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Articles from 2017 In July


Polyunsaturated fats may help boost natural appetite control

health benefits of walnuts

Researchers have added a new development to our constantly-evolving understanding of what foods are and aren’t healthy to eat, what they do and how. Olive oil has long been praised for its healthy fat content, as have omega fatty acids for their brain and heart health benefits, but a recent study suggests that foods high in polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs)—such as walnuts, salmon and canola oil—can help the body keep appetite in check by helping regulate hormones that signal the body to feel full or eat more. The researchers found changes in hormone levels that could have implications for reaching optimal body weight.

The study focused on millennials—ages 18 to 35—and asked them to describe their hunger levels in addition to measuring hormone changes. Participants who regularly consumed high-PUFA foods showed a significant decrease in the hormone called ghrelin, which increases hunger, and an increase in the hormone peptide YY, which increases satiety. What’s more, the peptide YY increases were seen both while participants were fasting and once they’d finished a meal, indicating better appetite control.

Researchers focused just on PUFAs and so couldn’t comment on how their effects on hormones compare to those of other fats such as the monounsaturated fat found in olive oil. “What we can say is that this PUFA-rich diet improved both fasting and post-meal appetite hormones which could have some importance for weight control,” said lead researcher, Jamie A. Cooper, PhD of the University of Georgia.

The PUFA-rich diet that participants ate consisted of whole foods including walnuts, Alaska salmon, tuna, flaxseed oil, grapeseed oil, canola oil and fish oil supplements. The researchers say more research is needed to determine if the benefits are a result of the PUFAs themselves or perhaps instead attributable to a particular food source or sources or other factors, as well as to determine the optimal intake of PUFAs to offer the maximum health benefit. What’s clear, though, is the potential for PUFAs to play a role in appetite control using the body’s own natural mechanisms.

“Appetite hormones play an important role in regulating how much we eat,” Cooper said in a press release for the study, which was published in the journal Nutrition in June. “These findings tell us that eating foods rich in PUFAs, like those found in walnuts, may favorably change appetite hormones so that we can feel fuller for longer.”

Open Farm pushes pet food forward

Open Farm dog food bags

Ethical ingredient sourcing and transparency haven’t exactly been pet food industry battle. As a result, consumers who hold these ideals dear have long struggled to find suitable foods for their furry friends. The three dog-loving cofounders of Open Farm—Isaac Langleben; his wife, Jacqueline Prehogan; and his brother-in-law, Derek Beigleman—recognized this gaping hole in the market and decided to do something about it.

The Toronto-based trio first developed a supply chain of nutritious and sustainably sourced ingredients. Next, they formulated nourishing grain-free, high-protein recipes for dogs and cats. Finally, they committed to sharing every detail with consumers—an unprecedented degree of transparency for this (or any) industry. New Hope’s editors took note, handing Open Farm the NEXTY Award for Best New Transparently Sourced Product at Natural Products Expo West 2017. We sat down with Langleben to learn more about his company’s genesis, missions and ambitions.

What inspired you to develop pet food and launch a company?

Isaac Langleben: Honestly, it’s one of those standard business stories: We created a company around products we really wanted for ourselves. The three cofounders saw the trends evolving in the food space around better-for-you products and ethical sourcing. These are values we have as consumers and how we decide what to buy for ourselves. But when it came to buying for our dogs, we found lots of great-quality foods but none that resonated with transparency of ingredients and where the meat came from. So in 2013, we thought, let’s see what it would take to create our own. We launched locally in the Toronto area at the end of 2014, then rolled out distribution across the U.S. and Canada in 2015.

Well, what did it take? Was it trickier than anticipated?

IL: We spent a year and a half seeing how we could create a supply chain. We visited farmers and manufacturers. It was harder than expected. I came from the corporate world, working with huge food companies, and my partners worked in accounting and finance. So this was new to us, coming from the standard industrial food system where it’s easy to put together products. We had to find ways to ensure we had access to and could use ingredients we felt good about. It took a long time, but we finally got to market and it has been a really rewarding experience. It’s nice to see that we’re not the only consumers with pets who were looking for ethically sourced protein and sustainably processed and distributed foods. We are now in 2,500 retail stores and sell direct to consumers online.

What types of sustainability and animal welfare initiatives are important to you?

IL: Our two farm animal welfare partners are Global Animal Partnership and Certified Humane. For us, these certifications are really valuable. It is important to have this framework because there are so many buzzwords out there and it’s so easy to make claims about products. We wanted an objective set of standards to hold ourselves accountable to and to offer transparency and third-party validation. When people ask what humane means to us, we can show them the bare minimum standards that any farm we work with needs to comply with. We are so passionate about this. Jacqueline is a vegetarian, so we had to make sure we could both feel good about every ingredient we bought.

On the seafood side, we don’t use any farmed fish. We partner with Seafood Watch and Ocean Wise from the Vancouver Aquarium. These organizations are experts in ocean-caught fish and set strict standards for fish types and methods of catch. As for plant-based ingredients, a huge proportion of our fruits and vegetables are grown in Minnesota, where our products are manufactured, or neighboring states. We ensure that every product we put out is, of course, nutritious, so we use super-high-quality ingredients. We also make sure our recipes are the best—low-sugar, high-protein, using low-glycemic carbs like chickpeas and other pulses.

You go even further than these third-party standards with your sourcing transparency. Please explain.

IL: We started with third-party certifications and then asked: How can we take transparency to the next level? So we added a feature to our desktop and mobile sites about a year ago. Every one of our products has a lot code, so consumers can just enter that in and get a full breakdown of every single ingredient—source of origin, non-GMO, ethoxylation-free and other descriptive factors. It also provides third-party safety-testing results. This has resonated super well with consumers and has been a great tool at retail, as more and more shoppers are coming into stores wanting to know what’s really in their pets’ food.

What has it been like being a new company in a very old category?

IL: It has been really rewarding and fun. We love animals, so it’s fun coming to work every day and trying to make things better for them. It’s also challenging because pet food is a very competitive space. There are lots of good companies. The biggest challenge is finding ways to stand out and get our message out there. Our main mission is to push the industry forward. We’re always trying to one-up ourselves and find innovative new ways to connect consumers with food. This will always be a challenge, but it’s an exciting one and it makes us feel good.

You and your partners are in your late 20s and early 30s. In what ways is your age an advantage—or a disadvantage?

IL: I don’t think our age has been a disadvantage at all. In fact, it’s a huge advantage. For one, we have enough experience to know what we’re doing yet also be kind of “dangerous.” By that I mean we haven’t been around so long that we feel limited by things that didn’t work 10 or 20 years ago. We are very comfortable with pushing for change in the industry. Also, millennials are now the biggest buying group for pet food. We share their values and shopping habits, so we don’t have to try to guess what they are looking for. We’re looking for the exact same things.

You won the NEXTY Award for your transparency ethos at Expo West this spring. How has this award impacted your business?

IL: The NEXTY has been great for us as a young company. It has definitely given us a really nice boost with retailers. We’ve incorporated it into our marketing materials at retail. As a young company doing something different, it was a great recognition.

What’s next for Open Farm? What can we expect to see in the future?

IL: We have a lot in the works. We’re planning to bring our mission into new categories—new formats of pet food, pet treats and pet supplements. And we’re obviously looking to increase our presence and distribution at retail and online.

Do you hope to start a trend in pet food, that other manufacturers will follow your lead?

IL: One-hundred percent. That would mean more competition, but we view that as a positive. If we see other companies making similar claims, it means our mission is resonating with consumers and retailers and we are having a meaningful impact. It is incumbent on us to push to the next level. It’s great to be successful, but we want to keep moving the industry forward while staying one step ahead.

[email protected]: Corporate cafeterias to see healthy makeovers | A busful of fresh food in Boston

Civil Eats/Fresh Truck Fresh Truck brings fresh food to 'desert' areas of Boston

Aramark CEO: Time to pink slip processed food at Fortune 500 cafeterias

A makeover is coming to corporate cafeterias, and it’s not about replacing 1970s-era pink tile. Aramark, the food service company that contracts with 85 percent of Fortune 500 companies, is going to make those sites healthier and more worker-friendly. They will use more local and organic food, and more than 30 percent of meals will be vegetarian or vegan. Read more at Fox Business …

A fresh idea to improve food access

In Boston, a brightly painted school bus is bringing healthy food to underserved areas where low-income residents lack access to fresh foods and typical grocery stores. The nonprofit Fresh Truck accepts cash, credit and debit cards, EBT cards and vouchers from local health centers. Read more at Civil Eats …

Globally, untreated wastewater is used to irrigate crops way more than previously thought

An estimated 89 million acres of farmland—mainly in China, India, Mexico, Pakistan and Iran—are irrigated with untreated waste water that comes from nearby urban areas, according to a recent study published in Environmental Research Letters. Some of that wastewater, which can carry disease-causing bacteria, makes its way to industrialized countries such as the United States. Read more in Modern Farmer …

A sweet way to upcycle ingredients

Salt & Straw, a popular ice cream shop in Portland, Oregon, takes advantage of its proximity to “some of the world’s best small, sustainable family farms,” as co-owner Tyler Malek says. But this summer, the store is bringing attention to the problem of food waste with four new flavors—each made with a different combination of ingredients that otherwise would land in a compost pile or landfill. Read more at Modern Farmer …

Beef beef: NCBA chief’s remarks spur R-CALF to seek debate

The chief executives of two cattle industry associations are battling: Kendal Frazier, chief executive officer of the Denver-based National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, recently took a shot or two at R-CALF, or the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund of the United Stockgrowers of America. Frazier accused in an industry publication the Billings, Montana-based organization of working with activist groups to ruin the beef industry. Read more at Food Safety News …

Otsuka announces the acquisition of rapidly growing plant-based food innovator Daiya

Daiya Foods logo

Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. (Otsuka), a wholly owned subsidiary of Otsuka Holdings Co., Ltd. and a global holistic healthcare company dedicated to bettering the health of people worldwide, today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire 100 percent of Daiya Foods Inc. (Daiya), a privately held Vancouver, Canada-based company specializing in the manufacture of plant-based foods. The acquisition, reported at 405 million Canadian dollars, is expected to help increase Daiya’s presence throughout North America and beyond, while creating a global plant-based platform.

The acquisition will proceed by way of Plan of Arrangement under British Columbia law. The Arrangement has been approved by the Daiya board and will be subject to, among other things, the approval of Daiya shareholders, receipt of court approval and the satisfaction of certain other customary closing conditions.

Otsuka operates worldwide, including in the US and Canada, where it offers popular brands like Nature Made vitamins. The acquisition of Daiya greatly expands Otsuka’s product portfolio, adding a new category of plant-based products in North America, and provides Daiya with a like-minded partner with expertise in consumer brands, R&D and manufacturing, and global markets.

Tatsuo Higuchi, President and Representative Director of Otsuka commented, “We are excited to welcome Daiya to Otsuka group. Driven by a highly talented management team, Daiya has developed a portfolio of high-quality, unique plant-based nutrition products and built a strong brand with loyal customers. We believe this will be an important pillar for our nutraceutical business. With our shared values, vision and mission, together we will commit to the better wellness of people worldwide.”

Founded in 2008, Daiya was among the pioneers in developing delicious, plant-based cheese alternatives. The company has demonstrated its brand extendibility, now offering a wide range of successful plant-based food products found in more than 25,000 stores across North America, as well as in select international markets. Daiya is also one of the founding members of The Plant Based Foods Association, a leading trade association that represents 75 of the US’s leading plant-based foods businesses.

“Joining the Otsuka family is an honor for all of us at Daiya. With aligned values and vision, Daiya and Otsuka have a tremendous opportunity to bring the incredible benefits of a plant-forward lifestyle to people around the world,” explains Terry Tierney, Daiya’s CEO. “Our partnership with Otsuka enables us to leverage their expertise and vast resources to continue growing our line of great-tasting, allergy-friendly food products that have delighted consumers for over 10 years.”

Operations and management under the leadership of CEO Terry Tierney will continue from Daiya’s current headquarters in Vancouver, Canada. Piper Jaffray served as sole financial advisor and Fasken Martineau LLP acted as legal counsel to Daiya.

Source: Daiya Foods Inc.

[email protected]: Perdue Farms builds new chicken houses | Esca Bona focuses on better food access

NPR Perdue Farms shows off a new chicken house

Perdue Farms signs up for a chicken welfare revolution

Perdue Farms recently invited officials from leading animal welfare organizations to see its newest chicken house. Inside, they found chickens flapping their wings, climbing on straw bales and perching on wooden ramps—all of it bathed in natural light streaming from the windows on all four walls. Although corporate customers pushed the poultry producer to change its practices, the company has realized that better living conditions make for better chicken. Read more at NPR …

Carlotta Mast talks Esca Bona 2017: Collaborating for food system change

New Hope Network’s Esca Bona conference returns to Austin, Texas, in October, with a focus on increasing access to healthy and affordable food. Esca Bona is more than a conference, however; it’s a platform for activists in the Good Food Movement to connect, build relationships and address the big issues that challenge the country’s food system, says Carlotta Mast, New Hope Network’s senior vice president of content and insights. Read more at Food Tank …

New Jersey is cutting food waste to help the climate

A new law in New Jersey aims to shrink the state’s climate footprint and feed the hungry. At the same time. The key is halving the state’s food waste by 2030, which likely will require some new laws about composting, recycling, labeling and donating leftover food. Read more at Climate Central …

Vail Resorts promises to eliminate emissions, waste and offset forest impact by 2030

You might consider it odd that a company known for its ski resorts wants to be 100 percent green in 13 years. But that’s exactly what Vail Resorts, the world’s largest mountain resort operator, is setting out to do. By 2030, the company wants to eliminate emissions, have zero waste and offset its effects on forests and habitats, CEO Rob Katz told employees this week. Read more at Denver Post …

CircleUp will issue loans to help consumer brands grow

CircleUp is going to make it easier for small CPG companies to raise money and avoid cash crunches. The investing platform will offer loans of between $25,000 and $600,000 through its new product, CircleUp Credit Advisors. Read more at TechCrunch …

A snapshot of shopping today: Fulfilling needs and wants [infographic]

Shopping for produce

With more options than ever, including an expanding array of online food retailers, how do consumers shop for food today? Facing fierce competition for consumers’ food dollars, how can food and beverage retailers attract and retain shoppers?

The Food Shopping in America 2017 report from The Hartman Group examines answers to these questions, starting with this snapshot of shoppers needs, their wants and how they are shopping to fulfill them.

Food Shopping in America 2017

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NBJ

Is the future of vitamins in vending machines?

NBJ Supplement Business Report Vitamin Infographic

The future of vitamins will bring about new forms of delivery (think drones) and continued innovations on delivery format yet to be discovered. Changes in D.C., along with new science, could finally put multivitamins in the permitted purchase category for food stamps in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, providing access for many and increased legitimacy to the industry. Looking further into the future, NBJ expects vitamin sales to surpass $15 billion by 2021 led by the category leader of multivitamins.

Those are the bright spots of the future, but the primary hurdle ahead involves the public’s basic misunderstandings about basic micronutrients. For the supplement industry, the most troubling mistaken belief is that a healthy diet can supply all micronutrients when the processed, packaged modern age makes meeting all nutritional needs through a food a full-time job, even for somebody with a degree in nutrition.

Step into the future of supplements with this infographic and take the full leap with the 2017 Supplement Business Report.

GNC touts Amazon and revival successes

GNC logo

Despite positive transaction growth, GNC store sales continued to fall in the second quarter.

The supplement chain reported 12.3 percent more transactions as it continues what it calls its One New GNC improvement project. The sales slide slowed, yet same-store sales decreased 0.9 percent in GNC’s domestic company-owned stores (including gnc.com) while domestic franchise locations experienced a 1.1 percent decline.

Interim CEO Bob Moran touted this as good news during the July 27 second-quarter 2017 earnings call.

“In many ways, this business is bucking the retail trend with transaction growth that is well above the APG retail index year to date,” he said. “The challenges in our sector are well publicized as are concerns about the future of retail. But we believe there is an opportunity for business models like GNC that listen and respond to the customer and give them products and experiences they can’t get anywhere else.”

Even as GNC strives to differentiate, online sales and Amazon are key to its strategy. The supplement retailer opened an Amazon store earlier this year to feature its “best” products and has committed to pricing that remains consistent with retail locations.  

Franchisees benefit from revenue sharing and new customers, which GNC leadership says find the brand online and then become a bricks-and-mortar buyer.

“Because more than 50 percent of online product searches happen on Amazon, and of those more than 37 percent buy that product in a store, we believe Amazon is not a death knell for brick and mortar, but a great advertising platform that puts us right in the path of countless new customers,” Moran said.

Additional second-quarter GNC earnings highlights include:

  • Consolidated revenue of $641.0 million in the second quarter of 2017, compared with consolidated revenue of $673.2 million for the second quarter of 2016.
  • Net income of $15.7 million compared with $64.0 million in the prior year quarter.
  • Diluted earnings per share (“EPS”) of 23 cents for the second quarter of 2017 compared with 94 cents in the prior year quarter.

"We made good progress in the second quarter, and our investments in pricing, loyalty and improving the customer experience continued to deliver positive results," Moran said via release. "For the second quarter in a row, we saw meaningful transaction growth, improvement in our dot.com business and increased enrollment in our loyalty programs. We believe this business is headed in the right direction, and we remain focused on execution and sales growth."

Moran also announced Thursday that he signed on as interim CEO for another six months.

Whole Foods Market sees record $3.7 billion sales in third quarter

Whole Foods Market's flagship store in Austin, Texas

Whole Foods Market Inc. on Wednesday reported a record $3.7 billion in sales in the third quarter, which ended July 2. Total sales increased 0.6 percent, while same-store sales decreased 1.9 percent compared to the same time last year.

The company released a statement with the results and did not hold an earnings call for the third quarter because of the company’s merger agreement with Amazon.

“Our comparable store sales improved sequentially on a one- and two-year basis in the third quarter, and that momentum has accelerated 220 basis points in the fourth quarter, resulting in positive overall comps for the first three weeks.” said John Mackey, co-founder and chief executive officer of Whole Foods Market.

Net income was $106 million, or 2.8 percent of sales; diluted earnings per share were $0.33; and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) were $293 million, or 7.9 percent of sales.

Whole Foods produced operating cash flow of $277 million, free cash flow of $145 million, and returned $44 million in dividends to shareholders, ending the quarter with $1.5 billion of total available capital and $1.0 billion in total debt. Results included charges of $14 million, or $0.03 per diluted share, related to advisory fees.

Excluding these charges, diluted earnings per share were $0.36.

“For the quarter, we delivered record sales and free cash flow, and returned $44 million in dividends to our shareholders,” Mackey said in the statement.

Whole Foods opened five stores and relocated one during the third quarter, according to the released statement. Already during the fourth quarter, the company has opened two Whole Foods Markets and two Whole Foods Market 365 stores, including one relocation.

Merger with Amazon expected to close this year

Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market, Inc. announced on June 16 a definitive merger agreement under which Amazon.com will acquire Whole Foods Market for $42 per share in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $13.7 billion, including Whole Foods Market’s net debt.

Completion of the transaction is subject to approval by Whole Foods Market's shareholders, regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions. However, the parties expect to close the transaction during the second half of 2017.

Because of the pending merger, Whole Foods did not update its outlook for the fiscal year or later targets, and is not discussing its financial results.

Total sales increase 1.3 percent year-to-date

For the 40-week period ended July 2, total sales increased 1.3 percent to $12.4 billion, and comparable store sales decreased 2.4 percent. Net income was $300 million, or 2.4 percent of sales; diluted earnings per share were $0.94; EBITDA was $941 million, or 7.6 percent of sales; and return on invested capital was 10 percent.

Whole Foods produced operating cash flow of $901 million, free cash flow of $393 million, and returned $132 million in capital to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases.

In fiscal year 2016, the company had sales of approximately $16 billion. Whole Foods has more than 465 stores in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

 

Source: Whole Foods Market

[email protected]: Senator wants pesticide banned | California moves ahead on climate change

California Energy Commission A solar farm in California

Sen. Udall offers bill to ban pesticide known to harm kids’ brains

Since the Environmental Protection Agency is ignoring evidence that chlorpyrifos, a pesticide, can harm children’s brains and nervous systems, a New Mexico senator is taking action. Sen. Tom Udall, a Democrat, has introduced legislation—the Protect Children, Farmers & Farmworkers from Nerve Agent Pesticides Act—that would ban the substance. Read more in EWG.org …

 

How California plans to go far beyond any other state on climate

A year ago, California legislators decided to cut greenhouse gas emissions more than 40 percent by 2030. How can they accomplish that goal? While cap and trade will be one strategy, the state will consider improving any area of its economy. Read more at The New York Times …

 

New DNA sunscreen gets better the longer you wear it

Researchers at Binghamton University, State University of New York, have developed a DNA film that, as it is exposed to the sun, increasingly protects the skin from ultraviolet light. While the obvious use is as a sunscreen, the team also will find out if the transparent film might be an efficient wound covering. Read more at Science Daily …

 

Senate rejects Trump’s attempts to slash funding to rural America

The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved a spending bill that funds rural programs in the USDA, including the position of undersecretary for rural development. That agency ensures that rural Americans have access to business loans, waste treatment, safe water and other staples of modern life. Read more at Modern Farmer …

 

Grillin’ in the C-Suite at Chipotle; second subpoena served up

A federal grand jury is investigating Chipotle Mexican Grill’s food safety practices during the last four-plus years, executives announced after seeing norovirus sicken customers at a Virginia store. The subpoena was served July 19, but revealed Wednesday in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Read more at Food Safety News …