Sunday, June 30, 2013

U.S. Shoppers Still Prefer Cereal for Breakfast

Between meals and snacks, Americans eat 1.4 breakfasts per day. Cereal remains the top breakfast foods, according to brand consultant Debra Kaye, owning 30 percent of the $65 billion breakfast market. "No other product is as dominant at mealtime than cereal," she says. "The problem with cereal right now is that it really has nowhere to grow." And there’s more competition than ever: Greek yogurt is going gangbusters, fast-food restaurants are offering all kinds of early morning treats and coffee houses are stepping up their food offerings. Kevin Coupe, supermarket analyst and creator of Morning News Beat, claims one reason companies go after breakfast is that once you get a customer, they tend to stick, reports

Saturday, June 29, 2013

New Jersey Ice Cream Shop Highlights Puerto Rican Flavors

With the summer here, sales at ice cream shops in New Jersey are heating up. A promising candidate is Jersey City's Torico. Pura and Pete Berrios opened this eye-catching store in 1968; although they both still come in to help make ice cream often, their daughter Christine now runs the business. Everything is made with fresh fruit, so the flavors are intense. Even coconut flavors have shaved pieces of real coconut. More than 65 flavors are on offer, including several tropical recipes. Pura and Pete are originally from Puerto Rico; when Pura was pregnant, she craved ice cream and missed the tastes of home—jackfruit, tamarind, sour sop, avocado, mamey, papaya and passion fruit, among other tropical flavors. Ube (a type of yam), ginger, lychee, dulce de leche, amaretto and green tea are a draw for other patrons in this multi-ethnic neighborhood, reports  

Friday, June 28, 2013

Restaurant trends embrace fresh, local

Fresh produce and local food demand will continue to ride a hot streak at U.S. restaurants through 2020. Those are two findings in a new report called “National Restaurant Industry 2020,” composed of a panel of industry experts assembled by the Washington, D.C.-based National Restaurant Associations.

 The NRA research report is available online for $35 for members and $70 for non-members. The research report predicts that total restaurant industry sales will climb to $850 billion in 2020, up from $587 billion in 2010 and $379 billion in 2000. The report said the “healthy” eating trend will continue to grow in coming years.

The panel reported that some of the most likely developments in food and menus by 2020 include an greater emphasis on product quality and fresh food, with fresh produce options expected to be become more plentiful. According to the panel, local sourcing of food will increase, benefitting from a more productive and integrated supply chain.

“Restaurant operators who are already dishing up locally grown food are ahead of the curve, as the panel believes that the emphasis on fresh ingredients will be more prevalent in the years ahead,” according to the association.

In the health and nutrition category, the research report said healthy eating trends will continue to grow, particularly on childrens’ menus. Restaurants will become more creative in putting healthy items on the menu, according to the report.

“Chefs will collaborate with culinary schools and suppliers to increase the availability and accessibility of dishes that may not have been available a decade ago,” according to the report.

The panel predicts a greater emphasis on quick reference codes, computer tablets, kiosks and video menu boards that can give consumers instant nutrition information.

“Social media, e-mail and text messages will allow operators to better customize marketing to individuals, offering specials coupons that will appeal to that person’s particular tastes and interests,” according to the report.

On the topic of product traceability, the panel predicts improvement in technology in food tracing by 2020 and said that the industry will develop a more comprehensive and planned response to safety/security incidents.

The panel said that social responsibility will loom larger by 2020, with water conservation at restaurants expected to be an area of increased  focus.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

These People Want to Replace Fruit Stickers With Laser Etched Tattoos

Tired of trying to wash that weird sticky residue of your fruit that the stickers leave behind? Well, one company is trying to solve the sticker problem by actually laser etching logos onto fruit. Here’s what the etching process looks like
The company says that using laser marking will reduce not just scrubbing time, but the waste of resources as well.

Present market practice applies adhesive laminated sticker on approximately 70% of pieces in a basket. The production of adhesive stickers requires natural resources (wood for paper, energy, water) as well as chemical substances (glue & ink production).

Current production of stickers includes five steps, including applying the stickers onto the foods. The LASERMARK technology involves just one. Plus, no more shifty label swapping in the supermarket. All thanks to lasers.

Food manufacturers have toyed with eliminating the stickers before, trying out these so-called “food tattoos” instead. The USDA even experimented with laser etching in 2009, but their process was a bit more complicated. This new technology hopes to make it easier and cheaper for companies to ditch the stickers and embrace the laser.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Liquid nitrogen ice cream may put steam into summer

If the summer of 2013 is remembered for anything, it may be the hazy summer when the ice cream business went up in smoke.

That's smoke, as in liquid nitrogen — the cold-as-heck steamy stuff used by a sudden spurt of ice cream parlors to make and instantly freeze ice cream right in front the eyes of gawking customers. Folks are often amazed to watch the wave of steam that rises when the super-cold, liquid nitrogen gas hits the liquid ice cream base — and the almost instantaneous freezing of the liquid into a solid.

It might never get as big as the frozen yogurt craze or as popular as the mix-in mania of recent years, but the $10 billion ice cream industry has its frigid eyes on a handful-and-a-half of entrepreneurs who have recently opened several dozen liquid nitrogen ice cream eateries from Los Angeles to Boston.

"This is the next thing in ice cream," says Darryl David, an ice cream consultant, who advises entrepreneurial businesses. "It's a totally different way to attract consumers."

Dippin' Dots has used the gas since 1988 to sell extra-cold, pre-made ice cream. To appeal to the calorie-conscious, it just rolled out 100-calorie YoDots, says president Scott Fischer. But the latest trend may be moving beyond what Dippin' Dots created, to those that make and freeze the ice cream right in front of customers.

One of the newest such ice cream stops is Ice Cream Lab, which opened in mid-March in Beverly Hills. Its 25-year-old co-founder, Joseph Lifschutz, says consumers not only get a kick out of watching the ice cream being made on the spot, but in an age of better-for-you eating, they like that it contains no preservatives, additives or emulsifiers. "There's no shelf life to anything we're selling in this store," he boasts.

His best-seller: Salt Lick Crunch — which combines caramel sauce and pretzels into a mixture that becomes vanilla ice cream. Among his celebrity guests; Larry King, Jay Leno, Tyra Banks and Hilary Duff.

Perhaps the biggest in the business is Sub Zero, the 10-year-old chain with 25 locations in nine states. Founder Jerry Hancock says he's planning to add 144 more in Texas and 120 more in Southern California over the next decade.

"We focus on the show," he says. "Lighting is a big thing, so we light up the fog so you can see the nitrogen going into the ice cream," he says.

On a much smaller scale, there's Smitten Ice Cream, which was launched atop a Radio Flyer wagon in the streets of San Francisco in 2009. Today, Smitten has one San Francisco storefront, with two more set to open later this year, says owner Robyn Sue Fisher, a self-professed ice cream fanatic.

Smitten's best-seller: Fresh Mint Chip "because we use fresh spearmint (not an extract) and local dark chocolate," says Fisher.

Its weirdest flavor? Fisher answers that question with a question. "Rhubarb Crisp, anyone?"


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Glass Bottles Give Soda Makers Pop in Down Market

Soda sold in glass bottles, a package phased out of everyday use over the last several decades, is providing a rare spot of growth in a declining soft-drink industry.

Over the past two years, sales growth by soda in glass bottles has outpaced that of soda in the much more common plastic bottles and aluminum cans, according to Nielsen, whose data includes supermarkets, big-box stores and other outlets, but excludes sales from other sources, like Costco Wholesale Corp. (COST) and convenience stores.

The trend comes as soda companies--including the top three players of Coca-Cola Co. (KO), PepsiCo Inc. (PEP) and Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc. (DPS)--in recent years have recognized the need for a broader selection in the packages, sizes and prices they sell soda to try to attract more consumers to a category that has sold less product in each of the past eight years.

Glass was the original portable packaging option during soda's early days in the late 1800s, but metal and aluminum cans started to gain traction in the 1960s, followed by plastic bottles in the late 1970s. Beverage Digest Publisher John Sicher said that Coca-Cola's introduction of a 20-ounce plastic version of its iconic contoured bottle helped push aside glass as a major soft-drink package.

Today, glass bottles contain just 2% of the $21.2 billion in soft-drink sales tracked by Nielsen, so soda makers are hardly counting on glass to fix the soda industry's major challenges, like consumers avoiding the drinks due to their high sugar content and threats of more political regulation. But glass bottles do serve a strategic purpose. Executives say they hold unique appeal to key demographic groups like millennials, baby-boomers and Hispanics. And glass bottles are sold for a premium compared with other packages, providing a boost to profits.

For the 52 weeks ended April 13, sales of soda in glass bottles rose 2.6%, while plastic bottles fell 0.8% and aluminum cans fell 1.9%, according to Nielsen. Overall, soda sales fell 1.4% during the period. In the year prior to that, all three formats were up, though a 4.5% gain in glass bottle sales was well ahead of the 2.5% increase in plastic and 1.4% increase in cans.

PepsiCo is playing from behind in the glass game, without a "concerted effort" at retail for at least seven years, said Simon Lowden, chief marketing officer of PepsiCo's North America beverage business. This year, PepsiCo is conducting a national rollout of 12-ounce glass bottles, designed with a distinct swirled base, of its namesake cola and Mountain Dew, both which are sweetened with sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup that's used primarily in the U.S. The products are available in nearly a third of the U.S. right now.

Mr. Lowden says that nostalgia makes it an appealing factor for older consumers, while younger shoppers see the glass bottles as having a cool factor. Among those demographics, one-third said that glass bottles would make them buy more soda.

"I couldn't imagine two more different lifestyle extremes," he said in a recent interview. "It's very appealing and different to both cohorts."

The glass bottles are part of number of new packages being offered by PepsiCo. The company also is offering variety packs that combine cans of its namesake cola and Mountain Dew, among other flavors, and also recently launched an aluminum wide-mouth bottle for Mountain Dew.

PepsiCo's glass bottles are the premium offering of its new options. At $3.99 for a four-pack, PepsiCo's glass bottles are priced nearly four times higher on a per-ounce basis than a 12-pack of cans, which sold for an average of $3.50 last year, according to trade publication Beverage Digest.

Coca-Cola's image is much more intertwined with glass than PepsiCo's is, having been consistently offered in its patented bottle shape that was introduced in 1915. Several years ago, Coca-Cola began to focus on having a broader selection of packages and sizes, an effort that included increasing the availability of its glass bottle.

"The Coca-Cola glass contour bottle is part of our brand's DNA and has been for decades," Coca-Cola spokeswoman Susan Stribling said.

PepsiCo, like Coca-Cola, has been available in glass bottles in the U.S. as an import from Mexico, but PepsiCo is making a move to have its own mainstream package with broader distribution, much like Coca-Cola has done.

Dr Pepper only offers a few of its brands in glass, including its namesake soda, Crush and Stewart's root beer. In addition to being a premium play, Dr Pepper sees glass as attracting Hispanics, since soda is sold widely in glass bottles in Latin American countries like Mexico, a spokesman said.


Monday, June 24, 2013

USDA Approves Non-GMO Label for Meat

In a modest victory for the anti-GMO movement, a label that relates to the absence of genetically-modified food for meat and liquid egg products is said to have received approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The label states that meat certified by the Non-GMO Project is derived from animals that have not eaten feed containing such genetically-modified ingredients as alfalfa, corn and soy, The New York Times reported.

The Non-GMO Project is a non-profit organization that offers third-party verification and labeling for non-GMO foods and products. A copy of USDA's decision could not be immediately obtained Friday from the Non-GMO Project.

States across the United States have introduced legislation that would require foods with GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, to carry special labels. No such requirement exists under federal law, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has maintained that genetically-modified foods are as safe as conventional foods.

USDA's decision marks the first time the agency has approved a non-GMO label claim, according to the Times article.

In a statement to the newspaper, Catherine Cochran, a USDA spokeswoman with the agency's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), said FSIS "allows companies to demonstrate on their labels that they meet a third-party certifying organization's standards, provided that the third-party organization and the company can show that the claims are truthful, accurate and not misleading."

Cochran also told the Times USDA's decision did not reflect "any new policy regarding non-GE or non

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Study: Autistic Children Often More Sensitive to Gluten

Some children with autism—compared to those without—appear to have increased immune sensitivity to gluten in a way that is different from celiac disease; further, the children are also more prone to adverse gastrointestinal symptoms, according to researchers from Columbia University Medical Center. The study results were published online June 18, in the journal PLOS ONE.
Children with autism frequently have gastrointestinal symptoms that appear to be linked to the ingestion of gluten. Over the years, diets that exclude gluten have become increasingly popular; but, the effectiveness of these diets have yet to be confirmed.

The study explored the potential link between autism and celiac disease, specifically immune reactivity to gluten. Researchers looked at blood samples and medical records of 140 children, 37 of whom were diagnosed with autism; the others were unaffected siblings and healthy control subjects. The research team found children with autism had significantly higher levels of IgG antibody to gliadin compared to other children; however, there were no differences in levels of IgA, nor in levels of markers specific to celiac disease.

“This is the first study to systematically look at serologic and genetic markers of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity in such well-characterized cohorts of autism patients and controls,” said Peter H. R. Green, MD, director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University Medical Center and one of the study authors. While Green and the team concluded there may be a potential mechanism between the immune response and GI symptoms, further research in larger cohorts is necessary to confirm the findings.

A previous study from 2010, conducted at the University of Rochester, found eliminating gluten and casein from diets from children with autism had no impact on their behavior, sleep or bowel patterns

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Americans Waste Billions of Pounds of Food Per Year

The average American family of four wastes between $1,350 and $2,275 a year in food.

Much of that ends up in the kitchen trash can: uneaten leftovers, milk past the expiration date and vegetables that go bad.

In the U.S., all that waste adds up to 90 billion pounds of food a year, and the planet is paying a staggeringly high price for it.

"It's not something many people think about, but it takes a huge amount of resources to get food to our plates," says Dana Gunders, a scientist with the National Resources Defense Council.

Uneaten food means that the water and land used to grow the food are wasted, too.

"That's just a terrible use of those resources," she says.

About 24% of all water used to grow crops goes toward food that will be wasted, whether on the farm or in the kitchen, according to the NRDC. The land used to grow this wasted food is roughly the size of Mexico.

Rotting food in landfills creates methane, which is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide in its contributions to global warming, she says.

Americans typically throw out 21% of their food, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Fresh fruit and vegetables, seafood, meat, milk and eggs top the list of the most wasted foods.

But a worldwide movement is working to change things.

Earlier this month, the USDA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency challenged consumers and companies to waste less food. A day later, the United Nations called on people worldwide to reduce their "foodprint."

Even the pope weighed in on the issue, saying that wasting food flies in the face of efforts to feed the hungry. Our "culture of waste" is like stealing from the poor and hungry, he said this month.

So how do you become a nonwaster?

Start by understanding expiration dates, says Jennifer McEntire, a food scientist and spokeswoman for the Institute of Food Technologists. Such dates — including "sell-by" and "best-if-used-by" — don't refer to food safety, but are set by manufacturers who have determined when their food tastes the best.

"Manufacturers will do tests to determine how much time that product can sit on the shelf before it starts to taste a little stale, the texture isn't what the manufacturer wanted," McEntire says.

"Then they build in the buffer and that's the date they stamp on things. They want people to be eating it when it tastes the best."

So those crackers that are a day past the expiration date? They may not taste as fresh as they did two months ago, but they are still safe to eat.

With the exception of baby formula and eggs in California (follow the expiration dates on those), the government does not regulate expiration dates. And it is legal to sell food past its expiration date.

McEntire recommends people pay more attention to dates on dairy and meat, as the likelihood of getting sick is greater than a canned or packaged product, which are often still safe past their expiration date.

Pay special attention to "use-by" dates, but in general, the institute considers expiration dates guidelines, not hard and fast rules.

Other ways to reduce your waste:

Check the temperature. An FDA study found that 27% of refrigerators are warmer than the recommended 40 to 41 degrees. That can make food spoil faster. A proper temperature will make your food last.

Buy only what you need. It sounds obvious, but buying more than you can eat is one of the biggest sources of waste. "We get busy. It's tough," says Ginnie Nash, who manages a nutrition education program at University of California Cooperative Extension.

Plan out your meals on paper ahead of time and see what's in the fridge and the cupboard before going shopping.

Slice up some fruit and stick it in the fridge. Kids are more likely to eat peaches, for example, if they're sliced up and ready to go in the fridge, Nash says. Easy is key.

Stock your kitchen like restaurants do. Meaning: Put the oldest food in the front of the cupboard or refrigerator, the newest in the back, Nash says.

Ask for smaller portions. Some grocery stores, including Whole Foods and Vons, will cut fruit and vegetables in half for shoppers who ask.

Most commonly, Whole Foods shoppers have a watermelon cut in half when a whole one is more than they can eat. The remaining half is sold as is, used by the store's prepared foods department, given away as samples to customers or donated to a food bank.

Start a compost. You're still throwing food away, but it's not going to waste. It's being turned into nutrients to fuel your garden. Composts produce less methane than food rotting in landfills because there is more air flow, particularly when composts are turned, says Gunders, from the NRDC.

Freeze your leftovers. Freeze anything you think you might not use before it goes bad, Gunders says.

If meat isn't going to be used within two days, wrap it in foil, label and date it and put it in the freezer, Nash says. Separating it into family-size portions will increase the likelihood you'll use it in time.

"If we just got in habit of popping stuff in the freezer, that could go quite a long way," Gunders says.

Expiration dates: What do they mean?

Most expirations are set by manufacturers, with the exception of eggs and baby formula.

Sell-by or display until: Tells the store how long to display the product.

Best-if-used-by or best before: Recommends the date to consume the product by in order to experience peak flavor and quality. It does not pertain to the safety of the product.

Use-by: The last date recommended for the use of the product from a food-safety perspective.

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture

How long will food keep?

Apples: 1-3 weeks

Lunch meat: 2 weeks unopened, 3-5 days opened

Cereal: 6-12 months unopened, 2-3 months opened

Cookies: 2-3 weeks in airtight container in cupboard

Cream cheese: 5-6 days after opening

Eggs: 3-5 weeks

Uncooked poultry refrigerated: 1-2 days after purchase

Uncooked beef, veal, pork or lamb, refrigerated: 3-5 days after purchase

Shredded cheeses: Use within 2 days of "best when purchased by" date


Friday, June 21, 2013

US and EU Begin Trade Agreement Negotiations

The United States and the European Union have launched negotiations on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) agreement. The first round of T-TIP negotiations will take place the week of July 8 in Washington, D.C., under the leadership of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

T-TIP will be an ambitious, comprehensive, and high-standard trade and investment agreement that offers significant benefits in terms of promoting U.S. international competitiveness, jobs, and growth. T-TIP will aim to boost economic growth in the United States and the EU and add to the more than 13 million American and EU jobs already supported by transatlantic trade and investment.

In particular, T-TIP will aim to further open EU markets, eliminate all tariffs on trade and promote the global competitiveness of small- and medium-size enterprises, among other efforts.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Obesity called a disease by U.S. doctors group

In order to fight what it described as an "obesity epidemic," the American Medical Association voted to recognize obesity as a disease and recommended a number of measures to fight it.

The association voted on the measure Tuesday at its annual meeting in Chicago. The AMA noted that obesity rates in the United States have "doubled among adults in the last twenty years and tripled among children in a single generation" and that the World Health Organization, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Internal Revenue Service already recognize the condition as a disease.

According to "F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future 2012," a study released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in September last year, adult obesity rates in 2011 exceeded 30 per cent in 12 U.S. states. The study projected that "if rates continue to increase at the current pace, adult obesity rates could exceed 60 per cent in 13 states, and all states could have rates above 44 per cent by 2030."

Obesity is associated with a variety of diseases, including Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers. Rising obesity is expected to increase America's already high health care costs.

The AMA's recommendations accompanying the vote included urging physicians and insurance companies to "recognize obesity as a complex disorder," encouraging national efforts to educate the public "about the health risks of being overweight and obese."

The AMA also recommended the creation "National Obesity Awareness Month" to highlight the benefits of exercise and to warn of the risks of obesity.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Men who eat large amounts of lycopene-rich tomatoes and tomato products may reduce their risk of prostate cancer, according to a new study published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research.

Scientists from the University of Illinois College of Pharmacy studied the effects of the red carotenoid lycopene by treating human prostate cells with either a concentration containing lycopene or a placebo for 48 hours. After the treatment, researchers found proteins most affected by lycopene were involved in antioxidant responses and had anticancer effects.

Data collected in the study is also consistent with past findings, indicating lycopene can prevent cancer in human prostate cells.

Further reviews of the study suggest uncertainty of whether the lycopene itself or its metabolites offer the cancer benefits, indicating additional research is required to prove use of this carotenoid prevents prostate cancer.

Studies also show a diet high in vegetables and fruits, as well as low in fat and excessive meat and dairy consumption, may prevent and manage prostate cancer.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Food snack developers are taking inspiration from international cuisines and ethnic flavors, offering consumers exciting and innovative snack products that satisfy their cravings, according to a new report from the Center for Culinary Development (CCD) Innovation and Packaged Facts.

The "Worldly Snacks: Culinary Trend Mapping Report" utilized the CCD Innovation's Trend Mapping technique to track significant developments in worldly snacks across five stages. The report is guided by the premise that food trends go through five distinct stages in becoming mainstream. Such stages are defined as, Stage 1 where the food trends appear in upscale, ethnic and other popular independent restaurants. Stage 2 trends gain attention by being featured in specialty consumer-oriented food magazines and in retail stores targeting culinary professionals. At stage 3, trends begin to appear in mainstream chain restaurants and retail stores, while trends in Stage 4 begin to be picked-up in publications like "Better Homes and Gardens". Lastly, Stage 5 trends establish a mainstream presence by appearing on quick service restaurant menus and grocery store shelves.

In Stage 1, Brazilian Brigaderios are a sweet, trending snack that involves few ingredients and has been gaining popularity on recipe websites since it's easy to make. Asian bar snacking was also identified as a stage 1 trend. Asian bar snack spots are the next big thing in Asian cuisine. Casual Japanese and Korean shops selling small portions and strong drinks are catching on as a popular dining trend in the United States, especially in trend-forward, fast-casual restaurants.

Stage 2 trends include ancient grains, which appeal to the growing number of consumers with food allergies or gluten intolerances. Adding ancients grains to snacks like cookies, crackers, chips or bars offers product manufacturers a chance to stand out with unique textures and flavor profiles in familiar snack places. Indian-inspired snacks are also a growing trend in this stage. India is a snack central for street-inspired small bites and American consumers are taking notice. Across the U.S., food trucks, pop-up restaurants and brick-and-mortar shops are serving traditional Indian foods as well as innovative Indian-inspired foods.

Stage 3 involves Sicilian arancini, a cousin to foods like fried cheese sticks, croquettes and other styles of fried appetizers. Arancini's Italian heritage and familiar base ingredients, like melted cheese, make them a snack favorite for kids, teenagers and indulgence-prone snackers of any age. The inclusion of toothsome rice with fried breading and cheese fillings turn this snack into a meal-like fried starter, showing restaurants and frozen food manufacturers how to change up fillings for line of traditional Italian flavors.

Stage 5 trends include Mexican takis, a fried, rolled corn tortilla chip offered in a variety of flavors. This crunchy Mexican snack has been a favorite of teens who crave its spicy-salty taste. Takis are entering the mainstream snack arena, inspiring intensely flavored imitations from Frito-Lay and private label producers. Pistachios are also a trend in the stage 5 category. With an impressive nutrient profile, pistachios appear in a variety of snack types, both sweet and savory. The green-colored nut stands out as a global ingredient, showing up in recipes and food products with their native Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Indian roots re-vivified.


Monday, June 17, 2013

Amazon plans big expansion of online grocery business -sources Inc is planning a major roll-out of an online grocery business that it has been quietly developing for years, targeting one of the largest retail sectors yet to be upended by e-commerce, according to two people familiar with the situation.

While food is a low-margin business, Amazon could outperform similar online grocery services by delivering orders for higher-margin items like electronics at the same time.

One of the people familiar with AmazonFresh's expansion plans said new warehouses will have refrigerated areas for food, but also space nearby to store up to one million general merchandise products, in some cases.

The company has been testing AmazonFresh in its hometown of Seattle for at least five years, delivering fresh produce such as eggs, strawberries and meat with its own fleet of trucks.

Amazon is now planning to expand its grocery business outside Seattle for the first time, starting with Los Angeles as early as this week and the San Francisco Bay Area later this year, according to the two people who were not authorized to speak publicly.

If those new locations go well, the company may launch AmazonFresh in 20 other urban areas in 2014, including some outside the United States, said one of the people.

Bill Bishop, a prominent supermarket analyst and consultant, said the company was targeting as many as 40 markets, without divulging how he knew of Amazon's plans.

An Amazon spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

Amazon is searching for new, large markets to enter as the company tries to maintain a growth rate that has fueled a 220 percent surge in its shares over the past five years. The grocery business in the United States, which generated $568 billion in retail sales last year, may be a ripe target.

Amazon's expansion plans are a potential threat to grocery chains such as Kroger Co, Safeway Inc and Whole Foods Market, as well as general-merchandise retailersWal-Mart Stores Inc and Target Corp, which also sell a lot of groceries.

"Amazon has been testing this for years and now it's time for them to harvest what they've learned by expanding outside Seattle," said Bishop, chief architect at Brick Meets Click, a consulting firm focused on retail technology.

"The fear is that grocery is a loss leader and Amazon will make a profit on sales of other products ordered online at the same time," he said. "That's an awesomely scary prospect for the grocery business."

Kroger, Whole Foods, Supervalu and Safeway did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday. Target declined to comment.

A successful foray into groceries could also help underwrite the development of a broad-based delivery service employing Amazon trucks to deliver directly to homes, which could have implications for UPS, FedEx and other package delivery companies that currently ship Amazon goods.

Still, groceries have proven to be one of the most difficult sectors for online retailers to crack. One of the most richly funded start-ups of the dot-com era, Webvan, was a spectacular failure as the cost of developing the warehouse and delivery infrastructure proved overwhelming.

Roger Davidson, a former grocery executive at Wal-Mart and Supervalu, said Amazon will struggle to make money from AmazonFresh because fresh produce can easily go out of date in storage warehouses and get damaged during delivery - something known as "shrink" in the business.

"Will it work? I would bet against it," Davidson said. "The reasons these businesses have failed in the past have not gone away."


Still, Amazon is not alone in wanting to expand in the online grocery business.

Wal-Mart is testing same-day and next-day delivery of online grocery and general merchandise orders in the San Francisco Bay Area and operates a grocery delivery business in Britain.

"We are ready and able to expand grocery delivery in the U.S. as the market demands," Wal-Mart spokesman Dan Toporek said.

FreshDirect delivers food to homes and offices in some parts of New York City and its trying to expand its service into the Bronx.

Peapod, owned by international food giant Royal Ahold NV , says on its website that it is the largest Internet grocer in the United States, delivering more than 23 million orders across 24 markets.

Davidson, who worked with Peapod for several years during stint at Ahold USA, said Peapod struggled to make money for most of its existence. But he believes it now turns a small profit due to supply chain efficiencies, population density in Chicago and its connection to brick and mortar stores on the east coast.

Davidson favors a strategy he called "Click and Connect" which is being used by Harris Teeter, a food and pharmacy chain on the East Coast of the United States. Customers order food online and choose a time to pick up the produce from designated areas outside the company's stores. There is a $4.95 service fee for this.

"Traditional grocery retailers will likely fight back against Amazon with Click and Connect," he added.

It is not clear whether AmazonFresh in Seattle is profitable because Amazon does not disclose results from the business.

Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos was asked about the business during the company's annual shareholder meeting last month and he said that the team had "made progress on the economics over the last year."

"They've been doing a lot of experiments and trying to get the right mixture of customer experience and economics," he added.


If online orders also include higher-margin general merchandise such as digital cameras, then AmazonFresh has a chance at profitability, said Manfred Bluemel of Zeitgeist Research, who was head of market research worldwide at Amazon until late 2010.

"Grocery is a frequency business. If Amazon can deliver to consumers' homes two or three times a week, they can up-sell other items," he said.

Bluemel said AmazonFresh's expansion will likely focus on areas where Amazon already offers same-day delivery, or will do so soon.

Amazon offers same-day delivery in several cities including New York, Washington D.C. and Chicago, and since last year the company has been building new distribution warehouses on the outskirts of the Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay areas.


Sunday, June 16, 2013


Bluewave Marine Ingredients launched its AminoMarine™ brand protein powder, a dairy-free and gluten-free fish protein powder that's available to retailers in the U.S. market.

The fish protein powder is offered in four flavors, including PeanutButter, Chocolate-Hazelnut, Natural (non-flavored) and Natural (neutralized). The 2-year development process included, "utilization of key refining techniques that remove the fish fat/oil component leaving an 83% plus protein powder, establishing the baseline for creating a more neutral protein flavor and allowing us the ability to then add additional flavor for the retail consumer market," said Michael Mussel, CEO of Bluewave. The unflavored version of the fish protein powder is produced in the company's Peru facility, then shipped to the United States where it's further processed, flavored and packaged in GMP facilities.

The protein is Paleo, Crossfit and Celiac diet friendly. It's also a good alternative for those consumers concerned about hormones, antibiotics and rGBH, as well as for male consumers who want to avoid estrogen concerns associated with soy proteins.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Talking About Texture

The relationship between texture and taste is intertwined. Texture can impact flavor release, flavor perception and even the success of a food or beverage product as a whole. For this Custom Digital Brief we talked to the experts for advice on attaining consumer-friendly texture in products representing a range of food and beverage categories, as well as details on using texture analyzers to help nail the target texture.

Inside “Talking About Texture” Custom Digital Brief:

Sink Your Teeth Into This: Texture, Inclusions and Sensory Success
Far from playing second fiddle to taste and appearance, texture can be the secret weapon that assures a product's success.

Importance of Texture Measurement
If a consumer bites into a soggy cracker or swallows a spoon of chewy ice cream, it's unlikely they'll be back. Texture analyzers can help product designers ensure the target texture from the lab to the consumer's kitchen.

Texture Solutions for Snack Bars
Snack and nutrition bars used to come in one form: hard. Advances in protein technology and a palette of fruits, syrups, grains and hydrocolloids can now fine-tune the bar's eating quality, from chewy to crunchy.


Friday, June 14, 2013

Target Introduces New Grocery Wellness Brand, Simply Balanced

Designed to meet the increasing demand for healthy food products at a great price, Target is introducing Simply Balanced, a new food collection within its owned brand portfolio.

The Simply Balanced collection is crafted to be free of artificial flavors, colors and preservatives, and avoids high fructose corn syrup. The collection never uses trans fats, is mindful about the amount of sodium in each product, and forty percent of the products are organic – giving guests more of the simple, recognizable ingredients they know and want – and a food label they can understand.

As a wellness brand built on purity and simplicity, Simply Balanced products exclude 105 common food additive ingredients, and the vast majority of the items within the collection are made without GMOs. As part of Target’s commitment to wellness, the Simply Balanced collection will eliminate all GMOs by the end of 2014.

The Simply Balanced collection offers nearly 250 products across snacks, pasta, beverages, frozen seafood, dairy and cereal. The collection ranges in price from $1 for water to $14.99 for seafood. Key nutrition attributes are highlighted on the front of Simply Balanced packages to help guests find the products that meet their individual nutrition goals and wellness lifestyle needs.

The new Simply Balanced collection is replacing two subsets of the Archer Farms brand: Archer Farms Simply Balanced and Archer Farms Organic. Many of guests’ favorite products from those labels will now be included in the Simply Balanced collection, along with delicious new food products. We know many of our guests are increasingly seeking to add wholesome and organic food options to their wellness lifestyle, inspiring us to introduce a new collection where guests can find these attributes in one place.


Thursday, June 13, 2013


Healthy entrees on children's menus cost much less than people think, despite the assumption that healthy foods tend to be more expensive, according to new findings published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease.

With the economy still in recovery mode, consumers want value-priced healthy menu items. Researchers from the University of Tennessee found healthy items on kids' menus cost an average of $5.38, which was not significantly more than less healthy meals ($5.27).

The study involved children's menus from 75 full-service restaurant chains in the Little Rock area. All 75 restaurants had less healthful entrees on their kid's menus, 23% had only less healthful entrees, and 77% had at least one or more healthful entrees. One average, there were significantly fewer healthful entrees compared to less healthful entrees.

"More healthful" meals included foods that were grilled, baked or broiled (except grilled cheese), and the "less healthful" meals were fried, contained red meat (unless low-fat or low-calorie), or contained a large amount of cheese, butter or cream sauce. Sandwiches were considered healthful if made with whole wheat and low-fat or low-calorie condiments.

The study did not examine the prices of beverages, side dishes or desserts.

Restaurants have increased their focus on healthful menu options in recent years, and in 2011, the National Restaurant Association (NRA) launched an initiative to highlight actions taken by restaurants to promote healthier diets.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Heat-resistant chocolate within reach, Oreo maker says

Snacks company Mondelez International Inc is close to introducing heat-resistant chocolate it can sell at market stalls in Africa and some of the world's hottest places, a senior executive said on Thursday.

The maker of Cadbury chocolate and Oreo cookies has spent at least ten years on research and is close to introducing the new snacks to consumers, according to Lawrence MacDougall, the company's president for Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (EEMEA), although he declined to give a specific date for the roll-out.

He gave no details on the content of the chocolate, how it tasted or what it would be called but said that it could solve the problems Mondelez and other snack producers face in sub-Saharan Africa, where many consumers shop in outdoor marketsand food can be left for hours in the blazing heat.

"It can withstand 40 degrees and not turn to liquid," MacDougall told Reuters in an interview.

"We launched the patent last year. It's in development now. We're looking at commercialising it pretty soon. It will be for where we are challenged on climate and retail environments."

Although supermarket chains like South Africa's Massmart and Kenya's Uchumi are expanding in Africa, there are still relatively few trading environments where products like chocolate can be kept cool, MacDougall said.

"You go to an open market in Lagos, you don't find many cool places there," he said. "As supermarkets expand it will make it easier for us, but at the moment we want to move fast."

Faced with maturing markets in the United States and Europe, Mondelez is betting on emerging economies to drive its growth.

Although home to a billion people, two-thirds of whom are under 35, Africa accounted for just 26 percent of Mondelez's EEMEA revenue in 2012 - or just short of $1 billion.

The company aims to make its products affordable to low-income consumers, for example by selling Oreos in packs of two rather than 12.

It also sells single sticks of gum in countries like Egyptand Morocco, which it plans to introduce into other markets.

Mondelez's chief executive said last month it expects to increase investment in emerging markets by $100 million this year and by up to $300 million in 2015.


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Feds to Allow Nutrition Labels on Wine, Beer, Spirit Bottles

Alcohol beverages soon could have nutritional labels like those on food packaging, but only if the producers want to put them there.

The Treasury Department, which regulates alcohol, said this past week that beer, wine and spirits companies can use labels that include serving size, servings per container, calories, carbohydrates, protein and fat per serving. Such package labels have never before been approved.

The labels are voluntary, so it will be up to beverage companies to decide whether to use them on their products.

The decision is a temporary, first step while the Alcohol and Tobacco Trade and Tax Bureau, or TTB, continues to consider final rules on alcohol labels. Rules proposed in 2007 would have made labels mandatory, but the agency never made the rules final.

The labeling regulation, issued May 28, comes after a decade of lobbying by hard liquor companies and consumer groups, with clearly different goals.

The liquor companies want to advertise low calories and low carbohydrates in their products. Consumer groups want alcoholic drinks to have the same transparency as packaged foods, which are required to be labeled.

"This is actually bringing alcoholic beverages into the modern era," says Guy Smith, an executive vice president at Diageo, the world's largest distiller and maker of such well-known brands as Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff, Jose Cuervo and Tanqueray.

Diageo asked the bureau in 2003 to allow the company to add that information to its products as low-carbohydrate diets were gaining in popularity.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Responds to Rising Consumer Demand for Healthy Beverages

With summer coming, consumers will be reaching for water enhancers to add flavor and variety. Out of $200 million worth of water enhancers, only one lets you keep water’s natural purity: Vitamin Squeeze™, which is made from natural ingredients and contains no preservatives.

“You pick a water enhancer and give yourself a plus for being healthy. Not so fast,” said Bill McKay, Founder and CEO of Ecosentials LLC. “Most water enhancers are, in fact, packed with chemical sweeteners and preservatives, much like the soda you may be trying to cut down on.”

Aside from containing no preservatives, Ecosentials’ Vitamin Squeeze™ uses natural flavors, is sweetened naturally with zero-calorie stevia and provides a potent, fresh portion of vitamins with every dose. Sold in more than 2,500 stores, Vitamin Squeeze™ is the only preservative-free option in a water enhancer market dominated by conglomerates such as Kraft and Coca-Cola.

“We go through a lot of trouble and expense to make sure our drinking water is the purest it can be,” continues McKay. “So why dump a load of chemicals into it?”

Among the ingredients listed in commonly available water enhancers are sweeteners including acesulfame potassium and preservatives such as potassium sorbate and artificial dyes. Many labels also state that the product “contains less than 2% of natural flavor.”

In contrast, Vitamin Squeeze™ uses natural flavors and stevia and gets its color from fruit and vegetable powders. Vitamin Squeeze™ is also the only enhancer to emphasize the need to replenish vitamins B and C. The importance of these nutrients is well known, but less so is the need to replenish them regularly throughout the day.

Vitamin Squeeze™ Powder Water Enhancer is sold in the water and powder drink mix sections of more than 2,500 Safeway, SUPERVALU, Albertson’s, and other stores nationwide. The product is also rapidly gaining new distribution across natural, fitness and nutrition channels. For more information, please visit


Sunday, June 09, 2013

In the beverage industry, it's definitely tea's time

Tea expert David DeCandia has spent his entire 17-year career in the shadow of coffee.

At his employer, Los Angeles beverage chain Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, coffee comes first in the company name. It also takes up most of the company's processing facility in Camarillo and brings in 90% of the revenue.

But more Americans are complaining that their coffee buzz feels like a hangover, citing concerns about over-caffeination and high prices. DeCandia is reading the tea leaves — and seeing a cultural shift toward his brew of choice.

"The tea industry is going straight up, and at some point, it will reach the level of coffee," he said, standing in a lab ringed by porcelain cups, maps of tea estates and bags of dried Oolong. "It's time. People have maxed out on other types of beverage."

Americans developing a hankering for tea are turning one of history's oldest drinks into what may be the beverage industry's sexiest new offering.

Domestic tea sales at restaurants, grocery stores and shops reached $15.7 billion last year, up nearly 32% from 2007, according to consumer goods research firm Packaged Facts. In the next two years, the market is expected to expand to $18 billion.

The tea-drinking demographic is widening. Aging baby boomers and Redbull-swigging youngsters are expected to buy more tea. Asians, long a key revenue source, form the fastest-growing racial group in the country. Rising interest in ethnic cuisines is drawing foodies to Japanese matcha, Indian Darjeeling and African Rooibos teas.

Hollywood, normally linked with booze endorsements, is also providing a splash of glamour. "Top Chef" host Padma Lakshmi sells teas through her Easy Exotic line of goods. The television drama "Downton Abbey" has turned tea parties into a trend. Celebrity chefs Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air and Gordon Ramsay at the London in West Hollywood offer afternoon tea menus.

Corporate America is taking notice. Soda giants PepsiCo and Coca Cola are plugging teas through brands such as Brisk, Honest Tea and Fuze. Tea-infused waters, soft drinks and energy drinks are increasingly prevalent. So too are tea-flavored booze options such as spiked iced-tea brand Twisted Tea and Arnold Palmer Hard, a mixture of iced tea, lemonade and alcohol.

Even Howard Schultz, chief executive of coffee giant Starbucks Corp., is betting big on tea.

Last year, the company expanded its $1-billion Tazo Tea business by opening its first Tazo tea shop. Starbucks also spent $620 million for mall-based tea retailer Teavana, which it hopes to expand to at least 1,000 locations from 300 currently.

"We could do for tea what we've done for coffee," Schultz told investors. "This is a big, big opportunity."

But Earl Grey still has a while to go before overtaking joe.

Last year, the American tea industry pulled in $987 million in revenue at the wholesale level, a tenth of the $9.6 billion for coffee manufacturers, according to research group IBISWorld. And it's not just java — tea consumption domestically also lags behind bottled water, soft drinks, milk and juice.

Still, the ancient brew may be catching up.


Saturday, June 08, 2013

Hepatitis A Outbreak Linked to Frozen Berries Sold at Costco

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are investigating a multistate outbreak of Hepatitis A linked to Townsend Farms Organic Anti-Oxidant Blend of frozen fruit sold at Costco. Nine people have been hospitalized.

As of June 3, 2013, 34 people have been confirmed ill in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico with acute hepatitis A that may be linked with consumption of the contaminated fruit. Nineteen of 25 ill people interviewed reported eating Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend, a mix of frozen berries and pomegranate seeds.

Costco is notifying its members who purchased this product since late February 2013, and has removed this product from its shelves. Preliminary laboratory studies of specimens from two cases suggest the outbreak strain of hepatitis A virus (HAV) is genotype 1B. This strain is rarely seen in the Americas, but circulates in the North Africa and Middle East regions. This genotype was identified in a 2013 outbreak in Europe linked to frozen berries and another 2012 outbreak in British Columbia related to a frozen berry blend with pomegranate seeds from Egypt.

According to the label, The Townsend Farms Organic Anti-oxidant Blend frozen berry mix associated with illness contained pomegranate seeds and other produce from the U.S., Argentina, Chile and Turkey.

Hepatitis A is a human disease and usually occurs when an infected food handler prepares food without appropriate hand hygiene. However, food contaminated with HAV, as is suspected in this outbreak, can cause outbreaks of disease among persons who eat or handle food.


Friday, June 07, 2013

Artificial Honeybee Food May Be Contributing to Colony Collapse

Bee keepers' use of corn syrup and other honey substitutes as bee feed may be contributing to colony collapse by depriving the insects of compounds that strengthen their immune systems, according to a new study. U.S. bee keepers lost nearly a third of their colonies last winter as part of an ongoing and largely unexplained decline in the population of the crop-pollinating insects that could hurt the U.S. food supply. A bee's natural food is its own honey, which contains compounds like p-coumaric acid that appear to help detoxify and strengthen a bee's immunity to disease, according to a study by scientists at the University of Illinois. Bee keepers, however, typically harvest and sell the honey produced by the bees and use substitutes like sugar or high-fructose corn syrup to feed them. "The widespread apicultural use of honey substitutes, including high-fructose corn syrup, may thus compromise the ability of honey bees to cope with pesticides and pathogens and contribute to colony losses," according to the study, reports Reuters


Thursday, June 06, 2013

Vegetarian Diet Lowers Death Risk By 12%

Individuals, particularly men, who consume a vegetarian diet have a lower risk of death compared to nonvegetarians, according to a new study published online in JAMA Internal Medicine. The findings support previous studies that have shown the association between vegetarian diets and reductions in risk for several chronic diseases, including hypertension, metabolic syndrome, diabetes mellitus and ischemic heart disease (IHD).

Researchers at Loma Linda University examined all-cause and cause-specific mortality in a group of 73,308 men and women Seventh-day Adventists. Researchers assessed dietary patients using a questionnaire that categorized study participants into five groups: nonvegetarian, semi-vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian (includes seafood), lacto-ovo-vegetarian (includes dairy and egg products) and vegan (excludes all animal products).

The study notes that vegetarian groups tended to be older, more highly educated and more likely to be married, to drink less alcohol, to smoke less, to exercise more and to be thinner.

“Some evidence suggests vegetarian dietary patterns may be associated with reduced mortality, but the relationship is not well established," the authors said.

Over the 6-year follow-up, there were 2,570 deaths among the study participants. The overall mortality rate was six deaths per 1,000 person years. The adjusted hazard ratio (HR) for all-cause mortality in all vegetarians combined versus nonvegetarians was 0.88, or 12% lower. The association also appears to be better for men with significant reduction in cardiovascular disease mortality and IHD death in vegetarians versus nonvegetarians. In women, there were no significant reductions in these categories of mortality, the results indicate.

“These results demonstrate an overall association of vegetarian dietary patterns with lower mortality compared with the nonvegetarian dietary pattern. They also demonstrate some associations with lower mortality of the pesco-vegetarian, vegan and lacto-ovo-vegetarian diets specifically compared with the nonvegetarian diet," the authors concluded.

A January 2013 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that found vegetarians have a 32% lower risk of hospitalization or death from heart disease compared to people who eat meat and fish.