Who Wants Fake Lobster, Sky-High Grocery Prices, and Barbados’ Hidden Treasure

Jhe Texas power grid went down around this time last year. Today, power outages again hit hundreds of thousands of people across the country as communities reel from another winter storm. And I’m cowering next to my radiator in New York, wondering if the constant bouncing from crisis to crisis will finally give the food industry a much-needed wake-up call.

Climate change has made bad weather like this common. The consequences threaten nearly every aspect of the food supply, from what’s planted in the ground to the trucking routes that get food from manufacturers to grocery stores.

My thoughts are with those affected by the storms this week, as well as those working to strengthen access to healthy food in times of crisis.

— Chloé Sorvino, editor

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What’s up

Do consumers want or need these biotech foods? Decades ago, when food manufacturers began selling alternatives to animal products, such as soymilk and tempeh, the idea was to solve a problem: many consumers could not or chose not to consume dairy products or meat. Nowadays, the rush to reproduce animal products and ingredients has much less to do with satisfying consumer demand. Michele Simon writes instead that it is about the frenzy of investors and “because we can”.

Where do grocery prices come from? Retail food prices are rising. Corporate consolidation and profits behind inflationary pressure give us an opportunity to examine how pricing decisions are made, what factors are used to determine prices, and what all of this says about our food system. But let’s start with where the prices come from, writes Errol Schweizer. (Hint: it’s not from the bowels of Hell.)

Restaurant industry sales expected to reach nearly $900 billion. The 2022 projection, if materialized, would exceed pre-pandemic sales levels. As Alicia Kelso reports, most of the upside is expected to come from price increases, which are about 8% higher at quick-service restaurants and 6% higher at full-service restaurants, compared to 2020.

Investing in upcycling, alternative proteins and dietary diversity. After a banner year for all venture capital funding in the United States, Douglas Yu reports that food deals are stronger than ever. A staggering $330 billion was invested in around 17,054 deals, according to PitchBook.

The World’s Most Potent Cherry Is Barbados’ Hidden Treasure. The Barbados cherry, otherwise known as the Bajan cherry, acerola, or West Indian cherry, is one of the richest natural sources of vitamin C there is, writes Daphne Ewing-Chow. Yet despite its potent nutrient profile, it has been underutilized commercially and needs greater attention.

A roasted squash salad and some leftover salmon from one of the nation’s largest community-supported fishing operations, Sitka Salmon Shares.

Chloe Sorvino leads food and agriculture coverage as an editor within the corporate team of Forbes. His nearly eight years of reporting at Forbes brought her to In-N-Out Burger’s secret test kitchen, drought-ravaged farms in California’s Central Valley, burned-out national forests operated by a timber billionaire, a century-old slaughterhouse in Omaha and even a chocolate croissant factory designed like a medieval castle in northern France. His book about the fight for the future of meat will be released by Simon & Schuster’s Atria Books in September 2022.

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