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Target working with MIT ‘to explore future of food retailing’

BY Michael Johnsen

MINNEAPOLIS — Target announced Monday a collaboration with MIT’s Media Lab and global design firm IDEO to explore the future of food. The work will focus on areas such as urban farming, food transparency and authenticity, supply chain and health.
 
“By combining the boundless curiosity and discovery of MIT’s Media Lab and IDEO’s human-centered approach to design with Target’s knowledge of retail, we can reimagine the future of food,” stated Greg Shewmaker, one of Target’s entrepreneurs-in-residence, who is leading the Food + Future coLAB. “We know more about what’s in our smartphones than we do in the last meal we ate. And that’s something we want to change. This collaboration will help to unlock more options and create more transparency not just for Target’s guests, but consumers everywhere.”
 
“The challenges around the future of food are so broad, systemic and complex that no one entity can solve for them alone. We have to work together,” added IDEO coLAB director Matt Weiss.
 
The roadmap for the next year will include several milestones:
 
  • This month, Target will kick-off a major project with MIT Media Lab’s Laboratory for Social Machines. Through this initiative, Target will collect and analyze billions of public data points — spanning brand communications, traditional and social media messages and supply chain information — in an effort to map the global conversations related to food;
  • Later this year, Target will launch a website with IDEO to identify trends and ultimately explore how food will be grown, sold and consumed in the next 15 years; and
  • In January, Target and IDEO will launch the Food + Future coLAB in Cambridge, Mass. The coLAB, which will draw on innovative research being conducted at the MIT Media Lab, will house multidisciplinary teams from these three organizations, as well as others, tasking them with solving some of the toughest challenges related to food.
Target and MIT’s Open Agriculture initiative will also begin a multi-year collaboration to explore city farming across multiple scales of an open platform.
 
Caleb Harper, director of the Open Agriculture initiative at MIT’s Media Lab, will work with Target and IDEO on the city farming initiative.
 
“Our work with Target is a collaboration in the truest sense of the word. The MIT team will bring our expertise in research and technology, while Target brings their ability to scale and reach the world,” said Harper. “People like to say things like, ‘the best strawberries come from Mexico.’ But really, the best strawberries come from the climate in Mexico that creates expressions like sweetness and color that we like. We think there is tremendous opportunity to democratize climate through control-environment agriculture and we look forward to kicking off this work with Target.”
 
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Snacking on the dark side

BY Barbara White-Sax

HILO, Hawaii — Royal Hawaiian Macadamia Nut recently introduced a dark chocolate and fruit macadamia nut snack. The new snack is made with 70% dark cacao, the purest form of chocolate with antioxidant benefits, and sulfite-free dried fruit.

(To view the full Category Review, click here.)

The new snack, designed to appeal to both indulgent and healthy snackers, is available in three flavors — blackberry goji berry, blueberry acaí and pomegranate mango. It is packaged in a stand-up resealable bag and retails for $4.99 for 4.5 oz.

Royal Hawaiian Macadamia Nut has developed multiple floor stands, floor shippers, wing displays, permanent peg fixtures, spinner racks and side panels for the new product. The product is shipping to stores now.

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Nuts among top 10 snack foods

BY Barbara White-Sax

Better-for-you snack foods are on the rise. Nuts rank among the top 10 snack-oriented convenience foods for U.S. consumers. The NPD Group estimates that 77% of U.S. households have nuts or seeds on hand, and 19% of individuals eat nuts at least once in a two-week period.

(To view the full Category Review, click here.)

The snack nuts/seeds/corn nuts category grew 3.9% in dollar sales and 2.7% in unit sales during the past year across multi-outlets, according to IRI data. “Growth is attributable to consumers’ ongoing quest for quick, easy and portable satiation,” said Susan Viamari, VP of thought leadership at IRI. “With high levels of fiber and protein in a bite-sized form, nuts fit this profile quite nicely.”

“A focus on healthier eating is also supporting growth of snack nuts/seeds/corn nuts,” Viamari said. “These nutritional powerhouses are packed with heart-healthy fats, protein, vitamins and minerals.”

Growth in the category has so far been dominated by almonds and pistachios since a number of studies have linked the monounsaturated (heart-healthy) fats in almonds and pistachios to cardiovascular health.

 The nut category could soon get a boost from new claims from another segment of the nut category — macadamias. Royal Hawaiian Macadamia Nut, manufacturer of macadamia nut snacks, recently submitted a petition to the Food and Drug Administration asking for approval of a qualified health claim for the nuts. The petition says that studies show that eating 1.5 oz. a day of macadamia nuts, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and low cholesterol diet and not resulting in increased intake of saturated fat or calories, may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

“Consumption of macadamia nuts provides satiety, energy and helps to manage health risks associated with heart disease and diabetes,” said Scott Wallace, president of Royal Hawaiian Macadamia Nut.

Viamari said that such flavors as hot and spicy, chili, chocolate and honey, and such packaging options as canister and stand-up packaging, have been driving category innovation.

Last year, Royal Hawaiian Macadamia Nut Seasoned introduced a line of seasoned macadamia nuts in a number of new flavors including Sea Salt, Maui Onion, Hawaiian BBQ, Sea Salt and Cracked Pepper, and Wasabi and Soy. The nuts retail for $5.99 for a 5-oz. container.

In 2014, the company also introduced Fruit and Macadamia Crunches in three flavors — Mango Pineapple, Blueberry Pomegranate and Kona Coffee Banana. The line is available in 4-oz. stand-up, resealable bags that retail for $4.99.

Innovation in the macadamia, as well as other nut segments, will continue to drive the category. “There hasn’t been as much growth in the drug channel in macadamia nuts, and we want to change that,” Wallace said.

Royal Hawaiian Macadamia Nut also recently introduced chocolate-covered macadamia nuts and macadamia milk. “Nut beverages have been growing at an annual rate of 50%, and Mintel projects that alternative, non-dairy milks could represent as much as 40% of milk sales by 2021,” Wallace said.

Royal Hawaiian’s macadamia milk has half the calories of low-fat milk yet contains 50% more calcium. The four flavors — regular sweetened, unsweetened, vanilla unsweetened and vanilla sweetened — are shipping to stores in January 2016.

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