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Jose Andres in Puerto Rico Serves More Meals Than Red Cross

The Coliseo is the biggest concert hall in San Juan Puerto Rico. But since Hurricane Maria devastated the island a month ago, it’s become the center of a massive effort to feed tens of thousands left hungry by the storm — an effort led by celebrity chef José Andrés. “We’re about to reach the million and a half [meals] served — a vast majority of them hot meals,” says Andrés, who is known for his upscale restaurants in Washington, D.C., and for canceling his plans to open one in Donald Trump’s D.C. hotel.

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Nearly 80 percent of Puerto Rico remains without electricity. In the Coliseo, Andrés oversees a massive makeshift kitchen. A few hundred volunteers prepare stews and sandwiches — 60,000 each day. Andrés calls it “one of the most effective sandwich lines made by volunteers in history — I’m so proud of them.” When asked why he decided to fly to San Juan on Sept. 25, just days after Maria struck, Andrés replies by paraphrasing the author John Steinbeck. “Steinbeck said very clearly in Of Mice and Men, “Where there is a fight so hungry people may eat, I will be there.” “I didn’t see a plan and instead of planning and meeting, I began cooking and we began feeding,” he says. Soon after Andrés arrived, FEMA gave his nonprofit, World Central Kitchen, enough money to prepare 20,000 meals over seven days. That’s on top of the 50,000 people a day he was already feeding — with donated food and funds, in addition to money from his NGO.C246F70A-58D3-4115-8FBF-1F4EB9907A4E.jpeg

When it came time for a new contract, Andrés asked FEMA for increased funding so he could feed tens of thousands more Puerto Ricans, but the agency told him that would take longer because of its contracting rules.

Despite such frustrations, Andrés remains indefatigable about continuing to churn out meals to help alleviate hunger in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.

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Butter shortage in France amid global demand for pastries

French pastries and butter have become so popular abroad that the increased demand led to a mini-shortage of the dairy product in French supermarkets.

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The price of butter rose 60 percent in a year, reaching 6.7 euros ($7.9) per kilogram in August, according to official data. The increase has created problems for pastry exporters in France and fears of a shortage of Christmas delicacies such as the traditional Yule Log dessert.

French regions like Brittany and Normandy have reportedly been hit hardest by the butter shortage, which is also linked to a drop in Europe’s milk supply.

Dominique Charge, the head of the national cooperative of dairy products, told French radio RTL that butter is “more and more in demand in emerging economies like #China and the Middle East.”

Claude Margerin Francois, who runs a small company specialized in pastry dough in central France, told The Associated Press she has not been able to fulfill orders from Lebanon, China and Vietnam because of the shortage.

“I’m looking for butter everywhere,” she said.

Margerin Francois, who has been buying her top-shelf labeled Poitou Charentes butter from a local producer for 15 years, said she had to furlough eight employees because of the shortage.

She added that she could have opted for a cheaper butter made abroad but was not convinced by the quality. “Just by smelling it I could tell it was not good enough.”

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Denver’s New Whole Foods Will Have a Mac n’ Cheese Bar and a Poke Bar

Denver is about to give us all serious Whole Foods envy. Coming this November, a new Whole Foods in Denver’s Union Station will have, among other things, a 100-pound tower of cheese a poke bar, and a mac and cheese bar. We’re both super jealous of Denver and excited about the precedent this sets for other Whole Foods (Whole Foodses?) in the future.

According to the Denver Post the mac and cheese bar will include “pulled pork BBQ mac and cheese, roasted tomato mac and cheese and vegan mac and cheese. There’ll be a good old-fashioned basic mac too.” Amusingly, they weren’t nearly as excited about the poke bar, because, as they put it, “Yes, it has a poke bar, too. But can we please just gloss over that? I’m so sick of writing about poke and there are approximately 180 new poke restaurants where you can get your fill.”

A bunch of Denver’s restaurants and food vendors will also be getting outposts in this whopping 50,000-foot Whole Foods, thanks to the “Friends of Whole Foods” initiative, where Whole Foods partners with local small businesses. According to Denver’s 5280.com, friends will include Denver’s Tel Aviv Street Food, which sells foods like shawarma and falafel, Birdcall, which sells fried chicken in a seamless, automat-like fashion, and Kikka Sushi, which sells noodle and rice bowls.

This Whole Foods will definitely beat the usual train station fare, a cellophane-wrapped sandwich and a cup of burnt coffee. Thankfully, though, this is part of a larger trend of train stations upping their game food-wise. We’re hoping that soon train stations all over the country will be replacing their super dubious deli counters with local butcher outposts and replacing their freezer burnt cupcakes with adorable little patisseries. In the meantime, Denver’s Union Station Whole Foods will open on November 15th at 1701 Wewatta Street, so that’s a start.

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Soul Food Maven Tanya Holland Will Appear on Top Chef’s 15th Season

Bravo’s popular chef-shuffling culinary competition Top Chef is back for a 15th season, this time in Colorado, and with four Bay Area chefs: Tanya Holland, Tu David Phu, Melissa Perfit, and Rolegio Garcia, who join the ranks of past local competitors like Preeti Mistry, Casey Thompson, Elizabeth Binder, Louis Maldonado, and Jen Biesty.

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The “cheftestants” will travel around the state, including Denver, Boulder, Telluride, and Aspen, jockeying for first place in a series of cooking competitions and stunts. The hosts will include regulars Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons, and Graham Elliot, along with guest judges like John Besh and Wylie Dufresne.

In addition to the Bay Area’s competitors, there will be 11 other chefs from around the country, though mostly NYC, SF, and Southern California. See the full list below, along with more details on SF’s challengers.

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Tanya Holland
Chef/owner of Oakland’s Brown Sugar Kitchen with upcoming outposts in Uptown Oakland in SF’s Ferry Building, Holland seems to be one of the most established chefs to join the ranks of contestants. She’s already well-known in the Bay Area, has a cookbook, starred on Food Network’s Melting Pot series, and has appeared on national talk shows. Most importantly, she’s an accomplished chef with French training, and a highly successful restaurant and brand — it will be interesting to see how her veteran status plays out on the show.

Rogelio Garcia
Currently the executive chef of The Commissary, Traci Des Jardins Presidio restaurant, Garcia spent his adolescence in Napa where he began his career as a dishwasher. Stints at Napa’s Hurley’s and Angèle (eventually returning there as executive chef), staging at Redd and Michael Mina, and eventually working at Cyrus and The French Laundry followed, before he made the move to SF.

Melisa Perfit
Perfit has led the kitchen of Divisadero’s Bar Crudo since 2014; before that, she worked her way through many excellent SF kitchens, including Hog Island Oyster Co., RN74, Bar Tartine, and at Hard Water as chef de cuisine.

Tu David Phu
Most recently the executive chef of Gather, in Berkeley, Phu has been running a weekly pop-up called AN, a Vietnamese dining experience. He’s spent time at area restaurants like Chez Panisse, Quince, and Acquerello, as well as New York standouts like Gramercy Tavern. He’s also one of the Chronicle’s Rising Star Chefs for 2017.

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National Dessert Day Deals and Freebies

It’s most definitely time to find your “eating pants.” National Dessert Day is October 14, and let’s just say that I have no qualms about holding myself accountable for celebrating in the sweetest ways possible. The history of this sugary holiday is unknown, but hey, I won’t question its origins. At the end of the day, it’s a time to hit your favorite bakery, whip up a confection at home, or surprise your friends with some treats. And what’s not to love about that?

To help you spoil your sweet tooth, many places will promote dessert deals on October 14. Here are a few:

Auntie Anne’s: Download the My Pretzel Perks app and get a free pretzel after your first purchase — but there is minimum spending amount required.

BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse: Enjoy $3 Pizookie desserts through Oct. 15.

Black Angus Steakhouse: Get a free dessert when you register for the Prime Club.

Bob Evans: Take 20 percent off your entire check with the printable coupon after 2 p.m. through Oct. 31, which makes room in your budget for a piece of pie or an ice cream sundae.

Captain D’s: Join the D’s Club and get a coupon for a free dessert once a week for a month when you purchase a regular-priced meal.

Cheesecake.com: Enter coupon code Cake5 at checkout to take $5 off any purchase through Jan. 1, 2018.

Cheryl’s: Get 15 percent off sitewide through Nov. 30 with code TAKE15.

Mrs. Fields: In celebration of the holiday, Mrs. Fields is offering online shoppers 15 percent off sitewide for the entire month of October with coupon code COOKIES.

Harry & David: Use code SHARE20 to save 20 percent on orders of $75 or more through Jan. 31, 2018.

Friendly’s: Join the BFF Club and get 25 percent off and a free scoop of ice cream on your next visit. You’ll also get free birthday sundaes for you and your kids.

Ghirardelli Chocolate Company: Get 15 percent off your order of $75 or more with code SAVE15 through Oct. 31.

Jelly Belly: Sign up for Jelly Belly emails and get 10 percent off your first order.

Krispy Kreme: Download the Krispy Kreme Rewards app and get a free welcome original glazed doughnut.

Hershey’s: Get 10 percent off any purchase made through the Hershey’s online store with coupon code HERSHEYSAVE.

Olive Garden: Celebrate dessert day by signing up for the Olive Garden eClub. As a first-time subscriber, you’ll get a free dessert or appetizer, with the purchase of two entrees.

The Popcorn Factory: If salty snacks are your idea of the best desserts, use code LS10 to take $10 off your order of $50 or more through Dec. 31.

Red Lobster: Register for the Fresh Catch Club to get a free dessert or appetizer.

Steak ‘n Shake: Present the printable coupon for a buy one, get one free Kit Kat Milkshake through Nov. 10, at participating locations.

T.G.I. Fridays: Sign up for Fridays Rewards and get a free dessert or appetizer just for joining.

Village Inn: Register for the eClub and get a free slice of pie as a welcome gift.

Dessert Day 2017 only happens once, so make the most of it. Use these discounts and freebies to save big on easy desserts already prepared, because cookies, cakes, pies and candy taste even sweeter when you don’t have to spend a lot of time or money on them.

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Facebook now lets you order food without leaving Facebook

Today Facebook is announcing that users can now order food for takeout or delivery using both the Facebook mobile app and website. But it’s not at all what you might think; Facebook hasn’t created its own answer to Seamless, which would be massive news for the restaurant industry. This isn’t that.

Instead, the company is partnering with existing services GrubHub, Delivery.com, DoorDash, ChowNow, Zuppler, EatStreet, Slice, and Olo, and will now link out to those food ordering businesses for restaurants that support them. You head to the new “Order Food” area of Facebook under the Explore section, find the local spot you’re craving, and then hit “start order.” From there, if a restaurant supports more than one of Facebook’s ordering partners, you’ll be able to choose between them. Once you do, Facebook will bring up an in-app browser that takes you through the existing websites for Delivery.com and the others. That’s where all the ordering actually happens, so you’re not actually doing much with the Facebook app beyond finding a restaurant and tapping your preferred delivery option.

Seamless is not currently among Facebook’s partner services, but parent company GrubHub is, so that should get you most of the same delivery restaurants. But there are other omissions such as Caviar, so you’ll still need to open those apps separately to know which restaurants use them and place an order.

Facebook is also partnering on food ordering directly with national chains Chipotle, Five Guys, Jack in the Box, Papa John’s, Wingstop, Panera, TGI Friday’s, Denny’s, El Pollo Loco, and Jimmy John’s. But it works the same way as with the other services; you browse to one of these nearby chain locations, pick start order, and then you’ll be sent to their existing delivery system. All Facebook is really doing here is launching an in-app browser so you can get a meal without ever leaving the app.

“We’ve been testing this since last year, and after responding to feedback and adding more partners, we’re rolling out everywhere in the US on iOS, Android and desktop,” Alex Himel, Facebook’s VP of local, said in a press release. “People already go to Facebook to browse restaurants and decide where to eat or where to order food, so we’re making that easier.”

That “we’ve been working on this for a year” bit surprised me. There’s certainly some work necessary to link all these restaurant pages with the services they use (and businesses can opt out of displaying the food ordering feature if they wish). The value for Facebook is obvious; the company hopes you’ll fill your craving and then keep swiping through your news feed with your greasy fingers.

But if you’re left asking why you wouldn’t just use an app from these services or chains to begin with, I don’t have a great answer for why Facebook’s little shortcut would be better. It’s ever so slightly faster if you’re already on Facebook, I suppose — and good exposure for some of the services that users might not already be familiar with.

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World Egg Day: 5 Common Egg Myths Busted

World Egg Day: Despite its great reputation in the world of health and nutrition, there are many myths around eggs that you probably believe inor have grown up listening. Here’s busting a few of them.

Happy World Egg Day! World Egg Day was established at the IEC Vienna 1996 conference when it was decided to celebrate World Egg Day on the second Friday in October each year. The day is dedicated to help raise awareness of the many health benefits of eggs. Whether you are pressed for time to reach office or your college, and your stomach is growling of hunger, you know what will rescue you out of the crisis- Eggs, of course! Scrambled, boiled, half fried or poached if you have eggs in stock, you don’t have to worry because you can whip up a delicious meal in minutes. Furthermore, eggs are packed with high quality proteins, selenium, vitamin D, B6, B12 and minerals such as zinc, iron and copper, which makes eggs one of the most nutritious food to load up on.

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Nutritionists and health experts across world can’t help raving about eggs and its nutritional benefits.

“Research has proven that, as opposed to the previous beliefs, eggs are actually good for health. Researchers have looked at the diets of people, and they have suggested that consuming eggs every day is not associated with cholesterol problems or heart disease,” said Angeli Misra (Director Lifeline Laboratory).

Added Saumya Satakshi, Senior Nutritionist, and Wellness Consultant, Healthians: “Eggs are low in saturated fat and they have no trans-fat, only a small amount of cholesterol. Most of the fat present in the eggs are the ‘good’ unsaturated fat that we need to be healthy.”

Despite its great reputation in the world of health and nutrition, there are many myths around eggs that you probably believe in or have grown up listening. Here’s busting a few of them.

Take a look at some of the common myths and find out the fact behind them.

1. Myth: Eggs increase the blood cholesterol levels

Fact: Eggs are excellent source of protein, hence should not be ruled out from the diet just on account of their cholesterol profile. While measuring the impact of a food item on our blood cholesterol levels, saturated and trans-fat (the ‘bad’ fats) levels should be taken into account. Bangalore based nutritionist Dr. Anju Sood says, “Even in the egg, there are parts you can pick and choose from. It is the yolk of the egg that raises the lipid profiling , hence maybe you can choose to avoid that and load up on egg whites. Two egg whites a day are adequate protein for the day.”

“As you age, your metabolism declines, therefore while a child or a youngster can (and should) consume a day without much worry, it might prove to be a tad risky affair for those in their 40’s, battling with high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Eat balanced food; if your eat meat in moderation then 3-4 eggs in a week won’t harm you, “she adds.

2. Myth: Washing eggs before use can eliminate salmonella bacteria present on them

Fact: Salmonella bacteria are present inside the egg and not on the surface of eggs or the eggshell. Hence, washing eggs will not really help in removing the bacteria.

3. Myth: Having a lot of eggs in a day is bad for health

Fact: Experts believe that up to three whole eggs per day are perfectly safe for healthy people. Consultant Nutritionist Rupali Dutta says, ” One or two eggs a day are adequate for a decent protein intake . If you are a vegetarian who happens to eat eggs, it is the best source of protein. If you are a hard core non-vegetarian, eating large quantities of eggs a day, along with red meat and chicken, is not quite recommended.”

4. Myth: White eggs vs brown egg, which is a healthier bet

Fact: Eggs come in many colors. The different eggshells color comes from the pigments the hens produce. Hence, both white and brown have the same nutritional values and are healthy.

5. You Shouldn’t Have Milk after Eggs

Fact: According to the book The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies, A Comprehensive Guide to the Ancient Healing of India by Vasant Lad, Combining eggs can produce indigestion, fermentation and gas formation.

However, as per Nutritionist Mehar Rajput, FITPASS, “Eggs are a great source of protein, amino acids and healthy fats and milk consists of protein and calcium. Eating cooked eggs with milk is a great way to balance out the protein intake. Consuming raw eggs or uncooked eggs can sometimes lead to bacterial infection, food poisoning and biotin deficiency (as the protein in egg binds with biotin and prevents its absorption).

Here’s wishing everybody a Happy World Egg Day 2017!

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OBJ gets the best hospital food ever

Odell Beckham Jr. has been living large in the hospital while recovering from a fractured left ankle.

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On Monday night, he was visited by rapper pal Drake — and we hear he also got an unheard-of takeout delivery fit for a king from impossible-to-get-into East Harlem eatery Rao’s.

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Rao’s head chef Dino Gatto personally sent Beckham “pasta, seafood salad, lemon chicken, roasted peppers and eggplant parm,” a source said, adding, “At this rate, he’s not going to want to go home.”

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Chef-Approved Thanksgiving Shortcuts That Will Save You Time

In October, we all fantasize about making perfect, magazine-spread-worthy Thanksgiving feasts. We imagine cooking that elaborate chestnut-pomegranate-kale-chorizo stuffing recipe we clipped out of the newspaper, and that cranberry sauce from scratch, and maybe even sashimi served on rice crackers as a sophisticated appetizer.

When Thanksgiving actually rolls around, though, we could use a few shortcuts. There are too many things to get done, and that’s not even including all the daunting emotional tasks, like keeping people from fighting and making everyone leave your home when you’re ready to sleep.

Fortunately, you don’t have to feel bad about taking shortcuts during the cooking process. In fact, chefs take them, too. We chatted with some chefs from around the country about all the ways they cut corners on Thanksgiving. This is a guilt-free zone.

Keep the cranberry sauce simple.

“The easiest and best cranberry sauce—besides canned, which is my favorite— is cranberry relish, which is so, so easy. Just combine raw cranberries, orange zest and granulated sugar in a saucepan and cook for about five minutes. It’s the perfect tart counterpart to so many sweet sides.” — Alexandra Shapiro of Flex Mussels (New York)

Respect, appreciate and cherish canned cream of mushroom soup.

“Don’t go fancy on string bean casserole; no one likes this. Go canned string beans, Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup and French’s crispy onions. The best.” — Shapiro

Let Top Ramen flavor packets be your secret weapon. (Seriously.)

“Using Top Ramen flavor packets can add deep flavor to various dishes. You can make a quick-dip mixing it with sour cream and a little buttermilk. Or you can add it to the water to make a flavorful stock that you can use to make your store-bought stuffing more flavorful.” — Chef Rahaf Amer of Salt & Vine (Nashville, TN)

Store-bought bread cubes will totally do the trick.

“Instead of cubing and drying out the bread to then dehydrate it for stuffing, just buy the ready-to-go stuffing bread and mix it with sausage, spinach, walnuts and apples, and it becomes a gourmet dish with half the work.” — Chef Dave Anoia of DiAnoia’s (Pittsburgh, PA)

“I use Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix as the base for my stuffing instead of old bread. Bread is too unpredictable and can get mushier than expected. Then you can jazz it up by adding sausage, fresh vegetables, or even chestnuts.” — Shapiro

“My stepmom makes literally everything else from scratch, but has used Pepperidge Farm sage stuffing mix our whole lives. It is delicious, and she has to triple the batch so everyone can take some home. She doctors it up with ground sausage, pecans and diced apples.” — Chefs Molly Martin and Lyndi Stein of Juniper Green (Nashville, TN)

Think outside the pie.

“Crumbles are a staple at our Thanksgiving because they’re a super easy dessert. All you need is lots of fruit (apples, pears blueberries, whatever) that you top with tons of sugar and butter, some flour and maybe some oats if you are feeling fancy! It’s super delicious and looks cute and rustic.” — Shapiro

If you’re out of cranberry sauce, don’t panic.

“Apple butter instead of cranberry sauce is really smart. A lot of the time, last-minute shoppers are out of luck with things being sold out, finding a similar alternative is always a good idea.” — Amer

Consider pre-diced veggies (especially onions).

“Almost every traditional Thanksgiving dish requires onions, so to save yourself some prep work, you can pick up pre-diced onions in the produce section. Trader Joe’s also has a huge selection of prepped and seasoned veggies that would work well for sides—like peeled/diced butternut squash, halved/seasoned oven-ready brussels sprouts and pre-roasted beets.” — Martin and Stein

Put your local BBQ place on speed dial. (Is speed dial still a thing?)

“For turkey snafus, you could call—probably day before, not day of—local BBQ restaurants, as they often sell smoked or deep-fried turkeys for the holiday, and anyone who does Thanksgiving catering usually over-orders to be safe. They might be willing to put you on a waiting list to make sure they have enough for people who ordered ahead. A higher-end grocery store like Whole Foods that offers Thanksgiving catering also might have surplus if you’re lucky.” — Martin and Stein

Heat up a frozen pie.

“Our family loves Mrs. Smith’s Dutch apple pie in the freezer section. — Martin and Stein

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Why Big Food is paying fat cash for small brands like RXBar and Boomchickapop

Some of the deals are staggering to contemplate — $600 million for a protein bar company started four years ago in a west suburban basement, $250 million for a popcorn brand launched in a Minnesota couple’s garage, and $700 million for an organic broth maker acquired by the world’s largest soup company.

Remember when food companies used to make their own new products?

Times are tough in the packaged food industry as shoppers — millennials in particular — continue to reach for products they consider to be healthy, natural or better quality than some older brands. Faced with declining sales, large food companies are forking over fat cash for upstart brands in hopes of growing once more, while also reformulating outdated brands to be more modern.

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Expect this trend of acquisitions to continue, analysts say.

“These companies are playing catch-up, is what it is. They’re trying to get on the right side of these trends. … A desperate time is leading to desperate measures,” said Bob Goldin, partner at Pentallect, a Chicago-based strategic consulting firm for food companies.

Last week, Kellogg Co. announced its acquisition of Chicago-based RXBar, a fast-growing protein bar company only four years old, the latest such acquisition in the food industry over the past few years. In the weeks before that, Chicago-based Conagra Brands, maker of Orville Redenbacher’s and other brands, said it would buy the maker of Angie’s Boomchickapop ready-to-eat popcorn for $250 million and expected it to bring in about $100 million in sales this year.

And in July, Campbell Soup Co. announced it would buy Pacific Foods, known for its organic soups and broths.

Why can’t companies that make soup and popcorn develop new kinds of soup and popcorn?

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“(Packaged food executives) have acknowledged the pace of innovation from concept to shelf takes way too long and consumer trends are evolving at a much faster clip,” said Erin Lash, a Morningstar analyst.

So far this year, there have been 1,065 mergers and acquisitions in the global food and beverage industry, valued at $78.4 billion, according to data from Dealogic. That surpasses last year’s value of $59 billion, but still lags each of the preceding four years.

But the year isn’t done. And though the recent deals have generally been smaller, Lash and other analysts said they wouldn’t rule out the possibility of larger, more transformational consolidation in the food industry.

Kraft Heinz, with headquarters in Chicago and Pittsburgh, remains of particular intrigue in the food industry and could make a large acquisition in the not-so-distant future after Unilever spurned its earlier offer.

In the meanwhile, it’s good to be small. To beat out competitors and, in some cases, convince reluctant brands to sell, giant food companies are paying healthy premiums for their acquisitions, said Jared Koerten, lead analyst at Euromonitor International.

Companies like Siggi’s Dairy and Noosa Yoghurt might make attractive targets for larger companies, Koerten said, as might Amplify Snack Brands, the Texas-based maker of Skinny Pop ready-to-eat popcorn.

“In general, this has been the knee-jerk reaction throughout the food industry — if you can’t beat em’, join ’em,” Koerten said.