Sugar-Free Sweetening and Climate-Friendly Food: CPG News, Week of Oct 19-23

by Veronica Drake

3 Minutes



New Product Launches & Partnerships

Abe’s, a vegan brand known for their mini-muffins, is launching a line of layered cakes at select Whole Foods, Hyvee Inc., and Ralphs Fresh Fare Stores locations. 

Banza is bringing chickpeas to pizza, introducing a line of frozen pizzas with a chickpea crust as well as plain chickpea crusts for consumers to make their own pizzas with, which are now available nationwide. 

After a year of preparation and testing, Bimbo Bakeries USA is launching their The Rustik Oven line which includes three varieties that are made without artificial colors or flavors and are GMO-free.

Good Health, owned by Utz Brands Inc., is rolling out their latest better-for-you reimagination of a classic snack food with their baked cheese puffs and baked cheese fries. Senior vice president for marketing at Utz, Bill Blubaugh, said the brand is hoping to gain credibility with millennial mothers, a target group for the new line. 

Halo Top is introducing an oat-milk ice cream line in Australia, making it a dairy-free, plant-based, low-calorie ice cream that will come in four flavors.

Brew Dr. Kombucha and Imperfect Foods have teamed up to create a limited edition blood orange ginger flavor that will be available to Imperfect Foods customers until supplies run out. Both companies share a commitment to reducing food waste and have been longtime partners, with another project coming up to create new recipes for consumers to keep product selection fresh as the seasons change.

Synder’s of Hanover will offer milk chocolate-covered pretzel balls for a limited time in the US, entering Kroger and Target later this month.


Investments & Acquisitions

Private equity firm Kainos Capital is acquiring Nutrisystem from Tivity Health. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter with a transaction price of $575 million.

BrightFarms announced $100 million new investment funds which will be used to expand their greenhouse farms and grow retail partnerships.

Coffee Holding Co., Inc. has entered agreements to become 49% owner of CBD beverage company The Jordre Well, helping them develop CBD-infused products to add to their existing lines, as well as launch new CBD-focused brands. 


Earth Fare Finds Its Place

Health and wellness supermarket chain Earth Fare, which closed all of its locations this year and filed for bankruptcy, has begun reopening stores in several states after a change in ownership and a renewed partnership with its original founder, Roger Derrough.

According to industry consultant Tim Sperr, the new strategy includes a focus on appealing to local consumers, rather than mimicking traditional grocery retailers. “They need to be grounded in their communities and endeavor to offer service and products that meet customer’s needs and support a regional supply chain,” he said, encouraging the support of local farmers and a commitment to authenticity. 


Labeling Alternative Sweeteners Isn't So Sweet

With many manufacturers ditching traditional sugar for other alternative sweeteners to add to their products, the FDA is still figuring out labeling conventions for these substitutes. Under current regulations phrases like “all natural” and “no sugar added” can be used on packaging for products that don’t contain sugar but do contain other added sweeteners, a discrepancy that many find to be an issue for consumers who don’t know the difference in terminology.

Currently the FDA is looking exclusively into sweeteners that are metabolized differently than sugar, although many believe it will lead to a larger conversation about the nuances of sugar and sweetener labeling in general. In a survey conducted by the Sugar Association, 66% of participants said knowing how their food is sweetened is important, while 40% said they considered it very important to know if there are sugar substitutes or artificial sweeteners in their food. 


On Trend for 2021

Whole Foods Market has identified 10 food trends for 2021, noting the incredible transformation the food and beverage industry has had this year as people become passionate about cooking at home and choosing healthy, sustainable ingredients. Products geared towards health and wellness are expected to see a surge in popularity, as well as breakfast foods and meat alternatives among others. “There have been radical shifts in consumer habits in 2020,” said Sonia Gafsi Oblisk, CMO of Whole Foods. “Food trends are a sign of the times, and our 2021 trends are no exception.”


Making Food Climate-Friendly

Panera has become the nation’s first restaurant chain to attach a “climate friendly” label to certain menu items, signifying that the item has a footprint of less than 5.38kg of CO2 equivalent. 55% of menu items earn the title, which is designed to encourage informed choices and demonstrate the connection between food and environmental impacts. “While many consumers are more aware of solutions such as driving less and recycling, the impact of your plate is real and just as important,” says Sara Burnett, VP of food values, sustainability, and public affairs for Panera. The chain reported that 25% of greenhouse gas emissions come from food, and 63% of consumers view climate change as having worrying effects on their own communities. 


Good Reads

B Corp Cabot Creamery Leans on Interdependence to Safely Address COVID-19 by Christopher Marquis, B The Change

Study: 90% of retail and CPG companies modifying supply chain networks, Modern Materials Handling

From privately held to publicly traded, should small companies take the plungeby Christopher Doering, Food Dive

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