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Nestle Changes Ingredients, And Marketing, Of An Iconic Beverage

January 27, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
The latest evidence of Nestlé SA’s corporate makeover is a major change in the ingredients of its signature chocolate drink, coupled with a new marketing strategy. Evolving consumer tastes and preferences – away from sugary beverages, for example – have buffeted the company’s sales. It hasn’t met its six-percent annual sales growth target in years. So it is flexing its product research and marketing muscle to change directions for some brands. The company has significantly lowered the sugar content of Nesquik while boosting market share. In addition, the company reduced the size of the Nesquik bunny that appears on packages, and broadened its marketing focus beyond kids to athletes. [ Image credit: © Nestlé ]
Brian Blackstone, "Nestlé Seeks to Sweeten Nesquik Sales by Cutting Back on Sugar", The Wall Street Journal, January 27, 2017, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Hellman’s Fulfills Cage-Free Egg Pledge Three Years Early

January 23, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Mayonnaise maker Hellman’s, a Unilever brand, announced that after a reorganization of its egg supply chain – involving 331 million eggs annually – all of its mayonnaise and dressings brands are now made with eggs from cage-free hens. The change in U.S. brands comes three years ahead of the company’s commitment announced in 2010. It affects 170 million jars, 30 million squeeze bottles, and 1.3 million egg-laying hens annually. A Humane Society spokesman said “Hellmann's move shows just how in synch the company is with its customers."  [ Image credit: ©  Wikimedia Commons ]
"Hellmann's Mayonnaise And Mayonnaise Dressings Now Use 100% Cage-Free Eggs In The U.S.*, Three Years Ahead Of Schedule", News release, Unilever U.S., January 23, 2017, © Hellman's U.S.
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Fructose Seems To Be The Sweetener That Increases Health Risks

January 19, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Glucose may deliver more calories than fructose, but fructose contributes more to weight gain and other health problems, according to a study in lab animals by Spanish scientists.Animals that were fed fructose in addition to their regular diet showed more markers of vascular disease and liver damage than the glucose group (and the control group). These markers included high triglycerides, increased liver weight, decreased fat burning in the liver (contributing to fatty liver disease) and impaired relaxation of the aorta, which affects blood pressure. The findings suggest that increased calories from sweeteners isn’t the only factor in long-term health risks. The type of sweetener may be more important in increasing risk factors for heart disease, diabetes and other chronic diseases.  [ Image credit: © Fritzs  ]
Gemma Sangüesa et al., "Type Of Supplemented Simple Sugar, Not Merely Calorie Intake, Determines Adverse Effects On Metabolism And Aortic Function In Female Rats. ", American Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology, January 19, 2017, © American Journal of Physiology-Heart and Circulatory Physiology
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Cookies Containing Galactagogues Have Become Big Business

January 19, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A first-time mother who was struggling to produce enough breast milk to feed her newborn was advised to eat cookies that contained extra galactagogues (i.e., ingredients that increase milk flow). The functional cookies worked, but weren’t particularly palatable, and that gave Jennifer Acuna a business idea. Several years later, the business she launched has been successful enough to move from her kitchen table near Harrisburg, Pa., to a 2,400 square-foot bakery. Lactation cookies, brownies, and granola laced with galactagogues have become serious business. Buy Buy Baby and Babies 'R' Us sell bake-at-home mixes. Common galactagogues include oats, flax meal, fenugreek, and brewer's yeast.
Matthew Wright, "Cookies and Milk: Meet the Kitchen Table 'Momtrepreneurs' Who Used Their Own Breastfeeding Woes to Corner the 'Lactation' Foods Market", Mail Online, January 19, 2017, © Associated Newspapers Ltd
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Repulsive Smelling Durian Fruit May Be The Next Big Fad In N.Y. Eateries

January 19, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A Michelin-honored Malaysian restaurant in Manhattan is serving up a new dessert based on a “spiky, odiferous fruit” known as the durian. The problem with the fruit, found in Southeast Asia, is the smell, which has been compared to rotting garbage and even kerosene. But despite that, several N.Y. restaurants, cafes and bars are adding the fruit to their menus because of its flavor, which is sweet with hints of melon and onion. Salil Mehta, owner of Laut restaurant, says it is like a mix of mango and jackfruit. [ Durian fruit; image credit: © Wikipedia ]
Charles Passy, "Chefs No Longer Turning Up Their Noses at Pungent Durian", The Wall Street Journal, January 19, 2017, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Big Food Continues To Invest In Successful Avant Garde Startups

January 18, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
The venture capital unit of General Mills led a $6 million Series D financing round that was closed by plant-based snack startup Rhythm Superfoods. 301 Inc. participated with other venture capital firms in an earlier funding round that raised $3 million. Rhythm, which makes nutrient-dense kale, beet, and broccoli chips, is benefiting from a trend among big food companies to set up venture capital units to invest in young companies that have succeeded in cultivating new food trends. 301 Inc. has also invested in plant-based food maker Beyond Meat; nut, milk, cheese, and yogurt seller Kite Hill; and cottage cheese maker Good Culture. [ Image credit: ©  Rhythm Superfoods ]
John Kell, "General Mills Boosts Investment in Kale Chip Startup", Fortune, January 18, 2017, © Time Inc.
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Will Korean Hot Sauce Replace Sriracha Anytime Soon?

January 18, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Regardless of whether gochujang becomes a hot new taste trend, a Wall Street Journal food writer highly recommends trying the Korean chili paste in a variety of dishes. One favorite is spreading a mixture of butter, honey and gochujang on biscuits, or under the skin of roast chicken. Or, mix mayo and gochujang (4:1 ratio) for a savory kick on beef or tuna burgers. According to Jane Black, gochujang – it’s made from dried red chilies, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans, salt and a little sugar – is “thicker and richer than sriracha” and is “where that hot sauce was 10 years ago: going mainstream in a big way.”  [ Image credit: ©  ]
Jane Black, "Awesome Sauce: Why Gochujang Is a Gamechanger", The Wall Street Journal, January 18, 2017, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Muscle Milk Entrepreneurs Build Production Facility Devoted To Innovating Flavors

January 17, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
The entrepreneurial team that created Muscle Milk has launched a venture to formulate healthful organic, natural and artificial flavors for the food industry. Flavor Insights has built a 110,000-square-foot manufacturing facility to produce powder, liquid and spray dry flavors. The California plant will work with customers to develop new products. The world market for flavors and fragrances is predicted to reach $37 billion in the next four years, up $10 billion from 2015. Food manufacturers are evolving to meet consumer demand for organic, safe and clean-labeled products.
"Creators of Muscle Milk Launch Flavor Insights to Drive Taste and Innovation in Functional Food and Beverage Products", News release, Flavor Insights, January 17, 2017, © Flavor Insights
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Restaurants React To Demand For Gluten-Free Menus

January 13, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
The demand for gluten-free foods continues to rise in the restaurant sector and, in fact, is spreading to segments like quick-service sandwich and other fast casual eateries. Demand is driven by the increase in the number of people diagnosed with gluten-related disorders. It is expected that gluten-free menu items among U.S. restaurants will double over the next three years to $24 billion, up from $1 billion in 2006 and $11.6 billion in 2015. Also of note: the gluten-free trend has spawned some interesting innovation, for example, the growth of rice and potato flour producers. Smart Flour Foods has used food history to find and produce food sources for gluten-free doughs sing ancient grains, such as teff.  [ Image credit: © Wikimedia Commons  ]
Shelly Whitehead, "Why Gluten-Free isn't a Dying Trend", Fast Casual, January 13, 2017, © Networld Media Group, LLC
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Filipino Cuisine Will Be All The Rage In 2017 In The U.S.

January 12, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Food trend watchers might be right at last about Filipino cuisine being the next big thing. Using Google as a key metric, searches for “Filipino food” have doubled since 2012. Searches for the term “lumpiang” – it’s a crunchy Filipino spring roll – have gone through the ceiling (up 3,350 percent). Food writer Kate Krater is certain Filipino food will be a phenomenon in 2017 for several reasons, including the fact that a “marquee restaurant” – Bad Saint in Washington, D.C. – landed in the No. 2 spot on Bon Appétit’s annual Best New Restaurant list for 2016. A high-profile chef (lvin Cailan) has become a Filipino food champion. And Filipino-style restaurants are popping up all over the U.S  [ Lumpiang frying, iImage credit: © BrokenSphere, Wikimedia  ]
Kate Krader, "Filipino Food Is the Next Big Thing—Again", Bloomberg Pursuits, January 12, 2017, © Bloomberg L.P.
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A Rye Renaissance

January 11, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Rye flour is beginning to show up in a lot of American baked goods, including breads, doughnuts, pie crusts, cookies, and croissants. Rye is a flavorful and hearty grain, prized by farmers in New England, for example, where it has been used as a cover crop, and wheat is tougher to cultivate in the humid summers. It is a traditional bread grain in Europe, where each region is known for its individual breads. But rye dough is not conducive to industrial scale bread making, mainly because the dough is so sticky. Nevertheless, rye is gaining popularity, as evidenced by the number of cookbooks and bakeries that devote so much time to it. [ Image credit: ©  USDA/ARS ]
"Rye Is Rising: The Age-Old Grain Spices Up Baked Goodies", Thomson Reuters, January 11, 2017, © NDTV Convergence
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New Versions Of Consumer Goods Sound The Death Knell For Older Products

January 10, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
New versions of consumer staples – alkaline batteries, bar soup, ground coffee, etc. – have led to the gradual decline in sales of the older versions. As consumer habits evolve, devotees of the older versions of staples – which may start to disappear from store shelves – may have to start stockpiling. IRI tracks sales on the older iterations of products, and here are some examples of the trend since 2011: margarine sales have fallen 24 percent as consumers turn to full-fat dairy products like butter; bar soap sales have dropped seven percent, as body wash sales surged; powder laundry detergent is down 47 percent, surpassed by pods, pacs, and liquids; single-serve coffee pods have pushed ground coffee sales down by eight percent; and frozen juice concentrate sales are down 37 percent as shoppers buy refrigerated brands or skip juice altogether.
Ellen Byron , "Last on the Shelf: How Products Dwindle Out of Favor", The Wall Street Journal, January 10, 2017, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc
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Kellogg Unleashes Barrage Of New Snack, Cereal, Frozen Products

January 10, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Kellogg has introduced 50 new products in its breakfast cereal, granola, toaster pastry, snack and frozen food lines. The company noted that many of the new products are made with natural flavors and colors, including Disney Princess cereal, Special K Nourish Bites and Nutri-Grain Bakery Delights crumb cake snacks, and all Eggo frozen breakfast products. Other new products include Special K Nourish granola, Cinnamon Frosted Flakes,Pop-Tarts coffee-inspired toaster pastries, Cheez-it Duoz Bacon & Cheddar crackers, five new flavors of Pringles LOUD crisps, and MorningStar Farms Veggie Bowls.
"Fun, Delicious, Nutritious: Kellogg Company Unveils Full Slate of New Products", News release, Kellogg Company, January 10, 2017, © Kellogg Company
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New DNA Editing Technology Is Sneaking Into The Food Chain

January 9, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Several companies are using a technology known as “gene editing” to tinker with DNA at exact locations and create crops that are more nutritious or more resistant to spoiling. Gene editing is not the same as genetic modification, so it is not covered by the federal law passed last year requiring labeling of food products containing GMO ingredients. The USDA has approved edited crops if the companies creating them show they do not introduce foreign genes from plant pests. The result is that hundreds of acres of gene-edited crops have already been grown in several states, without oversight or regulation. Companies active in plant gene editing technology include DuPont Pioneer and Calyxt, a subsidiary of Cellectis. Another company, Recombinetics, is applying the technology in farm animals. [Gene-edited soybeans; image credit: ©  Calyxt]
Kenneth Chang, "These Foods Aren’t Genetically Modified but They Are ‘Edited’", The New York Times, January 09, 2017, © The New York Times Company
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Jennie-O Sausage Is Now Leaner, Cleaner

January 9, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Sausage-maker Jennie-O has changed the formulation of its turkey product to contain less fat (six grams) and less sodium. The company now claims the product is “all natural” with a “simple, clean ingredients” that include turkey, salt, sugar, spices and rosemary extract. In addition, the 110 calorie sausage is “minimally processed” and is free of BHT, BHA and other common preservatives. [ Image credit: ©  Jennie-O ]
"Jennie-O Introduces All Natural Turkey Sausage With Simple, Familiar Ingredients, No Preservatives", News release, Jennie-O, January 09, 2017, © Jennie-O
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Even Guys Are Getting Into Veganism

January 4, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Food and restaurant industry observers have noticed an upsurge in the number of men eating vegan. For example, the lunch crowd at a Philadelphia eatery that offers vegan alternatives to fast-foods like burgers and chicken sandwiches is mostly guys in suits. Male food bloggers, cookbook authors, and food personalities praise nutritional yeast and beet pepperoni, signaling some kind of culture shift. Lastly, the journal Appetite in 2015 published a study whose participants said they did not associate veganism with low levels of masculinity. Veganism is, in short, becoming a mainstream diet option for all.
Elisa Ludwig, "Vegan eating: More men are going animal-free", The Inquirer (Philadelphia), January 04, 2017, © Philadelphia Media Network (Digital), LLC
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Look For A Revival Of French Cooking In 2017

January 3, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Culinary textbook author Priscilla Martel predicts that French cuisine will gain in popularity in 2017. Calling it the “new golden age of French food,” Martel sees especially a resurgence of French bread and classic French pastries. Look for American versions of patisserie, including well-crafted viennoiserie, the formal name for croissants, Danish and other pastries made with buttery flaky dough.
Stephen Fries, "Stephen Fries: Predicting food trends for 2017, plus a recipe for congee", New Haven (Conn.) Register, January 03, 2017, © New Haven Register
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Taco Bell Commits To Cleaner Ingredients In Menu Items

January 3, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Taco Bell announced that early this year it will remove all antibiotics used in human medicine from its chicken served in U.S. restaurants. By 2018 it expects to remove all preservatives and other additives from its food, and will serve only eggs from cage-free chickens, by 2018. The company reduced sodium content in its food by 15 percent in 2008, and now promises to reduce sodium by another 10 percent by 2025. [ Image credit: ©  Taco Bell  ]
"Taco Bell Rings In 2017 With New Year’s Commitments", News release, Taco Bell, January 03, 2017, © Taco Bell Corp
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This Year Will See More Foods Made From Sorghum, Sprouts

January 2, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Among the top food trends for 2017 gleaned from experts and exhibitors at a recent nutrition expo are products made from fiber- and protein-rich sorghum and sprouted seeds, nuts, beans and grains. Sorghum is a U.S. whole grain that is not only gluten-free, it’s a good source of magnesium, phosphorous, iron and B vitamins. Look for sorghum in ready-to-eat breakfast cereals and baked chips, popcorn alternatives, protein bars, crackers, bread, and even alcoholic beverages. Health-conscious foodies, meanwhile, are attracted to sprouted foods because of their superior nutrition profile. Sprouting increases fiber and protein content while decreasing “anti-nutrients” like phytic acid, rendering protein and minerals easier to absorb. Look for sprouted vegan protein powders, sprouted breads, and cookies and crackers made from sprouted grain, seed and legume flour. [ Sorghum, image credit: ©  USDA ]
"2017 Food trends Look for new convenience in plant proteins", The Houston Chronicle, January 02, 2017, © Hearst Newspapers, LLC
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Consumer Magazine Assesses Current Food And Drink Trends

January 1, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Food and nutrition experts at Consumer Reports evaluated food trends and advised on which should become a part of a healthy diet and which can be ignored. A few dark chocolate chips, for example, added to oatmeal or yogurt for breakfast once or twice a week could boost memory and concentration. But consumers should avoid calorie-packed chocolate cake, cookies, and brownies for breakfast. Jackfruit’s texture is similar to shredded meat. As a meat alternative, it is low in sugar but also very low in protein, And the ”pulled-pork” sandwiches made with jackfruit come with sugary sauces. The magazine looked at other food and beverage trends, including: plant waters (maple, artichoke, cactus, and cucumber); riced cauliflower; alternative pastas (chickpeas, lentils, other legumes); savory yogurts; fermented foods, “ugly produce;” purple foods; and power bowls. [ Image credit: ©  The Jackfruit Company ]
Trisha Calvo, "Eat This! The Healthiest Food Trends for 2017", Consumer Reports, January 01, 2017, © Consumer Reports
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Burger King’s Parent Company Promises To Get Rid Of Antibiotics In Chicken

December 29, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Restaurant Brands International, parent company of Burger King and donut chain Tim Hortons, has announced plans to reduce antibiotic use in its chickens. The company, which has been under pressure for months from public health advocates, has now updated the “responsibility” page of its website to explain the new commitment to curbing the use of antibiotics “deemed by the World Health Organization as ‘critically important’ to human medicine." The changes will be implemented in the U.S. this year and in Canada next year. [ Image credit: ©  Burger King Canada ]
Tom Polansek and Lisa Baertlein, "Burger King, Tim Hortons to curb antibiotics used in chicken", Reuters, December 29, 2016, © Thomson Reuters
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Among This Year’s Culinary Trends: Frybread

December 28, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
The chefs, food journalists and critics that report to the New York-based James Beard Foundation have selected several culinary trends American diners can expect in 2017. Among these are a revival of the “grande cuisine” of France, the appearance of mini-cabbages called kalettes (a cross between kale and Brussels sprouts), cauliflower (instead of kale), and frybread. Inspired by Native American and Eastern European cuisine – and often served at state fairs in the U.S. – frybread will show up often on restaurant menus this year. Though a simple concept – dough that is deep fried – watch for chefs to embellish their versions of frybread with an assortment of toppings and garnishes. [ Frybread taco, Image credit: ©  John Pozniak, Wikimedia ]
"What diners will be eating in 2017", Malay Mail Online, December 28, 2016, © Malay Mail Online
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Premium Frozen Entrees Are A Smash Hit In The U.K.

December 25, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Frozen food companies in the U.K. are finding that so-called “upmarket” frozen entrees are catching on among consumers who are concerned about wasting fresh food. Research by Unilever determined that fresh food equal to about four million Christmas dinners was tossed in the rubbish this holiday season, including 17.2 million Brussels sprouts, 11.9 million carrots and 11.3 million roast potatoes. Available now from companies like Iceland are premium frozen versions of gourmet king prawns, sweet potato chips, quinoa, Canadian lobster tails (220g), en papillote sea bass fillets, luxury rack of lamb, potatoes, and desserts. They are “flying off the shelves,” according to trade magazinet The Grocer. [ Image credit: ©  ]
Katie Morley, "Posh Frozen Meals Winning Over Waste-Conscious Middle-Class Families", The Telegraph, December 25, 2016, © Telegraph Media Group Limited
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Fast-Food Restaurants Hope To Match Success Of Pizza Delivery Chains

December 22, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Competition from supermarket food, sluggish traffic, and even the grueling presidential election have all dampened restaurant sales. But not pizza chain sales, which are booming. The demand for pizza has pushed share of Domino’s Pizza up 45 percent, and Papa John’s up 60 percent. Analysts point to several key reasons for this: pizza is first of all cheap and fast. And thanks to smartphone apps and ordering technology on sites like Facebook, Twitter and Apple TV, pizza is increasingly easy to order. These factors together have insulated pizza chains from the woes afflicting restaurants that rely on walk-in or drive-through traffic. But that may be changing. McDonald’s and other fast-food eateries are testing delivery service, and may soon develop the kind of customer loyalty programs that have worked so well for Domino’s and Papa John’s. [ Image credit: © Papa John's  ]
Leslie Patton, "Nobody Is Eating Out Anymore, They're Just Ordering Pizza", Bloomberg Pursuits, December 22, 2016, © Bloomberg L.P.
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Functional Dietary Supplement Markets Are Thriving, With One Exception

December 22, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
An analysis of functional dietary supplements found some interesting sales and product trends. Sales of bone and joint supplements to baby boomers and post-menopausal women are expected to hit $9 billion globally this year, even though the numbers on established products like glucosamine and chondroitin are falling. Filling the void are alternative ingredients, including MSM, 5-Loxin, collagen, and plant-derived glucosamine. Except in Western Europe and Asia, where “beauty-from-within” products are on the rise, anti-aging supplements represent mostly an opportunity in the U.S. Sports nutrition has gone mainstream, becoming a $7.4 billion market dominated (72 percent of sales) by protein powder, Probiotic functional foods will be worth $50 billion by 2021, and probiotic dietary supplements are growing even faster and should hit $5 billion by 2021. [ Image credit: ©  Wikipedia.]
Adi Menayang, "Bone & Joint Health, Anti-Aging, Sports Nutrition, Pre- & Probiotics: Lessons from 2016’s Special Edition", NUTRAingredients-USA.com, December 22, 2016, © William Reed Business Media SAS
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Campbell’s New Soups Are “Clean Label”

December 20, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Campbell Soup Company has jumped on the “clean label,” wholesome ingredient bandwagon with a new line of soups made with “carefully selected and sourced” ingredients, including kale, quinoa, barley, beans, sweet potatoes and whole grains. The chicken meat contains no antibiotics. In addition, the Well Yes! soups contain no artificial colors, flavors, or ingredients, or modified starches. The cans themselves are not lined with BPA and are recyclable. The first nine soups in the family include black bean and red quinoa, chicken noodle, hearty lentil with vegetables, minestrone with kale, and roasted chicken and wild rice. [ Image credit: ©  Campbell Soup Co. ]
"Campbell Soup Company Launches New Well Yes! Brand", News release, Campbell Soup Company, December 20, 2016, © CSC Brands, L.P.
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Cargill Adds New Emulsifier To Product Line With Unique Benefits

December 20, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Deoiled canola lecithin is an emulsifier with some unique advantages for food manufacturers seeking to meet consumer ingredient demands. According to  Cargill, which just added deoiled canola lecithin to its product line, the ingredient is a versatile emulsifier and dispersing agent that can be used in chocolate and confectionery, bakery and convenience foods. Dispersibility, functionality, taste and color are comparable to soy and sunflower lecithin. Added advantages include the fact it is non-GMO option, may be used in organic products, and need not be declared as a major food allergen. [ Deoiled lecithin, image credit: © Cargill ]
"Cargill introduces canola lecithin for label-conscious consumers", News release, Cargill, December 20, 2016, © Cargill, Incorporated
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Purple Yam Ignites Snack Treat Fad In U.S.

December 16, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Hipster foodies in U.S cities are into ube, the Philippines Tagalog word for purple yam. Chefs on the left and West coasts of the U.S are using ube in cheesecakes, doughnuts, ice cream, and homemade “twinkies,” the cream-filled sponge cake based on a snack product marketed by Hostess. U.S. restaurants, bakeries, and ice cream parlours are mixing it into everything. It’s an unusual flavor, but the pretty purple color has made ube-based snacks and treats a quick social media hit. [ Philippines Dessert Majaube; Image credit: © Wikimedia Commons ]
Carly Stern, "It sure is Pretty - but Would YOU Eat it? Colorful Dessert Trend Flooding Social Media Sees Picture-Perfect Treats Like Ice Cream, Macarons, and Cake Being Made with Ube - a Purple YAM", Mail Online, December 16, 2016, © Associated Newspapers Ltd
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With Cheese Sales Off The Charts, Manufacturers Tackle Clean Label Concerns

December 15, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Cheese is big business in the U.S., perhaps a reflection of the opinion that any food is better if topped with cheese. A dairy industry trade group says cheese sales in the U.S. reached $23 billion in 2015, and could hit $28 billion by 2020 – a hefty 24 percent growth rate over five years. So why do Americans consume an average of 34 pounds of cheese each year? High protein content, for one reason, and an increasingly positive attitude toward dairy fat. Cheese also tends to have high quality ingredients, is rich in calcium, comes in a wide variety of formats, is convenient as a snack, and is relatively affordable. Manufacturers are also paying closer attention to consumer demands for transparency in ingredient labeling – non-GMO and natural colors – especially when it comes to cheese-based snacks.
Maxine Weber, "Cheese strives for more transparency, clean label ingredients", Snack and Bakery, December 15, 2016, © BNP Media
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Cool Cucumber Designated “Flavor Of The Year”

December 15, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
A growing demand for clean, healthy food and beverages is behind the popularity of cucumber flavor, according to fragrance and flavor company Firminich. The Swiss firm, which points to a growing trend of vegetables accepted as flavors and ingredients, named cool cucumber “flavor of the year” for 2017. There has been a 392 percent increase in the use of cucumber as a flavor globally between 2011 and 2016, appearing in potato chips, confection, yogurt, dumplings and more. [ Image credit: © Ryan McFarland, www.zieak.com. ]
"Cool Cucumber Named Firmenich’s 2017 ‘Flavor of the Year’", News release, Firmenich, December 15, 2016, © Firmenich SA
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Antibiotic-Tainted Seafood From China Is A Major World Health Problem

December 15, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Ninety percent of the antibiotics administered to pigs in China passes undegraded in urine and feces into ponds used to raise fish that are exported globally. Despite ten years of FDA testing and seizure of seafood tainted with antibiotics, it keeps arriving at U.S. ports, restaurants and grocery stores. It’s simply too difficult to police the dishonest seafood companies and distribution networks that move the dirty seafood around the world. Microbes increasingly resistant to antibiotics lead to the creation of “superbugs” for which there is no treatment. In fact, a year ago scientists discovered a colistin-resistant gene in China that can transform a dozen or more types of bacteria into superbugs. The gene has since been found in patients, food, and environmental samples in more than 20 countries, including the U.S. 
Jason Gale et al., "How Antibiotic-Tainted Seafood from China Ends Up on Your Table", Bloomberg Businessweek, December 15, 2016, © Bloomberg L.P.
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Grain Consumption Up Since 1970, But Down Since 2000

December 13, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
According to an analysis of USDA data, Americans these days consume 29 percent more grains (122.1 pounds a year) – mostly breads, pastries and other baked goods – than in 1970. But that’s down from 2000, the year of “peak grain,” when yearly consumption was 137.6 pounds. While corn products are a somewhat bigger part of the average American diet (14 pounds a year, up from 4.9 pounds), wheat is still the country’s staple grain. Other findings from the Pew Research Center analysis: Americans now prefer chicken to beef, eating more than double the amount eaten in 1970, and a third less beef; Americans are drinking 42 percent less milk, but eating three times the cheese; and yogurt has experienced a 1,700 percent increase in consumption, from negligible in 1970 to 1.2 gallons a year. [Image credit: © Wikimedia Commons]
Marcy Kreiter, "Obesity In America: We're Eating A Lot More Of Almost Everything — Except Beef And Milk", International Business Times, December 13, 2016, © IBT Media Inc.
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Whole Foods Market Experts Predict Flavor, Ingredients Trends

December 6, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
The global buyers for Whole Foods Market have pooled their observations on flavors, ingredients and consumer food preferences to create a trend forecast for 2017. Look for, for example, more wellness tonics, tinctures and beverages beyond fresh-pressed juices. The drinks and tonics will make use of botanicals with roots in alternative medicine and global cultural traditions. Exotic ingredients include kava, Tulsi/holy basil, turmeric, apple cider vinegar, medicinal mushrooms, and adaptogenic herbs. Products leading the trend include Kor Organic Raw Shots and Suja Drinking Vinegars. Other trends: products from byproducts (e.g., leftover whey from yogurt); coconut everything; Japanese food, beyond sushi; creative condiments; and five more.
"Whole Foods Market Serves up Top 10 Trends for 2017", News release, Whole Foods Market, December 06, 2016, © Whole Foods Market
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McCormick Predicts Exotic Flavor Trends For 2017

December 6, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Spice marketer McCormick & Co. issued its annual flavor predictions for home cooks and restaurants, this year highlighting five emerging trends plus a new seasoning blend, baharat. The fragrant, Eastern Mediterranean mix of spices (cumin, cardamom, black pepper, nutmeg, etc.) can be used with soups, tomato-based sauces, and chicken dishes. The five flavor trends include: skhug, a hot sauce made with Thai bird eye chilies, cumin, cardamom, coriander, garlic, parsley, cilantro, olive oil and lemon juice; espelette pepper from the Basque region of France; shakshuka seasoning, a blend of

smoked paprika, cumin, pepper, cayenne, turmeric and caraway; ashe-reshteh soup made with beans, herbs, turmeric and flat noodles; and peppercorns mixed with sweet ingredients like dates, dragon fruit and strawberries.
"What to Taste in 2017: McCormick Predicts the Future of Flavor", News release, McCormick & Co., December 06, 2016, © McCormick & Co.
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U.S. Food Companies Need To Commit Strongly To Non-Deforestation Beef

November 29, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
A report by a group of scientists who examined U.S. food companies that sourced beef from South America found that 13 of them had no deforestation-free policies or procedures in place. Beef production is the main  contributor to tropical deforestation worldwide, predominantly in South America, and especially in the Amazon rain forest. It’s not easy to guarantee that beef comes from non-deforestation companies, however, because cattle can be shifted from ranch to ranch to meat packer, making it difficult to monitor. But the Union of Concerned Scientists says food companies should work with meatpackers, ranchers, and the government to develop a plan to end beef industry deforestation practices. U.S. companies rated on the strength of their deforestation policies in the report include Mars, McDonald’s, Walmart, Nestlė, Hormel, Wendy’s, Jack Links, Subway, Burger King, ConAgra, Kroger, Safeway and Pizza Hut.
Stacey McFadin, "13 U.S. Companies Failing on Deforestation-Free Beef", Food Tank, November 29, 2016, © Food Tank
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Arla Enters Iced Coffee/High-Protein RTD Market With Whey Product

November 29, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Danish food ingredients company Arla has introduced a whey-based iced coffee that delivers 20 grams of protein per 350-ml (12 ounce) serving. Arla is pitching the drink to “busy urban consumers” looking to build or maintain muscle mass. The product contains calcium and phosphorous from milk minerals, and caffeine, equivalent to two cups of espresso, from coffee beans. Iced coffee RTDs and protein-rich drinks are a hot item these days. One market researcher reported that the CAGR of iced coffee RTDs was 8.4 percent from 2012 to 2015; the CAGR of high-protein beverages in the same period was 34 percent.
"Arla Launches Protein Iced Coffee", The Food & Drink Innovation Network, November 29, 2016, © Food & Drink Innovation Network
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High-Protein Waffles Fit In With Consumer Demand For Healthful Foods

November 26, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Two thirty-something entrepreneurs are building a business based on healthful breakfast foods. Their first products include high-protein, high-fiber frozen waffles, and waffle and pancake mixes. Grocery stores in Missouri and Illinois have begun stocking the products made by the pair, whose company is called Start Right Foods. The waffles are gluten-free, contain no added sugar, and are packed with 15 grams of protein and a third of a cup of fruit and vegetables. The two waffle makers have arrived on the scene at the right time: Nielsen says consumers are reading labels, looking for more nutritious foods, and nearly nine out of ten are willing to pay a premium for them.
Juliana Goodwin, "Young Entrepreneurs Turn Passion for Healthy Food into Line of High-Protein Waffles", News-Leader, November 26, 2016, © USA Today
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Restaurant Goers Want Natural, Local, Sustainable, And Delicious

November 21, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
A market research survey has found that 60 percent of restaurant diners who choose meat or poultry say the “all natural” claim is important to them. All natural covers a lot of ground, but for the most part it includes concerns about animal welfare and sustainability, and whether the animal is fed a grass or vegetarian diet. In this respect the concern is linked to the impact of the animal’s diet on the quality, taste and healthfulness of the dish. Local sourcing is very important these days as well. The researcher says the percentage of consumers who make an extra effort to buy local should crack 50 percent in a couple of years, in the face of widening concerns about where food comes from. Locally grown meat and poultry, for example, are at the top of consumer priority lists.
"Food Transparency and Knowledge: 2 Trends Shaping Meat & Poultry Market", News release, Packaged Facts, November 21, 2016, © Packaged Facts
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KFC Still Slow To Board The Antibiotics-Free Chicken Bandwagon

November 15, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Following calls by the World Health Organization and the U.N. General Assembly to reduce globally the overuse and misuse of antibiotics in medicine and agriculture, the Natural Resources Defense Council has strongly urged one American food company in particular to support the urgent cause.  The nation’s largest chicken restaurant chain, KFC, has been largely silent about the use of antibiotics among its suppliers. Forty percent of America’s chicken is produced by companies with antibiotics stewardship commitments or programs. KFC could easily tip that past the 50 percent mark if it pledged to use only antibiotics-free chicken by a certain deadline. But KFC “hedges and stalls” as competitors, including Chick-fil-A, commit to antibiotics-free chicken.
Lena Brook, "A Great Week for KFC to Kick Its Antibiotics Addiction", Expert blog entry, NRDC, November 15, 2016, © Natural Resources Defense Council
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Traditional Organic Farmers Say Hydroponic Farming Can’t Be Organic

November 15, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Can fruits and vegetables grown in soil-free systems – hydroponically or aquaponically – be certified as organic? The question is far from settled as an increasing number of big and small produce growers are turning to liquid-based farming. These growers say their methods are no different from soil farmers, and are actually more sustainable because they use less water. Traditional organic farmers, however, say organic means caring for the soil so that it contains proper nutrients and produces environmental benefits beyond growing plants. Both sides will present their arguments at a meeting of the National Organic Standards Board, which advises the USDA.
Stephanie Strom, "What’s Organic? A Debate Over Dirt May Boil Down to Turf", The New York Times, November 15, 2016, © The New York Times Company
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More California Counties Create GMO-Free Zones

November 14, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Counties in California that have enacted “GMO-free” growing zones now total nearly 14,000 square miles out of about 67,000 square miles devoted to farming in the state. The bans on GMO farming in the zones, which are appearing across the U.S. on a county by county basis, are backed by organic dairies, natural food co-ops and heirloom seed companies. The latest ban, opposed by the local farm bureau, came in a ballot measure in the November election in Sonoma County, Calif. The bureau said the measure was vaguely worded and would bar farmers from using any appropriate technology to fight pests and disease.
Anna-Lisa Laca, "Calif. Ballot Measure Creates Largest GMO-Free Zone in U.S.", AG Web, November 14, 2016, © Farm Journal, Inc.
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Bai Brands Launches Low-Cal Sodas

November 10, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Beverage company Bai Brands, partly owned by Dr Pepper Snapple Group, has launched five carbonated drinks sweetened with low-calorie stevia and erythnitol. The new five-calorie beverages gibe nicely with the beverage industry trend – pushed by health advocates – of no- or low-calorie products. The Bai Black line includes traditional soda flavors like cola, root beer and citrus. Bai also makes teas, flavored and enhanced waters and fruit-flavored carbonated drinks. Carbonated soft drink consumption in the U.S. fell to a three-decade low in 2015 on a per-capita basis, as health-conscious consumers reject sugary beverages. It’s really a case of running away – not from sodas – but from sugar.
"Dr Pepper-Backed Bai Brands to Introduce Sugar-Free Sodas", Advertising Age, November 10, 2016, © Crain Communications
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Which Ingredients In Popular Drink Soylent Are Making People Sick?

November 7, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Although the supplier of an algae-based ingredient insists it is safe, the makers of protein drink Soylent say they’re pretty sure that TerraVia’s algal flour is the component that has made a bunch of its customers sick. Manufacturer Roas Foods has decided to remove the suspect ingredient from Soylent, an instant powdered meal cherished by techies in Silicon Valley and beyond. The drink was riding a wave of popularity in the summer when reports of illness began to pop up. Rosa Foods recalled protein bars and drink mixes containing the algal flour. TerraVia, meanwhile, blamed the illnesses on other ingredients in Soylent, including “known irritants” soy protein isolate and glycerin.
Olivia Zaleski, "Soylent Thinks It Found What Was Making People Sick: Algae", Bloomberg Technology, November 07, 2016, © BLOOMBERG L.P.
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New Food Dyes Are Natural, But Tricky To Use

November 4, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Even after decades of FDA endorsement of artificial food dyes as safe, consumers in recent years have grown increasingly skeptical. Food companies have been listening. Many – including big firms like General Mills, Taco Bell, Kraft Heinz, and Mars – have begun using substitute dyes that are more natural, derived from fruits, vegetables, and spices. The FDA recently approved a request from Mars to use spirulina (blue-green algae) to create blue tones. Food technologists, however, are wrestling with the fact that natural colorings – from turmeric, beets, paprika, annatto seeds (from the achiote tree), etc. – are very heat- and acidity-sensitive, more expensive, and have to be used in larger quantities.
Maia Welbel, "Food Corporations Phase Out Artificial Colors", The Student Life, November 04, 2016, © The Student Life
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Nestle’s Refrigerated Pasta Brand Commits To Non-GMO Ingredients

October 25, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Refrigerated pasta and sauce brand Buitoni has committed to non-GMO ingredients, a move that parent company Nestlé says is the “next step” in a strategy of making their foods simpler, and more transparent to consumers. Buitoni’s products are already free of artificial colors and flavors, and are now certified as non-GMO by third-party verifier SGS. Nestlé said last summer it would only use "kitchen cupboard" ingredients that consumers "know and trust" in its Stouffers frozen meals, and would remove artificial colors, flavors, high fructose corn syrup and GMO ingredients from six of its ice cream brands in the U.S.
Katy Askew, "Nestle's Buitoni Removes GMOs", Just-Food, October 25, 2016, © just-food.com
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New Company Offers Personalized Nutrition Plans

October 25, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
An entrepreneur who was warned by a doctor that he was in dangerously poor health is launching a company that will help customers get back on track with a personalized nutrition plan. The $299 plan includes a blood test – you have to draw your own blood at home and mail it in – then analysis of 60 biomarkers, including amino acids, vitamin levels, blood sugar, and some genetic variants. The genetic information suggests how you may respond to diet. A metabolic rate "challenge" involves drinking a special milkshake and sending in more blood to determine response to fats, carbs and sugars. Lastly, the company provides a 30-minute consultation with a registered dietitian who offers nutrition advice (but not disease diagnosis).
Christina Farr, "This Startup Sells You Meal Plans Based On Your Nutrition Type", Fast Company, October 25, 2016, © Mansueto Ventures, LLC
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Supplement Makers Enter New Era Of Transparency, Nutritionally-Rich Ingredients

October 24, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Consumers increasingly demand not only greater effectiveness from dietary supplements but also greater transparency. Supplement makers, in turn, are benefiting from advances in nutrition science and recent botanical discoveries that make it easier to respond to those demands. Innovations affecting the industry include, for example, whole-food supplements and green powders that support health and wellness, enhance energy or promise vitality. In terms of bioavailability of nutrients, new liposome (fat) “bubbles” make it easy to deliver high levels of nutrients while bypassing destructive gastric juices and liver enzymes. Lastly, forward-thinking supplement makers are paying greater attention to transparency: origin of ingredients, nutrients within them, non-nutritive fillers, and even the brand’s business practices.
Todd Runestad, "Supplement Trendspotting", New Hope Network, October 24, 2016, © Penton
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Ugly Fruits, Vegetables Are Finally Making Their Way To Stores Instead Of Landfills

October 24, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
The food industry is getting the message from both anti-waste activists and consumers that fruits and vegetables don’t have to be uniformly perfect cosmetically to be marketable. Throwing away imperfect produce, whether at the production, distribution, or retail levels, is a huge waste of money – $40 billion a year – considering the water, fertilizer, energy and other resources it takes to grow crops that are never eaten. But that’s changing now: it’s increasingly possible to purchase ugly, or “wonky,” produce at grocery stores where bargain-hunting shoppers enjoy the hefty discounts.
Beth Gardiner, "Food Industry Goes Beyond Looks to Fight Waste", The New York Times, October 24, 2016, © The New York Times Company
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Nutritious Profile Spurs Growth Of Mushrooms As Healthful Drink Ingredient

October 23, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Beverages made with mushrooms are becoming a booming market, according to industry watchers. Products include teas, powdered lemonade mixes, broth, and protein shakes. Their growing popularity is mainly due to people searching for alternatives to animal-based nutrition. Mushrooms are fat-free, low in calories, and rich in protein, fiber, and many essential vitamins and minerals. The king of the mushroom market right now is a variety known as reishi (left). Sales of reishi-based foods are up 91 percent for the 52 weeks ending September 4. But sales growth is also impressive for chaga (up 46 percent), cordycep (up 19 percent) and shiitake (up 26 percent).
Stephen Daniells, "Reishi Reigns! Mushroom Products Continue Impressive Growth in Food and Beverage Space", FOODnavigator-USA.com, October 23, 2016, © William Reed Business Media SAS
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USDA To Publish Monthly Data On Cage-Free Egg Market

October 21, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
The USDA has begun to issue a monthly report providing data on the cage-free egg market, including wholesale and retail prices, production estimates, flock size estimates for both organic and conventional cage-free eggs. Wholesale price data includes contract-traded and spot market egg sales. Retail price information covers large and extra-large cage-free eggs gleaned from the advertising materials of 29,000 U.S. grocers. Cage-free organic and conventional egg production data are based on flock size estimates coupled with egg laying rates. In related news, IKEA restaurants and foodservice provider Compass Group have committed to cage-free eggs, along with Six Flags Entertainment’s amusement parks by 2026.
"USDA Introduces New Report Covering the Cage-free Egg Market", News release, USDA, October 21, 2016, © USDA
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