On earnings calls last week, major food brands bragged about their ability to keep raising prices. Soda and snack giant PepsiCo told investors that it raised prices 16 percent last quarter, bringing in 18 percent more profit. Nestle announced a 10 percent price hike and Unilever said its food brands cost 13 percent more. In all these cases, higher prices helped food giants increase profits even as their sales decreased. (No paywall)
Up to $7 million will be paid in bonuses to "team members who continue to produce food during the Covid-19 outbreak," said Hormel Foods on Thursday. The money will be paid in July to employees at Hormel's meat and processed food plants and would follow a $4 million bonus paid in April. (No paywall)
FERN staff writer Leah Douglas has created a map of meatpacking and food processing plants where cases of Covid-19 have been reported. As of midday Wednesday, at least 11 meatpacking plants and two processed food plants have closed, and a total of 40 have reported cases of Covid-19. At least 1,950 workers are confirmed sick and at least 11 have died, the story says.(No paywall)
A series of emails obtained under a state freedom of information law suggest major food companies have a "roadmap for dealing with scientific challenges," says the leader of the nonprofit group U.S. Right to Know in a Bloomberg story. The emails by current and former Coca-Cola executives suggest actions such as enlisting outside organizations to question dietary advice that was contrary to their business interests.
The FDA called on foodmakers and restaurateurs to reduce sharply the amount of salt in their products to help Americans avoid high blood pressure and the risk of chronic illness. The food industry balked, saying it already has low-salt products on sale and that the science on healthy salt levels was not as clear as the government says.
There will be nearly two open jobs for every qualified graduate in the agriculture, food and natural resources sector in the next few years, says Harvest Public Media in summarizing a report by Purdue and the USDA. The gap between graduates and the estimated 60,000 jobs open annually for the next five years has "left the USDA, land grant universities and private industry scrambling to try and bridge the gap."
Kathleen Merrigan, who helped craft the organic food law in 1990 as a Senate staffer and implement it a decade later at USDA, "is an agricultural policy workhorse who calls the public policy arena her 'playground,'" says a profile story at Greenwire.
The White House responded to two petitions for labeling of foods made with genetically modified organisms by deferring to the expertise of the FDA, which has been studying the question for more than two years.
The U.S. Probation Office, in a pre-sentencing report, recommended life in prison for Stewart Parnell, the former chief executive of Peanut Corporation of America, says Food Safety News.
The House Agriculture Committee, a stronghold for conventional agriculture, will act first in Congress to prevent states from requiring labels on food made with genetically modified organisms.
Foodmakers are in "a lobbying frenzy" over the administration's proposal to have the Nutrition Facts label on food packages include how much sugar was added during processing, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Grocery shoppers are spending less time, and money, in the center aisles of the supermarket, where the processed foods dwell and more time in the dairy case, meat counter and produce bins, says the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
The Environmental Working Group unveiled its Food Scores database that rates 80,000 foods on a scale of 1 to 10 based on nutrition, ingredients and how much processing it received.
State Attorney General William Sorrell asked for dismissal of the food industry lawsuit against the Vermont law that will require special labels on foods that include genetically modified organisms.
Vermont state senators passed, 28-2, a bill to require labels on foods made with genetically modified organisms and sold at retail - one of the final steps toward the first such state law.
Reps Mike Pompeo of Kansas and GK Butterfield of North Carolina will unveil a bill today to set a federal standard for labeling genetically engineered foods and block states from adopting labeling laws of their own.
The Obama administration proposed the first overhaul of the Nutrition Facts label since it came into use in the 1990s.