Chicken processor Sanderson Farms is launching a marketing program to educate consumers about the use of antibiotics in poultry production, and attempting to bring clarity to a complicated subject that is sometimes characterized in simplistic and apocalyptic terms by critics. This effort merits close attention. The Sanderson Farms campaign features print, radio and television marketing materials that will run in the 24 US media markets where the company’s products are sold. The budget supporting the initial launch is between $5 million and $6 million. When asked by a financial analyst on Aug. 25 how long the program will run, Joe Sanderson Jr., chairman and CEO of Sanderson Farms, simply said, “… it is permanent. We feel like we have to do it to support our retailers and, based on the response we have gotten, we’re going to continue it for the foreseeable future.”
Over the past two and a half decades, U.S. households in the lowest income quintile spent between 29 and 43 percent of their annual before-tax income on food, compared with 7 to 9 percent spent by households in the highest income quintile.
Dan O’Brien, owner of Wild Idea Buffalo Co., has used his experiences in cattle ranching, nature conservancy and academia to create a unique livestock production business model that not only addresses animal welfare, but also land conservation and bolstering the historic American bison herd back to its once thriving state. Mobile slaughter coupled with a marksman carrying a 30-06 rifle with a special cartridge, work in conjunction to produce and process 100 percent grass-fed and stress-free bison, but that’s just a piece of O’Brien’s overall vision.
3D printing has a whole host of use cases, but one that you might not previously have thought of is the use of additive manufacturing to create cow’s milk — minus the cows. That’s the mission statement of a startup called Perfect Day Foods, founded by two twenty-something biomedical scientists. The firm has so far raised $4 million from investors. Perfect Day’s plan? To create a lactose-free milk substitute that’s a whole lot closer to the real thing than existing milk substitutes.
Following news that the University of Wisconsin–Madison has been ranked the nation’s top party school, PETA is negotiating with outdoor advertisers to display an ad on bus stops near the campus noting that a side-by-side comparison shows that beer, not milk, protects bone and heart health. The ad reads, “Got Beer? It’s Official: Beer Is Better for You Than Milk”—and cites scientific studies that make the case.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.