Thousands of workers have been laid off and several factories shuttered since the Brazilian investment firm 3G Capital helped facilitate Kraft’s acquisition of Heinz in 2015. Now, at the end of the trademark cost-cutting cycle that follows many 3G deals, Kraft Heinz must grapple with changing consumer preferences, the Wall Street Journal reports.
A food service management company that operates in 600 U.S. school districts is offering them, in the words of its vice president for nutrition, “instructions” on how to get a waiver from the USDA requirement to serve whole-grain-rich bread, pasta, and baked goods to their students, said The Lunch Tray.
Members of the millennial generation, born between 1981 and 1996, are less likely to go to the grocery store than Baby Boomers or Gen X-ers and spend less per person when they do go to the store, write two USDA economists. "Millennials are demanding healthier and fresher food — including fruits and vegetables — when making food-at-home purchases, and they place a higher preference on convenience than to other generations."
In a Federal Register notice today, the USDA announced it will extend its “three flexibilities” for school menus — salt, whole grains, and flavored milk — into the 2018/19 school year. It will also invite comment on the “long-term availability of the flexibilities,” which Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue introduced at an elementary school on his sixth day in office.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association, a giant among trade groups, is beginning to bleed members, with Nestlé the latest foodmaker to pull out, says Politico. "Complacency and a lack of leadership" at GMA are a factor, along with the hurly-burly of competing for sales in an evolving marketplace, it says.
Research by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity found that "about 1 in 5 adults engage in body-specific self-loathing behavior," says the Danbury (Conn.) News Times. "It’s even more more common among adults who are obese, with 52 percent of them admitting to internalizing their weight bias."
School districts serving Philadelphia, Baltimore and Las Vegas joined the Urban School Food Alliance, which now serves 3.6 million students in 10 of the largest U.S. districts with a combined $735 million a year in purchases of food and supplies. The alliance launched a procurement initiative in 2014 for antibiotic-free chicken, and said this year that its members would not relax school lunch standards despite a USDA offer of flexibility on salt and whole grains.
A comparison of food stamp benefits and federal dietary guidelines finds that the premiere U.S. antihunger program "only covers 43-60 percent of what it costs to consume ... a healthy diet," says North Carolina State University. "The study highlights the challenges lower-income households face in trying to eat a healthy diet."
U.S. wheat plantings are the smallest in nearly a decade because of low market prices and large stockpiles worldwide, so growers in traditional wheat states are experimenting with alternative crops, says The Associated Press. They are dabbling in "crops that might be less iconic but are suddenly in demand, such as chickpeas and lentils, used in hummus and healthy snacks."
It's still a small part of the market, yet "burgers made from plants instead of animals are capturing more space on U.S barbecue grills this summer," says Reuters, pointing to estimates of global sales of $5 billion by 2020. Consumer research firm Technomic says alternative meat products are targeted at millennials and Generation X, people aged 18-50 years.