“Alexa, Buy Whole Foods” – Amazon’s Latest Leap Into Real-World Retail Extends Into CPG, Packaging, Smart Homes, and Smart Cities

On June 16, Amazon announced it intends to buy U.S. grocery retailer Whole Foods for $13.7 billion. Whole Foods is a relatively young (founded in 1980), small chain with about 450 stores in mostly affluent neighborhoods (as well as nine in the U.K.), and focuses on organic, healthy, and relatively expensive products – earning it the nickname “Whole Paycheck.” In comparison, grocery giants like Albertsons and Kroger were founded in 1939 and 1883 respectively, and have more than 2,000 stores each. For its part, Amazon’s foray into grocery, Fresh, has not had much impact on the $700 billion industry. Still, this move is absolutely a big deal, and one that will reshape not only retail (news of the deal destroyed nearly $40 billion in market value of competing retailers) but also consumer packaged goods (CPG) categories like food, personal care, and home care, and impact industries beyond. We discussed five strategic implications with retail technology expert Jim Crawford of RED-LAB to ascertain what will happen now, what’s next for these industries, and where this positions Amazon to go in the future: Continue reading

Organic Does Not Mean Pesticide-Free

Organic agriculture has grown into a major market, resulting in food companies making bold commitments to bring organic products into their portfolios. For example, General Mills has transformed its portfolio to include nine organic brands, including Cascadian Farm, Annie’s, Food Should Taste Good, and LÄRABAR. Danone has similarly initiated a strong organic push by acquiring organic, non-GMO, plant-based food company WhiteWave for $12.5 billion in 2016. One of the primary drivers motivating food companies to develop organic product lines is the overwhelming demand from consumers. Consumers are demanding more nutritious, healthier, and sustainable foods, which they often associate with organic. Continue reading

The Future Is Meal Kits: Campbell Soup Company Invests in Chef’d

What They Said

Last week, Campbell Soup Company invested $10 million in Chef’d, a U.S.-based meal kit delivery company. This investment came directly from Campbell itself, not its $125 million venture capital arm Acre Venture Partners. This direct investment is part of Chef’d’s Series B round and gets Campbell a seat on the company’s board of directors. The investment will help position Campbell to enter e-commerce.

In its official press release, Campbell President and CEO Denise Morrison said, “E-commerce will transform the food industry in similar ways to how it transformed entertainment and apparel. It is a game changer for consumers, food makers and retailers alike. The movement is irrevocable and irreversible. In the future, shopping for and preparing meals will be flexible, fully automated and anticipatory. Chef’d will help Campbell connect with our consumers where they are today and, more importantly, where they’re headed.”

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Defining the Consumer of the Future: How Innovation Is Reshaping Our Interaction With Food

For centuries, the way in which consumers interacted with food had been dictated by a set of fixed factors. With evolving consumer demand and growing  innovation, however, thousands of tech developers are now trying to help a much more complex consumer choose, buy, and measure the impact of food. Continue reading

Inspecting Production Parts With a Hologram

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Physical Measurement Techniques IPM in Freiburg, Germany, have demonstrated the use of digital holography to discover defects in objects as small as a few centimeters. Markus Fratz, Alexander Bertz, and Tobias Beckmann used 3D digital holography by deploying a set of short laser flashes and interferometry to identify defects to a precision of a few microns. Continue reading

A Bite-Size Look at Food Waste Solutions

Food waste and loss is an unfortunate reality of the food and agriculture supply chain. Global food waste is at 30%, and as high as 40% in developed countries; but beyond being an altruistic social and environmental concern amidst the growing demand for food, it fails to receive the proper recognition as an economic issue with considerable business profit potential. Continue reading

Living in Glass Houses: The Costs and Future for Tesla’s Solar Roof

In late 2016, Elon Musk announced that Tesla would soon be offering solar roofs for homes, and claimed further that the roofs would be less expensive than non-photovoltaic roofs, even without income from photovoltaic generation. The company has partnered with 3M, which produces a film for the tiles to hide the solar cells when viewing from shallow angles. Recently, the company released its estimates for price, as well as the assumptions it relied on in order to reach those figures. Continue reading

Landscaping Carbon Fiber Recycling

Innovations aimed at reducing carbon fiber cost and improving composite processing efficiency (see the report “Carbon Fiber Composites Market Update” [client registration required]), combined with continued global scale-up (see the report “Carbon Fiber Update 2016 Edition”[client registration required]), are driving increased adoption of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRPs). As higher volumes enter the market, CFRP recycling is increasingly important not only for environmental and economic benefit, but also to avoid upfront landfill costs and to meet stringent automotive regulations in recyclability. In 2016, the global CFRP market was greater than 60,000 MT and is expected to grow to 183,000 MT or $35 billion in 2020. However, only a small amount of scrap produced per year is recycled and more than $400 million of CFRP ended up in landfills in 2015. Continue reading

Doing Well by Doing Good: Finding an Opportunity for Renewable Energy Investment as a Financial Vehicle for Sustained Growth

For a number of reports, Lux has relied on electricity grid mix forecasts and future plug-in adoption models. In this analysis, we further investigate these projections in the context of energy infrastructure capital expenditures and carbon emissions. The implications of how energy infrastructure is invested in over the next two decades are tremendous, ranging from flat capital expenditures with grim environmental consequences, to a growing investment market that achieves climate targets. We’ll investigate the conditions that lead to these divergent energy capital expenditure scenarios to understand the key drivers and implications. Continue reading

Evaluating IP Activity in Sweat Sensing

We’ve expressed in the past that accurate and reliable early-stage disease detection combined with non-invasive sample collection is the holy grail of molecular diagnostics. Previously, we discussed the growing popularity of non-invasive saliva-based diagnostics in the context of this theme (see the insight “Digital IVD sample of the future: Saliva” [client registration required]). While less mature, sweat based tests, too, present a compelling avenue for non-invasive sensing in medical, enterprise, and consumer applications. To gauge the state of innovation in sweat sensing, we surveyed the evolving landscape of sweat sensors patents. In total, we identified 1,009 patents for the search terms “sweat sensor” and “perspiration sensor” published in the past decade. As evident by Figure 1 below, sweat sensing technologies have seen consistent increase in patents applications. 2016 saw most activity, with a total of 194 patent grants and applications.

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