Business Bites: Independence Day spotlights more interest in alt-meat, NA beer

On the grill: Alt-meat in spotlight for 4th holiday; FDA is investigating recalled Diamond Shruumz products; PepsiCo debuts new smart can tech; and more.

Scott Miller, Staff writer

July 1, 2024

5 Min Read

At a Glance

  • Better-for-you options such as plant-based meats and non-alcoholic beer may be guiding consumer behavior.
  • Diamond Shruumz products may contain elevated levels of muscimol, which can cause illness.
  • No word yet on whether PepsiCo’s “smart can” will be as recyclable as good, old-fashioned aluminum.

As consumers prepare for their big Fourth of July bash, they may be eyeballing healthier alternatives, and so should you. Also, Diamond Shruumz products have been recalled, with an ongoing FDA investigation into seizures and other symptoms, while PepsiCo has unveiled a new “smart can.” Even better, National Mac and Cheese Day is coming up! All that and more in this week’s Business Bites.

Consumers demand healthier alternatives for July 4

Prices are rising across the board, so what’s a food or beverage brand to do with the Fourth of July, a holiday famous for grilling, fast approaching? Research shows that people are willing to pay a premium for healthier foods, so incorporating the latest developments in alternative meats and nonalcoholic adult beverages might be the way to go.

If you’re looking for meaty inspiration, plant-based options are improving for all culinary applications, including grilling, and have finally started to nail taste, texture and nutrition, all longstanding challenges for alt-meats. For more information (and options), download our latest digital magazine, “Next-gen plant based: Delicious and futuristic.” Or, you can check out one of my recent articles if you want to learn more about making great non-alcoholic beer.

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Who could’ve predicted that a brand with “Shruumz” in the name would have quality control issues?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has initiated a recall for and is investigating Diamond Shruumz due to dozens of people becoming ill after consuming products such as chocolate bars and gummies. But we’re not talking about a simple stomachache; symptoms included not only nausea and vomiting but also seizures, loss of consciousness, confusion, abnormal heart rates and more due to elevated levels of muscimol, a psychoactive chemical found in some mushrooms.

It’s worth noting that Diamond Shruumz seems to be cooperating with FDA and taking responsibility for this mishap, offering full refunds for purchasers of affected products.

PepsiCo debuts new “smart can,” AI tools

Brands like Gatorade and Pepsi came to the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity to show off some fancy new tech, including a “smart can,” which sounds as if it strikes the perfect balance between “whoa, cool” and “did someone ask for this?”

Although Gatorade also debuted an artificial intelligence-powered hydration coach named Anna, I want to focus on the so-called smart can for a second. According to Food Dive, the device will have wraparound screens, movement sensors and accelerometers to help “customize the user experience.”

Uh huh. Right. This thing will be an ad delivery system, plain and simple. Start bidding now for a prime spot on your customers’ favorite cans.

Misbranding, undeclared allergens lead to liquid egg recall

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced that Michael Foods Inc. in Gaylord, Minnesota, is recalling 4,620 pounds of liquid eggs due to misbranding and undeclared allergens.

The recalled products, specifically the "FAIR MEADOW Foundations WHOLE EGGS with CITRIC ACID” in 32-ounce containers, inadvertently contain milk — a known allergen not listed on the label. The problem was identified after someone who ate the eggs “got a bit gassy.” Just kidding: After being distributed to restaurants for institutional use across nine states, the mix-up was discovered during a routine inventory check.

These products were manufactured on June 11, 2024, and are labeled with a use-by date of Sept. 16, 2024.

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ADM, partners officially working for peanuts

Global ingredients supplier ADM has joined forces with Golden Peanut, J.M. Smucker Co. and the National Black Growers Council to implement regenerative agriculture practices across 20,000 acres of peanut farms in the southeastern U.S. Although the definition is up for debate, ADM describes regenerative agriculture in a press release as “an outcome-based farming approach that protects and improves soil health, biodiversity, climate and water resources while supporting farming business development.”

This agreement, which runs until 2026, will involve working directly with peanut farmers to provide financial support for implementing methods covered by ADM’s regenerative agriculture program, including planting cover crops, improving fertilizer and pesticide efficiency, and reducing tillage.

Technology boosts nondairy products before National Mac and Cheese Day

The alt-dairy market is steadily flourishing, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.1% according to Mordor Intelligence, a market insights firm I’m relatively certain is not run by Sauron, the titular lord of the rings.

As covered at Food & Beverage Insider, developers of cheese alternatives are leaning into recent technological advancements to improve taste and texture — two arenas that usually present problems for nondairy cheeses.

“It can be challenging to fully incorporate ingredients or remove grittiness or keep the product stable when making a plant-based product,” Sarah Fitzgerald, a culinologist at CuliNEX, explained. “There have been a lot of creative solutions on the processing side that have unlocked great products … Companies are developing great products because they are seeking out great science from internal and external sources. Investment in external partnerships as well as internal experimentation has helped plant-based innovation grow rapidly over the last 10 years.”

Totally Cool not totally cool, contaminated with Listeria

Even though withdrawing ice cream in the middle of summer should be considered a crime against humanity, FDA has announced that Totally Cool Inc. is recalling multiple brands of ice cream products due to possible contamination with Listeria monocytogenes, a bacterium that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections. No illnesses have been reported yet, but Totally Cool is taking no chances, recalling brands ranging from Hershey’s to ChipWich. No word yet on when the trial will commence for this obvious violation of the Geneva Conventions.

Business bites is taking next week off in preparation for the July 4 holiday. The column will return on July 15.

About the Author(s)

Scott Miller

Staff writer, Food & Beverage Insider

Scott Miller brings two decades of experience as a writer, editor, and communications specialist to Food & Beverage Insider. He’s done a little of everything, from walking a beat as a freelance journalist to taking the Big Red Pen to massive technical volumes. He even ran a professional brewing industry website for several years, leveling up content delivery during an era when everyone had a blog.

Since starting at Food & Beverage Insider, he’s written pieces on the price of greenwashing (and how to avoid it), debunked studies that served little to no purpose (other than upsetting the public) and explained the benefits of caffeine alternatives, along with various other stories on trends and events.

Scott is particularly interested in how science, technology and industry are converging to answer tomorrow’s big questions about food insecurity, climate change and more.

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