A recent search of press releases and science news feeds pertinent to the food and beverage industry reveals that:
Last year, in the week before Easter, Americans bought 146 million pounds of candy -- the weight of more than 11,000 African elephants. African flavors topped the National Restaurant Association’s 2016 "What’s Hot" list. A British government survey reveals 5-year-olds are consuming their own weight in sugar every year. Household purchases of "not low calorie soft drinks" are on a downward trend, falling 19 percent between 2011 and 2014. The U.K. government announced a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages to come into force in 2018. A BMJ study reports that over 40 percent of fruit juices, juice drinks and smoothies sold in major U.K. supermarkets contained more than a child's entire maximum daily amount of free sugars, stating that such drinks should not count as one the U.K. government's "5 a day" recommendations. Though average salt consumption is higher than recommended, a Public Health England government survey identified a downward trend in mean salt intake from 2005 to 2014. The Consensus Action on Salt disputed the finding, claiming there has been no fall in salt intake from 2011 to 2014. The U.K.'s "Eatwell Guide" has been updated by moving salty and high-fat foods off the main chart to the corner, and sugar-sweetened soft drinks out of the picture altogether.
A U.K. market research survey revealed that between 1974 and 2014, takeaway pizza purchases increased by 1000 percent, canned peas and tea declined, and that crisps and chips (frozen or not) continue to top potato purchases. The U.S. FDA has released final guidance to the food industry on reducing acrylamide, including a recommendation that potatoes used to make French fries be cut in shapes with a lower surface area to volume ratio. According to a U.K. NHS survey, men drink twice as much alcohol as women. A March 2016 study questioned the J-shaped relationship between alcohol consumption and death (lower mortality risk for moderate drinkers compared to abstainers), claiming the relationship is biased due to the common practice of combining former drinkers with abstainers and further, that the health benefits of any level of drinking are likely nil.
Ingredion says that consumers are paying more attention to food packaging and ingredients, with a preference for "clean labels" -- short, simple ingredient lists with an emphasis on minimal processing. According to Food Dive, manufacturers that ignore supply-chain and labeling transparency are at risk of losing customer loyalty, trust, and relevance. The U.S. Senate rejected legislation that opponents derisively branded the Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act, which would have invalidated state laws mandating labels for foods containing genetically engineered ingredients in favor of a voluntary program with federal oversight. Major food companies are preparing labels nationwide to be compliant ahead of the state of Vermont's mandatory "GMO" labeling law, which requires most human food derived from genetically engineered material to be labeled as such beginning July 1, 2016. Sales of "free-from" foods are expected to increase this year in the U.K., with health interests rather than medical reasons said to be driving the trend. Research revealed that 12 percent of new food products launched in the U.K. during 2015 were gluten-free. Tesco defended its practice of using made-up farm names such as Woodside, Willow and Boswell farms to replace its "Everyday Value" discount brand meat products saying, "These seven new brands, which are exclusive to Tesco, address our customers' needs for quality fresh food, at very competitive prices in a single shop."
Seller beware. Plaintiffs' class-action bar in the U.S. carefully searches information like this for forage: news it can use to feed the class-action litigation beast.