Huddle Notes from August 17th, 2020

The huddles this week focused on tradeshows moving to virtual, the evolution and future of distribution systems,  and commodity crop agriculture’s recent hit.

Talking Points & Trends

  • Schools and Food Systems
    • Lack of in-person schooling means no food service
      • For those in food system work such as food hubs, the sales prognosis is still unclear, and there’s a continued need to pivot. Perhaps considering light processing like chopping broccoli as a new product line?
    • The only consistent institutional sales seem to be hospitals
  • Virtual Tradeshows
    • Expo East – Sent out guidelines for getting the most out of a virtual tradeshow, to give to a client/food entrepreneur. Read the full guide.
    • FFI is using Pathable for our Edible-Alpha® Live! Event
    • Virtual = less pressure to break people out of their shells which makes more effort required on the company hosting
  • Epic Systems – Medical records software company located outside of Madison. “Madison’s Google,” they have their own campus with gyms, childcare, concierge services, cafeteria, etc.
    • Woman-owned private company, Judith Faulkner, company makes over $1Billion in sales per year.
    • Called all of her employees back into the office early which created a complete uproar, quickly retracted this requirement.
      • She would have been in violation of the current Dane County COVID rules, so she hired doctors from John Hopkins to help her figure out how to safely bring people back into the office. She plans to share this information publicly after it’s put together.
    • (Google recently announced their employees won’t be coming back to the office until next summer)
  • Distribution Evolution
    • Kroger Ship – Next day delivery service. Just announced they are going to offer a broader assortment of products than what is just in their store. Are adding 50K products, not currently sold in their stores, using third party fulfillment for distribution even though they have their own distribution already. Emulating Amazon…?
      • This could be really good news for small brands. Sleepy old retail grocery industry is evolving!
    • Amazon is looking at empty shopping mall stores (Sears, JC Penny, etc.) as potential distribution centers. Unsure if pick-up will be a part of this but potential since pick-up is more popular than delivery.
  • Restaurants – Families with incomes between $36K and $200K+ are dining out more again. However, according to Bloomberg, the long-economic damage from COVID is predicted to cause 60% of eating establishments not making it through COVID.
  • Agriculture
    • Large storm 8/3/2020 leveled the third of the corn crop in the state of Iowa… 14M acres of corn and soybeans destroyed.
      • Hundreds of millions of dollars of stored grain were also destroyed.
      • These losses may move commodity pricing
    • App Harvest – technology for vertical hydroponics closed on a $150M Series C raise. Read more.
    • Bayer – $30M investment in Unfold, making seed varieties for hydroponics and indoor agriculture. Read more.
    • Inspections during COVID the FDA stopped doing inspections as well as organic certifiers, kosher, etc. but they are now being reactivated!
  • Chain restaurants are developing delivery only restaurants cooking food in other kitchens, almost as a sub-brand. Read more.
    • Brand doesn’t necessarily need a physical space anymore.

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