beautiful christmas table setting

The Week in Food: December 20 -26. 2020

Merry Christmas everyone! Early update for the holiday. This week we found interest in the regulation of gene-edited meat, the $15 minimum wage, the ongoing tragedy in America’s meat plants, tax breaks for meals and a New York Sour.

MACRO

  • Yay! There’s stimulus deal! Wait, what?
  • Financial markets catch their breath.
  • Weekly unemployment applications however around 800k, but without a deal, unemployment benefits start expiring Saturday.
  • As if you don’t have enough to worry about, let me introduce you to the Hubble Crisis: The universe is expanding way too quickly.

RETAIL AND CONSUMER

  • Current administration want to shift gene-edited meat from FDA to USDA. When products enter the market with new technology, consumer confidence is crucial. Some of that confidence comes from oversight. The FDA, while it has its issues, has a long history of consumer protection and scientific rigor. The USDA has always been much more aligned with the industries it regulates. Shifting oversight to a less stringent regime may help products get to the market faster but (potentially) at the cost of long term market viability.
  • One hundred years ago the story of Crisco was published.
  • Among up-and-coming trends: anti-energy drinks. That is, food that helps you sleep. I always thought that was what alcohol was for.
  • Big companies not capturing all grocery deliveries. Small start ups emerge.

RESTAURANT AND FOODSERVICE

  • Sanitation theater is just that for Restaurants – if you want to make things safe for diners and staff, improve the ventilation. And the biome.
  • It has been a very light year for restaurant chain acquisition but I can see a trend towards consolidation once the short/medium term outlook becomes clearer.
  • Surprising move that probably has a lot to do with the switch in CEOs, Papa Johns gives frontline workers $2.5 million in bonuses.
  • Biden administration vows to push $15 minimum wage and this, as well as the elimination of the tipped minimum wage in some states, will result in higher restaurant prices. But what is the impact? (Related: I somehow missed this but after moving away from tipping Union Square Hospitality Group {Shake Shack, High end restaurants} reinstated it.)

FOOD SUPPLY CHAIN

  • I think Upton Sinclair (or Dickens or Jacob Riis) would stare in disbelief at the conditions surrounding the meat plants in Iowa. Tyson has a great deal of the responsibility. Of course, some will blame it on the workers, many foreign-born. Sorry, no.
  • Investment continues to grow in the alternative protein sector.
  • The relief bill (when, if) includes small business loans and the return of meal write-offs. Among the biggest winners in the new bill are wine makers, brewers and distillers who get permanent tax breaks.

LAGNIAPPE

  • Brexit and the mismanaged negotiations were already causing chaos in perishable food. The emergence of a new, more transmissible strain of COVID in Britain is exacerbating the situation.
  • I have not cooked with calabash – or bottlegoard – but after reading this recipe I am interested in doing so.
  • A New York Sour is a whiskey sour with a red wine float. My initial reaction was: yuk. But maybe with a port… or a really good sweet vermouth…
  • The nuns taught me that chewing gum stays in your gut for 7 years. This is not true. I wonder if there were other things they got wrong?
  • Won’t be going to Olga’s for the annual Tamalada this year.

Leave a Reply