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Food Companies Insight Alert Archive

Have a look at some of our recent alerts. These give broad coverage of the industry - if you want something more specific create your own here.

<<567891011121314>> Total issues:183

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April 15, 2015, to May 01, 2015

Morrisons Plans To Increase Staff In Its Supermarkets

The fourth largest supermarket chain in the U.K. plans to trim its head office staff while hiring more service people for its stores. Morrisons is recruiting 5,000 shop floor staff to improve service, increase product availability, and open more checkout counters. Many of the new jobs will be part-time. In the meantime it plans to reduce head office jobs by 720. Headquarters staff in Bradford have increased by 50 percent since 2008, a trend that has left many employees disgruntled. The lack of personnel in stores has been a major complaint among the rank-and-file at Morrisons.

Specialty Foods Are Becoming More Mainstream Grocery Items

As grocery shoppers increasingly look for foods considered more natural, less processed or locally produced, retail sales of specialty food items have been rising steadily, reaching $51 billion last year. Stores have begun stocking shelves with new, smaller brands of high quality, limited supply or “exotic” foods. The category accounted for 13.7 percent of retail food sales in 2013, up from 12.7 percent in 2012. That makes specialty foods – imported cheese, high-quality coffee beans, etc. -- less of a niche market, because the trickle-down effect eventually pushes them into big retail stores, like Walmart.

Unilever's Sustainability Efforts Show Results

In 2015, Unilever reported it has reduced carbon emissions at its factories by 32 percent and water use by 29 percent, compared with levels in 2008. According to the company, every factory at its 240 operating locations produces zero waste. Launched in 2010, Unilever's sustainability initiative goes beyond in-house operations to include reviewing a product's lifecycle, from the raw materials used to landfill. Because of its size, Unilever believes even small achievements can mean a lot for the environment. For example, reducing plastic use by 15 percent can save about 27,000 ton of plastic resin each year. Unilever is partnering with other companies, such as Walmart, and even competitors to help promote sustainability as a business strategy.

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April 01, 2015, to April 15, 2015

Mondelez May Sell Philadelphia Cheese Brand, But To Whom?

Euromonitor says it’s likely that Mondelez – primarily a sweet snacks company since its split from Kraft – will sell off its Europe-based Philadelphia cream cheese brand. But to whom? The European spreadable cheese market is not a growth area. But sales of the Philadelphia brand in Europe have grown by $100 million since 2009, and its brand equity would make it a desirable acquisition by dairy companies like France's Bel Groupe and Lactalis. On the other hand, Kraft Heinz already owns the North American arm of Philadelphia cheese, so it makes good business sense for it to acquire the European arm. There would be cost efficiencies from synergies in production and marketing, and keeping costs under control is a top priority for Kraft Heinz.

New Kraft Heinz Company Should Have Major Impact On Food Industry

The creation of Kraft Heinz Company, with its expected $40 billion valuation, will have a major impact on the global food industry. According to a Mintel analyst, the new company will have significant leverage in the U.S. and worldwide, will allow expansion of Kraft’s food line into foreign markets, and will lead to tighter management, a streamlined supply chain, and lower production and overhead costs as competing brands, and their human resources, are merged. Other repercussions in the food industry include the possibility of an upsurge of M&A activity.

Biscuit Taco: Another Weapon Added To Taco Bell’s Breakfast Arsenal

Taco Bell is determined to make breakfast sales at least 20 percent of its annual revenues, and to do that it must make America aware that it’s “open for breakfast” in a big way. The latest flare it has sent up in that strategy is the Biscuit Taco, a biscuit shaped like a taco and stuffed with eggs, cheese and sausage or bacon. Analysts expect the company to replace the recently unveiled waffle taco with the new biscuit. Its revamped breakfast menu – launched a year ago with TV ads featuring real people named Ronald McDonald – helped Taco Bell post a six percent hike in same-restaurant sales for its fourth quarter ended in February.

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March 15, 2015, to April 01, 2015

Private Investors Merge Kraft Foods With Heinz In Mega-Deal

Private investors 3G Capital of Brazil and Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway have worked out a deal to buy Kraft Foods Group and merge it with H. J. Heinz, which 3G and Buffett bought two years ago. The new company, Kraft Heinz, will have revenues of approximately $28 billion and a market value of $80 billion. The combined product lines will include eight brands worth $1 billion or more and five brands worth between $500 million and $1 billion. The deal comes at a time when U.S. consumers are backing away from processed foods and turning to local, fresh and organic products.

Mondelez Hopes Gum Sales Will Improve With Strategy Targeting Generation Z

With its chewing-gum sales stalling, Mondelez International is trying a somewhat arcane marketing strategy to revitalize Trident products among post-millennials in an era of social media and smart devices. Gum revenue was down three percent in 2014, though market share grew or remained stable in four of six markets. The company thinks the key reason for this sales decline is that Generation Z spends too much time on its smartphones, reducing personal human contact and eliminating daily rituals like gum chewing. So Trident commissioned a Japanese designer to create clothing that blocks radio signals. Whether the strategy is boosting gum sales is known so far only to Mondelez.

Kraft Recalls Potentially Tainted Mac & Cheese Dinners

Kraft Foods, responding to complaints by eight consumers, has recalled 242,000 cases of Macaroni & Cheese that might contain small pieces of metal. The affected product was shipped in the U.S. and some Caribbean and South American countries, but not to Canada. The company advised buyers to return the appropriate boxes to the store of purchase for a full refund. The recalled boxes were the 7.25-oz., original flavor varietty with best-when-used-by dates of Sept. 18, 2015, through Oct. 11, 2015.

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March 01, 2015, to March 15, 2015

Unilever Now Demands Value For Its Digital Ad Bucks

A Unilever media executive says the company has tightened its payment policy for in-view browser ads because it should “get what we pay for”. For several months now, the big digital media buyer has been paying only for browser ads that are 100 percent viewable, not the 50 percent that is standard in the industry. The tougher policy, announced last October, requires that at least half of a video ad must be played when in view with the sound turned on throughout viewing. The policy requires that an ad viewer must also press “play” instead of it being an auto-start. Unilever’s Sarah Mansfield said, “The industry standards are just not adequate enough for us as a big advertiser in this space.”

Beacon Technology Test Is Encouraging For Unilever

A Unilever beta test involving beacon and smartphone technology and Knorr soup brand and food vans proved successful enough for the company to investigate expanding the availability of the app to other media outlets. For the test, Unilever deployed branded food vans in Sweden where people could sample Knorr soups. When shoppers were within ten meters of the vans, the beacon devices picked up their smartphone IDs. The next day they were sent a personal message referring to the taste test and providing a discount coupon redeemable in-store. The results were encouraging enough for the company to ponder a mass rollout across all brands.

Hain Buys Remaining Interest In Kosher Poultry Producer

Natural/organic foods marketer Hain Celestial Group has purchased the remaining 80 percent of EK Holdings and its subsidiary Empire Kosher Poultry (Mifflintown, Pa.) for about $58 million. The purchase price includes outstanding debt repaid at closing. Empire bought the Kosher Valley brand of natural chicken and turkey products from Hain Pure Protein Corporation in 2010. In exchange, HPPC received a 19 percent interest in Empire. Empire practices sustainable farming, “promotes social justice and strictly observes Jewish dietary laws to produce all-natural poultry products”, Hain said in a statement.

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February 15, 2015, to March 01, 2015

Danone Reports Significant Profit Drop In 2014, Warns Of Tough 2015

Danone SA said full-year net profit dropped 21 percent to €1.12 billion in 2014, compared with €1.42 billion in 2013. Sales for the year declined slightly to €21.14 billion from €21.3 billion in the previous year, hampered by foreign exchange fluctuations. Sales increased 4.7 percent on an organic basis. For 2015, the company said it expects organic revenue to rise between 4 percent and 5 percent. Analysts were forecasting 5.6 percent growth, according to the company's compilation of analyst predictions.

Restaurant Brands International Posts Higher Total Sales For Burger King And Tim Hortons In 4Q 2014

Restaurant chain operator Restaurant Brands International Inc. reported total sales for its Burger King and Tim Hortons brands grew 7.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014. Company executives, however, said total costs related to its acquisition of Canadian coffee-and-doughnut chain Tim Hortons brought overall net loss of $514.2 million for the quarter. Total revenue for the period reached $416.3 million. Burger King's total sales in the United States and Canada rose 4.2 percent during the period, compared with the same quarter in the previous year.

Pizza Hut Launches Nail Polish Line For Valentine's Day Poetry-Writing Contest In Australia

Pizza Hut Australia created a limited-edition line of pizza-themed nail polish to be used as prizes for a poetry-writing contest. Part of the company's marketing campaign for Valentine's Day, the line featured colors, such as “Meat Me After Midnight” and “Dough You Need Me.” According to the company, 30 customers with the best pizza-themed poems will win the nail polish products.

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February 01, 2015, to February 15, 2015

Campbell Targets Younger Soup Buyers With New Organic Line

Though Campbell Soup Co. has been selling organic soups under the Wolfgang Puck label for several years, it only recently launched a line of Campbell’s brand organic soups it hopes will attract younger soup buyers and boost soup sales. Six soups, including Chicken Noodle and Creamy Butternut Squash, comprise Campbell’s organic line. According to a Campbell spokesman, the move to create a Campbell brand organic soup line taps into the trend of organic food going mainstream. The company gained expertise in organic products with the acquisition of Wolfgang Puck soups, Bolthouse Farms, and Plum Organics baby food. Campbell’s research shows that 53 percent of Americans between ages 18 and 29 want to include organic foods in their diets.

Tea, Water Brands Become Billion-Dollar Sellers For Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola Company announced that three more of its beverage brands have attained billion-dollar status. Gold Peak, Fuze Tea and I Lohas all exceeded $1 billion in sales in 2014. Gold Peak and Fuze Tea joined Japan’s billion-dollar green tea brand, Ayataka, as the company’s largest brands in the global ready-to-drink tea category. The water brand I Lohas, launched in 2009, is now the top immediate consumption mineral water brand sold in Japan, the company said.

Despite Food Safety Setback, Yum Brands Believes In China’s Potential

Though Yum Brands has cut ties with the company that supplied its Chinese KFC locations with tainted meat, consumers remain wary. The company operates 4,800 KFC restaurants and 1,600 Pizza Huts, so a slow rebound from the disaster will be costly. It took Yum more than a year to recover from a similar publicity problem that occurred in 2012 when a Chinese media outlet accused local KFC suppliers of “cramming extra antibiotics into their chickens”. Yum CEO Greg Creed said the company firmly believes in the long-term potential of the Chinese market and expects to open at least 700 new units there.

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January 15, 2015, to February 01, 2015

Kellogg’s Expands Low-Cal Snack Line

Beset by softening sales in its breakfast cereals line, Kellogg’s continues to expand its snack offerings that use the cereals as a foundation. The company recently introduced two 100-calorie snacks that are cousins of its Special K cereals. Special K Chewy Snack Bars are made with “chocolaty chunks”, salted pretzels, real fruit pieces, chewy rolled oats and rice crisps. Special K Brownies, with three grams of fiber, are made with real cocoa, “chocolaty” or caramel chips, and topped with “chocolaty fudge”.

Unilever Reports Lower Turnover In 2014

Unilever said underlying sales grew 2.9 percent in 2014, compared with the previous year, with volume rising 1.0 percent and price expanding 1.9 percent. However, turnover decreased 2.7 percent to €48.4 billion, which included a negative currency impact of 4.6 percent. Core operating margin rose 40bps, at current exchange rates, while free cash flow reached €3.1 billion after €0.8 billion of tax on disposal profits. Also, core earnings per share rose 11 percent at constant exchange rates, or 2 percent at current exchange rates to €1.61.

New Biscuit Factory In Bahrain Is Part Of Mondelez’s Supply Chain Overhaul

Mondelez International says demand for biscuits (cookies) in the Middle East and Africa has been so strong that a new manufacturing plant in the region was warranted. The company recently began construction of a $90 million biscuit factory in Bahrain to keep up with double-digit growth in demand for its Oreo, Ritz and TUC biscuits. The new factory is part of the company’s plan to revamp its supply chain globally to meet demand, reduce costs and improve productivity. The company expects $3 billion in gross productivity savings, $1.5 billion in net savings and $1 billion in incremental cash during 2014 to 2016 from the new plan. Full commercial production at the Bahrain plant is scheduled to start early next year.

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January 01, 2015, to January 15, 2015

German Discount Grocer Aldi Expands In Florida

A Florida newspaper report says discount supermarket chain Aldi will open a new store in Jacksonville and has filed plans for a store in Middleburg. The expansion follows the recent opening of a store in St. Augustine. Aldi’s store there offers more than 1,300 commonly purchased items sold under Aldi brand names. Prices are roughly half of what traditional supermarkets charge for comparable products. Stores are usually smaller than supermarkets, products are displayed in open cartons, and shoppers are encouraged to use their own shopping bags. Aldi has about 60 stores in 45 Florida cities, including Ocala and Daytona.

Weetabix Targets Kids With Ad Campaign That Emphasizes Fruit Toppings

British breakfast cereal Weetabix has launched an ad campaign targeting children who need to eat a more nutritious breakfast, especially one that includes Weetabix and fruit. British kids aged 4 to 10 eat only half of the recommended five fruits a day. Weetabix biscuits are low in salt, sugar and fat, high in fiber (from 100 percent wholegrain wheat) and a source of protein. The new ad campaign features “Weetabuddy” characters (e.g., Tropicolin, Senor Sultana & Blue Barry) that are fruit-based to help increase children’s fruit intake at breakfast. A company spokesman says the idea is to reassure moms that Weetabix is a healthy breakfast and remind kids that “Weetabix is a lot of fun”.

Tesco Makes UK Checkout Lanes Chocolate-Free

Retailer Tesco said it has removed sweets and chocolates from checkouts at all company-owned stores in the UK. In 1994, Tesco removed sweets and chocolates from the checkouts at its larger stores. Its latest move means no sweets and chocolate products will be on display at about 2,000 Tesco Metro and Express convenience stores across the country. According to the company, its decision to make its checkout lanes free from sweets and chocolates is part of its efforts to “help customers live healthier lives.”

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December 15, 2014, to January 01, 2015

Unilever Drops Labeling Suit Against Maker Of Egg-Free Mayonnaise

Unilever, which makes the Hellman’s brand of mayonnaise, has dropped a month-old lawsuit against a three-year old company that markets “Just Mayo”, a mayonnaise-like product that contains no eggs. Unilever alleged that Hampton Creek’s product violates U.S. food labeling rules that require mayonnaise products to contain eggs. Hampton Creek’s product contains plant-based ingredients that substitute for eggs and other proteins. Unilever said it is dropping the suit so Hampton Creek “can address its label directly with industry groups and appropriate regulatory authorities”. Hampton Creek just received $90 million in venture capital funding from Silicon Valley and Asian investors.

Grupo Bimbo Acquires Canadian Snack Company

Canada Bread Company, a recently-acquired subsidiary of Mexico’s Grupo Bimbo, is buying Vachon Inc., the bakery division of Canadianfood company Saputo, Inc., for $120 million in cash. Canada Bread executives say no changes are planned for Vachon, which produces a line of venerable snack cakes for the Quebec market. Saputo says the sale of the bakery unit, which accounted for only two percent of sales, will allow the company to focus on its much larger dairy business. The deal is the latest in a string of Grupo Bimbo acquisitions stretching back five years, and totaling more than $5 billion.

Food Companies, Schools Implement Humane Treatment Policies Covering Farm Animals

An alliance of six of six large U.S. school districts (Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Los Angeles, New York and Orlando, Fla.) earlier in December pledged to abide by chicken procurement guidelines that proscribe purchase of chicken that has been treated with antibiotics, raised on feed containing animal by-products or kept in overcrowded cages or coops. Panera Bread, Carnival, Campbell’s, and other big companies have all banned the use of confining gestation crates for pigs. Since 2005, Unilever has required cage-free eggs for Hellman's mayonnaise. California has the strictest humane treatment requirements for egg-laying hens, veal calves and pregnant pigs, though national standards remain elusive.

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December 01, 2014, to December 15, 2014

KFC Launches PR Campaign In China To Prove Its Operations Are Hygienic

After a food safety scare at one of its Chinese suppliers, KFC has invited fried chicken lovers in the country – the biggest market for parent company Yum Brands -- to come and see for themselves that the restaurant chain maintains high standards of hygiene. The problem arose when a TV report alleged that workers at a KFC chicken supplier were adding expired meat to products. Customers can book a tour showing employee hand-washing, clean cooking oil, safe chicken raising practices, and use of purified water.

Heinz Opens High Tech Baby Cereal Factory In Southern China

Heinz announced the opening of a $70 million 80,000 square meter baby cereal factory in China’s Guangdong Province. The company says it’s the largest such factory in the world, and is the seventh Heinz manufacturing facility in the country. The state-of-the-art factory is a showcase of advanced technologies, including drum dryers, powder handling systems and packaging machinery from global companies like Andritz Gouda, GEA Group, and Bosch. The technologies will not only speed production, they will ensure the most stringent quality controls, the company said, completely isolating allergens, from raw material storage to the production process.

Hormel Turns In Record Sales, Profits For 4th Q And Fiscal Year

Hormel Foods Corporation posted record fourth quarter and full year financial results, including a nine percent increase in earnings per share during the quarter on $2.5 billion in sales (a nine percent increase). For the fiscal year, EPS was up 14 percent to $2.23 on sales of $9.3 billion (a six percent increase).  CEO Jeffrey M. Ettinger said refrigerated foods and Jennie O Turkey brand were able to capitalize on “growth of value, added sales and higher meat commodity prices to lead the way”.
<<567891011121314>> Total issues:183
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