The Week in Food: March 8 -13, 2021
Happy Friday! Grab a drink and enjoy the highlights of world of food. Brands are getting simpler, meat substitutes and replacements are every where, restaurants are opening quickly or slowly or soon, mushroom milk is a thing and St. Patrick’s day is right around the corner.
- >100 million vaccination doses administered in US.
- 26 states are allowing grocery workers to be vaccinated but only 16 allowing restaurant workers.
- Jobless claims fall.
RETAIL AND CONSUMER
- A longish but fun article about de-branding – making brands and logos simpler, clearer, more general. A wave of graphics technology gave companies opportunities to create more elaborate branding but the digital wave made them want something that loads easily and consistently. Much of it is from retail food and QSR brands.
- Consumers are turning to meat substitutes because of carbon footprint issues (real) and for health reasons (tenuous). But even WalMart is adding more and more.
- The USDA has decided that ‘cell-cultured’ will be the way that lab-grown seafood and probably meat will be labeled. I suppose it could be worse.
- Some brands are beginning to grapple with the fact that sales will be a little weaker when everyone is no longer stuck at home. 2021 will be more realistic.
RESTAURANTS AND FOODSERVICE
- Explainer of how the Restaurant Revitalization Act in the ARP works. Not enough but something. It contains relief for independent restaurants – many didn’t trust the NRA and formed the Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC).
- One of the keys of disruptive companies is to skirt around existing regulations that constrain traditional incumbents. Think Uber and cabs or hotels and hotels vs. Airbnb. Well, ghost kitchens can skirt around being restaurants and grocers by being neither, avoiding parking and zoning regulations. Travis Kalanick’s concept does this and the Chicago neighbors do not like it.
- Texas’ decision to open up shifts responsibility to keeping diners safe to restaurateurs. They aren’t entirely comfortable. One restaurant that decided to keep masks in place was threatened with calls to ICE.
- Actual data around in-person dining and masks. not surprisingly, locales that relaxed regulations lead to increased COVID within about 6 weeks.
FOOD SUPPLY CHAIN
- Global food prices at a six year high, adjusted for inflation.
- Dutch growers dunk on English over Brexit. The people who were against it seem to have prepared more than those who were for it
- 34% of all greenhouse gasses are generated by food systems!! Mostly this comes from livestock and conversions to farmland.
- Is there a meatless future? Probably not. Is there a world where the entirety of meat production is completely different and in the very near future? Absolutely. Frank Bruni, former restaurant critic for the New York Times walks us through the latest developments in lab grown (cell cultured) meat using fungi and fermentation.
- For 17 years sweet potatoes were essentially banned from EU markets due to high tariffs. These came as part of retaliation over airplane parts. Free trade is generally better and the opposite is frequently ridiculous.
- Agricultural exports climbing and expecting record year for shipments to China. Ports remain messed up as some shipping companies find it cheaper just to send empty containers back to China. Some of this is COVID and some of this was the trade ‘cold’ war between the US and China. Hopefully the relationship can be fixed.
- Mushroom milk is a turn we did not expect. But mixed with oats…
- The more interesting question is not what you can make but what you make when you are tired.
- The health benefits of turmeric are still debated but there is a fair amount of evidence for it as an anti-inflammatory. There are some people who should avoid it though. (And it made my hair turn yellow. Swear to God.)
- Really interesting approach to killing bacteria on food: sound waves.
- Bonus St. Patrick’s day content: