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The Crumb for October 20th, 2017

Lori Bailey / October 20th 2017

Today’s Crumb dropped next to a cheesy, saucy pie.


Happy Friday! Order a bite to eat through Facebook and, while you wait, breeze through this past week’s food news.



Ah, delivery pizza—staple of many a college party, large family gathering, or gloriously under-achieving dinner at home. Yet quick-service pizza is being reimagined by a steadily swelling wave of fast-casual chains, such as MOD Pizza, Blaze, and Pieology. While service at lightning speed is still key, these companies are going one-up by using fresh, premium ingredients in combinations that venture beyond “meat-lovers” and “veggie supreme.” And, although take-out is still certainly an option here, these pies are meant to be enjoyed in-restaurant. Fast-casual pizza currently occupies the largest slice of the entire market at a whopping 37%; and, since the formula for pizza is easy to both customize and scale, successful chains are enjoying steady expansions across the country and overseas. Talk about making some serious dough.


Background check, please

Might need one on your next plate of salmon. According to Associated Press investigators, major retailers Wal-mart and Aldi have been selling salmon and other seafood that are likely helping fund North Korea’s nukes. Yep. North Korea frequently ships cheap labor across the border, where some workers end up in Chinese seafood-packing facilities sorting the fish that eventually goes to major distributors (like the ones that service Wal-mart, Aldi, and others). And the meager pay they do earn mostly ends up in the hands of the North Korean government. While many of the companies whose supply chains include the tainted fish don’t intend to continue sourcing from these facilities, it may be well over a year before Wal-mart’s inventory is clear. So maybe hit pause on the salmon and check out this tomato-based alt-fish instead.


Perfect storm

Needless to say, it hasn’t been a great season: in September alone, the food and beverage industry lost 105,000 jobs. After Hurricanes Harvey and Irma slammed into the Gulf and the East Coast, large chains and small stores alike were either severely shaken or completely knocked flat. While some of these restaurants will have the right combination of resources and luck to get back on their feet and put employees back to work, many—especially the smaller establishments—may simply not be able to recover. At the end of the day, though, the hurricanes were only part of the problem; the foodservice industry had already been experiencing lackluster sales and growth by the time the storms hit. When it rains, it pours.


I, Dough-bot

If robots are bound to take over the world, they might as well be pizza robots. Zume, a Mountain View-based pizza-meets-tech company that employs such machines, just landed $48 million in its most recent round of funding. According to Zume, their robots are meant to handle the more dull or potentially dangerous parts of pie-slinging, leaving the fun and creative jobs to the humans. The company also takes pizza delivery into high-tech territory with trucks that can bake pies en-route to deliveries. Because, in the future, no one will remember waiting an hour for lukewarm pizza ruined by some kid who forgot to add extra cheese.


Other worthwhile reads:

Blue Apron lays off hundreds of employees, plans to pivot

Rising above the rising prices of vanilla

Fight against food waste led by top chefs, savvy startups


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