1. US online grocery heats up
After successful pilot programs across the US, discount retail giant Aldi announced it was taking online grocery delivery via Instacart to customers nationwide.
Aldi products via Instacart will be available to 75 markets across 35 states by Thanksgiving, said the company.
Many major US retailers, including Walmart, Kroger, and Target have invested heavily in providing streamlined online grocery service for customers including home delivery and ‘click and collect’ options.
Commenting on the implications of the Aldi announcement, Jack O’Leary, senior analyst at PlanetRetail RNG, said: “The US online grocery arms race is accelerating. Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods last year likely pushed more traditional grocery players, like ALDI, more firmly into the arms of Instacart.
“Despite its well documented moves in grocery, this competitive landscape should not be viewed as Amazon versus everyone else. The investments made by Walmart, Kroger, Target, and others in curbside pickup and home delivery have also raised the competitive stakes for all US grocery players.”
2. What do you get when you mix mayo and ketchup?
The answer is simple: Mayochup, and the condiment made its US debut after a public poll voted in favor of the bringing the condiment mashup to the US market.
Condiment fans have been combining mayo and ketchup to eat as fry dipping sauce for years (some call it “fry sauce” or “fancy sauce”).
“After seeing the unprecedented passion surrounding this product, including the nearly one million votes on social media and 500,000 votes in favor of bringing it stateside, launching Mayochup in the US was a no-brainer,” said Nicole Kulwicki, director of marketing for Heinz.
The product has been available in Middleastern markets prior to its US debut, and now other international markets including the UK are looking to get the new condiment on store shelves.
3. Mars’ sustainability strategy
Confectionery giant Mars Wrigley announced a new two-pillar plan for overhauling its cocoa supply chain.
The plan, called Cocoa for Generations, places “the interest of the smallholder farmer at its center, helps to safeguard children and forests, and creates a pathway for cocoa farmers and cocoa-growing communities to thrive”, said the company.
The initiative is backed by an investment of $1 billion over 10 years and is incremental to the Sustainable in a Generation Plan investment Mars announced last year.
“For nearly 40 years we’ve been working to achieve sustainable cocoa production,” said John Ament, the company’s global vice president – cocoa. “While we’ve made progress, including reaching nearly 180,000 farmers with sustainability certification, we are impatient with our pace of progress and of the cocoa sector overall. We don’t have all the answers but our first step is to put the farmer at the center of our ambitions and actions. We plan to inspire others and work together to ensure Cocoa for Generations.”
4. PepsiCo’s drive to grow its healthy portfolio
Sales of PepsiCo's ‘better-for-you’ options have risen from 38% of sales in 2016 to nearly 50% this year, and recent years have seen it widen its portfolio with diverse products from kombucha to hummus, according to the food and beverage giant.
“We have an ambition to grow our nutritious products faster than our core treat products and in last two years we have achieved that,” said Karen Scott, senior director of innovation and incubation at PepsiCo, Western Europe. “If you look at the products in our portfolio that contain wholegrain, fruits, legumes, vegetables, dairy and waters – that range is outpacing the growth of the rest.”
Speaking to FoodNavigator.com, Scott noted that the company is keeping an eye on a number of trends, including seaweed, personalized nutrition, and insect protein.
“You need to understand the consumer reasons and lifestyle choices driving each trend. That gives you a much better indication of what is enduring, rather than ingredient fads. But until you’ve actually tried out these ingredients, you never really know which ones will work and which won’t. So it’s incredibly important to be in the game,” she said.
“At the end of the day, it’s through experimenting that you work out what consumers are going to buy, and that determines where you take your brands and how you expand in the future.”
5. Multi-localism and personalization
With implications for all global food companies, a report from management consulting firm A.T Kearney states that companies need to radically re-engineer their supply chains and start offering consumers personalized products that are locally sourced, says a report.
With consumption patterns increasingly shifting towards local and personalized products companies must become locally integrated enterprises, says the report.
“Multi-localism is not a passing fad,” says Paul A. Laudicina, founder and chairman of A.T. Kearney’s Global Business Policy Council and co-author of the report. “All companies must determine how to become locally integrated enterprises in a fundamentally transformed operating environment."
6. Coca-Cola enters Kombucha category
There’s a lot of interest around kombucha in many countries around the world, and The Coca-Cola Company recently acquired full ownership of Australia's Organic & Raw Trading Co., producer of the MOJO brand of naturally fermented, live culture, organic kombucha beverages.
Kombucha is the fastest-growing beverage sector in Australia.
Vamsi Mohan, president, Coca-Cola Australia, said that MOJO fits with Australians’ demand for low sugar drinks with functional benefits such as gut health.
“With this acquisition, Coca-Cola Australia can take a leading role in helping The Coca-Cola Company in the still-emerging, premium-probiotic kombucha category,” he said.
7. Cracking down on food safety in China
Harsher penalties, including lifetime bans, could soon be handed down to industry players that knowingly flout China’s food safety laws and regulations, according to the country’s Vice Premier Han Zheng.
Addressing the China State Council’s first food safety commission, Han said: “Food safety concerns the health of everyone, and is one of the top concerns of the people.
“Standards in the food industry are fundamental to food safety, and [we need to] establish and improve a standard system in order to bring China’s standards in line with international standards as soon as possible.”
“For those who go against their conscience and moral values and produce or sell fake items, a lifelong industry ban must be placed on them, and the corporation must be penalized,” he added.