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Ag Industry Brief: SEC Closes Hampton Creek Investigation, Walmart Launching Tech Incubator, Danone Sells Stonyfield, more

April 3, 2017

SEC Closes Hampton Creek Buyback Scandal Investigation, No Finding of Wrongdoing

After Bloomberg reported that Hampton Creek had instructed employees to buy portions of its product from supermarkets, the company faced a wave of media scrutiny and an SEC investigation. This week, company CEO Josh Tetrick announced that the SEC was closing the investigation and that it had not found any instances of wrongdoing related to the buyback scheme. Read more here.

Danone’s Sells Organic Dairy Brands Stonyfield to Help Close WhiteWave M&A

To accomplish a swift close of its WhiteWave Foods acquisition, Danone has agreed to sell its Stonyfield organic yogurt line. WhiteWave Foods is a plant-based food, beverage, and coffee creamer company. Stonyfield brought in $370 million in sales last year, but Danone says the sale won’t hurt its profits. Read more here.

Walmart to Launch Tech Incubator in Silicon Valley

Walmart, the largest retailer on the planet, announced its plans to create a tech accelerator in Silicon Valley. According to the Bentonville, Arkansas-based corporation, the incubator will be called Store No 8 and will focus on the development of technologies that Walmart needs in order to stay on pace with consumers’ changing needs during the next decade. Read more here.

Farmers Business Network to Create 60 New Jobs Nationwide

Farmer’s Business Network, the farmer-to-farmer network and ag chemical procurement platform, is creating an additional 60 full-time positions nationwide to support growth. The FBN network has expanded rapidly since its launch in 2015, now serving nearly 13 million acres of member farms in 38 states. To catch up with FBN’s latest developments, check out our recent interview with company CEO Charles Baron following its recent $40 million Series C.

Plant Response Appoints New Chief Executive Officer

Plant Response Biotech, an ag input products company, has named Tom Snipes as its new CEO. Snipes has held positions at Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings and Koch Agronomic Services in the past. The appointment comes as the Spanish company expands its presence into the US crop technology market. “Plant Response has recently made significant progress in Europe,” said Snipes. “I’m excited to lead this company as we expand into the US and deliver new and innovative products to help farmers manage stress conditions in the field, including drought tolerance, disease resistance and nutrient utilization.” 

Freight Farms & Federal Realty Team up to Promote Urban Farming

Federal Realty Investment Trust, a retail real estate investment trust, has partnered with Boston-based indoor farming group Freight Farms to bring the company’s retrofitted shipping container farms to its shipping centers. The shipping containers will feature vertical farming technology and will be placed in unused parking spaces on Federal Realty’s properties. Read more here.

AgriProtein to build 20 fly farms in US and Canada

Waste-to-nutrient upcycler AgriProtein has set up camp in North America with the aim of building 20 fly farms in the US and Canada in pursuit of its global targets of 100 fly farms by 2024 and 200 by 2027. Describing itself as the world’s biggest fly-farmer and first commercial-scale insect meal producer, AgriProtein is building a global network of insect protein factories mass-producing sustainable animal feeds to replace fishmeal used in aquaculture, agriculture and pet food.

Hong Kong & Other Key Markets Reopen Ports to Brazilian Beef

After Brazilian police officials announced last week that they raided several major meat processing facilities for allegedly providing bribes to inspectors to certify rotten, tainted, or contaminated meat, some of the top beef exporter’s key markets have started accepting Brazilian beef shipments again. Read more here.

McDonalds to Use Fresh, Non-Frozen Beef in its Quarter Pounders

By mid-2018, consumers can expect that their McDonald’s quarter pounders will be made with fresh beef and cooked to order. The restaurant chain tested fresh, never frozen, beef in quarter pounders at 325 retail chains in Texas and Oklahoma recently. Read more here.

Data-Driven Farming Prize Targets ‘Feed the Future’ Value Chains in Nepal

The deadline to apply for the Data-Driven Farming Prize, which targets tools that source, analyze, and translate data into actionable information to improve agricultural production in Nepalese value chains is April 6. Read more here.

Two More Fast Food Chains Make the ‘No Antibiotics Ever’ Pledge

CKE Restaurant Holdings, which owns fast food chains Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s have debuted a charbroiled chicken filet made from birds raised with no antibiotics ever. Read more here.

Other News That’s Fit to Chew

  • This company is hoping to revamp the baby food distribution market, reports Food+Tech Connect.
  • Washington, D.C., dwellers may soon notice food delivery company Postmates’ robots delivering food, reports Fox 5.
  • Can modular USDA-inspected meat processing units in shipping containers help support small- and mid-scale sized farms? Civil Eats digs in.
  • NPR explores why more farmers are making the switch to grass-fed meat and dairy products.

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