Food News Today transcripts for April 6th, 2011

April 08, 2011

Our consumer Panel weighs in on diabetes, could bison consumption challenge beef? And technology replaces the wine steward for April 6th, 2011.

 Good morning.

Immediately following Food News Today, we continue with a live discussion in our chat room below. I hope you will join us, feel free to type in your comments or questions throughout the broadcast.

This is Food News Today.   Food News Today is sponsored by ConAgra Foods, who shares with me the desire to provide the most current, interesting and unbiased food news. 


In Health & Wellness today we take a look at diabetes and what shoppers have to say.  The federal fight against obesity – and particularly against childhood obesity – could help millions of Americans avoid the complications, pain and expense of Type 2 diabetes. The sooner people eat smarter, the sooner they’ll take themselves out of harm’s way.  Studies have shown that Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed by losing just 7 percent of body weight, through physical activity and healthy eating, according to the American Diabetes Association, noting that African-Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Native Americans, Asian-Americans, Pacific Islanders and others with family history of the disease are at greater risk for Type 2. Some proactive help from supermarkets could go a long way.   Diabetes is insidious and can inflict internal damage quietly, without blatant symptoms. Some 79 million Americans (1 in 3 U.S. adults) are prediabetic, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Add to this the 26 million already diagnosed, the 7 million who have diabetes but don’t know it, and the 16% of pregnant women who have gestational diabetes – It is time supermarkets help consumers manage the disease or keep from getting it. But are they?  We asked our SupermarketGuru Consumer Panel how they shop with diabetes prevention and control in mind; 71% say they or someone in their household has diabetes or pre-diabetes.  Only 41% say they or the person with diabetes always eats with prevention or blood sugar control in mind- 34% say they usually do so.After diagnosis, most people have to rethink their eating habits, to include more dark green veggies, whole grains, legumes and lean meats- but only 62% of the consumer panel says they have changed their dietary habits after diagnosis.  So what do they look for when shopping in the market? 33% focus on total carbohydrate content, 23% look at sugar content, 14% glycemic index and 11% say they are confused and not sure what to focus on. Here’s the opportunity for supermarkets - A whopping 66% say they would like more help from the supermarket in clarifying how to eat smarter with diabetes.  43% say informative signage, 41% would look to the website for info, 33% would want booklets, 33% would seek help from an in-store nutritionist or dietician, 12% would attend after-hours classes.  Keep in mind that 64% are expecting this information for free.

Another opportunity that 79% of the consumer panel would find helpful is to have appropriate foods labeled as "helpful for managing diabetes”.  It's time we all help promote the American Diabetes Association Join the Million Challenge. This month-long campaign runs through April 22 with a goal to have one million Americans take the free Diabetes Risk Test online, just visit   


In today's tech story we visit Smart Cellar, and yes, there is an app for that!  Rather than a waiter or host dropping off a hefty, daunting and often outdated leather bound wine list on your dinner table, a handful of restaurants have opted to aid in the ease of wine selection by using the technology combination of SmartCellar and the iPad.  Celebrity Chefs and Restaurateurs as Todd English (Olives in New York City), Wolfgang Puck (Cut in Las Vegas, NV), Gordon Ramsey (Claridge’s in London), Joel Robuchon (Four Seasons in New York City), Chef Jose Andres (Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, NV), are leading the charge.  Patrons can browse, via the device’s touch-pad, for wines by name, region, varietal and price; guests can even view an up-close image of the bottle’s label. SmartCellar can even be used by the sommelier as a tool to educate and guests can even order directly from the iPad to the bar. Some restaurants actually give guests the option to order food directly through the software, as well as suggesting wine pairings according to the dishes ordered.   In addition to being a hip, tech savvy addition to the restaurant experience, SmartCellar provides valuable data to the restaurant, as you would expect, the reports give detailed feedback and monitor which wines are the best sellers. We would like to suggest they go a step further, and become a true networking tool, and allow the guests to add their own comments and ratings to the wines they selected.

In consumer trends we wonder if Bison is the Better Burger.  Ted Turner is one happy guy, although he may no longer have Jane Fonda on his arm, or running CNN, he is the largest bison rancher in the country and people are lining up at his Montana Grill restaurants, where bison is a main staple on the menu. The popularity of bison meat is finally catching on as consumers are realizing that it has less fat and cholesterol and fewer calories for the same weight of beef, pork or chicken, is high in protein and good fats, and has a wide spectrum of vitamins and minerals.    In fact, consumer demand is outpacing the available supply of bison meat, according to the National Bison Association. Sales have doubled since 2005, but the sector is still a small fraction of the meat marketplace. Last year, 53,000 bison were processed under USDA inspection. By comparison, the U.S. beef industry processes more than twice that amount - 125,000 head of cattle - every DAY. The average American now eats more than 65 pounds of beef each year, while the per-capita consumption of bison is barely one-tenth of a pound.  But now, ranchers are discovering a new reason  to enter the bison business.  Dave Carter, Executive Director of the National Bison Association says, demand is up: driven by its healthier nutrient profile, consumers interest in where and how their foods are produced and most important - the taste. Because bison is not a commodity product, ranchers are not locked into working with the pricing and marketing systems that are common in the beef or pork markets; which begs the question - as beef and pork prices continue to rise - will bison become a more affordable option? By the way, the key to cooking bison is to remember that because of its low fat content, it will cook more quickly than beef and bison is slightly sweeter than beef. Let’s head to our chat and see what is on your mind.

For Food News Today, I’m Phil Lempert, thanks for joining us. If you have a colleague in retailing, the media or a blogger who would like to also receive our advance email - please send them to to sign up. Next weeks stories will be in your Tuesday email.