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5@5: Big food companies bolster supplies, add staff | Minimum wage uncertain for farmworkers

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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.

Food makers add staff, capacity as pandemic persists

Big food companies are stockpiling supplies for their most popular products and hiring more workers in anticipation of persistent elevated sales. According to The Wall Street Journal, manufacturers are finally catching up to consumer demand and are even investing in automation to reduce the chances of a COVID-19 outbreak. The Wall Street Journal also reported today that the pandemic has doubled the amount of people who are "acutely food insecure" due to the global shock to both food supplies and demand in such a short period of time. 

Minimum wage uncertain for seasonal farmworkers after USDA axes labor report

The Department of Agriculture's farm labor survey, which has historically determined the coming year's wages for farmworkers on an annual basis, was recently cancelled with less than two weeks' notice. This move effectively eliminates data about farmworker wages used to set a minimum pay rate and could end up cutting them at a particularly cruel moment in time as the pandemic continues. Experts say that the Trump administration has been working to lower farmworker pay in order to soften 2020's many blows to U.S. farmers, as well as gaining political favor within that community within the context of the upcoming election. The Counter has the scoop ... 

Confidential Amazon memo reveals new software to track unions

Amazon's strategies to prevent its warehouse employees from forming a union have officially reached a new level. An 11-page document dated February 2020 reveals the company's plans to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on software that analyzes data on unions worldwide in the apparent hopes of reducing the likelihood of unionization among its frontline workers. The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a spotlight on some of the company's unsettling labor practices as it quickly expanded its warehousing network. Visit Vox for the full story ...

Female biologist-led brand develops vegan egg that comes in a shell

The vegan egg category was the fastest-growing segment within the plant-based market in August, but so far products in the space have served to replace a single function of conventional eggs; for instance, consumers can scramble the JUST Egg but could not use it as a replacement for eggs whilst baking. Enter Les Merveilloufs, a vegan egg that has the typical yellow yolk and white of real eggs and can mimic all the functions of a normal egg. The product is scheduled to debut in Paris' vegan restaurants by the end of the year. Take a looksee at the plant-based egg to rule them all at Vegconomist ...

USDA chief under fire for alleged Hatch Act violations

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has filed a Hatch Act violation complaint against Agriculture Secretary Sonny Purdue for advocating "for area residents to vote for President Trump" while speaking at an official USDA event in North Carolina. However, Hatch Act violations are penalties given out "at the discretion of the president," which makes retribution in this instance unlikely. This story comes just after complaints surfaced regarding the appearance of political letters that were distributed through USDA's Farmers to Families Food Box program. Read more about both scandals at Modern Farmer …

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