Retail Observer

December 2019

The Retail Observer is an industry leading magazine for INDEPENDENT RETAILERS in Major Appliances, Consumer Electronics and Home Furnishings

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RETAILOBSERVER.COM DECEMBER 2019 36 Elsewhere, Shawn Lange of Lab2Fab made a compelling presentation on why $15 an hour is not the real problem for food companies considering automation. Lange suggested that automation can actually make jobs more rewarding and easier by removing the monotonous and dangerous tasks, enabling companies to embrace higher wages. Lots of societal issues still need to be addressed as automation makes its way deeper into our lives. I'm just glad to see that companies aren't only recognizing the issues but engaging with them and finding solutions. JENN: Wellness is now a design for living . . . and your kitchen. It's no secret that "wellness" is on many people's minds these days. A recurring theme at SKS was how a trendy term is evolving from a simple buzzword to a major business driver as companies create solutions for designing healthier eating habits into daily life. A major example was when architects Veronica Schreibeis Smith of wellness-focused kitchen company Vera Iconica, and the MIT Media Lab's Suleiman Alhadidi took the stage to discuss how wellness is changing the way home kitchens get designed, literally. Both speakers showed solutions that utilized everything from robotic cabinets to temperature-controlled pantries, to space in the cabinetry for hydroponic grow systems. The idea behind these up-and-coming designs is to make it easier for the average consumer to access fresh ingredients daily, utilize space, and make the home cooking process for healthy meals a lot more efficient. In a different panel, Sherry Zhang, CEO of GenoPalate, explained that 40 percent of health is due to human behavior, and that all the health data in the world won't help consumers if they can't figure out how to change their behavioral patterns. How will we get there? Zhang suggested that AI will play a big part, with intelligence eventually embedded into our cooking devices, such as ovens. We're still some way from that day. Cost remains a big barrier for some health-focused kitchen solutions. As more companies start to focus their innovation efforts in this area, we'll see the costs start to come down, ideally for the devices and the food itself. CATHERINE: Alternative protein is on the cusp of a major revolution. When most people think about the future of protein, their thoughts turn to plant-based meats like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, both of which have been grabbing tons of media headlines. But at SKS 2019, we dove into new worlds of alternative protein. Sure, plant-based was one, but the possibilities extend a long way beyond faux burgers. I spoke with Bjorn Oste of Oatly, Daniel Scharff of JUST, and scientist Dr. PK Newby about the trajectory of plant-based revolution and why it's only going to keep growing (thanks, Gen Z). Plant-based protein's popularity may be growing, but so is our desire for protein in general. Plants can help feed our protein hunger, sure, but the solution may include cell-based meat and aquaculture. That's what Lou Cooperhouse of BlueNalu and David Kay of Memphis Meats told me in our discussion on what's next for cultured meat. I was interested to learn that they don't envision this new protein source replacing all traditional meat, but rather helping to fill the delta between how much protein we can grow on earth, and how much we'll need to feed the world. Just as soon as it gains regulatory approval, of course. One of the most futuristic talks of the day was our panel on next- generation protein building blocks. Perumal Gandhi of Perfect Day, Dr. Lisa Dyson of Air Protein, and Morgan Keim of Motif FoodWorks dove into the emergent field of fermentation protein, a technology that can help us have our animal-free ice cream and save the planet, too. As long as we can figure out what to call it… Perhaps the biggest question of all was raised at the end of the conference, when I spoke with Jaime Athos, CEO of Tofurky (which is suing two states over product labeling restrictions) about what exactly defines meat – and who gets to say so. That's a question that will likely guide the availability (or lack thereof) of many of these new sources of protein going forward. If you want to stay up to date with the latest, make sure to subscribe to our Future Food newsletter! P L A N T- B AS E D P R OT E I N ' S P O P U L A R I T Y M AY B E G R OW I N G , B U T S O I S O U R D E S I R E F O R P R OT E I N I N G E N E R A L . P L A N TS CA N H E LP F E E D O U R P R OT E I N H U N G E R , S U R E , B U T T H E S O LU T I O N M AY I N C LU D E C E LL- B AS E D M E AT A N D AQ UAC U LT U R E . — Katherine Lamb An Industry Working Together

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