Two events drove the policy world this week, with food and beverage production accounting for a slice of each conversation:

  • Food and farming took center stage at the 27th annual climate conference.
  • Inflation and rising food costs influenced some voters in the midterm elections.

“The one certainty about the outcome of midterms is that it will allow all factions … to claim the results validate their approach …”

Ted Nordhaus, Executive Director, The Breakthrough Institute (Twitter)

Food Policy COPs

On November 6, The United Nations kicked off its 27th annual “Conference of Parties” climate summit, COP27, in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. The summit called upon experts from around the globe “to accelerate global climate action through emissions reduction, scaled-up adaptation efforts and enhanced flows of appropriate finance.” The conference brought food production into focus more prominently than ever before and provided a timely opportunity for producers to reflect on climate progress and make commitments for the future.

  • Food Tank’s Danielle Nierenberg attended the conference and posted daily dispatches that highlighted the summit’s food and agricultural programming.
  • Food Ingredients First reporter Marc Cervera explained how agri-food systems are core to the agenda this year and opined, “So many targets have been set and are yet to materialize, accelerating commitments towards eating for the health of people and the planet needs to be more than just words.”
  • Prior to the conference, the North American Meat Institute posted its first “Continuous Improvement Report,” which will serve as a baseline for measuring meat industry targets for environmental sustainability, animal care, food safety, worker safety and food security.
  • By contrast, The Guardian shared a report from the Sustainable Markets Initiative, a worldwide network of CEOs from Bayer, Mars, McDonald’s, Mondelēz, and PepsiCo. The report suggested that the pace of change in environmental stewardship practices in food production has been too slow.
  • Reuters detailed how 14 major food trading companies like Cargill, Bunge and Archer Daniels Midland shared their plan to eliminate deforestation from their supply chains for soy, beef and palm oil by 2025.
  • The United Nations Environment Programme Emissions Gap report, released about a week before the conference, pointed out several steps food production can take — including land use, biodiversity preservation, conservation of freshwater and pollution reduction — to reverse current trends.

Electing to Talk About Food

On November 8, voters cast midterm election ballots. While there was only one food production measure up for a direct vote — Sioux Falls, South Dakota, voted not to ban meatpacking plants within city limits — the senators, representatives and governors who have been elected will have direct effects on how food is produced, regulated and distributed.

  • Leading up to the election, Food Dive Associate Editor Chris Casey addressed the role of rising food prices and food industry consolidation in shaping voters’ opinions.
  • Politico highlighted races where food- and agriculture-oriented lawmakers faced stiff competition for reelection and the key policy provisions those leaders have championed.
  • Marc Heller of E&E News wrote that the changes to agriculture committee membership jeopardizes the Biden administration’s climate-smart agriculture programs.
  • MarketWatch focused on the impact leadership changes will have on the 2023 Farm Bill — including the balance of funds for farming incentives and food stamp benefits.

Worth Reading

Twitter Advertisers Take Flight

Elon Musk’s high-profile takeover of Twitter has sparked reevaluation of food companies’ marketing strategies. Newsweek kept tabs on which brands have pulled ads from the social media platform, including General Mills and Mondelēz. The paper noted that its reporting on the topic was one-sided: “Since Musk’s takeover, Twitter has reportedly stopped responding to press requests.” Fun fact: Twitter only accounted for 0.9% of digital ad spending so far this year.

Off-the-shelf Showmanship

Progressive Grocer Senior Editor Lynn Petrak shared unconventional advice that grocers should “get into the entertainment business.” At the annual Grocery Leaders Executive Forum, Lowes Foods President Tim Lowe explained how his company boosted sales through the use of in-store events, such as having employees “dress up and do the chicken dance in stores when hot chicken was ready.” Some employees must have cried fowl.

Spacey Trends

Mintel was one of the first out of the gate with 2023 predictions. The research firm pointed out four interesting food and drink trends “centered around space, climate change, mental performance and the overwhelmed consumer. This year’s trends make recommendations for brands to reassure consumers who continue to be challenged to adapt to a precarious world.”

Enzymatic Entrepreneurs

One of the chief nutrition complaints about juice is that it’s the sugary part of fruit without the fiber. Food Ingredients First reported that an Israeli company, Better Juice, has developed an enzymatic process to solve this issue by converting sucrose, glucose and fructose into prebiotic and insoluble fiber — reducing simple sugar content by 80%. Would you like your orange juice sweetened or unsweetened?

Pivoting Protein

As the alternative protein market continues to slow down, Food Business News reported that Beyond Meat is pivoting its business to make up for multimillion-dollar losses in the last quarter. “We are significantly reducing operating expenses while focusing on a more narrow set of strategic partners, retail and foodservice opportunities and utilizing lean value streams across our beef, pork and poultry platforms,” said Ethan Brown, president and CEO of the company.