After much needed vacation in the Southwest, We are back with Food Week May 17 – 22. And there’s a lot to catch up on. For instance, 2020 was a tough year to start a new brand (duh), a good year to reassess whether you wanted to work in a restaurant and a great year for chicken chains. We also learned about the importance of ventilation systems, the source of your bbq charcoal and going beyond oak for distilling.
- Financial markets were strong and the jobs report was good
- On the other hand, Crypto-currencies took a beating this week
- Inflation fears likely overstated as the housing market cools
RETAIL AND CONSUMER
- Long the number one grocery retailer in the country, WalMart is facing daunting challenges form competition. Leaked internal memo is bleak.
- $3.2 billion was invested in alternative protein enterprises in 2020.
- Amazon is shutting down its Prime Now app which platformed delivery in about an hour. Things like grocery perishable will now be available on the regular portal.
- 2020 was a great year for established brands. But for start ups it was very hard.
RESTAURANTS AND FOODSERVICE
- No one want to work at your restaurant? Is it unemployment benefits? Sadly no. the labor market added 280,000 jobs in the leisure and hospitality sector in March. That was the sixth highest percent increase in the last half century. Child care the biggest factor.
- This article was not food related but fascinating in terms of how science works but also how hard it is to change accepted Wisdom. Therefore it was very much like our article on Ancel Keys and cholesterol. But in the end it reveals an important future trend: ventilation in place like restaurants will become THE public health remedy to influenza.
- Chinatown is a place to go an eat Chinese food. The hybridization of the recipes is a cliché but now we learn so is the architecture. But, in the face of racism and destruction, a new unique cultural marker sprang forth in San Francisco and spread around the world.
- New restaurant 500 list: Chicken sandwiches drove growth. As a result Popeyes has almost caught up to KFC. Meanwhile Chik-Fil-A is now number 3
FOOD SUPPLY CHAIN
- The double whammy of Brexit and COVID is still playing havoc on British produce supply.
- Do you know where your charcoal comes from? Probably not. Consequently you may be contributing to the destruction of old growth forests in Nigeria
- Stocking up, disruptions and trucking have pallets in short supply. As as result they are now 4X more expensive.
- Turns out that getting cultured (lab-grown) meats approved and to the US market is going to take a little longer.
- Brandy evokes a wide range of reactions, from disgust to adoration. It is a wide category as it simply means liquor distilled from wine. But as a result you can get treacly blackberry brandy, sweet but intense calvados and the elusive notes found in armagnac. Here are some new offerings.
- Simalarly, distillers are trying new woods for barrel aging.
- The author of this article really does not like Alice Waters. I learned that Anthony Bourdain was no fan of her either so now I am looking at he r with amore jaundiced eye. The article has two important takeaways.
- Firstly, authenticity, in food but other things, is a pretend aesthetic. Cultures and peoples constantly evolve and adapt. Authenticity is used to exclude.
- Secondly, people have to make daily decisions regarding how they prepare and consume food that are based upon many factors that make them sub-optimal in terms of flavor, nutrition and experience. Being able to have a deep and developed process for acquiring, preparing and eating your food is for the highly privileged.
- A list of summer beers.
- Radioactivity in honey. Isotopes linger from tests in the 50s.