Several grim numbers piled up this week. But at least today the leading voices in food, beverage and agriculture are collectively celebrating Earth Day and looking for ways to reduce climate impact.

  • Hunger never went away, but conversations about it are coming back.
  • Avian flu continues to spread, surpassing past outbreaks.
  • Earth Day is every day for some; an important occasion for all.

“The world is shaken by compounding crises. The fallout of the war in Ukraine is adding to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that now enters its third year, while climate change and increased fragility and conflict pose persistent harm to people around the globe.”

World Bank, IMF, UN WFP and WTO (statement)

Still Hungry

The quote above opened an April 13 joint statement from the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, United Nations World Food Program and World Trade Organization that renewed a call for urgency to address a global food security crisis. The situation in the United States is also dire, as federal hunger relief funds are set to expire and the majority of food banks report a drop in donations.

  • Feeding America detailed the domestic situation, which has seen a 20% increase in food bank demand, and called for action in the form of federal aid, food donations from manufacturers and monetary donations.
  • Politico and The Specialty Food Association both helped circulate Feeding America’s plea for help.
  • An article in the Los Angeles Times explained the correlation between food prices, inflation and a first-time food bank user surge.
  • Following up on a piece published in Civil Eats last week, Eater on April 20 examined the friction between dollar stores and the communities they serve. Both stories highlighted increased concern about a correlation between small-box discount stores (SBDS) and food deserts.
  • To increase access to SNAP (aka food stamps) benefits at retail, Wegman’s opened up benefits to Instacart orders (Supermarket News) and Meijer accepted SNAP for pickup and delivery (Specialty Foods).

Bird Flu Blues

Since being detected in the U.S. in January, avian influenza (aka bird flu) has quickly spread to 31 million birds across 29 states, according to the USDA. The rapid spread is affecting egg prices, backyard and commercial flocks, and even wild birds, including bald eagles.

  • Food Safety News reported: “Prior to just 70 days ago, the worst case of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in the United States occurred in 2015.
  • The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) suggested, “The higher numbers might be attributed to improvements in detection and reporting protocols.” AFBF President Zippy Duvall added: “The HPAI outbreak is an urgent reminder to all poultry farmers to ensure their biosecurity measures are in place.”
  • Pennsylvania confirmed its first commercial case in a flock of 1.4 million commercial layer chickens, while more commercial cases were reported in Minnesota and Indiana (Feedstuffs).
  • The Washington Post found the price of eggs has nearly tripled since November due to the culling of flocks to prevent further spread.
  • Associated Press writer David Pitt examined the conundrum of free-range egg producers who wish to protect vulnerable flocks — the best defense is to bring the birds indoors.
  • Citing the profound harm to farmers and the food supply, Wired writer Maryn McKenna called for the “reevaluation of the possibility of vaccinating U.S. poultry against disease, a step that parts of the poultry industry and also federal policymakers have rejected for years.”

Happy Earth Day!

Today is Earth Day and influential voices have been celebrating all week long. Most influential voices in our database addressed the occasion, covering topics as varied as planting practices, food waste, water stewardship and diet choices.

  • Agriculturalists — from The Dairy Alliance to the American Sugar Alliance — reiterated the theme that “every day is Earth Day” for farmers, emphasizing how good stewardship practices help farms thrive long-term.
  • National Association of the State Departments of Agriculture shared a speech from President Richard Ball where he positioned agriculture as “part of the answer” to climate change.
  • United Egg Producers cited statistics that today’s egg farmers save the equivalent of 3,716 swimming pools of water compared to 1960.
  • National Retail Federation shared research on “sustainably minded consumers.”
  • ReFED advocated for food waste reduction as a means of lowering methane emissions.
  • The EPA posted a retrospective series on Twitter using the hashtag #USAbeforeEPA.
  • Commodities giant ADM announced that it will achieve deforestation-free supply chains in 2025, five years ahead of schedule.
  • Mars touted its recent commitment to reduce plastic waste.
  • Indigo Ag looked forward to “the first crop of” carbon credits for encouraging sustainable farming practices.

Hey, What’s Good This Week?

With rising food costs so in focus these days, one brand has earned consumer loyalty by defining and promoting a fiscal take on good. Even as food prices increased 10% over the past year, those 23 oz. cans of Arizona Iced Tea somehow remain at the same budget-friendly price of 99 cents that they’ve maintained since 1992. As the LA Times reported, company founder and Brooklyn native Don Vultaggio remains committed to his pricing: “Consumers don’t need another price increase from a guy like me.” It’s a unique brand of good, and singularly their own, but clearly a differentiator that consumers find relevant.

Worth Reading

Twisted Research

Science is finally catching up with some of life’s greatest questions. In Food Manufacturing, MIT researchers shared their insights on why the filling of an Oreo sticks to one side when the cookie is twisted apart. The team even developed a 3D-printable “Oreometer” for home use in a bid to make science more accessible. … aaaand then they immediately countered that accessibility: “Scientifically, sandwich cookies present a paradigmatic model of parallel plate rheometry in which a fluid sample, the cream, is held between two parallel plates, the wafers.”

Sparing Kids

On April 20, Unilever announced it would stop marketing to children under 16. “Recognising the power that social media and influencer marketing can have on children’s choices, we believe it’s important to raise the bar on responsible marketing to a minimum age of 16 years old across both traditional and social media,” read the CPG giant’s press release. Marketing Dive added, “Marketers have come under increasing fire for collecting data on children using apps and social media platforms, while facing a growing number of data privacy laws.”

‘Relaxation Culture’

Also on April 20, an unofficial holiday for marijuana use, Vox writer Melinda Fakuade summarized the recent abundance of edibles: “These days, though, the THC snack marketplace looks very different — chips and candies and chocolates and cocktail kits and other products that are meant to get consumers high without smoking a puff — and it is blossoming into a cornerstone of American relaxation and consumption culture.”

Safety First

For all of you drone operators out there, The Daily Scoop offered seven tips for not interfering with agricultural aircraft. We thought some are obvious, such as Rule #1: “Give the right of way to a manned aircraft. It’s the law.”