TARGET'S FOOD R&D EXPERIMENT MAY END
Target's experiment to incubate food R&D Food + Future could be shut down soon as the big retailer struggles to find outside investors. The Star Tribune reports Target has been looking for investors for a few months, but none have been forthcoming. Target first opened the Food + Future lab in January 2016 with MIT Media Labs and the design firm Ideo as partners. It has been exploring ideas including building indoor farms inside of stores. Food + Future includes a lab in Cambridge, Mass which employs about 10 and a farm in Vermont. One of the key people behind the lab is a former Tesco exec Greg Shewmaker who thought Target should lead the way in promoting food transparency. "We know less about our food we eat today than at any other time in our history period," Shewmaker told the Star Tribune last year.
PANERA'S BIG PUSH INTO DELIVERY
Panera Bread is back in the news again, announcing plans to hire 10,000 new employees by the end of 2017 for expanded delivery services. Panera started delivery service in early 2015, and currently offers it at around 15% percent of its total stores. Founder Ron Shaich believes there's a need for delivery in many locations which currently only have the option of Chinese or pizza. The food will be delivered in the driver's own cars and will add around $5,000 or 10% to weekly sales at each restaurant. Customers can follow their orders in real time with an order tracking system Panera developed using Bringg technology.
MORE PR ISSUES FOR SOYLENT
Meal replacement company Soylent is dealing with another PR crisis after issuing a voluntary recall of its Soylent 1.8 powder. The company, which built its brand around the absence of any real animal-based ingredients, is recalling products because of potential presence of real milk. Soylent said the problem was caused by was caused by "a temporary breakdown in our 3rd party manufacturer’s production and packaging processes." This is the second time the company's suppliers are taking the rap for product problems. Last year it was its algal flour supplier which was blamed for causing Soylent users to fall ill.
ARS SCIENTISTS DEVELOP NEW SALMONELLA FIGHTER
A new invention could reduce egg-sourced incidences of salmonella poisoning. David Geveke led a team at the Agricultural Research Service in developing a device which rapidly pasteurizes eggs by heating them with radio frequency waves. The process is potentially cheaper and faster than the current commercial practice of salmonella control by pasteurization which immerses eggs in hot water for up to an hour. The new RF process targets the egg yolk more than the egg white and only takes around 20 minutes. The market for the device is significant. ARS says less than 3% of the 74 billion fresh eggs produced and sold to U.S. consumers each year are pasteurized.
SALMONELLA STILL TOPS LIST OF FOOD-BORNE ILLNESSES
The latest data from the US CDC's FoodNet (Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network) shows salmonella still leads the pack in food-borne illnesses. CDC advice: "To reduce incidence, we need interventions that target the types of Salmonella that are increasing or staying the same. Work to decrease the incidence of Salmonella infection is ongoing. Whole genome sequencing is helping us better figure out the sources of people’s illnesses, and FoodNet continues to track illnesses so we can see if prevention measures are working." Overall, CDC says the number of food-borne pathogen reports is increasing. The number of Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella, Vibrio, and Yersinia infections diagnosed by CIDT alone increased 114% in 2016 compared with the 2013–2015 average.
- Tyson Foods is buying Ohio-based packaged sandwich company AdvancePierre Foods for around $4.2 billion. Tyson also said its refocusing on its core protein business and selling off its three non-protein brands (Sara Lee Frozen Bakery, Kettle and Van's). Although its paying a premium for AdvancePierre, it gets a well-established player in the prepared food business and gets closer to its core protein customers.
- Nutriati, a Richmond, Va.-based developer of plant-based food ingredients, has raised $8 million in VC funding led by Tate & Lyle Ventures.
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