Posts tagged with "Food Business News"

Tony’s Chocolonely seals deal with Howard Schultz

April 17, 2024

Tony’s Chocolonely, a Netherlands-based chocolate company focused on ethically producing chocolate and ending exploitation in cocoa, has added Howard Schultz, former CEO and founder of Starbucks, to its list of shareholders, reports Food Business News.

In 2023, the company raised capital in a funding round from existing majority shareholder, Verlinvest, and from JamJar Investments. Tony’s will use the investments to bolster its production capabilities in its U.S. facility in Chicago.

Tony’s also has entered into a Mission Lock legal structure, which ensures its ambitions to end exploitation in the cocoa industry are locked in for the long term, according to the company. This initiative will be led by an independent set of Tony’s Mission Guardians, spearheaded by U.S. impact entrepreneur Seth Goldman.

The chocolate company—which launched in 2005 and later entered the United States in 2015—has experienced retail growth through a national partnership with Walmart, in addition to existing distribution through Whole Foods Market, Target, Safeway, and CVS.

“We are incredibly proud of the strides we’ve made in the US market,” said Douglas Lamont, CEO of Tony’s Chocolonely. “Our expanded retail presence, coupled with strategic investments in production and our exciting new investment partnerships, are all part of our larger ambition to end exploitation in the cocoa industry.

“We are proud to welcome Howard Schultz as an investor in the company, and we are looking forward to drawing on his extensive experience of building a global consumer brand and company. Tony’s rapid revenue growth, rising popularity with U.S. consumers, and increased investor interest demonstrates that building a company that balances shareholder returns with its impact on people and planet is not only right thing to do, but the smart thing to do for companies today.”

Research contact: @FoodBizNews

Kraft Heinz, NotCo develop hot dog alternative

March 11, 2024

Kraft Heinz brand Oscar Mayer has launched NotHotDogs and NotSausages, marking the brand’s first plant-based product, reports Food Business News.

The offering was created through The Kraft Heinz Not Co. joint venture with TheNotCompany in response to a lack of hot dog and dinner sausage alternatives—and commonly cited taste and texture issues within the plant-based category, according to the company.

Both products are debuting in Bratwurst and Italian varieties at the Natural Products Expo West this month, with plans for a national retail launch later in 2024.

“Our goal is to create mouthwatering, plant-based foods that are delicious and accessible for everyone — from the devoted vegan to the plant-based curious,” said Lucho Lopez-May, chief executive officer of The Kraft Heinz Not Co.

“We know people are hungry for plant-based meat options from brands they know and trust. In launching the joint venture’s first product in the plant-based meat category, we saw an opportunity to satisfy these consumer cravings, leveraging NotCo’s revolutionary AI technology and the power, equity and legacy of the Oscar Mayer brand.”

NotHotDogs and NotSausages join The Kraft Heinz Not Co.’s existing portfolio of plant-based macaroni and cheese, mayonnaise, and cheese slices.

Research contact: @FoodBizNews

Panera to refresh menu

March 6, 2024

Panera Bread has unveiled a significant overhaul to its current menu to begin on April 4. The transformation will be the largest in the company’s history—and includes a new mac and cheese, in addition to new sandwiches, soups, salads featuring hearty grains and updates on current items, reports Food Business News.

The new Bacon Mac and Cheese features the tender shells and white cheddar sauce from the original recipe with the addition of applewood smoked bacon. Other new items include a Chicken Bacon Rancher sandwich, a Toasted Italiano on a fresh Panera French baguette, and a variety of salads featuring grains.

“We are getting back to Panera at its best with these menu updates that are centered completely on our guests and what they love about us,” said Alicia Mowder, SVP of Product Strategy and Insights for Panera Bread. “We’ve listened to thousands of guests on our path to unveiling more than 20 new or enhanced menu items and are thrilled to bring these products to Panera bakery-cafes nationwide.”

The menu refresh also will offer customers enhanced portions and lower prices in specific categories, according to the company.

Research contact: @FoodBizNews

A Friendly Bread innovates grilled cheese for gourmet convenience

December 20, 2023

Before Kraft Heinz introduced its Lunchables Grilled Cheesies frozen sandwich in September 2023, the Baltimore-based startup, A Friendly Bread, offered an adult version of the concept that uses sourdough bread in March 2022. Lane Levine, founder of A Friendly Bread, wanted to offer consumers a convenient frozen product that would be perceived as a premium item, reports Food Business News.

“I originally began [this] as a fresh bread business in 2018 and started selling at farmers markets and doing bread delivery,” Levine said. “When we would be at farmers markets, customers would come up to me and show me photos of what they were doing with my sourdough product—turning them into gourmet foods.”

The ideas inspired Levine to begin experimenting with his bread and turn it into his grilled cheese sandwiches. Grilled cheese night dinners at a local apartment complex is where he developed flavors and learned how well the sourdough bread transformed into a grilled cheese sandwich.

“We brought premade ones (grilled cheese sandwiches) so it would be easier to heat them up at the event,” Mr. Levine said. “I also had them sitting at home in the fridge and friends would start heating them up and that’s the first time it hit me to make a packaged product that was scalable because you could preserve it through freezing or refrigeration and you could get a lot more value out of an individual loaf of bread.”

Since launching the frozen grilled cheese sandwiches in March 2022, Levine’s target audience has grown from work-from-home millennials to grandmothers enjoying the sandwiches with their grandchildren.

“Our initial target audience out the gate was the millennial who is busy all day in meetings, and they can take ten minutes to throw the sandwich in the toaster oven, sit back, work and it’s done,” he said. “But we also found that an even more devoted demographic is older women—specifically, [those] who are only cooking for one and don’t want to make a whole thing about it, but also want something comforting but high quality. It’s also the older ladies within the categories of grandmas getting them for their grandkids and sharing them.”

Levine said specialty retail has been the company’s sweet spot and the product has gained entry in Fresh Market, Giant Food, and The Giant Co., both owned by Ahold-Delhaize.

“We’re more concerned with growing recognition on a regional basis in the mid-Atlantic and the East Coast more broadly,” he said. “If we do launch with more conventional stores, as long as we’re able to do demos and build awareness, we’re willing to give it a try in our region.”

Levine also is giving direct-to-consumer a go, but said the business currently is mostly retail focused. “Online really isn’t our focus; it’s really hard to ship,” he said. “We started to see a few orders come (in for a) full case of grilled cheese (sandwiches), but logistically it’s just not our wheelhouse.”

The company also has identified demand on college campuses, convenience stores, and quick foodservice. “College campuses are perfect because, like Starbucks, you get the grilled cheese and they’ll heat it up for you in their TurboChef,” Levine said.

“So, at these college campus coffee shops they’re able to do the same thing with ours:  Throw it into a TurboChef; it takes 90 seconds and it’s done.”

Levine said they also are doing research to see if the product can be stored in refrigerated sections of stores and outlets. “We’re currently doing shelf-life testing with a lab right now; because, within the quick-service setting, it makes it that much more convenient to grab it out of the fridge, slap it in the oven, and it only takes 45 seconds instead of 90,” he said.

The company currently is self-manufacturing its products.

Research contact: FoodBizNews

Frazy debuts customizable, at-home boba tea

August 28, 2023

Custom beverage startup Frazy has developed a line of shelf-stable boba tea.

The direct-to-door product builds off the company’s Frazy Bottles coffee format—and comes with a 2.5-oz aluminum bottle of tea concentrate, a vacuum-sealed packet of boba tapioca pearls, and milk powder. After softening the tapioca pearls in the microwave for three seconds, the ingredients combine with hot or cold water to create an 8-oz beverage, reports Food Business News.

Consumers can personalize their drinks on Frazy’s website by selecting their preferred tea variety, sweetness level and type of milk—such as whole, oat, soy, and non-fat milk or non-dairy creamer.

Flavors at launch include brown sugar milk tea, milk black tea, almond black milk tea, peach black tea, mango black tea and honey milk black tea.

“Our new boba teas mark the next step in the evolution of Frazy Bottles,” says Balaji Krishnan, founder and chief executive officer of Frazy. “Our wide variety of options enables people to try different customized boba teas they wouldn’t have a chance to order otherwise, and also allows consumers who live in markets that don’t have boba to enjoy their favorite boba tea at home, work, or on the go.”

The boba is now available, in packs of 6 or 12, exclusively through the company’s website. Frazy’s latest product line looks to capitalize on the  growing boba tea market among Gen Z consumers, which is estimated to reach $4.4 billion in revenue by 2027, according to Allied Market Research.

The company also has added 12 new flavors of its Frazy Bottles coffee concentrate, including red velvet latte, tiramisu latte, hazelnut mocha; and holiday varieties like pumpkin pie spice latte and gingerbread latte.

Research contact: @FoodBizNews

Chipotle debuts new restaurant concept

February 17, 2023

Chipotle Mexican Grill is opening a new restaurant concept in Santa Monica, California, called Farmesa—a West Coast-inspired eatery serving customizable bowls featuring a protein, a green or a grain, two sides, a choice of five sauces, and a topping option, reports Food Business News.

Dishes include Santa Maria-style grilled tri-tip steak, everything spice-crusted ora king salmon, whipped potatoes, golden beets, sprouted cauliflower and sweet potato chips. Beverage offerings include organic drinks from Tractor Beverage, along with still and sparkling water.

The restaurant will open with an abbreviated menu and limited hours initially.

“One of our strategic objectives is to create or invest in emerging culinary spaces and restaurant concepts that fit within Chipotle’s food with integrity mission and make fresh food daily,” said Brian Niccol, chairman and chief executive officer.

He adds, “Our New Ventures team, which was created in 2022, developed a unique restaurant concept that uses classic culinary techniques with flavorful ingredients in a fast-casual setting that we’re excited to test and learn on before we determine a broader rollout strategy.”

Farmesa is located in the Kitchen United Mix food hall and will offer pickup and delivery through marketplace apps, including DoorDash and Uber Eats.

“Launching Farmesa in the Kitchen United Mix food hall in Santa Monica and partnering with third-party partners for pickup or delivery will allow us to reach a large number of consumers, learn quickly, and evolve our concept and menu so that we can deliver on our goals before expanding,” said Nate Lawton, vice president of New Ventures at Chipotle.

“We believe there’s an opportunity to serve premium, craveable food every day and we’re eager to bring this new concept to life.”

Research contact: @FoodBizNews

Functional food startup launches single-serve pouches of Ayurvedic honey

November 18, 2022

Functional food startup You Again of Hermosa Beach, California, is introducing a range of raw wildflower honey blended with herbs and botanicals to support digestive health and immunity, reports Food Business News.

Packaged in single-serve pouches, Your Daily Honey expands the brand’s mission to incorporate ancient nutrition into modern lifestyles, said founder Priya Mulvihill.

Inspired by Ayurvedic principles, the lineup includes wild spiced, featuring ginger, amla and papaya; chocolate, with raw cacao, passion flower and ashwagandha; and turmeric, with goji berry and maca. The company partners with family farms in Southern California to source honey that is ethically produced, glyphosate-free and non-GMO.

“As a kid, when I was visiting India, my grandma would put turmeric and ginger and anything else I needed on honey if I got there and had a cold or stomachache,” Mulvihill recalls.

Following years of struggles with disordered eating and fad diets, Mulvihill—a certified public accountant who earlier held finance roles at several consumer packaged goods brands—embraced functional medicine, seeking guidance from a practitioner to incorporate herbs and spices into her routine. She began adding ingredients such as maca and ashwagandha to home baking and shared batches with friends.

Last year marked the debut of You Again baking mixes, each formulated for a specific benefit. The products, which are sold in specialty grocers such as Foxtrot, Central Market and Erewhon, are organic and free from dairy, gluten, refined sugars and flours, additives and preservatives.

The launch of Your Daily Honey, a year in the making, builds on the traction of the baking mixes while paving the way for new distribution and partnerships, Mulvihill says, citing endurance events and corporate offices as examples.

“We really wanted to bring something to the market that can be consumed every single day,” Ms. Mulvihill said. “That’s something we learned with our baking mixes and why we decided to go with a single-serve over a jar.”

She points to the versatility of the product, which may be drizzled on food, stirred into tea, or consumed directly from the pouch for a pre-workout boost.

Additionally, she notes, honey is linked to various nutrition and health benefits.

“The interesting thing about honey is more than 50% of US consumers consume honey, and of that almost 70% do it because of health benefits, so that part’s already there,” she said. “Now it’s taking people to the next step.”

Research contact: @FoodBizNews

South Carolina to become home to Europastry production facility

September 19, 2022

Europastry plans to invest $23 million to establish a facility in Laurens County in South Carolina that will produce an assortment of brioche bread products, reports Food Business News.

Brioche is a bread of French origin whose high egg and butter content gives it a rich and tender crumb.

Europastry operations in South Carolina are expected to begin by the end of November. The Coordinating Council for Economic Development in South Carolina has approved a $150,000 rural infrastructure fund grant to Laurens County to assist with the costs of building improvements in the Hunter Industrial Park.

“Laurens has become a strategic location, allowing the company to expand its footprint in the United States,” Europastry said. “The new plant will start up operations soon, and more details will be provided in the following weeks.”

Europastry has other U.S. production plants in Ronkonkoma and Bayport, New York; and in New Brunswick, New Jersey. The company is based in Barcelona, Spain, and is active in 80 countries.

Research contact: @FoodBizNews

Eight food brands are selected for Whole Foods’ Local and Emerging Accelerator Program

August 5, 2022

Ten up-and-coming consumer brands have been selected to participate in Whole Foods Market’s Local and Emerging Accelerator Program—eight of them, food brands. The program provides mentorship, education, and shelf space at regional Whole Foods Market stores. Businesses also may receive financial support, reports Food Business News.

“We are delighted to welcome ten exceptional local producers to the first cohort of our Local and Emerging Accelerator Program,” said Will Betts, vice president of Local Merchandising at Whole Foods Market, a business owned by Amazon, adding, “We look forward to sharing valuable insights into marketing best practices, strategy and channel development to help expand the cohort members’ brands while preparing to introduce their products to Whole Foods Market shoppers.

“Whole Foods Market has long been committed to supporting small, local and emerging producers,” Betts said, “and the Local and Emerging Accelerator Program enhances our ability to strengthen our relationships with local brands and elevate our product selection for communities across the country.”

The program will include a 12-week curriculum, a yearlong mentorship with a Whole Foods Market regional buyer, and access to additional supplier benefits to support growth. All products must meet the company’s quality standards and product safety requirements in order to be sold in Whole Foods Market stores.

Participants may receive a $25,000 equity investment from a donor-advised fund managed by the Austin Community Foundation, with proceeds benefiting Whole Foods Market foundations.

Among the Food brands participating in the program are the following:

  • Buns Bakery, Providence, Rhode Island, a traditional Israeli-Jewish baker of babka, challah, and rugelach (North Atlantic region);
  • CHKP, Brooklyn, New York, a producer of non-dairy, chickpea-based yogurt alternatives (Northeast region);
  • Coyotas, San Diego, a Mexican-American maker of grain-free tortillas formulated with cassava flour (Southern Pacific region);
  • Good Girl Chocolate, Oklahoma City, a brand of gluten- and soy-free bean-to-bar chocolate sweetened with coconut sugar (Southwest region);
  • Numa, Fallsington, Pennsylvania, a mother-and-daughter-founded brand of taffy and peanut candies inspired by traditional Asian recipes (Mid-Atlantic region);
  • Onana Foods, Fort Collins, Colorado, a maker of grain-free tortillas made with plantains, baking powder and sea salt (Rocky Mountain region);
  • Pizzazza, Bellingham, Washington, a line of frozen pizzas topped with locally grown and produced ingredients (Pacific Northwest region); and
  • Theo’s Plant Based, Chicago, a creator of beet jerky supporting regenerative farming practices (Midwest region)

Hair care brand Tangles & Beyond, based in Hattiesburg, Misissippi; and skin care maker Vamigas of Alamo, Caliornia also are participating in the program.

Research contact: @FoodBizNews

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