Talking Points

Talking Points

Roche Bros. unveils grab-and-go meal kit; Purple Carrot gets $4m investment

The results of a vegan pizza bianco meal kit from Purple Carrot.
Purple Carrot
The results of a vegan pizza bianco meal kit from Purple Carrot.


Purple Carrot gets $4 million investment; Roche Bros. unveils grab-and-go meal kits

Purple Carrot, the meal-kit company that partnered with Tom Brady to create the quarterback’s TB12 line of food, is getting a boost from the fruit and vegetable giant Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc. Del Monte, which generates more than 40 percent of its revenue selling bananas, is investing $4 million in the Needham-based startup. The deal gives Purple Carrot, which only sells vegan meals, access to a national distribution network and supply chain as it tries to compete in the increasingly crowded meal-kit industry. Meanwhile, Roche Bros. and Just Add Cooking are launching new grab-and-go meal kits for two in select Roche Bros., Brothers Marketplace, and Sudbury Farms stores this week. The new kits, available in a choice of six recipes, make it possible to get dinner on the table in 15 to 30 minutes, without a subscription. The Fresh Del Monte investment comes as Purple Carrot is on pace to post annual revenue of about $50 million. That’s a fraction of the sales posted by industry leaders Blue Apron and HelloFresh, but Purple Carrot’s growth has outpaced the broader industry in recent months, according to data from researcher Second Measure. The pickup in demand comes after Blue Apron’s struggles during its first six months as a public company raised questions about the viability of meal-kit subscriptions. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Safety regulators warn that older Ford pickups need dangerous air bags replaced

US auto safety regulators again warned drivers that certain older pickup trucks made by Ford Motor Co. should be parked until they replace dangerous air bags that can explode in a crash. The 2006 Ford Ranger and Mazda B-Series pickups contain defective air bag inflators made by Takata Corp. that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in January first warned should not be driven because the parts pose “an immediate risk to safety.” The NHTSA issued an additional warning Monday due to slow progress in replacing the defective parts, which can explode in a crash and spray vehicle occupants with metal shards. The defect has been linked to more than a dozen deaths and hundreds of injuries. The defective parts have been replaced in about 49 percent of the 33,320 Rangers and 55 percent of the 2,205 Mazda pickups, the NHTSA said. Ford produced the Mazda pickups under a joint venture. Dealers will tow the trucks for repairs free of charge. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Record labels make more than $1 billion selling stakes in Spotify

Two of the three major record labels stand to gain more than $1 billion after selling stakes in Spotify Technology SA, the streaming music company that went public last month. Warner Music Group sold 75 percent of its stake in Spotify for approximately $400 million, Chief executive Steve Cooper said on a call with analysts Monday. Sony Corp.’s record label has sold about half of its stake for $750 million, according to a regulatory filing. Spotify has proven to be a boon for the record labels, even as they remain a shadow of their former selves. Royalty checks from the streaming service have helped boost music-industry sales three years in a row. Now the labels will be able to use money from their equity sales to pay artists and fund acquisitions. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Microsoft launches $25 million initiative to use AI to help the disabled


Microsoft is launching a $25 million initiative to use artificial intelligence to build better technology for people with disabilities. CEO Satya Nadella announced the new ‘‘AI for Accessibility’’ effort at Microsoft’s annual conference for software developers, which kicked off Monday in Seattle. The five-year initiative will include seed grants for startups, nonprofit organizations, and academic researchers, as well as deeper investments and expertise from Microsoft researchers. Microsoft said the company hopes to empower people by accelerating the development of AI tools that provide them with more opportunities for independence and employment. Microsoft has already experimented with its own accessibility tools, such as a ‘‘Seeing AI’’ free smartphone app using computer vision and narration to help people navigate. Microsoft’s translation tool also offers real-time captioning of conversations. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Nissan to stop selling diesel cars in Europe

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Nissan Motor Co. will stop sales of diesel cars in Europe as the region moves to tougher emission standards after Volkswagen AG’s pollution-test scandal. Japan’s second-largest carmaker will stop offering diesel versions of passenger cars at the time of each vehicle’s renewal in the coming years, Nicholas Maxfield, a spokesman in Tokyo, said Monday. The automaker will concentrate on pushing sales of electrified vehicles, he said. Diesel-car sales in Europe slumped after Volkswagen admitted to cheating on emission tests in 2015, and demand for such models is set to fall further as regulators put tougher standards into place starting 2020. Nissan’s plan follows that of Toyota Motor Corp., which said in March it will phase out diesel engines from all its passenger cars beginning this year. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Uber hires former NTSB chairman in wake of self-driving fatality

Uber Technologies Inc., whose self-driving car program is reeling from a fatal collision with a pedestrian, has hired Christopher Hart, the former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, to advise the company. That same board is investigating the Tempe, Ariz., collision that killed a woman as she walked across the street in March. A video of the accident shows the car’s driver looking away from the accident and the car colliding with the pedestrian without visibly attempting to stop. Meanwhile, a report in the technology news publication The Information said that Uber’s internal investigation determined that its sensors spotted the woman. But error-correcting software meant to avoid unnecessary braking directed the car to continue, the report says. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


CFTC may offer buyouts following congressional budget cut

The US Commodity Futures Trading Commission is reducing services for staff members and may offer buyouts for some workers as the agency prepares for belt-tightening after its budget was cut by lawmakers. Units across the 700-person agency “will have to make sacrifices” because of spending constraints, CFTC chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo said last week in a memo to staff. He was responding to a $1 million dollar budget cut that comes as the agency, already the main US derivatives regulator, tries to assert itself as a cryptocurrency watchdog. The Republican-controlled Congress in March cut the CFTC’s budget for the current fiscal year to $249 million, even after President Trump’s budget plan called for a boost to $281.5 million. — BLOOMBERG NEWS