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Period: December 1, 2016 to January 1, 2017
Comment & Opinion or Companies, Organizations or Consumers or Controversies & Disputes or Deals, M&A, JVs, Licensing or Earnings Release or Finance, Economics, Tax or Innovation & New Ideas or Legal, Legislation, Regulation, Policy or Market News or Marketing & Advertising or Other or People & Personalities or Press Release or Products & Brands or Research, Studies, Advice or Supply Chain or Trends

Bai Brands Launches Low-Cal Sodas

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

More California Counties Create GMO-Free Zones

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.

"Calif. Ballot Measure Creates Largest GMO-Free Zone in U.S.", AG Web, November 14, 2016

Traditional Organic Farmers Say Hydroponic Farming Can’t Be Organic

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.

"What’s Organic? A Debate Over Dirt May Boil Down to Turf", The New York Times, November 15, 2016

KFC Still Slow To Board The Antibiotics-Free Chicken Bandwagon

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.

"A Great Week for KFC to Kick Its Antibiotics Addiction", Expert blog entry, NRDC, November 15, 2016

Restaurant Goers Want Natural, Local, Sustainable, And Delicious

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

New Technology Helps Distribute Donated Food While Tracking Tax Breaks

Two MIT business school graduates, together with a techno-savvy friend, last year won $50,000 to nurture their food-matching platform, Spoiler Alert. In November, the start-up raised $2.5 million in seed funding, then partnered with wholesale food giant Sysco Corp. The Spoiler Alert platform, adopted now by 200 businesses and nonprofits in the New England region, connects food distributors with food-rescue organizations. Using the platform, organizations and food companies cut down on wasted food and spur food donations by making them easier to track. But Spoiler Alert is even more valuable because it helps companies navigate newly-expanded federal tax breaks for organizations that donate food. That makes it easier for small businesses to donate, and for farmers to determine fair market value of inventories.

"Spoiler Alert: It Makes Sure Nothing Goes to Waste", Boston Globe, November 27, 2016

Swiss Chocolate Maker Plans 100% Sustainability In Supply Chain By 2025

Chocolate and cocoa product manufacturer Barry Callebaut has launched a comprehensive strategy – “Forever Chocolate” – to tackle what it calls “key sustainability challenges” in the chocolate supply chain by 2025. The company acknowledged that despite its ongoing efforts, only 23 percent of the cocoa beans it sources are from sustainability programs. The goal is to get that level to 100 percent over the next 10 years. The strategy comprises other related goals: eradication of child labor from the supply chain; lifting more than 500,000 cocoa farmers out of poverty; and becoming carbon and forest positive.

"“Forever Chocolate”: Barry Callebaut targets 100% sustainable chocolate by 2025", News release, Barry Callebaut, November 28, 2016

U.S. Food Companies Need To Commit Strongly To Non-Deforestation Beef

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.

"13 U.S. Companies Failing on Deforestation-Free Beef", Food Tank, November 29, 2016

Marketers Must Rethink Their Approach For Gen-Z Consumers

As the end of the year approaches, it’s time for predictions for the coming year, and Kantar Millward Brown have weighed in with their thoughts on how companies  will have to market to Generation-Z, the post-Millennials group. This group wants creative content led by mobile, and marketers will have to create strong brand experiences for them, including sophisticated and brand-centric programmatic targeting, rather than more intrusive media that risks ad blocking. Kantar Millward Brown provides six takeaways: brands will re-think for the digital space, emphasizing issues such as authenticity and transparency; brand experience is increasingly key; content marketing will gain momentum, particularly on mobile, with marketers innovating and experimenting in content and formats; advertisers and their agencies will need more sophisticated and blended targeting approaches to drive brand effectiveness; the advertising industry will be forced to respond to ad blocking; and advertisers and ...  More

"Media & Digital Predictions 2017", Kantar Milward Brown, December 01, 2016

Trends In Cosmetics For 2016

Looking back over the year, the author highlights some of the trends observed in cosmetics ingredients. 2016 was a year for product aesthetics with manufacturers using a variety of materials to make a sensory statement, but it’s also increasingly important to hit the market with new products fast and first, but without compromising on quality, compliance or appeal. The popularity of natural and organic has been sustained, but consumers are also expecting to be allowed more customization opportunities, and material suppliers will meet this by giving brands greater flexibility. 2016 also saw launches with increasingly sophisticated science incorporated, especially meeting anti-aging demand for skin care products, and hair care was also a huge growth area for materials this year, offering solutions for hair and scalp problems.

"Top 6 Cosmetics Trends of 2016", SpecialChem, December 13, 2016

How Insect Larvae Can Turn Food Waste Into Chicken Feed

The process starts with the collection of food waste – in this case, leftover pulp from a juice factory – that is stored in a room the size of a shipping container that also contains, according to University of Colorado research ecologist Phil Taylor, about 20,000 black soldier flies whose only job is to mate and reproduce. The offspring comprise ravenous larvae (i.e., maggots) that are harvested at a certain size and weight, killed, and turned into chicken feed. Leftover castings, called frass, are processed into fertilizer. Taylor’s goal is to grow the business to the point where tons of larvae are processed into protein-rich feed for large-scale chicken farms and fish farms. He’d also like to put small-scale insect refineries in municipal waste facilities across the country.

"For These Entrepreneurs, Cutting Food Waste Starts In a Maggot Bucket", National Public Radio, December 13, 2016

Sustainability Remained A Key Theme For Unilever In 2016

If there’s one message that Unilever is pushing at the moment above all others, it’s sustainability, and 2016 provided plenty of evidence, with a raft of corporate social responsibility initiatives and sustainability awards. With another 400 added during the year, it now boasts 600 zero waste to landfill sites, and it announced two major campaigns, one aimed at removing sexist and stereotype-based advertising and one from Dove to promote diversity and realism in marketing. Unilever admits it’s not all about altruism, but a strategic necessity. It claims that its brands that are in line with its sustainable living plan are growing faster. Its public image was, however, damaged as a result of a spat un the UK with Tesco over Brexit-related pricing. Also this year, it announced a new factory in Cuba, opened a new one in Ethiopia, is looking for sites in Colombia, and investing more in Nigeria. But, Unilever was relatively quiet on the acquisition front, although the Dollar Shave Club ...  More

"2016 in review: Unilever – set on sustainability", Global Cosmetics News, December 19, 2016

Campbell’s New Soups Are “Clean Label”

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.

"Campbell Soup Company Launches New Well Yes! Brand", News release, Campbell Soup Company, December 20, 2016

Solving The Food Waste Problem By Extending The Shelf-Life Of Produce

The shelf-life of fresh produce is notoriously short, a fact that contributes to the growing food waste problem. But a start-up company may have developed an effective solution. Edipeel is an ultra-thin plant-based ultra-thin coating for produce that slows water loss and oxidation, two of the leading causes of spoilage. Apeel Sciences says odorless, tasteless, and invisible Edipeel extends "the typical edible shelf life" of fresh foods by two to five times. The extracts used to make the product are made from recycled agricultural byproducts, further reducing food waste. The Edipeel powder is reconstituted and applied through a spray-on or dipping process to create the thin protective coating. The company is applying to the USDA for organic certification.

"Produce Covered with this Invisible Plant-Based Edible Coating Stay Fresh Twice as Long", TreeHugger, December 21, 2016

Online Hub Will Help Disseminate U.S. Food Waste Solutions

More than a year ago, the USDA and EPA announced a food waste reduction target of 50 percent by 2030. The Rockefeller Foundation has announced a collaboration with those agencies, as well as with 10 private sector and nonprofit groups, to create an online hub to exchange of food waste solutions and information, encourage coordination, and reduce duplication of effort. “Further With Food: Center for Food Loss and Waste Solutions” (furtherwithfood.org), set to launch in January 2017, will feature practices for preventing, recovering, and recycling food loss and waste; educational materials; research results; and information on existing government, business, and community initiatives.

"12 Organizations to Launch Online Hub Offering Food Waste Solutions", News release, The Rockefeller Foundation, December 21, 2016

Grocers In Kentucky Cooperate With Gleaners To Reduce Food Waste, Feed The Poor

A Kentucky organization has enlisted the cooperation of Costco and other grocery merchants in its efforts to glean unsold foods – usually perishable goods pulled from shelves before the sell-by date – and donate them to charities that distribute them to the needy. GleanKy volunteers pick up the unsold products and cart them to local shelters, soup kitchens, churches and other organizations that operate food pantries. GleanKy says it has gleaned anywhere from 200 to 1,200 pounds of unsold food in a day: sometimes 500 pounds of potatoes, sometimes 400 pounds of bananas, etc. Besides Costco, volunteer gleaners gather produce from grocers like Lucky's, Good Foods Co-op, Fresh Thyme, Fresh Market and Whole Foods Market.

"400 Pounds of Extra Blueberries? No Problem; GleanKy gets Food to those Who Need It", Lexington Herald Leader, December 22, 2016

Green Beauty Provides Brands With New Opportunities, And Challenges

A blog post from Euromonitor International says that developments in digital social communication allow consumers to get better information on the health impact of beauty product ingredients and also their social and environmental impact. This provides new opportunities for new product formulations, positioning and benefits.’ Green beauty’ has many social and environmental perspectives, but consumer preference for ingredients that are derived naturally is still a key driver. ‘Healthy beauty’ is getting a broader remit, with beauty brands extending into fitness and relaxation. ‘Clean labeling’ is another food and beverage trend with relevance for beauty, and beauty brands are seeking a simpler, more back-to-basics approach: fewer and more natural ingredients. The focus on ingredients also provides opportunities for brands looking to conform to certain religious values, and the demand for halal-certified beauty products has seen steady growth in some markets with affluent Muslim ...  More

"The Broadening Meaning of ‘Green’ Beauty Opens New Growth Platforms", Euromonitor International, December 28, 2016

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