June 24, 2022
Celebrations and Breakups
Programming note: Friday by Noon will be back in two weeks, on July 8. See ya then!
In addition to the solstice, herbicides, big brands splitting up and a federal holiday were the major stories this week.
- Many celebrated Juneteenth with nods to food and drink.
- Kellogg’s announced a split that proved emblematic of the times.
- Glyphosate rushed back into headlines, again defending the safety of this herbicide.
2022 marked the second year of official recognition of Juneteenth, which celebrates General Gordon Granger bringing news of the Emancipation Proclamation to Galveston, Texas, in 1865 — two and half years after its decree. The federal holiday inspired many discussions about the intertwined histories of Black culture and food. Unlike the inaugural year, we did not notice an uptick in food brands publicizing revamped diversity and inclusion policies.
- To commemorate the holiday, The Washington Post detailed the Caribbean Red Drink, “a modern take on traditional African hibiscus ginger tea, and is often said to revitalize the mind, body and soul. In fact, the color red is often associated with ancestral reverence in West African traditions.”
- NPR and AP both shared stories about commercializing Juneteenth with things like T-shirts, ice cream and even mattress sales. T-shirts? Ice cream?
- Eater’s Stephanie Wo described “celebration queen” Nicole A. Taylor’s Juneteenth cookbook: Watermelon & Red Birds: A Cookbook for Juneteenth and Black Celebrations.
- Secretary Tom Vilsack commented on Twitter: “To heal we must remember and commit to ensuring racial justice, equity, and equality is made real for all Americans. We must stand against bigotry and hate.”
- Food waste reduction nonprofit ReFED compiled a list of resources and change-makers in the food system: “Food, community, and celebration go hand in hand.”
- Chef Marcus Samuelsson tweeted about his tasty concoction, the Freedom Reign: “The perfect sip for the occasion, it’s made with Haitian rum (notably the first Caribbean country to receive its independence), strawberry lemonade, ginger beer, lime juice and a tajin rim.”
Brand Name Breakup
On June 21, Kellogg’s unveiled plans to split into three distinct companies — snacks, cereals and plant-based foods. Although the decision was billed as a benefit for shareholders, the move highlighted analysts’ concerns about the viability of certain segments.
- Kellogg’s CEO Steve Cahillane explained, “These businesses all have significant standalone potential, and an enhanced focus will enable them to better direct their resources toward their distinct strategic priorities.”
- ESG consultant Dave Stangis, who spent 11 years at Campbell’s, tweeted: “For better or worse, the world moves from #meals to #snacks.”
- Food Ingredients First emphasized that the split separates companies by growth potential — cereal has stagnated while snacks have gained steam — and disentangles competing priorities.
- Aaron Back of The Wall Street Journal compared the move to Kraft spinning off Mondelēz in 2012, but questioned the viability of a cereal standalone business.
- Morningstar Farms, Kellogg’s plant-based brand, will face stiff competition in a market full of venture capital-funded startups. Consultant Gary Stibel told Reuters: “They are brilliant for getting out now.”
Back to Court
The importance of pest management in crop production is rarely considered by the average consumer, but lately it has become a common concern for judges. Glyphosate, the main ingredient in Bayer’s Roundup, has generated most of the buzz.
- Farm Journal reported that a June 17 jury decision marked the fourth consecutive case in which Roundup was not found to have caused cancer.
- However, the Supreme Court rejected Bayer’s appeal on June 21 to reconsider an earlier case that did find that Roundup caused a man’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
- Agriculturalist groups responded: “With the conflict in Ukraine threatening food security around the world and the persistent dangers posed by climate change, too much is on the line to allow the emergence of an unscientific patchwork of state pesticide labels that would threaten grower access to tools needed for productive, sustainable farming.”
- The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on June 17 that the EPA failed to fully evaluate the environmental safety of glyphosate when it issued an approval in 2020 (The Associated Press).
- Environmentalist group Center for Food Safety welcomed reevaluation by the EPA after the previous administration “[failed] to even consider impacts to endangered species.”
- The Wall Street Journal’s Patrick Thomas summarized the impact of these legal battles on farmers’ plans to date: “Business as usual.”
Hey, What’s Good This Week?
Ahead of its annual global summit this week, the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) compiled a report developed with leaders of 13 global consumer companies and consultants from EY (formerly Ernst & Young). Highlighting five actions food brands must take to reach the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the report also reflects how companies see their sustainability activities accelerating and integral to success. At the halfway point to the SDG’s 2030 deadline, this reflects the genuine incorporation of ESG principles into corporate DNA.
Broccoli Is the Best
Broccoli topped the list of Americans’ “favorite veggie” once again. WebMD broke down the results of Green Giant’s annual survey, noting that “Americans now consume, on average, 7.1 pounds of the leafy stalks per capita yearly, compared to 1.4 pound per capita in 1980.” Heavy is the crown.
Off the Clif
The other big-brand food business news story was Mondelēz’s purchase of Clif Bar for “at least $2.9B.” Food Dive summarized: “Clif finally agreed to be acquired for a much higher price tag after turning down a $120 million sale to Quaker Oats in 2000. . … It will quickly accelerate Mondelēz’s presence in the $16 billion global snack bar category that is growing more than 5% annually, the Chicago-based company said.”
$24 Billion Bees
The Detroit Free Press posted a smart summary of Pollinator Week 2022, June 20-26. “Without pollinators like bees, butterflies and some other insects, the global food supply would be in jeopardy. In fact, pollinators contribute $24 billion to the U.S. economy annually through agriculture and jobs, according to White House analysts.”
Honey, I Shrunk the Restaurants
Nation’s Restaurant News explained a growing trend in foodservice: shrinking restaurant sizes. Using Focus Brands-owned Schlotzsky’s as an example, author Joanna Fantozzi explains, “Schlotzsky’s investment in shrinking real estate is a direct response to changing customer demands, who want more off-premises convenience in a post-COVID world.” NRN also reported “Tectonic Shifts in the Top 10 Restaurants,” as the restaurant industry continues to recover from the pandemic.
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