Below is the latest installment of 5 Good Food Ideas – ideas that are reshaping our food system for the better:
- PepsiCo Launches Nutrition Greenhouse Incubator
- Wearables Reveal the Secret Lives of Farm Animals
- Amazon Prime Discounts for SNAP Recipients
- Packaging Food With Food to Reduce Waste
- Using Alexa to Combat Diabetes
1. PepsiCo Launches Nutrition Greenhouse Incubator: PepsiCo recently launched a health and wellness incubator program in Europe, called Nutrition Greenhouse. While they haven’t announced the winners, PepsiCo’s incubator will host 8 finalists for the 6-month program. Each finalist will receive over $25,000 cash to start and one company will be selected to receive an additional $100,000 at the program’s conclusion. Additionally, the brands will benefit from PepsiCo’s product development, branding, and business model expertise to help those startups grow.
2. Wearables Reveal the Secret Lives of Farm Animals: Farmers are using wearables to track and monitor individual farm animals within large herds. Industrial ag is getting smarter and with that those farmers utilizing the new technology expect improved farm economics and animal welfare. The various types of wearables — ankle bracelets, ear tags, belly collars, microphones — help farmers track things like location and temperature and monitor health and behavior changes to better understand and respond to an animal’s needs. The ability for targeted care could also limit the use of certain treatments, making for a safer, healthier flock.
3. Amazon Prime Discounts for SNAP Recipients: Amazon announced a new strategy to reach lower income customers by offering discounted Prime memberships to people receiving food stamps. Instead of the full price of $10.99 per month, SNAP recipients can now pay $5.99 per month. Rolling out the discount gives Amazon a slice of the $66.6 billion SNAP expenditures on groceries and a perch from which to compete with Walmart for lower income consumers. The announcement also comes on the heels of the USDA’s testing of online grocery shopping for the food stamp program (Amazon is a pilot vendor). While it remains to be seen whether the discounts will be a significant benefit to those on food stamps, this might be a case of ‘every little bit counts’.
4. Packaging Food With Food to Reduce Waste: Using surplus food (that would otherwise go to a landfill) to make packaging for other food products is the latest in a long line of innovative solutions to our growing food waste problem. These packaging solutions are not only tackling global food waste, but also the environmental problems associated with our non-biodegradable packaging materials. Some of the more interesting examples include: material developed from milk protein that can line pizza boxes or encase cheeses; maple syrup bottles that fit into molds made from mushrooms; tomato peels transformed into lining for cans that will replace Bisphenal A; carbohydrates extracted from shrimp that when combined with silk fibers can replace plastic packaging; or, edible seaweed that become containers for juice and other liquids. While still far from scalable solutions, big food companies and CPGs are looking hard at these and other concepts for attacking these big environmental problems.
5. Using Alexa to Combat Diabetes: Amazon makes the list twice this week. The online retailer is partnering with Merck to find the best Alexa app ideas for fighting diabetes. The Alexa Diabetes Challenge is offering $125,000 to health developers who can come up with the best voice-enabled solutions for Type 2 diabetes. Five finalists will receive $25,000 and admission to the Virtual Accelerator where they’ll receive support to grow their ideas. At the end of the program, ideas will be presented at a Demo Day and the winner will receive $125,000. Similar crowdsourcing challenges could be a great mechanism for unleashing even greater innovation in the good food space. Hopefully we’ll see other corporations and foundations launch similar efforts whereby they offer money and expertise to help solve systemic food system problems.