Friday, July 29, 2011

Organic farmers sue Monsanto

Nearly 300,000 organic farmers are filing suit against corporate agriculture giant Monsanto, who have in recent years squashed independent organic farms from coast to coast.
270,000 organic farmers filed a lawsuit in March 30 in an attempt to keep a portion of the world’s food supply organic. The plaintiffs in the case are members of around 60 family farms, seed businesses and organic agricultural organizations.
Led by the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, the suit lashes out at Monsanto to keep their engineered Genuity® Roundup Ready® canola seed out of their farms. Organic agriculturalists say that corn, cotton, sugar beets and other crops of theirs have been contaminated by Monsanto‘s seed, and even though the contamination has been largely natural and unintended, Monsanto has been suing hundreds of farmers for infringing on their patent for incidentally using their product.
Not only are organic farmers trying to keep things — well, organic — but now many of them are being forced to throw in the towel as Monsanto unfortunately continues a successful war on the competition by suing indie growers that run organic farms. In recent years, Monsanto has acquired more than 20 of the biggest seed producers and sellers in the country, and The Street reports that they have instituted a policy whereas their customers are forced to use their bionengineered seeds — and purchase them each and every year — lest they want to be blacklisted forever.
The Securities and Exchange Commission launched an investigation into Monsanto’s “customer incentive programs” last year, and the Department of Justice has been probing into possible antirust violation relating to the blacklisting of customers since 2009.
As Monsanto buys out competitors and sues others, last year’s profits went up by 77 percent to $680 million.
US federal Judge Naomi Buchwald will be overseeing the case of Organic Seed Growers & Trade Association, et al. v. Monsanto in a Manhattan court room.
Dan Ravicher, executive director of the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT), said in a statement that the case comes down to “whether Monsanto has the right to sue organic farmers for patent infringement if Monsanto’s transgenic seed or pollen should land on their property.”
“It seems quite perverse that an organic farmer contaminated by transgenic seed could be accused of patent infringement, but Monsanto has made such accusations before and is notorious for having sued hundreds of farmers for patent infringement, so we had to act to protect the interests of our clients.”
PUBAT has filed the lawsuit on behalf of the 270,000 plaintiffs. The foundation serves as a not-for-profit legal service organization that is affiliated with the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Food trucks have staying power

A new study by Technomic reveals good news for mobile food vehicles, as 91 percent of consumers polled who are familiar with food trucks say they view the trend as having staying power and not a passing fad. Only 7 percent of consumers who use mobile food vehicles (MFV) say they expect their frequency of visits to food trucks to decrease over the next year.

Technomic Director Kevin Higar says the movement could be far from reaching its apex. "The key for long-term success is getting the non-user to come on board," says Higar. "One in five individuals is not aware of or has not seen a food truck, and one-third of individuals who are aware of them still haven't purchased from one."

Once consumers gain exposure, explains Higar, they seem to have very positive impressions of the experience. But according to Technomic's research, 70 percent of non-users are still hesitant to purchase food from mobile vehicles, which is probably the biggest current growth challenge.

To help restaurant operators and suppliers understand the trends shaping the food truck movement, Technomic has published the Food Trucks Innovation Report.

Report findings include:

Although social media is an integral part of food truck marketing and patronage, 61 percent of consumers find out about mobile food trucks by "just happening upon them." Of the consumers who do follow food trucks on social media, 84 percent do so at least once a week.
Three quarters of consumers who have come across MFVs located together in a central location make combined food and/or beverage purchases from two or more operators during any given meal occasion. Because of the highly specialized nature of food truck menus, they lend themselves well to this type of multi-concept purchase.
Quick-service restaurants seem to be impacted by mobile food vehicle success more than other traditional restaurants, with 54 percent of respondents saying if they had not bought from a food truck, a quick-service restaurant would have been their most likely destination.

The Food Trucks Innovation Report is an all-in-one guide to the mobile food vehicle landscape. It includes all of the trends, consumer insights, implications and analysis needed to make real-life decisions and strategic plans for working with, competing against or creating your own mobile food vehicles.

Detailed appendices offer extensive contact information for almost 70 food truck and trailer operators, as well as concept profiles and complete menus with pricing information. The report features an analysis of competitive issues facing mobile food vehicles and traditional brick-and-mortar restaurants, as well as a detailed anatomy of the costs, motivations and planning involved in operating a mobile food vehicle.