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Food News

The ‘Harvest to Market’ Innovation

University of New Hampshire, Carsey School | Posted on September 8, 2016

Buying food locally is a goal to which many consumers aspire. Local produce is likely to be fresher than food shipped from hundreds or thousands of miles away, less shipping means less reliance on fossil fuels, and local farmers receive the benefits of local spending.  But what makes sense in theory can be difficult in practice. Try, for example, to find and purchase a locally grown carrot. In the traditional food system, local farmers and buyers have trouble connecting. A consumer seeking to check off a lengthy shopping list with local produce will have to identify and then travel to many farms, since most farms produce only a few types of food. Farmers have few marketing resources, and a farmer’s base of individual customers tends to be restricted to the most conscientious buyers who live within a reasonable driving distance. In the end, many small farmers resort to typical distribution channels that involve numerous levels of shipping, processing, and handling, and the consumer buys at the supermarket. Harvest to Market is a new online platform that makes it easier for small farmers to sell their products directly to local consumers. 

Food insecure households decline

USDA | Posted on September 7, 2016

The estimated percentage of U.S. households that were food insecure in 2015 declined significantly from 2014, to 12.7 percent, continuing a downward trend in food insecurity from a high of 14.9 percent in 2011. The 2015 prevalence of food insecurity was still above the 2007 prerecessionary level of 11.1 percent. In 2015, the percentage of households with food insecurity in the severe range—very low food security—also declined significantly.  • In 2015, 87.3 percent of U.S. households were food secure throughout the year. The remaining 12.7 percent (15.8 million households) were food insecure. Food-insecure households (those with low and very low food security) had difficulty at some time during the year providing enough food for all their members due to a lack of resources. The decline from 2014 (14.0 percent) was statistically significant.   • In 2015, 5.0 percent of U.S. households (6.3 million households) had very low food security, down from 5.6 percent in 2014. In this more severe range of food insecurity, the food intake of some household members was reduced and normal eating patterns were disrupted at times during the year due to limited resources. This decline was also statistically significant.   • Children were food insecure at times during the year in 7.8 percent of U.S. households with children (3.0 million households), down significantly from 9.4 percent in 2014. These households were unable at times during the year to provide adequate, nutritious food for their children.

Judge orders JBS execs to step away from corporate roles

Meatingplace (registration required) | Posted on September 7, 2016

JBS's CEO Wesley Batista and chairman Joesley Batista were ordered by a Brazilian judge to step away from executive positions in their companies. Federal Judge Vallisney De Souza Oliveira also ordered 38 executives from a number of companies to forfeit their passports, request prior authorization before traveling domestically and refrain from any activity in capital markets.  The order is part of the Federal Police's probe, called “Operation Greenfield”, an investigation into pension fund investments in Brazilian companies, including Eldorado Brasil, a pulp producer owned by J&F Investimentos, which also controls JBS.

Blue Apron’s “Farm Egg” makes me question everything

Tech Crunch | Posted on September 5, 2016

Or, more pointedly, is Blue Apron creating a shitload of waste in their quest to save the Convenience Generation from fully industrialized agriculture and obesity?   Enter, “Farm Egg.” At first glance, “Farm Egg” appears to represent an extreme level of waste out of Blue Apron.  Compared to buying eggs by the half-dozen at the grocery store, the packaging of a single “Farm Egg” in excessive cardboard (most of which is likely for insulation against bumps and bruises during transportation) doesn’t appear to be all that “Eco-friendly.”  You can dive deeper into this thesis, and uncover the difficulty of recycling Blue Apron’s markedly (as in, it’s on the box) “Eco-Friendly” packaging.

Parties in Vermont GMO labeling lawsuit agree to dismissal

Reformer | Posted on September 5, 2016

In documents filed with the United States District Court for the District Of Vermont, the Vermont Attorney General has agreed to dismiss with prejudice the proceedings related to the Green Mountain State's GMO labeling law.  The state reached the agreement with the Grocery Manufactures Association, Snak International, International Dairy Foods Association, the National Association of Manufacturers, Syngenta, Du Pont, Dow, Bayer, Monsanto, and Conagra.

Campbell Learns Health Food's No Picnic

Bloomberg | Posted on September 5, 2016

It turns out trying to remake yourself into a "healthy" snack-food company is harder than it looks. Shares in Campbell Soup dropped 6 percent on Thursday after the company reported quarterly earnings that missed expectations and warned next year's results would disappoint, too.  It's well-known by now that sales of Campbell's salty soups have slowed. But what's unnerving is that its so-called "fresh business" -- its supposed saving grace -- is shaky, too. The results are a warning for a packaged-food industry struggling to meet growing consumer demand for healthier fare. As Big Food pays up to buy companies that promise outsize growth, some find the deals don't taste as good as they look. Or as Hedgeye analyst Howard Penney simply put it, "things are not good when your growth business can't grow and the rest of your business is soup."

Consumer-driven claim on cage-free eggs outdated

Watt Ag Net | Posted on September 5, 2016

During the first four months of 2016, there was a barrage of corporate announcements where the companies were revealing their plans to transition into selling and serving only cage-free eggs. However, in early April when Walmart and Sams Club – which sells more than one quarter of the groceries purchased in the U.S. -- announced a move to selling only cage-free eggs, the animal rights groups responsible for the push to end the use of cage-raised eggs seemingly considered it a victory, and determined the entire egg industry would have to remove all of its cages. And while the cage-free egg transition announcements have slowed down, they have not yet stopped. One of the most commonly used reasons companies have given to date is that consumers are increasingly requesting eggs raised from cage-free operations. That reasoning may have been believable in the spring, but statements like that are quickly losing credibility. Reports continue to surface about how grocers are struggling to sell cage-free eggs in their stores, as consumers are apparently opposed to pay more for them than they are for cage-produced eggs. So how could this really be in response to consumer preferences?

Cargill, General Mills, Wal-Mart collaborating to improve farm soil, water quality

Star Tribune | Posted on September 1, 2016

Cargill, General Mills, Wal-Mart and several other giant food, agricultural and environmental groups will announce a partnership on Wednesday to accelerate programs and research to improve soil health and water quality on farms. The idea evolved from a meeting of CEOs that Wal-Mart held two years ago at its Arkansas headquarters. The topic: how the companies could help support agriculture in the Midwest. Among other things, it was clear that companies were increasingly making commitments to customers that their products would come from fields or barns where farming is done susta

The Evolution of Cottage Food Regulation in Illinois

Farm Doc Daily | Posted on September 1, 2016

Cottage food laws are state-by-state regulations intended to facilitate the development of local food and economies by reducing the obstacles small food producers face in market entry. [1] The laws are designed to exempt the sale of certain non-hazardous foods by small scale-producers from food safety regulations so that these individuals are able to market food directly to consumers.[2] For example, many of the food safety laws that regulate food production were designed for large processors, whereby food is prepared in a certified commercial kitchen that has met certain requirements to ensure food safety.[3]However, these requirements also serve as significant economic hurdles for small food producers seeking to make low risk (non-potentially hazardous) foods--products which do not present the same safety risks as other processed items.[4]  Cottage food laws are a relatively new regulatory development. States first explored regulatory relief through legislation in the early 2010's. Several variables to consider when constructing this legislation included: who will be exempt, what specific foods qualify for the exemption, where and how food may be sold, and what labeling is required to inform the consumer that the food was not produced in an inspected commercial kitchen.[5]Because cottage food laws and the food industries that utilize them are so new, law makers in Illinois have had to amend the statute more than once to adapt the requirements to best serve the communities they were enacted to help and maintain the growth in this sector of the food economy.

Here’s How to Sort Through the Milk Aisle’s Plant Explosion

Fortune | Posted on August 25, 2016

The popularity of soy milk, long the creamer of choice for those unwilling to consume an animal product, has soured in recent years. That’s led to the rise of refrigerator full of plant-based alternatives. But not all non-milk is created equal. If you’re steering clear of heifers, here’s the breakdown on what you should be drinking instead.