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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.

<<12345678910>> Total issues:183

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December 01, 2017, to January 01, 2018

Restaurants Can’t Ignore Customers Looking To Avoid Certain Foods

Big restaurant chains are swerving from their standardized approach to foods and beverages to better serve customers trying to avoid gluten and dairy. Customers with food intolerances or allergies, or who are following avoidance diets, have become a market simply too large to ignore. Starbucks, for example, now sells a hot chocolate drink made with steamed almond milk. California Pizza Kitchen offers a gluten-free cauliflower crust for those who don’t eat wheat-based foods. Industry research has found that lactose comes in third, after high fructose corn syrup and GMOs, as America’s most-avoided ingredients. Gluten and wheat came in at No. 7.

Chipotle Founder Exits Company Battered By Food Safety Disasters

Chipotle Mexican Grill founder and CEO Steve Ells [left] has resigned under pressure from investors unhappy with the failure to turn around the troubled chain over the last two years. Chipotle’s sales have never fully recovered from a string of E. coli, salmonella and norovirus outbreaks that sickened hundreds of U.S. customers in 2015. Chipotle shares, down more than 20 percent this year, rose more than five percent to $301.99 with the news of Ells’ departure. Prior to the food safety problems, the stock had reached a high of $742.

Gold Medal, Pillsbury Baking Products Reformulated Without Artificial Colors, Flavors

General Mills’ Gold Medal and Pillsbury baking mixes and frozen baked goods will no longer be formulated with artificial flavors or colors “from artificial sources.” The revamped line of products includes bread, biscuit, brownie, cake and muffin mixes, and frozen cinnamon rolls, muffins, and scones. According to the company, the products were reformulated to help bakeries, restaurants, and food service operations better meet the needs of customers with food intolerances or allergies, or who are following avoidance diets. Revamped Gold Medal muffin, brownie, and cake mixes will be available in June 2018. The new Gold Medal products will also have redesigned packaging with updated graphics, photography, and easier-to-read instructions..

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November 15, 2017, to December 01, 2017

L’Oreal And Nestle To Face Ownership Options For French Cosmetics Group

The death of heiress Liliane Bettencourt, whose family owns 33 percent of L’Oréal, will likely force key investors to address the company’s ownership structure. Nestlé SA, which owns 23 percent, agreed with the Bettencourts not to increase stakes in L’Oréal, but this agreement expires in six months.  Nestlé could then purchase a controlling share in L’Oréal but is more likely to sell its stake, a move that would force L’Oréal to accept wider (and potentially hostile) ownership or opt to invest further funds in the company, boosting earnings per share but reducing funds available for acquisitions.  For Nestlé, the resulting 24 billion euro windfall brings a dilemma. It could payout funds to appease shareholders and especially its activist investor, Third Point, or use the funds to double down on its currently lackluster food and nutrition business.

Starbucks To Offer Princi Foods In Its Reserve Roastery Locations

Starbucks Coffee Company has opened the first Princi bakery and café location in the U.S. at its Reserve Roastery in Seattle, which opened in December 2014. The Princi bakery offers freshly-baked Italian food based on artisan baker Rocco Princi’s recipes. Princi also operates six bakeries in Milan and in London’s Soho neighborhood. The company said Princi will become the exclusive food offering in new Reserve Roastery locations, including Shanghai, opening next month, Milan in late 2018, and later in New York, Tokyo, and Chicago.

Au Bon Pain Reunites With Panera Bread

Soup and sandwich restaurant chain Panera Bread has purchased 304-unit cafe/bakery company Au Bon Pain, which was once spun off from the Panera business by founder Ron Shaich. JAB Holding Co., a family-held European company, purchased publicly-held Panera earlier this year for $7.5 billion and took it private. JAB owns the coffee brands Keurig Green Mountain, Peet’s Coffee, and Caribou Coffee, and last year paid $1.35 billion for the Krispy Kreme Doughnuts chain. Shaich will step down as Panera CEO in January.

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November 01, 2017, to November 15, 2017

Data Analytics Platform Helps Tesco India Detect, Prevent Shopping Fraud

The Indian technology center for supermarket chain Tesco has created a platform and team that detects online and offline fraud involving its massive amounts of collected customer data. The 18-member staff is focused on combating fraud for online businesses (food and non-food), buyer-supplier collusion fraud, and employee fraud at checkout counters. The platform is programmed to detect anomalies in purchasing patterns that might indicate fraud, such as bulk purchases of products like alcohol and cigarettes. 

Stagnant Indonesia Economy Could Drive Unilever To Tinker With Product Portfolio

A PT Unilever Indonesia executive said a stagnant business environment tends to increase the cost of living and push middle-class consumers toward smaller, cheaper products. More affluent consumers, however, continue to buy premium-priced goods. Consumer research in Indonesia shows that the composition of high-income, middle-income, and low-income consumers is now 10 percent-40 percent-50 percent, respectively. The middle-income segment could decline, however, if the stagnant environment persisted. Anticipating that, Unilever would “need to change our portfolio." 

Amazon Closes Two Whole Foods Stores In UK

Online retailer Amazon said it plans to close two Whole Foods stores in the UK. Included in the shutdown list are the stores in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, and in Giffnock, East Renfrewshire, cutting the number of Whole Foods store in the country down to seven. About 150 people work at the two stores.

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October 15, 2017, to November 01, 2017

Judge: Plaintiff In Added-Sugar Suit Against Kellogg Has An Adequate Case

A federal judge in California has refused to dismiss a lawsuit against Kellogg, agreeing essentially with the plaintiff that most of the claims made by the company about the nutritional value and wholesomeness of its breakfast cereals seem to be refuted by the fact that they contain “excess added sugar.” Judge Lucy Koh dismissed five of the claims because she agreed they were essentially harmless advertising “puffery.” But she allowed claims regarding 24 other products to move forward because “these products contain at least one statement that the court found was not pre-empted, non-misleading, or puffery as a matter of law." The case is Hadley v. Kellogg Sales

Restaurants Struggle To Find Antibiotic-Free Beef, Pork

It’s complicated, according to fast-food chains that would like to sell more antibiotic-free pork and beef products. A lot more of the chains – 14 of the top 25 – have committed to serving antibiotic-free chicken, and would like to expand to pork and beef, but it’s not easy, according to an advocacy group report. Because cows and pigs live longer, they are more likely to need antibiotics to treat sickness. On top of that, the beef and pork supply chain is huge compared to that for chickens. The advocacy groups gave Panera and Chipotle "A" grades for efforts to curb antibiotic use in most of the meat they serve. At least two million Americans become sick and 23,000 die every year from antibiotic-resistant infections, according to the CDC. 

'Supermarket' Startup Seeks To Go Storeless

Farmstead believes it can reinvent the supermarket model by eliminating its physical structure altogether. The San Francisco based startup has a series of micro-warehouses stocked with a range of local farm produce and grocery products and uses AI to predict a customer’s future needs based on their initial order. The selection is then delivered to the customer. Farmstead claims to have made over 15,000 deliveries in the Bay Area and has raised $2.8 million from venture funds.  

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October 01, 2017, to October 15, 2017

Particle Accelerator Technology Leads To Food Waste Savings

Technology used in the Large Hadron Collider particle accelerator is being used by supermarkets like the U.K.’s Morrisons chain, to curtail food waste. An algorithm developed by Michael Feindt of the AI firm Blue Yonder not only predicts the activity of quarks, it accurately predicts supermarket stock needs so they can reduce the amount of unsold food that ends up in landfills. The Blue Yonder system’s efficiency savings come close to 30 percent, Feindt says, a considerable achievement considering that British supermarkets tossed 235,000 tons of food into the waste bins in 2015.

Kroger’s New Mission: No Food Waste, No Hunger

The Kroger Co. has embarked on a new corporate mission to reduce food waste and hunger in the communities where its stores operate by 2025. CEO Rodney McMullen noted that 42 million Americans struggle with hunger while 72 billion pounds of food end up in landfills every year. Kroger's Zero Hunger-Zero Waste plan includes commitments to: establish a $10 million innovation fund to address hunger and food waste; speed up food donations to provide three billion meals by 2025; donate not just food, but also balanced meals; and advocate for public policy solutions to address hunger and shorten lines at food banks, and lobby governments on programs for recycling, composting and sustainability.

Food Industry Giants Seek Label Standardization Within Three Years

An organization that represents 400 consumer goods manufacturers and retailers in 70 countries has proposed that food date (viz., "sell by," use by," etc.) labels be standardized and streamlined globally within three years to help customers reduce the amount of edible food thrown out by households. The “Call to Action” from the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), a Paris-based group with offices in Tokyo and Washington, D.C., requires retailers and food producers to focus on numbers of labels, inclusion of expiration dates for perishable items and food quality indicators for non-perishable items, and educating consumers on what date labels mean. The CGF includes companies like Tesco, Kellogg, Walmart, Campbell Soup, Bimbo, Pick n Pay, Nestlé, Carrefour, and Unilever.

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September 15, 2017, to October 01, 2017

Despite A History Of Flops, Starbucks Continues To Tinker With Food

Coffee shop chain Starbucks hasn’t had much luck selling food – cake pops, truffle mac and cheese, avocado toast, etc. – along with its ever-popular coffees. It’s been a bit of a logistical problem – stores don’t have kitchens – but also a cultural one: customers are conditioned run in grab a cup of joe, and leave. But now it is testing, at a few stores in Chicago and home base Seattle, what it calls a sushi burrito, though it doesn’t contain raw fish. The chicken maki roll comprises cooked chicken, pickled cabbage, and avocado, rolled in sushi rice and wrapped with seaweed. The biggest hurdle? The so-called “classic California burrito with a twist” just isn’t a hot meal. 

Unilever Joins Better Than Cash Alliance's Push For Digital Finance

Unilever announced a collaboration with the UN-based group Better Than Cash Alliance, which promotes digital payment as a means of supporting women and smallholder farmers. Part of Unilever's Sustainable Living Plan, the consumer goods company's deal with the organization signals its commitment to move away from cash as a payment platform for its value chain. According to Better Than Cash Alliance, digital modes of repaying loans have enabled farmers to reduce payment losses and collections costs, as well as “improved transparency and efficiency.”

Nestle Releases Smaller Packets Of Cocoa-Malt Beverage In East Africa

Nestlé is launching a smaller version of its cocoa and malt beverage Milo in Africa in a powder form that is easier to dissolve. The new sachet product, available for Sh10 (Kenyan shillings), is designed to appeal to the lower end of the market for such drinks. Milo will also be available in 100-, 200-, and 400-gram packages that will retail at Sh200, Sh380 and Sh650 respectively.

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September 01, 2017, to September 15, 2017

Kind Expands Into Fruit Bite Market With Premium, All-Fruit Products

Snack bar company Kind LLC is entering the $2.3 billion fruit snacks market with gummy fruit bites containing no added sugar. As established food companies have struggled to grow, Kind has managed to ride the healthful snacks wave using natural ingredients and transparent packaging to $1 billion in annual sales. Kind’s fruit bites are made with real fruit – apples, strawberries, pineapples and mangoes – and only fruit. No other ingredients are listed on the packages. The products will be available nationally in coming weeks at the premium price of $4.99 a box. General Mills is the category leader, controlling about 21 percent of the market.

Unilever Tests High-Tech Direct-To-Consumer Marketing Scheme

Unilever’s Hellman’s mayo brand is working with the Quiqup on-demand delivery app and platform in a direct-to-consumer marketing test. Users will be able to choose a recipe, then have all of the ingredients delivered to their door within an hour. Hellman’s is betting that consumers will appreciate the free time provided by the service. Quiqup, a member of the Unilever Foundry’s network of start-ups, developed the concept that is targeted at Millennial shoppers in London who are likely to make “impulse purchases.”

McDonald’s To Work Toward Antibiotics-Free Meat

McDonald's announced it will phase out use cattle and pigs raised with antibiotics important to human medicine. It has already begun phasing out antibiotics-raised chickens in its 14,000 U.S. restaurants and the 36,000 locations globally. Meat suppliers in the McDonald’s supply chain will still be allowed to use ionophores antibiotics because they are not used to treat humans.

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August 15, 2017, to September 01, 2017

Consumer Watchdog Accuses Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Of “Greenwashing”

The director of the Organic Consumers Association says Unilever’s Ben & Jerry’s ice cream brand continues to “greenwash” its products, advertising them as “all natural” though they are contaminated with herbicides. The association recently sent samples of Ben and Jerry’s top-selling ice-cream brands to an independent testing lab for analysis. The lab found that 10 out of 11 samples tested positive for Roundup (glyphosate and AMPA) herbicide contamination. Cherry Garcia was the only flavor that tested negative for glyphosate or AMPA. Testing of nationally-distributed organic ice cream brands found that three out of four tested negative for Roundup contamination. The Whole Foods' 365 brand was found to be contaminated with glyphosate.

Dunkin’ Donuts Experiments With Simpler Sandwich Menu

It has been five years since Dunkin' Donuts began serving “bakery” sandwiches, including ham and cheese, turkey, cheddar, and bacon, to boost food sales after the day's breakfast crunch. Now CEO Nigel Travis says customers are buying breakfast sandwiches all day long, so there may be no need for the other sandwich fare. The company is testing a simplified menu devoid of non-breakfast sandwiches, in the hope of attracting more customers. Same-store traffic once again slipped in the second quarter, compared to last year. Though it was the fifth straight quarter traffic has fallen, higher spending per visit pushed up sales by 0.8 percent.

IHOP Ad Blitz Touts Three New Doughnuts

A couple of inspirational sources drove creation of IHOP’s latest treat: the sweet-and-savory French toasted donut, available in bacon and maple, strawberries and cream, and apple fritter. The first inspiration was feedback from customers themselves on social media channels. The second was the company’s monitoring of food trends, especially breakfast trends. And the third was chef Nevielle Panthakys own creativity. The new doughnuts are being introduced with a media ad blitz, including TV, online social platforms, digital, and the arrival of the IHOP food truck in New York City.

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August 01, 2017, to August 15, 2017

Amazon-Whole Foods Deal Portends An Accelerated, Automated Grocerants Trend

“Supermarket Guru” Phil Lempert says the $13.7 billion Amazon-Whole Foods deal is likely to speed up development of ready-to-eat or ready-to-heat grocery store items known as “grocerants.” Techno-centered Amazon will bring new intelligence from computer wizards, molecular biologists, and sustainability experts into retail grocery. Lempert says the Amazon-Whole Foods store will apply technology to improve efficiencies and reduce in-store labor costs. That means more robotics in the back room and interactive robots all around the store.

Wells Fargo Worries About Bai’s Healthy C-Store Growth

Market data suggest that Bai’s antioxidant infusion beverages are doing well in the C-store channel. But Wells Fargo wonders whether the growth – sales were up 53.8 percent over last year during the four weeks ended July 15 – might come from distribution gains since its acquisition by Dr Pepper Snapple Group. That observation casts a bit of a shadow on the numbers, and leads Wells Fargo to suggest in a note that Bai “may not generate sufficient returns to justify its rich ($1.7 billion) price tag.”

Restructuring Of Coca-Cola’s Bottling Network Pinches Sales, Profits

Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey said disappointing sales and profits in the first six months of 2017 were due to ongoing bottler refranchising efforts as the company transitions to a “total beverage company.” Overhaul of the bottler network – including nearly-completed refranchising in North America and divestiture of bottling operations in Germany, China, and South Africa – led to a 37 percent drop in net sales and volumes for the company’s bottling investments. Overall, the company experienced a first half decline in net sales of 14 percent. Net profits slipped 48 percent to $2.6 billion.

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July 15, 2017, to August 01, 2017

Burger King: No More Human Antibiotics Use In Chicken Supply By 2019

Restaurant Brands International, parent company of Burger King and Tim Hortons, announced that it will end the use of antibiotics important to human medicine in its chicken supply by the end of 2018. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), 11 of the top 15 U.S. restaurant chains have now committed to some level of “responsible antibiotics use” for their chicken supplies. Nearly half of the U.S. chicken industry has either made a no-antibiotics commitment or is already using responsible practices, NRDC said.

Coca-Cola European Partners Links With Theme Parks On Promo Campaign

Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) is running a theme parks promotion across its range of carbonated beverages from July 1 through October 19.  The on-pack promotion offers customers a £25 ($32.55) discount on full-price tickets and a one-ride Fast Track pass to Merlin Entertainments Group theme parks Alton Towers or Thorpe Park. According to the company, this is Merlin’s best ever discount. The offer will appear on 330 ml cans and six and eight can multipacks of Fanta, Sprite and Dr Pepper classic and zero variants.

Thomas’ Unveils Blueberry Swirl Bread

The Thomas’ baked goods brand has added a new variety to its Swirl Bread line. The limited edition – through September – Blueberry Pancake Swirl Bread has a suggested retail price of $3.99 and will be available in select regions of the U.S. at grocery stores and other food retailers. Thomas’ is owned by Bimbo Bakeries USA.
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