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    Essential Food by the Numbers - Halloween Special Edition

    Food by the Numbers Halloween600 million tons: Estimated weight of all Halloween candy as estimated by The Nielsen Company.

    130+ years: Number of years “candy corn” has been in existence. While the true creator is not known, the traditional Halloween treat was created in the 1880s (when it was known as “Chicken Feed”).

    1 hour: Extra amount of trick-or-treating time created in 2007 when the Energy Policy Act was signed. This Act extended Daylight Savings Time (DST) for one week. The extension of DST is believed to contribute to the economic health of the golf and barbeque industries; however, it was candy retailers and manufacturers who were the greatest lobbyists for passing the legislation.

    2,500: Number of dentists and orthodontists who are participating in a Halloween Candy Buyback. Founded by dentist Chris Kammer, the program pays $1/pound of candy and sends it to U.S. troops overseas as part of Operation Gratitude.

    66%: Percent of children who self-proclaim that they eat “too much candy” on Halloween.

    8%: Percent of American children who have food allergies or intolerances according to the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology (AAAAI). With nearly 40% of these children have a history of severe reactions to their allergies, many are concerned about such incidents occurring due to Halloween candy.

    89.7%: Percent of respondents to a CreditDonkey 2013 survey that indicated they like to receive Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. The Reese’s product is also candy the greatest number of participants indicated they like to give (81.7%).

    $44: Average amount a household will spend on candy for Halloween according to Bundle – for a grand total of $1.9 billion worth of candy purchases in America. A National Retail Federation survey suggests Halloween spending will rise this year.

    1.1 billion pounds: The amount of pumpkin production by top pumpkin producing states in 2010. (Illinois [427 million pounds], California, New York, and Ohio all produce greater than 100 million pounds of the seasonal gourd).

    90%: Percent of parents who admit to “sneaking” candy from their children.

    FoodEssentials hopes everyone has a safe and fun Halloween – Happy trick-or-treating!


    The Essentials of the Wall Street Journal’s New Food Features

    Recently, the Wall Street Journal introduced two unique food features to their website – Axis of Additives and What’s In Your Food?

    The Axis of Additives illustrates where 15 ingredients can be found in the supermarket by using ingredient label data from FoodEssentials’ LabelINSIGHT.

    Additionaly, the feature also uses ingredients from the Institute of Food Technologists and data from the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

    WSJ Axis of Additives

    What’s In Your Food? is a quiz feature asking users to determine which of three given ingredients is shared between two foods. Using the same data sources as the Axis of Additives this feature is a unique look into the use of ingredients in food and beverages.

    WSJ What's In Your Food

    These two features from the Wall Street Journal add to the growing number of users incorporating customized data from to provide unique insights into the food industry.

    A Live View into the Marketplace


    FoodEssentials is looking for a VP of Engineering

    VP of Engineering

    Who we are

    FoodEssentials is a young and vibrant company developing best of breed technologies to solve problems related to food label data for manufacturers, retailers, the government, and ultimately consumers. We leverage our proprietary technologies to provide the tools to undertake the deep analysis of food label data.

    Why are we excellent

    We have been working on scaling the analysis of large food label data sets since 2004. Our proprietary technology provides the framework for a host of analysis tools that serve both government, industry and consumers alike.

    Our mission has always been to make vast amounts of food label data accessible and easily analyzable.

    What you’ll do

    • Lead technology efforts and expansion

    • Dealing with scaling issues and solving them

    • Translate the strategic vision into an executable technical roadmap

    • Hire, manage, and retain top talent in both the Chicagoland and St. Louis area (based out of Chicago)

    • Collaborate with executive and cross-functional product team to form engineering roadmap

    • Constantly remove organizational bottlenecks and scale issues as the team grows

    • Collaborate on key architectural decisions and design consideration

    • Track and manage key metrics like system costs, team performance and business KPIs

    Your Creds

    • Proven leadership experience with the ability to attract and retain top engineering talent.

    • Strong bias for action. Mistakes are ok, going slow is not. Must be able to adapt to change quickly and efficiently.

    • Able to partner with key stakeholders, including: Exec team, Product Management, Marketing etc...

    • Ability to break down a strategic roadmap into a focused series of wins that the team can rally around.

    • Ability to see multiple solutions to problems and choose the right one for the situation.

    • Excellent written and oral communication skills.

    • Proven history scaling small teams into large and efficient teams.

    • Background in object oriented development and familiarity with the following technologies: Java, JSON, XML, JSP and Servlet containers (e.g. Tomcat), RDBMS, Continuous Integration tools (e.g Jenkins)

    Nice to have

    • Big data experience

    • Chef

    • New Relic


    The Essentials' of the GMA Healthy Products Report

    Grocery Manufacturers AssociationThe Grocery Manufacturers Association, GMA, recently reported from 2002-2013 Food Manufacturers have marketed over 30,000 new healthy products, 10,000 which came in the previous 4 years.

    Highlighting the work of Food Manufacturer's to expand their healthy food product offerings, from GMA's study, while also incorporating data from LabelINSIGHT, we identified where you were most likely to find these healthier products in the grocery store.

     Food Manufacturers have worked to:

    1.  Eliminate or reduce Trans Fat in over 11,000 productsA Live View into Eliminated or Reduced Trans Fat Marketed Products

    2.  Eliminate or reduce Saturated Fat in over 8,000 productsA Live View into Eliminated or Reduced Saturated Fat Marketed Products

    3.  Reduce Sugar/Carbohydrates in over 5,500 productsA Live View into Eliminated Sugar Marketed Products

    4.  Reduce Calorie content in over 5,500 productsA Live View into Reduced or Eliminated Calorie Marketed Products

    5.  Reduce Sodium in over 6,500 productsA Live View into Reduced or Eliminated Sodium Nutritional Value Products

    Pamela G. Bailey, GMA CEO, highlights the Food Manufacturers who have, “made available to consumers thousands of new and reformulated product choices that are less in calories, fats, sugar and sodium.”

    Original reporting of GMA's study came from the Progressive Grocer, we will continue to watch for updates while highlighting our live view of the marketplace.

     A Live View into the Marketplace


    The Essentials of EWG's Food Scores Database

    EWG Food Scores DatabaseToday the Environmental Working Group, EWG, released their much anticipated food database, Food Scores.

    The Food Scores online database rates over 80,000 foods, in a simple and searchable online format to empower people to shop smart and eat healthier. 

    EWG examined the 80,000 + food products on an individual basis to determine the overall score, taking into consideration nutritional components, ingredient make up, prevalence of additives and contaminants as well as the degree of processing.

    EWG utilizes FoodEssentials’ data from, the industry’s most powerful and innovative product insight exchange, providing manufacturers and retailers a live view into the grocery marketplace.

    EWG populates their Food Scores database via custom API’s, Application Programming Interfaces, pulling specific pieces of data from the actual packages of the food products through a select number of the 10,000+ product attributes available on  The product attributes range from ingredients, nutrient values, marketing claims, certifications and more.

    The Food Scores database is another example of customizing data from in response to the growing demand for transparency in the food industry.

    A Live View into the Marketplace


    Essential Food by the Numbers

    Essential Food By The Numbers50%: Amount of global coffee that once came from Haiti, which now exports just $1 million of coffee annually. Climate change, deforestation, embargoes, and competition from other nations have been the largest factors in coffees decline in Haiti.


    130: Number of outlets Target operates in Canada, which now have an uncertain future as the retail giant is questioning selling the stores following poor sales since acquiring and converting the former Zellers locations.

     0: Difference in nutrition between pomegranate that are water-stressed and those that are not according to research by Tiziana Centofanti, who is affiliated with the Center for Irrigation Technology and did the work on behalf of the US Department of Agriculture.

    0.48: BOMP (bleeding on marginal probing) score that chewers of xylitol and maltitol sweetened gum chewers achieved according to a study by the Academic Center for Dentistry Amsterdam. Sugar-free gum chewers in the study had a score of 0.26, while non-chewers scores averaged 0.36. No statistical differences in plaque were found between groups.

    12 pounds/year: Potential weight gain attributed to reduced calorie-burning by those with a history of depression and current marital hositility following a heavy meal -118 fewer calories up to 7 hours after- according to research by the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at The Ohio State University.

    2X: Increase in shelf-life for produce sprayed with a new all-natural film produced by Apeel Sciences. With 1/3 of all food being thrown away and the tendency of produce to rot, it is hoped this product might reverse this trend as well as reduce the need for pesticides.

    1/5: Amount of the $520 billion total food and beverage market dollar sales in 2013 made up of private label purchases according to Packaged Facts. With a current $102 billion in sales, and a 4% growth rate, the segment could reach $122 billion by 2018. Packaged Facts notes that organic private label investments and offerings have grown substantially in recent years.

    50 minutes: Length of time it would take to burn the calories from an average soda through running. Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health came up with this figure (which is for a 110 pound adolescent) as a means to combat the lack of attention Americans give to nutrition labels. The Hopkins teams believes teens may respond to messaging that converts calories into the number of miles, or length of time (running or walking) needed to burn calories consumed in food and drink products.

    80%: Share of total antibiotics given to livestock. Research from the Stanford University School of Medicine suggest that mice given antibiotics to treat Salmonella infections grow sicker and may be more likely to spread disease. Denise Monack, PhD., the lead author of the study, suggests “If this [study’s findings on mice] holds true for livestock as well – and I think it will – it would have obvious public health implications.”

    13%: Share of the 3,821 healthy children aged one to six in a St. Michael’s Hospital study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal that drink non-cow’s milk (rice, almond, soy, or goat). The researchers found that children who drank non-cow’s milk had lower levels of vitamin D in their blood compared to drinkers of cow’s milk. Every 100 milliliters of cow’s milk must be fortified with 40 units of vitamin D, while fortifying non cow’s milk is voluntary.


    Organic, the healthier choice? 

    The Master's of Public Health Degrees Online, an independent online resource for public health students, according to their website, recently released this infographic comparing and contrasting Organic and Conventional farming - what do you think?

    Organic Food


    Food by the Numbers

    Food by the Numbers4.46/5: Average satisfaction score of supermarkets according to Retail Feedback Group’s (RFG’s) 2014 U.S. Supermarket Experience Study. The Study also found engaging shoppers at the front-end and in aisles are immensely valuable tools to increase customer experience, a position supported by the finding 65% of shoppers indicate cashiers have a positive impact on their shopping experience.

    28.2%: Percent of participants (958) adhering to two different Mediterranean diets that no longer fit the criteria for metabolic syndrome after a mean follow up period of 4.8 years. However, the diets did not have a statistical impact on decreasing the likelihood of developing the condition. The study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal tracked the long-term effect of two Mediterranean diets (one with high virgin olive oil consumption and the other with high nut consumption) compared to a control low-fat diet.

    49%: Percent of Americans that consume a sandwich on any given day. With so much sandwich consumption author Dan Pashman investigated ways to increase the enjoyment from the sandwich experience and address issues such as “the sliced cucumber conundrum,” where slippery sandwich components are likely to fall out of a sandwich. (For those curious, Pashman suggests solving the issue with “the silver lining of greens,” where slippery sandwich components are separated by layers of greens rather than placed in a sandwich together.)

    8%: Share of the beer market held by craft breweries. With overall US beer consumption remaining relatively flat craft brewers have managed to increase their share of the market through double-digit annual growth, with brew pubs and microbreweries opening greater than one location per day.

    €75 million: Announced total spending Dutch private equity firm Pulsar Network Capital plans on investing in 15 to 25 Western European companies that operate in the sustainable foods, food nutrition, food-tech, or ag-tech markets. Network Capital will target companies it expects can become market leaders through a series of investments. Partner Patrick Driessen expects “The market for healthy food will grow with over 20% annually and will reach US$ 1 trillion 2017,” adding, “The new fund is one of the first specialized funds in this growth market and as such offers a fruitful basis for healthy returns on investment.”

    1/10: Share of grocery shoppers that bought at least some grocery items online in the last 30 days according to Brick Meets Click consumer research. With nearly 4% of all grocery shopping occurring online currently, and forecasts of online sales accounting for anywhere between 11% and 17% of the total grocery market in ten years, this growth market has attracted much attention and speculation.

    $30 million: Amount the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has appealed for to support food supply resilience and recovery in the three West African countries (Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea) most affected by the recent Ebola outbreak.

    21st: Annual world championship for porridge held October 10th. Porridge, the traditional Scottish breakfast dish, has seen a resurgence in recent years, with almost half of all Britons aged 16-24 starting their day with porridge according to research firm Mintel.

    £240 million: Expected sales of Halloween related food and drink sales in the UK, up from £230 million last year, according to Mintel. From 2009 to 2013 there was a 263% increase in food and drinks that that mentioned Halloween in the UK – illustrating how quickly the UK has adopted the tradition that has traditional North American roots.

    22: Number of retail depots United Biscuits will visit as part of an effort to engage with retailers regarding methods of displaying and stocking the company’s products to encourage impulse purchases. The company has invested £4 million into field sales teams to encourage the adoption of greater impulse purchasing for savory biscuits, which United Biscuits believes is a latent market.


    Health & Wellness Spotlight: Snacking and Weight Management

    A recent FoodBusinessNews article outlines several significant findings from research conducted by Packaged Facts as part of their “Weight management: U.S. consumer mindsets” report.

    Packaged Facts found:

    1. The Number 1 consumer priority when seeking to lose weight is reforming their snacking habits.
    2. 2/3rds of consumers limit their snack quantities
    3. 62% set boundaries of how often they will snack

    Additionaly, in the last 5 years consumers have made it a priority to eat several small meals a day with planned snacks in between meals that emphasize healthier options. 

    Although overeating at meals is ranked as the fourth most likely reason for being overweight, eating smaller or moderately portioned meals no longer ranks high on the list of actions dieters undertake – with only 1/3rd of dieters taking this step. David Sprinkle, researcher at Packaged Facts, suggests, “Instead of controlling what they eat at mealtimes, today’s consumers focus on changing their snacking habits in order to achieve weight loss success, a strategy that reflects the increasing importance of snacking in America today.”

    Other trends include a greater focus on checking food labels to avoid foods containing high levels of fat, sugars and sodium as well as attempting to avoid foods perceived to be processed.

    Using the LabelINSIGHT platform - we focused on highlighting the most common marketing claims being made on traditional snack packaging today as well as wholesome snacks.

    Traditional SnacksBetween the two graphs, Traditional Snacks above and Wholesome Snacks below you can see the similarities and differences between marketing approaches to the particular type of snack products.

    Wholesome Snacks

    As overall Health & Wellness continue to be top of mind for a growing number of consumers it will be interesting to continue to connect common day health trends with our live view of the grocery market place, highlighting how different products are being marketing to consumers, which ingredients are gaining in popularity and the overall nutritional values consumers begin to pay special attention to.



    To access FoodEssentials' LabelINSIGHT click here.

    A Live View Into The Marketplace


    Food by the Numbers

    50%+: Percent of Americans over 18 who drink 3 or more cups of coffee daily according to a 2010 report by the National Coffee Association. Researchers from the National Cancer Institute recently found that higher coffee consumption, whether caffeinated or not, is linked to lower levels of abnormal liver enzymes. This suggests that enzymes other than caffeine in coffee contribute to liver health – welcome news for coffee drinkers.

    4: Pillars to Walmart’s new food sustainability efforts. The four pillars include: affordability, accessibility, healthiness, and safety and transparency. Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Walmart, said, “We’ve learned on our sustainability journey that we’re most successful when our initiatives create social and environmental value and business value at the same time. Food is our number one category worldwide, and we are going to do even more in our grocery business in the years ahead. Paving a sustainable future for food is necessary for society and our business.”

    0: Effect on mood “comfort food” has according to research by the psychology department at the University of Minnesota. The research induced bad moods in college students (watching sad movies) and tested the impact of eating “comfort foods.” Their research found that the “comfort foods” resulted in the same impact on moods as those subjects who ate food they enjoyed that would not be called “comfort foods.” Lastly, students who ate nothing had the same effect on mood as those who ate the “comfort food.” This research challenges the notion some foods have psychological effects to improve moods.

    8/10: Share of 2,000 UK consumers polled by market research firm Canadean that believe fruits and vegetables provide equal health benefits to supplements aimed at weight loss or other health benefits. The survey additionally found that 27% of respondents believed health claims on functional foods and drinks were often exaggerated.

    1-2%: Amount of the US population with peanut allergies. Research by Mount Sinai Hospital and Mount Sinai School of Medicine have added a culprit to the increase in peanut allergies – skin exposure. The research found that in addition to exposure through breast milk and/or house dust, skin exposure likely contributes to “sensitization,” which makes the skin reactive to antigens such as peanuts.

    60: Average reduction in calories (a 12% drop) on new menu items in 2013 compared to new items in 2012 according to researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. It is believed that rules requiring chain restaurants to post calories on their menus in many cities have led to increased consciousness and that federal rules that will expand these labels as part of the Affordable Care Act have likely resulted in restaurants modifying their menus to reduce calories. The analysis published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine covered more than 19,000 menu items in 66 chains and found that most reductions were in new items while signature dishes had lower/no calorie reductions. With an excess of fewer than 200 calories daily potentially resulting in obesity, a 60 calorie reduction is hoped to offer the potential to create significant change with time.

    214 million tons: Amount of sweeteners consumed around the world in 2013. 80% (180 million tons) of the sweeteners were sugar of high-fructose corn syrup while 20% (34 million tons) were low and non-caloric sweeteners according to the market research firm Canadean. While low and non-caloric sweeteners are growing in market share and consumer attention, this sector faces many challenges to adoption including customer perceptions and taste preferences. In 2013, soft drink manufacturers used 700 tons of stevia-based ingredients, while total aspartame and Acesulfame K use was 21,000 tons (12,300 tons and 8,700 tons respectively).

    32: Number of subjects in a study by cognitive psychologist Lorenza Colzato published in Psychological Research, which found that test subjects who drank orange juice with tyrosine performed better when solving puzzles compared to those who received a placebo. Tyrosine, an amino acid found naturally in fruits, soybeans, spinach, eggs, and cottage cheese, potentially could be an inexpensive and healthy way to boost creativity and focus according to the research. Steve Jobs claims that his high fruit diet enabled his creativity and success might be substantiated by this research according to Colzato.

    $15.6 billion: Cost of major foodborne illnesses in the US according to the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Economic Research Service. The Service looked at 15 pathogens that represent 95% of all illnesses and deaths from foodborne illnesses where the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) could identify a pathogen cause. Food Safety News used the mean value in the ranges provided by the Economic Research Service to determine the $15.6 billion figure. The 15 pathogens are said to impact 8.9 million Americans annually, and the costs take into account factors such as outpatient and inpatient expenditures for medical care and lost income.

    2¢/ounce: Proposed tax on sugary drinks in San Francisco that will appear on November ballots. A similar one cent per ounce tax is proposed in Berkeley, California. According to the Associated Press, the California legislature has failed in at least 6 attempts to tax sweetened beverages in the past. The San Francisco initiative would reduce soft drink consumption by a third and raise $25 million annually for health education according to supporters.