“We know that Americans are eating differently, and the amount of calories and nutrients on the label is required to reflect what people actually eat and drink — not a recommendation of what to eat or drink.”

Claudine Kavanaugh, Director of the Office of Nutrition and Food Labeling, FDA (FDA brief)

New Products

Food and beverage brands kicked off the new year with a bang, debuting new products, services and innovations. These new offerings line up with consumer market trends around milk and meat alternatives, food delivery, and food sourcing.

  • Ad Age’s Jessica Wohl recapped Impossible Food’s newest product, Impossible Pork and Impossible Sausage, which debuted at the Consumer Electronics Show January 6.
  • Kroger added Emerge: “Plant Based Fresh Meats” to its roster of private-label Simple Truth products.
  • Fast Companyreported “Prepare yourself: Cheetos Popcorn is now here. Yes, it’s a thing.”
  • Starbucks introduced three new beverages “to highlight the flavors of the non-dairy milks.” The new drinks feature nondairy milk alternatives made from coconuts, almonds, and oats.
  • VegNews highlighted GoodNes chocolate oat milk, Nestlé’s first nondairy product under the Nesquik brand.
  • Bloomberg featured Little Caesars’ latest partnership with DoorDash. As of January 6, delivery will be available at about 90% of the chain’s U.S. locations.
  • Perdue Farms launched a new direct-to-consumer e-commerce site that also features recipes, coupons and gift sets.
  • Farmer Connect and IBM debuted a new mobile app called “Thank My Farmer,” which allows consumers to “trace their coffee to understand its quality and origin, and even support the farmer who grew the beans.”

New Resolutions

If you’ve set resolutions for the new year, you’re not alone. Media outlets, trade groups and influencers also sounded off on the things they plan to improve in 2020 and suggested ways for you to do the same.

  • U.S. News & World Report ranked the Mediterranean diet the best overall diet for the third consecutive year. Expanded categories included best diets for healthy eating, easiest diets to follow, best diets for diabetes and best plant-based diets.
  • Thinking about going meatless for Veganuary? The Wall Street Journal published a piece that breaks down the health benefits — or lack thereof — of decreasing meat consumption.
  • The New York Times created a 7-day sugar challenge to show readers “How to skip the extra sugar, one delicious daily challenge at a time.”
  • The National Corn Growers Association resolved to increase sales, secure top export markets and build consumer trust in 2020.
  • The USA Rice Federation identified developing “new technologies and innovative practices that could increase yields and drive down costs” as its goal in the new year.
  • On a Meatingplace blog, food safety attorney Shawn Stevens encouraged food processors to take a new approach to food safety in the new year by focusing on the processing environment and equipment.

New … trition

On January 1, the FDA issued a final guidance on serving sizes and dual-column labeling on Nutrition Facts labels. Most notably, the guidance updates the labeling requirements for “serving sizes of foods that can reasonably be consumed at one eating occasion.” The hope is “for foods to provide updated nutrition information to help consumers in maintaining healthy dietary practices.”

  • Food & Wine explained the guidance’s dual-column labeling rules, which will require a “per container” column to be listed alongside the usual “per serving” info.
  • Specialty Food Association’s coverage of the news noted, “The FDA plans to work cooperatively with manufacturers to meet the new Nutrition Facts label requirements and will not focus on enforcement actions regarding these requirements [before July 2020].”
  • In an ABC News article, Harvard nutrition professor Dr. Frank Hu called the new label changes an “important step forward,” and applauded the fact that manufacturers now must disclose added sugars on labels.
  • NPD Group research confirmed: “Sugars and calories are the top two items consumers look for on the labels” with “57% of consumers looking for sugars and 45% saying they look to the labels for information on calories.”

Worth Reading.

Some important points of view worth checking out this weekend.

Plant-based … Plants?

In a January 6 article that discusses the origins and modern definitions of plant-based foods, Eater writer Jaya Saxena lamented “describing a product as specifically plant-based when the product it’s riffing on is also plant-based is redundant at best and cynical at worst.”

Borden Bankruptcy

Borden Dairy Co. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on January 5. In an official statement, CEO Tony Sarsam blamed “the rising cost of raw milk and market challenges facing the dairy industry.” CNN covered the news.

Aussie Wildfires

Amid a record-breaking heat wave, wildfires are burning across Australia, putting the country’s citizens and wildlife population at risk. Australia’s Food Safety Information Council issued some food safety advice, reminding consumers to “throw out any food that has been near a fire, including food in cans and jars even if it appears ok.” If you want to learn more about the wildfires and what you can do to help, Vox published an explainer piece.

Green & Golden Globe Awards

On January 2, The Golden Globe Awards announced on Twitter: “New this year! We’re working toward a more sustainable #GoldenGlobes by serving an all-vegan menu on January 5th.” The Washington Post chronicled some of the public praise and backlash to the decision to go meatless in an article published January 6.

You Are What You Order

Health watchdog group Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) surveyed online food offerings in the Washington, D.C. area from Amazon Prime Now, FreshDirect, Peapod (Ahold Delhaize), Safeway, Target and Walmart Grocery. CSPI found that a majority of the items promoted online were unhealthy. “Online grocery ordering has the potential to increase Americans’ access to healthy food, but, thus far, the industry is not taking advantage of the opportunity,” said Margo G. Wootan, CSPI vice president for nutrition.

Edible What Now?

After being tipped off by an article in FoodNavigator-Asia, Food Politics blogger Marion Nestle introduced readers to a little-known delicacy that is apparently all the rage among younger consumers in China: bird’s nests. Nestle notes, “edible bird nests is a nourishing food long prized in Chinese culture for promoting good health and skin benefits.” Once reserved for royalty and given the nickname “the Caviar of the East,” edible bird’s nests are now more widely available, but are still relatively expensive to import to the U.S. One pack can run you upward of $690. Talk about a nest egg.