Happy weekend! We at fork pitch hope your Thanksgiving dinner plans are coming together. Amid tracking the ongoing stories about COVID, inflation and worker shortages , this week saw Impossible get rejected for kosher; roil at some of the world’s best restaurants; consolidation at some of the world’s, um, cheapest restaurants; hope for ports and plastic; a really big potato and a really big and crazy story about trying to bring hippos to the US for their meat. Enjoy!
- Food week November 15 sees pandemic wave 5 appears to be upon us.
- However, in good news, the number of containers waiting in Port of LA decreased by 29% in Food Week November 15.
- Concerns over inflation’s effect on Black Friday shopping.
RETAIL AND CONSUMER
- False social media reports about Sainsbury, UK retailer, installing tech to check vaccine passports. Turns out it was just a shopping app. The BrIts are even nuttier than Americans.
- Most consumers don’t know this but food safety inspections for most products were suspended in 2020. A lot of problems went undetected and now are coming to light…
- Is plant-based faux pork kosher? Largest kosher certification authority says No! to Impossible Pork. This very Talmudic argument is far from over.
- American consumers already get plenty of protein but making plastic into edible protein could be impactful for poorer countries. And get rid of a bunch of damned plastic.
- Starbucks tops social media rivals for paid digital advertising. They are good at this and they know their demographic.
RESTAURANTS AND FOODSERVICE
- The first ever labor union for QSR: Burgerville, workers’ union reach historic contract agreement
- Unlike 11 Madison Park, 3 star restaurant Geranium is going meat free but not vegan. But moving away from meat seems to be a trend among the world’s best restaurants.
- Another trend is closures: I never got to eat at the Upperline but it feels like another link to the old world of New Orleans is severed.
- These acquisitions are starting to look like 60’s style conglomerates as Popeyes, Burger King and Firehouse are now in same portfolio. I can see purchasing efficiencies but little else.
- Aramark has returned to 90% of revenue but still a little misleading as price inflation accounts for a significant share of increases.
- It’s almost as if people can’t run a restaurant without cheap and disposable labor. But maybe it is dawning on them as restaurants start thinking about career paths. A high school senior wrote an editorial about these sweet , sweet jobs, scolding her elders for not being betters.
FOOD SUPPLY CHAIN
- A North Dakota distributor cancels its school business citing labor woes. This may require additional research but school contracts mean low margins for distributors. If you have to chose who short/cancel, they would go first.
- The lack of hard assets like containers and trucks are probably more impactful than labor shortages for produce suppliers. But the short shelf life makes it dire.
- Similarly, strong demand, strong supply, no containers means dairy industry getting crushed.
- Most of the COVID spread occurred in meat plants with workers within 6 ft. Then the CEOs’ of Smithfield & Perdue lobbied to allow them to work even closer…
FOOD WEEK LAGNIAPPE
- 17.4 lb. potato found; could have fed a whole county during the Irish potato famine. New Zealand farmer named it Doug.
- There’s a fight between Israel and state attorneys over boycotts and Ben & Jerry’s. Focus on the brand’s owner, Unilever. As social justice battles over brands intensify. I wouldn’t be surprised for the founders to weigh in.
- The 50th anniversary of “Diet for a Small Planet.” a seminal book in the vegetarian movement
- There was a time when ‘The Meat Question” was a very different thing than today . And for some people, the answers was: Hippopotami