The egg supply has completely recovered from the impact it suffered due to the avian influenza (AI) outbreak in 2015, surprising industry analysts. Initial forecasts had predicted an 18-month timeline for flocks and supply to return to pre-AI levels, yet producers have achieved this goal in one year’s time. Prices for both shell eggs and egg ingredients reflect this abundant supply. In fact according to industry analyst, Rick Brown, senior vice president, Urner Barry, whole egg prices are at a 10-year low.
Organic and non-GMO sales in the U.S. amount to chicken feed, but that chicken feed is increasingly imported because U.S. farmers aren't in a position to fill demand for certified organic or even non-GMO feed. The gap between supply and demand in organic and non-GMO feed markets offers an opportunity for farmers, but price takers aren't jumping to join the marketing wave. Premiums are also there for non-GMO crops, but they are significantly lower than organic and harder to predict. Regional factors play more into that. USDA reports non-GMO feed was pulling a premium of 12% to 14% above the average market price last year compared to genetically engineered feed commodities. Imports of organic corn have gone from 3.1 million bushels in 2014 to a projected 17.9 million bushels this year. Those imports could top 20 million bushels in 2017. Much of that organic corn is coming from Turkey, Romania and Argentina. For soybeans, the organic imports are even higher, hitting 40 million bushels this year. Imports made up 40% of the market in 2015 for U.S. organic corn feed and will likely top 50% this year. For soybeans, imports accounted for 78% of the U.S. organic feed market. Between the two, the U.S. is importing roughly $353 million in organic corn and soybean feed -- in a country that plants more than 188 million acres of mostly biotech corn and soybeans.
Chicagoans and other residents of Cook County will see soft-drink prices rise after a new tax on sugary beverages was narrowly approved by county officials on Thursday, aimed at both addressing health issues linked to sugar consumption and trimming a budget shortfall. Cook County, with about 5.2 million residents, is the most populous municipality so far to implement a tax on sugary drinks. Voters in San Francisco and two other northern California cities, Oakland and Albany, approved similar measures on Tuesday. The Cook County tax will be a penny per ounce.
The latest in a crop of apps designed to address the issue of food waste connects restaurants that have excess & leftover food with people looking to save money on prepared foods. It comes from Food for All, which is currently operating as a pilot project with 30-some restaurants in Cambridge, MA, and which is looking to scale up its venture to both Boston and New York City next year. The platform is taking aim at the estimated 43 billion pounds of food that is thrown out each year by restaurants, fast food joints, cafeterias, and caterers, and in addition to reducing food waste, the Food for All app is designed to give consumers a sweetheart of a deal (50-80% off of retail prices) on prepared foods. The app allows users to search for food deals close to their desired location, place their order for the leftovers (foods that did not/will not sell by the end of the day), and then go pick up the food at the designated time (before close of business, obviously, but time frames are determined by the businesses themselves).
Expiration dates on food products are proof food doesn't last. In several days, or even hours, bread goes moldy, apple slices turn brown, and bacteria begins to multiply in mayonnaise. Yet, these foods are still found on the shelves at grocery stores thanks to preservatives, but what exactly are they, and are they good or bad for our health? Preservatives work by preventing both types of deterioration. Artificial preservatives like butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), nitrates, and benzoic acid, are all used by food manufacturers to slow maturation or spoilage. BHA is used in everything from bread to medications, but it can also be toxic, especially when ingested in large amounts. Nitrates, a naturally occurring chemical in leafy vegetables, creates carcinogenic properties when added to red meats. Lastly, the widely used preservative benzoic acid is considered a suspect additive because of its potential to create benzene when paired with ascorbic acid (vitamin C), which has been linked to hyperactive behavior.
Irrespective of whether you voted for or against Donald Trump, last night’s election results will lead to a significant changing of the guard in how food is regulated by FDA and USDA. In his Contract with America, soon-to-be-President Trump promised that for “every new regulation, two existing regulations must be eliminated.” Below is a list of Obama Administration initiatives which, at a minimum, are worthy of reconsideration. Food Safety Modernization Act regulations and implementation schedule – specifically, the preventive controls audit requirements and the application of preventive controls to animal food. Nutrition Facts labeling requirements, particularly the onerous and scientifically unjustified “added sugars” provision. Dietary Guidelines development process must become more scientific and less political. Vending machine rules – the overly prescriptive pending rules negatively impact vending machine operators, and confectionery and snack manufacturers large and small. Menu labeling should be revised. The rule is highly prescriptive and more time is needed for compliance. Sodium reduction initiative – with science evolving, the brakes should be put on this program. The U.S. government operates best when there is periodic reexamination of rules and policies. Let the debate begin.
With the right investments in research and infrastructure, farming could become more profitable in Alaska and less of an alien concept, says Milan Shipka, the director of the Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Root crops and tubers do well in Alaska, but grasses and grains, leafy greens and flowers can also succeed. There are more than 750 farms in Alaska, including some that produce more than $500,000 annually. But, like elsewhere in the U.S., the average age of a farmer in Alaska is tipping toward 60. “If we’re going to talk about all the things that we can grow in the Arctic, then we have to talk about who is going to grow these things. We have to create enterprises that can support them economically,” says Shipka.
In October, consumers began reporting cases of gastrointestinal distress, including symptoms like nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting, after eating Soylent Bars and a specific version of the company's powder. Soylent recalled the bars, stopped selling the latest powder mix, and investigated. After looking into the formula issues, the company believes that all those who experienced GI distress ate a product containing algal flour, Rob Rhinehart, the co-founder of Soylent, told Bloomberg Technology. Soylent uses AlgaVia, a whole algae powder manufactured by a company called TerraVia. You can find the ingredient on Soylent's nutrition facts label as "whole algal flour." TerraVia describes the Protein-Rich Whole Algae powder's composition as 63% protein, 19% carbohydrates, 11% lipid, 4% ash, and 3% moisture. It is currently unclear why the flour made customers sick, while people who ate products with algal oil did not become ill. The algal flour product received an initial "no questions" letter from the U.S. Food and Drug
The Grocery Manufacturers Association says it will “vigorously pursue its legal options” to overturn $18 million in fines levied by a Washington state court judge for campaign violations associated with the group's opposition to a GMO labeling referendum in 2013.
Massachusetts voters handily approved Question 3, a measure that would outlaw the use of cages in egg production and gestation crates in pig production. About 78 percent of the voters approved of the measure. The law is to take effect in 2022. The measure will not have a large impact on Massachusetts agriculture, as only one commercial egg producer uses cages. There are no pig producers in the state that use gestation crates. The larger impact of the rule for state residents would be that Massachusetts businesses would be prohibited from selling products from animals raised under those confinement conditions.