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More plant-based food brands are expanding to foodservice

Good Catch Good Catch tuna sandwich

Interest in plant-based foods has skyrocketed over the past few years, and more foodservice companies are getting on board, realizing that what was once considered a trend is now a way of life for many health-conscious consumers. At the same time, food tech companies eager to introduce their products to new demographics are realizing that foodservice is the way to go. Some are even eschewing retail launches altogether in favor of foodservice and restaurant partnerships. 

In the past, we’ve mostly seen plant-based burger options in mainstream foodservice—think Burger King’s Impossible Whopper, White Castle’s Impossible slider with dairy-free cheese, Carl’s Junior’s Beyond Burgers and Del Taco’s Beyond ground “beef” in their burritos and tacos. Now, however, we are starting to see brands and foodservice concepts work together to take plant-based menu offerings to a new, more well-rounded level. 

In November 2020, Gathered Foods announced a new partnership with Whole Foods Market to feature its Good Catch Plant-Based Tuna in the retailer’s deli department. Made with non-GMO legumes (peas, chickpeas, lentils, soy, fava beans and navy beans), the “tuna,” is high in protein and replicates the flaky texture of seafood. At Whole Foods it’s made into a tuna salad that is available by the pound in the prepared foods section. This is Good Catch’s second foodservice partnership—last year it teamed with Veggie Grill for a Tuna Melt—and the company has aggressive international foodservice expansion plans. Co-founder and Chief Culinary Officer Chad Sarno said the partnership with Whole Foods was important for the foodservice side of the brand. 

“The ongoing pandemic has made launches in foodservice difficult for both operators and their suppliers, but on the other hand, the consumer demand in plant-based is only growing and restaurants are listening,” Sarno said. “We are fortunate to have a lot of interest for growth and further launches established in 2021, from fast-casual restaurants to other food retailers.”

Until fairly recently, veg-friendly breakfast options took a backseat to burgers on most quick serve and fast casual menus. With an increase in breakfast-focused menu items and all-day breakfast however, some concepts are leading the charge to give the most important meal of the day a plant-based makeover. 

In January 2021, Israeli startup Zero Egg announced its partnership with Birmingham, Alabama-based eatery Tropicaleo. The company made a strategic decision to launch directly into foodservice before going to retail with a product it says “looks and functions like an ordinary egg, but is entirely made from plants.”

Tropicaleo—whose motto is “Sustainable Ethnic Eats”—is known for its healthy options, fresh flavor profiles and sustainable business practices, which was a natural fit for Zero Egg’s mission. Its egg substitute appears on two Tropicaleo menu items: the "A Caballo," a Spanish-inspired rice bowl with Zero Egg scramble, Beyond sausage, and sweet plantains, and the Breakfast Sandwich, in which it’s paired with Melinda's biscuits, Brandon's cheese, Beyond sausage and vegan butter. 

"Providing Zero Egg to Tropicaleo is so exciting for us because this is exactly how we imagined our product to be used," Isabelle Francois, General Manager for Zero Egg North America, said in a press release.

Late last year, Chilean startup NotCo (which launched its AI-formulated milk in the U.S. in November), created its own restaurant delivery service called X-Not to spread the word about its lineup of plant-based products. Through online food delivery portal iFood, customers could order sandwiches, burgers and milkshakes made with NotBurger, NotMayo, NotIceCream and NotMilk, prepared by notable burger house chefs whose restaurants were affected by the pandemic. 

“Even as a temporary activation, this helped build significant awareness for the company in a very short period of time, and we saw positive topline results as well,” said co-founder and CEO Matías Muchnick. “Once we build a larger portfolio, we might consider having the same kind of activation project in the U.S.” 

With roughly 50 million Americans eating at fast food restaurants daily, foodservice is a colossal market opportunity for innovative plant-based food brands. Expect to see more of these partnerships in the future as the demand for plant-based menu items grows. 

Why diversity in hiring matters

Getty Images Hands holding papers with names

Creating a diverse workforce goes beyond just doing the right thing. In 2015 McKinsey and Company published a report, "Diversity Matters," which influenced diversity and inclusion policy-setting and transformation efforts by corporations and the public sector. The report stated that prioritizing diversity in hiring was also good for the bottom line.

Despite those persuasive findings, progress has been slow. McKinsey's follow-up report in 2018, "Delivering Through Diversity," found that of the 346 companies in the 2015 research, there was a mere 2% increase in average gender representation on their executive teams, to 14%, and ethnic and cultural diversity only increased by 1 percentage point, to 13%.

The pandemic may stall progress for gender parity even more, believes Peggy Shell, founder and CEO of Creative Alignments, an agency that focuses on recruiting for small to midsize technology and CPG brands and has helped hundreds of natural products brands find top talent.

"I believe that COVID is doing a lot of damage to the progress that's been made for women in the workforce," Shell says. "I'm very saddened by it and I'm nervous to see the outcomes."

Yet the evidence remains consistent. A diversity of thought, driven by unique perspectives from diverse talent, is better for business performance. Companies with gender diversity were 21% more likely to outperform on profitability and 27% more likely to have superior value creation, the 2018 report found.

And it's not just gender. Companies in the top quartile for ethnic/cultural diversity on executive teams were 33% more likely to have industry-leading profitability.

Perhaps most importantly, hiring employees from diverse backgrounds helps companies better innovate and compete as U.S. demographics and consumer habits change. The 2019 New Hope Network Consumer Segmentation Survey found that today's natural and organic consumers are predominantly white (73%), while the U.S. population is moving toward a white minority within the next 25 years. The percentage of non-Hispanic white people in the U.S. population has reached an all-time low and is expected to fall below 50% sometime around the year 2043, according to the Associated Press.

So what can companies do to create more diverse and inclusive workforces?

It takes intentionality for companies to find diverse applicants. Recruiting agencies like Creative Alignments can help. "A lot of people think, 'Gosh, there's nobody applying to my jobs who is Black,' Shell says. "Well yeah, there may not be, and guess what? It takes intention to go find them."

"We're putting a lot of intentionality into who and how we are sourcing candidates for our clients now in a way that we hadn't before," she says.

As Creative Alignments is implementing a strategic plan in place to become a more diverse and inclusive company itself, it's encouraging its clients to do the same. There are definite things brands can do, Shell says. For example, there may not be candidates who are people of color applying for a certain position. Though that might be the case, Shell encourages brands to open their minds a little bit and ask some questions: "Can we remove some criteria that is going to make you have a more limited talent pool that maybe isn't even needed?" she asks. "Can we hire for potential and for training more than hire for 'been there done that' and actually end up in a better place?"

Removing geographical limitations of the roles is something else companies can do, especially as businesses are now realizing how effective remote work can be. "Being open-minded to a more remote culture, at least for some of your employees if not everybody in a hybrid kind of way, is going to help to increase the possibility of a more diverse talent pool at least, if not the actual hire," Shell says. Boulder, Colorado, is notoriously limited, she says, but if you now suddenly can hire from cities like Atlanta and Chicago, you've got no excuse.

Blind sourcing tools that many companies use to remove implicit bias present problems too, Shell says. By removing all visible criteria, companies risk going in the opposite direction and end up with an applicant pool that consists more of the majority than the minority, depending on the location and industry they're in.

Another thing companies can do to attract more diverse candidates, according to Shell, is to think about the employment brand. Brands should ask themselves if their marketing showcases diverse employees at the company. If not, they should think about how they can integrate it into the messaging, she says.

And it's not enough to just hire diverse employees; it's imperative for brands to invest in internal training and ways to make a more inclusive and equitable environment to retain the employees they do hire. "I believe that, with time, when you have the opportunity to have more people of color in leadership roles it's actually key, too, so that the people making the decision and representing the company are representative of the people you're trying to recruit," Shell says.

IdeaXchange

Increasing diversity in business is easier than you think

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If there is a silver lining in the pandemic, it may be that our innate humanity is driving us to tend to one another more, to be more objective in our intentions, and to face the challenges of our upturned world with effective and meaningful solutions.  At Organic and Natural Health, we aspire to create a healthy planet for healthy people. This pledge comes with many challenges, one of which has been clearly highlighted by the pandemic. People of color, who already suffer health disparities, are contracting and dying from COVID-19 at two to three times the rate of white Americans. The data show that nutrient health is an essential component to immune health, and that those with darker skin tones have significantly lower nutrient levels, especially when it comes to vitamin D.

According to New Hope’s Network Consumer Segmentation Survey, 73% of customers in the natural and organic space are white, while people of color make up 27% and a substantially smaller percentage are Black Americans. There are too many Americans who are not availing themselves of our nutritional offerings, perhaps in part, because the companies in our industry do not adequately reflect their cultures. As an industry, we limit our reach and success by not availing ourselves of diversity in color and talent. We will never achieve our vision without opening our doors wider, which is why Organic and Natural Health has partnered with the Williams-Franklin Foundation, whose mission it is to support students attending Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). 

The Williams-Franklin Foundation (WFF) is led by the dynamic husband and wife team of Dwight and LaShelle (Williams) Franklin, both HBCU graduates, who used their own seed money to launch the foundation in 2014. In a very short time they have successfully raised thousands of dollars that have since impacted the lives of many HBCU students. WFF is a 501(c) 3 incorporated nonprofit that provides academic scholarships, business/career networking, and mentoring opportunities to HBCU students with extreme financial need. Anyone in the industry can give a tax-deductible donation that goes directly to the fund by selecting “Organic & Natural Health Fund” in the drop box when donating.

We have also committed to serve as an ambassador of WFF and through them, introduce the natural products industry to an amazing wealth of talent. More than 50,000 students have graduated from 101 Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HCBUs) in 19 states across the country. They represent 80% of all Black doctors, 80% of all Black judges and 75% of all Black PhDs. This is just a sampling of the talent available to our industry. So how do you get to meet these rising stars?

Organic and Natural Health and the WWF have partnered with New Hope to offer "Hiring Practices, New Perspectives & Resources to Find Diverse Talent event." The event will be held in conjunction with Spark Brand Success on March 4 (1:10 pm EST).  If you attend, you will meet WWF co-founder LaShelle (Williams) Franklin and some of her HBCU scholarship recipients who will join the industry in “Community Networking Rooms” where students and industry leaders can explore opportunities of working together in areas such as marketing, finance, sustainable business practices and supply chain stewardship. 

This is a tangible way we can collectively and effectively address some of the diversity challenges we face in the industry. We believe good work is good business. We believe in mission-driven outcomes. As an industry, we have access to talented, diverse and driven HBCU students. Diversification is easier than you think. All we need is your participation. Register for Spark Change HBCU Connections and donate to support the futures of HBCU students today.

Natural Products Expo Spark Change logo

Spark Change: Spark Brand Success takes place March 2-4, 2021

From digital marketing inspo and outside-the-box go-to-market strategies to advice for creating a truly diverse and inclusive company, the natural products industry’s most exciting and successful brands will share their secrets for growing responsibly, innovating for good and thriving (through the pandemic). Pop in for any (or all!) of our fast-paced sessions on branding, distribution, trends, financing, certifications and more.

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IdeaXchange

What fuels your brand?

Jessica Rubino

In a time when we are all just trying to get by, there are many people doing so much more. It’s incredible, really, how much we can achieve with the right amount of passion and positivity—and the world of natural products has a lot of both. And it’s that unconditional love for humanity that has consistently inspired throughout my 12 years at New Hope Network and in the natural products industry. Isn't that what the world needs now?  

This industry is about the retailers on the front lines of the pandemic, those ensuring we have healthy food to eat and supplements to keep us resilient. And the brands that continue to innovate, not for the sake of novelty but to address real problems with products that deliver nutrition—and joy (cooking from scratch to feed my mind and body is one of the things that has gotten me through the past year). It’s also about the service providers that I'm learning so much from, with their deep knowledge and support of mission-driven companies with the very tactical know-how needed to run a successful business through a pandemic. When all of these things come together, that’s when surviving becomes thriving.

We created our first virtual event of 2021, Spark Brand Success, as a way to help companies fit all of these pieces together (and who hasn’t been enjoying a good puzzle these days, am I right?). During the event, brands can learn from their peers who will share business wins and blunders and from the service providers who are here to help with the doing—from marketing agencies to certifying bodies to technology providers. Plus, we’ve dedicated a portion of the agenda to helping brands connect with young, diverse talent to ensure this industry leads in innovation and inclusion, as well as a diversity and inclusion town hall so that as we grow our businesses, we have the real conversations that drive real change. During Spark Brand Success, brands can identify their needs and create their journeys, hopefully finding some co-pilots along the way.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from this pandemic, it’s that we can’t do it alone. Personally, I have leaned on my five-year-old niece for a youthful wisdom and unwavering optimism and my parents with their steadfast commitment to a pleasant year-long quarantine after 45 years of marriage. At New Hope Network, it has been my coworkers’ determination and creativity, industry veterans’ expertise and the vigor of passionate brands that dove into our platforms and have been willing to find new ways to stay connected. 

Connection, inspiration and community are important to all of us, and there will be a range of ways that we hope you’ll find that throughout the year via Natural Products Expo Virtual, starting with Spark Brand Success next week. Check out the agenda to see what make sense for you. In the meantime, here are a few of the things I am most excited about.

The State of Natural & Organic on March 2 will highlight the trends and insights that will prepare brands for the year ahead. Discover what's next in product innovation and the conversations driving change in the industry with experts from Whipstitch Capital, SPINS and New Hope Network.  

Living in a Virtual World: How to Write New Rules for Sales, Marketing & Sampling is full of inspiration and best practices for telling your story and getting in front of consumers and retailers during COVID-19.

For a more hands on approach, attend one of the free workshops covering topics from supporting a responsible seafood industry to freshening up your marketing strategy.

RSVP for one here:

We are also using this as an opportunity to bring the community together around the most important topics we face as a society. Join our Town Hall: How Are We Doing? A Discussion of Natural Products Industry Diversity and Inclusion Efforts hosted by Emerald-Jane Hunter and Ryan Pintado-Vertner. And for businesses focused on diversity recruiting, join us for Hiring Practices, New Perspectives & Resources to Find Diverse Talent: Networking Event.

We’ll have a range of other networking opportunities from casual morning meetups to fast-paced speed dating to help you make the right connections. However you choose to participate, we look forward to learning about what fuels your brand—and how we can help.

Jessica Rubino is the Executive Director of Content for New Hope Network.

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Frozen food sales up 21% in 2020 as COVID-19 alters shopping and eating behaviors

Giant Food of Landover Frozen food aisle Giant Landover store

A new report from the American Frozen Food Institute and the Food Industry Association (FMI) finds frozen foods were among the fastest-growing categories in the grocery store during COVID-19, with clear signs that the trend toward frozen will continue to grow beyond the pandemic.

The Power of Frozen 2021 identifies megatrends influencing the demand for frozen foods, including increased engagement in all categories, online shopping and health and wellbeing. 

“The frozen food aisle has been a growth driver for retailers since 2016 with acceleration ahead of most other departments,” said AFFI president and CEO Alison Bodor. “Frozen foods are a pandemic powerhouse ringing in $65.1 billion in retail sales in 2020, a 21% increase compared to a year ago.”

In 2020 frozen food sales grew in both dollars (+21%) and units (+13.3%), with nearly all types of frozen foods seeing double-digit sales increases.

“Shoppers are nearly a year into the COVID-19 pandemic and are having more family meals at home than ever before. They are looking for meal plans, culinary creativity and convenient, cost-effective solutions,” said FMI Vice President of Industry Relations Doug Baker. “The frozen foods category offers these benefits to shoppers and that’s why we see all areas—from meal ingredients to meal solutions—reaching new audiences and increasing purchases.” 

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During the early weeks of the pandemic in mid and late March, frozen food sales nearly doubled. In subsequent months, sales tracked 30% to 40% ahead of a year ago. Gains have slowly tapered off to around 15% to 20% above 2019 levels in the fourth quarter of 2020—continuing to be well ahead of most other in-store categories.

The top three frozen food categories with the largest percentage of dollar growth in 2020, according to IRI, include seafood (+35.3%), poultry (+34.7%) and appetizers (+28.9%).

“It’s not just about what’s for dinner, especially for our core frozen food consumers,” Bodor added. “All meal occasions—dinner, lunch, snacks and breakfast—are contributing to an increase in frozen food purchases.”

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According to the report, Americans’ reliance on frozen food varies widely, from 13% consuming it once a month at most to 14% using frozen foods daily. Many consumers (72%) mix fresh and frozen ingredients in their meal  preparation. Amid the pandemic, the share of core frozen food consumers, defined as those who consume frozen food daily or every few days, rose from 35% in 2018 to 39% in 2020. Core frozen food consumers grew among boomers, singles and women, but the older millennial remains the largest segment. Core frozen foods consumers purchase across more categories, particularly multi-serve entrees, meat/chicken, meat alternatives and potato items.

As consumers turned to online shopping at a record rate during COVID, the vast majority were adding frozen to their digital cart. Over the past year, 42% of households that buy frozen foods have bought frozen foods online, up from 23% in 2018. Online frozen food dollar sales increased 75% in 2020, with frozen dinners/entrees, meat, poultry and seafood being the biggest online sellers. 

Across many nutrition and production traits, frozen food consumers are most likely to be interested in “real” ingredients, followed by fresh frozen and the absence of artificial colors. 

The interest in fresh frozen also aligns with another key finding from the Power of Frozen 2021. To most frozen food consumers (72%), it’s not frozen or fresh—it’s frozen and fresh. “Mixing fresh and frozen in the same meal is a telltale trait of our core frozen food consumers,” noted Bodor. 

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Among other highlights from the Power of Frozen report:

• The COVID-19 pandemic prompted changes in purchasing: 57% still purchase more frozen foods, 58% different kinds of frozen foods or 57% are purchasing different brands than they did pre-pandemic.

• Both core and low-frequency frozen food consumers have become more engaged. Buying different items and buying more have a high correlation, underscoring that frozen foods’ vast variety can be one of its most effective recruiting grounds.

• Dinner, snacks and breakfast are top drivers of increased frozen food purchases since the onset of the pandemic. All areas, from meal ingredients to meal solutions have gained in new buyers and increased purchases. Areas of accelerated growth since April are seafood, fruit and multiserve meal solutions.

• Concerns over shortages or being in-store have greatly diminished since April, but frozen foods’ ease of preparation and more at-home meals are important drivers of buying more frozen foods.

• Greater levels of experimentation along with needing more variety for the more at-home meals and value seeking are driving shoppers to change the kinds of frozen foods they purchase.

• 38% of frozen food shoppers expect they will purchase more in the next few months versus 6% expecting to buy less.

The Power of Frozen was conducted by 210 Analytics and is sponsored by Pictsweet, Wawona Frozen Foods, J.R. Simplot Co. and Firestone Pacific Foods.

supermarket news logoThis piece originally appeared on Supermarket News, a New Hope Network sister website. Visit the site for more grocery trends and insights.

[email protected]: Midwestern farms are losing fertile soil | How historically Black food shaped American cuisine

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New evidence shows fertile soil gone from Midwestern farms

The most fertile topsoil is entirely gone from a third of all the land devoted to growing crops across the upper Midwest, according to a team of scientists, and a century of plowing the land is likely to blame. They also believe that USDA has dramatically underestimated the damage in its public-facing statements. The good news is that farmers already know that the eroded hilltops in question are less productive, and many of them are ready and willing to adopt sustainable solutions. NPR reports. 

African-American food is the backbone of American food

While this fact is often forgotten or unacknowledged, Black Americans created or popularized some of the United States' most iconic dishes, including macaroni and cheese, ice cream, potato chips and french fries. Skills with animal behavior and husbandry led to many African Americans working with chickens and cattle long before these animals became ubiquitous sources of protein. And traditional African planting methods resulted in higher crop yields, leading African foods like okra, black-eyed peas and watermelon to quickly become staples on American tables, especially in the South. Learn more at Eater.

Grocery workers say they can't get vaccines, even as they help distribute them

Grocery store employees have been waiting for months to be inoculated against COVID-19, despite the fact that many of them help hundreds of store patrons get vaccinated each week. At least 170 grocery employees have died and thousands more have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Workers say the ongoing vaccine challenges mirror the many other ways they have been shortchanged throughout the pandemic while their employers reap massive profits. Get the skinny at The Washington Post.

Business leaders hope they can satisfy Biden’s big climate goals with their own promises—not regulation

President Biden has thus far marketed climate change policy as a way to create jobs, invest in research and development and stimulate the economy through large-scale infrastructure projects. He's also made it clear that if a company is willing to agree to the climate agenda, the administration will do all it can to ensure that said company makes money. This means those that enjoyed minimal environmental regulation under Trump are now scrambling to create and abide by their own environmental rubric to avoid governmental intervention. Fortune has the details.

Pilgrim's Pride pleads guilty to chicken price-fixing charge, to pay $107.9M fine

Pilgrim’s Pride pleaded guilty and was sentenced to pay a $107.9 million fine this week to settle federal charges it conspired to fix chicken prices and passed on the costs to consumers and other purchasers, making it the first U.S. poultry company to settle charges that companies conspired from 2012 to at least 2019 to reduce production in order to boost prices of broiler chickens. Prosecutors estimated that Pilgrim Pride’s illegal activity affected at least $361 million in sales of its broiler chicken products. Head to Reuters for more.

Ongoing study reveals Americans' fruit and vegetable consumption is eroding

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Despite decades of industry and public health efforts, America’s fruit and vegetable consumption continues to decline, according to newly released "State of the Plate: America’s Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Trends" research from the Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH).
 
The research shows people are eating fruits and vegetables less frequently, down nearly 10% since 2004, when the reporting began. The most significant contributors to this decline have been a 16% decrease in vegetable consumption frequency, followed by a 15% reduction in juice intake. In the past five years alone, overall consumption has declined by 3%, indicating the trend is worsening every year.
 
Every five years, PBH conducts an in-depth analysis of fruit and vegetable consumption patterns in partnership with The NPD Group, which tracks how, when and where we eat fruits and vegetables. PBH’s research report provides valuable insights to better understand Americans’ eating behaviors and, ultimately, identifies opportunities to effectively help people enjoy more fruits and vegetables in all forms (i.e., fresh, frozen, canned, dried and 100% juice), more often.
 
“It is no exaggeration that we are in the midst of a fruit and vegetable consumption crisis in our country. Further, this underconsumption is not only pervasive among all age groups but it is also persistent,” said Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, MS, RDN, president and CEO of PBH. “The research report shows most Americans currently eat fruits and vegetables on just one occasion or less each day. A decline in fruit and vegetable eating occasions does not bode well for the future of fruit and vegetable intake and, most importantly, Americans’ health and happiness.”
 
“We were already long falling behind in our consumption goals, but much of this new data is especially striking considering we are also in the midst of a worsening obesity epidemic as well as a global pandemic in which consuming foods that support our immune system like fruits and vegetables is even more critical,” Reinhardt Kapsak added. “Research continues to show that eating more fruits and vegetables is the single most important action people can take for better health and happiness. Yet, we’re clearly failing Americans in making this action easy and enjoyable, given the continued decline in consumption. The time is NOW to rethink and reimagine how we improve fruit and vegetable consumption in America.”

Additional key findings from the report

  • Vegetable intake has decreased in five out of eight age groups. Older adults (50+ years) are leading the way in declines, a particular concern as they typically eat the most vegetables.
  • Older millennials are slacking, declining in fruit and vegetable eating occasions and trending higher than other age groups in not eating fruits.
  • Fruit consumption is down among kids. Older millennials are in their peak parenting years, and their behaviors may be affecting their families. In fact, children 1-3 years old have shown a significant decline in fruit consumption. Intake is also down in children 4-8 years old, which is especially alarming because young children are typically among the highest fruit consumers.
  • Generation Z is a promising generation of vegetable lovers. Young Gen Z consumers ages 1-14 years old are eating vegetables more frequently. 
  • Juice intake has declined. Consumption of juice is down among ALL age groups and to the greatest extent in young children. This is particularly topical as the new federal Dietary Guidelines for Americans, released in December, calls out the alarming shortfall in American produce consumption and includes 100% fruit and vegetable juices as options for meeting recommendations. 
  • Already popular fruits have increased. While overall fruit intake remains low, people have turned more frequently to bananas, grapes, blueberries, strawberries and oranges in the past five years.
  • Handy, simple vegetables are increasing. Potatoes, salads, avocados, tomato sauce/paste and salsa have been increasing as go-to vegetables over the past five years.
  • One-fourth of vegetables are consumed through dining out. People of all ages get a sizable portion of their vegetable intake dining out, via fast food, casual dining, cafeterias, delivery and/or other means. With people working more from home and preparing more meals at home, this creates concern that vegetable eating may continue to drop. 
  • Most fruits and vegetables are eaten at home, paired with other favorite foods. When Americans do consume produce, many people enjoy their fruits and vegetables coupled with basic, everyday staple meals such as cereals–both hot and cold–yogurt, sandwiches and burgers.

Source: Produce for Better Health Foundation

IdeaXchange

What 'going' to Sundance taught me about brand storytelling

Max Kabat, goodDog

I had the fortunate experience of attending my first Sundance Film Festival this year in support of my wife's film, "At The Ready," which was part of the U.S. Documentary slate. Like everything else these days, it was virtual. So, there were no parties. No rubbing elbows over comped food and drink. No chance encounters nor fanfare. Instead, there were films. A lot of them. And like everyone else, I watched them from the comfort of my own home, sometimes "resting" in a supine position.

I became a self proclaimed, de facto couch critic, joining my more-qualified wife in debates on character and tone, story arc and point of view. While we deliberated, it got me thinking about the way we tell brand stories. 

My conclusion: We can, and should, learn from the way the narrative and documentary storytellers do it. Not that you need another excuse to go down the streaming platform rabbit hole, but, you really should. It’ll be in the name of work after all.

If it’s not a brilliant story, move on

Making a documentary film is a long journey. It starts with an idea that both intrigues you and you believe might be interesting to others. Before investing too much time and money, filmmakers take this juicy nugget and go explore, searching for the answer: Is this a story worth sharing?

Not all stories you investigate turn out to be compelling enough to warrant the effort and time it would take to tell it. Not all stories keep you up at night because you can’t stop thinking about them. Not all stories can be succinctly communicated to others in a good pitch. Good filmmakers know when to let go of an idea and when to double down.

The same is true in business. Not all ideas are worth pursuing. Not all stories are worth telling. So, if you really love this one story but you're having trouble telling it and relating its potential impact, it’s not worth pursuing. Move on. 

Make it culturally relevant

Film festivals often have a theme, expressed through the films they showcase. In the end, they’ve been a multiday story that, if successful, has held a mirror up to society, reflecting back at us the world we live in and our myriad experiences in it. Each filmmaker is bringing their unique perspective to the story they tell, the issue they’re illuminating. When we watch those stories, they help us wrestle with our own perspectives.

Mission-driven companies can do the same if they make clear what they stand for and tell compelling, relevant stories about why it matters. Pick your theme based on what’s relevant and meaningful to both you and your audience and tell a good story about it. Maybe you’ll change some perspectives in the process.  

Develop rich characters and let them do the work

Falling in love with a character’s story takes you deeper into the world the filmmaker has documented or created. If it’s intimately told through human eyes, we become invested in the outcome. By getting to know the motivations of the people we’re watching on screen, we start to root for them.

Businesses also have characters with rich backstories and reasons for being. These characters can be founders, employees or brand attributes. Let your consumers see who they, or you, really are. Give your consumers a reason to really care about what happens to your business. Let them in.  

Kill your darlings

In the Q&A for his debut film "Summer of Soul," first-time Director Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson talked about how making a film is like building a DJ set: It should have a beginning, a middle and an end. Each part of the story is purposeful; it has to be there in order to be meaningful. A lot ends up on the cutting-room floor if the larger narrative isn’t served. A joke. A scene you edited for months. And it's these little sacrifices that help make a powerful, relevant, meaningful finished product. 

The same is true in brand storytelling. Not everything you do—though it may be important to the operations of your business—needs to be part of the story you tell. Only share the parts that matter to the overall story you want people to know about your business. If it’s not in service of the larger story arc, let it go.

Max Kabat is from goodDog, a brand consultancy that helps mostly mid-stage, founder-built, mission-driven companies grow by articulating a singular storyline then bringing it to market.

[email protected]: Coca-Cola faces backlash over 'be less white' diversity training materials | Instacart, Walgreens launch same-day delivery nationwide

coke cannabis investment beverage market

Coca-Cola faces backlash over 'be less white' learning plan

Coca-Cola responded to accusations of anti-white rhetoric this week after an internal whistleblower leaked screenshots of diversity training materials that encourages staff to "try to be less white." A spokesperson for the company confirmed that the course is "part of a learning plan to help build an inclusive workplace," but also stated that "the video circulating on social media is from a publicly available LinkedIn Learning series and is not a focus of our company's curriculum." Newsweek has the story.

Instacart and Walgreens launch same-day delivery nationwide

Walgreens announced today that it is partnering with Instacart to roll out its same-day delivery service across the U.S. Last year the drug store company partnered with DoorDash for delivery in select U.S. cities and expanded its partnership with Postmates nationwide. A recent market survey from Brick Meets Click showed that in January 2021, 70 million U.S. households placed an average of 2.8 grocery orders online for pickup, delivery and ship-to-home orders. The Spoon reports. 

Atlanta creates the nation's largest free food forest with hopes of addressing food insecurity

Thanks to a U.S. Forest Service grant and a partnership between the city of Atlanta, its Conservation Fund and Trees Atlanta, there are currently 7.1 acres of land ripe with 2,500 pesticide-free edible and medicinal plants just 10 minutes from Atlanta's airport. The forest is part of the city of Atlanta's larger mission to bring healthy food within half a mile of 85% of Atlanta's 500,000 residents by 2022, though as recently as 2014 it was illegal to grow food on residential lots in the city. Learn more at CNN.

The way we eat could lead to habitat loss for 17,000 species by 2050

Meat production requires a ton of land, and as more developing countries get richer and eat more meat as a result, we're looking at the demise of thousands of species over the next few decades unless we seriously cut back on the amount of meat we eat and change how we farm. Because of animal farming, experts say, our planet’s previously diverse animal population has largely been replaced with farmed livestock. Another huge part of the problem? the “cheap food paradigm,” wherein the price of a given food product is held above other considerations like environmental damage and poor human health. Read the rest at Vox.

We haven’t seen a quarter of known bee species since the 1990s

A study published in January reveals that in recent decades the number of bee species reported in the wild has declined globally. The sharpest decrease occurred between 2006 and 2015, with roughly 25% fewer species spotted. Though they may be lesser known, wild bees supplement the work of honeybees in managed hives and can help beekeepers mitigate potential losses when disease outbreaks decimate honeybee populations. Head to National Geographic for the details.