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Food News

Poultry experts say eggs laid by vegan chickens are still eggs

Herald News | Posted on September 8, 2016

A vegan hen will not lay a green, leafy egg. In Canada, that simple truth may have been successfully blurred by fast food giant A&W, which two years ago began advertising that the eggs it serves at breakfast are laid by hens fed a diet of vegetables, grains and vitamins, as part of its campaign to promote “higher standard” ingredients. “What better way to rise and shine in the morning?” the Canadian chain asks on its website. The message is echoed on signs at its 25 restaurants in Nova Scotia, next to the food counters and the drive-thru speakers.  Those signs touched off a recent conversation on social media among egg producers here.  And Nova Scotia poultry experts say no matter how many vegetables a hen eats, an egg is still an egg.  Dr. Bruce Rathgeber is a poultry researcher at Dalhousie University. He confirmed that a vegetarian diet does not change the nutritional content of an egg.

Activist investor buys Chipotle stake, seeks more value

Meatingplace (registration required) | Posted on September 8, 2016

The hedge fund run by activist investor Bill Ackman has taken a 9.9-percent stake in Chipotle Mexican Grill, saying the fast-casual restaurant chain is undervalued. Pershing Square Capital Management said in a regulatory filing it intends to have discussions with Chipotle’s management and board that may relate to the Denver-based company’s governance, board composition, operations, cost structure, assets, financial condition and strategic plans.

Motorleaf is Nest meets Lego for next-gen agriculture | Posted on September 8, 2016

Agtech company motorleaf have released the world’s first wireless monitoring, motion detection and automated growing system for hobby and industrial growers. I spoke to CEO and co-founder Ally Monk to learn more. Motorleaf has created a system that can automate and monitor an indoor growth area with up to 5 acre coverage. Their hardware, described by some as “Nest meets Lego for agriculture” is designed to be plug-and-play, and the grower decides which part of their plant operation they control/monitor and automate. It consists of four modular units:

Fish fraud is absolutely rampant

Time | Posted on September 8, 2016

There’s something fishy happening in the seafood industry. According to a new report from the ocean conservation advocacy group Oceana, one in five of over 25,000 samples of seafood tested globally was mislabeled. That means people may purchase and consume seafood and fish that’s not what they think it is.  The group looked at 200 studies from 55 countries for their report. The report authors say evidence of seafood fraud was discovered throughout supply chains worldwide. In the United States alone, the researchers found an average seafood fraud rate of nearly 30%, and 58% of samples of fraudulent seafood were species that could cause health complications. Some types of seafood are supposed to be screened for potential toxins or allergens and if they are mislabeled that process may not happen.

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."