How Seeds&Chips Is Building A Platform For Food Innovation

Consumers are rapidly changing the focus of the restaurant and specialty food industry. With the global population expected to reach 9.8 billion over the next 30 years, Gen Y and Gen Z are investing their time, money, and energy into finding foods that are good for them and good for the planet.

New ingredients, additives, and sources of food have seen massive growth. Plant-based foods, alternative proteins, and healthy halo snacks are just a few of the key categories within the projected $5 billion plant-based market in 2020. Alternative sugars and salts, as well as an increase in fermentation and food recycling practices, are all part of a global movement to grow food more efficiently and sustainably.

On the latest episode of The Barron Report, host Paul Barron chats with Sharon Cittone, the chief content officer of Seeds&Chips, to discuss how food innovation and agtech are changing the global farming industry.

First envisioned as an event, Seeds&Chips has evolved into a company that connects innovators with global policymakers, startups, speakers, and accelerators to effect change in food culture and advance the possibilities of agtech. The company will hold a summit featuring global food visionaries first in Melbourne, Australia this September, and later in its hometown Milan in May 2020.

“Consumers are leading the way in wanting to be kind to the planet,” says Cittone. “The mission is to bring innovators around the world together to find practical solutions through collaboration and cooperation. We want to make sure there is healthy, safe, and efficient food for everyone.”

The movement will likely face some uphill battles in the years ahead. As Cittone acknowledges, “innovation is growing so rapidly, and policy is lagging behind. As much as we innovate, our global policies can’t keep up.”

Listen to the episode above to learn more about the challenges within the food innovation movement and the future of Seeds&Chips. To binge listen to the Barron Report check us out on iTunes Now!

Research by:

Paul Barron

Paul Barron

Editor-in-Chief/Executive Producer


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How AB InBev's Sustainability Accelerator is Fostering Start-ups Solving Industry Problems

Consumers have new standards when it comes to the foodservice industry. They are educated when it comes to food sourcing, ingredients, nutrition, technology, environmental practices and more.

The big companies fostering innovation and looking to support companies that solve bigger problems in the industry continue to stay ahead of the curve, while also giving today's consumers exactly what they want.

On this episode of The Barron Report, Host Paul Barron sits down with Maisie Devine, global director of sustainability investments & accelerator at AB InBev to learn more about how the company is nurturing start-ups with a focus on sustainability.

So how does a start-up get involved with a partner like AB InBev?

Last August, AB InBev started its search by launching a set of challenge statements, focused on topics like packaging and clean energy. Then the company started accepting applications from companies that have developed some solutions to these industry-wide problems. After receiving 660 applications, there were a lot of companies to consider.

"We were really looking for a little bit later stage companies. That were product ready and that we could implement our resources and our scale to fuel growth for those companies," says Devine.

One of the fun companies Ab InBev select is the Belgium-based concept called Do Eat, which has made compostable and edible packaging from beer and potato waste.

Listen to the episode above to learn more about this unique accelerator program and how these companies are changing the food system for the better.

What Makes these Fast Casual Innovators the Best in the Business

Fast casual is a term I coined in the mid-’90s at the time to create a way to identify the segment compared to the bulky titans of fast food and casual dining. It wasn't rocket science for me to come up with the term or to even launch fastcasual.com, it was at a time when I saw the culmination of a few strong-minded individuals willing to push the status quo with the right ideas that were starting to connect with an emerging new consumer.

I had the opportunity to meet and work with these fast casual innovators early in my career when I started to see the hidden gems of restaurant brands that they were forging. But the most important aspect that I understood back in the ’90s was not my connection to food, it was my connection to technology consumer adoption and my understanding that technology would someday be the guiding force of the restaurant business.

Fast forward 25 years later and you now have a segment nearing 100 billion in sales and almost every aspect of communication is referring to the term I coined back in the ’90s. My observation and study of the segment, the consumers, the trends and the leaders still drive my curiosity today. If you have not had a chance to check out the documentary Fast Casual Nation, be sure to check it out on Amazon Prime here!

Join me in The Barron Report episode above as I break down some of the pioneers and emerging brand titans of the fast casual sector as I analyze both the pros and cons of some of the best brands in the business.

The On-Demand Delivery Trends and the Technology Driving Them

The future of on-demand ordering could be summed up to one simple statement– It’s just beginning.

According to Foodable Labs, over 30% of the U.S. Restaurant industry is offering some kind of on-demand third-party ordering solution. Over 80% of consumers under the age of 35 are using on-demand food ordering apps about two times a week, proving the delivery segment has exploded thanks to the new age consumer and their dining habits.

The Big 6 are the lion's share of the market, but our research now shows over 100 on-demand food delivery companies serving the 1.2MM restaurant and food companies in the US.

The breakdown of Engagement and Sentiment tells an underlying story of these companies and how consumers view them and eventually, how restaurant operators may view them as well.

Engagement is scored by an analysis of how often consumers mention the use of the app or service on social along with an analysis of the Sentiment of the service based on food delivery speed, quality, accuracy.

The Engagement and Sentiment Scores of the Leading Third-Party Delivery Companies

According to this data, the Best Quality goes to the company Caviar. As the leader in the Sentiment area of Quality, this may be based on great service, but the company also recently acquired by Square. Remember Square is also a POS company and is tied to transaction-based business models. Recently Caviar added a spotlight that says "who's making your food" and has labels like women-owned restaurants. The overwhelming support by their users has given their consumer Sentiment score a boost.

Best Accuracy: Caviar came through as the leader in this area as well with a unique Sentiment score that showed this as one of the most appreciated aspects of its user base. Caviar's, along with other delivery apps', performance is being measured by the Chicago-based delivery search engine Food Boss, which is being led by the former McDonald's CEO Don Thompson.

Best Speed: Uber Eats takes this slot with what was one of the best Sentiment scores based on the overall app Sentiment. This has little to do with the ordering process and making a restaurant selection, which for most users ties into the overall speed of the order. As they continue to use their technology to analyze user behavior, Uber continues to have the upper hand when it comes to speed that other companies may not be able to pace.

I had a chance to explore one of the technology companies that has created a solution to centralize the on-demand challenge of being listed on multiple platforms mainly for discovery.

Ordermark has created a solution to centralize the in-store technology to create a more seamless integration into food operations which over time has become one of the most challenging aspects of the on-demand food ordering explosion.

Every restaurant operator understands discovery is the key to success and the solution in today’s world is not Facebook or Twitter, instead, it's being on as many on-demand platforms that you can handle. Alex Canter, CEO and founder of Ordermark and I discuss the growth aspects of the company and the delivery sector, as well as technology and operational challenges of the future of on-demand food ordering and where it might be heading.

Maryland is On Track to Ban Foam Plastic Packaging

Maryland could be the first U.S. state to ban plastic foam, food containers made from polystyrene. Lawmakers in both chambers of the state legislature have passed already bills banning this type of packaging.

Foam plastic, which is used to make a popular type of food container used by operators all over the world, is one of the least eco-friendly materials. Since it lacks durability, it often breaks into many pieces and ends up in waterways and streets.

“I’m thrilled to be a part of the effort to stand up for our waterways, stand up for our neighborhoods, stand up for the world our kids will inherit,” said Del. Brooke Lierman, the sponsor of the House of Delegates version to "The Sun." 

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Shutterstock

However, the two chambers have to come to an agreement on a bill and then it has to be approved of Republican Gov. Larry Hoga. If he does sign off on the bill, the ban would be put in effect July 1, 2020.

Establishments that violate the law could be fined up to $250.

Not everyone is in support of the bill though. Many argue that it imposes an additional financial burden on restaurant business owners who already have low-profit margins.

"Not only will costs go up for restaurants and be passed onto consumers, but because comparable products weigh more and many cannot be recycled, costs will increase due to higher tipping fees (based on weight) at landfills," said Cailey Locklair Tolle, president of the Maryland Retailers Association to "CNN."

Learn more about Maryland's pending ban on plastic foam containers in this recent episode of The Barron Report above.