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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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July 01, 2017, to July 15, 2017

Nestlé To Focus More On High-Growth Businesses, Less On Packaged Foods

Nestlé SA this week sketched out a strategic future that seems to veer away from packaged foods. After investor Daniel Loeb, who has a 1.25 percent stake in the company, asked for some big changes, Nestlé said it would spend more on its high-growth businesses, including bottled water, coffee, infant nutrition and pet care, and would consider consumer healthcare acquisitions. Industry analyst Jean-Philippe Bertschy predicted that Nestlé would divest its frozen foods, ice cream and pizza businesses over the next three to four years.

Companies Test New Ride-Share Marketing Program

Customers of ride-share companies like Uber will now be able to purchase, or sample for free, an array of products – snacks, electronics, health and beauty items, etc. – available through the Cargo Systems mobile website. Cargo provides a box to ride-share drivers that can be installed in their cars. Customers order products on Cargo’s website, the products are delivered to the driver, and the driver hands the products to the customers in transit. Brands like Mars, Kellogg's, Michel et Augustin, Emergency Stain Rescue and Leaders Cosmetics USA have products in the boxes. Cargo says drivers can earn an extra $1,500 a year in tips and review-based bonuses by selling products or distributing free items.

Nestle Reviews Its Market Categories, Growth Opportunities, Acquisition Approach

Nestlé has launched a review of its capital structure and priorities as it seeks to put in place a value creation model based on profitable growth, margin improvement and capital efficiency. It will emphasize high-growth food and beverage segments – i.e., coffee, pet care, infant nutrition and bottled water – and high-growth geographic markets. As part of its review, the company is taking a close look at its U.S. confectionery business, and at growth opportunities in consumer healthcare. It will also take “a more disciplined approach to acquisitions.”

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June 15, 2017, to July 01, 2017

Innovation Program Puts Coca-Cola In Touch With Creative Entrepreneurs

Innovation involves connection with partners and customers, as well as with fast-growing start-up companies, according to the head of Coca-Cola’s innovation program, The Bridge. Launched three years ago, the program picks 10 companies with potential each year and gives them access to its massive marketing resources. For its efforts, Coke gets early access to innovative consumer technologies. The program has produced 68 pilot programs, 15 license agreements and four global license agreements. Not content with this early success, Alan Boehme now wants to accelerate the initiative.

It’s Official: McDonald’s Ice Cream Is Clean Label

McDonald’s has added its vanilla soft serve ice cream product to the list of menu items that no longer contain artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. The change began quietly last fall, and is now nearly completed at its 14,000 U.S. locations. Vanilla soft serve is used to make cones, McCafe shakes and McFlurry desserts – a total of about 60 percent of the desserts McDonald's serves. In addition, the chocolate and strawberry McCafe shake syrup no longer contains high fructose corn syrup; the whipped topping served on all three flavors of shakes is made with no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.

Apartment-Based Cake Baker Transformed Herself Into A Social Media Star

A Manhattan cake baker no longer sells her apartment-made cakes to friends to make money. A much easier revenue-generating scheme allows her to create masterpieces in her kitchen, videotape the process, and share the edited results with fans on social media. She has 250,000+ followers, and her videos regularly generate hundreds of thousands of views. An Instagram celebrity, Chelsey White makes money basically selling the concept of cake, rather than the cake itself, with help from partners such as the Food Network and AwesomenessTV.

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June 01, 2017, to June 15, 2017

Nestle To Improve Nutritional Profile Of Maggi Brand Of Foods

Nestlé says it will work to improve the nutritional profile of its Maggi brand of seasonings, instant soups, and noodles. The move, part of its global “Simply Good” initiative, will basically involve fortifying products where necessary with micronutrients like iodine, iron or Vitamin A; adding vegetables and original flavors from vegetables, herbs and spices, grains and fiber; reducing sodium content; and removing “ingredients that consumers do not easily recognize.” The company also promised to help people cook healthily on a budget and reduce food waste. The goal is to implement the changes by 2020.

Inflation Boosts U.K. Grocery Sales Numbers

Growth in the U.K.’s retail grocery segment is being fueled partly by rising inflation, according to Kantar Worldpanel. Inflation stood at 2.9 percent for the 12-week period ending May 21, while overall sales rose 3.8 percent, the best in four years. Sales at Morrisons, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco grew collectively by 1.6 percent in the period, while sales at German discounters Aldi and Lidl were up 19.2 percent over last year and reached a record market share of 12 percent. Sixty-two percent of the U.K. population shopped in an Aldi or Lidl during the past 12 weeks, compared to 58 percent a year ago. That amounts to an additional 1.1 million households shopping at either of the stores.

How Walmart Might Foil Incursions By Discount Grocers Aldi, Lidl

Walmart has been doing a good job of beefing up its e-commerce program to stay close to online retail competitor Amazon. But analysts say another big challenge is to better compete against the German no-frills grocery retailers Aldi and Lidl. That battleground is mainly about price, but not completely. Walmart’s U.K. grocery unit Asda, whose unique selling proposition was low prices, got beat in the price arena by Aldi and Lidl. It is still trying to recover. As the two German retailers expand their presence in the U.S., Walmart needs to make sure it is not out-discounted again. It also needs to make sure its house brands compete on quality as well as price. The good news is that the company’s growing e-commerce strengths could help it fend off low-tech discounter competition, especially if it continues to boost its shop-online/pick-up-in-store strategy.

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May 15, 2017, to June 01, 2017

KFC Takes Big Steps Toward Clean Menu

Kentucky Fried Chicken announced that by the end of 2018 it will only purchase chicken raised without antibiotics that are  “important to human medicine” for its U.S. restaurants. KFC noted that its commitment extends beyond boneless chicken menu items to chicken-on-the-bone items. The company said the change involves complex planning, including collaboration with more than 2,000 family-owned farms in a dozen states. Recently, KFC committed to eliminating artificial colors and flavors from core products by the end of 2018. The menu will be free of all “food dyes” by the end of 2017 (excluding beverages and third-party products).

Fast-Food Companies Are Slow To Promise Antibiotics-Free Beef, Pork

McDonald’s and other fast-food chains have been reasonably quick in acceding to the growing consumer demand for antibiotics-free chicken. Not so much when it comes to beef and pork products, however, because eliminating antibiotics from cattle and pig husbandry is much more complex and expensive. Now the Benedictine Sisters of Boerne, Texas, have promised to attend the McDonald’s annual meeting to propose that the company set goals and timelines to phase out routine use of antibiotics in pork and beef. The nuns have reportedly been petitioning McDonald’s for years on the issue. The company says it is sympathetic to the concerns and "continues to work with farmers, producers and other purchasers of food animals to influence meaningful change.”

Mondelez Expands Promise Of Cage-Free Eggs Globally, With Exceptions

Snack maker Mondelez International said it is expanding its commitment to use only cage-free eggs beyond the U.S., Canada, and Europe to the rest of the world, with three major exceptions. The company promised cage-free eggs would be used in the U.S. and Canada by 2020, and in Europe and the rest of the world by 2025 The commitment, however, does not include Russia, Ukraine, or China, though it will establish timelines for those countries by next year.

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May 01, 2017, to May 15, 2017

Coke Fine-Tunes Its “Share a Coke” Bottle Personalization Campaign

Coca-Cola is tweaking its successful “Share a Coke” personalized packaging campaign this summer by adding surnames to beverage bottles. The campaign, launched in Australia six years ago and later in the U.S., spurred growth in sales volume for the first time since 2000. Personalization and customization were found to appeal to teens and millennials. First names were chosen from among the 250 most popular in 2014, and were expanded this year to include 77 percent of teen and millennial first names. For the latest campaign fine-tuning, Coke will draw from the 200 most common family names of people in the U.S. aged 13 to 34.

British Retailer Begins Revamping, Closing Stores

British department store chain Marks & Spencer is closing six stores as part of its planned operational overhaul, but vows to find jobs for all 380 employees affected by the move. The company said last year that closings and store conversions were in the offing to trim the amount of floor space devoted to faltering clothing lines. Thirty full-line U.K. stores – they sell homeware, clothing, and food – will be closed, while 45 will become food-only shops. The company has had to face the reality that customer shopping habits are changing: people don’t do “one big shop” anymore, and they often buy online and pick up in store. Even with the closings, the company is launching new stores, with 34 food and two full-line shops employing 1,400 staff coming online in the next six months.

Organic Condiments Maker Acquired By Unilever

Unilever has reached an agreement to acquire natural and organic condiments maker Sir Kensington’s for an undisclosed sum. Seven-year-old Sir Kensington’s (New York, N.Y.) has experienced strong growth over the past four years, producing mustard, ketchup, mayonnaise and a vegan mayo (Fabanaise) made from aquafaba, the liquid left over from cooking legumes like chickpeas. A Unilever spokesman said the acquisition “aligns perfectly with our global sustainable nutrition strategy.” The deal is expected to close within the next few weeks.

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April 15, 2017, to May 01, 2017

Organic Food Ingredients Supplier Expands Into Sports Products

Organic and GMO-free food ingredients maker Garden of Life is expanding into sports nutrition with a line of pre- and post-workout protein powders and bars. The Sport line consists of five plant-based clean products that are USDA organic, Non-GMO Project Verified. Among the products are a pre-workout energy-boosting drink derived from organic coffeeberry, kale, spinach, beets, and whole-food vitamin B-12. The post-workout product is designed to reduce muscle soreness and support recovery after exercise. It consists of antioxidant-rich organic tart cherries, turmeric, goji berries, blueberries, organic apples and rooibos. 

Starbucks Unveils Gluten-Free Menu Items

One of the more fascinating phenomena in the food industry in recent years has been the transformation of gluten into a dirty word. A tiny fraction of Americans with celiac disease, a severe intestinal allergic reaction to gluten, needs to avoid the wheat protein. But a whole anti-gluten movement – and a multibillion-dollar industry – has arisen to accommodate people convinced that gluten is generally unhealthful. Researcher Technavio says the gluten-free food market is expected to grow at an annual rate of roughly 12 percent through 2021, Tecnomics advises food companies to go along: "if you're not speaking their language, you risk losing [them]." The latest company to “speak their language” is Starbucks, which is launching gluten-free food options – like the gluten-free smoked Canadian bacon and egg sandwich – in U.S. stores.  

Chipotle Continues To Rid Its Food Of Artificial Ingredients

Chipotle Mexican Grill announced it has eliminated all added colors, flavors and preservatives from the ingredients it uses to prepare its food, but not beverages. Chipotle says it’s the only national food chain to accomplish this. The company’s plan to eliminate artificial ingredients began two years ago with the decision to get rid of unnecessary additives in tortillas it uses to make burritos, tacos, and chips. The new flour tortillas are made using only flour, water, canola oil, salt and yeast. Corn tortillas used for the chips are made only with corn masa flour and water. The ingredients changes will be applied in all Chipotle restaurants in the United States.

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April 01, 2017, to April 15, 2017

FEATURE: Where Now For Unilever? We Lay Out Our Thoughts And Suggested Response To The Humbling Kraft Heinz Bid

The unexpected and deeply unwelcome Kraft Heinz takeover bid shook  Unilever* to its core. Analysts and commentators expected 3G to use Kraft Heinz as a vehicle for further acquisitions in the food space as it pushed to aggressively cut costs across larger businesses, but Unilever was thought to be above the fray.  In a tacit admission of past failure, Unilever convened a hurried review of ways to boost its valuation and in coming days or weeks we’ll see what this holds. Meanwhile, we have clarified our own thinking about how Unilever should move forward as a vibrant independent company that quickly surfaces its underlying value. You can read a summary of our analysis here and contact us if you want further details.
*Disclosure: Unilever is a client of ours, as are most of the companies we list as acquisition targets. Also, our newsletters are read by recipients at all companies mentioned in this piece.

Kraft Heinz Sets Social Responsibility, Sustainability Targets

As part of its mission to become “the best food company,” Kraft Heinz has expanded a commitment to three goals it believes will have the greatest global impact: combatting global hunger and malnutrition, boosting supply chain sustainability and protecting the environment. It will strive to meet these goals by: donating a billion nutritious meals to needy people by 2021; buying palm oil products in an ethical, transparent and sustainable manner (and only 100 percent certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil); and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, energy, water and waste in its operations 15 percent globally by 2020 (baseline 2015).

Nestle Shows How To run A Dairy Factory With Waste Water

To celebrate World Water Day recently, Nestlé issued a press release describing the water conservation efforts of one of its factories in Mexico. The Nestlé dairy facility became the company’s first “zero water” manufacturing site in the world. Located in the central, water-stressed state of Jalisco, the factory turned off the taps completely, transforming its water consumption from 1.6 million liters a day to zero. The factory no longer draws water from the ground or water mains. It gets all its water from the milk it processes. It takes fresh cow’s milk – 88 percent water – heats it at low pressure to remove some of its water content. The steam is condensed, treated and used to clean the evaporating machines. The water is collected again, purified and recycled again.

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March 15, 2017, to April 01, 2017

McDonald’s Experiments With Fast-Food Versions Of Regional Favorites

A TV chef in San Jose, Calif., helped McDonald’s develop a fast-food variation of a local sandwich – snow crab on sourdough – that features crab meat, seasoned mayo, romaine lettuce and tomato slices. The company said the new sandwich is part of an ongoing strategy to incorporate regional flavors in new menu items, at least in the greater San Francisco Bay area. McDonald’s called an earlier experiment – Gilroy Garlic Fries – an “overwhelming success.” If the snow crab trial is a similar triumph, the company will offer it in the rest of its 250 eateries in the area.

Retail Food Chain Says All House Brands Are Non-GMO

Natural and organic food retailer Earth Fare (Asheville, N.C.) announced that none of its 500 house brand foods contain genetically modified organisms (GMO). The decision to sell only non-GMO foods was made after considering numerous customer requests. Earth Fare’s product line is also free of high fructose corn syrup, artificial fats, artificial trans-fats, artificial colors, artificial preservatives, artificial sweeteners, bleached or bromated flour, antibiotics, and growth hormones. The chain also tries to incorporate locally produced fruits and vegetable, meat, beer and wine, dairy products, and specialty items.

Tyson Foods Includes Antibiotics-Free Chicken In Its Sustainability Strategy

Tyson Foods CEO Tom Hayes, who told analysts recently that his company’s purpose is to “raise the world’s expectations for how much good food can do,” announced it would sell only chicken raised with “no antibiotics ever” (NAE). The NAE commitment is part of the company’s overall, long-term “holistic” sustainability strategy that includes cutting down workplace injuries and illness by 15 percent, and seeking strategic alliances for scientific sustainability. The company also plans to continue auditing third-party chicken farms to ensure humane treatment of chickens. Tyson processes more than 41 million chickens a week on average.

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March 01, 2017, to March 15, 2017

German Grocery Store Sells Only Wonky Produce, Expired And Surplus Foods

A grocery store that sells only ugly or surplus food products, from vegetables to beer, has opened in the German city of Köln (Cologne). The founders of The Good Food grocery store are dedicated to the idea of eliminating food waste in the world. It is the first such store to open in Germany, and the third in the EU. The store is unusual for a couple of reasons. The food it sells was otherwise bound for landfills because it may be misshapen, or too large or too small, or past its sell-by date. This includes non-perishable products from big manufacturers. And there are no fixed prices: consumers decide how much the products are worth.

Tesco Tests Program To Feed Bees With Discarded Sugar

British supermarket chain Tesco is testing a program to donate unmarketable split bags of sugar from stores in Cornwall and Devon to a beekeepers group. The stores are also donating surplus sugar from in-store bakeries. Since 2007, the bee population has declined by 33 percent in the U.K. because of pests, diseases and fewer wild flowers. Bees have a difficult time making enough honey to feed themselves during the fall and winter. Commercial beekeepers supplement the bees’ diet with a feed made from dissolved sugar. The waste sugar donated by Tesco stores will be used to help feed bees bred and reared by a bee improvement program based in Cornwall.

Waitrose Supermarket Chain Is In The Avant Garde Of Food Waste Handling

British supermarket chain Waitrose has been a pioneer in preventing and repurposing food waste. Five years ago it stopped sending waste to landfills. Surplus food that can’t be donated to charities is used to generate electricity. And it sells wonky (misshapen or ugly) produce at a discount. The chain has taken the program another step forward: its new fleet of delivery trucks runs on fuel made from food leftovers. The company’s ten eco-friendly trucks can travel 500 miles on the food-waste fuel, which is cheaper than diesel and emits about 70 percent less carbon dioxide. Waitrose chose waste-based gas after researching biodiesel (too expensive) and electricity (batteries too heavy, recharge time too long)

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February 15, 2017, to March 01, 2017

Hellman’s Fulfills Cage-Free Egg Pledge Three Years Early

Mayonnaise maker Hellman’s, a Unilever brand, announced that after a reorganization of its egg supply chain – involving 331 million eggs annually – all of its mayonnaise and dressings brands are now made with eggs from cage-free hens. The change in U.S. brands comes three years ahead of the company’s commitment announced in 2010. It affects 170 million jars, 30 million squeeze bottles, and 1.3 million egg-laying hens annually. A Humane Society spokesman said “Hellmann's move shows just how in synch the company is with its customers." 

A Closer Look At Major Food Retailer, Restaurant Chain Clean Label Policies

A consumer watchdog organization has analyzed the clean label initiatives of four big restaurant chains and nine supermarket chains finding that all have committed to excluding additives, such as synthetic food dyes and artificial sweeteners like aspartame. Except Whole Foods, the supermarket chains have limited their commitments to one or more lines of their house-brand products, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). Other findings: none of the clean label lists limit sodium or added sugars; all exclude many artificial ingredients that CSPI considers safe; and restaurant policies do not include “riskiest” beverage ingredients such as added sugars, artificial sweeteners, and synthetic food colors. One interesting CSPI observation: “clean label products are not necessarily healthful.” 

PepsiCo To Expand Beverage R&D Facilities In N.Y.

PepsiCo is negotiating with the town of Mount Pleasant, N.Y. (Westchester County), to expand its beverage research campus with a three-story, 122,000-square-foot R&D facility. The mayor of the town welcomed the news because the new facility would not only mean increased property taxes, it would provide employment. The town’s industrial development agency may grant the company sales and use tax exemptions on purchases of construction materials, as well as a partial real property tax abatement in the form of a payment in lieu of taxes agreement.
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