For the past 15 years, Hunter Public Relations has conducted an annual survey of 1,000 American adults to see which food and beverage news stories resonated most with readers. Here are the top headlines of 2017.
#1 – Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods
Food safety and nutrition dominated food news headlines in 2017, but Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods prevailed as the most important story of the year. Amazon not only announced it was purchasing the health food chain, but also made a statement that Whole Foods customers would see lower prices in store. Lower prices at Whole Foods? Of course the story made a splash. It ranked #1 with Millennials, Gen X’ers, and Baby Boomers.
#2 – Chipotle’s D.C. snafu
Chipotle makes a mean burrito bowl, but still can’t seem to stay out of the headlines. Since 2015, Chipotle has made the news with some sort of food safety issue. 2017 was no exception. This time, a Chipotle in Washington D.C. sickened several patrons. The store had to close temporarily. Chipotle’s third (major) strike resonated with consumers and also caused their stock to plummet 6%.
#3 – Tyson’s packaging “oops”
Tyson had a bit of a slip-up this year, and readers took note. 2.5 million pounds of Tyson’s chicken products were recalled for misbranding and undeclared allergens. The ready-to-eat breaded chicken was sold to foodservice customers in 30 states.
#4 – Trump administration rolls back healthy school lunch program
Usually, survey respondents don’t report food policy stories as ones that they remember, but 2017 was an exception. The politically-charged story that ended up highest on the list was the Trump administration’s repeal of Michelle Obama’s standards for healthier school lunches. Now schools have weakened restrictions on salt content and requirements for whole grains.
#5 – Food’s here! Major food chains try delivery
Third-party delivery food services like Uber Eats are taking hold nationwide. So with a “low risk, high reward” mentality, major food chains are experimenting with delivery. Survey respondents definitely noticed the delivery headlines – who doesn’t love a whole world of culinary opportunity opening up?
#6 – Proposed tariffs on Mexican imports
The second political story to make the top food headlines was Trump’s proposed tariffs on Mexican imports to help fund the wall on the southern U.S. border. What that would mean for Americans is paying a 20% tax on any food and beverage imports from our neighbor to the south. This tariff is just one of many proposed options the administration has introduced to fund the wall.
#7 – Meal kits. Meal kits everywhere.
Stories revolving around the meal kit phenomenon snagged the number seven spot on Hunter PR’s list. Since meal kits have become so popular, especially with the Millennial age group, it comes as no surprise that murmurs of meal kits are echoing in consumers’ ears.
#8/9 – FDA puts temporary kibosh on new nutrition label rollout (tie)
The third (and last) food policy story on the list pertains to updated nutrition label adoption. In June, the FDA announced that it would delay the rollout of new nutrition labels. This new label initiative was spearheaded by Michelle Obama as a way for consumers to eat more healthfully.
#8/9 – Sugar and spice and everything…. Unicorn? (tie)
There have been some pretty weird food trends over the years (we’re looking at you, Jell-O salad), but unicorn foods might be the strangest of them all. This sparkly trend proves that odd is often memorable. So thank you, Starbucks, for gracing us with the Unicorn Frappuccino.
#10 – Affordable avocado
Avocado lovers spoke, and California farmers listened. Growers started planting more trees to keep up with the demand of avocados and stabilize prices. Consumers appreciate and remember the efforts. Now, who wants guacamole?
Read the full press release here.