Joy Makers: How Driscoll’s Brands Its Berries

The New York Times: “Its strawberries have been bred for a uniform shape … while Driscoll’s raspberries are pinker and shinier, made to meet desires expressed by consumers … Driscoll’s is betting that once consumers know why its berries are distinctive they will demand them by name … Driscoll’s plans to build awareness methodically, by starting with digital outreach. The company’s website, which largely offered recipes, has been changed to explain more about Driscoll’s berries and what makes them different.”

“The public will get an introduction to the people Driscoll’s calls its Joy Makers — agronomists, breeders, sensory analysts, plant pathologists and entomologists who will explain how the company creates its berries. The company’s YouTube channel will feature stories told by consumers about why berries make them happy. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram will be used to send traffic to the website and YouTube.”

“Labels on the company’s berries have been changed, too, to ‘speak’ more to consumers, using a scriptlike font for the Driscoll’s name with the dot over the ‘i’ colored to match the berries inside the box … Since margins on produce are razor-thin, most companies elect to spend the few dollars they have for marketing to woo buyers for supermarket chains rather than consumers.”

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‘Lab-Grown’ or ‘Clean Food’?

Quartz: “For years, food technology companies have referred to their products as ‘cultured’ or ‘lab-grown,’ but as these new businesses start to make a first foray into the public eye, they are also pushing ideas that may make people uncomfortable—such as meat grown in labs. To get over that, there’s a push to coalesce around a new term: ‘clean food’.”

“By opting for this terminology, the industry hopes to better communicate to people the ethos behind their products, rather than the actual processes (which often do occur in a laboratory) used to deliver them to the kitchen table. It’s main selling point: ‘clean’ meat and dairy are efficient products with fewer sustainability and animal-welfare problems than traditional meat and dairy.” The term piggybacks “off the now-ubiquitous use of the term ‘clean energy’.”

“Impossible Foods unveiled its plant-based burger at Momofuku Nishi in New York City in late-July, and Beyond Meat is selling its version of a similar product in a limited number of US supermarkets … These are some of the first players in what some hope will be a ‘clean food’ revolution.”

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Quinoa & Kale @ Chick-fil-A

Business Insider: Chick-fil-A is testing a host of new menu items featuring ingredients like quinoa, farro, roasted butternut squash, and chia seeds in hopes of attracting more health-conscious eaters. The chain is testing two grain bowls starting Tuesday: the Harvest Kale & Grain Bowl and the Egg White Grill Grain Bowl.”

“The Harvest Kale bowl features red quinoa, white quinoa, farro, roasted butternut squash, diced apples, and kale topped with goat cheese, feta cheese, tart dried cherries, and roasted nuts. It’s served with a new light balsamic vinaigrette dressing.”

“Chick-fil-A has been getting some complaints after replacing classic menu items like cole slaw and its spicy chicken biscuit with healthier dishes. The company stressed that the new grain bowls would not be replacing any of its traditional menu items, like the original chicken sandwich and waffle fries.”

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Luke’s Lobsters: Rolls From ‘Trap to Table’

The New York Times: “Oil companies have long practiced a vertical integration strategy to track and control the flow of petroleum from the oil field to the gas pump … Now the practice is gaining momentum in the food industry.” Among this new breed of restauranteurs is Luke Holden, co-owner of “19 Luke’s Lobster restaurants, two food trucks and a lobster tail cart in the United States, and five shacks in Japan.”

Luke “holds an ownership stake in a co-op of Maine fishermen, which allows him to track where and how the lobsters are caught, and control the quality, freshness and pricing. He also owns the processing plant, Cape Seafood, that packages and prepares the lobsters for his restaurants.” He comments: “We’re able to trace every pound of seafood we serve back to the harbor where it was sustainably caught and to support fishermen we know and trust.”

“When Mr. Holden agreed to buy all of the co-op’s catches for his restaurants, support its sustainability practices and give the co-op 50 percent of the profits from a Luke’s Lobster restaurant that is attached to the wharf, the fishermen agreed … Mr. Holden is projecting sales of $25 million this year and $42 million in 2018. Plans are in the works to open six new restaurants this year and 40 more by 2020.”

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Cool Beans: America’s New Favorite Snack?

Christian Science Monitor: “Once relegated to the canned food aisle and the far reaches of the salad bar, the bean suddenly is becoming a star. These days, it’s popping up in the most unexpected places: in pasta and chips, and even as a centerpiece of dishes at the world’s best restaurants. And it’s no wonder, considering beans are packed with protein and a plethora of other nutrients, say nutrition experts. They’re also inexpensive and among the most environmentally benign agricultural crops.”

“Last year in the United States, sales of pulses – which are the seeds of legumes that are used as food, including peas, beans, lentils, chickpeas and fava beans – grew by 8 percent. By comparison, sales of meat grew by 3 percent. Global demand is also rising, especially for foods with green or yellow split peas and coral-colored lentils, reports market researcher Mintel.”

“Pepsi has launched a bean chip under its Tostitos brand, as has General Mills, under its Food Should Taste Good brand. The Good Bean chips are now available at many conventional grocers, including Costco. Its sales doubled in 2015 and are expected to do the same this year, says the company. Even 7-Eleven has signed on to carry the chips.”

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Cupping: The Next Big Olympic Sport?

FiveThirtyEight: “For the past two weeks, people at the Olympics have been losing their minds trying to collect yellow and blue plastic souvenir cups that feature the silhouetted athletes of each sport. The cups are sold only with the official Olympics beer — Skol — though many collectors are just dumping out the beer or paying full price (13 reais, or about $4) for an empty cup, several vendors confirmed.”

“But although the cups, which are an advertising product for the beer, have been hugely popular, there is little in the way of official information from the company about the collectibles, which has led to the curious situation of visitors trying to complete a set of some indeterminate number.”

“The confusion comes in part because no official marketing materials were released by Ambev, the South American distributor of Skol, stating the number of cups or how best to collect them. But the mystery has only fueled fascination, making the frenzy around the cups more happy accident than calculated guerrilla marketing.”

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Hershey Hugs & Kisses Its Hometown

The Wall Street Journal: “From the roller coasters at Hershey Park to the butterfly conservatory at Hershey Gardens, Hershey, Pa., was literally built on the generosity of its founder, the iconic chocolatier Milton S. Hershey. No wonder, then, that Hershey residents fret the tap might run dry if Hershey Co. is sold or merges with a suitor.”

“Hershey is a holdout from a bygone American era, when some 2,000 towns sprang up to serve one particular coal mine, textile factory or slaughterhouse. Many have faded as factories moved overseas and technological advancements led to job cuts … The same fate hasn’t befallen Hershey, where Kisses-shaped lamps burn bright above the downtown intersection of Chocolate and Cocoa Avenues.”

“Hershey’s resilience is due largely to the unusual strength of Hershey Trust … Milton Hershey founded the trust over a century ago, mainly to look after the Milton Hershey School for some 2,000 underprivileged children. It still does that, but today the trust also owns a resort and spa, an amusement park and a real-estate company in town.”

“Brad Reese, the grandson of the creator of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, which Hershey bought in 1963, spent his early years in what he calls “this very insular town.” He swam in the pool at the Hershey-built community center, and drank milk from the Hershey-owned dairy. ‘It’s a honey pot,’ said Mr. Reese, ‘the hand that feeds’.”

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Simple Products Beget Simple Packages

The Wall Street Journal: “Instead of burying ingredient lists in the fine print on the back of the package, food manufacturers are trumpeting simpler formulas prominently on the label’s front … More people care deeply about what’s in their food and insist on recognizing the ingredients. The litmus test for many consumers is whether those ingredients might appear in their own kitchen cupboards.”

“Simply Tostitos Organic Blue Corn Tortilla Chips boast only three ingredients: blue corn, organic expeller-pressed sunflower oil and sea salt. This past June, General Mills Inc.’s Larabar snack bar line launched Larabar Bites. The bites—available in flavors such as double chocolate brownie and cherry chocolate chip—resemble truffles and contain few ingredients which are prominently displayed on the front of the package.”

“New ads for Haagen-Dazs ice cream in major cities such as New York and Los Angeles show a spoonful of vanilla ice cream. ‘5 ingredients, one incredible indulgence’ read ads, which also list the recipe of cream, milk, sugar, eggs and vanilla … This fall, ConAgra’s Bertolli Frozen Meals is rolling out a new, reformulated line of meals that feature a shorter ingredient list that reads more like a recipe.”

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Sam Adams & The Nano-Brewery

Fast Company: “These days, Sam Adams has lost a bit of its mojo among the thousands of new craft brews that have flooded the marketplace … That’s where Jennifer Glanville comes in … In 2012, Glanville helped set up the Nano-Brewery to incorporate innovation into the actual brewing process … Every day, Sam Adams brewers use the Nano as a lab for experimenting with new flavors, textures, and processes. Some projects are simply about incremental improvement: how to tweak a recipe to make a beer tarter, more citrusy, or with a less overwhelming aroma. But some projects are about creating something entirely new and unlike anything else on the market.”

“One of the Nano’s recent successes with critics and consumers is the Nitro Project. Released earlier this year, the beers come in cans with widgets that activate upon opening, infusing the drink with a creamy texture. While nitrogenation has been frequently used in stouts (think Guinness), it isn’t found in wheat beers or pale ales—until now … As you pop open the can and pour it into a mug, it fills with froth that cascades downward. This makes the beer very smooth, but it also brings out some of the subtle flavors that you might not otherwise taste, like the citrus and pepper undercurrents.”

“Years ago, a drinker would profess a loyalty to a particular brand, but today’s consumer is promiscuous, preferring to sample new products.” Glanville comments: “There was a time when people wouldn’t want to order a beer they were unfamiliar with in case they didn’t like it. But now, they’ll walk into a liquor store and buy an entire six-pack they’ve never tried before, willing to take a chance on it.”

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