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Period: February 1, 2016 to February 15, 2016
Comment & Opinion or Companies, Organizations or Consumers or Controversies & Disputes or Deals, M&A, JVs, Licensing or Earnings Release or Finance, Economics, Tax or Innovation & New Ideas or Legal, Legislation, Regulation, Policy or Market News or Marketing & Advertising or Other or People & Personalities or Press Release or Products & Brands or Research, Studies, Advice or Supply Chain or Trends

Mondelez Provides Article About Competitor Nestle’s Involvement In Slave, Child Labor

The British newspaper Guardian recently published an article describing how Nestlé is contesting a child labor lawsuit in the Ivory Coast after admitting to use of slave labor in Thailand. Beneath the headline was a disclaimer noting that the article was “Supported by Mondelez International,” a major competitor of Nestlé. But Mondelez denies that it participated in the story, claiming a strict separation between its marketing and editorial content. The material was prepared by the editorial staff for the Guardian‘s independent “Sustainable Business Supply Chain” section, which Mondelez partially subsidizes. Guardian policy is that articles produced with funding from outside parties – so-called "supported by" stories – are "editorially independent content." Nevertheless, notes Advertising Age, “The matter underscores how sponsored content programs can put marketers in uncomfortable situations.”

"This Negative Nestle Story Is Brought to You By...Mondelez?", Advertising Age, February 01, 2016

Battered By Poor Sales In China, Hershey Girds For The Future

Chocolate maker Hershey’s has its work cut out over the coming years, according to Euromonitor. Though profit was satisfactory, overall sales fell slightly in 2015 – and by five percent in the fourth quarter and 13 percent in China. The company, which advanced in recent years into the international market, is struggling to keep up with competitors. The core North American market is softening as per capita chocolate volume growth slows. Americans who buy chocolate are turning to higher quality brands, and that has led to competitive pressure from Lindt and Ferrero. Over the next five years, Hershey’s is expected to focus on its non-confectionery portfolio, pushing wider distribution of Krave Jerky meat snacks and Brookside Snack Bars in 2016.

"The Fourth Quarter Caps off a Year to Forget for Confectionery Giant Hershey", Blog, Euromonitor International, February 03, 2016

“Most Innovative” German Food/Drink Launches

Euromonitor analysts picked ten German food and drink launches from 2015 as the “most innovative.” At the top of the list is Knorr (Unilever) Dry Seasoning for Lasagna, which touts its “naturalness” and “fewer, simpler” ingredients. The product shows that the “natural” food claim is important in Germany. Second is a no-carb pasta substitute from The Netherlands (Konjac root noodles), an example of another trend: low-carb claims doubled from 2014 to 2015. Other innovations from Germany: a gluten-free snack drink made with quinoa and matcha tea; a cheese wheel (Leerdammer Schnittkäse) that claims “deli fresh” and “cut from the loaf;” and a low-calorie soft drink (Helga) based on freshwater microalgae chlorella.

"Ten Innovative Food And Drink Launches In Germany", Blog, Mintel, February 04, 2016

Yum! Brands’ 4th Quarter Bolstered By Improved Sales At Two Chains

Yum! Brands, owner of Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut, beat fourth quarter Wall Street earnings forecasts, posting $0.68 a share compared to $0.66, though sales were moderate. The company said profit was helped by improved same-store sales at Taco Bell (up four percent) and KFC (up three percent). Pizza Hut remains a worry: same-store sales rose one percent last quarter, just shy of the 1.5 percent gain expected by Wall Street. Overall revenue fell about one percent to $3.95 billion, short of analyst forecasts of $4.03 billion. Yum! Brands has said it will spin off its Chinese business into a separate unit. The company gets about half of its revenue from Chinese operations.

"Yum's Tops Profit Estimates After Taco Bell, KFC Sales Grow", Bloomberg Business, February 04, 2016

Recent Sales Growth Of Post Cereals Does Not Change Stagnant Forecast

Breakfast cereal maker Post Holdings is guardedly optimistic after reporting sales growth improvements in recent months, but  nevertheless expects stagnant growth over the long term. First quarter (ended December 31) profit was $25.5 million ($0.16) a share), a big improvement over last year’s first quarter loss of $97.3 million. Sales were up 16 percent to $1,249 million from a year ago. “But we are not banking on growth,” said CEO Rob Vitale. He said volumes of the company’s largest brand, Honey Bunches of Oats, were up three percent, but incremental volumes dropped 12 percent – “flat performance for the brand.”

"Post 'not banking on growth' in cereal", Food Business News, February 08, 2016

Whole Foods Co-CEOs Say They’re On The Right Track Now

Rocked by negative publicity and stiff organic and natural food competition from lower-cost retailers like Kroger and Costco, Whole Foods Market has experienced slower growth and a declining stock price (down 33 percent). A key problem for the chain is how to communicate to shoppers why its products are worth the higher prices. But in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, the two co-chief executives said the company is not “on our heels." It will create 8,000 new jobs in 2016 and open 30 new stores. As to the negative publicity – New York City said the company deliberately mislabeled package weights and overcharged customers – they said they have learned to respond promptly to stop misinformation in its tracks.

"Whole Foods Boss Calls Himself a ‘Pusher Leader’", The Wall Street Journal, February 09, 2016

Companies, Organizations  

Hain Celestial's 2nd Quarter Sales Set A Record

Hain Celestial Group posted an eight percent increase in second quarter sales over the prior year, $753 million compared to $696 million. The company said sales were affected by $18 million in foreign exchange rate movements. Profit per diluted share increased 28 percent to $0.55 a share, while adjusted EPS was $0.57 a six percent increase. The company’s record sales reflect continuing strong performance from the U.K. and “Rest of World” markets that grew 12 percent. The Hain Pure Protein Corporation segment grew 21 percent, excluding the acquisition of Empire.  CEO Irwin D. Simon said the strong results reflect “our global diversified business model across Hain Celestial's organic and natural brands, product categories, customers and geographies."

"Hain Celestial Announces Record Second Quarter Fiscal Year 2016 Results", Earnings release, Hain Celestial, February 01, 2016

Apple, Disney Are The Winners Of The “Brand Stars” Wars

A brand valuation consultancy has named Disney the “world’s most powerful brand,” thanks to a slew of companies it has acquired over the years, including ESPN, Pixar, the Muppets, Marvel and Lucasfilm (i.e., the Star Wars franchise). Brand Finance also says  Apple is the “most valuable brand,” despite a drop-off in sales recently, and is now worth $150 billion. Four of the 10 fastest growing brands – including WeChat – are Chinese firms. Brands that have lost their luster, for one reason or another, include Volkwagen and Lego. Coca-Cola was ranked eigth in brand strength,Johnson's  was ranked seventh. Walmart was ranked the eighth most valuable brand.

"Global 500 2016 - Star Wars Sends Disney’s Brand into Hyperdrive", Brand Finance, February 01, 2016

India: Coca-Cola Tests a New Flavoured Milk Drinks Brand, Vio

Euromonitor International, February 06, 2016

Whole Foods Boss Calls Himself a ‘Pusher Leader’

Wall Street Journal, February 09, 2016

Unilever secures zero waste status for 600th site

Business Green, February 09, 2016

Chobani Chooses the Single Life

Bloomberg Gadfly, February 09, 2016

Unilever Philippines consolidates creative and digital with Ogilvy

Marketing-Interactive.com , February 15, 2016

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