Hal Hamilton founded and now is co-director of the Sustainable Food Lab in Hartland, Vt., which helps companies adopt sustainability practices, gathers data on sustainability efforts and shares that information to promote the sustainability movement. He talks with SmartBlogs about how the lab works and the future of sustainable agriculture.
How did the Sustainable Food Lab get started and what are the priorities?
The Food Lab first convened in June 2004 as a two-year leadership journey. Over the past 10 years it has expanded to include more than 60 member and partner organizations, including brand manufacturers like Unilever, Mars and Stonyfield; food service companies like Sysco, Sodexo and Aramark; retailers like Costco and Marks & Spencer; and NGOs like The Nature Conservancy, Rainforest Alliance and Oxfam.
The reason the Food Lab has grown is that businesses are integrating sustainability into their value chains and need to learn from one another about how to do this more effectively. (read more…)
The overarching theme at the National Retail Federation’s BIG Show this year was clear: Know your customer. This theme resonated throughout keynote and breakout sessions and on both levels of the EXPO Hall floor. Whether you’re a food retailer or a restaurant operator, there was something for everyone on how to get to know and engage customers using multiple channels. Here is a look at some of the retail and restaurant technology trends seen on the show floor that help connect businesses with their customers both within their establishments as well as online:
1. Online brand monitoring
Many companies showing in the EXPO Hall were there to show brands how they can help them make sense of the ever-growing social diner. New Brand Analytics is a company that does just that by harvesting social media mentions of specific brands and aggregating them into a dashboard for restaurants and other businesses.
The company takes unstructured social feedback and organizes it by more than 70 different metrics such as service, attentiveness, menu, food quality and prices, according to NBA Sales Director Adam Hack. (read more…)
To make products stand out on the grocery store shelf, food- and beverage-makers are investing in sustainable packaging that consumers can feel good about purchasing, both for its lower environmental impact and for its attractive, fashion-forward designs. And as packaging becomes almost as important as the product it holds, packaging design has been elevated to an art form. In fact, the visual appeal of a product’s packaging design has been found to influence a consumer’s purchasing decision as much as original preference for a product, according to a study published in the journal Proceedings for the National Academy of Sciences, which used eye-tracking technology to measure visual interaction with four products.
Enter Project Carton, the Fashion Institute of Technology‘s exhibit of gable-top cartons created by students in the school’s packaging design program for a competition sponsored by Evergreen Packaging at FIT in fall 2012. The exhibition, which is on display until Jan. (read more…)