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Sustainable Business Insight Alert Archive

Have a look at some of our recent alerts. These give broad coverage of the industry - if you want something more specific create your own here.

<<12345678910>> Total issues:119

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March 01, 2018, to March 15, 2018

DoorDash, Feeding America Partner To Deliver Surplus Food To Charities

Meal delivery company DoorDash has partnered with Feeding America to tackle two daunting problems at the same time: food waste and hunger. The fundamental problem for foodservice companies who want to donate surplus food to food banks and shelters is logistics. San Francisco-based DoorDash works with local and national restaurants in more than 600 cities across the U.S. and Canada. It has been running a pilot program using their drivers to deliver donated meals to recipient agencies, but had trouble identifying those agencies. Feeding America provided the answer: the partnership gives DoorDash access to the hunger-relief organization’s network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs.
 

Company’s Edible Produce Spray Extends Shelf Life

California-based Apeel Sciences has developed a plant-based edible skin – dubbed “Edipeel” – that quadruples the shelf life of fruits and vegetables, and reduces need for fungicides and refrigerated produce transport. Edipeel creates an “idealized little micro-climate inside of each piece of produce” that retards spoilage, according to the company founder, who has convinced investors to pump $40 million into the venture since 2012. The company uses materials extracted from plants, usually agricultural by-products such as tomato skins, combines them, then processes them into a water-soluble powder. When mixed with water, the material can be sprayed on produce or the produce can be dipped in it.

Food Spoilage – Not Plate Waste – Is More Of A Problem In The Home

Researchers at Ohio State University have determined that people who on average left just three percent of their food on their plates when choosing their own meals left almost 40 percent behind when given a standard boxed-lunch type of meal. Plate waste at home was 3.5 percent higher when diners went for seconds or thirds. But the study’s lead author also noted that efforts to reduce food waste at home would be better directed toward other conservation tactics, like using up food before it spoils. Plate waste is a more serious problem at school cafeterias and event buffets.

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February 01, 2018, to March 01, 2018

Would Knowing What The USDA Means By “Natural” Make For Smarter Meat Buying?

New research from Arizona State University shows that food shoppers not only misinterpret labels on food products, they’re willing to pay a premium price for a “natural” steak without really knowing the USDA’s explanation of the term: no artificial ingredients or added color and only minimally processed. The online study of 663 beef-eaters tested their willingness to pay for steak labeled with different attributes, such as natural, grass-fed, or raised without growth hormones. Half were given the definition of natural, half were not. Uninformed consumers were willing to pay $1.26 more per pound for the “natural” beef, and $2.43 more for natural beef with no growth hormone. Informed consumers, however, were unwilling to pay a premium for the “natural” claim alone, but were willing to pay $3.07 more per pound for steak labeled as natural with no growth hormones.

It’s Not Easy To Find Out Whether Meat Is Ethically Raised

Americans are eating 50 pounds more meat per person than they did in 1960. An increasing number of them want to be certain their meat was ethically raised. But that’s not easy to do. Labels like “all natural” or “free range” on meat packages are no help, and few many consumers are likely to visit farms to observe animal husbandry practices. That’s where independent third-party certification comes in. Whole Foods Market, for example, requires its fresh meat to be certified through the nonprofit Global Animal Partnership, a somewhat expensive procedure that involves regular farm audits. Other third-party organizations that assure customers that the meat they are eating was ethically raised include Animal Welfare Approved, Certified Humane, and American Humane Certified, as well as the Non-GMO Project and Where Food Comes From, Inc.

Panera Chides Competitors About Use Of Non-Clean Ingredients In Menu Items

Fast-casual restaurant chain Panera has set up a committee of food experts who can advise competitors on how to start using natural “clean” ingredients in their menu items. The experts who comprise Clean Consultant can also be hired by other restaurant chains to learn how to get more active in food policy issues. The feisty company has also begun marketing a revamped breakfast sandwich; asked the FDA to clearly define the term “egg;” and called out rivals Chick-fil-A and Starbucks for using additives in their egg sandwiches.

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January 15, 2018, to February 01, 2018

U.K. Supermarket Store Gives Away Cartloads Of Unsold Holiday Produce

An Asda supermarket branch in Wales decided it didn’t want to waste the unsold produce accumulated over the holidays. It created a sensation in the Barry community as shopping carts full of leftover carrots, broccoli, parsnips, and brussels sprouts were given away free of charge to surprised and happy shoppers. Some of the food was collected for the homeless, charities, soup kitchens or owners of livestock. Store managers at other Asda outlets apparently were free to do the same thing at their own discretion.

Potato Chip Company Turns Ugly Spuds Into Gold

Rather than discard potatoes deemed too small or too large or too blemished for regular potato chip production, Pennsylvania’s Dieffenbach Potato Chips has launched the “It’s Good to be Ugly” campaign to reduce waste and fight hunger. The campaign follows the launch of its Uglies Kettle Chips last year. The company works with local farmers to acquire surplus and blemished potatoes, which are cooked in small batches like its regular potatoes. A total of 350,000 pounds of potatoes have been kept from landfills since the launch of Uglies Kettle Chips last year, according to the company.. 

Walton Family Invests In Colorado Food Waste Company

A Colorado-based start-up whose mission is to cut food waste by buying at a discount excess or rejected foods from supermarkets and selling it to foodservice companies has caught the eye of an investment arm of the billionaire Walton family. Foodmaven completed an $8.6 million fundraising round, including Walton money, to continue acquiring, for example, still edible frozen pizzas with a mistake on the box, excess chicken from supermarkets, and produce rejected for cosmetic reasons. FoodMaven has 700 customers in Colorado, including restaurants, hospitals, and large institutional cafeterias, and expects $10 million in revenue this year.

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January 01, 2018, to January 15, 2018

When It Comes To Diet Sodas, Moderate Imbibing Is Fine

A pediatric physician/researcher says consumers needn’t worry too much about drinking a Diet Coke once in a while. Aaron Carroll M.D. writes in “The Bad Food Bible” that if someone has a yen for a soft drink, a diet version is a better health choice, because the danger is “incredibly small.” It’s better to skip the sugar, which has been strongly linked to diabetes and obesity. Artificial sweeteners just haven’t been scientifically proven to be harmful to humans. However, a researcher who specializes in the health effect of artificial sweeteners says studies have  shown that regular ingestion has been linked to Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, strokes, dementia and obesity. But she agrees that a Diet Coke once in a while is okay.. 

Mass. Cage-Free Eggs Law Is Targeted By 13 States In Supreme Court Suit

Led by Indiana, thirteen states have sued Massachusetts in the U.S. Supreme Court to prevent enforcement of a state law that bans the sale of eggs produced by caged chickens, and meats from caged pigs or calves. A similar action is being pursued by states against California and its cage-free law. The plaintiffs claim that Massachusetts is attempting to impose its own regulatory standards on farmers in other states, in violation of the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution. The Massachusetts law defines an overly restrictive cage as one that would prevent an egg-laying hen, breeding pig or calf raised for veal from standing up, turning around or fully extending its limbs. 

Pork Suppliers Say They Have Greatly Reduced Reliance On Antibiotics

The National Pork Board, which represents the 60,000 pig farmers in the U.S., says its constituents have made great strides in reducing the use of antibiotics while continuing to protect the health and welfare of pigs. Data from the USDA support the progress, says NPB President Terry O'Neel, a Nebraska pig farmer, though figures for antibiotic use are not species-specific. Nevertheless, USDA numbers show that America's pig farmers produced over five million more market hogs in 2016 than in 2009, as market weights increased by 16 pounds. The figures suggest that pig farmers are using far less total antibiotics per pound of pork produced, and are using them in close cooperation with veterinarians to ensure that they are FDA-approved. 

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December 15, 2017, to January 01, 2018

British Government Issues New Standards On Food Storage

The British government and anti-waste organizations have issued an advisory on ways to cut food waste through better storage practices. Supermarkets will be expected to use a new Little Blue Fridge icon for foods that should be kept chilled at home, or benefit from being kept in the fridge to prevent them going bad. The icon will be placed on many foods not typically kept in the refrigerator, including fruits like apples, pears, and oranges. In addition, supermarkets should only select a Use By date when there is a food safety concern. A Best Before date should be used otherwise. Stores must also include only one date label on any product, and no Display Until date. The anti-waste charity Wrap says businesses are also exploring whether the Open Life date on bagged salads could be extended so people would have an extra day to eat the salad once opened. 

Book Provides Details Of Humane “Clean Meat” Technology

A new book, available for purchase in January, details the advanced technology behind “clean meat,” animal-based protein that is produced in a bioreactor using living cells from cattle. The cells are replicated to produce food-grade beef, bypassing the necessity of killing and butchering animals. The technology could redefine the entire animal agriculture industry, resulting in meat, eggs and dairy products that are identical to familiar animal protein foods. The new book is Clean Meat: How Growing Meat Without Animals Will Revolutionize Dinner and the World, by Paul Shapiro, vice-president of policy at the Humane Society of the United States.

How Online Grocery Shopping Could Worsen Food Waste Problem

The increase in the number of online food grocery options may exacerbate America’s food waste problem: 130 billion pounds of food are wasted a year. Online grocery sales are growing at an incredible pace. Amazon’s U.S. grocery sales, for example, surged 93 percent year-on-year to $575 million in the third quarter of 2017. But a new scientific paper by a Hofstra University professor says that trend could make the food waste problem even worse. Consumers shopping in a store invest energy and time buying food, and feel responsible for its use and disposal. But with online food purchases, that energy is transferred to the store’s employees. This impacts the “psychological ownership” of the food, reducing responsibility. And that leads to food waste.

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December 01, 2017, to December 15, 2017

Re-Used Bread Offers Many Benefits, Including Waste Reduction

Disturbed by the amount of bread wasted around the world every year – about 1.2 million tons – a New Zealand university professor figured out a way to take unsold bread from supermarkets and make new loaves. Collaborating with food company Goodman Fielder, Aydin Berenjian [left] developed a day-long process that produces one ton of fermented bread that has a high profile of essential amino acids, high resistance starch, and a higher shelf life – up to seven days. It tastes like a cross between white bread and sourdough, and because the microbes used in the fermentation system are all probiotics, the bread benefits the digestive and immune systems. 

Australian Scientists Create Machine That Turns Unsold Produce Into Healthy Snacks

Scientists at Australia’s national science agency CSIRO have developed an extrusion machine that can turn agricultural food waste into healthy snacks, cooking ingredients, soup premixes, etc. Powders produced [left] can be used in smoothies, dips, sauces, spreads, pasta, noodles, or bakery items. Growers could use the machine to generate a secondary income line by turning unharvested produce – e.g., broccoli or carrots – that might otherwise be left on the field into high-value food ingredients or healthy snack products, scientists said. According to CSIRO, the machine is ready for commercialization; the agency is demonstrating it to growers to determine the level of interest.

Food Donations Up 20 Percent In Italy Since 2016 Food Waste Law

Italians are donating 20 percent more food to charities since the enactment of a law designed to curb food waste, a politician says. The law, which went into effect in September 2016, expanded the types of foods that could be donated beyond products with a long shelf life. Cooked food, fruits and vegetables, much of it sourced from produce markets, cruise ships, and sporting events. can now be donated to the needy, said Maria Chiara Gadda. 

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November 01, 2017, to December 01, 2017

Milk Producer Group Adds Examples Of “Fear-Based” Labeling To Its List

The National Milk Producers Federation, based in Arlington, VA., has added more items to its list of foods found to be misleadingly labeled “non-GMO,” “no added hormones,” etc. The organization has launched a “Peel Back the Label” campaign targeting “fear-based” labeling such as non-GMO on foods or products that contain no DNA to modify – e.g., table salt – and “no added hormone” labels on poultry products that are already barred from adding hormones by federal law. New examples of deceptive labeling include canned sliced carrots with "non-GMO" labels, a "GMO-free" label on lettuce, and mandarin oranges. None of these foods have ever been genetically modified, the group says.

San Francisco Requires Reporting Of Antibiotics Contained In Grocery Store Meat

The San Francisco board of supervisors has passed a law requiring larger grocery retailers in the city report the type of antibiotics used in raw meat products they sell. Grocery stores with 25 locations or more will have to report antibiotic use by their suppliers to the city Department of the Environment. The department’s website would make the information available to consumers. Meat and grocery industry representatives have panned the law as costly, unnecessary, and potentially confusing to consumers. Last month, in a victory for the meat industry, the U.S. Congress repealed a law requiring that packages of pork and beef sold in grocery stores be labeled with country of origin. 

Food Retailer Partners With Iowa Farmers To Obtain GMO-Free Pork

California food retailer Raley's has launched a program to offer non-GMO and antibiotics-free pork in its stores. The company has partnered with supplier American Homestead Pork, a group of 35 family farms in Iowa whose animals have never been given antibiotics or growth-promoting chemicals, and have never been caged. Family-owned Raley’s says it now offers more than 15,000 natural and organic foods.

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October 15, 2017, to November 01, 2017

Judge: Plaintiff In Added-Sugar Suit Against Kellogg Has An Adequate Case

A federal judge in California has refused to dismiss a lawsuit against Kellogg, agreeing essentially with the plaintiff that most of the claims made by the company about the nutritional value and wholesomeness of its breakfast cereals seem to be refuted by the fact that they contain “excess added sugar.” Judge Lucy Koh dismissed five of the claims because she agreed they were essentially harmless advertising “puffery.” But she allowed claims regarding 24 other products to move forward because “these products contain at least one statement that the court found was not pre-empted, non-misleading, or puffery as a matter of law." The case is Hadley v. Kellogg Sales
Company. 

USDA Says Its Organic Police Are Slacking Off

The inspector general of the USDA has found that agency officials tasked with monitoring imported foods labeled “USDA Organic” have been sleeping on the job, allowing, for example, millions of pounds of imported conventional soybeans and corn to reach U.S. grocery stores with bogus certified-organic labels. The audit of the Agricultural Marketing Service determined that the agency could not “provide reasonable assurance” that those items from abroad are actually “from certified organic foreign farms and business.” The inspector general suggested that the USDA needs to find a way to get the organic food-monitoring staff to do its job properly.

Restaurants Struggle To Find Antibiotic-Free Beef, Pork

It’s complicated, according to fast-food chains that would like to sell more antibiotic-free pork and beef products. A lot more of the chains – 14 of the top 25 – have committed to serving antibiotic-free chicken, and would like to expand to pork and beef, but it’s not easy, according to an advocacy group report. Because cows and pigs live longer, they are more likely to need antibiotics to treat sickness. On top of that, the beef and pork supply chain is huge compared to that for chickens. The advocacy groups gave Panera and Chipotle "A" grades for efforts to curb antibiotic use in most of the meat they serve. At least two million Americans become sick and 23,000 die every year from antibiotic-resistant infections, according to the CDC. 

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October 01, 2017, to October 15, 2017

Battling Hotel Food Waste Starts With Event Buffets

Experts from a global design firm analyzed each facet of a Florida hotel’s buffet operations – it handles more than 5,000 event buffets a year – finding to everyone’s surprise that half of the food put out for guests was left uneaten. Only 10 to 15 percent of the leftovers could be donated or repurposed because of food safety regulations: the rest ended up in the garbage. More waste was generated by coffee, juices, and other liquids. The executive chef at Orlando’s Hyatt Regency says some changes being tested include: sample plates of meats and cheese instead of large platters; single servings of yogurt instead of big bowls; smaller amounts of bread and butter instead of big baskets; and substituting finger pastries for whole cakes and pies. The changes have already cut food waste by ten percent without guest complaints.

Particle Accelerator Technology Leads To Food Waste Savings

Technology used in the Large Hadron Collider particle accelerator is being used by supermarkets like the U.K.’s Morrisons chain, to curtail food waste. An algorithm developed by Michael Feindt of the AI firm Blue Yonder not only predicts the activity of quarks, it accurately predicts supermarket stock needs so they can reduce the amount of unsold food that ends up in landfills. The Blue Yonder system’s efficiency savings come close to 30 percent, Feindt says, a considerable achievement considering that British supermarkets tossed 235,000 tons of food into the waste bins in 2015.

Grocery Chain Tackles Food Waste With End-Of-Day Half-Price Bread

Norwegian grocery chain SPAR’s goal is to cut food waste by 270 tons a year. One of the tactics for achieving this is to offer unsold freshly-baked bread at half off an hour before closing. The company tested the idea in a few stores, without any advertising or marketing. Bread waste dropped by 16 percent, which adds to 270 tons a year. Trial participants noted a boost in foot traffic in the last hour of business in addition to positive comments from customers. Any unsold bread is given to pig farmers. The company is also spreading the word among its 259 other stores using in-store posters and shelf markers.

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September 01, 2017, to October 01, 2017

McDonald’s To Work Toward Antibiotics-Free Meat

McDonald's announced it will phase out use cattle and pigs raised with antibiotics important to human medicine. It has already begun phasing out antibiotics-raised chickens in its 14,000 U.S. restaurants and the 36,000 locations globally. Meat suppliers in the McDonald’s supply chain will still be allowed to use ionophores antibiotics because they are not used to treat humans.

Wal-Mart Expands Sustainability Chemistry Policy, Demands Safer Products From Suppliers

Wal-Mart said it has expanded its sustainability chemistry policy for consumable products, as part of the retailer's efforts to improve transparency, promote better product formulations, and widen its selection of sustainable products. First launched in 2013, the program covers about 90,000 products from 700 suppliers. As part of the commitment, Wal-Mart expects its suppliers to completely disclose chemicals used as ingredients in their products, ensure their products come with safe ingredients, and integrate sustainability into their product manufacturing.

Boxed Water’s Tree Planting Project Is Achieving Its Goals

Boxed Water, which sells water in recyclable cartons made using paper from managed forests, says its partnership with the National Forest Foundation has been successful over the last three years. The company, through its #ReTree project, has committed to planting more than 600,000 trees within the 193 million-acre National Forest System, and a million trees by 2020. Boxed Water is available in 500 ml, 250 ml and 1 liter sizes.
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