Unboxed: 8 brands to celebrate National Pasta/Noodle Days

It was National Noodle Day on Oct. 6 and National Pasta Day is this Thursday, Oct. 17, and while some might furrow their brows quizzically at the celebration of these two (dare I say similar?) events only 10 days apart, others might bludgeon me with wet bucatini for grouping these two occasions together.

There may have been a time when the terms pasta and noodles were considered virtually interchangeable. Today, however, “noodle” has become almost synonymous with a shape, as this category of pantry staples has broadened to include products made from fresh vegetables, seaweed and a wide variety of grains and other ingredients.   

The same is true of “pasta,” the word used for the Italian-style dough traditionally made from durum wheat and water and formed into a variety of shapes and sizes. Though the formats have largely remained the same, this concept has transformed through consumers’ search for pastas made from alternative ingredients that suit their gluten-free, grain-free or other dietary choices. In both categories, brands have responded with the creation of new and innovative takes on these two beloved foods—of which the following are a few examples.

Green America unveils 2019 Chocolate Scorecard

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Green America, the national nonprofit focused on using economic power for the creation of a just and environmentally sustainable society, has just released its annual Chocolate Scorecard. The scorecard ranks chocolate companies based on a variety of important social and sustainability issues. Chief among these has to do with companies’ stance against child labor—a major problem in the global cocoa industry—as well as commitments to sourcing sustainable and ethically farmed cocoa, working to end deforestation and other programs.

The rating—which does not claim to be a comprehensive list of all sustainably sourced chocolate companies—analyzes the practices of fifteen chocolate makers. And while the association recognizes that the majority of major chocolate companies have committed to more sustainable sourcing practices, in many cases including plans to incorporate 100% certified cocoa, it also underlines the fact that certification alone is insufficient to address the problem of child labor and its underlying causes. 

This is partly because various certifications have different standards and ideas about what it means to be “sustainable.” This is why Green America expanded its rating system this year, giving an “A” to those companies with programs that go above and beyond to address these critical issues. Check out these and more results in the scorecard below.

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Equity-based crowdfunding for foodies 101

Getty Images Plant growing out of money

When you hear the term “crowdfunding,” you probably think of rewards-based platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Entrepreneurs use these sites to solicit funds from the masses in exchange for specific perks, such as early access to product, free samples or even just a snazzy thank-you note. Rewards-based crowdfunding has been around for about a decade now, and many new companies, including in the natural food and beverage space, have found success with this model.

But more recently, thanks to a game-changing federal law, a different kind of crowdfunding has emerged: equity-based. Instead of offering rewards in exchange for funds, equity-based crowdfunding guarantees each investor an actual stake in the company, proportional to their investment.

This type of transaction was illegal in the U.S. until 2012, when President Obama signed the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act into law. The goal of this legislation was to encourage entrepreneurship and make it easier for small businesses to secure funding to fuel growth.

“The JOBS Act paved the way for the equity-based crowdfunding model by allowing unaccredited investors, as well as accredited, to invest in any startup they love for the first time since the 1930s,” says Nick Tommarello, co-founder and CEO of Wefunder, a leading equity-based crowdfunder and Certified B Corporation. But, he adds, these changes didn’t kick in immediately. It took another four years for various parts of the law to take effect, meaning equity-based crowdfunding didn’t really get off the ground until 2016.

But since that time, multiple sites have cropped up. Some were brand-new operations altogether while others had focused on other types of financing prior to the JOBS Act and then adopted the equity-based model once it became legal. While these sites all have their own terms, fee structures and nuances, they generally follow one of two tracts of equity-based crowdfunding: Title II crowdfunding, which means only accredited investors can participate, or Title III crowdfunding, also called regulation crowdfunding, which welcomes anybody to invest.

In less than three years, equity-based crowdfunding has raised billions for brands just starting out as well as established companies seeking to scale their businesses. So far, a good percentage of the startups that have exceled in this arena have been tech firms. This is in part because many platforms, such as Crowdfunder, SeedInvest, EquityNet, AngelList and MicroVentures, either specialize in or cater exclusively to the technology sector. But also, tech firms by their very nature tend to jive well with the technology-driven model that is crowdfunding. 

However, food and beverage brands have also succeeded with equity-crowdfunding campaigns. In fact, according to Tommarello, food and beverage is the No. 1 category on Wefunder. He says breweries and distilleries have raised a lot of money, as have CPG brands offering specialty foods, drinks and health products.

“We have about 10,000 accredited investors on the platform who tend to write larger checks, but in terms of numbers, most investors are ordinary people,” Tomarello adds. “Companies set a minimum and a maximum raise, and as long as they pass the minimum, they keep what they raise.” Wefunder charges 7.5% of the total raise but there is no fee for launching a campaign.

Because of its B Corp status, Wefunder may be an especially good fit for mission-based natural products entrepreneurs who want to partner with a likeminded company and link up with values-driven investors. “Becoming a B Corp reinforces the message that we are in this for the right reasons: We care about expanding capital to more entrepreneurs and having a positive social impact,” Tommarello says.

A couple of other equity-based crowdfunding sites also host a fair amount of natural food, beverage and lifestyle brands. Fundable, which allows accredited investors only, offers a very flexible service for companies at various stages of growth. It does not follow the all-or-nothing structure—you keep what you bring in, and rather than taking a cut of companies’ raises, Fundable charges for subscription packages.

The other food-friendly site is StartEngine, a platform in which anyone can invest. StartEngine gives companies the freedom to set their terms. It does not charge upfront to launch a campaign but takes 6% of money raised.

The great thing about all three of these crowdfunders is they all pack plenty of information onto their websites, and they break it all down and make it palatable for crowdfunding newbies. Which platform you choose will depend on your precise business goals, but overall, equity-based crowdfunding presents an exciting and viable fundraising path that entrepreneurs didn’t have access to just a few years ago.

5@5: Egg prices drop drastically | Wegmans to open Brooklyn location

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courtesy of the CDC

Egg prices suffer ‘extreme drop’

Over the course of the year, egg prices have dropped by a whopping 30%. This is because there are, quite simply, too many eggs being sold—and the largest egg producer in the U.S. suffered a net loss in the most recent quarter as a result. The drop is likely because of the shift toward cage-free and other specialty-labeled eggs on the parts of huge corporations, the prices of which haven’t dropped nearly as much as conventional eggs. Read more at Modern Farmer

Wegmaniacs count the days to Brooklyn store opening

Wegmans is opening a 74,000-square-foot location at the Brooklyn Navy Yard to the (often extreme) delight of New York City-based customers who grew up shopping in any of its 100 locations. The family-run retailer was one of the first to popularize in-store restaurants and fans say that the combination of fresh produce, affordable pantry items, tasty prepared food offerings and convenient prescription pick up set Wegmans apart from conventional grocery outlets. Read more at The Wall Street Journal

Ranchers denounce corporate control over cattle markets

The aptly named “Rally To Stop the Stealin’” took place last week in Nebraska, and over 500 cattle producers from 14 states denounced “corporate control over cattle markets and [demanded] that the Trump administration do something to fix it.” USDA has responded by launching an investigation to see if the disparity between the profits of packers and producers is because of market shocks or unfair practices on the part of beef packers. Read more at Civil Eats

Tech startups look to banish shoppers’ dreaded wait in line, a la Amazon Go

Autonomous checkout technology has continued to spread among retailers of all sorts after Amazon Go successfully launched late last year. Emerging startups, however, are starting to branch off from Amazon’s vision by allowing retailers to create a customized hybrid automated checkout experience that doesn’t get rid of cashiers altogether with respect to their consumer demand. Read more at U.S. Chamber of Commerce

If food is medicine, why isn’t it taught at medical schools?

Researchers have found that medical school students spend less than 1% of their time in class learning about the effects of diet on overall health—and consequentially, a mere 14% of doctors feel comfortable offering valuable nutrition advice to their patients. Poor diet kills one in five Americans every year—a higher rate than pollution, lack of exercise and alcohol and drug use combined. Read more at New Food Economy

What 4 generations look for in natural personal care products

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Natural, sustainable beauty and personal care products are, it’s safe to say, becoming mainstream. But the lack of federally set standards has allowed for a good deal of greenwashing within the industry, leading to consumer mistrust and confusion in a category that affects one’s health just as much as one’s dietary choices. Orbis Research has found that beauty is now a $523 billion business globally, and natural brands and retailers have the upper hand in terms of building trust with the new conscious, connected consumer. With respect to this, here are four generations’ buying behaviors—and how you can use them to your advantage—when it comes to natural personal care.

Gen Z

Gen Z is perhaps the most important generation for upstart natural personal care brands to cater to; a survey from Mintel shows that most members of this generation actively seek out verifiably clean and organic makeup and personal care products that make them look like themselves. They are more experience-focused than Gen Xers or baby boomers—having an in-store event that allows them to interact with personal care products is an important way to reach these omnichannel shoppers. Partnering with natural channel-focused influencers that have established themselves as trustworthy to their Gen Z fans is an invaluable way to reach this demographic as well.

Millennials

A recent survey from Alix Partners shows that millennials—who now have the largest spending power of all—are leading the consumer demand for transparency, traceability and sustainability in personal care; this age group is also the most willing to pay more for clean-label, ethically sourced products. And they’re increasingly buying them from smaller, purpose-driven brands that put authenticity at the fore as opposed to big players in the industry.

The brands and stores that garner millennial loyalty have also grasped the importance of storytelling via social media and use these platforms to show consumers where their products’ ingredients originate from and how they are processed. Successfully marketing to this demographic also requires brands and retailers to demonstrate their ethics through their behavior to shoppers in order to foster the kind of value-sharing intimacy that is no longer exclusively the domain of friends and family.

Gen X

Gen X consumers care less than millennials do about how the ingredients in their personal care products are sourced and more about the removal of potential allergens and ingredient recognition. But the two generations have a mutual appreciation for simple, natural, multitasking products. The often-overlooked Gen X demographic is high-earning, high-spending and brand loyal, which makes them less likely than millennials to test out the continual stream of category newcomers—but a new report from Ipsos shows that if anything can get consumers to switch from conventional beauty, it’s brands that clearly emphasize their natural, clean and sustainable attributes.

Baby boomers

Baby boomers are the toughest consumers for new brands to convert, because they often have an established set of brands they repurchase from for all their personal care needs. Baby boomer women aren’t looking to reverse the aging process; rather, they appreciate companies that emphasize feeling good as much as looking good. They are in this way a good target for the beauty-positioned supplements that support a healthy glow from the inside out. This demographic looks for detailed and transparent labeling in their personal care picks, but all-natural ingredient claims are not a top priority. As with other generations, trying out certain products in stores is the most effective way to procure new personal care sales from baby boomer shoppers according to Ipsos.

Natural Foods Merchandiser

Jeff Kaufman: Plant-based champion long before it was cool

Rebecca Wilson Studia Jeff Kaufman started Roots Market in Maryland to share the benefits of a vegan diet.

Nowadays, plant-based eating is all the rage, but that wasn’t the case 10 years ago—and certainly not nearly 30 years ago, when Jeff Kaufman became a vegan.

Once he learned about the ills of factory farming, he ousted animal-based foods from his diet and, over the next three decades, helped countless others embrace a more plant-centric menu.

After working in natural products retail for several years, in 2000, Kaufman founded Roots Market—an early champion of plant-based products—in Clarksville, Maryland. Next, in 2004, he and his team launched a vegan restaurant, Great Sage, and an eco-shop called Nest, which sells organic clothing and fair-trade and artisanal gifts, right next door to the store. Then, in 2007, they added a second Roots Market in Olney.

Natural Foods Merchandiser caught up with Kaufman recently to learn what drives both his lifestyle and Roots’ mission—and why knowing your identity as a store is so crucial.

What inspired you to become a vegan?

Jeff Kaufman: Back in the early ’90s, while in college, I did a lot of research into factory farming, which woke me up to what was going on in the meat and dairy industries. Among other books, I read Animal Liberation by Peter Singer and Diet for a New America by John Robbins. I found Robbins’ story especially exciting and interesting because he was going to be next in line to make millions and millions [of dollars] off Baskin-Robbins, which his father created. But when he looked at the dairy industry and realized how horrific it was, he decided not to get involved with the company and instead went in the vegan direction. It’s always interesting when someone has a lot to lose and still chooses the ethical path.

So, in early 1990, after I got my education on these industries, I went vegan. I got into it essentially for the animal rights aspect, but over the years I’ve come to appreciate the nutritional aspects and environmental impacts.

What was your path to natural products retail?

JK: In 1992, I rode a bicycle across the country, which allowed me to see how people in rural America were using plants, such as comfrey, for healing. This woke me up to the whole herbal medicine side of things and gave me an appreciation for natural wellness approaches. Then, when I got to Berkeley [California] on my bike, I began working at a natural foods market. It was just eight months, but I worked in four different positions in the store, so that gave me a nice footing for learning grocery and deli. Then I came back East and worked with [MOM’s Organic Market founder] Scott Nash in the late ’90s.

What prompted you to create your own store?

JK: Roots came about because I liked what some of the independents were doing with standards and quality, but I also liked how some of the bigger operators were focusing more on aesthetics and the general experience. In creating Roots, we wanted to do that blend—have high standards for products but also create a fun and dynamic shopping experience.

Jeff Kaufman started Roots Market in Maryland to share the benefits of a vegan diet.

Does Roots Market carry any meat?

JK: We have a very small meat department in the way back of both stores. They are not easy to find, and before you get there, all of our plant-based meats, cheeses and other products are going to be in your face. We are well-known in the region as a plant-based hub. We get in new products faster than other stores do, and we like working with new producers, even small ones that wouldn’t get into Whole Foods because it’s hard for them to be consistent with supply. We love being first to market with new plant-based items.

Why carry animal products at all?

JK: The goal is to have a positive influence on our community and the planet. We decided over the years that we’d lose so many customers if we cut out all animal products, and it is better to have all those people coming into our store. Because that way, we are better able to positively influence them. If meat is X percent of someone’s diet, we can hopefully help make that percentage less and less through our promotion of plant-based products. Over the years, we’ve had a tremendous positive influence on our community.

As a vegan, is it exciting for you to see the proliferation of plant-based products?

JK: Twenty years ago, our products were strange compared to what was found in the mainstream. But now our products are not just in Whole Foods but also in Target and Walmart and everywhere, so it just makes it a different challenge and puzzle. But overall, our leadership team enjoys the challenge because plant-based is what we believe in. Also, we can still stay ahead by having the highest standards, not just by being plant-based but also by not allowing GMO food and by carrying as many fair-trade products as possible.

What keeps customers coming back to Roots Market versus shopping elsewhere?

JK: It’s our team. We have a lot of team members who have been with us quite a while and are here because of their passion for our mission. And of course, we have the best selection of plant-based foods in the region. Also, our stores are just fun to shop at. We keep them clean, our displays are strong and creative, and we put a lot into making it an exceptional human experience. If a store doesn’t make you feel good as a human and doesn’t have that community feel, you may as well just buy stuff online. Jeff Kaufman started Roots Market in Maryland to share the benefits of a vegan diet.

Does Roots offer online ordering and either grocery pickup or delivery?

JK: We do a tiny bit of delivery, but our interest is not in copying our competitors. A high percentage of our guests are foodies, and our angle is to make it interesting for them to come back and shop, not for them to just swing by in a rush to grab their groceries. If a customer is not excited to see and taste new foods, they are probably already shopping somewhere else. Our customers get a real kick out of going into a community grocery store, maybe seeing some of their friends, connecting with our team members and having it be a good experience.

Why are independent natural products retailers still vital today?

JK: I do a lot of traveling, and one of the interesting things about humanity is seeing different people’s creativity in different places. I don’t think it’s a very interesting world if you go to different towns and see the same shops. I find beauty in diversity, so if I go to another town, I am much more interested in the independents than the chains. This applies to food in particular, but also across the board. It’s good to have a true local flavor.

What will keep independents thriving in the future?

JK: It’s just about having an identity. You have to know who you are and not chase the identities of other, bigger operators. You have to understand why you got into this business, what you are trying to do and who you’re trying to serve, and if you stay true to that, hopefully the community will support you. We’ve always known who we are, and our big push toward top-quality ingredients, organic and plant-based has always been a driver for us.

Natural Foods Merchandiser

Autumn: Time to plan, prepare in the natural products industry

Getty Images Autumn's change is so pertinent to the natural retail industry right now Christine Kapperman

Christine Kapperman Senior Content Director, New Hope NetworkChange has filled my mind lately.

I just can’t help it at this time of year. An alive crispness fills the air. Yellows, oranges and reds burst from green to remind us of the power of possibility, of the cycles of life and of change—the inevitable, the unforeseen and the chosen.

Harvest reminds us to give thanks and appreciate rebirth.

It’s all so pertinent to me and to our natural retail industry right now.

Retail renewal

In the July/August issue of Natural Foods Merchandiser magazine, we reported the state of natural retail through our annual Market Overview issue. The numbers came out more positive than I had expected. For that, I give thanks.

But just about half of those surveyed expect this year to be better than last. And already I’ve cried at some of the news of closures and those likely to come.

Now is the time to consider rebirth. What will health food stores look like on the other side of the change? We must not accept the “inevitable.” We must look at and examine possibilities, so that we may choose our future. Setting strategy to guide the way will be the subject of the retail breakfast Friday, Sept. 13, at Natural Products Expo East. Please join us to explore and plan a way forward for your store.

Natural Foods Merchandiser refresh

This magazine, too, is going through a refresh. Next year, NFM will look a little different and we will introduce some additional coverage as we strive to better examine today’s natural retail environment.

What do you need to know? What would you like to read about more? Please let me know. You can reach me at 303.998.9384 or ckapperman@newhope.com.

I’m also food business reporter, Adrienne Smithexcited to announce that we have a new food business reporter, Adrienne Smith. Adrienne brings a long and diverse food background, much of it spent advancing Spanish food commodities and culture. She will be covering product trends and the business of natural foods. A sommelier with a passion for food, she has worked across the globe to spread good-food practices from origin to packaged products to restaurant plates. 

Adrienne dives in this month with a look at natural indulgences for the In the Aisle section.

Expo East takeoff

Natural Products Expo East serves as a great launchpad for thinking about changes. It comes just as businesses review their strategic plans and commit to actions for the coming year. It arrives before most finalize their calendar-year budgets.

Whether or not you attended this year, it’s never too soon to prepare for Expo East 2020. It’s the perfect opportunity to engage with industry experts and connect with other retailers to prepare for coming business cycles. A change is coming for Expo East as well: The annual convention moves to the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 2020.

Reflect. Plan. Plant seeds for the future. That’s what this time is for.

Natural Foods Merchandiser

How CV Sciences prepared for success in the hemp CBD category

CV Sciences’ 50 SKUs are sold at stores nationwide and online. The brand offers three formulas—Raw, Total Plant Complex and Gold Formula

When CV Sciences debuted its PlusCBD Oil product line in 2014, the hemp CBD market was very new and largely uncharted territory. The company knew that beyond getting its products onto retail shelves, it had to pave the way for this sector by educating the industry and “doing things the right way,” says Sarah Syed, director of marketing: “We realized there wasn’t a brand on the market that was labeling or marketing correctly, so we set the standard for hemp CBD products.”

Five years in, CV Sciences’ 50 SKUs are sold at stores nationwide and online. The brand offers three formulas—Raw, Total Plant Complex and Gold Formula—and a broad array of delivery formats including capsules, gummies, drops, topicals and softgels. This year, the company is launching PlusCBD Oil Roll-Ons, which contain camphor and menthol along with hemp CBD. 

Yet even as its offerings and distribution expand and everybody and their brothers are talking about CBD, CV Sciences remains steadfast in its commitment to education. We caught a few moments with Syed to learn more about the company’s grassroots efforts to teach the world about hemp CBD, its appreciation for independent natural products retailers and how it plans to keep moving this market forward.

Natural Foods Merchandiser: How does PlusCBD Oil stand apart from the countless other brands out there?

Sarah Syed, director of marketing, CBDPlusSarah Syed: We believe that PlusCBD Oil was the flagship brand in the natural products industry. We were the first brand that most stores felt comfortable enough to put on their shelves. And to do that, we were compelled to create comfort and understanding around this complex subject matter. Back in 2014, most people didn’t know much about CBD, and now it’s everywhere. We believe this is because of our stewardship of the space: We are hemp experts, and we fought for the category and the legalization of hemp all the way to the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill.

Also, our dedication to transparency, quality and education really sets us apart from the “me too” brands. We are the only company with published toxicological safety assessments, which makes us self-affirmed GRAS. Further, our dedication to consumer well-being is underscored through our research efforts, as this is a new molecule that hasn’t truly been in our supply because of prohibition. 

NFM: What most helped market your products in the beginning?

SS: When we were creating the market, there were just a few brands in the space and none that understood the nutrition industry or, frankly, dietary supplements in general. So marketing these products came down solely to education. In the age of misinformation, it became clear that we had to spread the truth about hemp extracts to the world. We educated retailers, doctors, consumers and even our competitors. Our grassroots efforts meant hosting webinars and teleseminars and putting educators on the ground to visit stores and host meal trainings for retailers, whether they were an account or not. We wanted everyone to feel comfortable with us first. That’s how we built trust.

NFM: Why offer hemp CBD in so many different formats?

SS: The wide array, we believe, speaks well to the fact that each person has unique biochemistry and hemp extracts work with each person’s endocannabinoid system differently. Our three formulas contain a different biochemical matrix of constituents found in hemp, so depending on someone’s need for taking hemp CBD, we have an offering that could serve them best.

NFM: How do you position your products in mass, natural and online retail?

SS: This is tough because I think there has always been a stigma about natural products brands expanding outside of this industry. But let’s face it, this is a brand-new category that is completely different from any other in this space. Conventional marketing tactics don’t always apply, so you have to think outside of the box. With that said, being the industry leaders, we want to ensure our products can be accessible to all—in natural, online and even in mass. 

Hemp CBD requires expansion without guardrails, in a sense, as long as the brand is doing it right—which we are. So I think by staying true to our values as a natural products brand—clean ingredients, meeting label claims, following DSHEA, etc.—we can also capture new customers who may not shop at natural products stores normally but want to feel the benefits from our products. It’s really exciting to see that the opportunity to make hemp CBD accessible is limitless.

NFM: Where do you focus your retail education efforts?

SS: Education remains paramount in everything we do, and we are fortunate that our founders and leaders understand that this investment is necessary. Along with the webinars, teleseminars and amazing educators who travel the country, we’ve partnered with media companies like New Hope to sponsor content in order to teach the industry, even when there was skepticism and hesitation. This is an area of our business where we thrive, and frankly, we are often told by consumers that our staff is the most knowledgeable about this subject matter. This is completely intentional. Every person who represents our brand is trained extensively, and we have an internal team dedicated to just that.

NFM: Why is it important for your products to be in independent natural products stores?

SS: Independents got us to where we are today, and we are so grateful for the forward-thinking nature of these indie buyers and owners, who heard our mission and took a chance to put us on their shelves—especially in the face of a regulatory gray area.

The Independent Natural Foods Retailers Association and Natural Co+op Grocers, amongst others, are also part of our knit. Their vetting processes are extensive, and we deliberately focused on retail before online because we knew the quality requirements that needed to be met. If we could pass those stringent requirements, we knew we could build credibility because we had gone above and beyond to do this right.

NFM: How can independents stay in the game as hemp CBD gains a wider audience?

SS: Work with companies that invest in you too. We offer an online training program to educate, we invest dollars via co-op advertising, we have educators available to hold seminars at your store and we offer demos to increase your sell-through. Also, independent retailers are so incredibly knowledgeable already and we offer the tools to help you become a hemp CBD expert.

NFM: What is the biggest challenge for hemp CBD brands right now?

SS: Buyer fatigue. It’s a double-edged sword, creating the industry and teaching the world about something so new and disruptive, and then today you can’t go anywhere without someone talking about hemp CBD. Buyers are being flooded with new brands and even legacy brands launching CBD line extensions, so there’s certainly some fatigue. Brands need to differentiate themselves beyond their products, and we’ve certainly had to pivot a few times to keep agile in such a fast-growing market.

NFM: What does this industry need going forward?

SS: More research will help add to the already growing list of case reports about the effects and benefits of hemp extracts. Due to the newness of hemp in the U.S., we have a long way to go to really understand how hemp CBD works in the body. 

5@5: U.S. farmers stick by Trump | Uber acquires grocery delivery startup

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Farmers sticking by Trump even as trade wars bite

Farmers are suffering under President Trump’s disruptive policies on trade, immigration and ethanol, but that’s not stopping them from supporting his reelection. Two-thirds of 400 farmers polled each month consistently say they’re expecting a happy ending to the trade wars and aren’t deterred by current impeachment investigations. Read more at NPR

Uber to acquire grocery delivery startup Cornershop

Uber is set to acquire a grocery delivery startup called Cornershop after Walmart’s deal with the same company fell through in June. Cornershop was initially launched to serve the Latin American market and only recently launched in Canada, its only North American location to date. Read more at Tech Crunch

Fruits you probably haven’t heard of—but might soon

Foreign fruits with exotic monikers—think baobab, bread fruit and monk fruit—are taking the natural channel by storm, and for good reason. They’re being formulated into whole-food based meat substitutes, zero-calorie sweeteners, gluten-free flour and more of today’s top trending food products. Read more at The Wall Street Journal

Study finds people will eat more vegetarian food if given the choice

A new study that examined 94,000 meal choices in three University of Cambridge cafeterias found that adding vegetarian meal options in place of meat or fish significantly boosted the sales of vegetarian meals—without detracting from overall sales or being followed by a spike in the meat-heavy meals. This indicates that reducing global meat consumption could be as simple as having more (tasty) vegetarian options available in cafeterias and restaurants. Read more at Modern Farmer

How chefs are saving us from the next potato famine

A mere 1% of available crops—mainly wheat, soybeans and maize—are the bedrock for most humans’ diets worldwide. But the growing methods used to produce these few crops aren’t sustainable, are causing 30% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and use up approximately 70% of the planet’s potable water. To help counteract this downward spiral, several chefs are beginning to introduce drought-resistant, resilient crops such as fonio, teff and paw paw to their audiences in order to expand their palates and encourage ethical sourcing methods. Read more at Fast Company