Top 7 from 7: The key global food industry news of the past 7 days (Sept 10 - 17)

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Top 7 from 7: The key global food industry news of the past 7 days (Sept 10 - 17)
From the growth in meatless meat (plant-based meat) to Nestlé’s ambitious palm oil satellite tech and Mondelez stockpiling chocolate in the UK ahead of Brexit, here’s a round-up of the top seven global food and beverage news items from the past seven days.


First up we have a couple of news items about meat alternatives from the Good Food Institute’s (GFI’s) recent Good Food Conference at UC Berkeley. San Francisco-based JUST is on track to trial a ‘KFC-style’ ground chicken product​ made from cell-cultured meat this year. The company – best-known for its plant-based eggs and mayo – is planning to gauge consumer reactions at a restaurant somewhere outside the US.

However, the company’s CEO Josh Tetrick cautioned that commercial quantities are still some way off.

Asked when JUST might be in a position to produce enough cell-based meat for say, 500+ restaurants or stores at an affordable price, Tetrick said: “We’re looking at some time in the next two to three years for that kind of quantity. We’ll start at high end restaurants and then move to retail.”

The products are made from cells grown outside an animal in a plant-based growth medium.

Also from the Good Food Conference​, experts explained how biochemistry is transforming the plant-based meat industry. Impossible Foods' director of research Celeste Holz-Schietinger, PhD, said that the notion that plant-based or cell-cultured meat will only ever capture a minority share of the conventional meat market is based on a false premise.

Dr Holz-Schietinger argued that consumers are attached to meat, not animal slaughter, and that if you can produce ‘meat’ that is just as good as or better than the real thing without animal suffering and industrialized slaughter, why wouldn’t consumers buy in?

“If it’s convenient, if it tastes great and if it’s affordable, people will follow. People don’t eat meat because they like the fact that animals are slaughtered, they eat it in spite of that. No one eats meat because they’re happy an animal was slaughtered.”

Also in the news this week was the announcement of the 2018 participants in the popular Land O’Lakes Dairy Accelerator​.

Those that applied for the program are required to use dairy as a primary ingredient in their products, but can span different categories within the wide industry.

The class of 2018 included:
1. Blue Marble Ice Cream: an organic ice cream and sorbet brand;
2. Darling Pickle Dips: a line of pickled vegetable dips blended with herbs and spices in a cream cheese and white bean base;
3. Norr Skyr: a brand of high-protein, organic skyr
4. Numa Foods: an all-natural ‘chewy milk treat’ infused with nuts and dried fruit;
5. SmashPack: a collection of protein pudding and protein smoothie pouches for the active or on-the-go consumer; and
6. Tulip Tree Creamery: a creamery with a Dutch background that produces cheese and butter.


Palm oil © Getty Images slpu9945
© Getty Images / slpu9945

Moving to Europe now and Nestlé’s ambitious palm oil satellite tech​. The Swiss food giant Nestlé revealed it will use deforestation monitoring tool Starling to measure progress in protecting forests in its palm oil supply chain.

The company said it would use the satellite-based service to monitor 100% of its global palm oil supply.

In 2010, Nestlé made its No Deforestation pledge, which committed that none of the group’s products would be linked to deforestation by 2020. By 2017, the company revealed 63% of its global supply chain was free from deforestation.

“Starling satellite monitoring is a game changer to achieve transparency in our supply chain and we are pleased to extend this collaboration to cover 100% of Nestlé's global palm oil supply chains by the end of the year,”​ said Magdi Batato, Nestlé EVP and head of operations.  

Number five on our top seven list this week is news that fears over a no-deal Brexit has led Mondelez to stockpile chocolate​. The company’s European president has warned the UK that it is “not self-sufficient in terms of food ingredients”.

Mondelēz International, owner of Cadbury’s, has said it is stockpiling ingredients, and finished products like chocolates and biscuits in case of a no-deal Brexit.


Coconuts © Getty Images cherrybeans
© Getty Images / cherrybeans

Moving to Asia now and the pushback against the Harvard professor who declared coconut oil to be ‘pure poison’ continues, with the Indian agricultural ministry lashing out with a strongly-worded letter.

India Horticulture Commissioner Dr B.N. Srinivasa Murthy called on Harvard to have the statement retracted, claiming that Prof Karin Michels statements were “controversial”, “unsubstantiated” and “inconsiderate”.

Dr Murthy told FoodNavigator-Asia​ he had felt the need to write to Harvard “[To] safeguard the Indian coconut farmers”​ as “the comment function under this [Professor Michels’ lecture posted on Youtube] video is disabled.”

He also said that he made the decision to write the letter due to the importance of the coconut and coconut products industry to India and its people.

Our last news to note for this week comes from Japan where beer and beverage giant Kirin has announced a strategic review for Lion Dairy and Drinks.

Kirin is reportedly considering selling Lion Dairy and Drinks​, which produces, markets and distributes products across Australia in the milk, dairy, beverages, cheese, yogurt, juice and soy categories.

Its brands include Dairy Farmers and Pura milk, Masters, Big M flavored milk and plant-based milk Vitasoy. Each year it purchases around one billion litres of milk from more than 550 Australian dairy farmers, and crushes around 75,000 tonnes of fruit from orchards across the country.

“No decision has been made at this time, but we will move forward to complete the strategic review and make an announcement once an outcome has been reached,”​ said a statement from Kirin Holdings Company Ltd and its subsidiary Lion Pty Ltd. 

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