Tag Archives: food

Australia’s trade minister Simon Birmingham weighed in on the truce struck over the weekend between the U.S. and China. Birmingham says the Australian government will be watching “very closely” to make sure the truce doesn’t put the squeeze on Australian ag exports.

The Guardian Dot Com says presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping reached a “ceasefire” in a conflict that continues to threaten global economic growth. One of the things Trump mentioned first after the ceasefire was announced over the weekend was that China had agreed to buy a “tremendous amount of food and agricultural products from American farmers.”

The Australian trade minister was in Osaka, Japan, for the G-20 and said the deal between Washington and Beijing must be compliant with World Trade Organization rules, allowing Australian farmers to compete with other exporters on fair terms. Birmingham said taking a “long-term perspective,” he felt it was good news that Trump and Xi appeared to be toning down the trade hostilities between the two countries. “However, we’ll be keeping an eye on the detail and monitoring the situation closely,” he said.

Beyond Meat went beyond expectations in its first earnings report since its stock market debut last month.

The plant-based meat maker’s shares soared after it beat Wall Street’s first quarter earnings and revenue forecasts. Beyond Meat also said it expects full-year revenue to hit $210 million this year, more than double its 2018 revenue and higher than the $205 million analysts had forecast, according to FactSet.

“We’re being very conservative. I view this as a floor,” President and CEO Ethan Brown said.

Beyond Meat’s shares jumped 15% to $114.27 in after-hours trading.

The El Segundo, California-based company lost $6.6 million, or 95 cents per share, in the first quarter, up slightly from a 98-cent loss in the same period a year ago.

Adjusted for stock-based compensation costs and other items, the company lost 14 cents per share. That was better than the 15-cent loss analysts had forecast.

Beyond Meat reported revenue of $40.2 million, more than triple the prior year. That also beat Wall Street’s forecast of $39 million.

Sales of frozen items dropped 5% in the January-March period after Beyond Meat took its frozen chicken tenders off the market. But sales of its fresh products — burgers and sausages — jumped 304%. Sales were about evenly split between groceries and restaurants.

Ten-year-old Beyond Meat burst into the spotlight last month with its IPO on Nasdaq. Its $25 opening share price jumped 163% in the first day of trading, the biggest first-day pop since 2015, according to Renaissance Capital. Beyond Meat is now valued at nearly $6 billion.

It’s one of the biggest names in a growing category of vegan “meats” that are meant to appeal to both vegetarians and carnivores. Impossible Foods and Nestle — which will launch a Sweet Earth-brand plant-based burger this fall — are others.

In a conference call with analysts, Brown said he’s not concerned about rivals because he thinks Beyond Meat’s products are meeting customers demands. Beyond Meat’s burgers and sausages are made from pea protein because customers didn’t want to eat more soy or gluten, he said. He also stressed that they don’t contain genetically modified ingredients — a jab at Impossible Foods, which has genetically engineered yeast in its ingredient list.

“It is very, very hard to build products with the level of ingredient integrity that we have,” Brown said.

Beyond Meat plans to expand into Europe and Asia, he said. Right now, the company makes all its products in Missouri and sells to 30,000 grocery stores, restaurants and schools in the U.S., Canada, Italy, the United Kingdom and Israel.

Last week, it announced a partnership with Dutch company Zandbergen World’s Finest Meat. Zandbergen is expected to start making Beyond Meat products next year at a new facility in the Netherlands.

Brown also expressed confidence that the company can scale up quickly if it enters into further partnerships with restaurant chains. It currently sells Beyond Meat burgers and meat crumbles at Carl’s Jr. and Del Taco and is testing sausages at Tim Hortons in Canada.

Brown said the company is in the testing phase with several fast-food chains, but he wouldn’t say which ones. Burger King has paired up with Impossible Foods, but McDonald’s is among those that could be looking for a partner.

Brown said Beyond Meat has the supply and manufacturing capability to meet demand from big fast-food chains, especially if restaurants are added gradually.

“It’s nothing that would break our system,” he said.

If milk is a few days past its “Sell By” date, is it safe to drink?

U.S. regulators are urging food-makers to be more consistent with labeling terms like “Best By” and “Enjoy By” that cause confusion. By clarifying the meaning of such dates, they are trying to prevent people from prematurely tossing products and to reduce the mountains of food that goes to waste each year.

Even if you rely more on sight and smell to size up foods, you might be surprised by the risks and practices around food spoilage.

WHAT’S NEW?

Phrases like “Best By”, “Enjoy By” and “Fresh Through” generally indicate when a food’s quality would decline — not when it becomes unsafe to eat. To help make that clearer, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently recommended companies stick with “Best If Used By.”

Industry groups got behind the phrase after earlier guidance from regulators, along with the more definitive “Use By” for perishables food that should be thrown out after a certain date. But the FDA hasn’t endorsed the latter phrase, which could have safety implications.

Regardless, the FDA’s recommendation isn’t mandatory, and consumers will likely continue seeing variations, in some cases because of local regulations. With milk, for instance, states may require “Sell By” or other labeling.

HOW ACCURATE ARE THE DATES?

It’s difficult for manufacturers to pinpoint how long foods will stay good, given variables like how long they sit on loading docks and how they’re stored in people’s homes.

Milk should be good for at least a few days after its “Sell By” date, though exactly how long will depend on factors including pasteurization methods.

Many people use dates on packages as guideposts and rely on their senses. Crackers might taste stale, for instance, while more perishable foods might be discolored or smell funky.

Foods like fresh meat and dairy are more vulnerable to spoilage in part because their moisture allows the small amounts of bacteria to multiply more quickly, said Martin Bucknavage, a food safety expert at Penn State Extension.

“As time goes on, the few becomes more and more,” he said.

IS SPOILAGE ALWAYS BAD?

Your tolerance for spoilage likely varies depending on the food. Few would keep pouring chunky milk over cereal, but many might overlook a spot of mold on bread.

Food safety experts generally recommend throwing out food at the first signs of spoilage. With mold, even a small fleck might be an indicator that there’s a lot more of it that you can’t see.

“It’s kind of like an iceberg: It’s only part of what’s going on,” said Leslie Bourquin, a Michigan State University professor of food science and safety.

An exception is for certain dense foods where mold has difficulty spreading. With hard cheeses, for instance, food safety experts say it’s fine to carve out a 1-inch chunk around the mold and eat the rest. If you’re not sure about when it’s safe to eat around mold, the U.S. Department of Agriculture offers a chart .

Keep in mind spoilage often isn’t what’s responsible for food poisoning: “Sight and smell aren’t always great indicators of safety,” said Bourquin.

A slab of raw chicken, for example, might look fresh but contain salmonella. To limit the chances of getting sick from such germs, regulators recommend safe cooking and handling practices .

HOW DO FOOD-MAKERS PREVENT SPOILAGE?

Canning in a sealed, sterile container is a way to preserve foods for years, while freezing can also stop the clock on spoilage. But even in those cases, foods can deteriorate in quality depending on factors such as acidity and how tightly the package is sealed.

In the meantime, the trend toward “natural” foods has prompted some food-makers to purge some preservatives. But companies may find “natural” alternatives that perform similar functions, and new ways to make foods last longer are emerging. One company, for example, developed an edible peel made from plants that helps extend the shelf-life of produce like avocados.

HOW ARE FOOD BANKS AFFECTED?

Greater understanding about date labeling might encourage more donations to food banks. In 1996, a federal law sought to encourage donations by shielding individuals and companies that donate food from liability.

But Michael Flood of the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank notes concerns about spoilage don’t end with a donation. People who receive donated food may also be confused about the meaning of various dates, and end up throwing products away.

“We have the same problem the overall food industry has,” he said.