Traditionally, a food brokerage is a company that represents different food brands and leverages its own network to scale sales and marketing. My new approach to food brokerage comes from my tech experience and my international travels in Colombia. As an up and coming broker, I’m bringing in digital literacy to innovate the space and using technology like cloud services to manage customer data, ecommerce, and social media strategy to build an omnichannel sales system, and implementing machine learning bots to solve the problems of supply chain management and inventory waste management.
As I build out Artisan Wyn, my focus is on empowering the BIPOC food entrepreneurs. As the middleman in negotiation for trade and distribution, my job is to understand every part of the food system so that I can efficiently navigate deals between the producers and customers. This extends into a myriad of services including client management, supply chain management, distribution, and volume management.
The missing piece is not enough folks in the food systems space, especially BIPOC, are thinking of omnichannel marketing strategies in the digital realm. Most try to go straight for a retail space and in doing that, they are putting the nail onto their coffin. Without leveraging prior sales figures nor being aware of all the hidden fees that go into listing their product, food entrepreneurs will actually go broke before making it to the coveted retail space. Potentially, this can bankrupt their business. In essence, I work as a consultant to help educate my client on different sales channels such as CSAs, or online marketplaces such as shopify. This is due to historically marginalization and a lack of access to information and digital literacy.
COVID made me realize why I needed to create this food brokerage. As we shifted to quarantine restrictions, the food industry was hit the hardest. Food insecurity became the forefront issue during the pandemic and I felt the need to take action. I started volunteering that summer at Soltree Alchemy to distribute organic produce to the neighborhood of west Oakland. As I continued to work alongside them, they needed someone in San Francisco to help with picking up the donations from the SF farmer’s market at Fort Mason, and that’s where I met with all the farm vendors. On one fateful day, there wasn’t anyone beside me who was able to pick up the food donations and I decided to branch out from the usual farm stands and speak with Matteo from Avila Farms. It was an exceptionally windy day at the farmers market and Matteo was the only one working at the Avila Farm booth. I came up to him and asked if he had any leftover produce to give for donations and he replied that he would be glad to assist but would need help cleaning and packing up his inventory. And so without a second thought, I decided to help him out and befriend him. Afterwards, he asked me if I could show up on Sundays to help him with his business and I agreed. From that day forward, I was learning about the food systems on a micro level when dealing with customers at the Fort Mason Farmers market and listening to all of Matteo’s struggles and challenges as a Farmer.
Trained in Travel
Once I landed in Colombia, I noticed a difference in food systems. There were a lot more street vendors and fruit carts or fruit stalls. People would use microphones to advertise their products as they pushed their carts filled to the brim with avocados the size of a baseball.
As compared to the farmers market in America, the Plaza Minorista is a collective Colombian food experience that operates daily and is the heart of the community in Medellin. The space itself is a mega warehouse where you’ll find your wholesale deals. Imagine the Colobian version of Costco except with more exotic fruit and vegetable options.
In Colombia, delivery is dominated by a service called Rappi, where everything is delivered by people on motorcycles making it more cost effective than the Uber eats model using cars. For a time, there were others in the competitor space like Uber Eats, but they all fell because Rappi has an extended reach in the Colombian markets. Currently, Rappi holds 60% of the total market share in terms of food delivery apps which is followed by its next competitor, domicilios, at 26%; it’s no surprise that it has become the de facto way of life. So I think for a future system in the food systems space, food orders and groceries can be automated so that food entrepreneurs can more efficiently deliver their product with or without a retail space.
I found a glimpse into the future of revolutionizing the food system when I came into contact with a startup company, Lastfood, whose founder, Miguel, uses machine learning from an automated bot software designed to take orders en masse from customers that want food at a reduced price. The process is fairly simple, the customer messages the business on Facebook/Whatsapp/Instagram and the bot then responds with the options and processes their order with the restaurant, this in turn helps restaurant owners sell off their food that would’ve otherwise gone to waste. And because this concept has been proven to work in the Colombian food systems, it has the potential to innovate the food systems in the United States and potentially internationally.
During my travels to the rural part of Colombia, I met a family who owns a dehydrated fruit and yogurt company. One of the owners, Javier, gave me a tour and shared samples of their dried fruit and dried fruit teas. They have been established in the Colombian markets for the last 20 years, but now their goal is to expand to international markets. A partnership was forged between myself and Sensafruit to import their fruit products over to the US.
My goal is to disrupt the current food systems model by applying what I’ve learned in digital fluency and my experiences in Colombia to build an efficient network between BIPOC entrepreneurs, producers, vendors, distributors, as well as software developers.
Our modern society and the conveniences we enjoy comes with a price as demand for energy, food, fiber, and fuel has been met with use of fossil fuels and the development of intense agricultural practices which the use of has generally led to detrimental effects on environmental quality. Landfills and waste yards that hold agricultural and municipal wastes abound our land. Despite some recycling efforts, often it is simply too expensive to eliminate many wastes or open burning is prohibited due to the negative impact on air quality. Trash to steam and co-generation energy plants can mitigate some waste, however it is often economically unfeasible to burn it all: high transportation costs and low-energy values make it too expensive to haul some wastes or even utilize materials that are too wet, do not combust well, and are too far away. As such, land is continually being reappropriated for dumping, substantial amounts of trash are dumped in the oceans, and there continues to be a lack for a sustainable way to manage waste that protects the air that we breathe, the water we drink, and the soil from which we eat.
Pyrolysis is a process in which biomass and wastes such as garbage, agroforestry residuals (wood chip, nut shells, etc.), and even manures are heated under low-oxygen conditions. Biological material is transformed to charcoal and gases. Biochar is charcoal specifically produced from biomass and was originally intended for soil application. However, biochar has many uses and has been developed for water treatment applications, air filtration, and some material production. While there is yet debate about the large-scale production of biochar for specific applications, the pyrolysis process can most definitely condense waste and offer a solution to the growing problem of waste accumulation. Further, the process destroys microbial and viral material-effectively sterilizing the waste as it is converted to charcoal.
The California Almond Board estimates almost 5.6 billion pounds of almond nut shells and hulls. Additionally, there are many other nutshell, pruning wastes, and forestry wastes that require costly grinding equipment and additional fossil fuel usage to operate-just to grind up these materials so they can be land applied. When economical, some of these wastes are burned at co-generation power plants, however the energy value is low (often less than half that of coal) and high transportation costs preclude utility of wastes more than 30 miles from the energy plant. Further, there exist tremendous quantities of non-recyclable paper and plastic wastes that are landfilled. These wastes can be diverted from landfills and from our oceans by converting them into higher energy charcoal with consistent energy value that would be more economical to then ship to co-generation power stations.
Energy values of most biomass are far less than that of coal. Oven dried wood is about two-thirds while fresh wood chips are about a third and baled grasses one fourth to one third that of coal. Charcoal can have energy values up to 90% that of coal. Yield of charcoal can range from 10 to 25%. Therefore, the mass of waste could be realistically reduced to one fourth when converted to charcoal that can be directly fed into co-generation power plants and provide the energy needed to drive these systems. As less mass is transported, the cost to transport charcoal in terms of its energy value would be roughly one fourth to one third that of transporting the biomass which would enable the utilization of biomass and other wastes that are currently too far from the power plant. Thus, using a system that converts wastes to charcoal onsite would create a win-win situation for California in diverting wastes from landfills and increasing green energy production.
Until recently, processes and equipment developed to pyrolyze materials have been costly and consume substantial energy. One of the biggest challenges to economic pyrolysis is moisture content of the feedstock. These challenges have been overcome with the recent development of a system by Dr. Michael Lawrinenko, a soil scientist and expert in biochar. With 450 citations on seven peer-reviewed journal articles, his passion for protecting the environment and deep interest in biochar sparked the interest in developing a pyrolyzer that is economical and robust. His professional work may be found on Google Scholar at https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=HalS7RAAAAAJ&hl=en While still in development, this system can directly use wet biomass and convert it into biochar. This process is being developed using wood chips; some is fresh and some is compost. This pilot system utilizes a portion of the material for process heat; to drive the drying and pyrolysis of the remaining material. This important breakthrough could potentially be applied to convert agroforestry and other wastes in California for green energy production.
On the southwest corner of First and Barstow, near the center of Fresno, California, you’ll find one of the best little chocolate shops in the state. Look hard, because you might miss it.
Raphio’s Chocolate was started in 2015 by Yohanes Makmur and a business partner, both immigrants from Indonesia. They were both working other jobs at the time but wanted something else. Noticing the craft chocolate market and remembering the cacao beans back home, they were surprised to learn that Indonesian chocolate wasn’t even on the map. Originally, they’d hoped to simply be an importer of cacao beans, but life would take them a different direction—much to the benefit of the rest of us.
The pair reached out to their connections back home and found a farmer they liked working with. The farmer shipped them samples and products that both liked, and they started selling them in the U.S. Hopeful, the pair made a massive order of 1.5 tons… more than their supplier could actually handle, as it turned out. The aesthetic quality didn’t meet U.S. producer’s standards, and Yohanes found himself with 1 and a half tons of cacao beans that he didn’t know what to do with.
That’s when his wife Elisia stepped in. She loved the idea of making chocolate from scratch and took those beans, beginning to experiment with them. While Elisia wasn’t the biggest chocolate fanatic, her husband and children were, and she was making chocolate for them. Her standard was simple: whatever chocolate she made had to be good enough for her kids. Not simply in taste, but in quality. Nothing artificial, nothing she wouldn’t want her kids eating.
That standard has remained the same, since. And, when Yohanes decided to begin selling this chocolate, he named the shop accordingly: Raphio, after his sons Raphael and Rio.
Among their greatest challenges, as a microfactory, has been space. It’s obvious when you stand in the front of their store. It’s beautiful and stacked temptingly with cacao beans, cacao tea, chocolates, bonbons, and espresso. You can see the space where they make the chocolate through a small glass window. Speaking as someone who’s been back there for a tour, trust me: there’s not much more space than you can see. As such, they often have to move equipment, clean, and disinfect between tasks, simply because they don’t have the room for a distributed factory space.
They hope to expand as the Coronavirus pandemic reaches its end, maybe with the hope of two of their most reliable allies. The first is the CMTC, which helped them start operations, offered grants for human resources trainings, and assisted them in marketing through the local advisor, Craig Scharton. This is the same man who connected them to many of their current partners. The second notable partner is the Small Business Development Center, who has offered low-cost and free webinars, teaching them how to run a business and build their brand.
Perhaps this local support—always strong in the Fresno area—is part of the reason that, by Yohanes’s own admission, Raphio’s has a dedicated passion for keeping their partners local.
Among their first and most notable partners are Enzo’s Olive Oil, who contributes the oil that makes one of their most delectable bars, and local coffee giant Kuppajoy. They consulted with Kuppajoy before building their brand and, since opening, have offered chocolate coffee beans and espresso, both sourced from Kuppajoy. Meanwhile, Kuppajoy is one of the most reliable places to find Raphio’s chocolate bars, lately, they’ve even expanded their local outreach to nearby Madera, where Ficklin Vineyard’s Port Wine plays a crucial part in the making of Raphio’s delicious and hard-to-get bon bons.
Raphio’s offerings aren’t limited to chocolate. Before the pandemic, they’d also began to focus on education, offering incredibly informative tours of the factory, complete with details about the chocolate harvesting process and life in Indonesia. You’re given a chance to touch the chocolate, taste it, smell it, breathe it. In the future, they hope to grow their educational offerings, maybe making them extracurricular opportunities for local schools and senior homes. Yohanes hopes to use this education to change childrens’ eating habits at a young age, showing them the benefits of dark chocolate and real chocolate, as opposed to the “chocolate-flavored sugar” you’ll find in grocery aisles.
Likewise, they want a cultural lesson wrapped into the tour, as well. Yohanes would like to teach about the places these cacao beans originate from, possibly partnering with local organizations to bring artifacts to show children.
But, this comes back to the problem of space. The factory floor is too small for them to offer tours outside of weekends, when schools are closed and people are staying inside, away from the Valley heat. When they expand, they hope to keep this goal of education in mind, researching circulation, space planning, and how people move from one spot to another to expand in a way that allows them to offer tours and increase production without impeding each other.
Yohanes says that, when you pay attention to the ingredients of your food, you shouldn’t simply look at health. You need to pay attention of how it’s made, where, and by who. This chocolate is craft, he says. Its story isn’t limited to Fresno. The farmers back in Indonesia are an integral part of it, and part of the reason for the extra price of the chocolate is that the money goes directly to farmers to better their family’s lives.
One question remains, though: what is Yohanes’s favorite chocolate on offer? He admits that chocolate is an enormous weakness of his, and doesn’t hesitate on his answer: his favorite is the dark chocolate from Tanzania, 72%. It starts like eating honey, and as it melts gives way to flavors of fruits and berries. After you swallow, it lingers on your tongue with a nice tang. Yohanes describes the process of a “rollercoaster of flavors” that is “playing a concert in your mouth.”
It shouldn’t be any surprise that the bar has won competitions in places as far away as London.
At the forefront of current food innovation and technology is the “cell-cultured protein” sector (also described as “cultured,” “cell-based,” “cultivated,” “lab-grown,” and “in vitro”). Cell-cultured protein technology essentially entails growing protein cells in a growth medium under controlled conditions. Manufacturers across the globe are rushing to culture proteins that have a taste, texture, and nutrition profile that is indistinguishable from their animal-based counterparts. With products ranging from beef to yellowtail to foie gras to lobster, the cell-cultured protein industry has the potential to revolutionize the food and agriculture industries.
While Singapore has taken an early lead in terms of regulatory approvals by becoming the first nation to approve a cell-based protein, the United States is poised to be a fertile ground for the growth of the cell-cultured protein industry. Below we discuss the future regulation of this industry in the U.S., what information will likely be required to seek regulatory approvals from the relevant regulatory agencies, and issues related to the labeling and marketing of cell-cultured proteins in the U.S.
To set the backdrop for the discussion below, we first discuss the basics of cell-based protein technology: biopsy, cell banking, growth, harvest, and food processing. After collecting a tissue sample from an animal in a biopsy, a laboratory team selects the cells with the most desirable traits and adds them to a cell bank. The selected cells are then multiplied using a bioreactor. The bioreactor uses a growth medium and controlled conditions to create an ideal environment for growing cells, which often grow attached to a scaffold or like structure that helps the cells grow in the proper pattern to create a finished product. Once a sufficient number of cells have accumulated, producers harvest the cells from the growth medium and bioreactor, either detaching the cells from the scaffold structure or removing the cells and scaffold together if the scaffold is edible. The cells are then prepared into a finished food product, often by blending the meat cells with a fat to create, for instance, a ground beef patty or meatball. With this background in mind, we discuss the regulatory framework for evaluating this technology, followed by potential labeling issues, below.
Regulatory Status of Cell-Cultured Protein Products in the United States
As the two agencies that oversee the safety of the U.S. food supply, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Department of Agriculture (USDA) have both asserted regulatory authority over cell-cultured meats. Generally, USDA is responsible for oversight of meat, poultry, processed egg products, and catfish, while FDA oversees virtually all other domestic and imported foods, including all seafood products, sold in the U.S. In 2018, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and FDA hosted the first of several public meetings on cell-culture technology and discussed potential hazards, oversight considerations, and product labeling.
Following additional public comment periods, the agencies issued a formal interagency agreement in March 2019 that set out their respective roles in the oversight of cell-cultured meat products based on their respective strengths and expertise. Per the formal agreement, FDA will oversee the cell culturing process for meat and poultry products until the harvest stage, including cell collection and the development and maintenance of cell banks, and FDA will retain sole jurisdiction over seafood. Facilities will need to comply with FDA food safety requirements, including food facility registration, hazard analysis and risk-based preventive controls (HARPC), and current Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs). Following harvest of cells from bioreactors, USDA assumes regulatory authority and is responsible for inspection of the meat cells and finished products derived from livestock and poultry under its authority from the Federal Meat Inspection Act and Poultry Products Inspection Act. FDA and USDA have agreed to collaborate to develop a more detailed joint framework on standard operating procedures, product labeling, and other issues. However, aside from FDA’s issuance of a Request for Information regarding the labeling of foods containing cell-cultured seafood products, as of the date of this publication, neither agency has published further details on these initiatives.
Industry is concerned by the lack of additional action on the part of FDA and USDA. In October 2020, the Alliance for Meat, Poultry, and Seafood Innovation joined the North American Meat Institute in urging FSIS to issue an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to initiate an
information collection process. The agencies have expressed a great deal of interest in collaborating with cell-cultured meat producers, but companies appear to be reluctant to participate, perhaps given the highly-confidential processes and proprietary information at stake.
Where to Go from Here?
Cell-cultured meat products could pose safety concerns unique from those in traditional meat production. In fact, the technology is so new that it remains unclear just how FDA and USDA will approach the specifics of approving cell-cultured foods. The concerns highlighted in an April 2020 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) included the potential use of antibiotics at the cell growth stage and potentially new safety issues unique to this new technology (e.g., residues or constituents not seen in conventional meat or other foods). We expect regulators to evaluate the safety of cell-cultured proteins from all angles: microbial contaminants, cell growth media, scaffolding ingredients, bioreactors, etc. All inputs and impurities of potential concern will be explored.
While industry’s hesitation to be among the first in line to approach regulators is understandable, stakeholders should also recognize that there is an opportunity to be among the first to drive the dialogue, to focus regulators on specific issues, and to be the first entrants into the U.S. market. The more the agencies know about the process, the better they can create a regulatory framework that will most accurately capture the way the industry operates.
Use of the Term “Meat” and Other Labeling Concerns
Another murky legal and regulatory area facing the cell-cultured protein industry is the marketing of cell-cultured protein products and in particular the naming of such products. Some current contenders for naming cell-cultured products include terms like “clean,” which critics argue reflects a bias for or against other products and affect how they are perceived in the market.
While both USDA and FDA are aware of this labeling question, neither entity has proposed a regulatory solution. Various pieces of legislation have been introduced (but have not passed) in Congress that seek to clarify when a “meat,” “milk” or other traditional term can be used, generally restricting such term to products from traditionally-raised livestock or requiring that non-traditional products use the term “imitation” in their product identity statement.
Perhaps because of the lack of action by Congress or federal agencies, several states—including Arkansas, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming—have passed laws restricting use of the term “meat” on cell-cultured meat or plant-based meat alternative products. Many of these laws have been challenged in court by companies in the meat-alternative space that argue the laws violate the First Amendment by limiting speech and are not necessary to protect the public from potentially misleading information in addition to being overbroad and impeding competition in the marketplace. Results of the suits have varied, with some successes for the meat alternative industry. For example, while an Arkansas federal district court granted a preliminary injunction preventing enforcement of a state law that restricted the use of meat claims on plant-based products in 2019—finding that the plaintiffs were likely to prevail on their First Amendment claims, a federal district court in Oklahoma upheld a similar challenge to a state law that required a disclaimer on plant-based foods using a meat term in the product identity statement.
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Cell-cultured products will be ready to enter the market soon, and USDA and FDA will need to act quickly to create a framework that manufacturers can work with if they want to assert leadership in this space. Even if cell-cultured meat products can overcome regulatory hurdles and enter the market, several recently-published studies show consumers may not yet be willing to embrace cell-cultured meat as an alternative to traditional meat products because of concerns over taste, food safety, and lack of knowledge about the process. Manufacturers will need to focus on consumer outreach and launch education initiatives to garner an understanding of their products to be successful.
(1) Cultured Meat: Shaping the Future of Foods, Keller and Heckman LLP (Feb. 1, 2021), https://www.khlaw.com/insights/cultured-meat-shaping-future-foods. Cell-culturing technology could be an intriguing option for countries like Singapore with limited capabilities for livestock production that seek to produce more food domestically. Other countries have frameworks in place to review cell-cultured products but have not yet approved any. In the European Union, cell-cultured meat products must be assessed as a novel food by the European Food Safety Authority under Regulation (EU) 2015/2283. Australia and New Zealand’s food regulatory agency, Food Standards Australia New Zealand, has a premarket approval system in place that would similarly encompass new cell-cultured products. Cell Based Meat, Food Standards Australia New Zealand https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/generalissues/Pages/Cell-based-meat.aspx (last visited Feb. 14, 2020).
(2) U.S. Gov’t Accountability Off., GAO-20-325, Food Safety: FDA and USDA Could Strengthen Existing Efforts to Prepare for Oversight of Cell-Cultured Meat 9–11 (2020), https://www.gao.gov/assets/710/705768.pdf.
(6) SeeFDA Seeks Input on Labeling of Food Made with Cultured Seafood Cells, FDA (Oct. 6, 2020), https://www.fda.gov/food/cfsan-constituent-updates/fda-seeks-input-labeling-food-made-cultured-seafood-cells. The Senate has twice introduced bills aimed at moving the regulatory process forward by formalizing the USDA/FDA formal agreement and prescribing a timeline for the agencies to promulgate regulations. See Food Safety Modernization for Innovative Technologies Act, S. 3053, 116th Cong. (2019), https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/3053 (codifying the division of authority for cell-cultured products between USDA and FDA as set forth in their 2019 formal agreement, providing guidelines for inspection of cell-cultured meat production facilities, and creating labeling guidelines specific to cell-cultured meat products); Cell-Cultured Meat and Poultry Regulation Act of 2019, S. 1056, 116th Cong. (2019), https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/1056 (codifying the USDA/FDA 2019 formal agreement and giving the agencies eighteen months to promulgate regulations regarding inspection frequency of relevant facilities and labeling guidelines).
(13) Turtle Island Foods SPC v. Soman, 424 F. Supp. 3d 552, 571 (E.D. Ark. 2019) (finding a state law that prohibits plant-based meat alternative products from using terms such as “burger,” “sausage,” and “roast,” even if the product identity statement contains a disclaimer phrase such as “plant-based” or “veggie”).
(14) Upton’s Naturals Co. v. Stitt, No. CIV-20-938-F, slip op. at (W.D. Ok. Nov. 19, 2020) (finding that a law requiring disclaimer terms on plant-based meat alternatives to be at least as equally prominent in size and color as the product name was not unduly burdensome and justified in preventing consumer confusion).
(15) In study published by the University of Sydney and Curtin University, 72% of the 227 surveyed Australian customers in “Generation Z” (born between 1995 and 2010) reported perceptions of uneasiness and discomfort with cultured meat products, even if they thought the product might be a more sustainable food option than traditionally farmed meat. Diana Bogueva & Dora Marinova, Cultured Meat and Australia’s Generation Z, Frontiers in Nutrition, Sept. 2020, at 6, https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2020.00148. See also Jo Anderson & Chris Bryant, Messages to Overcome Naturalness Concerns in Clean Meat Acceptance: Primary Findings, Faunalytics, July 2018, Clean-Meat-Acceptance-Primary-Findings.pdf (faunalytics.org) (surveying 1,185 American adults in 2018 and finding that while the majority of those surveyed had not heard of a cell-cultured meat product before, 66% of those surveyed would be willing to try it, but using biased terminology such as “clean meat” that would have legal risk if used in the market); Nearly One in Three Consumers Willing to Eat Lab-Grown Meat, According to New Research, Surveygoo (Jan. 2018), https://surveygoo.com/portfolio/cultured-meat-survey/ (surveying 1,000 U.S. and U.K. consumers and finding 29% would be willing to eat a cell-cultured meat product described as “cultured meat”). 4839-4212-9116, v. 4
“One of the best write-up experiences I have had in a long time, and the best part was how the employee I wrote-up left the meeting in good spirits.”
Oftentimes, when we read a rule, we think about the dos and don’ts of the equation. But, there is so much more to a rule. Rules are in place for a reason; they are designed to protect us and others from harm. Well written rules, especially ones that are focused on safety, protect employees from physical harm, maintain efficiency and decrease any possible liabilities for the company all the while increasing the quality of food being produced.
Writing an employee up for not adhering to the safety rules is an important and necessary step but comes with no guarantees of changed behavior.
Daniel shared with me about an upcoming write-up, and I invited him to use a four-step sequence designed to increase the likelihood of a behavioral change. Because of the recent supervision training that Daniel had engaged in, he was ready to grow in his supervisory role and try something different.
Step 1) Prepare a concise list of the ways this choice affects the supervisor, the employee, the other employees, and the company as a whole. When speaking with the employee begin with the following prompt:
This is the way it impacts me and others…
Step 2) Create space to listen to their story without judgment. Use the following prompt:
Can you share with me how this happened?
Step 3) After listening to the story, summarize it and invite the employee to take responsibility using this question:
As you reflect upon it is there anything you would do differently?
Step 4) Thank the employee for recognizing alternative possibilities and complete the four-step sequence with this final invitation:
Knowing how it has impacted me and others is there anything you think could or would do to correct it?
Using these four steps Daniel reported that his relationship with the employee strengthened, that the employee recognized the potential harm that could have come from his shortcuts, committed to changing his behavior, identified ways that it could be done better in the future, gladly accepted the writeup, and even generated ideas for safety practices in other areas.
If you, or your company, is interested in further exploring the ways that the High-Performing Team Growth Cycle can invite safer, more productive, and higher quality practices with your team please reach out to me at Tim.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by Brian Chau, Principal Advisor at Chau Time
Hiring a food scientist or food product developer can be a daunting challenge. These are the people who transform your food idea into reality. Read more to better understand: how a food scientist within product development operates; how to use a project proposal as a tool to set expectations for your overall vision; and explore the options on how to best collaborate with a food scientist.
Understand the Framework:
There are a lot of job titles for food scientists including: food technologist, product developer, food specialist, culinologist, culinary developer, formulator, or R&D scientist/chef. For simplicity, food scientist will imply any titles aforementioned.
When looking for a food scientist, specify that you are looking for someone who can do product development from concept to commercialization. A food scientist with product development experience has the knowledge to help take your idea, create a prototype, and provide a formula that will be commercially viable. Some specialize in product development and not scale-up; that may be fine depending on your needs, but we will focus on a food scientist who can do both. A good food scientist should also be a good product manager, balancing different parameters that affect development from costs to scalability. Their end goal is to deliver a product formulation that is likely to be reproduced at scale while also being food safe.
What a food scientist will help you do:
Make suggestions regarding how to improve the product and provide critical feedback in a very technical and structured approach
Tell you that a request is outside the bounds of regulations, food safety, or even scientific principles
Assist in the development process
Work with an existing manufacturing line
What a food scientist will NOT help you do:
Tell you how to reverse engineer intellectual property that a competitor took years to develop
Tell you the best flavor (as that is often very subjective and the food scientist may not fit your target audience)
Make the final decisions for you and your brand
Engineer new equipment for scaling
The first step in working with a food scientist is to co-create a project proposal to set clear expectations and understand how to go through the product development process.
The Project Proposal; Setting Expectations:
Any good food scientist should best work within the framework you provide them. You provide the guardrails and expectations for your brand. What guides the conversation is understanding that you provide a range of values or priorities that will allow the food scientist to help you better develop the product or inform you about the issues you are to expect on the feasibility of your request. Here is a list of parameters to discuss:
Arguably one of the most crucial parameters, and is what differentiates a food scientist from a chef. How you scale up products through equipment is based on your approach and your strategy. Whether you are going to work out of a commercial kitchen or start with a contract manufacturer, a food scientist can guide you through the process. Commercialization goals should often be the first point of discussion as a food scientist will better understand how to scale the product and provide prototypes that have mimicked the commercial processes.
Let the food scientist understand your branding by describing what kind of certifications you expect to have on your package: organic, non-GMO, Kosher, Halal, keto-friendly, high in fiber, no trans-fat, etc. What kind of ingredients do you accept or do not accept and why do you think it is important to the brand?
Let the food scientist know what is your serving size, number of servings per package, and what type of package you plan to use. If you do not know these parameters, look at analogs in the market and make your best assumption.
Although this parameter overlaps with branding, the nutrition panel requires special attention. Offer a range of values for your macronutrients (ex: 8-10 grams of protein per serving size.) Based on your packaging, you can determine if you want vertical, horizontal, or linear labels. Specific nutrition claims and allergen statements will be duly noted.
Your cost of goods sold is important. You want to allow for a range of values here too; be specific on what you are including in your cost of goods sold by mentioning if you are referring to the case, the individual unit, or by the pallet. Look at whether you are referencing minimum order quantity or tiered pricing.
Determine how many stock keeping units, what flavors, an ideal texture, and ideal look and/or color.
Your suggestions will be an ideal range. The food scientist can tell you what to realistically expect or at least suggest a better range. Be specific on what you are looking for as there are different types of shelf-life studies between sensory, microbiological, and physical and/or chemical.
Depending on the product and what stage your business is in; you can have a quick turnaround time or anywhere between 6 and 9 months. Food scientists understand their own timelines and can either fulfill your request or tell you how reasonable or not the timeline is.
Food scientists are not magicians. They cannot read your mind nor have a product appear out of nowhere. Product development takes time, iteration, and flexibility in making adjustments. The range of values will allow for flexibility in the development process. You don’t want to make the development so difficult that the process stalls out and your launch plans get impacted. Setting expectations allows for dialogue on what is feasible within a timely and structured manner; set priorities between parameters to make decision making easier.
When developing your project proposal, you want to understand what your needs and wants are in the negotiation table as well as the needs and wants of the prospective food scientist. You want to have an idea of how to best communicate with the food scientist and assess if there is synergy with the food scientist. Some food scientists work on a per project proposal which works out best for their project management. Others work on an hourly basis which can be valuable for quick turnaround times. Some food scientists might be open to the idea of equity and turning into a long-time partner of your organization. At the end of the day, a food scientist is a person with a particular skill set of translating science and technology of food and beverage into a commercially viable, food safe, and delicious product. Each food scientist operates under rigorous training in the sciences, but they also have their own personalities that may or may not work well with your brand. Honestly, the same principle applies to anyone you want to hire. Always be open to exploring all options before making a final decision.
The process of working with a food scientist takes time. In building out these relationships by setting expectations and building dialogue, the path to developing your product will be less stressful. The project proposal is a tool to lay the foundation of how to work with the prospective food scientist. Remember that food scientists are people too and they cannot read your mind; they don’t understand your vision as much as you do and they have their own personalities. By understanding how they operate, you can better manage how to leverage their expertise to grow your business. You can save time in knowing you have someone who can translate the technical information for you to make a final decision. Most importantly, you managed to de-risk a critical component of your business.
Brian Chau: Food Scientist, Fungal Fanatic, and Food Systems Analyst at Chau Time. Brian is the Principal Advisor at Chau Time, his own consultation firm. He is the Co-founder of MycoKind, a food biotech company. He also sits as an advisor to food tech companies. He is working on his first book, How to Work with a Food Scientist, to help founders understand a food scientist’s capabilities and improve the understanding of how to navigate the technical world of food and beverage consumer packaged goods.
ParityFactory is a food specific warehouse management (WMS) and production management system. The software is a tool for food and beverage manufacturers to manage the physical operations of their plant, and further, to automate the data management process. This is done through the use of a relatively common technology, although one that is still surprisingly underutilized in the food space: scanning and barcoding. Traditionally, food and beverage manufacturers have managed their tracing data and inventory balances with paper or spreadsheets.
In a ParityFactory plant, raw materials are tagged with a barcode the moment they enter the facility. With just a simple barcode, the system can track the material at every step of production, whether it’s moved to storage, processed into finished goods, or shipped out. This generates a real-time view of all the inventory on hand, a comprehensive tracing chain, and makes detailed, accurate production planning possible. Customers find they have dramatically reduced inventory variances and a more efficient manufacturing process.
ParityFactory was founded in Seattle, WA over 30 years ago, but if you took a look at the company today you’d never know it. Despite its long history in food and beverage, the company has more the attitude of a new and growing software firm, and that’s because the last few years have been full of huge changes for the once tiny business.
Decades ago, the Seattle-based company designed accounting systems for Alaskan fish processors. However, as Tyler Marshall, President at ParityFactory says, “Working in the food and beverage space for so long, we came to realize that there were plenty of companies that were doing accounting well, but very few who offered a comprehensive solution for managing inventory and tracing.” With this realization, the company pivoted towards designing solutions to manage the physical operations on the plant floor roughly 7 years ago. The result was their current offering and namesake of the organization, ParityFactory.
Growth and Future Plans
The company’s current CEO, Sean Clemmons, took his position in January 2019 and since then the company has accelerated its growth and added new clients across North America. That growth has brought opportunities to invest in the creation of new and exciting solutions to problems faced in the food and beverage industry. During the two years under Sean’s leadership, ParityFactory has released several extensions to its core platform.
In 2020 alone, numerous new products have been launched under the ParityFactory brand, including a suite of tools aimed to help manufacturers who work directly with growers receive their product in bulk, automate payment calculation, and get quicker insight into grading and quality data. The company released their latest offering, the ParityFactory inventory Portal, in late 2020. Designed for those who run third-party logistics operations, the Inventory Portal allows users to provide their clients direct access into how much inventory they have stored, with data automatically pulled from the ParityFactory core platform.
Investment into new products is slated to continue well into 2021 and beyond, as Sean Clemmons puts it, “Many of the challenges processors face are consistent across the industry, but every operation is a little different. With each new client we sign, we discover new problems to solve and new possibilities for innovation.” For more information on the ParityFactory platform, visit their website at www.parityfactory.com or reach out to email@example.com.
On September 21, 2020, the Food and Drug Administration announced the release of a draft rule for the food industry, “Requirements for Additional Traceability Records for Certain Foods” (also referred to as the Food Traceability Proposed Rule). This is one of the last remaining elements of the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), assigned to the FDA by congressional mandate. This draft rule requires that the FDA implement additional traceability expectations for the food industry based on risk. This new rule is being billed by the FDA as part of its overall “Blueprint for the New Era of Smarter Food Safety”, which outlines several key elements, including enhanced traceability.
Our overall impression is that our customers, such as yourself, are already largely in compliance with the requirements as they’re currently written, perhaps with just a few minor gaps. The FDA has provided more information about the rule on their website.
7 Key Takeaways Regarding This Rule:
This is a draft rule. Now is the time to submit any feedback or concerns.
Its scope is limited. It pertains specifically to those who manufacture, process, pack, or hold specific types of foods on the FDA’s “Food Traceability List” (FTL).
It requires tracking specific activities. The FDA refers to these as “Critical Tracking Events” (CTEs), and they include: growing, receiving, transforming, creating, and shipping.
It requires tracking specific data. The FDA calls these “Key Data Elements” (KDEs), and they must be tracked for each Critical Tracking Event. They include information such as grower location identifier; lot numbers and other traceability identifiers; business names, numbers, and points of contact; quantities and units of measure; and other key elements.
It requires farms to communicate some basic information to customers. This includes location identifiers for the growing area and each location the product was processed or stored at, including business names and key contacts.
The record format is flexible. Under the rule, the FDA allows either paper or electronic records. However, it’s worth noting that, especially for finished companies who produce ready-to-eat foods, the FDA has made it clear that there is a preference for electronic records, where necessary to facilitate traceability (see the next requirement).
Records must be readily available. The FDA requires that companies be able to provide a sortable electronic spreadsheet to the FDA containing any affected products, within 24 hours of any FDA request, to assist in the investigation of any outbreak or recall.
If you’d like a member of our team to help you conduct an assessment of your company’s traceability programs, we’re ready to assist you, virtually or on-site! Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In a notice published on August 31, 2020, the U.S. Department of Energy (“DOE” or the “Department”) proposed revisions to its existing enforcement regulations for certain consumer products and commercial and industrial equipment. The proposed revisions are intended to further align the regulations with the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 (“EPCA”) and provide additional clarity and transparency about DOE’s enforcement process. Manufacturers of covered products should review this proposal very carefully. While certain proposed changes may provide some reduction in administrative overhead, the practical outcome may be to increase a company’s liability exposure during enforcement investigations as we discuss below.
A. Electric Motor Enforcement Procedures
Currently, the enforcement provisions for electric motors are promulgated separately at Part 431, Subpart U. According to DOE, the enforcement process for other covered products at Part 429 is much more developed. Thus, the Department believes that harmonizing electric motor enforcement with the procedures for all other covered products should afford electric motor manufacturers greater clarity. This is by no means an administrative change as the proposal could pose significant liability implications for electric motor manufacturers.
First, enforcement testing for motors could only be conducted by a laboratory that is accredited to the International Organization for Standardization (“ISO”)/International Electrotechnical Commission (“IEC”) standard 17025:2005(E), General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories. In contrast, Part 431 currently requires testing by National Institute of Standards and Technology/National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program (“NIST/NVLAP”) accredited laboratories. The proposed change should not be significant as NVLAP incorporates the ISO/IEC 17025 standard. As both NVLAP and ISO/IEC 17025 have moved to the most recent version of the standard ISO/IEC 17025:2017, however, it is not clear whether DOE’s prescription of ISO/IEC 17025:2005 narrows the available pool of test laboratories.
More importantly, the proposal would reduce a company’s ability to challenge DOE’s enforcement testing by eliminating 10 C.F.R. § 431.383(f), which allows electric motor manufacturers to request additional DOE testing after DOE makes a noncompliance determination. Under the proposal, it appears that DOE would conduct additional sampling only at its discretion and if a unit in the initial sample is proven to have been defective.
Moving electric motor enforcement to Part 429 will also increase the number of possible causes of action available to DOE, including: failure to test a product in accordance with the applicable test requirements; use of controls or features to circumvent the test procedure and produce test results unrepresentative of the product’s actual energy performance; and knowing misrepresentation by certifying an energy use or efficiency that is not supported by test data.
B. Enforcement of Design Standards
DOE also is proposing to clarify that “design requirements” are energy conservation standards subject to DOE investigation and enforcement, as specified by the EPCA. According to DOE, the evaluation of only a single test unit would be sufficient to demonstrate that basic models in the preceding categories are non-compliant:
DOE’s proposal explicitly states that a test unit of a basic model subject to a design requirement may be selected for enforcement testing or examination. In such an instance, DOE will make a determination of noncompliance for the basic model based on an examination of whether a single unit of the basic model fails to comply with the applicable design requirements, as the standard applies to a design-not the measured performance of individual units-such that one unit can demonstrate noncompliance.
Based on our cursory review, the following covered products are subject to design requirements:
Water boilers Torchieres
Conventional cooking tops Commercial unit heaters
Conventional ovens Walk-in coolers and walk-in freezers
Ceiling fans Residential boilers
Ceiling fan light kits
Manufacturers of these products would not only be subject to enforcement for noncompliance with the numerical energy performance, but also if a single unit fails to meet an applicable design standard. Examples of such failures could include failing to use a triple pane glass door with either heat-reflective treated glass or gas fill in a walk-in freezer as required by 10 C.F.R. § 431.306(b)(1).
C. Use of Third-Party or Competitor Data for Enforcement
Under its current enforcement regulations, DOE may request any relevant information from manufacturers to assist in determining whether their covered products comply with applicable energy conservation standards. The Department is proposing to allow use of compliance information from other parties, including but not limited to, third-party certification programs or other manufacturers with independent test data, for enforcement purposes. According to the Department:
This proposal ensures that DOE can enforce its regulations in instances where relevant information is retained by parties other than the manufacturer. Parties other than the manufacturer often conduct independent testing to determine compliance with applicable standards. In such instances, DOE’s ability to retrieve that test information could save government testing resources, and ensure that DOE can enforce in a timely manner, which will further DOE’s goals of maintaining a level playing field for all parties and encouraging compliance.
Contrary to DOE’s stated intent, the current proposal may act to chill competitor complaints to the Department. In our experience, manufacturers will often submit test data to DOE to initiate an investigation of a potentially noncompliant competing product. This information is often provided on a confidential basis to avoid commercial disputes with a competitor, because the testing was done in-house rather than by an accredited laboratory, or for a variety of other reasons. The expectation is that DOE will pursue its own testing to support any subsequent enforcement action.
It is difficult to understand, however, how DOE could bring an enforcement action based on confidential information without triggering due process concerns. Thus, any final regulations must address DOE’s procedures for “retrieving” data from third parties; how the Department intends to proceed if complainants request confidentiality; and the likelihood that it will investigate complaints in the absence of such data.
The DOE’s proposal to retrieve test data from third-party certification programs may also raise concerns. Data submitted in support of certification is compliance data and should be available to the DOE. That said, manufacturers should review the terms of their certification program agreements to understand how these organizations will handle their certification data, whether notice will be provided before release to DOE or another agency, and the protections, if any, afforded to non-certification data.
D. Other Changes
The notice proposes several other clarifications and administrative revisions, including:
Adding a process to petition for reexamination of a pending noncompliance determination. As proposed, the process would require that DOE provide the manufacturer with a letter of intent at least 30 days prior to issuing a notice of noncompliance determination. The manufacturer would then have 30 days from the issuance of the letter to file a petition for reexamination that meets certain information requirements (e.g., sets out the material issue(s) with the Department’s assessment or testing, provides complete test reports demonstrating compliance with the applicable standard, etc.). Upon review, DOE may modify or leave its pending determination unchanged.
Providing more specificity and transparency when issuing test notices. In addition to the basic model number, DOE proposes to include characteristics or specifications of subject model(s) (e.g., individual model numbers, serial numbers, manufacturer date ranges or locations) when issuing test notices. The revisions would also require manufacturers to inform the Department if the requested units are unavailable, along with details regarding the unavailability of the units and any similar available units. To that end, the Department proposes to add a provision reserving DOE’s ability to make a noncompliance determination based on a reduced sample size in limited circumstances (e.g., when the basic model is subject to design requirements or test units are unavailable).
Allowing a finding of noncompliance based on a single assessment test where efficiency is at least 25% worse than the applicable standard. According to DOE, the new process would avoid the expenditure of unnecessary resources by foregoing the typical enforcement testing process.
Eliminating the requirement to notify customers of a determination of noncompliance. To reduce the burden on manufacturers, the Department proposes to eliminate the provision at 10 C.F.R. § 429.114(a)(2), which requires that immediate written notice of a determination of noncompliance be provided to all persons to whom the manufacturer has distributed units of the basic model since the last compliance determination.
Comments on the proposal will be accepted until October 30, 2020. For any questions on this notice of proposed rulemaking or energy efficiency requirements in general, please contact us.
 Enforcement for Consumer Products and Commercial and Industrial Equipment, 85 Fed. Reg. 53,691 (Aug. 31, 2020).
 Or a laboratory accreditation body with a mutual recognition arrangement with NIST/NVLAP; 10 C.F.R. § 431.18.
10 C.F.R. § 429.106(b). This includes covered products or equipment that are imported into the United States, which are also subject to the applicable provisions of 40 C.F.R. Part 429, 430, and 431. 10 C.F.R. § 429.5.
 85 Fed. Reg. 53,694.
Id. at 53,696.
 Id. at 53,694.
 See Id. at 53,705 (proposed as 10 C.F.R. § 429.111(a)(8)).
The first two questions that I am often asked are:
1) What is CMTC?
CMTC is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. We are primarily funded through the U.S. Department of Commerce and the State of California. We are part of a national network of organizations (Manufacturing Extension Partnership) that is focused on helping manufacturers. CMTC is the entity that is focused on connecting California’s manufacturers to resources. President Reagan and Senator Hollings helped to create this network because they found that there were many programs to help the manufacturing sector, but few knew that these programs existed. Just as there are extension agents in agriculture, we are client advisors for small to medium-sized manufacturers.
2) What is a manufacturer?
People often imagine big industrial buildings with welders and conveyor belts. But really, a manufacturer is a business that makes a product. Wineries and breweries are manufacturers. An almond farmer who packages her own seasoned nuts is a manufacturer. We have clients who make a product in their garage or kitchen and we have clients who make parts for fighter jets. Sometimes we even have clients who didn’t know that they were a manufacturer like a restaurant that makes salsa or salad dressing as a side business. The first thing that I recommend to any manufacturer is to set up an Assessment and a Plan of Action with one of our two incredible, local experts. The assessment takes 1-2 hours of the business’ time and is free. One of our resources has a financial background and the other has an operational background. The manufacturer can choose whichever they think would be the most helpful. Our financial expert is a C.P.A who is also a Chief Financial Officer for several companies. The Operations expert has run manufacturing plants around the world and is a mechanical engineer, with an M.B.A. in Management and is a Black Belt in Lean manufacturing. We are very fortunate to have this level of expertise available to help our local manufacturers.
Regions of Service
My region is the Central Valley, from Tulare County up to San Joaquin County, and over to the Nevada state line. I have experienced colleagues that can help if you are in another part of the state, I’m always happy to make the introduction. It’s a great group of people who, like me, really enjoy helping our businesses.
Beyond the 60+ people who work for CMTC, we also have over 150 trainers and consultants who also help our manufacturing clients. We’ve added quite a few in the Central Valley so that we can pair local professionals with our local businesses. As I look up at my dry erase board, I see local companies who will be using local consultants and trainers to help with: ISO 9001 certification, High Performing Teams training, English as a Second Language, Lean Manufacturing, SQF/HACCP for food safety and audits, SolidWorks training, and forklift safety. Those are just the ones on my current To Do list!
In Fresno County, I work very closely with the Fresno Regional Workforce Development Board (FRWDB). The FRWDB has prioritized training for manufacturing businesses. This business-focused organization works closely with our clients to help their businesses to grow by helping to underwrite the cost of improving the skills of their employees. This is a huge win for our community because the businesses are stronger, and their employees have more skills that can help them to grow in their careers.
CMTC also has formal partnerships with two outstanding local organizations, the San Joaquin Valley Manufacturing Alliance and the Water, Energy, Technology (WET) Center at Fresno State. The SJVMA and WET Center provide many great resources for their respective (and often overlapping) members. We work with many other agencies from EDCs to community colleges, the SBDC and city and county economic development departments.
While I like to find resources to pay for some or all of the training or consulting costs for a client (depending on the business location, size and sector) I often provide other services to help our businesses. I helped one client to find a lender to help them to buy their building. I’ve helped others by connecting them to a consultant to help them get a Research and Development Tax Credit. Often I help by connecting two local manufacturers who can help each other meet supply chain needs locally.
Many manufacturers also use our services as a neutral, third party provider. We can analyze a business’ cyber security needs or which types of technology will help them to become more automated. We often evaluate which type of ERP system a manufacturer needs. Because we aren’t selling a product or software, we can assess a company’s needs and make recommendations and present options.
Love of Local
Hopefully, you can read my enthusiasm for helping our local businesses. It’s been a passion of mine for over three decades. Many of the problems that we face in our region are the result of the disconnection between the resources and the need. Businesses don’t have the time to start calling government agencies to find out which programs might be helpful to them. The programs are often buried deep inside a division within an agency within a department. Even if the business owner managed to find the programs, they wouldn’t know how to find out which was the right one for their needs. This is where I come in. I learn about the resources so a business can find out which programs fit their needs.
Business leaders are often the type of people who like to forge ahead and solve every problem on their own. They often forget to look around to see how many resources there are to help them, their business, and their employees. But it is important to use every resource to help your business to grow. There are many forces making it difficult to operate a business, so it is imperative to take advantage of the programs and services that are here to help. These resources come and go, so stay informed so that you can use them while they are available and find out what the next opportunities are on the horizon.
Finally, local businesses should be supporting other local businesses, if we want our economy to grow. Consider using a local bank. Look around to see if you could source parts or materials in our region. Use a local web designer or mechanical engineer (we have both). Attend some local trade meetings to find out what other manufacturers are doing, so maybe you could connect them to a customer, too. Find local wine or chocolate to give as gifts to your clients. I believe that we have all of the resources that we need, it’s up to us to figure out how to make them work for us effectively.
I’m happy to schedule a zoom meeting with any manufacturers in our region to see if CMTC can be helpful. Please send an email to me at email@example.com