August 25, 2020
Industry News
Corporate borrowing increases along with manufacturing sales. Food manufacturing companies, such as General Mills and Smuckers, are seeing increased sales during the pandemic, but some are issuing record levels of debt. Additionally, TreeHouse Foods will issue $400 million in senior unsecured notes that mature in 2028 as part of an underwritten offering. Food Institute Focus
Lightlife Foods unveiled a "Clean Break" campaign to highlight a new formulation of its vegan plant-based burger, which features only 11 ingredients. As part of the campaign, Lightlife president Dan Curtin urged competitors Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods to eliminate hyper-processed ingredients, GMOs, additives, filler, and more, but a Forbes analysis found the products are more similar than different. Full Story

KB US Holdings Inc., the owner of Kings and Balducci’s supermarkets, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to smooth a sale to investment firm TLI Bedrock LLC. While sales were up during the pandemic, the chains struggled for a few years against competitors. TLI Bedrock will buy the chains for $75 million, enabling the debt-ridden stores to stay open, reported The Wall Street Journal. Full Story (WSJ Subscription Required)
Landec Corp. will sell its Hanover manufacturing facility and related assets for $8.7 million and will consolidate its Hanover operations into facilities in Guadalupe, CA, and Bowling Green, OH. The move is part of Project SWIFT, an effort to focus on maximizing strategic assets, optimizing the company’s operational network, and right sizing the organization. Full Story

Food trucks make suburban shift during pandemic after no longer able to depend on busy city centers. They are adjusting their business models and focusing on adding dinner, kid-friendly options, and preparing for larger orders. However, some regions aren’t embracing the food truck trend as Maryland’s highest court ruled against food trucks, upholding a previous ruling to keep Baltimore’s “300-foot rule.” Food Institute Focus

Musician Selena Gomez revealed ownership in Serendipity Brands and Serendipity3 Restaurants. Serendipity Brands is preparing to launch Cookies & Cream Remix ice cream. Full Story

Snack company Kind plans to switch to “bee-friendly” almond suppliers to encourage growth of the insect population. It will require its suppliers to not use the bee killing pesticides neonicotinoids or chlorpyrifos. Suppliers must also reserve 3%-5% of their farmland for flowering plants that provide a habitat where bees can flourish, reported Fast Company. Full Story

Seventy-eight percent of establishments serving alcohol to go recalled laid-off workers, exceeding the 62% of operators overall who have rehired staff, a National Restaurant Association survey found. At least 33 states and Washington DC have temporarily approved alcohol to go, and business owners say the move is proving beneficial by allowing them to hire, pay rent, and reconnect with customers. Further, there’s overwhelming public support with 75% to 80% of people in favor of making cocktail-to-go legislation permanent, reported Richmond Times-Dispatch. Full Story
General Mills will put $37 million into an upgrade for its Cedar Rapids, IA, production facility. The company will use the money to modernize an existing production line to increase production capacity and create 50 jobs. The project is funded in part by an Iowa Economic Development Authority expansion incentive, reported Area Development. Full Story

Giant Food Stores launched a new branding initiative with the tagline “For Today’s Table.” In addition to new logos introduced earlier this year, the modernization plan includes new store decor, new vehicle livery and team member clothing, and meal kit and meal planning resources. Full Story

New Product News: Savencia Cheese USA launched Full Story ... Wawa is testing dinner items in six states and Washington DC. Full Story ... Morton and McCormick partnered to launch Himalayan pink salt and ground black pepper shakers. Full Story ... Sol Cuisine launched frozen spinach chickpea bites at Costco in western Canada. Full Story

Store News: Chicken Salad Chick will open in Owensboro, KY. Full Story ... Aldi opened a new location on Long Island, NY. Full Story

Executives on the Move: Fresh Hospitality named Rachel Layton managing partner of the I Love Juice Bar brand. Full Story
International News
KFC is pushing pause on its “Finger Lickin Good” slogan amid the coronavirus. The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority received 163 complaints about an TV ad that featured people licking their fingers. KFC removed the ad and has released a YouTube video showing the slogan pixelated on posters and its food buckets but said the phrase would return when the time is right, reported BBC. Full Story

Alibaba Group's Ant Group filed an IPO with dual listing in Hong Kong and Shanghai. The financial technology arm of the Chinese e-commerce giant operates Alipay, reported Yakima Herald-RepublicFull Story

Chinese bottled water company Nongfu Spring Co. is beginning a major IPO with a plan to raise $1.1 billion starting on the Hong Kong stock exchange on Sept. 8. Five investors are onboard for the initial round, reported Bloomberg. Full Story

Two major Brazilian mall operators signed a deal with Google to allow brick-and-mortar food stores to sell online directly through the search engine. Brazil’s largest mall conglomerate, BR Malls Participacoes SA, and Multiplan Empreedimentos Imobiliarios SA extended a hand in the form of Delivery Center, their partially owned e-commerce site that can link up with Google, reported Reuters. Full Story

The UK government is considering a law that would prohibit businesses from using supply chain partners that contribute to deforestation. Businesses could be fined if they fail to provide information to show where key commodities, such as palm oil, come from and that they are produced with local laws protecting forests. The proposed law is currently under a six-week consultation period, reported The Guardian. Full Story

In England and Wales, over 61 million chickens were rejected due to disease and defects between 2016 and 2019, data from the Food Standards Agency show. Broilers were the worst affected with about 35,000 per day rejected at the slaughterhouse due to disease. Additionally, in Scotland, there were 1.7 million diseases and 2.5 million full condemnations between 2016 and 2018, reported The Guardian. Full Story

The Australian government blocked the sale of Kirin Holding Co.'s Australian beverage unit to China Mengniu Dairy Co. The sale of the Japanese company's Australian subsidiary, Lion Dairy and Drinks, would be "contrary to the national interest," according to Australia's Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, reported Yakima Herald-RepublicFull Story

An operator of six Chinese Burger King outlets was fined more than $400,000 for using expired ingredients, according to a report publicized by state TV. The effort is part of a large push for improved food safety in the country following scandals over tainted, fake, or shoddy milk, drug, and other products, reported CBS NewsFull Story

Maple Leaf workers in Brandon, Canada, are calling for a two-week shutdown of the facility where over 70 people contracted coronavirus. The employees want the site to be deep cleaned, all employees to be tested, and job and wage security during that process. Maple Leaf said public health officials have repeatedly concluded the cases are coming from interactions in the community, not from the workplace, and authorities added that the plant has gone beyond what is required, reported CBC. Full Story
Health News
Pregnant women and those trying to get pregnant should avoid caffeine because evidence suggests consumption is associated with negative pregnancy outcomes, such as miscarriages and childhood obesity, according to an analysis of observational studies published in BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine. Health authorities, including the NHS, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the European Food Safety Authority deem it safe to have 200 mg of caffeine but a psychologist at Iceland’s Reykjavik University said such advice was “not consistent with the level of threat,” noting that in 32 out of 37 observational studies caffeine significantly increased negative results, reported Independent. Full Story
Washington News
Class action lawyers are fighting to keep a case against Frito-Lay alive despite allegations their case lacks key evidence. The Desai Law Firm alleged the company's cheddar and sour-cream flavored Ruffles chips should have an "artificially flavored" claim, reported Legal NewslineFull Story
Instacart reached a settlement with San Francisco to pay nearly $728,000 for not providing healthcare contributions and paid sick leave benefits, which the city requires for employers. Instacart settled although its shoppers are considered independent contractors and it didn’t admit guilt. Of the settlement, $3,772 will cover the city’s investigation costs and the remainder is supposed to be distributed to 985 gig workers based on the number of hours they worked, reported San Francisco Chronicle. Full Story

U.S. and Chinese trade envoys connected via a phone meeting Aug. 24, with both parties discussing strengthened coordination in economic policies. Specifically, the sides discussed the coordination of macroeconomic policies in relation to the implementation of the Phase 1 agreement, reported Yakima Herald-RepublicFull Story
USDA amended SNAP regulations to ensure retail food stores can no longer use the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) process to delay administrative actions to sanction a retail food store for SNAP violations. Under this rule, The Food and Nutrition Service will process FOIA requests and FOIA appeals separately from the administrative action for all SNAP violations, as originally proposed. The processing of FOIA requests and appeals during the administrative and judicial review process will have no impact on when the agency can take administrative action. Full Notice
Frito-Lay issued a voluntary recall of Lay's Barbecue Flavored Potato Chips due to undeclared milk. The product was sold in packages ranging between 1-oz. and 15.5-oz., with some included in Frito-Lay variety packs. The products were distributed across five states via foodservice, retail, vending, e-commerce, mail distribution, and other channels. Full Story
Market News
The Army Corps of Engineers said a gold and copper mine in Alaska could threaten the state's largest sockeye salmon fishery. The Corps will give Pebble Limited Partnership 90 days to develop a mitigation plan for thousands of acres and nearly 200 miles of streams to address "unavoidable adverse impacts" present in the current plan, reported Yakima Herald-RepublicFull Story

USDA urged agricultural producers, farmers, ranchers, and surrounding communities to prepare for Tropical Storms Marco and Laura. The agency detailed steps to protect crops and livestock and reminded producers of programs available in the aftermath of powerful storms. Full Story
The derecho affected U.S. corn quality, with 49% of the crop rated good, 15% excellent and 24% fair, according to USDA. Four percent of the nation's corn crop was recorded as very poor, with 8% poor. Full Report
U.S. poultry certified wholesome during July totaled 4.3 billion-lbs., down 3% from the amount certified in 2019, according to USDA. The June 2020 revised certified total was also 4.3 billion-lbs., up 7% from June 2019. Full Report
California strawberry growers shipped 127.7 million flats through Aug. 23, a 4.5% increase from the year-ago period, according to the California Strawberry Commission. The highest recorded daily production during the one-week period was Aug. 17 with a total of 1 million flats. Full Story
USDA recognized Romania as being free of highly pathogenic avian influenza and Newcastle disease. The agency noted the determination was based on a risk evaluation previously made available for public comment. Full Notice
Sales Leads
USDA purchased $7 million worth of canned dried beans.
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