several years, it only recently launched a line of Campbell’s brand organic soups it hopes will attract younger soup buyers and boost soup sales. Six soups, including Chicken Noodle and Creamy Butternut Squash, comprise Campbell’s organic line. According to a Campbell spokesman, the move to create a Campbell brand organic soup line taps into the trend of organic food going mainstream. The company gained expertise in organic products with the acquisition of Wolfgang Puck soups, Bolthouse Farms, and Plum Organics baby food. Campbell’s research shows that 53 percent of Americans between ages 18 and 29 want to include organic foods in their diets.
Annie Gasparro, "Campbell Organic Soups Broaden Push Into Fast-Growing Natural Foods", The Wall Street Journal, February 05, 2015, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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FMCG Product Awards Suggest Big Trends For 2015

February 4, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Brand Genetics identified nine FMCG trends for 2015 from the recent consumer product innovation awards. The awards were based on voting by 10,000 consumers in the U.K., but Brand Genetics says the trends are global. Among the key trends defining FMCG products are: convenience (“the mega-trend of 2015”); “on-the-go”; products offering health benefits; indulgence that is also “good for you”; the continued rise of private label brands; products “made for me”; a premium experience even from mass market brands; the increasing popularity of fruit as a sugar replacement; and tech-enhanced products.
Andrew Christophers, "FMCG / CPG Consumer Trends 2015 - Product Innovations of the Year", Brand Genetics, February 04, 2015, © Brand Genetics
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New York Orders Big Retailers To Stop Selling Phony Dietary Supplements

February 3, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Four national retail chains were accused by the State of New York of selling “fraudulent and in many cases contaminated” dietary supplements. The state attorney general sent cease-and-desist orders to Walmart, Walgreens, Target and GNC including test results showing that supplements contained cheap fillers and hazardous substances, and often none of the labeled product. Five of six of GNC’s “Herbal Plus” supplements “were either unrecognizable or a substance other than what they claimed to be”. Three of six Target supplements (ginkgo biloba, St. John’s wort and valerian root) did not contain the advertised ingredient. Instead they contained powdered rice, beans, peas and wild carrots.
Anahad O'connor , "What’s in Those Supplements?", The New York Times, February 03, 2015, © The New York Times Company
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Protein Is An Uncontroversial Ingredient, But Issues Remain For Manufacturers

February 3, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
The high-protein content trend continues unabated, as more and more drinks and foods make the claim -- a relatively safe one. Unlike fats, carbohydrates, sugars, and salt, protein remains unscathed by health criticisms. But food and beverage manufacturers still need to be aware of a few things. For one, the main source of protein in the diet varies from country to country: dairy products, for example in Australia, and baked goods in Mexico. Two other concerns are at play. Manufacturers might want to use vegetable proteins to deflect the sustainability issue. And adding protein to some products -- confectionery, ice cream and baked goods loaded with sugar and fat – might invite the “healthwash” criticism.
Simone Baroke, "Protein: The Rise of the Only ‘Safe’ Nutrient", Nutraceuticals World, February 03, 2015, © Rodman Media
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Poultry Buyers Neither Handle, Nor Cook, The Birds Safely, Study Finds

January 26, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A large percentage of consumers who buy poultry neither handle nor cook it properly, according to a U.S. study. Less than two-thirds of consumers own a food thermometer to check whether poultry is properly cooked, and less than 10 percent who own thermometers use them. It was also found that only 18 percent of consumers correctly store raw poultry products in the refrigerator, and only 11 percent of consumers who thaw raw poultry in cold water do it correctly. Nearly 70 percent rinse or wash raw poultry before cooking it, a possibly dangerous habit because of the risk of splashing contaminated water around the kitchen.
Katherine M. Kosa et al., "Consumer-Reported Handling of Raw Poultry Products at Home: Results from a National Survey. ", Journal of Food Protection, January 26, 2015, © International Association for Food Protection
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Consumers Will Pay More For Healthful Biofortified GMO Crops -- Study

January 25, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Belgian researchers show in a new study that genetically modified crops fortified with increased vitamins and minerals have huge market potential, but remain in limbo because of negative public attitudes. The first GMO crop engineered 15 years ago to be more healthful – “Golden Rice” – still has not been approved for cultivation, nor have six other transgenic biofortified crops. Despite lingering negative public opinion,the Belgian research finds, many consumers are willing to pay a 20 percent to 70 percent premium for GMOs with health benefits, but not GMO crops with farmer benefits, which consumers will only buy at a discount.
Hans De Steur et al., "Status and market potential of transgenic biofortified crops. ", Nature Biotechnology, January 25, 2015, © Macmillan Publishers Limited
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Supermarket Chain Cuts Sugar Content Of House Brand Foods

January 22, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Supermarket chain Wegmans announced it is cutting the levels of added sugar in some of its own-label food products to help customers eat a more healthful diet. The company said it is adding less sugar in organic varieties of its foods and “they still taste great”.  The retailer is also reformulating bottled sauces and other products to reduce sugar levels while preserving the flavor. The company acknowledged that it’s not tinkering with its bakery products – that “can be tricky” – but instead is reducing portion sizes rather than cutting sugar content. That means more mini croissants, mini sweet rolls and mini cheesecakes, the company said.
Cathy Jett, "Wegmans reduces sugar in its private label products", The Free Lance-Star (Va.), January 22, 2015, © fredericksburg.com
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Food Marketers Targeting The Younger Generations Should Think “Health”

January 19, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A Nielsen global survey finds that the younger (under 20) generation – dubbed “Z” – is willing to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to healthful eating. Forty-one percent said they would pay a premium for healthful foods, compared to 32 percent of Millennials (ages 21 to 34) and 21 percent of Boomers (51 to 69). The message to food manufacturers is clear: think healthy, according to a Nielsen exec. "Companies that have a clear health orientation to their products will benefit most," says James Russo, who led the study.
Bruce Horovitz, "Younger folks want healthy food - And will pay for it", USA TODAY, January 19, 2015, © USA Today/Gannett
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Food Manufacturers Need To Capitalize On The Protein Trend

January 19, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Ingredient and food manufacturers have managed to turn the demand for protein in the U.K. into a long-term, sustainable trend. Market researcher Canadean finds that half of British consumers understand the importance of protein in their diet; 16 percent have increased purchases of foods rich in protein. Eight percent use protein supplements, but 68 percent of these would substitute protein shakes for alternative sources like protein-fortified foods and drinks. A Canadean analyst says the challenge for food manufacturers now is to turn the newly available protein ingredients into “convenient and tasty protein enriched food and drinks.”
"Protein: Turning from a fad to a trend", Report, Canadean, January 19, 2015, © Canadean Ltd.
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Study Confirms That Kids Are Way Too Addicted To Pizza

January 19, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A study that analyzed questionnaire answers from 7,443 children up to age 11, and 6,447 adolescents to age 19, verified what parents already knew: kids love pizza, and they eat way too much of it. Twenty-two percent of kids between the ages of 6 and 19 eat pizza on any given say, compared to 13 percent of Americans overall. (The only foods more popular than pizza are cake, cookies and doughnuts.) The problem is that pizza adds 408 calories, three grams of fat and 134 more milligrams of salt to a youngster’s diet, and 624 calories, five grams of fat and 484 milligrams of salt to a teen’s diet. The researchers said the negative impact of pizza on young peoples’ diets is about the same as that of sugary drinks.
Lisa M. Powell et al., "Energy and Nutrient Intake From Pizza in the United States", Pediatrics Journal, January 19, 2015, © Powell et al.
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Fast-Food Breakfast Boom Rides Convenience Wave

January 18, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
The boom in fast-food breakfasting – up 4.8 percent from 2007 to 2012 -- has sparked some innovation in the sector, according to industry researchers. The innovation comes in the form of breakfast sandwiches, which are being tested in various forms by Taco Bell (Waffle Taco), Dunkin’ Donuts (Glazed Breakfast Sandwich), Carl’s Jr. (The Aporkalypse) and Sonic, which is rolling out the French Toaster to its 3,500 restaurants. Sandwiches are beating platters of bacon and eggs or pancakes because the watchword these days is convenience. That trend manifests itself in another statistic: breakfast sales growth slowed a little in 2014 to 3.5 percent, because restaurants are selling a lot of late morning snacks, according to Technomic.
Charles Passy, "Are breakfast sandwiches the new burgers?", MarketWatch , January 18, 2015, © MarketWatch, Inc
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Kellogg’s Expands Low-Cal Snack Line

January 15, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Beset by softening sales in its breakfast cereals line, Kellogg’s continues to expand its snack offerings that use the cereals as a foundation. The company recently introduced two 100-calorie snacks that are cousins of its Special K cereals. Special K Chewy Snack Bars are made with “chocolaty chunks”, salted pretzels, real fruit pieces, chewy rolled oats and rice crisps. Special K Brownies, with three grams of fiber, are made with real cocoa, “chocolaty” or caramel chips, and topped with “chocolaty fudge”.
"Special K Unveils New Chewy Snack Bars And Brownies For Smart And Delicious Snacking", News release, Kellogg's, January 15, 2015, © Kellogg Co.
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Study Shows That Vitamin A Deficiency, Type 2 Diabetes, Might Be Closely Linked

January 15, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A Cornell Medical College study shows that a lack of vitamin A -- found in meat, fish, poultry, dairy foods, fruits and vegetables – may be a key factor in the development of type 2 diabetes. Vitamin A helps give rise to beta cells in the pancreas that produce the blood sugar-regulating hormone insulin. In a mouse study, the researchers found that a vitamin A deficiency spurred the death of beta cells, inhibiting insulin production. Insulin metabolizes sugars that come from food. The researchers suggest the possibility that a synthetic form of vitamin A might reverse the effects of type 2 diabetes. They hope to test the idea in preclinical and clinical studies.
Steven Trasino et al., "Vitamin A Deficiency Causes Hyperglycemia and Loss of Pancreatic β-Cell Mass ", The Journal of Biological Chemistry, January 15, 2015, © American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
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“Toast” Emerges As A Flavor For Tea, Chocolate Bars, Etc.

January 13, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Small cafes and restaurants across the country have caught onto the idea of serving artisan bread toast as a comfort food with a variety of toppings, like almond butter and salted avocado. But a different trend involving toast is emerging, according to a food writer who attended the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco. The trend is “toast as a flavor”, not to be confused with “toasted”, as in toasted hemp seeds. Toast is the flavor of “roasted bread” slathered with butter or dusted with sugar and cinnamon. The Republic of Tea, for example, has unveiled Cinnamon Toast Tea with the flavor and aroma of the longtime breakfast treat. And B.T. McElrath Chocolatier (Minneapolis, Minn.) has introduced Buttered Toast chocolate bars.
Elizabeth Weise, "Toast is a flavor: Incredible food trends in 2015", USA Today, January 13, 2015, © USA TODAY
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2015: The Year Of Chickpea Flour?

January 8, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Food writer Alison Spiegel predicts that chickpea flour – a “truly awesome flour” – will become a culinary star in 2015. It has virtues that foodies will appreciate, she notes, including being naturally gluten-free, high in protein, and rich in iron and fiber. In addition, chickpea flour’s versatility and subtle flavor make it useful for cooking both savory dishes and sweet desserts. A friend of hers uses chickpea flour to make Iranian dumplings, vegetable fritters, flatbreads and biscuits. It also works well in soups and yogurt sauces where it acts as a thickener that prevents curdling.
Alison Spiegel, "Why Chickpea Flour Should Be Your New Gluten-Free Friend ", The Huffington Post, January 08, 2015, © TheHuffingtonPost.com, Inc.
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Some Britons Embrace Healthful Eating In 2015

January 5, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Consumer research from Canadean finds that about two-thirds of Britons did not resolve to eat more healthfully in 2015. But one third did, mostly women and adults between 18 and 34. Two-thirds of those say they’ll eat more fruits and vegetable, 58 percent will eat less fat and 53 percent will eat less sugar. The most popular ways they will accomplish their goals – losing weight and feeling better -- is by exercising regularly, controlling portion sizes and cutting back on processed foods. Only 27 percent of men resolved to spend 2015 eating more healthfully (compared to about half of women).
"New Year resolution: Over a third of the UK want to eat more healthily", Report, Canadean, January 05, 2015, © Canadean Ltd.
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Dietary Solutions To Health Problems Vary Globally By Economic Status, Region

December 31, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Research by Euromonitor finds significant differences in healthy eating trends – and solutions to health problems associated with overweight and obesity – between developed and emerging markets, and between geographic regions in the Western Hemisphere and Asia-Pacific. In developed countries, consumers are more likely to stop eating foods containing certain ingredients, like gluten or lactose. On the other hand, consumers in both developed and emerging markets gravitate toward traditional health or eating behaviors, like eating vegan or vegetarian.  In terms of regional differences, gluten-free is very popular in the U.S. and Canada; lactose-free prevails in Latin America; and avoiding allergen exposure during pregnancy is a key concern in the Asia-Pacific region.
Lisa Holmes, "Gluten-free, Lactose-free, and Other Popular Eating Trends Around the World", Report, Euromonitor International, December 31, 2014, © Euromonitor International
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Online Grocery Shopping/Delivery Company Raises Another $210 Million

December 31, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
A company whose app allows shoppers to order groceries from several stores at once using only one Web site has raised another $210 million from venture capitalists after raising $44 million last June. Instacart, which also provides same day delivery of purchased groceries, is reportedly now valued at $2 billion. The company did not say how it would use the funding from the current round, but indicated in June that the first round of funding would be used to expand into new regions, improve customer service and experiment with new delivery models.
Thad Rueter, "Grocery delivery firm Instacart raises $210 million", Internet Retailer, December 31, 2014, © Vertical Web Media
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It’s Not The Pain Of Spicy Foods That’s Enjoyable, It’s The Relief Afterwards

December 31, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Nature apparently created capsaicin, the heat-generating molecule found in spicy foods, to deter our interest in such foods. But instead we enjoy them, having apparently adapted to the painful sensation that accompanies eating chili, jalapeños, ancho and cayenne peppers, etc. University of Pennsylvania Prof. Paul Rozin began studying the phenomenon back in the 1970s, discovering that animals really don’t like eating spicy foods. And there’s not that much difference in the tolerance levels of super hot foods between Mexicans and Americans. A lot of further research led to the following conclusion: whatever enjoyment might come from eating chili flavors, real satisfaction comes afterwards with “the relief at having endured, and survived”.
John McQuaid, "Why We Love the Pain of Spicy Food", The Wall Street Journal, December 31, 2014, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Energy Drink Consumption Leads To Too Much Caffeine Intake By Children

December 30, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
About 20 percent of the children and adolescents in Denmark who drink energy beverages consume way too much caffeine, according to Danish scientists. Of adolescents aged 15 to 17 who drink cola or eat chocolate, as many as 33 percent take in too much caffeine. Energy drinks are sweetened soft drinks that contain 150 to 320 mg of caffeine per liter. Sales of such drinks have tripled in Denmark to about 11 million liters in 2013. Denmark’s National Food Institute recommends a maximum intake of 2.5 milligrams of caffeine per kg of body weight a day. People who drink too many energy drinks often experience insomnia, restlessness and heart palpitations.
Jeppe Matthiessen , "Many children, adolescents get too much caffeine from energy drinks", News release, study by National Food Institute (published in Danish), December 30, 2014, © National Food Institute
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Diners Are Flocking To Mini-Marts, Grocery Stores For Prepared Meals

December 29, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Sales of dinner meals are dropping steadily at fast-food and casual-dining restaurants. So where are the fast-foodies and casual diners going for dinner? Turns out, a lot of them are eating in grocery stores, where dinner visits have risen seven percent since 2010 to 1.8 billion visits a year. Sales of prepared foods and baked goods at Whole Foods Market more than doubled to $2.7 billion, putting it in the same league with Chipotle Mexican Grill ($3.2 billion in sales last year). Another growing favorite for meals in general: convenience stores, like the mini-marts at Sheetz gas stations. The number of meals served at convenience stores in the 12 months ended August 2014 grew 3.1 percent from 2013, compared with a 0.4 drop at restaurants.
Julie Jargon et al., "Supermarkets, Convenience Stores Now Woo Diners, Too", The Wall Street Journal, December 29, 2014, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Study Finds Possible Cause Of Toxic Immune Reaction When Humans Eat Too Much Red Meat

December 29, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
U.S. scientists report in a mouse study that eating large amounts of red meat triggers a toxic immune response that causes inflammation and eventually cancer. The reaction is caused by a sugar contained in pork, beef and lamb, and present naturally in other carnivores. The human body, however, senses the sugar as a foreign invader, triggering the immune response. The scientists noted that eating small amounts of red meat – say, 2.5 ounces a day – provides good nutrition and should not be considered harmful. “We hope that our work will eventually lead the way to practical solutions for this catch-22," the researchers said.
Sarah Knapton, "Red meat triggers toxic immune reaction which causes cancer, scientists find", The Telegraph, December 29, 2014, © Telegraph Media Group Limited
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