Sustainable Food News

Kraft and Heinz Marriage: A Profitable Union for Fast Meal Products?

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - Kraft Food Group's (KRFT) stocks continue to show improvement   after its announcement that it has accepted a merger with H.J. Heinz Co. The buyout by Brazilian corporation 3G Capital Partners sets the groundwork for the world's third-largest food company, Kraft Heinz Co. The $35 billion is expected to have annual revenue of more than $28 billion.

Catfish Trade Controversy Challenges Environmental and Health Protection

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - Catfish anyone? It may not be your preferred fish fry, but it’s at the center of a dispute that illustrates a number of issues that impact every one of us.

Catfish farming is a major industry in the Southeast. Recently, farmers have complained to government officials about low cost imports coming in from Asia that were driving prices down. So they asked for increased regulation.

Congress listened and moved the regulatory authority for catfish from the  FDA to the Dept. of Agriculture, which is generally known for more rigorous regulation. The process has taken years to work its way through the bureaucracy, but now that it’s done, it's starting to look like a case of “be careful what you wish for.”

The new inspections, like the daily USDA meat inspections, could cost the struggling industry millions that it can ill afford. David Acheson, a former associate commissioner for foods at the FDA, told the NY Times that, “Catfish producers asked for stronger regulations, but I think many of them thought it would only apply to foreign producers.”

Perhaps the farmers should have contacted the State Department rather than the Ag. Department if it was unfair trade practices that they were concerned about. But the farmers said that the imports, which come primarily from Vietnam and constitute some 75% of the US market, are produced under lax safety standards. Catfish imports from Vietnam rose from 1.9 million kilos in 2003 to 103 million kilos in 2012.

In fact, the State Department did assess a tariff of 77 cents per kilo on the catfish in 2013, though that has barely slowed the onslaught.

Ben Pentecost, president of Catfish Farmers of America, has suggested that the Vietnamese fish are raised with antibiotics in polluted water. But the Vietnamese Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers, a trade group based in Ho Chi Minh City, insists that their catfish undergo rigorous testing and inspection. So does Le Chi Dzung, the head of the economic section at Vietnam's embassy in Washington. He says, "We understand that the American consumers have very high standards, and our ... farmers understand that," he says. "And we have been working with them to make sure that the regulations are met, the issues are addressed."

U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef Launched with Cargill, McDonald’s, Walmart, Tyson Foods, Merck, JBS

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – With the rise in the standard of living across the world, protein consumption has gone up. Beef has become one of the most important protein sources in the American diet with almost 61 lbs of beef consumed per person every year. The U.S. has also emerged as the world leader in beef production and exports.

Monsanto Collaborates with Farmers in Vietnam for Sustainable Agriculture

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Sustainable agriculture lies at the core of global food security. It involves the creation of a healthy and sustainable food system that ensures physical and economic access to adequate amounts of nutritious food for all. It is equally important to ensure that the food within this system is produced in an environmentally sustainable and socially just manner.

Fair Trade Tuna is the First of its School

Mars, Danone Launch Fund to Support Sustainable Farming

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Global challenges in the area of sustainable farming can be met more effectively when multinational food-products corporations join forces to find adapted, innovative and concrete solutions. Mars, Inc. and Danone, the France-based global food manufacturer, have come together to support economic, social and environmental objectives through sustainable agriculture.

Smithfield Foods Phases Out Sow Gestation Crates

Smithfield Foods, Inc. is serious about making its supply chain more humane. Murphy-Brown LLC, the hog production subsidiary of Smithfield Foods, Inc., is well on its way to phasing out sow gestation crates. In 2014, 71.4 percent of Murphy-Brown’s company owned farms in the U.S. transitioned to group housing. The company increased the amount of pregnant sows in group housing systems by almost 20 percent from 2013.

PepsiCo, P&G, Brown-Forman, Thompson Coburn, Tate & Lyle Pledge to Advance Agricultural Sustainability

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Over the last two decades, support for sustainable agriculture and its acceptance within mainstream agriculture has grown significantly. Sustainable agriculture not only prioritizes environment and social welfare, but it also provides economically viable opportunities for growers, laborers, consumers and various others who are a part of the food system.

Can Big Data Feed Us All?

(3Bl Media/Justmerans) - We’ve heard a lot about how the ubiquitous and free flow of information is going to improve our quality of life, through smart phones, smart grids, smart cities and smart cars. That’s all well and good, but what about basic questions like can I get enough to eat?

Well it turns out, big data has some good news for us there, too.

Ramez Naam, in his book The Infinite Resource, described some cutting edge agricultural projects with yields anywhere from ten to a hundred times the norm. Using this as a benchmark, Naam surmises that we will have plenty of food to feed ten billion mouths. Agronomist Kenneth Cassman from the University of Nebraska, took this idea to the work boots on the ground level when he and his colleagues unveiled the Global Yield Gap and Water Productivity Atlas last month at the Water for Food conference in Seattle where the theme was “Harnessing the Data Revolution to Ensure Food and Water Security From Field to Global Scales.”

The map contains site-specific data that shows where actual yields fall short of their potential due to any number of factors including drought, soil, and farming practices. Big Agro companies, like Monsanto and Syngenta, who sponsored the conference, can use their data to target development and marketing of specific products. But the data can also be used to help small farmers who number over 500 million and produce half the world’s food.

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