Welcome to Food Week from fork pitch. We have a lot on labeling this week; the intersection between data and marketing is murky. Food is getting faster, which isn’t necessarily good but there are more alt-protein offerings which might be. You can learn how many bagels are necessary to make your shop work and, after you do, celebrate with a peanut butter flavored Bamba and wash it down with an alcoholic Fresca. Enjoy (I think)!
- Food Week January 10 saw financial markets tamped down somewhat as the Fed announces a series of interest rate hikes.
- Corporations slowly come around to the idea that remote work is a permanent part of the landscape.
- Cloth masks suck though diners love them. And tennis pros can lie about vaccination status just like football players. Good for Australia.
RETAIL AND CONSUMER
- Kroger workers aren’t doing well two years after the onset of the pandemic, Having 14% of your workforce unhoused is not a great look after cutting pandemic pay/hours.
- Mexico seized 380,000 boxes of Kellogg’s cereal, claiming they feature cartoons that breach laws designed to improve children’s diets. This may seem like overkill but Mexico has a serious obesity problem. One of the factors is the ‘dessertification’ of breakfast. Toucan Sam, Lucky Charms Leprechauns, et. al. basically created a sugar addiction platform to start the day. The US then exported to Mexico.
- Related to labeling, here is a good article on egg claims – main point is much of labeling is driven by marketing. (I had a marketing director who once pushed me to put ‘gluten-free’ on egg cartons.) Cage Free however can be meaningful if approved by HSUS/ Certified Humane.
- Finally, manufacturers set the expiration dates on food. Quality considerations drive this, not safety. A manufacturer would have to buy into discounting aging product. Can dynamic pricing reduce food waste in supermarkets?
RESTAURANTS AND FOODSERVICE
- The ‘Future of Food’ show promulgates the idea that almost instant food delivery is where the QSR industry is headed. I am not sure they are wrong; they are moving en masse away from in-person dining . But food is already too fast for our health, for our planet and for our psychological well being.
- I don’t remember the class on bagel throughput in business school: a real world calculation on how many bagels you have to sell to stay in business.
- I would like to hear from a long time Starbuck’s employees on how tips have declined in the era of CC payments. My observation is fewer customers tip. I wonder how this is helping fuel the unionization campaigns. But the last thing they need are these stupid ‘Pay It Forward’ charades at the Drive-Thru.
- Chipotle introduced plant-based chorizo. Our thought is a mixed ingredient offering like Chipotle will have better success with alt-protein than a single product KFC, no matter how great the reviews.
FOOD SUPPLY CHAIN
- Beef, pork and poultry industries are almost completely consolidated into a few, digit (+/- 5) hegemons. These control the entire industry. Eggs are headed there too.
- China’s COVID zero policy prevents fruit imports. As a result, Vietnam has 300,000 tons of dragon fruit and no buyers.
- Water scarcity is a problem that is about to be a crisis. Neither industry nor government has a plan. Same for topsoil.
- When I was a kid, a butcher was paid well for a job that was terrible. The job is still terrible, but now the pay sucks.
FOOD WEEK LAGNIAPPE
- Mosa Meat has an approach to create muscle differentiation in lab-grown meat without the use of Fetal Bovine Serum (FBS). FBS is a key hurdle to clear to appeal to vegetarians.
- Fresca is entering the hard seltzer arena. Of all the diet sodas, Fresca might have enough character to stand up to alcohol. The world awaits…
- Great wines under $20.
- Bamba is an Israeli peanut butter snack with the texture of Cheetos. It is apparently huge there. I can probably go on living if it doesn’t make it here.