Americans STILL Love Their Meats

As plant-based proteins and lab-cultured meats continue to see a surge in awareness and sales, it appears as though meat, the actual animal kind, is still booming in popularity. According to the USDA, American farmers and meat packers produced 103 billion pounds of red meat and poultry last year (2017). Thanks to a stronger economy, 2018 is projected to have the biggest increase in meat production in over 20 years, up a whopping 3.8 percent!

Cheap grain products could be what is fueling the rise in meat and poultry sales. With animal-feed costs down, it is more affordable to feed larger herds than it was only a few years ago. With meat-centered diets, like the Ketogenic and Paleo diet, consumers are focused on having a high-protein, low-carb intake. Because of this, there has been a major increase in meat snack sales. Companies like Oberto, Golden Island and Jack Link’s are creating new products to supply the demand for more easily accessible, shelf-stable proteins. International, exotic flavorings are being added to beef jerky, meats are being added to trail mixes to satisfy high-protein cravings and new meat and cheese pairings are coming in snack packages to cure those snack-time cravings.

Summer is here and as hot as ever all across the nation, companies are ready for everyone to go outside and get to grilling with all new flavors of pre-packaged hamburgers, pre-seasoned poultry and steaks and hot dogs made with REAL meat. Turkey burgers, turkey bacon and turkey dogs have all seen a slight increase in sales in recent years. With less fat than regular burgers, bacon and hot dogs, turkey is a prime choice for those who are seeking to watch their weight but still enjoy to indulge in grilling favorites. Companies have heard the complaints of “tasteless turkey” and have changed the flavor profile of their products to taste more like the beloved pork bacon, beef hamburgers and classic hotdogs by creating wood-smoked turkey bacon, seasoned turkey burgers and deliciously flavored turkey dogs.

Meat sales are projected to break records in 2018, new products are being launched regularly to keep up with diet trends and grain prices are lower than ever. The future of the meat industry in America looks very promising. So go grab yourself a juicy steak, burger or whatever, pop it on the grill and cook yourself up a nice slice of America this summer.


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Is Brand Loyalty a Thing of the Past?

Brick-and-mortar stores once had brand loyalty beyond compare. Consumers cherished their favorite stores and looked forward to strolling the aisles during weekly shopping trips. Families were devoted to a single store and either shopped at Publix, Walmart, Albertsons or another grocer close to home. With Amazon Prime now delivering perishables and other food items, and delivery services like Shipt allowing consumers to order groceries from different stores to have them delivered to their homes for a small fee, brick-and-mortar grocers are starting to see an impact on brand loyalty. Almost 40% of consumers stated that they would not mind if their favorite grocer closed, they would just go shop somewhere else.

With all of these new technologies available to order groceries and other items directly online, how are brick-and-mortar stores going to compete with a conglomerate like Amazon? One thing that keeps people coming back to their favorite grocer is customer service. Publix and Wegmans, for example, are known for their outstanding customer service. Greeting customers as they enter and exit the store, offering to help load bags into customers cars and hosting food sampling events with easy to prepare meals are just a few of the ways that these companies go out of their way to treat their customers like family. Publix will also order anything that they do not carry at one particular store if you just ask.

Another way brands can maintain a dedicated customer base is by having loyalty or reward programs. Loyalty cards allow customers who sign up for their program to get coupons through their email and get direct discounts in store. A good example of this is CVS. For years, their ExtraCare card gives direct discounts in stores and offers ExtraBucks or cash off their next purchase. Stores like Walmart also offer a Savings Catcher on their phone app. By scanning your receipt into the app, Walmart will check their competitor’s prices and give you the difference directly online on a Walmart gift card if they find a better deal.

Getting customers to the store, keeping them inside long enough to make purchases and creating good relationships will build the emotional connections brick-and-mortars need to rebuild brand loyalty. Utilizing the loyalty and rewards programs offered will allow brands to have a fighting chance to stay in business as the Amazon Prime and online delivery craze continues to sweep the nation. While there is no easy way to bring customers into these supermarkets, companies can still thrive by maintaining solid relationships with their customers by continuing to provide deals and services only available in stores.


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Frozen Novelties Still Popular with Americans of All Ages

Americans, even after all these years, are looking to the freezer section to satisfy their sweet tooth. Ice creams now come in a plethora of different flavor combinations, while other frozen delicacies have started adding flavor and nutrient-enhancing components. The future of frozen desserts looks very bright for the young and old alike.

While Baby Boomers don’t mind grabbing their favorite pint of classic ice cream from the store, Millenials and Gen Z are looking at different frozen treats to satisfy their cravings. Vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free options are ever-popular with the health-conscious Millenials and Gen Z. Smaller, private-label companies are changing the frozen dessert game by adding things like protein, probiotics, prebiotics and superfoods. These healthy ingredients allow those who care deeply about their health to still have the option to pick up a dessert item at stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joes, minus the guilt of a classic pint of ice cream. Baby Boomers still love the classic ice cream flavors they grew up on like cookie dough, mint chocolate chip and of course, plain chocolate and vanilla.

Halo Top changed the game by introducing their low-calorie, high-protein ice cream alternative options into the market. With Time Magazine naming Halo Top one of “The 25 Best Inventions of 2017”, Halo Top became the best-selling ice cream brand by fall of 2017. Halo Top offers many flavors of light ice cream, but their best seller is their line of dairy-free options. With flavors like toasted coconut, vanilla maple and birthday cake, it is no wonder that Halo Top an industry leader.

Gen Z has new flavor and texture desires that companies are working diligently to create. Food plays a vital role in creating experiences for this generation, so companies are having to cater to their demands and preferences. Clean-label, high-quality ingredients are very important. Companies are now making their products with cage-free eggs, sustainably farmed vanilla and milk from cows not treated with growth hormones to appease the next generation. Nuts, seeds, chocolate chunks and cookie bits are all added to give frozen treats the extra texture their younger fan base desires. Swirls of caramel and fudge are also added to more decadent products, but those delicacies are favored more by the Baby Boomers.

The future of ice creams and ice cream alternatives looks very promising. Companies are having to get more and more creative with their products, so who knows… your favorite flavor of ice cream may not even be created yet!

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How Blockchain Technology will Revolutionize the Food Industry

Blockchain technology is a way of storing and sharing information across a network of users in an open virtual space. A problem food manufacturers face is the complexity of tracking their products from raw material to consumer. Food safety is as pertinent to food manufacturers as it is to consumers. Utilizing new blockchain technology would provide complete end-to-end visibility, as well as allow for tamper-proof data. A number of industries, like gold production and pharmaceuticals, are already seeing the advantages of this technology.

Blockchain in the food industry would allow restaurants, grocers and farmers alike to easily trace and track each step of the supply chain, from “farm to fork.” Blockchain allows for specific products to be traced at any given time. Walmart, who sells 20% of all food in the United States, has just completed two pilot tests. Before using blockchain, Walmart conducted a traceback test on mangoes in one of its stores. It took six days, 18 hours and 26 minutes to trace their mangoes back to its original farm. Using blockchain, companies who utilize this technology would be able to provide all the information a consumer would want in a mere 2.2 seconds. Six days is an eternity in the case of product contamination. Using blockchain technologies, product contamination could be contained quickly and food waste could be greatly reduced, as it currently stands at whopping 33-40% a year.

Being able to have this large mass of data in one space, in real-time, would allow distributors, farmers and manufacturers to easily see their competitor’s prices. This would allow each group in the supply chain to be able to compare what others in the industry are doing, and in turn, be more competitive with their prices and more productive in their work.

Transparency is more important than ever to consumers. By setting up a system where consumers could simply scan a QR code on a food product using a smartphone, blockchain would allow each person to be able to see a log of the journey of that food product. The system would record and assign a digital certificate for each interaction with said food item, which would reduce the risk of adulteration in food products. I think it is evident that companies who become early adopters of blockchain technology will create a stronger customer loyalty through transparency.

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Food Manufacturing Resources

Finding relevant information regarding food manufacturing can be difficult and time-consuming. Working in such a niche industry, you may believe there is not a lot of content out there pertaining to your unique career. We have compiled a list of resources, including some of the top websites, online magazines and blogs, to give you access to the latest in the food industry.

Food Manufacturing Trade Magazines & Blogs

  • Food Engineering Magazine is a monthly trade magazine that covers manufacturing techniques in the areas of packaging, processing, food safety, plant operations, automation and material handling.
  • Processing Magazine is a monthly trade magazine that is a great resource for process engineers who work in the food & beverage, oil & gas, pharmaceutical and chemical process industry.
  • Food Manufacturing offers a from-the-field perspective, keeping U.S. food processing plant managers, engineering personnel, facility maintenance professionals and other decision makers fully apprised of new product information, technology and processes.
  • IFT (Institute of Food Technologists) is a members-only service, consisting of the best minds in the food industry. Since 1939, IFT has been advancing the science of food and its application across the global food system by creating a dynamic forum where individuals from more than 90 countries can collaborate, learn, and grow, transforming scientific knowledge into innovative solutions for the benefit of people around the world. By becoming a member of this great collective, the opportunities to learn, grow and develop are limitless. Together, IFT hopes to create a world where science and innovation are universally viewed as essential to a safe, nutritious and sustainable food supply for everyone. As it states on their website, “[we are] a scientific society with vision, IFT is feeding the minds that feed the world.”
  • Food Processing is a monthly trade magazine and the go-to information source for the entire food and beverage industry. Information about new products and manufacturing best practices are just two of the many things this publication has to offer.
  • Stellar Food for Thought is a blog where experts in about food plant automation, process engineering, design-build and refrigeration share knowledge insights gained from over 30 years of working in the food manufacturing and distribution industry. They cover a range of topics such as food safety, energy efficiency, processing trends, design-build best practices, advances in refrigeration, new technologies, materials and techniques and more.
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Drink Up, Here are 4 Popular Nutritional Beverages in 2018

More and more Americans are caring about their health, the food they put in their body and what exactly goes into the food that they are feeding to their family. While life for most is still as fast-paced as ever, convenience and accessibility of nutrient-dense options are important to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Nutritional beverages have become very popular over the past few years for their easy access, flavor options and on-the-go capabilities. Here are five trends that you will continue to see in nutritional beverages for the remainder of 2018.

1. Plant-based Probiotics

Probiotics have been a very popular point of discussion in the health community for a few years now. Probiotics are the good bacteria that live in the gut and work hard to provide better digestion, while also improving your immune system. Probiotics can be found in things like sauerkraut, kimchi and miso, but most recently in kombucha, a fermented tea. GoodBelly is a company that specializes solely in probiotic beverages. Each one of their drinks contains probiotic strain Lactobacillus plantarum 299v (LP299V®), “a strain proven of surviving the harsh acidic environment of the stomach in order to set up shop in the intestines.” Adding probiotics to your diet, especially through drinks, can help alleviate stomach issues such as cramping, constipation, bloating and feeling run-down.

2. Prebiotics

How do probiotics stay alive and thrive in the body? With prebiotics, of course! Prebiotics fuel probiotics and allow them to stay alive in the perilous conditions of the gut. Chicory root fibers are the only plant-based prebiotics that is proven to aid in calcium absorption, weight management and overall digestive help. Chicory root fibers can be found in a powder form (to add to your favorite drinks), yogurts, smoothies and nutrition bars. Prebiotin is one of the most popular powders available and you can purchase it here.

3. Milk Made from Everything but Dairy

As the dairy industry experiences a decrease in sales, the plant-based milk market is thriving. Almond and coconut milk have been increasing in popularity for more than a few years now, but with options like hazelnut milk, peanut milk, even milk made from oats and brown rice, alternatives to dairy milk are increasing in sales.

4. Stevia & Beyond

Stevia has proven to be the sweetener of choice for those looking to live a healthier lifestyle because it is lower in sugar and calories than regular sugar while being twice as sweet. With many different brands are producing stevia, such as Whole Earth and Truvia, there are many options available including some mixed with monk fruit, brown sugar and honey. So the next time you are in the breakroom grabbing an afternoon cup of coffee, try adding a little stevia to see how you like it.

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