The most influential voices in food, beverage and agriculture provided measured discussion on recurring topics: 

  • A supply chain’s worth of workforce compensation issues. 
  • A single day devoted to food waste and loss. 
  • A healthy helping of nutrition advice.

The food waste challenge is a complex, shared, and global one — and so our approaches to tackling it must also be shared. … Every food company has a significant role to play.

Sharon Bligh, Director of Health and Sustainability, The Consumer Goods Forum

Waging War on Low Wages

In addition to being the foundation of food production, maintaining a solid workforce is a considerable expense/liability to most food producers. Profit margins can shrink rapidly due to increased input costs as well as pressure to increase worker wages. Recent changes affecting foodservice, delivery and processing highlight a push for higher worker wages across the industry.

  • The Associated Press detailed California’s fast food minimum wage law, which raises worker compensation to $20.00 per hour effective April 1: “[The law] also settles — for now, at least — a fight between labor and business groups over how to regulate the industry.”
  • Food delivery workers contracting with Uber, DoorDash and Grubhub in New York City will enjoy a similar bump — earning at least $17.96 per hour — after the three companies lost their court battle against the city’s wage law (Bloomberg). We’re also asking, why $17.96?
  • Virtually every red meat processor in the U.S. found itself in some hot water after a federal lawsuit accused them of fixing wages for hourly workers (Reuters).
  • In its latest installment of its months-long rant against tipping, The Wall Street Journal described how the city of Chicago, “an American culinary capital,” is considering an ordinance that would eliminate the tipped-wage system of compensating restaurant workers.

Waste Not Want Not

The United Nations observed the fourth International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste on September 29. An array of other groups chimed in on the topic too:

  • Natural Resources Defense Council explained how the Food Donation Improvement Act of 2022 provides liability protection for restaurants, caterers and grocers that donate food, as well as nonprofit groups that provide the food to the public.
  • Project Drawdown Executive Director Jonathan Foley shared an estimate that halving food waste could reduce global carbon emissions by 88.5 gigatons before 2050. For reference, that’s equivalent to the emissions created by the entire world in a year and a half.
  • Ingredient-maker Kerry published survey results that found an overwhelming 98% of consumers try to reduce food waste, which includes opting for food with longer shelf lives (National Provisioner).
  • The Consumer Goods Forum — which includes 400 brands ranging from Ajinomoto to Walmart — launched the #TooGoodToWaste campaign on social media to complement its constituents’ efforts.
  • Midwest grocer Meijer celebrated the diversion of 10 million pounds of food from landfills through its Flashfood program (Winsight Grocery Business).
  • Progressive Grocer highlighted Apeel’s latest innovation to reduce food loss: RipeTrack. The platform aids retailers by predicting ripeness of produce. We’ll be glad to put avocado roulette behind us.
  • A pair of buffet restaurants in France adopted a more punitive approach by adding a €5 charge for failing to clean your plate (Connexion France).

More Advice That Will Be Ignored

Research studies, books and the persistent threat of weight gain in middle age sparked interest in health and nutrition. Perhaps with the holiday season peeking around the corner, the food media is buckling up, or getting ready to unbuckle. 

Worth Reading

Toxic Toenails

In Farm Journal, writer Jen Shike promoted a University of Iowa study that is seeking to assess farmers’ exposure to hazardous chemicals by using their toenails as a biomarker. Anna Proctor, a PhD student leading the study, summarized: “Farming is a super diverse occupation and there’s a lot of occupational demands that may change daily. This can result in a lot of exposures to multiple contamination sources, and these contaminates can be stored in the body.” 

Embracing the Power of Sour

A not-so-secret technique is opening the eyes (and mouths) of consumers. The New York Times detailed how the centuries-old cooking technique of immersing cooked ingredients in vinegar can not only add a satisfying punch of sour to a variety of plants and vegetables, but also lengthen the life of food and make use of otherwise discarded produce. Reducing waste and enhancing taste? Sign us up.

Food Shopping Goes Private

While inflation continues to impact grocery prices, a recent survey from FMI, The Food Industry Association, indicated that shoppers are drawn to private brands by factors other than affordability. From quality and taste to overall brand trust, consumers are seeking products that reflect a retailer’s distinct brand and value proposition. As consumers maintain their newfound preferences, private brands have an opportunity to play a bigger role in where consumers decide to shop for food. 

The Michelin Stars Align

How do you measure greatness in the kitchen? Food & Wine described the significance of Michelin stars with a highlight of the most Michelin-decorated chef on Earth. Alain Ducasse has earned 21 Michelin stars across 34 kitchens in seven different countries. While Ducasse’s stars may come and go with Michelin guide updates, one thing is certain: If you’re ever lucky enough to dine at one of his tables in Monaco, London, New York or elsewhere, it’s unlikely you’ll leave disappointed.

Once You Pop …

Online editors search out offbeat topics in their quests for clicks, but occasionally they strike a nerve. In this listicle, a reporter for Uproxx tallied the 27 best global Pringles flavors, which makes for fascinating skimming. Meat Lovers’ Pizza? Hokkaido Scallop with butter soy sauce? Seaweed? The breadth and depth of choices is a testament to humanity’s far-flung tastes. Like the tagline says, “the fun don’t stop.”