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.

May 12, 2018

3 Min Read
5@5: To certify or not to certify? Organic restaurants weigh options | A business lesson from Trader Joe's
Thinkstock/Thomas Northcut

Eateries grapple with question of organic certification

Restaurants don’t have to be certified organic to serve organic food, but an increasing number of foodservice operations are choosing to go that route. California chain The Organic Coup opened its first location in 2015, and has quickly scaled to 13 locations. “We wanted to be certified because we wanted customers to have the confidence that everything is sourced organically,” said co-founder Erica Welton. Gwyn Whittaker, owner of Virginia’s certified full-service restaurant GreenFare Organic Café, said she felt certification was a critical step for differentiating her business. Meanwhile, Amy’s Drive Thru serves food that’s made almost entirely with organic ingredients, but it chose not to seek certification because of the complexity of its restaurant operations. Elevation Burger, which serves certified organic grass-fed beef, has also chosen not to pursue certification for the same reason many small brands don't—cost. “We follow the protocols for safeguarding the organic integrity of our products, but for a small restaurant operation, where pennies make the difference between success and failure, it remains costly to pursue,” said the chain’s VP of Supply Chain Michael Berger. Read more at Organic Report…


The surprising story behind Trader Joe’s 19 cent bananas

The retailer used to sell bananas by the pound—just like everywhere else—but in a new five-part podcast called “Inside Trader Joe’s,” chairman and CEO Dan Bane revealed that he came up with the idea of selling individual bananas because of a conversation he had with a customer. Nineteen-cent bananas is just one of the things Trader Joe’s has become known and loved for, and is a good lesson on listening closely to customer feedback—something many other successful business leaders do, too. Read more at CNBC…


Automated fast-food chefs: A sign of industry change?

At a new fast-casual restaurant in Boston called Spyce, human workers do the tricky prep work, like rinsing and chopping vegetables and making sauces, and robots follow up with the menial tasks, like heating vegetables and washing dishes. Some industry watchers say more automation is headed for the food industry, especially in preparation, where speed and hygiene are key. But it’s a complex business, and past restaurant ventures that have touted their automation efforts have failed. Read more at Providence Journal…


General Mills is spending more to develop organic ingredients that customers can trace

General Mills has continued to build its natural and organic product portfolio over the last five years and is investing in growing the industry as a whole. It’s helping transition a 34,000-acre farm in South Dakota to organic and working with Organic Valley to help convert conventional dairy operations to organic. It’s also made a five-year investment in exploring the financial and social impacts of implementing better soil health practices at the world’s largest organic oat processor. “General Mills will not be doing its part unless it improves the sustainability of all its ingredients, not just organic,” said John Church, who heads up the company’s supply chain efforts. Read more at StarTribune…


OSU scientists say they’ve created a new sunscreen out of plant waste

Meadowfoam, a native plant cultivated in Oregon and Washington, is used in shampoos and cosmetics, and produces a byproduct that’s spread on fields as an herbicide. Researchers at Oregon State University discovered that it also has compounds with anti-cancer and sunlight protectant properties. The team, whose paper was published in Frontiers in Pharmacology, is working with Natural Plant Products Inc. on a natural sunscreen using the ingredient. Read more at OPB…

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