5@5: AI in the cooler aisle | Panera cuts meat from half its menu

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.

January 13, 2020

2 Min Read

The cooler aisle gets smarter as startup expands deal with Walgreens

Cooler Screens, a Chicago startup that has developed digital screens to replace traditional cooler doors, will be expanding its partnership with Walgreens in 2020. These hi-tech screens use cameras and sensors to determine a given shopper's age and gender and then show them targeted ads. Bringing digital ad targeting to physical retail spaces is just one way brick-and-mortar retailers can begin tracking the same kind of data that online advertisers have had access to for years. Read more at ChicagoInno

Panera is responding to the rise in flexitarianism and consumer concern regarding climate change by making "at least half" of its menu meat-free over the next few years. The chain's vice president of wellness and food policy stated that "the biggest impact the company can have on climate change is through its food and the ingredients it sources." Read more at Business Insider

The kratom debate: Helpful herb or dangerous drug?

Kratom continues to be a hotly debated herb over its purported ability to help opioid addicts recover from the substance abuse. The FDA warns U.S. consumers that kratom is not fully understood and, therefore, not safe for use; however, propositions to categorize kratom as an illegal substance has led to pushback from advocates and lawmakers that has thus far blocked any type of stricter regulation of the herb. Read more at NPR

New government website meant to clarify GMO regulations does little to answer lingering questions

A new website that links information from the EPA, USDA and the FDA aims to help consumers understand the ramifications of emerging biotechnology regulations. But it is frustratingly unclear what is and isn't covered by the new GMO labeling laws, and more needs to be revealed in terms of "whether or not gene-edited foods will ever be subject to additional regulatory scrutiny." Read more at The New Food Economy

Plant-based cheese is finally undergoing a revolution

Plant-based cheese is finally catching up to alternative milk and yogurt thanks to innovation from companies such as Treeline Cheese and Violife. Milk-based cheese is particularly hard to mimic using plants because of how much nuance goes into producing a given flavor or function. Read more at Forbes

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