A newsletter on upcoming food and beverage trends that offers a curation of brands and aesthetics written by Andrea Hernández.
🔮 Peek into the future:
On how we became mindless consumers in the first place.
Cogitations on what’s happening with both BigFood and upcoming challengers.
Curation of favorites in the space.
Spoonful of News
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Consuming Kids are All Grown Up
If you’re a 90s kid like me, you probably grew up watching so many cartoons, personally, I was into the more obscure genre, like Rockos’ Modern Life but occasionally indulged in more of the “edutainment” types like Captain Planet. Settle down Planeteer, before we commiserate on this, I need us to unpack what it really meant growing up watching cartoons that were really just wedged in between waves of advertising and how that shaped all of us as a generation, and if is this is the first time you’re hearing about deregulation in children’s advertising —know you owe it all to Reagan.
Back in the mid-80s, the deregulation of children’s advertising opened the floodgates of consumerism and indoctrinated an entire generation, unbeknownst to themselves and their parents. Before, regulation used to protect children, who used to be deemed unable to discern what an ad was (makes sense) —there’s a famous example around Hot Wheels cartoon show in the 70s, the FCC called the show a 30 minute commercial for car toys and eventually the show met its demise. A decade later, and in favor of “free markets” regulations were effectively removed, meaning it was prime time, (pun intended) for marketers and corporations alike.
Sustainable products —are those products that provide environmental, social and economic benefits while protecting public health and environment over their whole life cycle, from the extraction of raw materials until the final disposal.
Just sit with this for a minute, millennials (born 80-95) grew up at a time where we were being indoctrinated into consumerism under the guise of cartoons —even our parents were duped. Marketers were able to come up with “nag factor” a study in which they figured out how many nags would convert parents into a purchase. Even before 90s kids were born, marketers estimated our generation would be worth trillions as children. It wasn’t just toys —it was sugar cubes masked as healthy cereal, our parents believed that it was GRRRRREEAT for us to wash it down with more cartoons literally created to hook us on a culture of wastefulness and mindless consumerism.
It is worth mentioning before anything else because our generation has been blamed for everything under the sun —remember when the media try to blame us for failing, outdated, corrupt systems, by accusing us of eating too much avocado toast? In his book, This Could Be Our Future, Yancey Strickler makes note of blind defaults, he gives the example of fixing a broken bathroom in a house that’s clearly a teardown and calling it home improvement.
Important to note that despite the fault being always punted on us as consumers, it’s worth acknowledging that we have pervasive indoctrination to undo, and the reason why —I’ll explain further along.
Captain Planet, Not Our Hero
The series begins in the worst kind of way, considering they portray Mother Earth (Gaia) as this sleeping beauty who wakes up from who knows how long of a slumber, to discover that we’ve trashed earth, k?? She then decides to summon kids from all the regions of the world and “empower” them with rings that control different elements and one that controls… heart? How endearing.
Regenerative Agriculture —describes farming and grazing practices that, among other benefits, reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity – resulting in both carbon drawdown and improving the water cycle.
The whole premise of the show is that there are these bad guys who are contaminating our environment and they must use their powers to save the earth, except when the going gets tough, then they have to summon Captain Planet. As a kid, I used to think he was literally this superhero, like apart from them, the rings serving as a signal, I’m sure you probably thought this as well. So it is with great sadness that I relay this fact, that Captain Planet was merely a hologram, a projection or I guess, amplification of these kids’ intentions. Let me get this straight, this mf doesn’t even exist but he takes all the credit? BYE.
Reminds me so much about how most of what corporations have been doing for decades (re: saving earth) are similar to Captain Planet, merely just optics. Consider corporations who put out statements of their sustainability efforts, only to keep pushing the goal further, decades down the line. What good is it that they reduce, go carbon neutral, etc —10 years from now? These are meditations or questions, I ask myself whenever I see these companies garner PR around their efforts, and then when the hype dies down, the reality sets back in, our planet is still dying, and the question remains—can we really save ourselves through mass consumption?
Greenwashing —disinformation disseminated by an organization so as to present an environmentally responsible public image.
Here are recent happenings from BigFood corporations regarding the environment:
—Starbucks trialing borrow/return cup program as they commit to reducing single use cup waste, goal to reduce waste by 50% by 2030.
—Coca Cola, Pepsi and Nestlé named top plastic polluters for third year in a row.
—Nestle told to stop spring water diversions in San Bernardino Forest, after a probe revealed multiple violations and depletion of resources.
—Unilever’s CMO wants to bring clarity to its green credentials and raise others up too.
—Unilever in $15M in fund to collect more plastic than it sells by 2025.
—Colgate-Palmolive, Coca-Cola and Unilever join AB InBev’s sustainable supply chain accelerator.
—Anheuser-Busch invests $100M to upcycle barley used to make beer.
—Hershey announces 2030 sustainability goals. (shot)
—Mars, Nestlé and Hershey to face child slavery lawsuit in US. (chaser)
—A decade after Mars and other chocolate makers vowed to stop rampant deforestation, the problem has gotten worse.
—Monsanto, Big Food, and Big Ag Move to co-opt the organic and regenerative movement.
—PepsiCo aims to regeneratively farm 7M acres by 2030.
I will let you be the judge—the list goes on and on, but if you picked up on similarities, a lot of these goals are pushed decades into the future, which one at first would think, “well we are talking about massive supply chains, it must take time and money to switch” —hell I used to be that type of person. Until you realize just how much profit these corporations are making, not to mention, particularly after 2020, where some of them saw a 2-3x increase in sales. If the urgency of climate change is immediate, and if these corporations have vast resources, why can’t change happen sooner? I don’t preach that I hold the answers, but I am making space to ask these questions.
It’s clearly not just a few bad apples, corporations, in how they operate are designed this way. To put profits above all interest, legally bounded to it, in this amazing documentary, The Corporation, you can learn from Harvard Business school professors themselves, on how corporations are constituted and operate, I even learned this term, externalities, for decades corporations have been able to get away with leaving behind negative externalities, leaving communities, cities, countries, animals, etc to foot the bill.
Externality —is a cost or benefit caused by a producer that is not financially incurred or received by that producer. An externality can be both positive or negative and can stem from either the production or consumption of a good or service.
Before we move on —here’s what I’m asking myself:
How can we really gauge what’s greenwashing from BigFood’s true efforts?
Do certifications and labels help consumers —considering just how much it’s been reported these serve more as marketing ploys?
Should the focus be on producing more “sustainable” alternatives or will this eventually cancel out the effects (example, we literally turned almonds unsustainable through mass production/consumption of them)
Salvation Through Consumption
But back to my earlier thesis on us as consuming kids. In Snaxboi origins, I mention how proud I am to see Millennials, each in their own way, build products and companies looking to do better by themselves and for those who are coming before us. We are trying to undo that indoctrination to mindlessly consume, in the ways that we can, with the knowledge that we have available to us.
Let’s look at the numbers
—Sustainably-marketed products drove more than half of all growth across CPGs in past five years.
—According to New York University’s Stern Center for Sustainable Business that reviewed consumers purchasing habits from 2013-2018, products marketed as sustainably packaged experienced 5.6x faster growth than those that were not, across 36 CPG categories.
—Sustainability-marketed products continued to grow despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
—Sustainability-marketed branded products enjoy a significant price premium of 39.5% vs. their conventionally-marketed branded counterparts, with a widening premium of +5.3 pts vs. 2014.
—Upper income, millennials, college-educated and urban consumers are more likely to buy sustainability-marketed products—middle income, baby boomers and gen xers contribute a significant percent of sustainable sales.
—Plant-based foods in the U.S. are a $7 billion market.
—Plant-based food sales grew almost 2.5x faster than total food sales from 2018 to 2020.
—Plant-based food $$ sales grew 43 % in the past 2 years. By comparison, total U.S. retail food $$ sales grew just 17% over 2 years.
—Alt-meat market is worth $1.4 billion, category increased by more than $430 M in sales from 2019 to 2020.
—$$ sales of plant-based meat grew 72 % over 2 years.
—Over 290 million units of plant-based meat were sold in the past year, an increase of 36%
—Alt-meat sales now account for 2.7% of all $$ sales for retail packaged meat.
—Alt-milk category is the most developed plant-based category, worth $2.5 billion.
—Together, all plant-based dairy categories, including plant-based ice cream and frozen novelty, creamer, yogurt, butter, cheese, RTD beverages, and spreads, dips, sour cream, and sauces, are worth $1.9 billion.
—If plant based seafood reached just 1% share of the seafood market it would be worth $141 million (lots of opportunity in disrupting seafood supply chain)
—Investments in plant-based, cell cultivated and fermented protein companies reached $3.1 billion in 2020, a 3x increase since 2019.
In “Brave New Alt" World” I highlight companies from all around the world delving in this space, be sure to check it out.
Will alternatives become salvation or will they suffer through exploitation?
What are the implications of BigFood buying these alternative companies that promise to do better?
Isn’t a consolidated food supply chain what has led us to these problems in the first place?
Also, consider the moral implications and the erasure of culture that is happening in this New Alt-World. Here’s an example, in this article these men are being hailed as “disrupting” the alt-protein space in Asia, when in fact this continent has always been known for having alternatives, jackfruit has been used traditionally already as an alternative in Asian cuisine.
Fazenda Futuro, a Brazilian company doing alt-protein raised a big round in preparation to go toe-to-toe with Beyond Meat, an American company, being introduced in South America. I find this fascinating, considering Gaucho culture and just how much it has revolved around a mindful consumption of meat, remember these indigenous cultures were not indoctrinated into wastefulness. What does this mean moving forward for these cultures? Highly recommend following Alicia Kennedy’s work as she’s done more profound insights on this. I also think about what it means to say these alternatives are “cruelty-free” but are being used in fast food places where workers are overworked and underpaid, and in some cases suffer literal physical abuse or danger. There’s a huge dissonance and again, these are all questions that I pose, without holding the answers, but in efforts to get closer to bridging these gaps.
I have faith in our generation, that we will be able to save these inherited ruins, after all, in the words of Captain Planet, the power is ours.
All Your Powers Combined…
Here’s a curated list of environmentally conscious products from around the world.
Moonshot: Crackers that are made using regenerative agriculture.
Good Vodka: Founded by distillers Tristan Willey & Mark Byrne in 2015, they develop new, climate-positive spirits from overlooked agricultural byproducts. Good Vodka was their first release, it’s made using discarded coffee fruit.
Pulp Pantry: Chips made using upcycled veggies, most recently launching inside Urban Outfitters around the US.
Good Fish: Crispy salmon skin snacks sourced from the most sustainable fisheries in Bristol Bay, AK.
Juicy Marbles: The world’s first plant-based filet mignon.
Up To Good: Energy drink using upcycled cascara.
AKUA: Vegan jerky using kelp!
Shop Small Batch + Local
Licked Media is a collective of young people trying to make food they are excited about, Lick the world, and hopefully give everyone a food orgasm along the way.
They drop eccentric food products that may take you by surprise but will hopefully convince you that there is more to cereal than milk. Or maybe that ramen tastes good toasted and covered in chocolate. Yes, they created a cereal specifically designed to be eaten with a cold brew. And, their latest drop is a ramen chocolate bar.
Prior to Licking things, Licked’s 18-year-old Founder Leif spent most of his time cooking in restaurants, such as Joe Beef and Alo in Canada.
“I found myself cooking increasingly expensive food, for increasingly older people - it just felt disconnected. I wanted to share food with people my age, and create products that my friends and I wanted to eat but couldn’t find.”
Their latest release is a 4:20 themed Banana Split Ramen Bar which will hopefully help to curb the rise of munchies. Each toasted ramen slab is topped with banana toffee, dark chocolate, banana chips, dried cherries, and white chocolate - flavored with real vanilla beans (vanilla ice cream). The 4:20 bar, along with a few other ramen bar flavors can be found on the Licked website. They offer shipping within Canada and the United States.
Spoonful of News
Launching this week, a NEW, non-alcoholic aperitif, FIGLIA.
Alimentari Flaneur is teaming up with Dada + Ruby for the ultimate summer popup.
Misfits Market raised $200 M to bring DTC discounted groceries.
PopUp Grocer opens THIS WEEK in Chicago, April 30th featuring over 400+ brands!
See you again next week, in a different future, same place.
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