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Earl's president apologizes to cattle producers after Canadian beef snub | Posted on August 12, 2016

The president of a Vancouver-based casual dining chain apologized to Canadian beef producers Wednesday over his company’s April announcement that it would begin serving 100-percent Certified Humane beef — a move that meant that it would source from the United States, not Canada.  Canadian suppliers would not be able to keep up with Earls Kitchen + Bar’s demand for Certified Humane, antibiotic-, steroid-free beef, the company reasoned.  Almost immediately, the announcement was met with intense criticism from both consumers and beef producers, especially in Alberta — the heart of the nation’s beef industry. Within a week of the announcement this spring, the company announced  that it would be bringing back Alberta beef to its restaurants (59 of which are located in Canada), and that it would work with local farms “to build a supply of Alberta beef that meets their criteria.”

Dean Foods Revenue Declines Amid Milk Glut

Wall Street Journal | Posted on August 11, 2016

Dean Food Co. struggled with a glut of milk in the second quarter, obliging the dairy giant to cut prices on the private-label products that make up much of its milk and ice-cream sales. Even though consumers are paying less, they didn’t buy more milk, contributing to what Dean Foods said on Monday was an 8.2% drop in second-quarter revenue to $1.85 billion. Analysts expected profit to fall, but Dean Foods’ earnings announcement still sent shares down as much as 8% in early trading. They regained some ground to close Monday’s session at $18.16, a drop of 3.5%.

U.S.: GM Fuji apple edges closer to regulatory approval

Fresh Fruit Portal | Posted on August 11, 2016

Following breakthroughs the Arctic Golden and Granny, Canada-based Okanagan Specialty Fruits (OSF) is one step closer to having another genetically modified apple cultivated in the U.S.  The U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) publicly shared OSF’s final version of a petition seeking regulatory approval for non-browning Arctic Fuji apples. APHIS said it had reached a preliminary decision to extend its determination of non-regulated status to the variety.


China money, market spur Canadian blueberry deluge

reuters | Posted on August 11, 2016

An aging mansion sits vacant on an estate outside Vancouver, the garage overtaken by a blueberry sorter and a walk-in cooler packed with the fruit. The owner, an investor from mainland China, leases the estate to Fred Liu at such a bargain the farmer grows blueberries in its fields even though the bottom has fallen out of the market.  As it turns out, the same wave of Chinese wealth that has fueled real estate booms in cities like New York, Sydney and San Francisco and stoked the art market worldwide also has contributed to an unexpected glut of blueberries. Chinese investors riding a hot property market along the Pacific Coast have socked millions into a belt of protected farmland around Vancouver, long a destination for Asian immigrants, and many have taken advantage of Canadian agricultural tax breaks, agents and farmers said.  Because much of the land is restricted to farming, rents have remained stubbornly low. Veteran farmers and entrepreneurial newcomers have snapped up the cheap leases, eager to cash in on the blueberry's ascent as a super food and the promise that a trade deal with China would open the world’s second-largest economy to fresh Canadian exports. But demand has yet to meet bullish projections. Delayed trade negotiations and a surge in global blueberry production have prevented China's rising middle class from eating enough of the British Columbia bumper crop that Chinese investors helped sow.

Hampton Creek Ran Undercover Project to Buy Up Its Own Vegan Mayo

Bloomberg | Posted on August 8, 2016

In late 2014, fledgling entrepreneur Josh Tetrick persuaded investors to plow $90 million into his vegan food startup Hampton Creek Inc. Tetrick had impressed leading Silicon Valley venture capital firms by getting his eggless Just Mayo product into Walmart, Kroger, Safeway, and other top U.S. supermarkets within about three years of starting his company.  What Tetrick and his team neglected to mention is that the startup undertook a large-scale operation to buy back its own mayo, which made the product appear more popular than it really was. At least eight months before the funding round closed, Hampton Creek executives quietly launched a campaign to purchase mass quantities of Just Mayo from stores, according to five former workers and more than 250 receipts, expense reports, cash advances and e-mails reviewed by Bloomberg. In addition to buying up hundreds of jars of the product across the U.S., contractors were told to call store managers pretending they were customers and ask about Just Mayo. Strong demand for a product typically prompts retailers to order more and stock it in additional stores.

Sugar beet growers don't understand GMO worries

Marketplace | Posted on August 8, 2016

Nearly two-thirds of domestic sugar production comes from sugar beets, which are grown with genetically modified seeds.  A few big food manufacturers, including Hershey’s, are now saying they will use non-GMO cane sugar instead of beet sugar in products. The moves come as firms await the specifics of a new law requiring that they make clear the presence of genetically modified ingredients. Congress recently passed a compromise bill giving firms a host of options as to how they would do so, with options including a barcode that consumers would scan. President Barack Obama signed the bill into law last week.  Meanwhile, sugar beet growers don’t understand why some consumers object to how they farm. “We're using less herbicide and a lot less diesel fuel,” said farmer Bill Hejl in Amenia, North Dakota. “That means profit for my farm, but it also cuts down my carbon footprint.”  Nearly a decade ago, Hejl started using seeds engineered to resist the herbicide Roundup. He’ll never forget a conversation he had back then. It was around harvest time, and he was chatting with a fellow farmer in the Red River Valley where they live. It's a hot spot for sugar beet production.

Vermont Attorney General Will Not Enforce GE Food Labeling Law | Posted on August 8, 2016

The Vermont Attorney General will no longer be enforcing Act 120, Vermont’s first-in-the-nation law requiring the labeling of food produced with genetic engineering. “We successfully defended our law for two years, and as a result many companies are now disclosing that their products are produced with genetic engineering,” said Attorney General William H. Sorrell. “We hope they will continue to do so going forward, not because our law requires it, but because it is the right thing to do,” he continued.

Jeffrey Smith: “Our ultimate goal, to eliminate GMOs”

Biotech-now | Posted on August 8, 2016

A post on the Food Science Institute blog details how anti-GMO activist Jeffrey Smith admits that his goal was never to give consumers more information about GMOs through a mandatory labeling program. Smith says "although this is clearly a defeat in our campaign to get mandatory labeling in the United States, we are still winning the bigger, more important effort to eliminate gmos from the market all together."


Exclusive: Tyson Foods runs high-revenue, low-cost business

Watt Ag Net | Posted on August 5, 2016

Tyson Foods is being transformed into a multi-protein consumer brands company that is defying earnings growth expectations. It’s on its way to eliminating perhaps a billion dollars in costs in three years and giving earning per share guidance of $4.20 to $4.30 in 2017. The catalyst for Tyson’s transformation from a commodity products company to consumer brands protein powerhouse is, of course, its acquisition of Hillshire Brands in 2014. In the world of mergers and acquisitions, investors and analysts are notoriously skeptical of the pre-acquisition rationale until the newly formed company puts up the numbers. Tyson is doing just that – with projected compound annual growth rate in earnings per share greater than 21 percent from fiscal year 2012 to 2016.

All 'milk' products not the same

Feedstuffs | Posted on August 3, 2016

While plant-based “milk” products, such as beverages made from almonds and soybeans, have some nutritional promise, they have a difficult time replacing milk from a cow, J.M. Madigan of North Carolina State University-Raleigh reported. To examine whether plant-based beverages hold the same nutritional aspects as cow’s milk and are overall better for the consumer, Madigan studied multiple research papers on cow-based milk and plant-based "milk" products and analyzed the potential benefits and limitations of each. One key point of analysis was that soy milk was shown to reduce cholesterol in one study but showed no effect in another study, even with increased isoflavones in the samples taken. This is an area that requires further study. Almond milk seemed to cause hyperoxaluria and genitourinary disorders in children due to its richness in oxalate, although she said it was found to be a good option for lactose-intolerant individuals.