Fresh Meal Kits Delivered… Are They Worth the Hype?

Meal delivery kits have grown more and more popular over the years with consumers of all ages, especially Millennials. You cannot check your social media, watch TV or even listen to the radio without stumbling upon yet another Hello Fresh or Blue Apron ad. As the trend of fresh, ready-to-cook meals delivered straight to your door seems to be on the rise, is that really the case?

A beautiful blend of cooking from scratch and going out to eat is what a meal kit desires to be. With the average cost per meal being around $10-$13.50, using a meal kit proves to be less expensive than going out, but is still almost three times the cost of shopping for your own groceries and truly cooking from scratch. The beauty of meal kits (this is a big appeal to those environmentally savvy) is that you ideally won’t have any food waste. According to the USDA, on average 30-40 percent of food is wasted every year. Everything is portioned out per use, so you will only get the exact amount necessary for each meal that you will cook.

As the market flushes with different meal kit services, it seems as though this fad is not sustainable or profitable. Companies are having to give out major discounts on the first few deliveries (right now for their New Year special, Hello Fresh is offering $20 off each of your first three deliveries). The heavy influx of different meal kit services, including those endorsed by celebrities like Martha Stewart’s Martha & Marley Spoon and Tom Brady’s Purple Carrot, have caused the market to be flushed with different options. Why wouldn’t a consumer just try one and then switch to another to get yet another great discount after the first expires? Well, that is exactly what they are doing. According to a recent study done by Cardlytics, after one month, only 77 percent of customers remained with a meal kit delivery service, only 48 percent were left after six months and after one year, only a small 29 percent remained. This creates sustainability problems for companies.

So how can a company profit if they cannot create repeat customers? This is the problem that many, if not all, meal kit companies are currently running into. In July of 2018, Blue Apron (APRN) was trading at around $3.10. As of January 3, 2019, the stock had dropped to $1.01. If companies could figure out how to package and market the delightful aromas that their meals create, they may see a better return. Currently, only nine percent of the population has tried a meal kit delivery service. Sales are projected to be great in t Learn More

How a Daily Dose of Cheese, Butter or Milk May Help You Live Longer!

Despite popular belief, scientists at McMaster University found that consuming dairy on a daily basis may, in fact, help you live longer. This is great news for those of us who cannot seem to get enough of the cheesy stuff!

After analyzing the diets of more than 130,000 people in almost two dozen countries, scientists working on the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiological (PURE) study discovered that eating the equivalent of one serving of full-fat milk or yogurt, a slice of cheese or a teaspoon of butter could benefit health. In another recent study done by the researchers at the European Society of Cardiology, it was found that those who consumed cheese daily had an 8 percent lower total mortality risk, and those who devoured any sort of dairy had a 2 percent lower total mortality risk.

Emer Delaney, spokesperson for British Dietetic Association, told Newsweek: “The results are really interesting as they support the use of full-fat dairy products in cardiovascular disease as opposed to low fat or fat-free, which current guidelines advise.” Prior to this study, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s dietary guidelines for 2015 to 2020 suggest eating fat-free or low-fat dairy products. The current recommendations on low-fat dairy products focus on the presumed harms of saturated fatty acids that make up LDL cholesterol, the bad cholesterol, as well as concerns about higher calories in higher fat foods. Come to find out, that is not necessarily true! One study, published in the academic medical journal The Annals of Internal Medicine, looked at the ways in which nearly 4,000 adults were affected by eating full-fat dairy, and found that whole-fat dairy consumption was strongly associated with both lower cholesterol levels and lower insulin resistance.

These new results are very important to the dairy industry as a whole because it could potentially change the guidelines for the average consumer’s recommended daily dairy intake. In addition to extending your life expectancy, milk has long been known to provide bone-strengthening nutrients, as well as aiding in the prevention of type 2 diabetes.

With all of these newfound benefits, grab that block of cheese, a glass of milk or stick of butter with pride and go a Learn More

The Popularity of Cannabis in the Food Industry

Cannabis has long been a hot topic in within society. Once the main focal point in the 1980’s “War on Drugs,” cannabis today has become accepted by a large majority of Americans. Everyone from the young, wild and free party-goers to the elderly, retired and home with aches and pains, can be found indulging in the popular plant. But what does this mean for the food industry? Is the industry ready to capitalize on the production and sales of edibles, cannabis that is consumed through eating or drinking?

According to an A.T. Kearney survey of 1,000 Americans and 1,000 Canadians, forty-one percent of U.S. consumers said they would try recreational cannabis in foods such as candy, chocolate snacks and packaged foods if/ when it becomes legal. With such a large interest in cannabis by consumers, more food and beverage companies are positioning themselves to be a part of this trend.

Coca-Cola may have the chance to make cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive chemical found in marijuana plants, infused drinks in America sooner than you think. If The Farm Bill passes, it would remove hemp (which CBD is derived from) from the list of controlled substances, making the plant legal under federal law. The Farm Bill will be voted upon in Congress, ideally, within the next few weeks. Over the last year Constellation Brands, the marketer of Corona and Modelo Especial, has invested roughly $4 billion to purchase a 38% stake in Canopy Growth, the world’s largest publicly traded cannabis company.

As cannabis becomes more and more mainstream, you can expect more companies to jump on the bandwagon. Some respected and established brands, especially those that make candies, chocolates and brownies, are reluctantly to get into the cannabis industry. Children are one of their primary target markets and they do not want to tarnish their hard-earned reputation.

We are not too far off from the time that companies will be willing to jump in and form partnerships with other companies as more and more states legalize the use of cannabis. The revenue potential will become too much to ignore!

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New Meat and Poultry Packaging Aims to Inform and Engage Consumers

Consumers today want to know more about the foods that they put into their bodies. Where once a simple foam tray covered in plastic wrap, showcasing a juicy marbled cut of meat was enough to easily close the sale, but that is no longer the case. Knowledge is power for the next generation of meat eaters.

According to a study published by the Foundation for Meat Research & Poultry Education, price per pound, appearance and total package price are the leading factors when selecting and buying meat and poultry, as they have been the deciding factors for the past 11 years. Following close behind is the nutrition information, preparation knowledge and prep time.

A recent study done by 210 Analytics LLC shows that 36 percent of shoppers say that on-package recipes influence their meat purchasing decisions. This newfound knowledge is believed to be one of the main deciding factors for urban shoppers, those who make multiple trips to the store each week, supercenter shoppers and millennials. With the continual trend towards convenience, the on-package recipes appeal to the time-constrained consumer.

So how can processors utilize this information to create loyal customers? Foster Farms’, based out of Livingston, California, recently placed a QR code on their poultry products. The QR code has been given an AI-like personality as a woman named DORI. Put together by their marketing team, DORI is an innovative way to get consumers more involved and educated on products they are purchasing. When the QR code is scanned on a smartphone, the consumer will receive real-time access to more than 500 recipes, cooking information and tips, coupons, nutrition information and lists of local food festivals.

While what Foster Farms’ is doing rather new and unique, other companies have also started to make use of smart labels. Just BARE chicken uses a unique family farm code that allows consumers to trace where the chicken inside their specific package was raised. New product developers have also been working on visual freshness indicators for consumers to see and easily determine the quality of meat and poultry products.

Educating and informing consumers about the who, what, when and where surrounding a product is very important in keeping this next generation of consumers happy. With new technology, comes new jobs. For more information and help on finding a job or candidate in the meat, packaging or process industry, contact The Performance Exchange today. Where “Enhancing the Performance of Companies and Careers through Professional Placement” is what we do.

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Red Meat Continues to Reign Supreme

Whether you are stopping by your favorite fast food joint to grab a delicious cheeseburger on the way home, enjoying a juicy steak with your significant other at a fancy restaurant on your anniversary or coming home for the holidays to grandma’s famous meatloaf, beef remains a dinnertime favorite. With high protein diets trending, such as the paleo and keto diet, red meat sales are on the rise.

In the 1970s, the beef industry decided to implement some changes that would improve the quality of the meat and wholesomeness of how the cattle would be raised. The cattle we see today are some of the healthiest ever. The changes that were made led to cattle that would gain weight more quickly, eat less feed and have better genetics. These changes would allow the meat to taste better to consumers. Quality was not as important 40+ years ago as it is today and beef sales declined. Once the industry started improving their processes, they quickly saw an increase in sales. According to the Senior executive director of brand marketing and communications of National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Season Solorio, “Consumers today want it all — they want food that tastes great, that is raised responsibly and that is good for them.”

Wagyu is one of four specific Japenese beef cattle breeds. The tender meat from these select cattle is of the highest quality and very popular in America right now. Wagyu is prepared in high-end restaurants by experienced chefs. Consumers of this delicious delicacy absolutely love the marbling of these steaks and will pay top dollar for the high-quality taste, texture and flavor! According to an article from the American Wagyu Association, “Health experts have discovered the mono-unsaturated to saturated fat ratio is higher in Wagyu than in other beef and, the saturated fat contained in Wagyu is different. Forty percent is in a version called stearic acid, which is regarded as having a minimal impact in raising cholesterol levels. The profile of marbled Wagyu beef is more beneficial and healthier to human health.”

Other specialty beef products, like craft hamburgers and grass-fed beef, are now being sold in stores and gaining traction with consumers, but the primary growth of sales comes from non-specialty items and exports. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average consumer will eat 222.2 pounds of red meat and poultry this year alone! That equals out to almost ten ounces of protein consumed a day, almost double the recommended five to six ounces. In 2017, the U.S. exported 2.8 billion pounds of beef. That’s Learn More

Take a Trip Around the World by Visiting the Yogurt Section

With so many yogurts on the shelf at the local grocery store, it can be overwhelming to know what to buy or what the difference is between Greek yogurt, French-style yogurt and Icelandic skyr.

The yogurt craze began about a decade ago, with the rise in popularity of Greek yogurt. Once only being sold in specialty stores, you now cannot walk down the yogurt aisle without seeing at least three different Greek options from brands like Oikos, Chobani or Fage. The success of Greek yogurt has opened up the minds of Americans to new dairy flavors and thus, allowed the rest of the world to showcase their delicious options on the shelves of your favorite stores.

Greek yogurt is tangy, as yogurt should be, but boasts a thick, creamy texture. This is due to a straining process where some of the whey is drained off and thrown away. The straining process eliminates some of the lactose (naturally occurring sugar) and concentrates the amount of protein. In doing so, the yogurt does end up losing some of the vital nutrients, like calcium. Greek yogurt can be used as a healthy replacement to mayonnaise or sour cream in things like salad dressings and dips.

French-style yogurt is more of a unique type of yogurt. Instead of being made in a large batch and divided into smaller containers, French-style yogurt is cultured and sold in small glass containers. The yogurt itself is not dense, but very smooth and creamy because it is made with whole milk. Oui by Yoplait comes in little glass tubs and has recently made French-style yogurt available to most local grocers.

Skyr is a yogurt-like delicacy from Iceland. It is very creamy and tart, but low in sugars. Icelandic skyr is thick and glossy, and almost reminiscent of a cheese-like product. It is very high in protein because it is strained even more than Greek yogurt. Skyr is usually made with skim or low-fat milk. Siggi’s is a very popular American brand of Icelandic skyr and was the No. 1 selling yogurt at Whole Foods in 2017. With different flavored versions available and easily accessible, Icelandic skyr has skyrocketed in popularity.

With all of these delicious options readily available, where will you let these dairy delights take you?

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