Emerging Trends: May 2013

Petri dish burgers, free school meals and a bacon surplus.

> Bacon Lovers, Rejoice

Bacon enthusiasts were alarmed when Britain’s National Pig Association reported late last year that a shortage was unavoidable due to declining pig herds around the world. But the crisis has been averted. The USDA’s February edition of Hogs and Pigs Report—yes, there is such a thing—found that the pig herd and breeding inventory were higher than expected. So feel free to continue creating bacon-flavored concoctions—here’s looking at you, bacon ice cream. 

> Free Meals for All

All students in West Virginia will eat for free if the state legislature has its way. The lawmakers passed a bill in April that would serve free lunch and breakfasts to all students, regardless of their payment status. This idea is nothing new to child nutritionists, as advocates have long hoped universal feeding would take hold across the country. The problem has always been funding. Advocates of the West Virginia bill think they have an answer: Each of the state’s 55 county boards of education would be required to set up foundations to solicit private donations for the sole use of purchasing food for students. About 53% of West Virginia’s students qualify for free or reduced-priced meals. 

> Burgers from a Petri Dish?

Looking for a new source for beef? One day you may be able to look no further than your local university. It sounds far-fetched, but physiologists in the Netherlands are working on a lab-sourced variety. Mark Post and his team at the Maastricht University say they are close to growing a burger, according to Time. Post’s team has already grown small amounts of meat tissue. The process, as one would expect, is a bit technical. It involves extracting cells from an animal and then cultivating and growing those cells into meat tissue. The procedure isn’t cheap and it will likely never be able to mass-produce beef to any degree, but, hey, who wouldn’t want to eat a lab-grown burger?

> Public OK with Limiting Unhealthy Food in Schools

There has been a lot of discussion since last year’s implementation of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act about what types of foods should be served in schools. Students, and some parents, have been vocal in their disagreement over parts of the law mandating healthier foods in schools. But a new survey suggests that sentiment might be changing. In a Gallup Poll conducted in March, two-thirds of Americans said they would vote for a law that would limit the kinds of food that can be served in schools to ensure those items meet certain nutritional standards. When asked about competitive foods—those items sold in vending machines, snack bars and bake sales—fewer people said they would vote for a law mandating healthier options. Fifty-seven percent said they were in favor of such laws.  

37%: The portion of consumers who say they are drinking less specialty coffee today than they did six months ago, according to new research conducted by Technomic for American Express’ Market Briefing.