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Articles from 2018 In December

The brand that's finally making nootropics go mainstream


Nootropics, the pursuit of heightened mental performance through technology and supplementation, is largely trapped in the geek-centric domain of the biohacker. A few products like the much-advertised Prevagen have mainstream traction, and cognitive products have broad appeal built around modest claims of efficacy. However, the Neurohacker Collective brand is now claiming huge gains in a pilot study, including an 85.4 percent increase in the ability to concentrate and avoid distraction. We spoke with CEO James Schmachtenberger about his disciplined, science-backed approach to nootropics. 

New Hope: What makes your brand stand out in this nootropics cognitive space?

Schmachtenberger: We're using a complex systems science approach to all of our research and product development. Almost all of supplementation and medicine, in general, operates off a relatively reductionist approach. You have a fairly narrow set of variables that you're trying to effect. As a result of that, you can create meaningful increases in those variables. But without understanding how that particular piece interfaces with the rest of the system, you oftentimes end up been creating new problems. Instead of that, we take the time to actually understand what the body's own self- regulatory processes are. And then we use the products such that they help to enhance the body's own regulatory capacity. It takes away the potential for any kind of dependency or addiction because we're not overriding anything. It also allows people to not only get in homeostasis but increase their homeostatic balance, meaning when something does throw them out of balance, the body then has a better ability to self-regulate.

You’ve staged a pilot study with 23 subjects. Are there plans for bigger studies?

We're doing a clinical trial, full double-blind, placebo-controlled. We're in the final phases right now of defining the scope of that trial, and then we'll begin the recruitment process. In addition to that, based on the success of the initial Cambridge Brain Sciences study, we've also rolled out a new program that allows every single customer to participate. Every time a customer purchases any of our cognitive products, they're given the option to go online and do the Cambridge cognitive assessment before they take the product, and then take it again, at different time variable: after a week, after a month, after three months. The individuals are given reports on their own function and they can see the sort of objective increases that they're experiencing across different cognitive domains. And then on the back end, we, of course, get the aggregated data. We're looking to run that program until we have 1000 or more users that have done solid before and after cognitive testing.

Outside of your brand, do you think that nootropics are well studied?

Certain individual nootropic compounds have been well-studied. I wouldn't say that the category as a whole has been particularly well-studied. And what hasn't been studied almost at all are the synergistic properties of how different nootropic compounds work together. Ingredients might have certain notable benefits, but it doesn't mean that if you can just put all those together, that you get all of those benefits. Sometimes they'll counteract each other, they'll compete for the same absorption pathways. There are all kinds of variables that can go into that.

Nootropics seem stuck in a pretty select crowd of consumers. What will it take for it to go mainstream?

For a much broader audience to start to utilize it, they have to start to have a greater sense of safety around nootropics. And right now, there's not enough good quality information that's available to the public for many people to feel like it's the safe avenue for them. We need both further research studies on safety, and then largely just better distribution of information of what's already known. And then I think a lot of it is also just familiarity with the terminology and the topic matter. Obviously, the majority of the population doesn't actually know what the word nootropics means. Broadening awareness around what the potential benefits makes it more interesting and more attractive.

How do you how would you describe the consumers that are responding to your brand?

I would say the majority of consumers that we have fall into the most educated portions of the population on topics of health and optimization. A lot of our customers right now are people who identify as biohackers or self-optimization experts or people who are in hard science. We have a lot of neuroscientists, neurobiologists, fields like that, that get behind it because they actually understand the science of what we're doing. Right now, the largest portion of our customers are people who have a pretty deep background in health and optimization. Over the last six months or so we've been starting to branch out of that market and make things accessible for more people.

Is there anything that would keep you from advertising to the people who are buying Prevagen and products like that?

It’s obviously going to be a very similar type of customer that going to be attracted to Prevagen because they have effectively the same use case, at least in terms of how most people are going to think about it. With our product, we have the capacity to deliver on that promise but more broadly and more effectively than other things are out there. We're going after the most educated, most influential audiences where we knew that early adoption was possible and that we could then use the influence of those people to help bring that information to broader audiences. Now that we have really deep traction in that space, we're working on taking the same kinds of information and content and presenting it in language that's more exciting and more accessible for a much broader audience.

What other products do you have in the works?

We have a cell energy product  that is already scheduled for launch in March. Beyond that, our next categories are sleep and anxiety. Those are in beta stage right now. We’re also working on taking some of our current products into different delivery formats. We’re working on a liquid shot version of our cognitive products.


2018 Farm Bill wins and losses for organic industry, supplements and more

rarrarorro/Getty Images U.S. Capitol Building
STATUS QUO: In large measure, the 2018 Farm Bill process has been described as a "status quo" bill, facing calls to at least maintain the farm income safety net in times of low prices.

President Donald Trump on December 20 signed the 2018 “Agriculture Improvement Act,” known to most Americans as the Farm Bill. There was strong bipartisan support for the $867 billion Farm Bill, the twice-per-decade omnibus legislation that funds projects under the purview of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from nutrition and food stamps to soil conservation and agricultural trade. Trump’s signing of the bill into law just before Christmas was spurred in part by pressure from farmers battered by an ongoing trade war with China that has disproportionately affected U.S. producers of soy and other agricultural goods.

The Farm Bill scored some wins and losses for organic food and farming, nutritional supplements and animal welfare, while also for the first time in more than 80 years legalizing the commercial cultivation and sale of industrial hemp in the U.S., as summarized below.

Hemp, Hemp, Hooray!

For hemp producers across the U.S., the Farm Bill is has made history. “The Farm Bill…both legalizes hemp as an agricultural commodity and removes it from the controlled substances list. It gives states the opportunity to be the primary overseers of hemp production. It also allows hemp researchers to apply for competitive federal grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and makes hemp eligible for federal crop insurance. Together these features will encourage new opportunities for struggling farmers and their families, new products for use in construction, health care, and manufacturing, and new jobs in a broad range of fields," said Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), sponsor of the hemp provision.

In an interview with Fox Business News, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue welcomed the new hemp legalization. “This is an industrial-use product, medicinally as well as other products, and we look forward to developing markets for it if it’s a profitable crop. Agriculture needs new products,” he said.

While the previous 2014 Farm Bill eased some federal regulations on CBD production, the new bill goes much further, reports Chris Chafin in Rolling Stone. “Most importantly, it removes hemp and any hemp derivative from the Controlled Substances Act, legally separating it from marijuana and putting its supervision under the Department of Agriculture. In the most basic sense, these plants serve three primary uses: fiber (paper and cloth), seeds (for hemp oil and food), and cannabinoid oils. It’s this last category that’s the most profitable and has the biggest potential for growth. The bill defines hemp as any part or derivative of cannabis with a THC level below 0.3 percent on a dry-weight basis,” Chafin reported.

U.S. hemp-based product sales grew 16 percent to reach $820 million in 2017 and is expected to surpass $1 billion in sales in 2018, led primarily by hemp-derived CBD, food, personal care and industrial products, according to the publication Hemp Business Journal. While "it’s still unclear how different federal agencies will interpret the new doesn’t matter — people in the CBD industry are calling the new [Farm Bill] legislation a game changer," Chafin added.

More Research Funding for Organic

While more money was dedicated to organic farming research–from $20 million annually to $50 million annually by 2023–changes to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) may make it harder for small organic farmers to be fairly represented and to remove synthetic ingredients in organic production, says one organic industry observer.

Other organic industry wins in the Farm Bill included preserving the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program to help organic farmers pay for the costs of organic certification. According to Max Goldberg, editor and publisher of Organic Insider, between funds that were not used in the last Farm Bill and new funds in this Farm Bill, $40.5 million is available to help offset the costs of organic farmers obtaining organic certification. In addition, $5 million was earmarked for technology upgrades and data tracking for fraudulent organic imports, along with increased enforcement authority to crack down on fraudulent organic products from abroad. Also, $5 million was allocated for the Organic Production and Market Data Initiative, an important program for policymakers, researchers and industry participants to understand organic production and market data, track trends and create risk management tools, reported Goldberg.

According to Organic Insider, as a result of the Farm Bill executives of farm companies are now allowed to sit in farmer-designated seats on the 15-member NOSB. “This has the potential to dilute the voice of independent organic farmers while favoring the interests of large organic production companies. For example, an executive at a large farm company with zero first-hand knowledge of farming could now be holding a farmer-designated seat on the board,” cautioned Goldberg.

Also included in the Farm Bill is a new provision about NOSB voting procedures that govern decisions about which synthetic materials are allowed in organic production and processing, which could “make it easier for synthetic materials to stay on the National List for decades,” Goldberg observed.

SNAP Excludes Multivitamins

While some food assistance measures sought by retailers under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) were secured in the 2018 Farm Bill, the SNAP Vitamin and Mineral Improvement Act was dropped from the bill. “An important step toward improving the nutrition status of low-income Americans, this provision would have allowed SNAP recipients to purchase a multivitamin-mineral dietary supplement with their program benefits, said Steve Mister, President and CEO of the Council for Responsible Nutrition. “We are saddened that low-income Americans will not be given access to this option to help improve nutrient gaps in their diet. CRN remains committed to expanding consumer access to multivitamins and will continue to support policies that ensure all Americans, regardless of socioeconomic status, have equal opportunity for good nutrition,” he added.

Also, while President Trump signed the Farm Bill without any proposed changes to SNAP work requirements, on the same day USDA announced in a proposal that it seeks to have all Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWDs) ages 18-49 on SNAP placed into work programs. Currently, ABAWDs must work or participate in an employment program for 20 hours a week to continue benefits for more than three months. State waivers, currently available in seven states, and partial waivers, currently available in 29 states, can allow them to receive benefits without working in times of bad economic conditions. The USDA proposal would limit the duration of such waivers. With unemployment currently at 3.7 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there’s no reason able people shouldn’t be working or seeking work, USDA argues. In 2017, SNAP was used by 42 million Americans, or about 1 in 8, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

"This blanket solution might work — if institutionalized racism did not exist in the U.S.,” writes Beth Kaiserman in Forbes. “In 2017, 21.2% of Black Americans and 18.3% of Hispanics fell below the poverty line, compared with 8.7% of whites, according to Talk Poverty. In 14 states and Washington, D.C., black unemployment is twice as high as white unemployment, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Black and Hispanic workers also earn less than their white and Asian counterparts, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Trump Administration ignores the true struggles of people of color in this country. These systematic changes create further inadequacies, making it harder for people in poverty to build better lives,” Kaiserman said.

Animal Welfare – Dogs and Cats in Food Finally Illegal

While none of the animal welfare provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill address the large-scale problems caused by factory farming and Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) in the U.S., a small handful of items in this year’s bill modestly address the inhumane treatment of animals. One such provision prohibits the import, export, and slaughter of dogs and cats for human consumption. Eating dogs and cats is uncommon in the U.S., but until now, it had been legal in 44 states.

In addition, included in the Farm Bill is the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act, which strives to address a problem for both humans and companion animals: Victims of domestic violence are often afraid to leave because of concern their abusive partner may abuse or kill their pets in retribution. The PAWS Act commits more resources to housing domestic violence survivors with pets and changes law enforcement policy so these situations are more addressable in our current legal framework, which imposes only mild penalties for killing someone’s pet, reports Kelsey Piper in Vox.

Finally, the Farm Bill closes a loophole on animal fighting, such as cockfighting or dogfighting, currently illegal in all 50 states. The bill extends that prohibition to all U.S. territories, such as Puerto Rico and Guam, as well.

Of note is that an amendment sought by U.S. Representative Steve King (R-IA) to prohibit states from setting their own animal welfare standards was removed by Congress from the final Farm Bill. After important animal welfare measures for humane treatment of farm animals and race dogs passed in California and Florida, respectively, King’s amendment was designed to nullify states’ rights regarding animal welfare. The amendment could have interfered with “state restrictions on gestation crates for pigs, tail-docking of cattle, and horse slaughter, along with state bans on the sale of foie gras, eggs from hens kept in extremely small battery cages, and pets from puppy mills,” according to an analysis conducted by the Animal Welfare Institute.

[email protected]: Amazon expands Whole Foods locations | Will Farm Bill prevent dairy industry decline?


Amazon plans to add Whole Foods stores

In order to expand the consumer base for its increasingly popular two-hour Prime Now delivery service, Amazon is preparing to build Whole Foods stores to more suburbs and other yet unknown territory. While Prime discounts have allegedly hurt Whole Foods’ margins, Amazon is investing to boost presence and plans on reaping a greater payoff once product selection and growth is increased at Whole Foods. Read more at The Wall Street Journal …


Can Farm Bill help fight dairy industry decline?


The U.S. dairy industry—mostly the country’s small, organic dairy farms—is facing its lowest year-on-year growth since 2013. The 2018 Farm Bill however, may offer some help in the form of expanding “some subsidies for larger dairy farmers and [offering] lower premiums to participate in a federal program that provides compensation when milk prices drop below a certain level.” The funding that this most recent Farm Bill provided for organic practices and research should also have a beneficial effect on the U.S.’s organic dairy industry. Read more at Forbes 


Nestle plans vegan push with no-meat burger, purple walnut milk

Nestle is sowing the seeds for its vegan business to grow to $1 billion within the next ten years. The Swiss company is competing against rivals such as Unilever, companies that are rushing to occupy the plant-based sphere in the face of lagging sales among an increasingly vegan-curious consumer base. The company’s research team is also planning on releasing a blue-tinged soy milk alternative made from walnuts and blueberries, among other plant-based innovations. Read more at Bloomberg …


Voice shopping grew threefold during the holidays

Three times as many consumers used Amazon’s voice-based Alexa shopping service this past holiday season relative to the previous year. Now that 55 percent of Americans are using smart speakers for various purposes, it is unsurprising that voice commerce is growing fast, even though it is still a niche way to shop. Smart speaker services must keep in mind the statistics showing that payment habits are hard to change, and they need to offer customers alluring cost-based incentives to keep them interested.  Read more at Business Insider  ...


American farmers brace for more pain as Pacific trade deal kicks in without the US

A major Pacific trade deal has come into effect that will negatively impact America’s already financially burdened farmers. According to the Peterson Institute for International Economics, the U.S. would have seen a $131 billion increase in income had President Trump chosen to stay in TPP, but will now endure losses of $2 billion in income. And as the CTPP increases in members, “the pressure on U.S. goods overseas would likely keep rising." Read more at CNBC  

Why consumers' secretive brand choices are the ones that really matter


Food brands and marketers, listen up: Consumers don’t need to shout a brand’s name from the rooftops (or Twitter) to positively impact that company's reputation. New research suggests consumers who feel secretive about their consumption of a brand may actually have a stronger connection with said brand—and if used properly, that connection may be used to leverage the brand among other consumers.

The main takeaway from the study, published online in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, is summarized here:

The results suggest that contrary to popular belief, people who are embarrassed about using a brand may indeed be devoted customers. They might not promote the brand by word of mouth, but they are likely to respond to offers to provide anonymous reviews. Offering these consumers more discreet forms of consumption–such as online ordering–may also prove effective, says Veronica Thomas, one of the study's authors and an associate professor at Towson University in Maryland.

The researchers carried out a series of experiments that led to this conclusion. One involved a survey that revealed a majority of respondents had kept at least one brand a secret, with nearly 40 percent of those doing so out of embarrassment. One respondent, for example, kept her McDonald's consumption secret because it didn't portray her as having a healthy lifestyle; another didn't want people to know she shopped at a store specializing in plus-sized clothing. Another of the experiments involved a survey that, in effect, divided respondents into groups that lied or didn’t lie about something they’d done before — in this case, having watched a particular musician. Those results revealed that lying increased “thought intrusion and suppression,” which actually led to a stronger connection to the musician.

The significance of thought intrusion, explains the study, is borne out in previous research: “Multiple suppression attempts followed by repeated thought intrusions result in a cyclical pattern known as obsessive preoccupation.” Basically, that translates into stronger attraction to—thoughts about, etc.—whatever the secret is.

The authors conclude that marketers may be able to leverage that connection by partnering with a company like Order-Up, allowing consumers to have brands discreetly delivered to their house—or encouraging consumers to engage in brand-promoting but anonymous behaviors, such as writing anonymous reviews.

It also might explain something for those consumers who subconsciously feel increased loyalty or connection to a product or experience if they’re secretive about it. "Maybe we think a brand is ideal because we started to form a strong bond due to obsessive preoccupation related to secrecy," said Thomas.

[email protected]: Thousands affected by organic grain fraud scheme | The state of banned EU foods in the US

Thinkstock farming in the midwest

US says thousands were victims of organic grain fraud scheme

Farmers in Iowa who marketed and sold non-organic corn, soybeans and wheat as organic in order to sell them at a higher price point have pleaded guilty for fraud and are currently awaiting sentencing. Buyers included companies that incorporated these grains into other nationally sold products that were then marketed as organic, meaning that these false claims affected millions of consumers. Read more at The Des Moines Register …


What foods are banned in Europe but not banned in the US?


The European Union has long since banned many widely used additives in American cuisine; however, the FDA is making small steps to correct the national consumption of cancer- and disease-linked additives such as BHA, Potassium Bromate and Red Dye #40. Get the scoop on the current legal state of the food additives that are stealthily breaking U.S. consumers out in hives—or worse. Read more at The New York Times 


One way Blue Apron is looking to turn itself around in 2019

Blue Apron is looking to increase its appeal to consumers by teaming up with WW (formerly known as Weight Watchers) to produce whole food-oriented, healthy meal box subscriptions for customers. The WW menu costs the same as Blue Apron’s two-serving meal plan, and the company will receive a small acquisition fee for every new Blue Apron subscriber. Read more at The Washington Post …


Here’s how a Colorado dentist became Big Sugar’s worst nightmare

Big Sugar has acted much like tobacco companies did back in the mid-20th century—prominent members of the sugar industry hid studies that showed as early as the 1950s that the sweet stuff caused tooth decay and was linked to bladder cancer, in addition to funding those studies that underscored fat and cholesterol’s role in heart disease while minimizing that of sugar. Now, Colorado dentist Cristin Kearns is publishing these once heavily guarded documents for the sake of public knowledge.  Read more at BuzzFeed News  ...


Farm Bill is victory for organic future

The legislation of the 2018 Farm Bill broke ground for organic as it established for the first time permanent funding for organic research. For many this legislature is long overdue, as the organic sector has been facing an excess of demand over supply for years. This research is also critical for expanding organic acreage, and funding will partially go toward helping farmers learn how to manage efficient organic systems. Read more at The Hill  

In Session

5 questions to ask yourself when building a brand

Alicia Potter Headshot

“A brand is a lasting impression. We are all trying to make connections to people to places to products to brands. There are good connections and there are great connections, and the difference is that a great connection leaves you with something.”

—Alicia Potter, Faven Creative

Part 1: What is a brand?


  • A brand is a lasting impression; it is what your consumer says about you when you’re not in the room.
  • Lasting impressions evoke emotions, provoke thoughts and impact sales.


Part 2: What is the story behind your brand?


  • Every brand should have a story that its target audience can relate to.
  • A brand’s marketing plan should adhere to this story.


Part 3: What do you want consumers to think and feel about your brand?


  • Brands need to market their products holistically to the consumer.
  • Your brand needs to emotionally benefit the consumer.
  • The tone of voice and visuals are powerful ways to influence consumers.


Part 4: What is your brand landscape?


  • Study your direct competition—what is the emotional trigger that your competitors are trying to evoke?
  • Stake out your emotional territory and find a way to differentiate yourself


Part 5: What is my target consumer looking for in a brand?


  • Learn as much information as you can about your desired consumer.
  • You can talk to consumers, other brands and follow influencers to achieve this; no expensive studies are needed.


Part 6: Conclusion


  • A brand is fluid; even after these questions are answered once, they should be revisited again and again.
  • A brand’s lasting impression becomes deeper and stronger when the number of interactions you have with it increases.

This session—Start Where You Are: Crafting a Story that Resonates—was recorded at Natural Products Expo East 2018. Click 'download' below to access the presentation slides.

In Session

Three questions to ask about supplement ingredients


“The reality is, by our [UNPA] estimates, 60-80% of the ingredients that end up in dietary supplements on the shelves of our stores come from’s the Wild West out there, folks.”

— Frank Lampe, VP, Communications & Industry Relations, UNPA


  • Transparency in the supply chain is critical to improving finished product quality.
  • USP, NSF and eurofins are GMP certifications that represent the gold standard for dietary supplement quality.
  • Signed in 2011, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is a preventative vs. reactionary measure; it affects every single product on retail shelves.
  • Every manufacturer has to develop a food safety plan for every single product they manufacture, which results in lots of paperwork, auditing and testing.
  • Foreign Supplier Verification Programs (FSVP) enforcement should increase as time goes on.

This session—The Supplement Round Table: Three Questions to Ask About Supplement Ingredients—was recorded at Natural Products Expo East 2018. Click 'download' below to access the presentation slides.

In Session

Fostering trust between entrepreneurs and investors


“One thing I was interested in is finding what I call ‘smart money,’ so investors that not only provide cash, but also can provide strategic expertise, as opposed to ‘dumb money,’ someone looking to put in an investment for a pure return.”

— Jordan Buckner, TeaSquares

Part 1: Creating the right relationship


  • TeaSquares puts a heavy emphasis on its social mission to hire young adults from underserved neighborhoods.
  • Funding goes beyond just looking at the financials: you’re investing in the person.
  • Discover the characteristics of a good entrepreneur.
  • Spiral Sun Ventures offered introductions to retailers, distributors and a network of other entrepreneurs to learn from.
  • An honest chat about awkward moments.


Part 2: Q&A


  • One vs. several funds in the mix: which do you prefer?
  • What was the equity ownership percentage agreed to early on?
  • Geographical investing restrictions, and ratchets tied to performance.

This session—The Funding Forum: Growing a Healthy Brand - Selling Your Vision and Team to Investors—was recorded at Natural Products Expo East 2018.

New research provides wake-up call for climate change in the Midwest

Many researchers have been focused on the implications of climate change for farmers growing individual field crops, but Ariel Ortiz-Bobea, Cornell University Assistant Professor of Applied Economics and Management, wanted to understand what climate change is doing to agricultural productivity on the whole. What he found is less than encouraging for the future of U.S. agriculture.

He and his research team found that the Midwest is among those regions most vulnerable to the extreme weather patterns associated with climate change—largely because of the region’s increasing reliance on rain-fed crops such as corn and soybeans in addition to oilseed crops.

“Most of the agriculture in the Midwest is corn and soybeans. And that’s even more true today than it was 40 years ago,” said Ortiz-Bobea. “They’re basically putting all their eggs in one basket, and that basket is getting more sensitive.”

More specifically, what they found—by compiling 50 years’ worth of climate data and state-level data on agricultural inputs such as seeds and fertilizer—were two distinct episodes of increased climate sensitivity. The first, in the 1960s and 1970s, saw a 2 degree Celsius increase in temperature that resulted in an 11 percent drop in agriculture productivity. Even more frightening, another 2 degree increase after 1983 resulted in a 29 percent productivity drop.

Right now, these devastating conditions are rare—but these researchers are saying that another increase of even just 1 degree Celsius would more than quadruple their frequency. That could bring it to roughly once every four years.

“Losing almost half your profit every four years? That’s a big loss,” said Ortiz-Bobea.

The solution is not exactly clear or easy. But the authors do point out in the study, which is published in Science Advances, “that reducing vulnerability to climate change should consider the role of policies in inducing regional specialization.” Perhaps another policy goal for the industry to come together on?

[email protected]: Amazon's record-breaking holiday season | A package-free boom in Brooklyn

Amazon announces a record-breaking holiday, ‘tens of millions’ of new Prime subscribers

The retailer has announced that it surpassed the milestone of more than 100 million paid Prime members this holiday season; according to Citigroup, it’s on track to obtain 175 million more. To woo new consumers, Amazon has upped its other offerings besides ecommerce—including Prime Video, Prime Music, free e-books and more. Read more at Tech Crunch …


Bagging it: In Brooklyn, some grocers throw out packaging to contain trash


The zero-waste lifestyle can, unfortunately, be expensive for retailers who choose to embark on it. But this all might change as manufacturers with products that were once unavailable in bulk or biodegradable packaging make that eco-friendly transition. One Williamsburg-based store is so in-demand that its suppliers have been forced to scale up their own operations to meet it, signifying a brighter future for package-free retail ventures. Read more at The Wall Street Journal 


2019 will be the year alt-meat goes mainstream

Meat alternatives, such as the Impossible Burger and lab-grown chicken, are at a tipping point in mainstream culture, with many former carnivores reaching for these products to mitigate their environmental impact. Vegetarian and vegan consumers are not being marketed to so much as the vegetarian-curious—and the growing numbers of sales in this category speak for themselves as to how well this strategy is playing out. Read more at Fast Company …


Lyft is offering $2.50 rides to grocery stores for people living in ‘food deserts’

The ride-sharing app is rolling out the pilot of its Grocery Access Program in Washington D.C. from January to June; it will allow qualified families to take up to 50 rides per day and be charged a flat rate of $2.50 to and from the nearest supermarket in their neighborhood. This program will give residents of D.C.’s wards 7 and 8 easy access to fresh, healthy foods and reduce reliance on shelf-stable junk food products for the bulk of their nutrition.  Read more at Market Watch  ...


Recalls show that foodborne threats continue

2018 marked a shift away from concealing “confidential corporate information” and a movement toward using transparency methods like blockchain to keep the public safe from outbreaks such as salmonella and E. coli. Read this article to take a look back at every recall, market withdrawal and parasitic infection that rocked the grocery sphere in the past year, and to learn more about how foodborne threats will be dealt with in 2019. Read more at Food Safety News