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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.

<<45678910111213>> Total issues:183

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November 01, 2015, to November 15, 2015

Unilever Reorganizes Marketing Group In Australia; Announces Departure Of Top Marketing Executives

Unilever combined the marketing departments for the company’s personal care and food and home units in Australia. As part of the reorganization, the company’s joint top marketing executives, Andrea Martens and Hugo Verkuil, are leaving Unilever. One of the biggest advertisers in the country, Unilever has a media spending budget of about $57 million, according to Nielsen.

Unilever Accredited As “Living Wage” Company

The Living Wage Foundation has formally acknowledged that Unilever pays its entire U.K. workforce a living wage. The company is also committed to encouraging its suppliers to pay a living wage. The Foundation says the accreditation of Unilever as a living wage company means that more than a quarter of the Financial Ttimes Stock Index (FTSE) 100 are now part of the living wage movement. More than 2,000 other British businesses voluntarily pay the living wage rate based on the real cost of living in the U.K.

PepsiCo Flexes Its Social Media Muscle With Halloween Cheetos Prank

PepsiCo and smartphone food delivery app Caviar tried a Halloween marketing trick designed to boost awareness of Frito-Lay Cheetos and the app itself. The idea was to videotape the arrival of the Caviar food delivery – along with trickster Cheetos mascot Chester Cheetah – at unsuspecting customer residences, along with free samples of Cheetos. The customers’ startled reactions were then posted to social media sites. It’s not known whether there was any customer backlash, but the idea was to build Caviar name recognition while promoting the snack. An industry observer called it a “perfectly timed scare promotion” and “a great way to create that viral component that has shareable components."

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October 15, 2015, to November 01, 2015

Unilever Reports Strong Sales Growth In 3Q 2015

Unilever reported sales grew 9.4 percent to €13.4 billion, with a positive currency impact of 2.9 percent, in the third quarter of 2015. Underlying sales rose 5.7 percent, with volume expanding 4.1 percent and price up 1.5 percent. Also, the company saw underlying sales growth of 8.4 percent in emerging markets, with volume higher by 4.8 percent and price up 3.5 percent. For the first nine months of the year, sales grew 11.1 percent to €40.4 billion, with a positive currency impact of 7.6 percent.

Marketers Look At Programmatic Media Buying

Unilever, Nestle, GlaxoSmithKline, and TUI plan to scale their programmatic media buying approaches with dynamic delivery of creative as part of their efforts to deal with the issue of brands reaching the right audience but with the wrong creative. Marketing experts featured at the recent Ad:Tech conference said programmatic advertising is basically about audience trading; however, marketers and their agencies have yet to fully leverage its potential benefit to create more dynamic creative. For its first attempt at employing the technology, Unilever launched the video “Romeo Reboot” for its Axe brand in Brazil.

HUL Reports Business Grew 5 Percent In September Quarter 2015

Hindustan Unilever Limited reported its Domestic Consumer business grew 5 percent, with 7 percent underlying volume growth, for the quarter ending September 30, 2015. Reduction in input costs resulted in cost of goods sold lower by 320 bps. Profit before interest and tax rose 7 percent and PBIT margin improved by 40 bps. Profit after tax before exceptional items rose 1 percent to Rs.970 crores, with net profit at Rs.962 crores.

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October 01, 2015, to October 15, 2015

Whole Foods Struggle To Meet Growing Demand For Sustainably Sourced And Humanely Raised Meat

Demand for sustainable, organic, natural, and humanely raised meat and other foods is growing faster than the production capacity of farmers. Whole Foods meat supplier Sweet Stem Farm’s dispute with the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals highlighted the problems posed by this trend for retailers and their customers. Data from the Organic Trade Association revealed sales of organic products in the United States grew 11 percent in 2014. For its part, sustainable-food restaurant chain Chipotle Mexican Grill dealt with a shortage of sustainably raised pork by pulling off its “carnitas” burrito filling from the menu.

Top Employers In Africa Chose For 2016

A global HR certification organization has named a group of top performing companies in Africa for 2016. The Top Employers Institute picked eight organizations comprising 61 operations in Africa that symbolize increased investing in talent and best practice to secure superior performance. Among the top employers are multinationals Abbvie, Becton Dickinson, DHL, EY, G4S, Old Mutual, Orange (including Orange Business Services Egypt and Mobinil) and Unilever. The Top Employers Institute annually conducts a certification program in over 100 countries around the world. Selected top employers are allowed to use the certification seal on their official communications.

Smaller Countries Serve As Innovation Labs For McDonald’s

McDonald’s is determined to reverse the downward trend in same-store sales and get consumers interested in its brand again. To do that it is testing innovations in smaller markets like Canada and Australia where the gamble is less risky and the scale is smaller. The experiments sometimes fail, but some lead to roll-outs, both here and abroad. A significant example is the DIY Create Your Taste digital self-serve station, tested in Australia and now rolling out in the U.S. It will expand the program to 1,400 Canadian locations over the next year. Self-service kiosks and table delivery with dedicated wait staff are part of the plan. The key question for the fast-food chain: can it implement these innovations fast enough to re-engage consumers and re-invigorate the bottom line?

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September 15, 2015, to October 01, 2015

Unilever Pakistan CEO Malik Retires

Unilever Pakistan Limited announced CEO Ehsan Malik’s retirement effective October 31, 2015. Current Unilever Sri Lanka chairperson Shazia Syed will assume the CEO post at Unilever Pakistan. Malik spent 24 years of service at Unilever, while Syed is on her 26th year.

Nescafé Tries A Different Online Strategy To Reach Millennials

Though it is the leading brand of instant coffee in the U.K., Nescafé is trying to solve a major marketing problem by adjusting its mix of traditional and online ad media to better target Millennials, a group that doesn’t care much for instant coffee. According to Mintel, sales of instant coffee to young people dropped three percent in 2014 and will drop another eight percent by 2020. To slow the exodus, Nescafé is moving its online presence from a traditional Web site to Tumblr. It will continue to use its Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts, along with TV, outdoor, press and radio. “Tumblr has a higher organic reach among Millennials, which is why we decided to expand there,” a Nescafé exec said.

Heinz Takes Aim At “After-School” Meal Market In New Ad Campaign

Heinz’s new “After School Heroes” ad campaign featuring DC Comics superhero characters is the company’s latest attempt to reach the key after-school or teatime market in the U.K. Products included in the campaign are Pasta, Beanz, Soup and Reduce Sugar and Salt Tomato Ketchup. Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman are the cartoon pitchmen.  The 12-week back-to-school campaign highlights the role Heinz products play in making afternoon meals fulfilling for parents and kids. The campaign will run on-pack, in-store, on TV, and in digital media and PR

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September 01, 2015, to September 15, 2015

Lawsuit Claims GMO Deception By Chipotle

A California class-action suit claims that fast-casual restaurant chain Chipotle is deceiving customers by serving foods containing GMO ingredients while claiming to be GMO free. Chipotle announced its GMO-free policy several months ago. The suit says Chipotle’s meat, cheese, and sour cream are made using products from animals fed with GMO soy and corn. It also says Chipotle’s soft drinks contain corn syrup made from GMO corn. A Chipotle spokesman said the lawsuit is without merit and loaded with inaccuracies. Most animals used for food in the U.S. are fed with GMO grains, but that doesn’t make them GMO animals.

All-Day Breakfast Launches October 6 At McDonald’s

In a move that might help reverse sagging sales and traffic at their restaurants, McDonald’s franchisees will begin serving breakfast all day on October 6. Items to be offered on the all-day breakfast menu include hotcakes, yogurt parfaits, oatmeal, hash browns, sausage burritos and either McMuffin sandwiches or biscuit sandwiches. The company hopes serving breakfast all day will bring in an extra 200 customers a week. Some franchisees worry that the all-day breakfast plan would make operations more complicated and slow down service.

Breakfast Food Companies Battle It Out Over U.K. Market

Though many breakfast food brands have trimmed ad spending in the U.K. market recently, Kellogg’s has tripled spending on products outside of its core line. The result has been a decrease in spending on products like Special K (down 26 percent) and Crunchy Nut (down 12 percent). The company wants its ads to remind shoppers that it offers a “wide, balanced choice of breakfast cereals” that are packed with healthy ingredients such as calcium, protein, vitamins C and D, and whole grains. Weetabix, meanwhile, has boosted spending on the breakfast drink Weetabix On The Go by sixty percent while cutting spending on its cereal line.

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July 15, 2015, to September 01, 2015

Mondelez Investor Says Company Needs To Slim Down Even Further

Though snack maker Mondelez has been working hard to cut costs, boost profits and bolster its stock price, more needs to be done, according to one big investor. The company’s profit margin in 2014 was only 12 percent, while the average profit margin in the food industry is closer to 16 percent. Analysts blame pricing missteps since it split from former parent Kraft, as well as inventory buildups and stiffer competition in emerging markets. Activist investor William Ackman, whose company has built a $5.5 billion, 7.5 percent stake in Mondelez, sees more room for fat trimming and is not afraid to voice his opinions. Analysts say expenses could be further cut by reshaping distribution and possibly divesting some business lines that divert resources from the core business: snacks.

Nestlé To Build Water Bottling Plant In S.C.

McBee, S.C., will be the location of a new bottling plant to be built by Nestlé Waters North America. The $40 million, 200,000 sq. ft. plant, expected to open early next year, could create 50 new jobs in the area. It would operate two production lines that could produce “an average of 60–100 trucks of bottled water” a day. The water source for the plant is located five miles northwest of McBee, and could provide about 3,000 gallons a minute. Nestlé would use around five percent of that.

Anytime Breakfasters Prefer McDonald’s, Subway, IHOP

People who love to eat breakfast more than once a day – a category known as “breakfastarians” -- say their favorite breakfast eatery is McDonald’s. A year-long online survey by a brand perception research service found that 41 percent of adults (over 18) think of McDonald’s, which has dominated breakfast dining for years, as they ponder their next meal. Subway came in second among the anytime breakfast crowd at 34 percent, followed by IHOP (32 percent), Burger King (27 percent) and Starbucks (26 percent). Denny's, Dunkin' Donuts, Wendy's, KFC and Chick-fil-A rounded out the top 10. According to researcher NPD Group, breakfast is the only U.S. restaurant meal time that is growing in terms of visits, and the competition among fast-food and fast-casual eateries is ferocious.

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July 01, 2015, to July 15, 2015

Colorado Firm Debuts Line Of Pancake, Baking Mixes – With Probiotics

Pancake mix maker FlapJacked says it is the first to market a line of baking mixes that incorporate two trendy ingredients, protein and probiotics. Single-serve, microwaveable Mighty Muffins with Probiotics are rich in both protein (20 grams) and fiber. The muffins are certified gluten-free and non-GMO and provide 220 calories a serving (one container). The new line of mixes fits right in with today’s market trends. One study finds that about 40 percent of consumers are boosting the protein in their diet, while another says protein and probiotics – so-called “good” or “healthy” gut bacteria – are at the top of the list of in-demand ingredients.

New Ravioli Products Made With Vegetable-Infused Pasta

Italian pasta company Buitoni has unveiled a line of ravioli products that are not only stuffed with cheese, meats and vegetables, the pasta itself is infused with vegetables. The ravioli are made by folding spinach or pureed sweet red pepper into the dough, which is then filled with combinations of spinach, artichoke hearts, ricotta and parmesan cheese, roasted red and yellow peppers, and chicken. The new ravioli products are available in the refrigerated aisles at grocery stores for $7.29 for the 18-ounce or 20-ounce packages.

Unilever Partners With WWF To Engage Consumers In Anti-Deforestation Effort

Unilever has partnered with British conservation organization WWF to boost consumer involvement to end deforestation globally, especially in Brazil and Indonesia. A basic goal of the one-year alliance is to protect a million trees. The partnership has created a Web site where consumers are invited to pledge their support. In August the partners will launch a social media campaign in the U.K., Brazil, Indonesia and the U.S. to engage consumers in the fight against deforestation. One of the pillars of the Web site’s effort is a campaign to make consumers aware of recycling opportunities in bathrooms.

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June 01, 2015, to July 01, 2015

Burger King’s India Strategy Centers On New Vegetarian Menu Items

Burger King faced a puzzling challenge when it decided to open restaurants in its 100th country, India: about half the population does not eat meat. So it’s not likely the Whopper will be a popular menu item. Rather than try to fit a square peg in a round hole, cuisine-wise, the chain decided to adjust to the culture. Burger King reps traveled all over India, gathering intelligence on local food habits. The result? Six varieties of vegetarian sandwiches, vegetarian snackers and other products for non-meat eaters. There’s already a lot of quick-service (QSR) competition in India – from McDonald’s, KFC and Subway – but it’s a huge opportunity. The market is growing at 26 percent a year, and QSR represents only two to three percent of the country’s food industry. Burger King now has 16 restaurants in India, with seven more on the way soon.

Whole Foods Will Begin Opening “Streamlined” Stores Next Year

Whole Foods Market, saddled by a reputation as being too expensive (“Whole Paycheck” or "Whole Foods Markup") and facing stiff competition from specialty grocers and big box retailers, in 2016 will begin opening smaller “streamlined” stores offering lower-priced private-label natural and organic products. The company hopes the new stores, to be called 365 by Whole Foods Market, will appeal to younger shoppers looking for more affordable fresh and locally-sourced foods. The new business unit, located in Austin, Texas, will be headed by Jeff Turnas, a 20-year Whole Foods Market employee.

Taco Bell Execs Obsess Over Millennial Lingo

Taco Bell knows who its target customer base is – basically, Millennials – and it wants to make sure its executives speak their language. Millennials have “quirks and traits” that set them apart from earlier generations, including a unique and evolving vocabulary. To better acquaint themselves with their patois, Taco Bell execs are treated to a “Millennial Word of the Week,” chosen by twenty-something employees. An example from one e-mail circulated at company headquarters is the word “lit,” used to describe “a certain situation, person, place or thing as awesome/crazy or just 'happening' in general."

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May 15, 2015, to June 01, 2015

Sustainability Initiative Helping Business Grow, Unilever Says

Unilever said its Sustainability Living Plan initiative has helped the company grow its business, as well as improve its cost efficiency and resilience for the future. Described by the company as “sustainable living brands,” these brands, such as Dove and Ben & Jerry's, are recording above-average growth, as highlighted by their high single- and double-digit sales expansion rates during the past three years. In 2014, Unilever focused on three key sustainability areas in the United States: Brands with Purpose, Sustainable Agriculture, and Transformational Partnerships.

Tesco Reports Slightly Less Food Wastes For 2014‒2015

Retailer Tesco said it reduced the amount of food waste generated at its stores and distribution facilities by 1,180 tonnes to 55,400 tonnes in the year 2014‒2015. Tesco, which announced it would stop publishing a printed corporate responsibility report, said bakery products accounted for 36 percent of total waste; fresh produce, 25 percent; and convenience, 9 percent. Also, the company said more than 3,000 tonnes of food was wasted in the impulse category, over 2,500 tonnes of meat, fish, and poultry, and more than 1,500 tonnes of beers, wines, and spirits.

Will Kale Save McDonald’s?

Although some foodie trend watchers say kale has already been supplanted by other superfoods, McDonald’s is forging ahead with market tests of a “kale-packed breakfast bowl” in nine restaurants in the Los Angeles area. The kale bowl – it also contains turkey sausage and egg whites, all topped with basil, tomato, and spinach – is one of two the fast food chain is testing. The other features chorizo, hash browns, scrambled eggs, cheddar jack cheese and pico de gallo. McDonald’s has been plagued by slumping sales in recent years as fast-casual chains grab market share. But will kale help reverse the company’s fortunes? “Likely not," says analyst Mark Kalinowski of Janney Capital Markets.

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May 01, 2015, to May 15, 2015

New Whole Foods Stores Will Target Millennials

Whole Foods is trying a new store format that it hopes will broaden its appeal and expand its brand by targeting Millennial shoppers intrigued by the company’s social and ethical standards but unable to afford the high prices. The new format will take the form of a separate chain of stores that will offer lower prices. Thanks to the rise of natural and organic foods competition from mainstream grocery chains, Whole Foods has lost some of its cachet. That loss is reflected in recent financial performance: the company’s 2nd quarter profit missed analyst expectations, and its stock dipped 10 percent. The new format stores will begin opening in 2016.

Hain Celestial Posts Healthy 3rd Q Financial Performance

Organic and natural products company Hain Celestial posted record third quarter net sales of $662.7 million, a 19 percent increase over last year. Foreign exchange rate changes impacted revenue totals negatively. Overall profit was $33.4 million and adjusted net income was $46.5 million. Earnings per share were $0.32, while operating income was $60.2 million. Net sales in the U.S. were $343.7 million, an eight percent increase. “The strength of our core brands and contributions from acquisitions helped us to overcome foreign currency impacts to deliver our 18th consecutive year-over-year double digit net sales growth," said CEO Irwin D. Simon.

Unilever Awards Itself Gold Stars For Advances In Sustainable Living

Unilever has given itself a stellar report card in meeting the long-term goal of integrating sustainability into its businesses, product lines and supply lines. The strategy is driving growth in brands with cost efficiency and “resilience for the future,” according to the company. The 10-year ”Sustainable Living Plan,” a growth strategy launched in November 2010, is on track to meet most of the goals, including: helping a billion people improve their health and well-being; cutting its environmental footprint in half; and sourcing all agricultural raw materials sustainably. High-growth brands advancing sustainable living include Dove, Lifebuoy, Ben & Jerry’s and Comfort, all of which are achieving high single and double digit sales since 2012.
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