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Packaged Food Science Technology What's New

The Future Of Vending Machines Might Be These Snack Delivery Robots

Vending machines have always been there in the clutch when we need a snack on the go. Soon, they all may even be able to roll over to where we are and dispense the grub we crave.

Photo courtesy of Pepsico

Pepsico has just teamed up with Robby Technologies to create snackbot, a self-driving vending machine that can be summoned across a wide space. Currently, the first ever fleet of these is deployed at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, where students can call on them between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily.

Students there with an IOS app and a university e-mail can summon one of the bots, who have 50 different preset locations on campus they can show up at. Once there, it’ll open up and you can purchase whatever snacks it has available. Pepsico currently has it stocked with healthier options, like Baked Lay’s chips, Sun Chips, and bottles of Starbucks Cold Brew coffee.

The robots themselves can drive up to 20 miles on a single charge, including in the rain and while it’s dark. They’re also equipped with all wheel drive that makes more difficult terrain obstacles, including steep climbs, possible to traverse.

Pepsico eventually hopes to have 50,000 different touch points available for the robots across a much broader space by the end of the year. Their aim is to be able to provide 24/7 access to snacks and drinks that may not otherwise be available.

Currently, the robot appears to only be able to provide shelf-stable snacks, but if refrigeration technology was equipped one day, this could be a novel and interesting way to tackle food deserts. Having a fleet of snackbots carrying fresh produce around to those who need it would be huge for areas that lack such access.

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Drinks News Packaged Food

Pepsico Just Bought SodaStream, A Sparkling Water Rival, For $3.2 Billion

The battle for the top spot in the soft beverages industry just got a little more lopsided, as Pepsico just bought one fast-rising competitor SodaStream in a bold move.

sodastreamPhoto: Wassersprudler // Wikimedia Commons 

In a press release, Pepsico unveiled that they paid $3.2 billion for the at-home sparkling water maker that’s made their new owner a common target over the years. In the past, SodaStream targeted Pepsico and other beverage giants on their heavy use of plastics. Now, Pepsico is utilizing SodaStream’s strength to their advantage as they aim to both reduce plastics and move into healthier beverages.

Both sides will benefit from the new acquisition, which is expected to complete in early 2019. Pepsico wants to reduce their environmental footprint and reduce plastics, and SodaStream appears to be a part of that new strategy for them. They have tested out products with the sparkling water machine in the past, so reintroducing those could be part of their plan.

As for SodaStream, they will get a massive boost in distribution as a result of their new owner, meaning that they can rapidly scale who and what their product goes to. That means that you can expect to find more SodaStream machines and products in stores, while seeing a drop in plastic bottles used by Pepsico products.

The transaction also brings into question the future of soft beverages. As sparkling waters continue to dominate the market and soda continues to drop, Pepsico’s acquisition could be a telling sign that making full-sugar sodas may no longer be feasible for the industry’s giants. Only time will tell if that ends up being the case, however.

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Fast Food Grocery Packaged Food Products

Flamin’ Hot Mac N’ Cheetos Are Officially Coming To Freezers Nationwide

If you’ve been a fan of Burger King’s Mac n’ Cheetos the few times they’ve dropped them, then you’re gonna be ecstatic over this news.

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Pepsico, the parent company of Cheetos, has decided to take their mac n’ cheese stuffed chips and put them in freezers nationwide. Thus, you no longer have to wait for Burger King to drop them in restaurants, and can simply pick up a pack and heat them up in your oven.

Two flavors of Mac n’ Cheetos are now available in major grocers nationwide: the standard Creamy Cheddar Mac N’ Cheetos that have become so popular, along with a brand new Flamin’ Hot Mac N Cheetos flavor. A 14.4 ounce box of each retails for about $4.98 as the recommended market price.

If you’ve been paying attention at grocers, though, you may have seen some boxes of Mac N’ Cheetos roll out already. They’ve been spotted as early as late July of this year, but this is the first official confirmation we have that everybody across the USA will be able to find them in major markets.

It’s incredible to see the Mac N’ Cheetos grow the way they have in the past few short years. From the mind of the Vulgar Chef, to Burger King restaurants, and now to grocery stores, this is one cheesy mashup that has really taken off.

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Cravings Fast Food

Here’s Absolutely Everything You Can’t Eat If You Boycott Pepsi

People got a little pissed at Pepsi’s Diet Woke commercial, where Kendall Jenner brought about world peace with nothing more than a sexy walk and a can of Pepsi.

While boycotting Kendall Jenner is easy, things get a little more complicated should you decide to boycott Pepsi.

PepsiCo’s reach is pretty deep and they own products that you probably wouldn’t even think were associated with the brand.

Let’s start with the big names such as Pepsi-Cola, Lay’s, Tropicana, Quaker, and Gatorade. All of these brands are global and household names that are all owned by PepsiCo.

Let’s dig into Yum Brands, which isn’t owned by Pepsi, but has a lifetime contract to carry Pepsi products. That’s why every time you walk into KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut or Long John Silver’s, they are exclusive Pepsi drink slangers.

Then they have the “Good for You” division, with brands that they deem healthier alternatives. These brands consist of several favorites such as Kevita, Naked Juice, Sabra Hummus, Aquafina, and Sunbites.

Then we get a little deeper with the “Better for You” PepsiCo division, with healthy-ish brands such as SoBe, Stacy’s Peta Chips, Alvalle Juice, Grain Waves Chips, and Propel Water.

The “Fun for You” division has a lot of notable names such as Cheetos, Doritos, Mtn Dew, Fritos, Tostitos, and the most unlikely item of all, the Starbucks Ready-to-Go beverages.

That’s a lot of brands to memorize. Even if you tried your hardest, you’d probably accidentally eat or drink something Pepsi related. It’s not impossible though, and if that commercial really pissed you off, give it a shot, player.

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Hit-Or-Miss News Packaged Food What's New

Pepsi’s CEO: Everyone Will Snack on Bugs in the Future

Photo: Fortune

Pepsico’s CEO Indra Nooyi has given her take on the future of snacking – and it involves bugs.

CNBC reported that Nooyi spoke at the New York Stock Exchange’s Net/Net event on the subject, saying that “the hottest thing is eating crickets” and that “bug-related stuff is big.”

Pepsico encompasses several food, snack, and beverage businesses, including Pepsi. They perform consumer research to help predict changes in trends annually. As consumers look for more affordable protein sources, crickets have become increasingly popular. Add that in with a shift to regular snacking, and cricket snacks seem to make sense for the future of food.

While the idea of consuming bugs may seem a little gross to some, Cricket snacks are readily available, and one company – Bitty Foods – has even started producing cookies made with cricket flour! (You can buy the flour to make your own as well).

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Photo: Huffington Post

Nooyi’s company has been looking at future trends to determine that bugs would be big in the next decade. “We have different people looking at different horizons, because if you believe in the ten year horizons and what we are seeing, some of the weirdest food and beverage habits are showing up,” she said at the Net/Net Summit.

Consuming bugs in the US has typically been reserved for TV entertainment. But bugs – and especially crickets – have been considered as alternative and sustainable sources of protein by those looking towards the future of food. If Indra Nooyi’s predictions hold true, we could be seeing a lot of insect-based snacks in stores in the future.

Considering she correctly predicted consumers’ aversion to junk food a decade ago, we should be paying attention to what she’s saying about bugs.

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Tastemade/Snapchat

6 Facts About GMOs

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) have become something of a dirty word in nutritional fields lately, especially with raw and paleo diets preaching a gospel of organic living. While the area of study is relatively recent, there are somethings that are already clear about GMOs—and it’s about more that just what’s going into your body. These spliced crops and livestock have far-reaching impacts on the environmental, personal, and legal well-being of our entire country.

The Genetic Modification Boogie Man

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It’s worth noting that most all food intended for human consumption has been genetically modified at one point or another. This started thousands of years ago with the domestication of crops (wheat and corn) as well as animals (cows and pigs). Through selective breeding/pollination, we’ve been able to create cows that are better at producing milk and apples that don’t taste like a mouthful of garbage disposal scraps.

Most people seem to draw a line when scientists move away from selective pollination into a more scientific procedures like gene splicing. For the purposes of this article, we’re only discussing the side effects of gene spliced GMOs, which have become increasingly more prevalent and appear in 80 percent of our foods.

Poisoned Apples

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In an effort to make GMOs more resilient to weeds and insects, scientists have attempted to engineer plants that can withstand herbicides and pesticides. Essentially, we can use stronger poisons to kill off weeds and insects which should in theory produce bigger harvests. There are two main problems with this in practice:

1) As we spray our plants with more deadly poisons, we are introducing more poisonous foods to the population. Obviously, some of this is absorbed through the plant’s skins, but it also gets into the soil, which could affect the flesh of the plants and the groundwater.

2) Insidious plants and animals are counter-evolving. Just like Jurassic Park, nature finds a way and a sequel: using stronger pesticides kills the weaker members of the species, leaving only the strongest to reproduce. This creates superweeds and superbugs that are also immune to the pesticides, meaning we have to use stronger chemicals, starting the cycle over.

They Mess With Bees!

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As a subsection of the latter point, the insecticides used on GMOs don’t just affect the undesirable insects eating plants, they also kill the insects that are necessary for the plants survival. You see, unlike you and I, plants don’t have a means of passing their genetic material to each other (i.e. sex). Enter honey bees: nature’s answer to Marvin Gaye. Bees gather nectar from flowering plants, picking up pollen in the process, which they then carry to other plants. This mixes up the genes in the plant world and effectively turns flowers in fruits, which is what makes nature tick. And science still hasn’t found a good alternative for pollination, meaning that the end of bees is essentially the end of agriculture. Dun, dun, DUN!

Dubious Nutrition

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While the increase in GMO foodstuffs has been linked to everything from increased diagnoses of autism to brain cancer, most of the science supporting this has been made on a tenuous basis. Specifically, we can see the correlation, but can’t prove the causality. Also of note, GMO-interest groups have a vested interest in convincing you that their products don’t increase the risk of Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and reproductive disorders. In addition to their well documented lobbying efforts, companies like Monsanto and Pepsico can also launch their own scientific studies, stacking the deck in their favor. They’re co-opting science, ferchrissakes!

Label Suppression

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Photo Credit: Alexis Baden-Mayer

Have you ever wondered why organic foods receive a special label and genetically modified foods don’t? Well, it turns out that a lot of the people producing and using GMOs don’t really want to be associated with terms “GMO” because of the unnatural, mad-scientist-y vibe it gives off. Lobbying groups acting on behalf of GMO and processed foods have even blocked measures from states like California, Colorado and Vermont to require labeling of all GMO foods. But for the time being, organic foods are the ones that have to make the distinction on their label, which is — like a genetically modified donkey — ass backwards.

Farmer Sovereignty

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Farmer sovereignty is a fancy way of saying that a farmer can decide what crops to grow on his or her own farm. How do GMOs impact that independence, you might ask? Large seed sellers like Monsanto own patents on their genetically modified seeds, meaning that you have to buy the seeds from them to grow their plants. If these patented organisms from a GMO farm drift into a non-GMO farm, the company holding the seed patent is allowed to sue the unauthorized grower. This is awful because this drift will occur naturally from honey bee or wind pollination. In case you aren’t aware, farming isn’t exactly a money-making enterprise, making large seed suppliers like something of a reverse Robin Hood—stealing from the poor to overfeed the rich.

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Hit-Or-Miss

Organic Gatorade Is Coming Soon, Says Pepsi

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Looks like Gatorade is going organic.

Business Insider reports that the CEO of PepsiCo Americas Beverages, Al Carey, said the snack and beverage company will introduce a new organic variant of Gatorade sometime in the near future.

Thanks to consumer interest, the trend of wanting more products with non-genetically modified organisms and more organic options, PepsiCo will focus on making at least one version of the sports drink that meets those demands.

PepsiCo is looking expand the company outside of carbonated beverages. Their other product, Tropicana, will also feature some non-GMO juices sometime in 2016.

Categories
Hit-Or-Miss

Pepsi Releases Healthier Pepsi True Cola, Looks Hip

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A few weeks back, it was reported that PepsiCo, Coca Cola and the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group would all be working to cut back the sugar in their drinks by at least 20 percent sometime in the next 10 years. Looks like Pepsi is off to an early start with a new cola they’re calling Pepsi True.

Pepsi True actually boasts 30 percent less sugar than regular Pepsi and is said to contain no high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners. Instead, it’s sweetened with real sugar and stevia leaf extract.

The brand sure knows how to market to millennials, we’ll give them that. The food and beverage company recently launched a more natural “craft” soda under the name Caleb’s Kola and it looks like they’re following a similar formula once again.

Pepsi True’s design kinda makes it look like weed soda though.