charcoal is on burning

Food Week May 3 – 8, 2021

Happy Friday for Food Week May 3 -8, 2021. Some of the latest: employment issues, fewer refrigerants and more functional beverages, chicken shortages and expensive corn, grills, lettuce and meal worms. Enjoy!


  • Food week May 3 saw weird results as employment stats really disappoint, missing by almost 200k.
  • All the job gains went to men while women employed or looking for work fell by 64,000 telling us child-care is an issue.
  • The financial markets loved it though, with the indexes setting records. Thought is that inflation is not imminent.


  • The soft drink giants continue to evolve. Soda sales are perpetually declining. Therefore they are investing in every other kind of beverage. Now functional beverages.
  • The pandemic produces some lurid results for retailers. Now they are cautioning observers about comps quarter to quarter. The latest is Sprouts which saw a 9.5% drop in sales.
  • Before there was Trader Joes, before there was Costco, before there was Whole Foods, there was Stew Leonards. Essentially, Stew invented the experiential supermarket.
  • In many countries, no alcoholic versions of adult beverages do better, but in the US, the low alcohol dominate. Still, many brewers and RTD marketers are betting on alcohol free for the future.


  • Beyond Meat is struggling, citing slow restaurant sales but I would guess their bigger problem is in non-commercial foodservice, specifically College and University
  • Restaurants that depend on a lot of city activity (crowds) are struggling to get back to the pre-pandemic levels. As a result , companies like Shake Shack are missing their numbers.
  • Dear restaurant owners, You have become addicted to a business model that depends upon paying workers a non-living wage, Those days are over.
  • Three quarters of workers are planning to leave their jobs because of low wages; 75% say they would stay if wages went up. But tell me how it’s because no one wants to work…
  • Among the reasons there is a worker shortage in restaurants 1.) better pay outside the industry 2.) healthcare 3.) lack of childcare 4.) working conditions 5.)Of course line cooks had the highest risk of dying of COVID during the pandemic. Easy solution: raise wages, raise prices


  • The Chicken shortage is real. It is driven by several factors, not the least of which is increased demand. However I wonder how much of the increased demand is driven by people moving away from beef for climate reasons?
  • Food week May 3 saw corn exceed $7 bushel for the first time. As a result a lot of foods will increase in price.
  • The food supply chain is really strained, leading to fines for suppliers.
  • Lab-grown meat is going to find higher hurdles than many other ‘alternative’ proteins. The complexity of the science makes it simply hard to understand. The overall trend is for more simplicity and transparency in food. Lab-grown meat bucks the trend. That, and the general suspicion regarding technology and food makes messaging and marketing key for the category growth. Labelling will also be an issue as protein producers feel burned by uses of ‘burger’ and ‘milk’ in non-animal products and are ready to fight.


  • Seven in ten Americans own grills but this article wonders why some people have multiple grills. Duh: party grill, 2 person grill, smoker.
  • I have seen meal worms at food shows in the US and have documented our experiences in Mexico. Insects, grubs, arthropods will increasingly be part of the culinary future, due to the nutritional and climate benefits. After all we eat lobsters and crabs. The EU just approved meal worms for sale for human consumption.

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