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[email protected]: Labor issues persist in cocoa, tea supply chains | Meat alternatives sizzle on menus and store shelves

Each day at 5 p.m. we collect the five top food and supplement headlines of the day, making it easy for you to catch up on today's most important natural products industry news.

Labor conditions on tea and cocoa farms are extremely not good

In a two-year study of tea and cocoa supply chains in India and Ghana, respectively, U.K. researchers uncovered widespread stories of abuse, underpayments and poverty. They interviewed 120 workers on farms, some of which were third-party certified by Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance, Ethical Trade Partnership and others, and surveyed 1,000 more. “Overall, we found that certification has little to no impact on labour standards within the tea industry,” the authors wrote. Ninety-five percent cocoa workers surveyed didn’t even know whether their farm was certified or not. “One of the gravest and growing risks that brand companies face is the use of forced labour, human trafficking or other illegal labour practices within their supply chain,” the report says, calling on companies to revisit the way they communicate these certification schemes to consumers. Read more at Modern Farmer…

 

The plant-based meat trend is sizzling—even KFC is eyeing faux-chicken

The U.K. and Ireland unit of KFC is in the early stages of development on a recipe for a chicken alternative that it hopes to be able to test later this year. It’s just the latest in a slew of restaurants making more non-meat options available—shipment of plant-based proteins from U.S. foodservice distributors to restaurants climbed 19 percent over the last year, according to NPD group. At-home consumption of meat alternatives is up 24 percent since 2015, while retail sales are seeing an annual growth rate of 4.7 percent, according to Euromonitor. MorningStar Farms, which is owned by Kellogg, remains the top-selling brand in the U.S., but its market share fell from 40 percent in 2012 to 33 percent last year as smaller, innovative brands find traction. Read more at Forbes…

 

Sacramento’s most bitter political fight may be unfolding at a local grocery store

Forty-five-year-old Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op is holding a special election among its members with the hope of being able to overhaul its bylaws. Co-op directors say it’s time to bring the store into the present day; their revised bylaws would give the board the ability to suspend or expel members for any reason, cap board member terms at 10 years, open membership to people outside of California, allow non-members to buy stock shares and make member meetings annual instead of quarterly. But a group called Friends of the Co-op says the store they know and love is becoming an oligarchy. Read more at The Sacramento Bee…

 

Are you ready to accept that shampoo is terrible for your hair?

Eli Halliwell, who ran Bumble and Bumble a decade ago, is now CEO of Hairstory, a brand that believes foaming shampoo is a no-no. Shampoos that contain surfactants like sodium laurel ether sulfate start a cycle that strips the scalp and hair of oil, which causes the body to produce more, causing hair to feel greasy again. Instead, Hairstory’s line, New Wash, swaps detergents for nourishing essential oils like aloe leaf, jojoba seed and peppermint, and Halliwell says it’s finding acceptance from all kinds of consumers. Read more at Fast Company…

 

Will probiotics ever live up to the hype?

The future of microbial medicine isn’t simply about haphazard probiotics. It’s about “ecological type of thinking,” according to Ed Yong, science journalist and author of the book I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life. A recent study that tested a cocktail of bacteria and sugar to prevent sepsis in newborns in India was an example of a step in the right direction, he says. Read more at The Atlantic… 

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