U.S. reels toward meat shortage; world may be next

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Key operations are halted in the U.S., Brazil and Canada, affecting pork and poultry production.

Plant shutdowns are leaving the U.S. dangerously close to meat shortages as coronavirus outbreaks now spread to suppliers across the Americas.

Almost a third of U.S. pork capacity is down, the first big poultry plants closed on Friday and experts are warning that domestic shortages are just weeks away. Brazil, the world’s No. 1 shipper of chicken and beef, saw its first major closure with the halt of a poultry plant owned by JBS SA, the world’s biggest meat company. Key operations are also down in Canada, the latest being a British Columbia poultry plant.

While hundreds of plants in the Americas are still running, the staggering acceleration for supply disruptions is now raising questions over global shortfalls. Taken together, the U.S., Brazil and Canada account for about 65% of world meat trade.

“It’s absolutely unprecedented,” said Brett Stuart, president of Denver-based consulting firm Global AgriTrends. “It’s a lose-lose situation where we have producers at the risk of losing everything and consumers at the risk of paying higher prices. Restaurants in a week could be out of fresh ground beef.”

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Robot deliveries might end up being common, post-Coronavirus Pandemic

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Having an unoccupied vehicle deliver your food makes a lot more sense now.

Delivery robots helped deliver food and medicine in Wuhan, China, during the coronavirus-related quarantine.

In the United States, autonomous shuttles from the French company NAVYA have been repurposed as delivery robots to transport COVID-19 tests.

Most of these delivery robots still have human controllers keeping track of them and driving them when needed.

While the Wuhan district in China was under quarantine, news surfaced of robots delivering food and, later, medical supplies. Meanwhile, in the United States, the French company NAVYA configured its autonomous passenger shuttles in Florida to transport COVID-19 tests to the Mayo Clinic from off-site test locations. As the weeks of stay-at-home orders and recommendations slip into months, the delivery robots that were seen as a joke, fad, or nuisance have in some instances found a way into the public consciousness as important tools to combat the spread of coronavirus. The question is, will their usefulness extend post-lockdown?

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Pork and beef prices surge as meat plants shutter due to coronavirus

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Hundreds of meat plant workers across the country have fallen ill with the coronavirus, leading to a slowdown in output and surge in prices.

By the numbers, per Bloomberg: The price of wholesale pork rose by 7.2% to 55.86 cents a pound Thursday — the largest increase in more than two years. Choice-grade beef prices rose to a one-month high of $2.36 a pound, climbing for six straight days through Thursday.

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Five ways that coronavirus will change the way we eat

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A self-driving food delivery robot might appear in a post-pandemic world in which consumers want to avoid human contact.

 These are unprecedented times. One thing is for sure— with the widespread acceptance that coronavirus originated in an exotic meat market in China, there has been a massive consumer rethink around food.

This shift is impacting the type of food that is consumed, where it is obtained, how and where it is prepared and how it is produced and stored.

The overarching theme? Fear of contagion and oftentimes human contact.

Here are some predictions of how coronavirus will change the way we eat, based on recent surveys and forecasting.

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Shenzhen becomes first Chinese city to ban consumption of cats and dogs

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(CNN)Shenzhen, in southeastern China, has become the first city in the country to ban the consumption of cats and dogs, the government announced Thursday.

 Under new rules which will come into effect May 1, the government said it will be illegal to eat animals raised as pets.

In February, following the coronavirus outbreak, China passed a law to ban the consumption of wild animals.

China has made eating wild animals illegal after the coronavirus outbreak. But ending the trade won’t be easy

Now Shenzhen will prohibit the consumption of state-protected wild animals and other terrestrial wild animals taken from the wild, as well as captive-bred and farmed terrestrial wild species.

In addition, the consumption of animals raised as pets, such as cats and dogs will also be banned.

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Coronavirus is hurting the restaurant industry. Here’s how it could change the future of food

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Dan Barber, the vanguard chef behind Blue Hill at Stone Barns, earned two Michelin stars as he championed the farm-to-table movement in New York State. But rave reviews have spared no one in the ailing food world, as restaurants have gone into perilous hibernation, leaving workers unemployed and thoroughfares eerily quiet around the country.

Barber shut the doors of Blue Hill at Stone Barns, in Westchester County, and a second location in New York City in mid-March. With hopes of keeping some income flowing to struggling employees and suppliers, his team started offering to-go boxes of produce, meat, fish and other items that loyal patrons could make and consume at home. But even at prices ranging up to $170, Barber says, it’s hardly a drop in the bucket. “It’s like whack-a-mole,” he says. “There’s problems everywhere with everyone.”

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How long could you live off body fat alone?

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In this extract from Fat: The Secret Organ, obesity researchers Mariette Boon and Liesbeth van Rossum explain the purpose of fat in the body and how long it can keep us going without food.

When we talk about the fuel ‘fat’, which is suspended in our blood and which can be absorbed and burned by organs, what we’re referring to are fatty acids. These are long ‘tails’, or chains, that are usually made up of 16 to eighteen carbon atoms.

Just like glucose, fatty acids are cleverly packaged so that large numbers of them can be stored without taking up too much space. You can compare it to a zip file on your computer. This is why fatty acids are stored in bunches of three in the form of what are known as ‘triglycerides’.

Thousands of tightly packed triglycerides are stored in a single fat cell. This is a huge amount of fuel, a real goldmine. As soon as you haven’t eaten for a few hours, or if you’ve been physically active for an extended period of time (for example, exercising or doing housework), this fuel will be tapped into.

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Illegal e-bikes OK’d in NYC as food delivery lifeline amid coronavirus crisis

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New York City’s ban of electric bicycles has been shelved to help support food delivery during the coronavirus crisis.

 Despite the growing popularity of electric bicycles, they have been outlawed in New York City.

The issue has largely been centered around throttle e-bikes, which use a hand throttle similar to a motorbike and don’t require the user to pedal to engage the electric motor.

These types of electric bicycles were the go-to method of transportation for NYC’s approximately 40,000 food delivery workers, according to the New York Post. The crackdown on these workers, who are mostly from foreign and minority backgrounds, has long been considered discriminatory by many activist groups.

Efforts have been made to legalize e-bikes in NYC, including the popular throttle-powered e-bikes. But after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo vetoed the latest bill seeking their legalization in December 2019, such e-bikes have remained banned.

Many restaurants have now shifted to take-away and delivery-only options, temporarily ceasing in-restaurant dining.

In response, New York City has decided to temporarily suspend its crackdown on electric bicycles like those used by food delivery workers. The suspension in enforcement means that the NYPD will no longer issue tickets or confiscate electric bikes during the crisis.

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Instacart is hiring 300,000 grocery shoppers

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The company will provide with paid sick leave in case they’re diagnosed with COVID-19.

Instacart plans to hire an additional 300,000 “full-service” contractors to help it deliver groceries to people during the coronavirus pandemic. With so many individuals and families stuck inside as a result of social distancing measures and shelter in place orders in states like California, Instacart says order volume has increased by 150 percent over the last few weeks, with people buying more per cart as well.

The company currently operates in about 5,500 cities across the United States and Canada. Instacart’s plan will see it hire broadly in states like California and New York. In the former, for instance, it plans to bring on approximately 54,000 new full-time shoppers. In other states like Texas and Florida, it will hire thousands of new contractors as well, and provide them with paid sick leave if they’re diagnosed with COVID-19 or need to self-isolate.

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Amazon looking to buy four Fairway stores amid coronavirus chaos

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The Woodland Park, New Jersey Fairway Market (pictured) is one the locations Amazon is targeting.

Amazon is on the prowl once again — and this time it’s eyeing a handful of supermarkets owned by New York City grocer Fairway Market, The Post has learned.

The tech juggernaut run by Jeff Bezos is bidding on four stores owned by the bankrupt Fairway in New York and New Jersey, including one in Brooklyn, home to a popular waterfront mega-market in Red Hook, sources told The Post.

The auction, which kicked off Monday and continued into Thursday, comes as the coronavirus brings the country to its knees, raising recession fears. But COVID-19 has also proven a boon for Amazon’s online ordering business as people hunker down at home.

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Amazon is expanding its cashierless Go model into a full-blown grocery store

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The first Amazon Go Grocery opens today in Seattle’s Capitol Hill district

Amazon is getting more serious about its brick-and-mortar retail ambitions with its first-ever Amazon-branded grocery store. The store opens today in Seattle’s Capitol Hill district, confirming reports from last year that Amazon was developing a more ambitious version of its cashier-less Go model. The new store, which The Verge toured late last week, is indeed modeled after a standard Amazon Go location, but it has been expanded to include a wide array of grocery items you’d find at, say, Amazon-owned Whole Foods.

In fact, the store does source a number of its items, including some produce and meat and other fresh food, from Whole Foods suppliers. It also carries Whole Foods’ 365 brand for certain items. But Amazon’s store offers other products, like Kellogg’s breakfast cereal and Coke products, that you won’t find at Amazon’s higher-end, organic-focused subsidiary.

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In two decades, your future meals will be flavored with trendy contradictions

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As Sunday morning, January 1, 2040, dawns, Coloradans will wake up to a breakfast of lab-cultured sausage, mung bean–based eggs, and tiger-nut-flour banana bread—all prepared by robots who talk like Alexa’s much smarter granddaughter. There is no kale in sight, and almond milk was banned long ago for being an environmental threat.

The first month of the year is still filled with new diets, new calendars, new dire warnings, and the traditional predictions from culinary prognosticators.

I’ve been the guy predicting the next big food thing in newspapers and magazines since the early 1980s. See how official I just sounded?

Admittedly, I’m a food data geek who soaks up stats from the market research firm NPD Group, Whole Foods, food industry insight source Technomic, Forbes, the National Restaurant Association, and similar sources. Tell me what you’ll eat, and I’ll tell you who you’ll be.

Looking forward 20 years in nutrition, there are dining, grocery shopping, and farming trends that I think will be going strong.

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