person holding brown wooden chopping board

The Week in Food: March 1- 7, 2021

The end of winter is in sight. This week we saw Texas reverse any and all COVID restrictions, making for tough choices for retailers and restaurants, a glut of high-end wines, food prices going up, aquaculture in trouble and Froot Loops on pizza.

MACRO

  • Financial markets ping pong.
  • Increase of 379k jobs in February and unemployment rate dipped to 6.2%.
  • 83 million shots administered but Texas goes full Blutarsky with 0.0% restrictions for COVID.

RETAIL AND CONSUMER

  • The Texas abdication of COVID measures puts retailers in a tricky spot.
  • Meat Producers probably think they are being Cassandras by predicting a 10% market share for meat substitutes in 5 years – I think they are too low.
  • Hello Fresh grew by almost 50% in 2020; Valuation of InstaCart at $39 billion after new round of fund raising.
  • Grocery workers get vaccine priority in California and Washington.
  • It remains amazing to me the absence of regulation in the supplement industry. It takes injury, lawsuits and a lot of time to get dangerous products off the market.

RESTAURANTS AND FOODSERVICE

  • Research shows more mask usage in restaurants leads to less overall COVID. Stunning, I know, but the obtuse are still out there arguing otherwise.
  • ¬†If you put in the work, it is a glorious time to be a wine drinker as slack restaurant demand is driving dealers to deal,
  • Right by the top of the ‘Exorcist Stairs’ is 1789, on of DC’s oldest and most revered restaurants. However last time I went – maybe 10 years back – it was staid and lackluster. A new chef is said to be turning things around.
  • Truffle oil is a scam and is disgusting. As someone who easily detects androstenone, all truffles have a ‘¬†unpleasant, sweaty, urinous smell…‘ However this documentary on Piedmontese truffle hunters looks pretty interesting.

FOOD SUPPLY CHAIN

  • Issues for aquaculture – now larger in volume than wild caught – include animal welfare but also health, nutrition and sustainability.
  • Food prices increased 3% in the US while the overall inflation rate was a little over 1%. Commodity and transportation costs were the driver. The Texas freeze out won’t help matters.
  • Finally, meat plant workers are getting vaccinated. Relatedly, the problems with the meat supply chain are driving people to reconsider meat consumption.
  • Crops rot in Australia without immigrants to pick them. Containers are also piling up in ports, threatening food exports.
  • You’ll be hearing a lot about regenerative agriculture. However there is little incentive for large scale farms to adopt it. It will need be consumer driven.

LAGNIAPPE

  • Study of mice that eat processed foods shows them developing gut flora that leads to obesity.
  • TIL (that’s how the kids say Today I Learned) that Tofutti was invented for a kosher audience but found success with vegans and the lactose intolerant.
  • People are worried about things that aren’t milk being called milk but is anything allowed to be called pizza?
  • Very clever people who make vodkas out of excess baked goods.

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