How the Coronavirus is Affecting Food Processing

In our April cover story, we look at how processors are cranking up and shifting channels to feed a country staying at home – while wondering what comes next.

By Pan Demetrakakes, Senior Editor

Mar 31, 2020

How do you feed a sick nation?

That’s the question facing the American food processing industry, and its partners along the supply chain, during what is turning out to be an unprecedented national trauma. The “coronacrisis” is threatening disruptions to the labor pool, the supply chain and the entire U.S. economy on a scale that has rarely been seen – and, as of press time, there is no certainty when or where it will stop.

The stakes are almost unthinkably high. “Everyone is on this 24/7 in some way,” says a spokesperson for one food processor. “Keeping the food plants open is critical. Toilet paper will look like a day at the beach if people believe food availability is in jeopardy.”

But from the very outset, members of the food retail supply chain were included among “essential services,” right up there with health care providers and police. Food and beverage plants were exempted from business shutdowns and their workers from gathering laws. A good thing, considering the initial wave of panic buying sent most food plants into overdrive to restock empty grocery shelves.Coronavirus and the Food & Beverage Industry 
Stay informed with how COVID-19 is impacting the food & beverage industry. Visit our Coronavirus information hub

No one is spared from concern about the coronavirus, and the COVID-19 disease that it causes. But the food and beverage industry is facing some unique difficulties. It is unquestionably vital; it usually requires employees to work in proximity on a plant floor; it produces and, especially, distributes according to finely tuned models that are difficult to adjust quickly.

Probably the most far-reaching effect of the coronacrisis, at least so far, is the need to avoid public gatherings. This has led to an unprecedented contraction of the restaurant and other hospitality sectors, reducing many locations to takeout or delivery only. For many food processors, the immediate effect is to switch supply efforts from foodservice to retail channels, as consumers are forced to eat at home.

Sourcing Impacted by Coronavirus

While putting together our April cover story, we also asked readers about R&D Trends for 2020. We were able to ask several questions about coronavirus and how it was impacting product development. The following chart was indicative of how processors were feeling about sourcing and the origins of their ingredients. To get the results of the complete R&D Survey when it is available, be sure to sign-up for an advance copy. 

This is especially true with meat, says Derrell Peel, an extension livestock marketing specialist at Oklahoma State University. In his newsletter, Peel wrote, “For beef, there is immediate demand for more processing, packaging and shipping of beef for retail sale and less processing and shipping of meat through food service distribution channels.”

That’s what processors who supply both markets are doing. Tyson Foods and Sanderson Farms both switched resources into retail, with Sanderson considering, as of mid-March, converting two plants to the smaller-piece production and packaging needed for grocery stores. Perdue Farms has “shifted our total production slightly to accommodate the variation in demand, with an increase toward retail,” says spokesperson Diane Souder. Cargill had been producing in a ratio of 60% retail, 40% foodservice; by late March, it had shifted to 85% and 15%, respectively.

Bolthouse Farms, the vegetable packer/beverage maker sold off last year by Campbell Soup, reports a surge in retail orders. “We are working around the clock to fill these increased orders and have diverted resources and supply from our foodservice business to fulfill the increased demand from retail,” says CEO Jeff Dunn.

Across the board

The spike in retail, at least early in the crisis, has affected small processors as well.

Spinato’s Fine Foods, a small processor based in Tempe, Ariz., is ramping up retail production and considering adding a second shift.

“Foodservice has ground to a halt. The spike in retail has more than made up for that temporary dip,” says Keith Schroeder, CEO of High Road Craft Brands, an ice-cream processor based in Marietta, Ga., with annual sales of about $30 million.

Spinato’s Fine Foods, which started as a pizzeria chain in Tempe, Ariz., and established a retail division in 2010, has seen an increase of up to 30% in its retail business. “Brick-and-mortar has definitely increased,” says Todd Niezgodzki, vice president of sales. “We have seen an uptick in POs [purchase orders] just in the last four days, and some of those were even changed after they were sent.”

Andrew Lorenz, president of We R Food Safety!, a compliance consulting firm mostly for the meat industry, says some of his smaller clients are processing five times more hamburger: “Our small to midsize meat production facilities are really hitting it hard.”

Both pantry basics, like meat, milk and nonperishable center-store items, and comfort foods seem to be popular. Some of the biggest jumps in demand, by product category, came in:

  • Meat. Fresh and frozen meat sales rose 77% for the week of March 15 compared with last year, while deli meat was up 40%.
  • Milk. Long on the decline, liquid milk rose 32% for the week ending March 14.
  • Salty snacks. Potato chip sales were up 30% for the week ending March 14 according to Nielsen, while popcorn and pretzels were up about 47%.

The rise in retail demand was rooted, at least initially, in two overwhelming consumer fears: that they would be forced to self-quarantine (or have quarantines imposed upon them) and be unable to shop for food, and that commodities would start running out. The situation led to images of bare supermarket shelves – something that most Americans hadn’t ever seen.

Processors and retailers alike were quick to assure the public that there was plenty of food available, and that the problem was simply that consumers were buying more than they needed.

“As long as customers just buy what they need and don’t hoard, there will be no problems at all – there’s plenty of food in the supply chain,” Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen told USA Today. FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn pleaded with Americans on March 17 to buy only enough food to last a week.

Peter Bolstorff, executive vice president with the Assn. for Supply Chain Management, also attributes stocking problems to a surge in panic buying. He says the grocery supply chain is normally robust, with replenishment systems based on history-based forecasts.

“When you get a run on products, a spike based on some collective reason like paranoia, you’re going to get immediate replenishment challenges,” Bolstorff says. “But if the spike is not sustained – meaning, it’s for maybe three days at a time, and then everybody wakes up and realizes ‘now I have enough’ – the supply chains for the grocery systems are mature enough where they’re going to, over time, replenish themselves.”

However, there are indications that the food supply chain may have been done in, at least temporarily, by its own efficiency. For more than a decade, there was a general imperative to slim down supply chains of all kinds, reducing inventory as much as possible. Food retailers took to this trend enthusiastically, allowing them to pare down stocks in back rooms and warehouses.

But both processors and retailers found this just-in-time strategy incapable of handling the surge in demand touched off by coronavirus. General Mills and other major manufacturers started bypassing their own warehouses in favor of shipping directly to wholesalers or trade customers’ warehouses. Grocers have been abandoning algorithms that have guided – and, in some cases, automatically placed – purchase orders in favor of getting on the phone and arranging purchases with suppliers.

“Just-in-time purchasing has been thrown out the window,” Dave Hirz, CEO of grocery chain Smart & Final, told the Wall Street Journal.

Opportunities in Consumer Shopping Changes

Market analytics firm IRI came up with these positive lessons for food & beverage processors. They’re from a new report, Then and Now: Consumer and CPG Behavior During Economic Downturns which looks at consumers’ dual anxieties over the virus itself and the economic downturn:

  • Retailers and CPG manufacturers have an opportunity to become trusted support for consumers confined to their homes.
  • Center-store has seen a revival as quarantine reintroduces consumers to shelf-stable categories and brands. Retailers and CPG manufacturers should help shoppers make the most of these products.
  • There will be a greater shift to online purchasing of consumer products, with click and collect at grocery, club, mass merchandisers and more.
  • Drug and convenience stores, which often populate suburban and urban areas, have an opportunity to provide more staple and essential fresh products for consumers staying closer to home.
  • With the tightening economy, consumers will increasingly look for the value proposition, zeroing in on lower-priced brands and/or private label products.

Labor problems

The coronacrisis has had profound implications for food industry operations, especially in labor.

For the most part, the good manufacturing practices that almost all food facilities have in place for sanitation should be sufficient to stop the coronavirus from spreading on food, equipment or packaging. The virus is as vulnerable to standard sanitizers as any other pathogen.

“The good thing for the food industry as a whole is that the sanitizers they use for normal, everyday cleaning are effective,” says Lorenz of We R Food Safety.

PepsiCo said in a statement on its website: “Based on industry guidelines from multiple health authorities, including the EFSA [European Food Safety Authority] and FDA, there is no evidence that food or food packaging is associated with the transmission of COVID-19 and that no recalls are anticipated if a person who works in a food or beverage production facility is diagnosed.

“Global health agencies have made clear the most effective thing we can do to fight COVID-19 is to practice good hygiene, and we are taking this advice very seriously,” the soda and snacks giant continued. “We have increased cleaning frequency at all facilities globally, re-emphasized the importance of proper handwashing, and we are expanding the availability of hand sanitizer in our facilities.”

But food plants will have to make adjustments. As is often the case, the trickiest variable is people.

Large food companies like Kraft Heinz and Cargill have made the same adjustments as most corporations, such as telling whomever can work from home to do so and limiting air travel to essential trips.

Atlantic Natural Foods, a processor of plant-based analogue seafood, closed its offices in San Diego and Baton Rouge, La., which performed management oversight and “backroom” business services, respectively; on-site operations are limited to its manufacturing facility in Nashville, N.C. (as well as a joint venture in Thailand).

But floor work isn’t something that can be done remotely. And that has unavoidable implications in the coronacrisis.

The virus can live up to three days on stainless steel, according to the National Institutes of Health. (Interestingly, the NIH says it lasts only four hours on copper, but copper in processing plants is mostly limited to occasional use in piping and certain kinds of vessels.) That means danger of transmission through equipment and other work surfaces.

The way to fight that, according to the FDA, is by having workers follow the same procedures that everyone is becoming familiar with: frequent hand washing and infrequent face-touching. Cornell University’s Institute for Food Safety takes it a step further, recommending that when disposable gloves are used, they should be changed, not only after touching any filth, but whenever workers touch their face or hair.

“Social distancing” is another important aspect of fighting the spread of coronavirus. Food plants may not be social venues, but workers often have to perform tasks in proximity of others. Lorenz says many companies are trying to impose as much isolation as possible on the plant floor.

“The people on a line are now a team. They don’t break with the rest of the people,” he says. “They isolate themselves in between breaks. The breakroom is cleaned and sanitized. Instead of doing it once a day like you normally do it, or once a shift, now you’re doing it between each break cycle.”

Doing so sometimes requires shifting workers around. Hazelnut Growers of Oregon, an agricultural co-op, has had to do so at its 120,000-sq.-ft. plant in Aurora.

“We immediately executed a plan to ramp up our sanitation staff following our quality SOPs for this type of contingency, [and] dedicated a minimum number of required staff to operate our plant while meeting all customer orders,” says Chief Operating Officer Greg Thorsgard.

Dealing with sickness

But the biggest potential labor problem, by far, is how to keep sick workers out of your plant – and what to do when you get one.

“The primary concern for them is employees,” Lorenz says. “How do you isolate, how do you separate employees? How do you identify who’s sick and who’s not sick? What do you do if somebody is sick?”

As of press time, cases of food plant employees testing positive for coronavirus have been rare, with only five widely reported: at an Anheuser-Busch plant in Cartersville, Ga., a Sanderson Farms plant in McComb, Miss., a Smithfield Foods plant in Sioux City, S.D., a Perdue Farms plant in Perry, Ga., and two at Jel Sert’s West Chicago, Ill., plant. Of the processors contacted by Food Processing, only Hazelnut Growers acknowledged having an employee report symptoms consistent with COVID-19, and that person, immediately quarantined, soon recovered.

The crisis, however, is still in its initial stages. The biggest problem is that the virus’s incubation period averages five days, but can go as long as 14, meaning workers can be contagious for that long before they start experiencing symptoms. Even worse, it’s possible to transmit COVID-19 while remaining asymptomatic.

For these reasons, the perfunctory screening practices, such as monitoring forehead temperatures with remote scan guns, which some companies have started instituting, are unlikely to make much difference. Most are relying on self-reporting – urging employees to stay home if they have even a small suspicion they might be sick.

Companies can’t count on federal inspectors to help them, either. The FDA suspended most routine in-plant inspections on March 18, although “for-cause” inspections will still take place. (The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, on the other hand, says it will maintain routine in-plant inspection of meat, poultry and egg facilities.)

Hiring ramps up

Some companies, both big and small, are augmenting their labor forces to handle the increased demand. PepsiCo announced on March 23 that it plans to hire 6,000 more workers over the next several months, and Mondelēz International plans to hire 1,000 more. On the other end of the scale, Spinato’s Fine Foods has increased employees, brought in temps and is considering a second shift.

In some ways, smaller companies, especially if they use contract manufacturers, are in a better position to respond to the coronacrisis. Alkaline Water Co., a bottler with about $40 million in annual sales, uses seven or eight (the number varies seasonally) co-packers. So far, they have been able to make up absences with new hires, especially in the western U.S., says CEO Ricky Wright.

“It’s rectified itself in the West very quickly because obviously you’ve got a lot of closings of other types of businesses in the hospitality arena,” Wright says.

That same dynamic ensures that Alkaline Water will be able to get co-packers to ramp up production, which it probably will need; demand for March was up 70% over the previous year (compared with a 46% seasonal bump in normal years).

“The smaller guys like me who have managed to find a number of different co-packers, I think are able to provide better than a lot of some of the guys who are in a single plant and they’re at max capacity,” Wright says. “We’re able to turn to our manufacturers and say, ‘Hey, look, I know you’re dropping some business out of your hospitality industry [customers]. We’ll fill that void.’”

Smaller manufacturers with their own plants also have an advantage, Lorenz says: They’re are more likely than larger plants to impose safety distancing on their workers. “The smaller to mid-sized operators are probably going to be in better shape in the long run, just because they’re able to isolate down more,” he says. “But if you’re bringing 2,000 employees into a facility, statistics say you’re going to get hit.”


Big or small, food processors are going to have to find a way to keep their employees motivated to come to work and, not to put too fine a point on it, risk their health to keep America fed.

There are signs of grumbling among food workers, in manufacturing as well as retail. A Perdue Farms plant in Kathleen, Ga., saw a brief wildcat walkout by about 50 workers on March 23 protesting what they alleged were unsanitary conditions, with one of them remarking to a local TV station, “We’re risking our life for chicken.”

Some companies are responding with extra incentives. J.M. Smucker Co. is paying workers a $1,500 bonus; JBS SA, a $600 bonus to unionized workers; Conagra Brands, $500. Cargill, Campbell Soup and National Beef are giving hourly workers a $2 bump.

Supplies will be another potential sore point, especially when they originate overseas. Much of the raw ingredients for artificial sweeteners come from China, where the coronavirus originated – which presents a supply challenge. This is exacerbated by processor customers seeking to lock in supplies.

Apura Ingredients had several customers try to order 12 months of sweetener at once, says company president Nancy Hughes. She says Apura is working with that customer on a feasible delivery schedule, adding, “I don’t see these challenges going away anytime soon, as we are all learning how to deal with a pandemic.”

Packaging is another consideration. Wright says that Alkaline Water took steps to lock in an adequate supply of PET bottles, but sees it as a potential industrywide problem: “The biggest impediment to the industry come summertime will be the guys who have not been able to line up their containers.”

Food manufacturers make vital goods, for which demand is increasing at least in the short term, with relatively few labor disruptions. Even as the country suffers, that’s a good position to be in.

So far.

Source: How the Coronavirus is Affecting Food Processing


Beyond Meat Loses in North, Wins in South

Beyond Meat Loses in North, Wins in South

By Pan Demetrakakes, Senior Editor

Jan 31, 2020

Beyond Meat got hit with bad news in the Great White North, but took a big step forward in the South.

The meat-analogue company had been providing plant-based breakfast sausage patties and hamburgers to Tim Horton’s, the Canadian fast food chain. Horton’s started a test market in May, and by summer, Beyond Meat hamburgers were sold at Horton’s nationwide, and sausage patties at 4,000 locations.

But enthusiasm waned, and Horton’s started scaling back its Beyond Meat offerings, eventually confining them to restaurants in Ontario and British Columbia. The company announced earlier this month that those locations will also stop selling Beyond products.

“Ultimately, our guests choose to stay with the meat option in their breakfast sandwiches,” a spokesperson for Horton’s parent company told Canadian Manufacturing.

On the other hand, Beyond Meat scored a coup with KFC in Tennessee and North Carolina. It will start supplying plant-based fried chicken analogues to dozens of restaurants in the Nashville and Charlotte areas. The nugget-like product is about 80 calories apiece.

KFC did a one-day test of the nuggets in August at a store in suburban Atlanta, which sold out in less than five hours. Stores in Nashville and Charlotte will start selling the product in February.

Source: Beyond Meat Loses in North, Wins in South



House Bill Would Legalize CBD Nationally


House Bill Would Legalize CBD Nationally

By Dave Fusaro, Editor in Chief

Feb 01, 2020

Some members of Congress appear to be losing patience with the FDA’s reluctance to legalize cannabidiol (CBD). On Jan. 13, a bill was introduced to amend the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) to include hemp-derived CBD as a dietary supplement.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) introduced House Bill 5587, described by lawyers at Ritter Spencer PLLC as “a simple, three-page bill with the primary objective of including hemp-derived CBD as a dietary supplement … to be marketed and sold in interstate commerce with adherence to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA).”

One of the reasons the FDA has dragged its feet on legalizing CBD, according to some observers, is its adherence to the FDCA, which prohibits the introduction into interstate commerce of a food or dietary supplement ingredient that was first studied as a pharmaceutical drug. Because CBD is the key ingredient in Epidiolex, a drug for the treatment of seizures, the FDA maintains it cannot approve CBD for use in a food, beverage, or cosmetic.

“Though we do not necessarily anticipate this bill to pass, it will most likely serve as an effective tool to goad the FDA into action,” said a statement from Ritter Spencer. “It is at least a small step forward toward fixing the FDA issues.”

Source: House Bill Would Legalize CBD Nationally



FBI to Processors: Call Us in Adulteration Threats

Home / Industry News / 2019 / FBI to Processors: Call Us in Adulteration Threats

FBI to Processors: Call Us in Adulteration Threats

By Pan Demetrakakes, Senior Editor

Mar 27, 2019

The FBI stands ready to help food and beverage processors evaluate and act on adulteration threats, but the industry must be ready to call for help when needed, an FBI analyst said at ProFood Tech.Intelligence analyst Christopher Young gave a presentation on “Food Security and the FBI” at the show at Chicago’s McCormick Place. Young stressed that the FBI is always receptive to processors’ concerns but depends on being approached when a threat occurs.”I need you to make those phone calls, ” he said. “It seems obvious now, but it won’t be when the time comes.

“Young recounted a case where a soft drink processor received a mailed threat of ricin poisoning, purportedly from an employee. He said the FBI looks at these kinds of threats three ways:

Technical feasibility: Can the threat be carried out? In this case, since the packaging in question was twist-off caps, the answer was yes.

Operational feasibility: Can the actor do it? Since it was supposedly an employee, yes.

Adversarial intent: In this case, there was a clear threat. That isn’t always true, Young said.

“We get lots of white-powder letters, and they have some crazy ramblings, but there’s never actually a threat,” Young said.

As it happened, the FBI was able to identify the letter-writer through fingerprints. He was arrested and eventually sentenced to three years of probation and six months of “community confinement.” The company’s losses were limited to $1 million, Young said, although he did not explain that.

Young identified “red lines” that should draw extra attention to an employee, such as a sudden change in personal financial situation, a false or sketchy work history or excessive foreign travel. He also said companies should be willing to extend “lifelines” to employees in some of these situations…

Source: FBI to Processors: Call Us in Adulteration Threats



Mizkan Rolls Out Guilt-Free Ragu Pasta Sauce

TAFC Note: What does guilt-free mean? Okay, Mom doesn’t have to feel guilty using a jarred pasta sauce, because the ingredients are “wholesome”. Except of course for the “meat flavored” variety, which doesn’t tell you what kind of animal the sauce is actually flavored with. Regardless of the species or breed there is lots of guilt in that particular jar of Ragu.

Ragu traditionally means ground meat in some version of a tomato sauce, also traditionally used over pasta.

Chunky Marinara, Chunky Garden Vegetable, Flavored With Meat and Traditional are the flavors.

Only one with animal flavor. That’s good news, since most companies offer one animal-free option with all the others containing the animal.

The other good news is that MIZKAN is moving away from the tradition of meat in Ragu sauces. The meat/flesh of the vegetable still qualifies as meat. Now that’s wholesome.

The price is low. Recommended $2.19 for 24 ounces.

I haven’t tried it, since I just got this news today.

Check out their website and store locator.

I did and if they’re right, I should be able to obtain the Simply RAGU at Giant Eagle supermarkets.

Mizkan America Inc. is rolling out Ragu Simply Pasta Sauces. Made with wholesome ingredients, the jarred shelf-stable pasta sauce makes for a quick-and-easy homemade-like meal.

To explore the impact and stress of the busy back-to-school season on weeknight mealtime, the brand team connected with 1,000 moms across America and learned that the majority of moms polled (52 percent) said they feel more stress during this season when compared to the summer.

Additionally, three-out-of-four moms are worried about the ingredients in their children’s diets, including those they don’t recognize, especially added sugar and artificial ingredients.

The new line is designed to ease their concerns, as it is made with California vine-ripened tomatoes, 100 percent olive oil, carrots, onions and other whole-food ingredients and contains no added sugar, artificial colors, artificial flavors or high-fructose corn syrup.

The four varieties are: chunky marinara, chunky garden vegetable, flavored with meat and traditional.

All but the meat variety are Non-GMO Project Verified.

The 24-oz. glass jars have a suggested retail price of $2.19…

FINISH READING: Mizkan Rolls Out Guilt-Free Ragu Pasta Sauce



Seven CEOs to Watch in Food and Beverage

Seven CEOs to Watch in Food and Beverage

We’ve highlighted seven fairly new CEOs that have taken the helm at food and beverage companies.

By Dave Fusaro, Editor in Chief

Apr 11, 2018

Big Food’s Focus Is Now on Growth, we speak to the rapid changing of the guard that seems to be happening at the top food and beverage companies in the U.S.

Here is an excerpt from that article:

“When all else fails, change your CEO. In the food and beverage industry, chief executives have been dropping like flies lately. CEOs have been replaced at nine of the 24 largest U.S. companies since January 1, 2017. But that’s not the case across business and industry.Across all industries, CEOs average an age of 58 years and tenure of eight years. according to a 2016 study by Korn Ferry International. The executive search firm doesn’t have numbers specific to the food industry, but food CEOS seem to be turning over faster than in other categories, notes John Challenger, CEO of Chicago outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.While there have been some abrupt leadership changes in the past year or so, Erin Lash, director of consumer equity research at Morningstar Research Services, cautioned that not all the replacements resulted from dissatisfaction with the current course.”

So let the changes begin! Some of the change-agents are profiled below. It will be interesting to see how long they stick around and what changes they can effect on their companies.

Tom Hayes, 52, Tyson Food:

His elevation to CEO on Jan. 1, 2017, was one of the more sudden executive changes and reflects Tyson’s long held desire to be a branded food marketer, not just a slaughterhouse. Hayes was acquired along with Hillshire Brands Co. in 2014, where he had been chief supply chain officer, the same role he had at predecessor Sara Lee. Tyson’s been living a charmed life with protein demand soaring, but what if that stops?

“Probably our biggest thing is we want to actively disrupt ourselves, challenge our business as it is today,” he said in our interview. He’d rather have Tyson do it than have an outside company do it. “That’s why we created Tyson Ventures, to find things that could be disruptive to ourselves.” (Tyson Ventures has invested in vegetarian meat replacement companies, including Memphis Meats, which is developing “cultured meat.”) “

At Tyson, we’re in the middle of a transformation from a chicken company to a broader food company. To do that, we must have agility.”

Steve Oakland, 56, TreeHouse Foods:

No sooner had J.M. Smucker announced his expected retirement than the 35-year Smucker veteran popped up at TreeHouse, where he will be only the second CEO in the latter company’s history. He started March 26. Co-founder and chairman Sam Reed has held that title since TreeHouse’s creation in 2005 At Smucker, Oakland was vice chairman and president of U.S. Food and Beverage. Despite paying a fire sale price, TreeHouse may have bitten off more than it can chew when it acquired Conagra’s private label business. It doubled TreeHouse’s sales but pushed profits into the red.

James Quincey, 52, Coca-Cola Co.

After several stormy years, Coca-Cola Co. replaced CEO Muhtar Kent with COO James Quincey, effective May 1, 2017. Kent remains chairman. A 20-year Coca-Cola veteran, Quincey was being groomed for CEO since being appointed president and COO in August 2015, observers say. Quincey’s a safe bet to protect one of the world’s great brands while gradually righting a likely smaller ship.

Dirk van de Put, 57, Mondelez International:

Mondelez is largely Irene Rosenfeld’s creation and vision, since she carved the global snack company out of Kraft Foods in 2012. Six years later, the company is $10 billion smaller, just as profitable but facing a more uncertain world. Van de Put left the president/CEO job at McCain Foods to replace her as CEO last November. He also replaced her as chairman this March. Can he hasten the new product development pace?

Michele Buck, 56, Hershey Co.

She started her career at Frito-Lay, then spent 17 years at Kraft/General Foods/Nabisco before joining Hershey in 2005 as global chief marketing officer. Buck won a series of promotions until becoming president/CEO in March 2017. She’ll have to steer the company through its annual dilemma of acquiring or being acquired.

Jeff Harmening, 51, General Mills

Harmening joined General Mills in 1994 and led businesses in the U.S. and Europe. He was named CEO on June 1, 2017, and became chairman of the board Jan. 1 of this year, in both cases succeeding Ken Powell. He’s been an architect of the company’s rebuilding already, pushing organics and ecommerce.

Steve Cahillane, 52, Kellogg Co.

Although he immediately came from vitamin company Nature’s Bounty, where he was president/CEO for just over two years, Cahillane spent seven years at Coca-Cola Co., the last as president of Coca-Cola Americas, and earlier worked eight years with AB InBev, mostly InBev…

FINISH READING: Seven CEOs to Watch in Food and Beverage



Tyson Invests in Cultured Meat Maker Memphis Meats

Tyson Invests in Cultured Meat Maker Memphis Meats

By Dave Fusaro, Editor in Chief

Jan 31, 2018

Tyson Ventures, the venture capital arm of Tyson Foods, revealed on Jan. 29 it has invested an unspecified amount in Memphis Meats, one of the startup companies creating “cultured meat,” produced directly from animal cells.

“The investment is an example of Tyson Foods’ commitment to explore innovative, new ways of meeting growing global demand for protein,” the company said in a statement.

While the terms were not disclosed, Tyson Foods investment represents a minority stake in the business. Tyson joins a diverse group of investors in Memphis Meats, including DFJ, Atomico, Cargill, Bill Gates and Richard Branson.“We’re excited about this opportunity to broaden our exposure to innovative, new ways of producing meat, especially since global protein demand has been increasing at a steady rate,” said Justin Whitmore, executive vice president of corporate strategy and chief sustainability officer of Tyson Foods. “We continue to invest significantly in our traditional meat business, but also believe in exploring additional opportunities for growth that give consumers more choices.”

FINISH READING: Tyson Invests in Cultured Meat Maker Memphis Meats

Cultured Meat Info >

Memphis Meats >



Super Grain Pasta Offers Good Source of Fiber and Iron

Super Grain Pasta Offers Good Source of Fiber and Iron

Gogo Quinoa now offers Super Grains Pasta. Made with a nutrition-packed blend of chia, quinoa, sorghum and amaranth, the new pasta is certified organic, gluten free and vegan. Unlike traditional pasta made with refined wheat flour, the super grains, specifically the quinoa, make this pasta a good source of fiber and iron, with each serving containing 5g of protein.

Although quinoa has been consumed forever in South America, only in the past decade has it been embraced in the U.S. Quinoa’s popularity went mainstream in 2013 when the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) declared it to be the International Year of Quinoa. Because of its superior nutrition, the FAO believes that quinoa can play an important role in eradicating hunger, malnutrition and poverty.

What sets quinoa apart from other plant foods is that it’s the only vegetarian source of all essential amino acids, trace elements and vitamins. It’s also a gluten-free grain that has never been genetically modified…

FINISH READING: Super Grain Pasta Offers Good Source of Fiber and Iron

Company Information


Plant-Based Cookies Growing Strong


Plant-Based Cookies Growing Strong

Denver-based D’s Naturals, creator of low-sugar, dairy-free No Cow protein bars, has changed its name to No Cow with the addition of plant-based cookies to its product lineup.

The company was founded in 2015 by then 18-year-old serial entrepreneur and fitness enthusiast Daniel Katz (“D”) after realizing he had a dairy sensitivity.

Products carry the tagline: “No Cow. No Bull. No Whey!” The new cookies come in four flavors—chocolate chip, double chocolate, peanut butter and snickerdoodle—with each cookie containing at least 12g of plant-based protein and only 1g sugar.The bars made their debut in Blueberry Cobbler, Chocolate Fudge Brownie, Lemon Meringue Pie, Mint Cacao Chip, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip and Raspberry Truffle varieties. Two new flavors hitting the market are Carrot Cake and Chunky Peanut Butter.

FINISH READINGPlant-Based Cookies Growing Strong

all products vegan



Plant Protein Popularity Picks Up

Plant Protein Popularity Picks Up

Plant sources of proteins possess some benefits over animal-sourced ingredients. However, how do they stack up nutritionally?

By Claudia O’Donnell, Contributing Editor

Oct 06, 2016

Do you want to live a healthy, happy 100 years or longer? Author Dan Buettner’s books The Blue Zones and The Blue Zones Solutions delve into the lifestyles and beliefs of five populations documented to have some of the highest concentration of centenarians in the world.

The populations, whether located in Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; Nicoya, Costa Rica; or Loma Linda, Calif., have key elements in common. They include social connections, physical movement, certain attitudes and beliefs and, yes, diets.

Blue Zone diets are not vegetarian. Meat was consumed, although in small portions of three to four ounces some five times a month on average. The diets were, however, plant-based, often with a focus on beans.

Interest in plant foods, including as a protein source, has been increasing. In an April 2016 Packaged Facts National Consumer Survey, 42 percent of consumers said high protein was “especially important” in choosing foods to eat, says Research Director David Sprinkle. More specifically, a February 2016 Packaged Facts report “Food Formulation and Ingredient Trends: Plant Proteins” found 43.2 percent of U.S. consumers said they somewhat or strongly agreed that they sought out vegetarian sources of proteins. This fell to 28 percent of those 35 and older, Sprinkle notes.

Drivers behind this trend extend beyond personal health to include ethical considerations. The globe’s population is predicted to grow from 7.4 billion to over 9 billion in less than 24 years. With some countries already struggling to feed significant segments of their population, the expectation is that as the mouths to feed on earth increase and irrigable land decreases, food insecurity will increase. Additionally, animal welfare and agricultural practices (environmental health) are important for many…

FINISH READING: Plant Protein Popularity Picks Up



Product Focus: Plant Protein

Product Focus: Plant Protein

As protein becomes more sought-out by consumers, many manufacturers are infusing select products with a wide range of plant proteins.

Jan 22, 2018

Protein is one of the most sought-out nutrients by today’s consumers. With many trying to increase their intake of plant-based foods, varied plant proteins, ranging from pseudo-grains such as flax, hemp and quinoa to pulses and nuts, are finding their way into dairy alternatives, beverages, baked goods and snack foods.

The International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation’s 2017 Annual Food and Health Survey showed 73% of shoppers view plant proteins as healthy, as compared to only 38% for animal protein. And while less than 2% of shoppers view plant protein as unhealthy, this is how 10% characterize protein from animal sources.

This is fueling more innovation with plant proteins; however, one of the challenges that product developer’s face is masking their often beany, grainy or green flavor profiles. Product developers often find that plant protein blends work best. For example, in the beverage sector, Califia Farms, Bakersfield, Calif., reformulated and extended its line of Protein Almondmilk to now offer 8g of protein per serving, which is comparable in protein content to an 8-oz. glass of dairy milk. The protein comes from rice, peas and maca root powder. The line includes Maca-‘Nilla (vanilla and cardamom), Choc-A-Maca (chocolate) and Maca-Spresso (coffee). Emeryville, Calif.-based Rebbl now offers Cold-Brew Protein. A 12-oz bottle contains 12g of protein from peas and sunflowers in a coconut milk and cold-brew coffee base…

FINISH READING: Product Focus: Plant Protein



Bacardi To Buy Patron Tequila for $5.1 Billion

The global rum giant will pay a premium price to get into increasingly crowded premium tequila market.

By Lauren R. Hartman, Product Development Editor

Jan 23, 2018

Bacardi Ltd., best known for its namesake rum, has reportedly held a 30-percent stake in Patrón Spirits International AG for nearly a decade. Bacardi is now buying the rest, with plans to distribute the Mexican-made liquor more widely and cash in on demand for high-end tequila.

As rivals scramble to own more top-shelf spirits, the company said on Jan. 22 it was hoping to become the second largest spirits company in the U.S. in market share by value. The $5.1-billion purchase is one of the biggest liquor acquisitions in years.

As part of that effort, producers have tried to transform tequila from an inexpensive party drink to a more refined spirit, comparable to a single-malt Scotch.

Patrón, an early entrant in the premium tequila market, is now the industry’s leader, with U.S. sales of $1.6 billion in 2016, according to Euromonitor. But it faces mounting competition from several brands, including ones backed by celebrities such as George Clooney and Justin Timberlake.

U.S. volumes of super-premium tequila jumped more than 700 percent from 2002 to 2016, compared with a 121-percent rise in all tequila volumes over the same period, according to the Distilled Spirits Council.

Based in Schaffhausen, Switzerland, Patrón, produces more than three million cases, or 36 million bottles, each year, while Casamigos was expected to produce about 170,000 cases last year. In addition to its namesake tequila, Patrón owns Pyrat rum and distributes Ultimat vodka.

While Patrón has bottles that sell for $45, others sell for hundreds of dollars, and some limited editions cost thousands. Patrón was founded in 1989 by billionaire John Paul DeJoria, the same entrepreneur who co-founded John Paul Mitchell Systems hair products…

FINISH READING: Bacardi To Buy Patron Tequila for $5.1 Billion



Chicago Bakery Scrambling After Immigration Raid


800 immigrant workers from Cloverhill Bakery/Aryzta seized for insufficient documentation.

By Dave Fusaro, Editor in Chief

Dec 01, 2017

The Chicago Tribune reported that Cloverhill Bakery did not specify when the raid happened, but its parent firm, Swiss food firm Aryzta AG, said in a financial filing it incurred €16.3 million (about $19 million) in losses during June and July as a result of the immigration crackdown.

Reports were not clear if the workers were illegal immigrants or merely lacked sufficient documentation. They were supplied by a staffing firm that apparently faced federal audits earlier this year. The Swiss company didn’t name the staffing company.

Source: Chicago Bakery Scrambling After Immigration Raid



Mars Invests in Kind, Third-Largest Maker of Snack Bars

The minority investment will help both companies grow their product portfolios and allow Kind to expand into new worldwide markets.

Mars, Inc., McLean, Va., known for confectionery brands like M&M’s and Snickers, plans to announce that it will buy a minority stake in Kind, New York, the maker of wildly popular snack bars, according to a report in TheNew York Times.

Kind says it will remain independent and still be led by founder and CEO Daniel Lubetzky. Valued at more than $4 billion, the Kind deal marks a significant valuation for one of the most prominent food brands on store shelves in recent years. The move will likely help both companies develop their product portfolios and allow Kind to expand into new worldwide markets.

“Job No. 1 is taking it global. Job No. 2 is [find out] what other categories either are we already in or we can easily get into that meet the Kind promise?” said Mars CEO Grant Reid.

The minority investment — which could lead to Mars eventually buying all of Kind going forward, based on its history with similar investments — marks the latest effort by a legacy food giant to follow consumers’ healthier eating habits.

Kind has been one of the fastest-growing players in the snack arena, with 2017 sales climbing to $718.9 million, according to Euromonitor. It’s now the third-biggest snack bar maker worldwide by market share, the data provider added, behind General Mill’s Nature Valley brand and the Clif Bar line of energy snacks…

Read On: Mars Invests in Kind, Third-Largest Maker of Snack Bars



Wellness Foods: Whole Grain Varieties Gaining Acceptance Among American Consumers

For an America struggling with obesity, whole grains are a lot more than just fiber. Whole grains are virtually complete foods. They’re the foods upon which all civilizations were built.

By Mark Anthony, Ph.D, Technical Editor

Every seed has the potential to become a plant, carrying in its germ all the elements needed for growth, including the starch it uses as an energy source. And while a generation ago “whole grain” was synonymous with whole wheat, today’s consumer eagerly accepts a variety of whole grains with different tastes, textures, and nutrient content.

“Variety is the key to gaining mainstream acceptance of whole grains into the American diet,” says Cassidy Stockton, marketing specialist for Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods (, Milwaukie, Ore. “If an individual doesn’t care for brown rice, they may find that quinoa is a much more interesting alternative that cooks faster and can be used in much the same way.”

Quinoa is a perfect example of how rapidly the domestic palate expanded when it came to whole grains. The ancient South American staple — actually a seed from a plant related to tumbleweeds — went from obscure to nearly mainstream in short order once the marketing strategy of “ancient” and “heritage” grains took hold. The group of whole grains collectively known as “ancient grains,” grains with a history of supporting the health of ancient civilizations, held allure to a consumer recognizing the need to incorporate whole grains into the diet but bored by ubiquitous whole wheat.

When processors began to incorporate some of these ingredients into mainstream-type products — for instance, the Sunrise line of RTE cereals with amaranth from Nature’s Path Foods Inc. —  the public had a familiar vehicle to facilitate trying the unfamiliar grains.

“I believe as more and more people try these ancient grains, we will [continue to] see an increase in their consumption,” says Stockton. “These grains are not available as refined, so anyone who is interested in amaranth [for example] is getting whole-grain amaranth, which would be a much healthier option over refined white rice,” adds Stockton.

READ ON: Wellness Foods: Whole Grain Varieties Gaining Acceptance Among American Consumers



Product Focus: Ancient Grains’ Continued Growth

Food manufacturers have gotten creative with these whole grains, many of which allow for gluten-free product development.

Grains on the Menu 2017After quinoa’s popularity went mainstream in 2013 when the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations declared it to be the International Year of Quinoa, the concept of ancient grains began to resonate with consumers. In response, food manufacturers started getting creative with these whole grains, many of which allow for gluten-free product development.

Ancient grains are defined as grains that have been largely unchanged since the beginning of time. This definition suggests modern varieties of corn, rice and wheat, which are products of years of selective breeding, are not ancient grains, according to The Whole Grain Council. Ancient grains tend to be richer sources of nutrients than modern grains; in particular, richer in fiber and protein, as well as many vitamins and minerals.

Though ancient grains are popular in baked goods and cereals — foods where one expects to find grains — they are also finding their way into meals and side dishes, often in combination with plant proteins, namely pulses, according to Packaged Facts, Rockville, Md. Pulse-based ingredients are particularly valuable in improving the nutrient quality of gluten-free products, many of which are now being made with ancient grains instead of nutrient-void gluten-free staples rice and tapioca flour, as pulses and ancient grains complement each other from nutrition and sensory perspectives.

“For food processors, these ingredients provide whole-food, plant-based protein sources that enhance appearance, deliver unique tastes and textures, pack a nutritional wallop, and invite variety and innovation,” says David Sprinkle, research director at Packaged Facts.

“We know vegetarian and flexitarian dietary patterns are continuing to trend. This is driving the popularity of nutrient-dense ancient grains” ~ Jane Dummer, registered dietitian and author of The Need for Seeds.

READ ON: Product Focus: Ancient Grains’ Continued Growth



General Mills Plans Cheerios Ancient Grains

Will include quinoa, spelt and Kamut, as well as its signature oats.

General Mills Plans Cheerios Ancient Grains

By Dave Fusaro, Editor in Chief

Oct 31, 2014

General Mills Inc. plans to start selling in January a version of Cheerios with quinoa and two wheat varieties, spelt and kamut, as well as its signature oats.

The company made no announcement about the product, to be called Cheerios Ancient Grains, but it carried a Wall Street Journal story on its own website. The Journal quoted Alan Cunningham, marketing manager for innovation in the cereal division, as saying grocery shoppers equate the words “ancient grains” with healthy, simple, nutrient dense food – even if they don’t know exactly what an ancient grain is.

The Journal said the number of foods that use the words “ancient grains” on packaging rose 50 percent this year compared to last, according to a spokesman for General Mills, citing Nielsen data. But the newspaper pointed out Cheerios Ancient Grains is no more nutritious than regular Cheerios.

Research by General Mills showed consumers find the words “ancient grains” more appealing than highlighting a single grain. “It’s not coincidence that this isn’t just Cheerios Plus Quinoa,” says Cunningham.

General Mills started selling another Cheerios spinoff, Cheerios Protein, in June.

READ ON: General Mills Plans Cheerios Ancient Grains



Kraft Heinz Sells Oscar Mayer Plant to Reich Bros.

The Madison, Wis., plant made hot dogs, cold cuts and Lunchables products; Reich Brothers specializes in acquiring turnkey manufacturing plants.


Kraft Heinz Sells Oscar Mayer Plant to Reich Bros.

By Lauren R. Hartman, Product Development Editor

Oct 23, 2017

The Kraft Heinz Co., Chicago, and Reich Brothers Holdings, LLC., White Plains, N.Y., have completed an agreement by which Reich Brothers will purchase a former Oscar Mayer facility in Madison, Wis.

Kraft Heinz closed the factory in June 2017 after an extensive review of its North American supply chain footprint, capabilities and capacity utilization. Oscar Mayer hot dogs, cold cuts and Lunchables previously produced in Madison were transitioned to other Kraft Heinz facilities in the U.S.

“We’re pleased to announce that Reich Brothers has agreed to purchase the historic Oscar Mayer facility,” said Michael Mullen, senior vice president of corporate and government affairs at Kraft Heinz. “… Oscar Mayer is a special brand, and remains an important and successful part of the Kraft Heinz portfolio. We will always be grateful to Madison and the dedicated employees whose work contributed to this brand’s wonderful history over the years.”

Reich Brothers specializes in acquiring turnkey manufacturing plants and provides for the bulk purchase of equipment packages and monetization through auction sales.

The property is an integral part of Madison’s history, noted Adam Reich, co-CEO of Reich Brothers Holdings, LLC. “We understand the importance of the facility and the impact that its closing has had on the area. We look forward to repositioning it for future use, taking into account the values, desires and needs of the community. We will work closely with local officials to achieve these goals.”

Finish reading: Kraft Heinz Sells Oscar Mayer Plant to Reich Bros.



The Many Faces Of Transparency


The Many

Faces of Transparency

Trust is the new currency of food & beverage brand loyalty, and the path to trust is transparency.

By Lauren R. Hartman, Product Development Editor

Trust is the new currency of brand loyalty, and the path to trust
is transparency.

That comes from Kira Karapetian, marketing vice president of Label Insight, but it nicely sums up the connections among transpar- ency, trust and success in today’s food & beverage industry.

Transparency is critical if food & beverage companies want consumers to trust their products. But what, today, is transparency? The de nition is evolving and can be di er- ent for almost every consumer.

For many, it means simpler, less pro- cessed ingredients — and certainly not genetically engineered ones, antibiotics, synthetic colors, sweeteners or avors,

nor “questionable” ingredients such as high-fructose corn syrup or brominated vegetable oil. Maybe organic or “free-from” is synonymous. Others want to know where their food comes from and if the producing company is committed to sustainability, humane treatment of animals or charita- ble causes.

“We’re in the midst of a shift in the market- place where the culture and conversation around conventional food, particularly online, is changing as consumers navigate which foods to adopt, moderate or abandon,” says Charlie Arnot, CEO of the Center for Food Integrity, Gladstone, Mo. “The consumer trust model shows communicating with values is three to ve times more important to earning trust than simply communicating facts and science.”…




Food Processing White Papers

White Papers are government or other authoritative reports giving information on an issue.

Avoid Serious Pitfalls when Applying Legal Metrology Rules


Clean Label Stabilizer Solutions for Powdered Protein Beverages

TIC Gums

IPM Pyramid: A Formula for Food Processing Pest Control


Industry Briefing: Digitalization In Food & Beverage

Smart Industry

Finish Reading: Food Processing White Papers