Daily Harvest lawsuits: Why the meal-kit service is being sued over gallbladder removal surgeries

July 5, 2022

Following a recall late last week, meal-kit service Daily Harvest—which produces and delivers “chef-crafted sustainably sourced fruits and veggies”—is now facing two lawsuits from consumers who claim they had their gallbladders removed after consuming its French Lentil and Leek Crumbles, reports International Business Times.

The recall notice said that the affected product could cause “gastrointestinal illness and potential liver function issues.”

Daily Harvest issued an updated statement on Monday, June 28, saying that after an investigation and toxicology testing, the results came back negative and it has no known cause for the linked illnesses.

But by Wednesday, a personal injury lawsuit was filed against the company by a Portland man who said he was healthy and without significant health problems before eating the recalled crumbles, CNN reported.

The man, Luke Wesley Pearson, claims in his suit that he became violently ill, required hospitalization, and had his gallbladder removed after consuming the Daily Harvest Lentil Crumbles, CNN said.

The lawsuit also contends that Daily Harvest doesn’t warn about the dangers of its products and “issued vaguely worded and insufficient warnings to its customers and influencers,” according to the news outlet.

In a second lawsuit, Carol Ann Ready claims she was hospitalized and had her gallbladder removed after eating the crumbles. In her complaint, Ready said she was sent to the emergency room twice after consuming the product two times. She was eventually diagnosed with liver and gallbladder dysfunction, CNN said. .

As of last week, Daily Harvest had received 470 reports of illnesses or adverse reactions related to the Lentil Crumbles.

In response to the outbreak, Daily Harvest founder and CEO Rachel Drori said in a statement, “I’m reaching out today to update you on everything that we are doing to get to the root cause of the issues that have been reported with our French Lentil + Leek Crumbles. We are working 24 hours a day, seven days a week on this. You deserve answers.

“I recognize this is so frustrating. I am incredibly frustrated,” she added.

Research contact: @IBTimes

Krispy Kreme to launch delivery-only ‘dark shops’

July 1, 2022

In an earnings call earlier this year, Krispy Kreme executives discussed the expansion of “dark shops”—or low-cost delivery points for donuts and sweet treats. Following the company’s “hub-and-spoke” model—in which large, regional bakeries stock products in smaller retail distribution outlets—the dark shops will act as delivery points for the baked foods, requiring lower operating costs than a traditional retail location and accessible only to e-commerce delivery drivers, reports Food Business News.

The concept was piloted successfully last year in the United Kingdom, with more than 50 delivery-only dark shops expanding consumer access to fresh donuts. Krispy Kreme plans on bringing the concept to U.S. and Mexico markets in 2022, following customer feedback that freshness is a key factor in sweet treat purchasing decisions.  

“Our dark shops will piggyback on existing spoke routes, which ensures a fresh donut distribution daily and opens up further access to more customers,” says Michael J. Tattersfield, president and CEO of Krispy Kreme. “We believe these initiatives will generate double-digit organic revenue growth this year.”

Krispy Kreme has seen promising growth in the e-commerce sector since the 2018 acquisition of Insomnia Cookies, a late-night fresh cookie delivery business that operates out of retail storefronts. Total revenue for Insomnia Cookies in 2021 increased by more than 30% overall and nearly 20% excluding new store revenue, says Tattersfield.

With the promising success of Insomnia’s delivery-centric model, Krispy Kreme hopes to capitalize on the appeal of freshness and convenience delivered directly to customers within a 20-minute range of a dark shop.

Research contact: @FoodBizNews

Reddit invites consumers to ‘Find your people’ in its first-ever U.S. TV campaign

June 30, 2022

In an entrée into U.S. television advertising, Reddit is inviting viewers to “Find your people.” The integrated campaign, part of a broader North American push, was created out of the New York City-based agency, R/GA, and showcases the social platform’s ability to bring people with common, niche interests together, reports Advertising Age.

The TV ad, directed by Pete Marquis, depicts people sharing ideas that draw blank stares or unhelpful responses from those around them:

  • A man muses over a shower thought to his partner, who simply walks away;
  • A woman worries about her dying plant, so her roomie coldly suggests she “get a new one”; and
  • A cosplayer gets called a “role player” by his significant other.

Copy on the ad offers reprieve through Reddit threads:  “r/ShowerThoughts,” “r/PlantClinic” and “r/Cosplay.” The spot ends with the cosplayer finding community in r/Cosplay. “My people get me,” he murmurs. 

While the work is the brand’s first national U.S. TV campaign, Reddit previously made a splash on television during the Super Bowl with its “glitchy” ad out of R/GA that won audiences over despite a limited ad buy.

“Reddit is a place where you can find communities of people deeply passionate about just about anything—from stocks to socks, there is a community to get involved in and be a part of,” said Bryan Gregg, R/GA VP-executive creative director, in a statement, adding, “For this campaign we talked a lot about how sometimes the people closest to us do not always ‘get’ us, but Reddit is a place where you can truly ‘find your people’—a place to express our passions, share our insecurities, learn from each other or just connect about what we’re into.”

“As real-life moments continue to highlight our shared need for understanding and belonging, ‘Find your people’ showcases Reddit’s communities as spaces for everyone to connect and gain honest perspectives from real people with similar interests,” said Reddit CMO Roxy Young.

The campaign’s official launch follows a soft debut at the year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, where “Find your people” appeared on out-of-home ads greeting festival-goers. The campaign will run through the fall.

Research contact: @adage

Allstate, Progressive drop company over racist Juneteenth sign

June 28, 2022

People in the town of Millinocket, Maine, found their own ways to observe Juneteenth, a federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. Yet, a sign posted in the window of an insurance company has received the most attention after it not only dismissed the new holiday but also included a racist trope regarding Black people and fried chicken, reports The Washington Post.

“Juneteenth, it’s whatever … we’re closed,” the sign read outside of the Harry E. Reed Insurance Agency, according to a photo posted to social media. “Enjoy your fried chicken and collard greens.”

As the firm has faced backlash over the sign, insurance giants Allstate and Progressive announced this week they are dropping the Maine company, after days of national headlines. An Allstate spokesperson said in a statement to The Washington Post that the company had terminated its contract with the Harry E. Reed agency, which Allstate described as an “independent agent.”

“Our commitment to Inclusive Diversity and Equity is nonnegotiable and we take action when individuals violate our code of conduct,” a statement from Allstate said.

Progressive spokesperson Jeff Sibel told the Post that the company was “appalled by the sign recently posted at the Harry E. Reed Agency” and that Progressive was also terminating its relationship with the firm.

“We’re committed to creating an environment where our people feel welcomed, valued and respected and expect that anyone representing Progressive to take part in this commitment,” Sibel said in a statement. “The sign is in direct violation of that commitment and doesn’t align with our company’s Core Values and Code of Conduct.”

Melanie Higgins, who helps run the insurance firm with her mother, wrote in a Wednesday letter posted to Facebook that she had posted the sign. Higgins apologized “for any misunderstanding or hurt that has arisen out of my usual, snarky office closure signs and content” and said she had been reprimanded for her actions.

“My only explanation I can offer is I had a death in my family, and I just wanted to go home and I quickly wrote the note,” Higgins wrote, identifying herself as multiracial. “I can assure you all, truly, I would never in any facet of the word be characterized a racist. Nor would I purposely incite such acts.”

Messages left for the insurance firm were not immediately returned.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Clif Bar’s founder just sold the company for $2.9 billion. He threw in its values for free.

June 27, 2022

Since founding his energy-bar company  after a 175-mile bicycle ride, Gary Erickson has fiercely prioritized  Clif Bar’s independence for 30 years. Until this week, reports Inc.

Mondelez International will acquire Clif Bar in a deal that will amount to at least $2.9 billion, the company announced on Monday, June 20.

It’s shocking news from a business that has turned down so many acquisition offers over its lifetime that Erickson said in 2018 he hadn’t just lost track, but was purposefully unaware how many there had been. (His staff had been instructed not to pass on messages to him from potential buyers.)

Earlier in the company’s history, he threw himself, and the entire company, into massive debt to avoid an acquisition. By 1998, Clif Bar—named after Erickson’s father, Clifford—had been growing so fast it landed at No. 152 on the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in the United States.

But by 2000, his business partner Lisa Thomas decided she wanted to leave the company—and a well-timed acquisition offer would facilitate that. On the cusp of signing the $120 million deal, Erikson pulled out, plummeting himself into $60 million in debt.

After taking what he called “the gamble of the century,” Erickson led Clif Bar to become one of the country’s pioneering purpose-driven businesses, dedicated to not one bottom line, but rather five pillars of success that include sustaining people, community, the planet, the brand, and the business.

He strove to create green production facilities, pay employees well in salary and benefits—and in 2010 made them owners of the company, too, by adopting an employee stock ownership plan that pays annual dividends.

Erickson and his wife and business partner, Kit Crawford, as of a few years ago, owned 80% of Clif Bar. Despite handing over their co-CEO titles in 2013, the pair have been actively involved in every major company decision. As for the board of directors? They, alone, made up the board.

“Gary and I have always been very sure about our feelings, and our passion, and our love for the company. We wanted to be the main decision makers at all times,” Crawford told me in 2018. “I think she’s saying we are control freaks,” Erickson joked. Both declined to comment on the acquisition news this week.

Now they are giving up some of that control for good. But they may not be abandoning the “Five Aspirations” that guide it. In fact, in a release announcing the acquisition, Clif Bar’s CEO since mid-2020, Sally Grimes, said: “Our purposes and cultures are aligned and being part of a global snacking company with broad product offerings can help us accelerate our growth while staying true to our deeply ingrained Five Aspirations—sustaining our people, planet, community, business, and brands.”

Certainly, the “people” portion of it—the employees who own 20% of the company—will benefit substantially.

Crawford, Erickson, and Grimes likely made the decision not just for the upside for more than 1,200 employees, but also to continue the brand’s growth. “Business” and “community” are focuses of the acquisition too. The international snack brand Mondelez—which also owns the Oreo, Ritz, and Honey Maid brands, among many others—can use its distribution prowess to expand internationally and within the United States.

Plus, the communities where Clif Bar is made will not lose out. Mondelez said in its release on the acquisition that it would continue to operate the business from its existing headquarters in Emeryville, California, and green-manufacturing facilities in Idaho and Indiana.

Research contact: @Inc

Lowe’s expands into the Metaverse with a tool to help customers visualize home projects

June 22, 2022

It seems like every company is getting into the Metaverse—a collective virtual shared space including the sum of all virtual worlds and the Internet—these days. And Lowe’s doesn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to use it to help builders imagine projects, reports CNBC.

But unlike other retailers, which chose a particular virtual platform or game, such as Fortnite or Roblox, Lowe’s’ Metaverse assets—including free downloads of 500 product assets, including items such as chairs—are available on its own hub.

“It’s all emerging, and it’s all up for exploration,” Lowe’s EVP and Chief Brand and Marketing Officer Marisa Thalberg told CNBC in an exclusive interview. The retailer decided not to choose one Metaverse platform, but rather “a kind of an agnostic and kind of democratized approach,” she said.

While other brands have found immediate ways to make money in the Metaverse, even on an experimental basis, Thalberg said “this isn’t about immediately jumping in and trying to make an event or immediately commoditizing it.”

Rather, she told CNBC, “Our goal really is to take this new frontier and help people use their imaginations and help them make their virtual spaces as exciting and inspirational and enjoyable as their real-world spaces. And that’s the only benefit we seek to obtain at this point.”

At least that’s the only stated benefit. As the first major home improvement retailer to enter the Metaverse and make its applicable assets available for free, no doubt a key goal is watching consumer behavior to eventually capitalize on the opportunity that might exist. The assets are based on real products the company currently sells online and in its stores. 

Seemantini Godbole, Lowe’s EVP and chief information officer, told CNBC in an exclusive interview the retailer is applying many of the principles it currently uses for shoppers for this metaverse project.

“What we have noticed in our current mediums like Lowes.com and in our stores … people like to experiment and while they’re shopping and getting inspired they like to put things together in the virtual world before they start their project,” she said. “It’s the same idea for the Metaverse. That you want them to experiment, feel and understand how it’s going to look before they start the project in the real world.”

Godbole said many of these Metaverse assets had already been created as 3D digital versions of physical products available for purchase, to help online shoppers visualize the real-life dimensions and features. Lowe’s is already using virtual and augmented reality technology to allow shoppers to design an entire kitchen online or map their home’s floor plan using their smartphone as examples.

“There is just a huge appetite from our customers to use emerging technology” like the VR and AR tools Godbole said. “We are applying some of those lessons in the Metaverse.”

Right now, Lowe’s isn’t offering a physical good with the purchase of a virtual one, or any link back to its website from any Metaverse platforms, Godbole said. But that could change.

“In the future, we could absolutely think about, how do all these different things link, and make sure that [Metaverse users] are able to shop these items on Lowe’s dot com or in our stores,” she said.

Thalberg acknowledged that the typical metaverse participant “skews really young,” likely younger than the typical Lowe’s shopper or homeowner today.

“But if you look at kids who’ve used platforms like Minecraft and Roblox, a lot of what they do there, is fascinatingly enough, build and design. This idea of being able to build and decorate and design and improve is kind of core to how these spaces are emerging,” she said. “And so if we catch them young, that’s great, but we see a real utility too, as we look to a huge wave of millennial new homeowners who aren’t afraid of technology.”

Research contact: @CNBC

Dartmouth College to eliminate undergraduate student loans, replace them with scholarships

June 22, 2022

Dartmouth College has announced that it will eliminate all federal and institutional loans from its undergraduate financial aid packages and replace them with scholarship grants. The new policy will first take effect beginning with the 2022 summer term, reports Forbes magazine.

The no-loan financial aid packages—revealed by Dartmouth President Philip J. Hanlon—will benefit both current and future students, but they will not be applied retroactively to loans that Dartmouth students may have received before the start of the summer term.

Just last year, Dartmouth had eliminated loans for incoming students from families earning less than $125,000 per year, says Forbes.

But now, because of the fundraising success of the College’s “The Call to Lead Campaign,” Dartmouth is eliminating that threshold and will be offering no-loan, need-based financial aid to all eligible students.

According to the  news release from Dartmouth, the policy will reduce the college-related debt by an average of $22,000 over four years for about 450 Dartmouth students and their families.

In addition, because Dartmouth has been able to raise $120 million in scholarship gifts and pledges for its endowment in the past year, it has made other significant enhancements to its financial aid. For example, it now offers need-blind admissions to international students, thanks to a record $40 million gift from an anonymous donor; and it also has eliminated the expected parent contribution when calculating financial aid awards for students from families earning less than $65,000 per year.

Two recent gifts helped Dartmouth reach its no-loan financial aid goal. In May, Anne Kubik, a 1987 Dartmouth alum, added $10 million to an earlier commitment of support she had made. And an anonymous donor committed $25 million—endowing one of the largest scholarship funds in Dartmouth history.

But many others contributed as well. According to Dartmouth, more than 65 families gave to the campaign to eliminate the loan component of the college’s financial aid, committing more than $80 million in gifts to the endowment. That included several families who recently donated $5 million to eliminate loans in the financial aid awards for current undergraduate students going forward.

“Thanks to this extraordinary investment by our community, students can prepare for lives of impact with fewer constraints,” said President Hanlon. “Eliminating loans from financial aid packages will allow Dartmouth undergraduates to seek their purpose and passion in the broadest possible range of career possibilities.”

Dartmouth now joins several other leading, private institutions that have adopted a no-loan, need-based, financial aid policy. They include Williams College and Ivy League peers Brown University, Columbia University, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania and Yale University.

Research contact: @Forbes

Baltimore Apple Store workers approve company’s first U.S. union

June 21, 2022

Apple workers in the Baltimore area voted to join a union on Saturday, June 18—becoming the first of the tech giant’s U.S. retail stores to do so, reports The Washington Post.

The vote means workers at the Towson, Maryland, store plan to join the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) once a contract is ratified. Saturday evening’s vote count was 65 to 33—a nearly 2-to-1 margin.

Last month, the workers and IAM sent a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook, outlining their intent to organize as the Coalition of Organized Retail Employees — or AppleCore for short.

This vote is part of an organizing wave sweeping the nation—as workers increasingly band together to demand higher pay, better benefits, and more negotiating leverage with their employers during the pandemic. In New York, the first Amazon warehouse voted to form a union in the spring. Dozens of Starbucks stores across the country have unionized

Billy Jarboe, a Towson Apple employee and union organizer, told the Post that Apple’s campaign to undermine the organizing effort “definitely shook people” but that most union backers stayed strong.

“It just feels good to go into a new era of this kind of work, hopefully it creates a spark [and] the other stores can use this momentum,” Jarboe said in a text after the vote concluded on Saturday.

Three Apple employees said the union drive lost some supporters amid a corporate campaign to persuade workers not to organize.

“They got a lot of people to waver … they definitely pulled some people that we thought were originally supporters,” said Eric Brown, who works at the Towson Apple store.

Brown said they were able to overcome those tactics because organizers from an aborted campaign in Atlanta primed them on what to expect. “They let us know what some of the talking points and tactics were going to be, and we were able to let people know some of the things they may try,” he said.

Apple spokesman Josh Lipton declined to comment after the vote.

About 20 Apple workers came to the Towson Town Center on Saturday night, some of whom were in the room during the vote count.

Afterward, IAM spokesperson DeLane Adams said, the group went to the center’s parking garage, clapping and celebrating with members of the IAM who were in attendance.

“I applaud the courage displayed by CORE members at the Apple store in Towson for achieving this historic victory,” IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. said in a statement after the vote. “They made a huge sacrifice for thousands of Apple employees across the nation who had all eyes on this election.”

Workers in at least two other Apple Store locations are trying to organize, including at a store in New York; and at one in Atlanta, which became the first location where workers filed documents with the National Labor Relations Board.

But the Communications Workers of America withdrew its request for an election there last month, saying in a statement that Apple’s “repeated violations of the National Labor Relations Act have made a free and fair election impossible.”

At the time, the organizing group sent a message to workers at the store, saying it would reset and “continue this fight.”

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Walgreens to launch business that will connect customers with clinical trials

June 20, 2022

Some Walgreens customers might soon get a new kind of message from the company, asking if they’d like to participate in a clinical trial, reports The Chicago Tribune.

Deerfield, Illinois-based Walgreens announced on Thursday, June 16, that it plans to launch a clinical trials business—in which pharmaceutical companies can hire Walgreens to help them find participants for clinical trials, which are used to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of new potential types of medications and devices.

Walgreens plans to use its rosters of customers and patients to find those who may match a trial’s criteria, and then ask those people if they would like to participate, said Ramita Tandon, chief clinical trials officer at the pharmacy chain.

As part of the new business, Walgreens also may help companies carry out clinical trials by conducting visits for participants at some of its stores, during which patients may fill out surveys or have blood taken, depending on the type of trial, Tandon said. It’s possible nurses, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians or doctors could help with those visits, depending on what’s needed, she said.

Walgreens leaders believe they can help companies get more clinical trial participants, and a more diverse range of participants, because Walgreens has customers in so many different communities.

Including participants from diverse racial backgrounds has long been an issue in clinical trials. In the U.S., 75% of 32,000 participants in the trials of 53 new drugs approved in 2020 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration were White, according to FDA. Only 8% were Black, 6% were Asian, and 11% were Hispanic.

People from different backgrounds can react differently to some medications and devices, which is part of the reason it’s crucial to have trial participants from a variety of backgrounds, according to the FDA. Also, a lack of diverse participants may mean that people from certain racial and ethnic groups are not getting early access, through clinical trials, to drugs that could help them.

“The therapies that are coming out today are not very representative of the U.S. population,” Tandon said. “As we at Walgreens start to tap into our local communities, (we can) educate and empower these communities on the benefits of clinical trials. Not only are they participants in research, but this is yet another opportunity as a care option, (for) patients who may he exhausted other avenues in their care journey.”

She said Walgreens will be able to “mine the vast foundation of patients and consumers who come to our stores and pharmacies on a regular basis” to match potential participants to clinical trials.

Patient data will not be shared with pharmaceutical companies unless patients give consent to share it, and participation will be voluntary. Doctors will work with Walgreens to oversee the clinical trials, and Walgreens may be able to reach out to a patient’s primary care or specialty doctors if needed, Tandon said.

Research contact: @Walgreens