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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.

<<3456789101112>> Total issues:183

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April 01, 2016, to April 15, 2016

Campbell Soup Cans To Be Mostly BPA-Free By End Of 2016

Campbell Soup Co. began using cans made with acrylic or polyester linings in March, and has committed to eliminating all cans with bisphenol A (BPA) linings over the next year. The company said all varieties of Campbell's soups and gravies, Swanson broths and Spaghettios pasta products will be packaged in non-BPA-lined cans. It is on schedule to have three-fourths of its soup portfolio in non-BPA cans by December. BPA is a component in metal can coatings that protects food from direct contact with metal surfaces. Studies have found that the compound causes health problems.

Organic Dairy Backs Mandatory GMO Labeling

Stonyfield Organic, a U.S.-based organic dairy owned by France’s Danone group, has gone on record as supporting mandatory GMO labeling of food products. Parent company Danone has not yet publicly supported GMO labeling, but has also not “donated to campaigns trying to block it,” according to a Stonyfield spokesman. The U.S. Senate on March 16 defeated legislation formally known as the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, passed by the House last summer. Opponents of the bill, however, refer to it as the “deny Americans the right to know,” or DARK, Act. It would have preempted states, including Vermont, from requiring the labeling of GMO foods, instead implementing a voluntary system.

Little Vermont’s GMO Labeling Law Has Big Impact On Food Manufacturers

Another major food producer has decided to change its food labels in anticipation of a strict Vermont law targeting GMO ingredients. Candy company Mars Inc. will add GMO labels to products that contain genetically modified organisms to comply with the law, enacted in May 2014, that is due to take effect in July unless stopped by lawsuits. Other companies, including General Mills and Campbell Soup, are also complying with the law, implementing label changes on a nationwide basis, not just in Vermont. And like those other companies, Mars says it is acting to keep costs down and in a spirit of transparency, though it does not believe GMOs present a threat to the health of consumers.

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March 15, 2016, to April 01, 2016

Campbell’s Supports Mandatory GMO Food Labeling

In a letter to employees, Campbell’s CEO Denise Morrison explained why the company supports mandatory national labeling of products containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and why it proposes that the federal government provide a national standard for non-GMO claims on food packaging. In addition to the fact that 92 percent of consumers say they want GMO ingredients listed on food labels, the “Campbell’s purpose” requires the company to acknowledge that people want to know what’s in their food “so they can feel good about the choices they make, for themselves and their loved ones.” Campbell’s also promises to set the standard for food transparency.

Tyson Debuts Antibiotics-Free Pork Brand

Though American consumers increasingly say they prefer antibiotics-free meat and poultry, and food companies announce moves in that direction, producers continue to buy large amounts of drugs used in human medicine – 32.6 million pounds in 2013, a factor in the decline in antibiotics effectiveness in humans. According to Takepart.com, the FDA’s voluntary control guidelines “have thus far proved ineffective at reducing the use of antibiotics by the agriculture industry.” Still, the trend toward antibiotics-free meat is working its way from the avian sector into livestock. Most recent example: Tyson Foods' Open Prairie Natural Pork brand made from pigs raised without antibiotics, hormones, or the use of gestation crates. The move makes Tyson the leading producer of antibiotics-free pork in the U.S.

Subway’s Newest Sandwich To Feature Antibiotics-Free Chicken

The Subway sandwich shop chain has introduced a new menu item that features chicken raised without antibiotics. Rotisserie-style chicken also contains no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. The company has also committed to serving only eggs from cage-free layer hens by 2025. Subway said it had a difficult logistical problem with its rotisserie-style chicken at first: finding enough suppliers of antibiotics-free poultry to meet the chain’s needs. The problem was solved, however, and beginning April 1, the company will begin serving all-white meat chicken strips that will also be free of artificial colors, flavors, preservatives and antibiotics.

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March 01, 2016, to March 15, 2016

McDonald’s To Eliminate Antibiotics From Its Chicken Supply Chain

McDonald’s USA has announced a commitment to sourcing only chicken not raised with antibiotics, and milk from cows never treated with the artificial growth hormone rbST. The new antibiotics policy, developed with the cooperation of sourcing farmers, supports the company's “Global Vision for Antimicrobial Stewardship in Food Animals,” introduced in 2003. The company said it hopes to implement the new antibiotics policy to its supply chain over the next two years. Instead of antibiotics, farmers who supply chicken to McDonald’s will use ionophores, an antibiotic not used for humans that helps keep chickens healthy.

Kraft Goes Natural With Mac & Cheese Colors, Flavors

Kraft announced that beginning in January 2016 its original Mac & Cheese product sold in the U.S. will be dye-free and contain no artificial preservatives. Instead of synthetic dyes, the company will use paprika, annatto and turmeric to provide the familiar golden color. Another version of the product, Kraft Mac & Cheese Boxed Shapes, already sold in the U.S., contains no artificial flavors, preservatives or synthetic colors. The company says it took a while to introduce the new versions because they wanted to be sure there was no change in flavor. Kraft acted after an online petition gathered 365,000 signatures.

Panera’s “No No” Ingredients List Includes Artificial Colors, Flavors, Etc.

Panera bread has published a list of ingredients it either has removed or will remove from its bakery-café foods menus by the end of 2016 and replace with simpler ingredients. Included on the list are artificial colors and flavors, sweeteners and preservatives. The first menu items affected are salad dressings and salads, including the Strawberry Poppyseed & Chicken Salad and the Kale Caesar. The company said it consulted “third-party scientists and experts” to develop the so-called “No No List” of ingredients it plans to do without.

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February 15, 2016, to March 01, 2016

Will “Qual-Quant” Ad Testing Replace Focus Groups Some Day?

A relatively mature, though still uncommon, method for researching advertising concepts is gaining traction among marketers because of its ease-of-use, reliability and cost-effectiveness compared to standard focus groups. Used by AcuPOLL research, the combination of qualitative (groups watching ads then voting) and quantitative (copy testing) is known as “qual-quant.” The candy bar Butterfinger (Nestlé) used qual-quant to test ads being considered for the brand’s return to the Super Bowl. Faced with a shortage of development time, the ad team turned to AcuPOLL for speedy and “actionable” consumer input, and was happy with the results, according to the brand manager.

Unilever Uses “R” Approach To Keep Its Non-Hazardous Waste Out Of Landfills

Unilever says it has identified the sources of all non-hazardous waste it generates and has devised ways to direct it away from landfills. A year ago, Unilever said 240 of its factories had figured out ways to dispose of non-hazardous waste without using landfills. Another 400 sites – factories, warehouses, distribution centers and offices –in 70 countries have now been added to the list. The company applies a four-pronged “R” approach to waste disposal: reduce, reuse, recover or recycle. The achievement proves that “waste can be seen as a resource with many alternative uses.”

Streamlining Strategy Is A Tricky One For Whole Foods Market

Whole Foods Market is tightening the reins on its local and regional managers to reduce costs and ward off intense competition from Kroger and Costco, which have advanced successfully into the organic and natural foods segment, often charging lower prices. From the beginning, Whole Foods has tried to operate with a local slant, giving managers leeway in the choice of specialty offerings. But the streamlining initiative – which could also include discounting – will mean shifting more responsibility for buying packaged foods, detergents and other nonperishable items to its Texas headquarters, and relying more on software to simplify scheduling staff and replenishing shelves. The move may damage  its customer-friendly reputation and peeve shoppers who prefer local products The difficult strategy, Co-CEO John Mackey acknowledges, is to eliminate “redundancy and waste” and boost stock value, without destroying a unique culture.

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February 01, 2016, to February 15, 2016

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.”

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.

“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.

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January 15, 2016, to February 01, 2016

Marketers Face Growing Consumer Efforts To Avoid Ads

Consumer packaged goods companies are trying to find ways of maximizing marketing efficiency when consumers are doing their best to avoid advertisements. For example, Unilever spends $7.7 billion on advertising worldwide and another $15 million to protect that investment by working with marketing-technology startups through its Foundry program. In the United States, the Great Recession and economic policy changes have battered the middle class, pushing more people into the lower class. Clorox shifted more than 40 percent of its media spending to digital marketing, which uses programmatic media, to serve most relevant ads to consumers. Also, marketers are putting their ad spending into media where ads are harder to avoid, such as sports and other live TV programs.

Unilever Receives Top-Employer Honors From China's Top Employers Institute

Unilever was named the number 1 employer in China by the Top Employers Institute. Unilever China, which has a number of initiatives aimed at meeting the challenges posed by the China market, has been implementing programs to always improve its HR strategies and policies. Its efforts to put people at the heart of its business has earned Top Employers Institute’s recognition, the company said.

Unilever Reports Strong Profit Growth In 2015

Unilever said its turnover rose 10 percent to €53.3 billion, including 5.9 percent in positive currency impact, in 2015, compared with the previous year. Underlying sales growth was 4.1 percent, with volume expanding 2.1 percent and price rising 1.9 percent. Underlying sales in emerging markets grew 7.1 percent, with volume 2.7 percent higher and price 4.3 percent up. Unilever reported core operating margin was at 14.8 percent, an increase of 30bps, while core operating profit was up 12 percent. Operating profit dropped 5.8 percent.

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January 01, 2016, to January 15, 2016

Coca-Cola Embroiled In Ethics Controversy Over Donations To Colorado Researcher

Coca-Cola’s payments to a University of Colorado nutrition expert and teacher have come under scrutiny, Fortune magazine reports. The company has acknowledged paying James Hill, president of the now-defunct anti-obesity organization Global Energy Balance Network, $550,000. Coca-Cola told the Denver Post it paid Hill the money for “honoraria, travel, education activities, and research on weight management” before the organization was created. A Colorado ethicist said Coca-Cola’s donations were a big “red flag” and possibly a violation of a state law banning corporate funding of public employees. The company also donated $1 million to GEBN as start-up funding, and $1 million to the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Health and Wellness Center, which is directed by Hill. The university has since returned that donation.

Special K Backs Away From Dieting Message, Now Stresses Nutrition

J. Walter Thompson will continue the ad theme created by predecessor Leo Burnett for Special K cereal that emphasizes broad nutritional benefits for women rather than just weight loss. Sales of the brand have dropped off in recent years, and it became apparent to Kellogg’s that women wanted more than calorie counting. Still the biggest player in breakfast cereals, Kellogg’s nevertheless saw its share of the global market fall over the last five years from 30 percent to about 28 percent while PepsiCo and Post Holdings gained ground. Sales picked up last year when more freeze-dried strawberries were added to Special K, the company’s biggest brand, and the company got the message: “strong is the new skinny.”

PepsiCo To Market Doritos In India

PepsiCo is introducing the Doritos snack brand to the $1.3 billion Indian salty snacks market. It will be the third snack from PepsiCo in India after Lays and Kurkure. A PepsiCo spokesman said introducing Doritos is part of a “premiumization” strategy for its product portfolio that includes higher end varieties of Lays potato chips, Tropicana juices and the snack Kurkure. PepsiCo will begin domestic production of Doritos chips this year. Market watchers say PepsiCo still leads the Indian salty snacks market, but faces tough competition from local companies like Balaji Wafers and Haldiram's.

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December 15, 2015, to January 01, 2016

Kellogg Strengthens Greenhouse Gas Emissions Goals

Kellogg Company’s new greenhouse gas (GHG) emission targets will cut GHG by 65 percent across its operations by 2020, the company announced. The targets also call for suppliers to cut their GHG emissions by half within 35 years. Since 2008, Kellogg says, it has reduced GHG emissions from its manufacturing facilities by 12 percent. The new targets are an extension of the 2020 global sustainability goals set in August 2014. The overall goal of the targets, which are in accordance with “others in Paris,” is to reduce GHG emissions to “limit the Earth's temperature increase to two degrees Celsius."

Nestle’s Bulcke Optimistic About Growth, But Warns Country About Pay Limits

In an interview with a Swiss newspaper, Nestlé CEO Paul Bulcke said the company will stick to its medium- to long-term growth targets of five to six percent in a tough market environment. But he also warned that the company might leave Switzerland if the country imposes limits on executive pay and immigration that hamper staffing decisions. Referendum votes in Switzerland in 2013 and 2014 that urged immigration quotas and ceilings on executive compensation constitute threats to business, Bulcke said. But similar recent votes that failed indicate “wisdom is returning.”

Unilever Expected To Appoint Leena Nair As Global HR Boss, Reports Say

Unilever is reportedly set to announce the appointment of Leena Nair as its global chief human resources manager. Should the appointment become final, Nair would replace Douglas Baillie, highlighting a growing trend among the world’s top multinationals of grooming Indians as their global HR managers. Since joining Hindustan Unilever as a summer trainee in 1992, Nair has made a number of significant achievements, including becoming one of the first women managers to choose a factory stint, becoming the first woman on HUL’s management committee, and the company’s youngest executive director eight years ago.

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December 01, 2015, to December 15, 2015

Swiss Chocolate Maker Improves Sustainability Record

Barry Callebaut reports that it continues to make progress in the area of sustainable cocoa production. The company sourced 159,000 tons of sustainable cocoa in 2015, an increase of 21 percent over 2014, and trained 70,000 farmers in better farming practices. The company created the independent, non-profit Cocoa Horizons Foundation to “drive change in cocoa sustainability.” It developed a new range of sustainable cocoa and chocolate products, Horizons, to support farm productivity and community development programs. Products are traceable from farm to warehouse. The company also distributed sustainability premiums of $20 million to farmers and farmer groups.

Fonterra Oceania To Provide Dairy-Based Nutritionals To Infant Formula Maker

Australian infant formula company Bellamy’s has contracted with dairy supplier Fonterra Oceania to provide nutritional ingredients for its products. Fonterra says the five-year, multimillion-dollar agreement is part of the “transformation of its Australian business,” especially in the area of nutritionals. The company says its Australian business is particularly strong in ingredients like cheese, whey and nutritionals. The deal with publicly-traded Bellamy’s Australia “reaffirms our strength in nutritionals.”

Unilever CEO Polman Commends World Leaders For Paris Agreement On Climate Change

Unilever CEO Paul Polman praised the international community for coming up with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change at COP21. According to a statement released by the company, Polman highlighted the “leadership shown by the French and Peruvian governments,” paving the way for the international agreement. He said, the agreement sends a signal to businesses and investors he believes will drive “real change in the global economy.” Also, Polman said the deal creates a “clear path” for the global economy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions within the lifetimes of people alive today.

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November 15, 2015, to December 01, 2015

KFC Test-Markets Smartphone-Based Home Delivery

KFC has begun testing fried chicken delivery at 60 restaurants in San Francisco and Los Angeles. The company has partnered with food delivery app Door Dash. Customers may order food using their smartphones or the Door Dash Web site. It is expected that the test will expand to Houston, Texas, by the end of the year, bringing the total of stores involved to 100. A KFC delivery initiative failed several years ago, but this is the first time the company is working with a high-tech delivery service.

Unilever Sees Failure As Tool For Promoting Innovation

Unilever created an experimentation fund for business and innovation ideas that do not go through the usual research processes, according to Unilever senior marketing director Aseem Puri. Speaking at the Campaign Asia-Pacific’s 2015 Marketing Innovation Summit in Singapore, Puri said companies should see failure as opportunities for promoting innovation and entrepreneurship among employees. According to the executive, the company’s Unilever Foundry initiative seeks to promote partnerships with startups in creating and promoting innovations that can disrupt the FMCG market.

Consumer Acceptance Of Plant-Based Dairy Products Boosts WhiteWave

Plant-based dairy company WhiteWave Foods, a spinoff of Dean Foods, is riding a trend of health-conscious shopping and nontraditional diets to increased profits. WhiteWave, maker of almond- and soy-based milk products like Silk, expects adjusted 4th quarter EPS of $0.34 to $0.35. The company also increased the full-year EPS guidance to $1.17 to $1.18 from $1.14-$1.17, beating consensus estimates of $1.15. WhiteWave cited cost leverage, higher productivity, improved commodity and other cost overlaps, and increased contributions from acquisitions as key drivers of better financial performance. Dean Foods, meanwhile, posted a 3rd quarter EPS of $0.30, up from a $0.03 loss year ago, thanks in part to a 30 percent decline in milk costs.
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