5@5: Grocery workers in turmoil | Retailers set ambitious diversity goals

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.

New Hope Network staff

February 8, 2021

3 Min Read
oatly commercial shirt instagram

Grocery workers hope for higher pay and vaccinations

It's a story that has been told over and over again this past year: Grocery store workers find themselves at high risk of contracting COVID-19, but the retail sales boom hasn't translated to additional financial compensation for workers—and morale is at an all-time low. A flurry of store closures to avoid local hazard pay ordinances last week further underscored the plight of these employees and greed on the part of big-box retailers. As of right now, only 13 states have made grocery store workers eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. The New York Times reports.

Walmart, Albertsons and Target set ambitious goals for diversity, equity and inclusion

Last year, Walmart’s CEO announced a five-year, $100 million commitment to establish a center focused on racial equity. But it's not the only company putting diversity and inclusion at the fore, Winsight Grocery Business finds. Target has established a Racial Equity Action and Change committee that, among other feats, launched an online shopping guide on the company's website to help consumers find and support Black-owned brands. A smaller chain, Seattle-based PCC Community Markets now mandates custom diversity, equity and inclusion training for management positions within its stores. And, finally, Albertsons announced an impressive $5 million donation to social justice organizations and those on the front line of the fight for equality last June ($1 million of which has already been donated).

The story behind Oatly's 2021 Super Bowl ad that went viral

If you watched the Super Bowl on Sunday, you may have been taken aback by Oatly's low-budget ad, which originally aired in Sweden in 2014. The ad was actually banned in Sweden for "[disparaging] cow's milk as unhealthy" following a lawsuit from the country's dairy lobby, and now it's instigating conversation among American consumers who were on the whole confused and delighted by the commercial. Oatly then debuted a t-shirt on its website that reads "I Totally Hated That Oatly Commercial." And, yes, it's currently sold out. Delish has the details. 

The case for plain vanilla gets its day in court

Is vanilla really vanilla sans vanilla beans? Over 100 proposed class-action cases have been filed over vanilla flavoring since 2019, with plaintiffs arguing that the natural vanilla flavors (often made using wood pulp or fermentation technology) in food products from soda to yogurt should not be marketed as vanilla beans. Interestingly, lawyers from McDonald's tried to shut down the case by telling the judge that vanilla is merely a flavor, just like Rocky Road or Tutti Frutti, and should be considered as such. Head to The Wall Street Journal for the scoop.

World is shifting to a more plant-based diet, says Unilever chief

Unilever hopes to have a nearly $1 billion plant-based food business in five to seven years. This is in part because Alan Jope, Unilever’s chief executive, views the switch to plant-based diets as an "inexorable" trend. Unilever has already invested in vegan alternatives of its existing brands, like launching a vegan Hellman's mayonnaise and plant-based Ben & Jerry's pints. Analysts at Barclays see the value of the global plant-based food and drink market skyrocketing by more than 1,000% by 2030. Learn more at The Guardian.

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