Weekly Roundup: Upcycled Foods leverages beer brewing grains for muffin dough, Plenty unveils advanced vertical indoor farming
19 May 2023 --- This week in industry news, Plenty opened a technologically advanced indoor vertical farm in California poised to grow up to 4.5 million pounds of produce annually to supply partners, including Walmart and Whole Foods Market. Luker Chocolate achieved B Corp certification, Kraft Heinz launched a customizable digital sauce dispenser, and DSM-Firmenich made a sustainability appointment.
In brief: Sustainability
Plenty opened the Plenty Compton Farm – hailed as a technologically advanced indoor vertical farm designed to grow up to 4.5 million pounds of leafy greens annually in a single city block in Compton, California. The farm is made possible by dozens of Plenty’s patent assets, including its unique 3D vertical architecture that drives its yield up to 350 times the yield per acre of a conventional farm. Plenty has developed an entirely new way to grow plants. While greenhouses and other “vertical” farms grow on flat planes that mimic the field, Plenty grows in 3D – on vertical towers nearly two stories high. The unique architecture makes indoor farming increasingly efficient, growing more produce in less space and quickly automating every step from planting to harvest.
Luker Chocolate, a Colombian B4B chocolate manufacturer, achieved B Corp certification, further cementing its commitment to sustainability. CasaLuker, Luker Chocolate’s parent organization, received 92.8 points from the non-profit organization B Lab, which accredits companies with B Corp certification after they meet or exceed the rigorous “impact assessment” criteria.
Stone & Skillet and Upcycled Foods launched a premium Super Grains English Muffin, distinguished by a dough featuring ReGrained SuperGrain+. This upcycled ingredient is created from the nutritious grain left over from beer brewing that contains plant protein, dietary fiber and prebiotics.
In brief: Global strategies
The European Food Safety Authority and its partners in EU member states launched the third edition of the #EUChooseSafeFood campaign, which aims to help consumers make informed decisions about their food choices. The campaign provides practical and easily accessible information to consumers, from help reading food labels and understanding additives to food preparation and storage advice. It also covers many food-related topics and this year will focus on reducing food waste and what is being done across the EU to tackle foodborne diseases.
Bord Bia hosted 14 Irish exporters on the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine’s trade mission to China this week. It is the first trade mission since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, following three years of restricted borders. The focus of the trade mission, led by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD, focused on raising the profile of Irish food and drink with customers in Beijing and Shanghai through a series of events and supporting the 14 Irish meat and dairy companies representing Ireland at SIAL, the largest food and drink trade show in China.
A public poll conducted by Buy Better Food, a coalition of civil society organizations, has revealed that citizens across Europe want healthy meals to be guaranteed in public canteens, and for taxpayers money to be invested in sustainable food that supports small-scale farmers. The survey, which sampled over 3,000 respondents revealed that 93% agreed that food served in public canteens should be guaranteed to be healthy and 88% of respondents agreed that guaranteeing healthy and sustainable food in public canteens is a good investment of public money. A significant proportion (82%) of participants agreed that public sector food should play a role in addressing the climate and nature emergency, while 75% agreed that public canteens should be required to buy ingredients from small scale farmers where possible.
Lidl GB is calling on other supermarkets to introduce design changes on the packaging of fruit and vegetable products to help make them appeal more to children. The call comes as the discounter reveals that sales of its Oaklands Funsize range increased by more than a third since introducing the specially designed packaging in 2017. Lidl was the first British supermarket to introduce a range of healthy products specifically designed to encourage children to eat more greens. The collection comprises fresh fruit and vegetables with quirky names and cartoon characters like Banana-Llamas and Tawny Tomatowl.
In brief: Appointments
DSM-Firmenich announced the appointment of Katharina Stenholm as chief sustainability officer starting July 1, 2023. In this role, she will shape a new, consolidated Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) strategy for the company that builds on the strengths of DSM and Firmenich’s previous plans and actions.
PepsiCo Europe appointed Archana Jagannathan as its chief sustainability officer for Europe. Jagannathan currently leads on Climate, Energy and Water across Europe for PepsiCo as well as being Vice President for Sustainability in the UK and Ireland. She joined PepsiCo in 2018 and since then has led various roles across category, packaging and sustainability.
In brief: Business moves
The Board of Directors of Mondelēz International declared a regular quarterly dividend of US$0.385 per share of Class A common stock. This dividend is payable on July 14, 2023, to shareholders of record as of the close of business on June 30, 2023.
Pernod Ricard’s venture capital fund, Convivialité Ventures, took a minority share in ecoSPIRITS, a circular economy technology start-up focusing on low carbon, low waste distribution systems for the premium wine and spirits industry. Pernod Ricard joined a US$10 million Series A funding of ecoSPIRITS. This closed-loop distribution system hails to provide cost savings and reduce waste and carbon emissions by avoiding the production and transportation of glass bottles and other secondary packaging.
Hamada Syuzou Co, headquartered in southwestern Japan, is set to ship Sasshu Gin Premium Craft Spirits to Asia (starting in mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore), Europe (starting in the UK and France) and the US from early July 2023 and onwards to target the growing global gin market.
STX Beef Company announced the purchase of Missouri Prime Beef Packers. STX will take over operatorship immediately. The Missouri Prime Beef Packers plant currently processes approximately 750 head of cattle daily in its 88,000-square-foot facility.
The Kraft Heinz Company unveiled Heinz Remix, the first customizable and IoT-enabled digital sauce dispenser to launch, allowing consumers to personalize their flavor creations. Developed in six months from the initial brief to the physical product – with over 200 potential sauce combinations, Heinz Remix is the latest innovation from the company’s foodservice or “Away From Home” division. It is touchscreen operated, enabling consumers to first select from a range of “bases” – currently Heinz Ketchup, Ranch, 57 Sauce, and BBQ Sauce – then personalize further with one or more “enhancers” – currently Jalapeño, Smoky Chipotle, Buffalo and Mango – at their preferred intensity level (low, medium or high).
By Gaynor Selby
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