Food Tech Solutions in China

Food Tech Solutions in China

As the country with the largest population in the world, it has been vital for China to implement serious changes within their food system. Issues concerning sustainable food production, polluted crops and food waste are being met head on with a myriad of outside-the-box solutions. These new innovations have generally been met with open arms by consumers. According to Sam Geall, “a research fellow at the U.K.’s University of Sussex who focuses on China’s environment and agriculture” (Bloomberg), many Chinese people are wary about food-safety, and express a willingness to pay more for higher quality products. With pollution, overuse of fertilizer and other food related hazards causing mistrust, there’s no denying that the feeding the ever-growing population requires rethinking food production. Source So what is the key to cultivating innovative food technology in a country of 1.4 billion citizens? Startups are shining in this area. Bits x Bites, a Shanghai based “accelerator and venture capital that supports food tech startups in shaping our food future” offers select food-tech startups the capital and guidance needed to thrive in the Chinese economy. The first of its kind, Bits x Bites is supporting some seriously innovative startups. Source China is struggling to maintain farmable land and more crops are imported than grown in the country. This has led entrepreneurs to turn to hydroponic farming for fresh produce options. The Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing researched vertical farming, and found the method to be highly successful and sustainable. This has garnered attention and spurred the Agricultural Development Bank of China to fund key projects promoted by the Ministry of Agriculture (Bloomberg)....
Flashback Friday: Favorite Frozen Treats

Flashback Friday: Favorite Frozen Treats

Happy Friday! Summer is in full swing, and we are reminiscing about the sweet frozen treats that we grew up with. Relive the feeling of chasing down the ice cream truck with these throwbacks. BRIDGET Orange Creamsicles all day. They are the best of both worlds, sweet vanilla covered in tart fruit flavoring. Best when eaten next to grandmas pool. ALISHA Two words: CHACO TACO. I remember feasting on these beasts at the summer camp canteen…. I don’t know what brilliant mind decided to herald the unholy alliance between hard shell tacos and frozen dessert novelties, but damn I’m glad they did. JANNA Sprinklers Ice Cream bars! The perfect combination of rainbow sprinkles, vanilla ice cream and chocolate coating. Im 90% sure I was obsessed with these mainly because I used to LOVE everything rainbow. CHELSEA I loved walking to 7-11 with my friends to get a Slurpee and playing Crusin’ USA (this is back when 7-11’s had arcade games in the back). FRED Frozen Capri Sun…alll dayyyyy. JEAN PAUL Tamarind or passion fruit flavored shaved ice cones with condensed milk drizzled on...
The Double-Edged Sword of Natural

The Double-Edged Sword of Natural

Since the dawn of man, we’ve been obsessed with food, and if you need evidence in this day and age, look no further than a millennial’s Instagram. Food has and will always be a means of survival, but for many, foods role has evolved from sustenance to enjoyment. Prominent trends such as Transparency, Veganism, Mindfulness, Freshness are at the forefront. One Master Trend overrules them all simplicity in food. We all win… Or do we? We’re in a race to the bottom of an ingredient list. We are removing as much over-processing as possible. These are all good things, but… In the process, an important equity has been lost – taste differentiation. Which is something Big Food always benefitted from.     And for decades, Big Food has built brands on the pleasure of taste… irreproducible, proprietary, unnatural but ultimately delicious taste. A locavore or organictarian, with a gun to its head, would choose an Oreo over a private label knockoff, no questions asked. A Dorito over a cheese flavored tortilla chip. A Coke over cola. Intensive food science, heavy processing and laboratories that double as “kitchens” gave way to these patented, competitive brand advantages. These fabricated flavors turned products into household names, and ultimately billion-dollar brands. Yet the same practice that built Big Food up, is now responsible for its demise and vilification. Less Ingredients + Less Processing + Less Engineering = Commodities. So the natural foods industry is now faced with answering the tough question of how do you democratize natural food without falling victim to the dreaded C-word; commoditization? How do you build a meaningful brand without the type of flavor differentiation Big Food benefitted...
Transitional Farms Spur Organic Farm Growth

Transitional Farms Spur Organic Farm Growth

The availability of organic foods continues to increase exponentially. Yet, despite double-digit growth in consumer demand for organic foods every year since the 1990s, organic acreage has not kept up, according to the U.S.D.A. In fact, less than 1% of U.S. farmland is certified organic. (Food Business News) So, how can the supply begin to meet the demand? It all comes back to needing more organic farms. This proves to be more complicated than one might think, as a farm must undergo a process that requires meeting USDA Organic standards for three years before qualifying to convert from conventional to organic. This causes a lot of economic uncertainty for farmers, but some companies are taking steps to incentivise them.   Kashi’s “Certified Transitional” program guarantees that certain products will utilize grains for transitional farms, in hopes to convert more farms to organic throughout the country. The Dark Cocoa Karma Cereal utilizes wheat from transitional farms exclusively, and Kashi continues to integrate more transitional ingredients into more products. The packaging design doesn’t differ much from other products from the brand, but the mark for “Certified Transitional” is proudly displayed along with “Non-GMO” and “Fair Trade” certifications. In 2015, Clif Bar made an agreement with one of its growers to transition their farm from conventional to organic, offsetting the cost by agreeing to purchase the crops for seven years after receiving organic certification. The company also bought the farm’s “transition period” crops. Bigger companies like White Wave Foods and Costco are reported to be following suit by utilizing transitional ingredients, so we are likely to see more foods labeled as “Certified...
Trends Spotted in the Netherlands

Trends Spotted in the Netherlands

Ever wonder what the inside of a shop inside Amsterdam looks like? Now you can get a little taste! Our intern Sydney took a trip to the Netherlands recently, and she took some snaps of awesome packaging that she saw. Here are a couple trends she spotted abroad. JUST ADD ______   There were a lot of pre-packaged goods that combined ingredients for ready made drinks and snacks. Teas with sweetener loaded onto a spoon waiting to be mixed into a cup of hot water were a favorite. “Festival in a Bottle” was an innovative way to add some excitement to a plain bottle of liquor with dehydrated fruits and spices. And for a delightfully simple mix-it-yourself refreshment, there were kits that included everything you’d need for a fresh gin & tonic.     QUITE THE CHARACTER The Dutch are embracing bright and bold colors, in contrast the modern packaging we typically see in the States. These eye-catching hues were seen in shelves all over stores. There were chocolate bars that sported vibrant, contrasting patterns that worked together in perfect chaos. In addition, there were a lot of whimsical illustrations and characters – even in products that aren’t necessarily marketed toward children. The shifty eyes on bottles of Karma Kombucha couldn’t be ignored when walking past the refrigerated section!      IN THE SPIRIT OF TRANSPARENCY One trend that’s clearly a hit across cultures is transparency – both in the literal, visual execution of packaging solutions, but also in the key messaging that brands are sending. The desire to eat “clean” has spurred a movement that pushes companies to lay everything out on the table – particularly ingredients. It...
The Growth of Nut and Seed Butters

The Growth of Nut and Seed Butters

Peanut butter is a classic protein packed snack that’s versatile enough to be combined with just about anything. For a long time, it was the only kind of nut butter that people knew of. With constantly evolving consumer dietary needs, we’ve seen a boom in “butters” made from all kinds of different nuts and seeds. Here are a few aspects of this growing category that brands are taking into account: Source PRESENTATION The demand for peanut butter alternatives has resulted in an influx of “butters” made from ground almonds, cashews, pistachios and more. Often at a higher price point, it is common to see companies touting the healthy benefits of their product. Nutraw’s pistachio butter features packaging that is more elevated than what you might associate with a typical peanut butter jar, reflecting the minimal ingredients (stripped down to just pistachios, coconut oil and vanilla). Similarly, butters are increasingly being made from seeds – even ones you may not have ever thought to eat. Sunflower and pumpkin seed butters have been heralded as friendly options for consumers with nut allergies. Watermelon seed butter is unconventional yet intriguing. Sakara’s version appeals to consumers based on its aesthetic alone. The cream colored product is complemented by equally clean packaging, suggesting its simplicity and quality. Source INCLUSIONS Inclusions and unique flavors set brands apart in this ever growing category. Sesame seed butter is traditionally known as tahini, a main ingredient in hummus, but it’s making its way more and more into the butter category. Ilka’s Chai Sesame Butter appeals to create a more memorable and unique experience when spread over toast or fruit. Big Spoon Roasters also offer various nut butter flavors, like Espresso and Vanilla...