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)....
The Vegan Society Debuts Vegan Trademark

The Vegan Society Debuts Vegan Trademark

The Vegan Society, based in the United Kingdom, recently launched their new trademark that certifies vegan standard for food products. Several food companies are already sporting the new certification on package. Will this go the way of the gluten free and non-GMO certifications that have graced packaging for the last few years? It certainly instills a sense of wellbeing and assurance for the consumer, as the certification requires that specific standards be met by the companies before they will stand behind them. As we see it moving across the UK and Europe, we wonder how it’s going to affect the US. Vegan products are already doing well right now, particularly in the snacking category, but the Certified Vegan mark is not necessarily a deciding factor for the average consumer at this...
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...
Trend Watch // Healthy Rainbow Food

Trend Watch // Healthy Rainbow Food

There’s something magical about adding some vibrant color to the foods we eat every day. Though we may now realize that artificially colored and sugar packed cereals are not the greatest choice for breakfast, we can still choose health conscious options with a little whimsy sprinkled in. Enter Vibrant and Pure’s Unicorn Toast. At first glance, it’s a slice of bread adorned by food colored cream cheese applied in a dreamy, painterly fashion. Upon learning more, we find out that those colors are derived from natural ingredients, like beets, tumeric and chlorophyll. These combinations of ingredients might not sound appealing by the sound, but it is truly a treat to look at. The End in Brooklyn, New York is serving up unicorn “lattes” – colorful concoctions that give a natural and healthy energy boost. These drinks get their beautiful blue hue from spirulina extract, which is known for its health-giving phytonutrients that stimulate the body and mind. While being vegan-friendly and containing nutritional powerhouses, these drinks have some serious appeal Is this simply a passing food fad, or is it the start of a long lasting trend? We could see this spilling over into the cold pressed category, and definitely the healthy snacking spaces for kids and adults alike. What do you think? Email us at blake@interactonshelf.com   Cover image source: Vibrant and...
Branding in the Fresh Produce Space

Branding in the Fresh Produce Space

The produce section draws the eye with vibrant colors and the promise of fresh offerings, but it’s remained one of the least branded grocery categories. Fruits and vegetables are typically sold unpackaged, labeled with only a sticker featuring a PLU code and a small brand mark to identify them. With the “clean eating” movement at its peak, we’re seeing a lot more well branded fresh produce items. By moving into a space that has virtually no branding, companies are able to establish a sort of monopoly on generic produce items, similar to the way Kleenex and Band-aid have. In a category with such minimal branding, what marketing strategies are companies using to positioning themselves?   (Image Source) For the Kids Many initiatives have cropped up that are taking a stand against childhood obesity, by encouraging children to be more active and eat healthier. One easy way to appeal to an adolescent audience is to assign characters to products. Cuties (easy peel mandarin oranges) and Mighties (kiwi fruits that come packaged with a knife-spoon combination) both come packaged in multi-packs, and stand out in the category with lively characters and fun names. The friendliness and ease of consuming have made them an ideal go-to lunchbox addition. (Image Source) Snackability There’s been a constantly rising demand for healthy snacking alternatives. The preparation of fruits and veggies is a drawback that might lead a consumer to reach for a bag of chips to satiate appetite instead. But convenient, options help to eliminate that issue. A few years ago, Pom Wonderful stormed into the produce category with a unique structure for a unique product – pomegranate...
“Flexitarianism” Drives a Rise in Meat Alternatives

“Flexitarianism” Drives a Rise in Meat Alternatives

The options for meat alternatives have been pretty bleak up until the past few years. With soy based products like Tofurkey and Garden Burger dominating the market, those who adhered to plant based diets were typically better off making their protein substitutions from scratch. Today, an increasing percentage of consumers (as many as 120 million in the US, according to Food Business News) have begun to reduce their intake of animal byproducts in a way of eating dubbed “flexitarian”, or semi-vegetarianism. After Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma (summarized by the simple message of “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”) became widely considered, many started seeing the merit in eating less meat – without having to sacrifice it completely. This rising consumer base has contributed to the growing availability of “meatless meat”. But for companies aiming to reach the flexitarian demographic, positioning is everything. Many meat substitutes are geared toward vegetarian and vegan lifestyles, and thus can carry strong political views ingrained in their brand stories. Whether coming from a position of care for the environment or ethical treatment of animals, meat alternative companies often resonate solely with a vegan or vegetarian consumer base.   Beyond Meat has become a heralded meat alternative brand. The packaging implies that it is a complete replacement for meat, by using striking imagery, like shapes of animals such as cows and chickens filled with vegetables. Their mission statement leans heavily on human health, positively impacting climate change, and animal welfare. The brand speaks of itself as a radical way to impact the world with your dietary choices. This kind of positioning can be polarizing...