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5@5: Lawsuits continue as 'natural' remains undefined | Kroger opens R&D lab for foodservice, private label innovation

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.

Is it ‘natural’? Consumers, and lawyers, want to know

More than 300 class-action lawsuits have been filed in the last three years involving allegations that food companies misuse the term “natural” and other descriptions, according to the New York Times. Some of the natural products industry’s biggest brands—like Tom’s of Maine, Annie’s Homegrown and Seventh Generation—have been the subject of these legal challenges. The bulk of those lawsuits have been settled or dismissed to avoid going to trial, but more recently they’ve been stayed by judges who are waiting on a decision from FDA regarding its potential defining of the term natural. These lawsuits are also increasingly focused on not just ingredients but on how crops were grown and how animals were fed. “Consumers have called upon the FDA to help define the term ‘natural’ and we take the responsibility to provide this clarity seriously,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement. “We will have more to say on the issue soon.” Read more at The New York Times…

 

Kroger opens Culinary Innovation Center

It’s not just natural retailers that are stepping up their foodservice and private label efforts—Kroger’s new innovation center in Cincinnati features a test kitchen and education center so that the retailer can develop and test new concepts. “This R&D lab will allow us to accelerate product development for our brands, produce new recipes for Prep + Pared Meal Kits, explore new restaurant concepts, host food tastings and focus groups, and increase our associates’ culinary knowledge,” said Daniel Hammer, vice president of culinary development and new business. Read more at Supermarket News…

 

Texas grocery chain HEB buys on-demand delivery service Favor

Another grocery store—Texas chain HEB—has bought another on-demand delivery startup—Favor. The company contracts 50,000+ runners to deliver foods and goods and has expanded in 50 cities within the state. Read more at Eater Austin…

 

Growth is the missing ingredient for Kraft Heinz

Kraft Heinz missed earnings expectations for its fourth quarter, and 2017 sales fell 1 percent as an increase in prices failed to offset a decline in volume. Leaders at 3G Capital, the private equity firm that runs the company, have focused on cost savings and say they’re ready to emphasize growth, suggesting that they’re open to more acquisitions. Read more at The Wall Street Journal…

 

Campbell Soup organic sales fall as dispute with Walmart continues

A reduction in orders from Walmart weighed on Campbell’s organic net sales in its second quarter. Read more at CNBC…

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