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  • ​Consumers Increasingly Becoming Concerned With Food Packaging Safety

    (click to enlarge)

    A survey conducted among 8,000 people revealed that and food packaging and safety are among the important concerns consumers are facing today.

    An independent research by Friends of Glass revealed that consumers in Europe are increasingly concerned with the health risks posed by chemical compounds from food packaging, more than they are concerned with environmental problems and international terrorism.

    Two thirds of the respondents said they are concerned with food contamination and chemicals leaching from packaging such as plastic and metal.

    At least eight out of 10 consumers think the chemicals are detrimental to human health while 60 percent said they are most worried about plastic containers.

    A FoodBev.com article citing the study said health concerns are crucial in consumer decision-making.

    It quoted European Container Glass Federation secretary general Adeline Farrelly as saying, "It's clear that consumers worry about contamination from packaging. Nowadays, consumers are looking at how products are stored and packaged, not only at what's written on the label. Studies show packaging materials are leaking chemicals into food, which is a very real concern. Parents of young children are particularly cautious: 77% of European parents prefer glass for storing baby food, while 61% avoid buying baby food in plastic bottles or other materials."

    A Euromonitor article pointed out that American consumers are also shifting from products in metal cans to more innovative food packages.

    In the soup industry, for example, younger buyers are shunning the use of cans, which has also been cited as difficult to open and being bulky, in addition to creating a larger carbon footprint or less environment-friendly.

    While the mentioned survey pushes for the use of glass containers, for soups, companies are now eyeing or already distributing products in stand-up pouches.

    The Original Soupman(OTC:SOUP) is one of the pioneers of soup in Tetra Pak pouches.

    The company has been banking on its packaging to stand-out in the crowd, in terms of aesthetics and consumer concerns.

    While the soup aisle is dominated by cans of condensed and other prepared soups, Soupman's colorful and graphic-laden cartons serve as mini-billboards in the grocery.

    Tetra Pak said its materials, mostly paperboard, is safe to use for food, especially soup. It can also be recycled later on.

    The Tetra Pak cartons of Soupman is supposed to lock in the flavor and freshness of the restaurant's gourmet soups, which are cooked in small batches to ensure quality taste.

    At least seven of the almost 40 soup variants of the company is being sold in packaged goods form through 4,000 supermarkets and through Amazon.

    The soup flavors available in the store are Lobster Bisque, Chicken Noodle, Lentil, Tomato Bisque, Crab Corn Chowder, Chicken Gumbo and the "Seinfeld" classic Jambalaya.

    Soupman has long been a popular soup kitchen in New York. It later branched out to other states and is now further expanding through packaged goods and food truck franchising.

    It became even more popular when the sitcom "Seinfeld" used Soupman as inspiration for one of its episodes, the show's writers creating a character based on Soupman founder Al Yeganeh.

    Tags: SOUP
    Jun 13 4:10 AM | Link | Comment!
  • Seniors' Narcotics Use Under Medicare Is A Growing Concern – Report

    A growing number of seniors on painkillers and anti-anxiety drugs through Medicare's prescription drug program are at a risk of drug dependency,a USA Today report said.

    An analysis of Federal data revealed that the number of seniors aged 65 and above taking prescription painkillers via Medicaresaw a 30 percent increase to 8.5 million from 2007 to 2012. Use of habit-forming painkillers such as oxycodone and hydrocodone also shot up by as much as 50 percent in the age group, the data showed.

    The Feds data also found that the supply of narcotics received by each patient has grown by 15 percent over a three-month period on average.

    These figures mean that one out of five of America's 43 million seniors receive Medicare prescriptions for pain management and are left on these drugs longer.

    As for anti-anxiety medications, the number of senior Medicare beneficiaries getting prescriptions for alprazolam, busipirone and lorazepam soared by 25 percent to 700,000. In 2012, a Medicare patient had access to five months' worth of anti-anxiety drugs, which translates to 10 percent more than data from 2007.

    As of press time, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (NYSE:CMS)did not issue any comment on the matter and denied request for an interview. CMS issued a statement, however, noting that the organization has implemented severe measures on drugs misuse and prevention.

    "Medicare takes instances of prescription drug misuse very seriously and recently put in place aggressive new rules that take further steps to prevent drug abuse and over utilization," the statement said.

    Seniors are at risk of dependency because they are physically vulnerable to the effects of prescription drugs, apart from having wider access to them, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) noted on its website. "Aging makes the body more vulnerable to drugs' effect," NCADD said.

    Life stressors also push seniors to turn to drugs, not to mention, alcohol. "Aging and retirement lead to enormous emotional challenges," Carol Egan, author and elderly alcohol and substance abuse specialist, told The Colorado Springs Independent.

    "Many elders struggle to find a sense of purpose. Many are mourning the loss of spouses and friends. A little alcohol and maybe some over-the-counter medications, and you have a potentially dangerous situation," she added.

    Experts suggest that seniors taking opioids and anti-anxiety drugs should be monitored closely, especially when they were ordered by their attending physicians to take such medications longer. Brady Grainer, COO of BioCorRx Inc. (OTC: BICX), an addiction program development company recognized nationally for its Start Fresh Program, emphasized the importance of doing so.

    "It should go without saying, but any demographic of the population should be monitored closely if they are prescribed opioids or other addictive medicines for a prolong period of time. As it is commonly known, the longer someone takes an addictive substance the greater the chance they will become dependent on it." Granier said.

    BioCorRx, Inc.'s Start Fresh Program utilizes a biodegradable implant formulation of Naltrexone, an opioid antagonist that blocks the brain's pleasure feelings to prevent addicts' cravings. A study conducted by the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) found that apart from acamprosate, naltrexone is a highly effective form of pharmacotherapy for alcohol use disorders and for reducing drinking frequency when addicts relapsed.

    NCADD said people aged 65 and above take prescription and over-the-counter drugs the most among age groups in the United States.

    Tags: BICX
    Jun 13 12:43 AM | Link | Comment!
  • Growing Global Population Driving Force Behind Food Industry Mergers

    The world is more connected than ever because of globalization and technology. The invention of the Internet was undoubtedly pivotal in market changes, including the food industry and restaurant business.

    Social media has further connected customers to businesses, becoming a platform for both information dissemination and feedback.

    More and more companies are now banking on technology to support their business' marketing strategy, with a substantial number considering technology a crucial element for their success.

    According to Comcast Business' recent survey of people involved in the hospitality industry, 31 percent of the participants believe that technology would ensure their success.

    People in LinkedIn connected to the industry were asked, "How are you setting your hospitality business up for success in the future?"

    Comcast said technology only comes second to the top answer - leadership - which was cited by 42 percent of those surveyed.

    A Michigan Live article pointed out that heavy social media usage are pushing restaurants to adapt and connect to their customers online.

    From checking in to the restaurant through Facebook to posting a photo of their meal on Instagram, customers are utilizing social media to promote brands they like.

    Recently, Facebook announced that its Facebook pages will have restaurant menu features.

    "Beginning today, we're making it easier for restaurants worldwide to display one of their most important assets directly on their Facebook Page - their menus," a Facebook statement said.

    Restaurants in the United States and Canada can upload their menus through SinglePlatform fromContant Contact, which is an online listings service that allows businesses to engage consumers.

    In addition to interacting with costumers and getting feedback on their services, businesses in the hospitality industry may tap social media and other online channels to gain unique insights on their followers. What are customers getting hyped about? What do they want changed? Is the brand getting enough loyal followers?

    Niche restaurant chains like The Original Soupman (OTC: SOUP), a company selling gourmet soup through establishments, food trucks and packaged goods, are using Facebook and Twitter to expand its presence and bring its website content closer to consumers.

    The public company's Facebook page has more than 30,000 "Likes" while its Twitter account has more than 3,000 followers.

    Unlike other brands that post only press releases or whatever is in their websites, Soupman's social media content is diversified per channel.

    Its Facebook page utilizes the power of photos while informing the public of their new soup variants and products. The text is engaging instead of outright advertising. All the posts link back to the website, which is the primary holder of the brand's information.

    Meanwhile, Soupman's Twitter account constantly acknowledges customer feedback and posts.

    More restaurants are expected to follow suit and set up accounts on various websites, seeing social media not only as a trend but a necessity in business and marketing.

    Quoted by Comcast, celebrity chef and entrepreneur Robert Irvine said, "The hospitality industry has been set in its ways for some time, but this 'old school' mentality has to change if the industry is going to adapt and thrive in this world of rapidly changing technology."

    Tags: SOUP
    Jun 12 9:27 AM | Link | Comment!
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