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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.

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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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August 01, 2017, to September 01, 2017

L’Oréal Uses Bioprinting To Create Live Skin Tissue For Cosmetics Testing

The FDA may not require it, but L’Oréal says it has ended live-animal testing of new cosmetics and has turned to alternatives such as EpiSkin, a lab-grown human flesh-like tissue available in more than 100,000 samples representing numerous ethnicities. And lately the company has partnered with biotech Organovo to apply advanced 3-D bioprinting technology (left) to create skin tissue with hair follicles. The technology would allow mass production of skin tissue for lab testing. It is not unlikely that the 3-D printed tissue will become, like EpiSkin, a profit center for L’Oréal.

Courts Pass “Natural” Food Cases To FDA, Which Dithers About Definition

Food-related class action lawsuits have been rising over the last nine years, but dropped eight percent last year. A law firm that keeps track of the suits said the decline last year could be the result of the FDA grappling with the claim “natural.” There were 145 lawsuits filed in 2016, mostly in California and New York, alleging false labeling related to ingredients or the type of processing used in a product. The decrease in lawsuits seems to be related to the frequent application of the “primary jurisdiction” doctrine in food litigation. A judge can stay or dismiss actions pending an administrative agency’s resolution of a matter, viz., the FDA’s ongoing exploration of the definition of “natural."

Company Says Sweet Potato-Based Sweetener Is More Healthful Than HFCS

A North Carolina food ingredients company that specializes in pioneering applications of sweet potatoes grown in the state has developed a sweetener it says is a more healthful alternative to high-fructose corn syrup and honey. “Carolina Sweet,” developed by Carolina Innovative Food Ingredients, is a 75-Brix (a measurement of sweetness), vegetable-based clean label sweetener that is rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium. CIFI says it naturally adds consistency, allowing for the reduction or elimination of thickening agents.

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July 01, 2017, to August 01, 2017

Advanced Card Technology Ensures Food Safety, Prevents Waste

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, getting food to the table devours 10 percent of the U.S. energy budget, half of U.S. land, and 80 percent of fresh water. But 40 percent of the food in the U.S. – $150 billion a year – is never eaten. Natures Frequencies is well aware that the biggest concern of U.S. consumers who ponder whether – and when – to throw out food is safety.  With that in mind, the company developed the Food Freshness Card, a laboratory- and commercially-tested technology to keep food fresher longer. The card combines specific frequencies, elements and customized programs, encoding information on a substrate. It helps assist with freshness all along the food chain, from farm to retailer to the home. The card recently won the United Fresh Innovation Award for the best new food safety solution.

Sales Of Sustainable Cocoa-Based Confectionery Products To Reach $9 Billion

Sales of cocoa-based products that feature labels such as Fairtrade and Rainforest alliance will reach $8.9 billion in 2017, according to Euromonitor, and are expected to grow 1.3 percent through 2020 because certification schemes build consumer confidence in cocoa-related products. Chocolate confectionery products make up the bulk of total sales of cocoa products that carry sustainable trade and farming labels. “Without investment in sustainable production, the future of the global cocoa industry is uncertain,” a Euromonitor analyst said.

New York City Expands Organic Waste Collection Program

The N.Y. City Department of Sanitation is expanding its organics program of curbside collection of food scraps, food-soiled paper, and yard waste to more residential areas. The expansion to more neighborhoods in Brooklyn and the Bronx means two million residents will be able to participate. The department's goal is to make the program available to all New Yorkers by the end of 2018, through either curbside service or neighborhood drop-off sites. The "organic" waste collected is turned into compost, a soil amendment, or renewable energy.

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June 01, 2017, to July 01, 2017

State Governments Target Hunger, Food Waste, Environment

As debates rage at the national level over healthcare, immigration policy, and other issues, state governments are tackling more mundane local problems like food waste, hunger, and environmental protection. California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont already have laws on the books that restrict the amount of food and other organic waste (e.g., soiled and compostable paper and yard waste) that can be dumped in landfills. Maryland, New Jersey and New York are pondering similar laws. States are offering tax breaks to farmers and small businesses that donate food rather than throw it into the landfill. They are also limiting the liability of food donors, and standardizing “use by” labels so consumers don’t toss food that is still edible. It’s a significant endeavor: one in seven Americans suffers from “food insecurity,” defined as “limited or uncertain access to adequate food.”

Food Sharing Service In English Village Hopes To Expand

The founder of a community fridge in a Hampshire village in England was pretty surprised to find how people from as far away as Germany were interested in her idea, and eager to get her advice. The community fridge in Botley is the fourth in the U.K. to offer food sharing, a concept that not only reduces food waste, it helps people in need. Riki Therivel’s “nice way for neighbors to share food” has become so popular that families regularly use it. Retail grocer Tesco drops off food twice a week as well. It’s providing such a useful service to the community that its temporary home at a local church has become permanent, though the fridge hopes for a larger facility in a shopping center.

Peapod Fine-Tunes Customers’ Online Search Options

Online grocer Peapod’s smart shopping technology now has more search filters so shoppers can further refine selections based on personal dietary tastes and preferences.. In addition to common search filters like brand preference, price and sale specials, the company now offers 16 nutrition options, including non-GMO, sugar free, vegan, and vegetarian. The new filters were selected based on consumer food and nutritional trend data. For example, 42 percent of consumers read nutrition labels before purchasing, 33 percent of Millennials say they eat a meat alternative product every day, and sales of non-GMO products will hit $330 billion by 2019.

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May 15, 2017, to June 01, 2017

KFC Takes Big Steps Toward Clean Menu

Kentucky Fried Chicken announced that by the end of 2018 it will only purchase chicken raised without antibiotics that are  “important to human medicine” for its U.S. restaurants. KFC noted that its commitment extends beyond boneless chicken menu items to chicken-on-the-bone items. The company said the change involves complex planning, including collaboration with more than 2,000 family-owned farms in a dozen states. Recently, KFC committed to eliminating artificial colors and flavors from core products by the end of 2018. The menu will be free of all “food dyes” by the end of 2017 (excluding beverages and third-party products).

Fast-Food Companies Are Slow To Promise Antibiotics-Free Beef, Pork

McDonald’s and other fast-food chains have been reasonably quick in acceding to the growing consumer demand for antibiotics-free chicken. Not so much when it comes to beef and pork products, however, because eliminating antibiotics from cattle and pig husbandry is much more complex and expensive. Now the Benedictine Sisters of Boerne, Texas, have promised to attend the McDonald’s annual meeting to propose that the company set goals and timelines to phase out routine use of antibiotics in pork and beef. The nuns have reportedly been petitioning McDonald’s for years on the issue. The company says it is sympathetic to the concerns and "continues to work with farmers, producers and other purchasers of food animals to influence meaningful change.”

Mondelez Expands Promise Of Cage-Free Eggs Globally, With Exceptions

Snack maker Mondelez International said it is expanding its commitment to use only cage-free eggs beyond the U.S., Canada, and Europe to the rest of the world, with three major exceptions. The company promised cage-free eggs would be used in the U.S. and Canada by 2020, and in Europe and the rest of the world by 2025 The commitment, however, does not include Russia, Ukraine, or China, though it will establish timelines for those countries by next year.

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May 01, 2017, to May 15, 2017

Estee Lauder's Sustainability Initiatives Involve Making Hard Choices Today For A Better Tomorrow

For The Estee Lauder Companies, sustainability means “making the smart (and sometimes difficult) choices today” in order to help create a better, more beautiful, and lasting world in the future, according to SVP of global corporate citizenship and sustainability, Nancy Mahon. Beauty brands need to integrate sustainability efforts into their business model to heed the call of consumers, employees, and investors for companies to behave responsibly and consciously with regards to the environment, Mahon said. Also, sustainability initiatives create the most value when they are “effectively and efficiently” implemented across the product's life cycle, she added.

Clorox Turns On Fairfield Plant's Solar Power System

Clorox announced the company has activated the solar panel system at its Fairfield Cleaning facility in California. Capable of producing 500 kilowatts of electricity during daylight hours the ground-mounted system is designed to help the facility reduce its electric power consumption by a significant portion. According to the company, Fairfield Cleaning is the first company-owned facility with installed solar power system. Power Purchase Agreements built the system, as well as Clorox’s first installation at its leased regional warehouse in Aberdeen, Maryland.

Estee Lauder SVP Mahon Shares Importance Of Timely And Proactive Interaction When Communicating Sustainability Goals With Customers

One of the biggest issues and challenges a company has to deal with when creating a sustainability plan include “identifying what sustainability means” for the brand, according to The Estee Lauder Companies SVP of global corporate citizenship and sustainability, Nancy Mahon. Brands need to “communicate proactively” with their target audience to highlight their areas of differentiation. Companies need to interact with their customers when and where they are, including online and through social media. Regular communication with customers “maintains a positive corporate reputation,” Mahon added.

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April 01, 2017, to May 01, 2017

Kraft Heinz Sets Social Responsibility, Sustainability Targets

As part of its mission to become “the best food company,” Kraft Heinz has expanded a commitment to three goals it believes will have the greatest global impact: combatting global hunger and malnutrition, boosting supply chain sustainability and protecting the environment. It will strive to meet these goals by: donating a billion nutritious meals to needy people by 2021; buying palm oil products in an ethical, transparent and sustainable manner (and only 100 percent certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil); and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, energy, water and waste in its operations 15 percent globally by 2020 (baseline 2015).

Nestle Shows How To run A Dairy Factory With Waste Water

To celebrate World Water Day recently, Nestlé issued a press release describing the water conservation efforts of one of its factories in Mexico. The Nestlé dairy facility became the company’s first “zero water” manufacturing site in the world. Located in the central, water-stressed state of Jalisco, the factory turned off the taps completely, transforming its water consumption from 1.6 million liters a day to zero. The factory no longer draws water from the ground or water mains. It gets all its water from the milk it processes. It takes fresh cow’s milk – 88 percent water – heats it at low pressure to remove some of its water content. The steam is condensed, treated and used to clean the evaporating machines. The water is collected again, purified and recycled again.

Portland Ice Cream Parlor Uses Discarded Flavor Ingredients In Its Products

A small-batch ice cream shop in Portland, Ore., with a reputation for adventurousness in flavor combinations, is applying its expertise to a social/environmental cause – namely, food waste. Salt & Straw’s June menu will be featuring flavors of food that were otherwise destined for the trash bins. Included in the offerings at the artisan eatery, for examples, will be rum-soaked spices salvaged from the nearby East Side Distilling company, including Moroccan peppercorns, Sri Lankan cinnamon, Mexican vanilla, and California orange peel. The flavors will be re-steeped in cream and blended into frozen treats. Local food redistributors and anti-food waste organizations Urban Gleaners and the Portland Fruit Tree Project are collaborating with Salt & Straw on the project. 

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March 15, 2017, to April 01, 2017

Tyson Foods Includes Antibiotics-Free Chicken In Its Sustainability Strategy

Tyson Foods CEO Tom Hayes, who told analysts recently that his company’s purpose is to “raise the world’s expectations for how much good food can do,” announced it would sell only chicken raised with “no antibiotics ever” (NAE). The NAE commitment is part of the company’s overall, long-term “holistic” sustainability strategy that includes cutting down workplace injuries and illness by 15 percent, and seeking strategic alliances for scientific sustainability. The company also plans to continue auditing third-party chicken farms to ensure humane treatment of chickens. Tyson processes more than 41 million chickens a week on average.

Toronto Festival Showcased Foods, Beverages Made From Landfill-Bound Ingredients

A Toronto brewer has launched a food festival whose goal is to raise awareness of, and perhaps help reduce, the $31 billion in food wasted every year in Canada, nine percent of it in restaurants. The goal of the first Trashed & Wasted food festival, held in early March n Toronto, was to get people to rethink how they approach kitchen scraps. A secondary goal was to raise funds for a food collection organization that works with community agencies. At the festival, chefs created dishes from rescued food, while local brewers and distillers concocted beverages using ingredients that would normally be considered garbage. Another local craft brewery, for example, made a special beer for the festival using leftover bread from a Toronto bakery.

Bottled Water Giants Partner To Speed Biomass-Based Bottle To Market

French food company Danone is partnering with NestlÄ— Waters and a young technology company to accelerate commercial use of a 100 percent sustainable and renewable bio-based plastic bottle. The two giants in bottled water are working with a Sacramento, Calif.-based startup known as Origin Materials, which developed the technology. Together, the NaturALL Bottle Alliance will develop and launch commercially a PET1 (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic bottle made from biomass feedstocks, such as previously used cardboard and sawdust. A major advantage is that it does not divert resources or land from food production.

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March 01, 2017, to March 15, 2017

Pop-Up Restaurant At Selfridges To Offer Meals Created From Surplus Foods

U.K. department store Selfridges is operating a rooftop pop-up food waste restaurant for a month featuring “reinterpretations” of classic British foods like cabbage cores, cover crop sprouts and pork from waste-fed pigs. The restaurant, sponsored by U.S. consumer electronics firm Sonos and digital music provider Spotify, follows a format created by Manhattan chef Dan Barber. The temporary eatery will take surplus foods from farmers, fishermen, distributors, butchers, artisanal producers and retailers to create a full menu with daily specials. It will also serve special cocktails and offer a “tea experience” created by pastry chefs.

German Grocery Store Sells Only Wonky Produce, Expired And Surplus Foods

A grocery store that sells only ugly or surplus food products, from vegetables to beer, has opened in the German city of Köln (Cologne). The founders of The Good Food grocery store are dedicated to the idea of eliminating food waste in the world. It is the first such store to open in Germany, and the third in the EU. The store is unusual for a couple of reasons. The food it sells was otherwise bound for landfills because it may be misshapen, or too large or too small, or past its sell-by date. This includes non-perishable products from big manufacturers. And there are no fixed prices: consumers decide how much the products are worth.

College Student Has Big Plans For Her Family Farm’s Waste Mushrooms

A British university student with a passion for profitably managing family-owned farms is pushing forward her idea to turn waste woodland mushrooms into a premium beer. Harriet Livesey, whose family's farm grows the mushrooms, recently won a scholarship she will use to start a business that – in addition to making beer – will train farmers to be “business-minded:” specifically, how to diversify, develop, progress, and make the most of their resources profitably. The scholarship will support her financially as she launches her own enterprise brewing artisan shiitake beer from waste mushrooms. She will need to carry out primary market research, attend brewery courses, research micro-brewing processes, identify market trends, and design and develop her brand.

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February 01, 2017, to March 01, 2017

Hellman’s Fulfills Cage-Free Egg Pledge Three Years Early

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." 

Company’s Cage-Free Eggs Showcased In Inflatable, Transparent Carton

A Taiwanese egg company committed to cage-free eggs has developed a special packaging technology that showcases the health and freedom of its products. The new egg carton is made of a transparent PVC material that inflates to cushion individual eggs. The eggs from Happy Egg company are available in purse-shaped packs of three, or in individual packs decorated especially for local festivals and events, such as birthdays, Christmas and Chinese New Year.

Hormel Investigates Pig Supplier Accused Of Animal Cruelty

A video created by an animal rights group showing alleged cruelty to animals at an Oklahoma pig farm has spurred an investigation by Hormel Foods Corp., which buys meat from the farm. The company also suspended operations at the Maschhoffs farm. The two-minute video shows dozens of pigs and piglets confined in crowded spaces without benefit of veterinary care. Hormel said it would send third-party auditors to investigate the claims made by Mercy for Animals in the video.
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