These days, crude oil can be purchased at low prices, so why discuss solar energy? Part of the issue is that the oil market is very volatile and today’s “cheapest” prices could become tomorrow’s “most expensive” prices. Additionally, companies would do well to invest in solar energy because it is more often used to generate electricity than anything else. In fact, oil use accounts for only one percent of U.S. electricity generation and so continued discussion and investment in solar energy is essential for a sustainable society. Research efforts should continue to determine how best to transform sunlight into usable chemical fuels.

Today’s newspaper headlines seem to be filled with panic over one type of communicable disease followed by another. While some of the public furor may be manufactured and overhyped, the concern has driven home the importance of a basic method of disease prevention: handwashing. Many people have taken to relying on hand sanitizers in recent years. Despite its popularity, however, using hand sanitizer is not a replacement good old-fashioned handwashing. Soap is a basic CPG staple—we don’t just use it for disease-preventing handwashing; we use it to stay clean, period. Dirt, protein, fat—consumers want the ability to remove contaminants from their skin, no matter the circumstance and cause. But as any person who’s worked in a research laboratory or in the medical field can tell you, the more you cleanse your hands, the more it strips moisture from your skin in the process. When faced with the dilemma of balancing cleaning action and moisture preservation, what can CPG firms do?

Today’s CPG market faces a major challenge. Despite dollar sales of consumer-packaged goods going up, sector growth has actually been flat in recent years. If anything, inflation is the only thing countering the slide in volume sales. These difficulties shouldn’t be a surprise. We’re seeing slower than expected economic growth in multiple countries, leading to less consumer spending. What can CPG companies do in the current environment then? After all, pressures fueled by economic slowdowns aren’t the only thing they need to worry about. Increased regulatory measures have led to major changes such as removing key ingredients from popular products. Buyer preferences can shift quickly and unexpectedly, transforming trends into staples. The obvious answer is, of course, innovation. New and interesting products are what bring consumers into stores time and time again, as we’ve observed in the case of seasonal-inspired food flavors. The question, however, is how do we sustain the CPG innovation process in a market that puts the squeeze on profit margins?

I don’t know about other people but growing up, I thought yogurt was a weird, healthy version of ice cream. I eventually realized that’s not even remotely what yogurt is, but the association stuck with me for a long time, even after I’d incorporated it into my regular diet during high school. But isn’t it amazing how times have changed? Now, yogurt isn’t something that only people trying to lose weight or following a physical fitness program eat. It’s become one of the most dynamic food categories in recent years, evidenced by the marked growth in the yogurt market—in no small part thanks to the trendiness of Greek yogurt. Just imagine: in 2007, Greek yogurt made up only a tiny fraction of the yogurt market. Today, Greek yogurt makes up more than 50% of sales. Part of this has to do with the fact that yogurt has moved beyond a breakfast food.

While much of the United States may still be experiencing the harsh temperatures of winter, spring is only a few weeks away. Unfortunately, warmer days also mark the coming of something else: seasonal allergies. Many people suffer from this condition—something that drug companies are well aware of, if the number of allergy relief products lining drugstore shelves is any indication. Recent events, however, may alter what medications will be available over the counter in the near future. Earlier this year, a major pharmaceutical company had to recall its OTC versions of two popular allergy medications. One of the drugs was found to potentially contain an impurity while the other may have incorrect dosing markings. The recalled medications aren’t actually suspected of any harmful contamination, but no one wants to risk administering a potential overdose.

The past few years have been filled with several highly publicized chemical safety mishaps. Between chemical spills into public water supplies and warehouse explosions that disrupt a port’s daily activities, the problems span industries and national borders. To make matters worse, it’s not so much that these disasters happen. Despite our best efforts, an accident is bound to happen sooner or later. What’s crucial in these worst-case scenarios, however, is how the involved parties handle the incident. Unfortunately, we haven’t been doing so well on that score. In many instances, the accidents reveal major hazard communication violations. What else do we call it when a company can’t tell authorities what chemicals were being stored in a particular facility? If a company can’t identify a hazardous material, how can anyone properly address the environmental and public health repercussions?

More than 12,000 people sustain a spinal cord injury (SCI) every year. In addition to this figure, the number of spinal disorders is also increasing. Factor in the demand for minimally invasive surgeries to treat spine conditions, and we’re currently witnessing a push to develop new treatments and devices in this area. In fact, the global spinal biotherapeutics market was worth $1.9 billion in 2014, with the largest share belonging to the North American region.

Conventional wisdom says that Americans get more than enough protein in our diets. In fact, we’re often told that we consume too much protein. Recent studies, however, have shown us otherwise. Evidence suggests that we need to increase our protein intake for optimal health. The benefits provided by greater protein intake include improved muscle function and mobility as well as potentially preventing and treating chronic diseases. In addition to the possible benefits of boosting heart and digestive health, more protein also promotes satiety, which aids in weight maintenance. Could adding more protein to our diet help our ongoing battle against obesity?

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