future fiction

Purdue-Tyson, Niman Ranch, Smithfield Foods Announce Mega Protein Merger

Facing competitive pressure from the well established algae protein industry, the last remaining traditional animal protein companies – chicken, beef, and pork – are consolidating into a new diversified entity called Interdum, Latin for protein.

The merger looks to realize operating efficiencies while pooling marketing and lobbying clout for the long declining land animal protein industry. Each company has experienced over a decade of declining sales growth in light of the rise of alternative proteins such as insect, vegetable derivatives, sand most notably, the algae industry.

Algae farming has succeeded due to superior production cost advantages, plentiful water cultivation space, and broad innovation as a protein source. With algae jerky, hamburger-like patties, and the classic powder that can be integrated into nearly any food, algae is an ingredient that is difficult to compete with in today’s market.

The Federal Trade Commission is highly likely to approve the merger, since antitrust concerns are largely abated by the significant amount of alternative protein competitors on the market today. There is still a robust market for small, independent producers of chicken, beef, and pork, as consumers now prefer companies with more responsible and traceable growing practices.

Investment analyst, Joseph Hall, who covers the food industry is cynical about the new protein conglomerate. “The merger feels like a last ditch effort for these companies to stay afloat as alternative and small protein producers are eating their lunch. These guys will be around for a few more years but it’s definitely a business that’s on life support. We’re short on this one by a long shot.”



Senate Approves Junk Food Labeling & Advertising Ban

An overwhelming majority in Congress voted to limit advertising and require labeling of foods considered “junk” by a new joint USDA & FDA junk food advisory board (JFAB).

The new regulations are reminiscent of tobacco labeling and advertising regulations established nearly a century ago in 1970 by President Richard Nixon. All packaged foods will receive a rating from the JFAB and if deemed junk, must bear a conspicuous front of pack label stating so. Junk food brands will also be barred, effective immediately, from advertising on television, radio, or the Internet.

Criteria for a junk rating is defined as food that exceeds mandated levels of fat, sodium, sugar, and/or calories, or is devoid of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and/or antioxidants. The regulation is obviously a huge blow to brands who still have a majority of their product line in junk rated food.

However, industry analysts predict that the regulation won’t affect the overall food industry too negatively, as most processed food manufacturers have been shifting their product lines toward healthier food over the past decade based on improved consumer eating habits.

The weakening of the junk food industry and their lobbying efforts was a contributing factor to this legislation passing so efficiently. This lack of political influence is also leading to even more progressive concepts in liberal states such as New York, where selling junk food may soon require a license. In this arrangement, the State Liquor Authority would be charged with issuing and regulating junk food licenses similar to how liquor licenses are managed today.