07 December 2022

Our November Roundup: Sustainability confusion, metaverse beauty and cultivated chicken

In this month's roundup, FDA approval is received for cultivated chicken, the argument for processed food, metaverse beauty and a ban on marketing high-sugar treats to under 16s.

Christina Carè

Sevendots, London

5 minute read

Welcome back to another roundup! Here is what you missed in CPG news this past month, as curated by our partners at Sevendots.

Upside Foods gets FDA greenlight for cultivated chicken

From Food Dive

The FDA has given the first regulatory approval for cultivated chicken. Upside Foods is one of the first cultivated meat businesses, founded in 2016. The FDA indicated it found nothing unsafe about cultivated chicken, and this indicates the potential of the cultivated space in the US, though there are still steps to be taken before products are sold:

For meat and poultry products, the FDA ensures products are produced in a safe manner. After the meat is harvested from the bioreactor, it enters the USDA’s jurisdiction — just like any animal meat product.

Barry Carpenter, a former president and CEO of the North American Meat Institute and an Upside Foods adviser has said:

“Demand for meat is skyrocketing, and we need every tool in our toolkit to feed the world… Cultivated meat, along with conventionally-produced meat, will play a crucial role in enabling our food system to get to this point.”

Barry Carpenter

Big food companies commit to ‘regenerative agriculture’ but skepticism remains

From NPR

His piece unpacks the power of cross-supply chain partnerships to deliver regenerative agriculture transformation. It also critiques the various pledges made by the world’s biggest emitters in the CPG industry (given the food system accounts for a third of global gas emissions), and how slowly these goals are being tackled. There are various challenges to scaling solutions. Here’s a quote:

Currently, only 15% of global farmland is cared for using regenerative practices, according to the new action plan and report from the Sustainable Markets Initiative (SMI). The group says that number needs to scale up to 40% by 2030 in order to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, as laid out in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. And that won’t be easy, especially given the current global agriculture market.

In essence, farmers will require assistance and further incentives to help transform production.

Subway plots growth through automated vending fridges

From Restaurant Dive

In an interesting initiative, Subway have created interactive, unattended smart fridges, which uses AI and natural language processing to enable guests to ask about their products before purchasing. It enables the chain to utilize non-traditional locations. This is just the latest in a series of menu revisions and other strategic measures that Subway has implemented to create growth in sales in the last 18 months.

The World Needs Processed Food

From Wired

Responding to the fact that the word ‘processed’ has garnered negative connotations, the piece argues that there is a role for food processing to ensure we can feed billions of us humans.

The piece also mentions the fact that we have required processing to bring us ‘countless benefits’ that are worth remembering, including the creation of iodized salt which has helped address iodine deficiencies globally. There is a difference between processing and ‘ultra-processed foods’, and the piece also addresses the reaction against meat alternatives which have been attacked on health grounds. To quote the piece:

Meat substitutes are our best shot at feeding the world without destroying it. The backlash to these products is counterproductive. And the blanket dismissal of such foods as “ultra-processed” isn’t helping. Most are defined as ultra-processed based on the methods used to produce them. But if we list the reasons UPFs are bad for our health, meat substitutes have almost none of those qualities. As shown above, they are generally not high in calories—most are lower than meat. They have less saturated fat, almost no added sugars, and are higher in fiber.

These products do have additives, however, and this is an area for more research. There is also room for this to become the future of low-cost, high-quality protein to alleviate poor nutrition. It’s a strong perspective that highlights the importance of adding value, and pragmatically pursuing global health.  Here is Sevendots Partner Eugenio Perrier on the subject:

Satisfying the growing global demand for food sustainably will require a dramatic paradigm shift in the food system, which includes approaching food with with an open mindset and providing the end users with the information needed to make educated choices about what to buy. This might be a tremendous opportunity for the planet, its population and companies that have the courage to defy conventions. 

Eugenio Perrier

See also this piece from Food Navigator, on the role packaged foods can play in a healthy, sustainable diet.

Google searches suggest people are still confused by the meaning of ‘sustainability’

From Eco Business

According to data from Google, the most common sustainability-related term from this year was ‘what is sustainability?’ and ‘what does sustainability mean?’. A study into this demonstrates the effect the wider use of the term has had – including the impact of greenwashing, which has potentially confused people. A study from April of this year found two-thirds of executives globally questioned how genuine their company’s sustainability efforts were.

Our Partner Colin McAllister had this to say:

‘The term “Sustainability” is running into fatigue mode: it’s been used so extensively to mean so many things that it’s losing any value it may have had originally within the CPG industry. Companies should either adopt a new vocabulary or start to explain is clear and simple term what they mean when they announce sustainability targets (that, by the way, some are starting to miss hoping noone notices).’

These insights demonstrate the importance of clarifying the term and using it genuinely and specifically. For more insight into our point of view on this subject, check out our Growth Series report on Sustainability.

L’Oréal Debuts Exclusive Beauty Styles on Metaverse Platform Ready Player Me

From Global Cosmetic Industry Magazine

L’Oreal has partnered with a metaverse avatar platform to premier exclusive makeup and hair styles from its brands. Asmita Dubey, chief digital and marketing officer of the L’Oréal Group, has said:

“We believe that the future of beauty will be physical, digital and virtual. Our brands are creating new, immersive, and virtual experiences using virtual spaces, in-game customized experiences, in-virtual world advertising and virtual ambassadors and influencers. We are very excited to lay the foundations for the future of beauty on Web3 and the metaverse.”

Asmita Dubey

Permacrisis: what it means and why it’s word of the year for 2022

From The Conversation

According to the Collins Dictionary, the word of the year for 2022 is ‘permacrisis’, a portmanteau of ‘permanent’ and ‘crisis’. As the writer David Shariatmadari has put it:

“Permacrisis” is a term that perfectly embodies the dizzying sense of lurching from one unprecedented event to another, as we wonder bleakly what new horrors might be around the corner.

David Shariatmadari

To quote this rather philosophical piece:

Permacrisis signals not only a loss of faith in progress, but also a new realism in relation to what people can cope with and achieve. Our crises have become so complex and deep-seated that they can transcend our capacity to understand them. Any decision to tackle them risks only making things worse. We are thus faced with a troubling conclusion. Our crises are no longer a problem. They are a stubborn fact.

Nestlé to ban marketing of high sugar biscuits, confections and other snacks to under-16s

From Bakery and Snacks.com

Nestle has banned direct advertising of products like biscuits, confectionary, ice cream and sugary drinks to children under 16, making it one of the first to voluntarily adopt such standards. This broadens a previous policy which prohibited marketing targeting ages 0-6 for these products. The change comes into effect on 1st July 2023 in all markets, across TV and online platforms.

This forms part of a wider series of pledges by the company to be more transparent about the nutritional value of products and reduce sugar content. These products will still be marketed towards adults, and so Nestle is not giving up on the sales volumes they currently have, but the move still represents a step in the right direction in terms of educating the consumer on responsible consumption.

There you have it, the roundup from November. We hope this has helped you feel more up to date with what has been happening this month.

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Christina Carè

Sevendots, London

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