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Unilever's Indonesia Unit Posts Strong Net Growth In 2016

March 20, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
PT Unilever Indonesia reported net profit rose 9.2 percent to Rp 6.39 trillion, or $479.7 million, in 2016, compared with the previous year. Net sales jumped almost 10 percent to Rp 40.05 trillion from the previous year's Rp 36.48 trillion. Cost of goods sold increased almost 10 percent year on year to Rp 19.59 trillion.
Prima Wirayani, "Amid Weak People's Purchasing Power, Unilever Reaped Rp 6.39t Profit Last Year", Jakarta Post, March 20, 2017, © PT. Niskala Media Tenggara
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Target Appoints Burt SVP For Grocery, Fresh Food, Beverage

March 20, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Target Corporation said it has named Jeff Burt as senior vice president for grocery, fresh food, and beverage. According to the retailer, Burt's role will include promotion and execution of the company's food and beverage business strategy. He will report to Mark Tritton, Target's EVP and chief merchandising officer.
"Target Names Jeff Burt Senior Vice President, Grocery, Fresh Food and Beverage", Business Wire, March 20, 2017, © Business Wire, Inc.
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Unilever Plans Sale Of Brands To Appease Angry Shareholders

March 19, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Unilever said it plans to sell a number of brands worth a total of at least ₤6 billion. Part of the company's efforts to placate shareholders frustrated with the company's rejection of Kraft Heinz's $143-billion takeover bid, the proposed sale will be followed by a range of cost-cutting and restructuring measures. While company CEO Paul Polman does not want to split the company into its food and personal care businesses, he is seen willing to get rid of under-performing brands.
Peter Evans and Daniel Dunkley, "Unilever lines up £6bn sale of Flora and Stork", The Sunday Times, March 19, 2017, © Times Newspapers Limited
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Organic Bread Brand Provides Detailed Ingredient Source Info To Consumers

March 16, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Thirty-five-year-old Rudi's Organic Bakery, owned by Hain Celestial, has launched two breads that provide consumers detailed information about the source of the grain in each loaf. The traceability information comes thanks to a partnership with Community Grains, which gathers information from the local farmer suppliers. Community Grains monitors each step of flour production, from sourcing seed, growth through harvest, and preservation of nutrients and flavor with whole milling. The two new Rudi’s breads are certified USDA organic and use only organic cracked wheat, organic rolled oats and organic sunflower oil, all without genetically modified organisms (GMOs). [ Image credit: © Rudi's Organic Bakery ]
"Rudi's Organic Bakery® Launches New Traceable Organic Bread Line with Community Grains", News release, Hain Celestial, March 16, 2017, © Hain Celestial
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Unilever Shareholders Wanted Talks With Kraft Heinz, Survey Reveals

March 16, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Unilever should have negotiated with Kraft Heinz instead of abruptly rejecting its $143 billion takeover bid, according to 53 percent of Unilever shareholders surveyed by stock brokerage firm Bernstein. Among shareholders who favored negotiations, the majority wanted a 40-percent premium to Unilever's share price, instead of the 18 percent offered by Kraft Heinz. Kraft Heinz promptly withdrew its offer following its rejection by Unilever.
Scheherazade Daneshkhu, "Unilever investors favoured talks with Kraft Heinz", The Financial Times, March 16, 2017, © The Financial Times Limited
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Meijer Expands Home Delivery Service Across Midwestern Market

March 16, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Retailer Meijer is expanding its home delivery service across the Midwestern market. Meijer's move follows the success of a test of the service in the Detroit area where more than 65,000 orders for home delivery were received by the company. Mejier, in partnership with Shipt, offers the membership-based service with $99 annual subscription fee and offers unlimited free grocery deliveries on orders worth more than $35. Meijer president Rick Keyes said the company learned many lessons from the Detroit test, including the demographic groups that used the service.
Dale Buss, "Groceries on Demand: 5 Questions With Meijer President Rick Keyes", Brandchannel, March 16, 2017, © Interbrand
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Purchase Of Thanasi Extends Conagra Brands Into Premium Meat, Seed Snacks

March 16, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Conagra Brands announced it is acquiring the protein-based snacking business Thanasi Foods, maker of Duke’s meat snacks and BIGS seed snacks in a transaction expected to close this summer. Conagra manages the Slim Jim meat stick brand and the DAVID Seeds brand. The Duke's product line includes Smoked Shorty Sausages and Steak & Brisket Strips. BIGS’s products include jumbo in-shell sunflower seeds, sunflower seed kernels and roasted pumpkin seeds. Conagra Brands CEO Sean Connolly said the purchase is part of a strategy to extend into “faster-growing, more premium segments” of the meat and seed snacks market. Financial terms were not disclosed. [ Image credit: © Conagra Brands ]
"Conagra Brands Enters Into Definitive Agreement to Acquire Thanasi Foods, Maker of Duke's® Meat Snacks and BIGS® Seeds", News release, Conagra Brands, March 16, 2017, © Conagra Brands, Inc.
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McDonald’s Enters The World Of Smartphone Food Ordering

March 15, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Hoping to win back the drive-in customers it lost over the past four years, McDonald’s is at last testing a mobile ordering app it is satisfied with. The company is showing off the technology in Chicago where a new high tech demo restaurant was built with a redesigned kitchen that speeds order flow. McDonald’s hopes to avoid the disasters Starbucks encountered when its app generated a flood of orders that overwhelmed stores and drove away impatient walk-in customers. The company says order automation will cut transaction times, reduce errors, and free up workers to deliver food to tables or to cars parked in mobile order spots.[ Image credit: © McDonald's Corp. ]
"McDonald’s Finally Has Mobile Ordering", Fortune, March 15, 2017, © Time Inc.
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Consortium To Accelerate Technology That Turns Plant Protein Into “Beefsteak”

March 13, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Several food companies, including Unilever, have formed a consortium with a Dutch university to advance a technology that transforms vegetable protein into a layered fiber structure that mimics the taste, texture, and appearance of beefsteak. The Plant Meat Matters consortium comprises Swiss flavor house Givaudan, French agri-food giant Avril, and plant protein supplier Ingredion. Wageningen University researchers developed the shear-cell technology that can use protein from soy, wheat, pea, rapeseed or corn. The consortium hopes to scale the technology to produce industrial quantities, and to make it available to industry as well as chefs and consumers. Global sales of meat substitutes increased from 163,000 tons in 2015 to 183,000 tons in 2016, according to Euromonitor. [ Image credit: © Beyond Meat, Wikipedia ]
Niamh Michail, "Plant Meat Matters: Unilever, Givaudan and Ingredion Invest in Vegetarian Steak", FOODnavigator-USA.com, March 13, 2017, © William Reed Business Media SAS
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Baked Snack Makers Go Heavy On Indulgent, Healthful, Functional

March 13, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Thirty-one percent of Americans say they often try new snacks, both “decadent” and healthful, a fact that caught the attention of bakery manufacturers. Many new product introductions offer indulgent, as well as functional and clean label, snacks. New ingredients are all the rage. On the indulgent side are treats like warmable gooey bun bites (Cinnabon) and seasonal treats like Italian rainbow pastries repurposed as everyday Raindow CakeBites (Cookies United). Other snack innovations that popped up in 2016: wide use of once seasonal flavors like pumpkin spice; artisan offerings; “healthy” snacks made without wheat or gluten; smaller portion sizes; protein-packed snacks; indulgent cookie flavors; candy-laden cookies; functional cookies laced with caffeine, omega-3 fatty acids, or probiotics; and crackers made with almonds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, chickpeas, sweet potatoes, or ancient grains. [ Rainbow CakeBites, image © Cookies United ]
Tom Vierhile, "2017 Bakery Trends: Flavor and Function", Prepared Foods, March 13, 2017, © BNP Media
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Antibiotics-Free Cattle, Pigs Could Be Next, But It’s More Complicated

March 12, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
The antibiotics-free chicken movement may have caught on big in the U.S. – about half of chicken sold is free of antibiotics – it hasn’t spread to pork or beef. But that may change soon, as advocates pressure companies to reduce or eliminate antibiotics use in cattle, pigs, and turkeys. Tyson already plans to move in that direction, though it’s more complicated because, unlike in-house chicken production, food companies have to contract with beef and pork producers. And some, like Sanderson Farms, deny there’s a connection between antibiotics use in animal raising and increased resistance to antibiotics in humans. But industry analysts say they’re missing the point. Antibiotics-free meat offers a new way to sell pricier products. [ Image credit: © Wikipedia ]
"Antibiotic-Free Meat Gets a Foothold in US", The Express Tribune, March 12, 2017, © The Express Tribune
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Rotisserie Chicken Chain Pledges Antibiotics-Free Chicken By March 2018

March 10, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Add Boston Market to the list of restaurant chains committed to serving only antibiotics-free chicken. The company says that by July 2017, 75 percent of its chickens will have been raised without the drugs; within a year all of its chickens will be raised without the drugs. Boston Market unveiled a “quality guarantee” in January that states it will serve all natural, fresh, whole chickens that are U.S.-farm raised without added hormones or steroids,100 percent antibiotic-free, MSG free, and gluten free. [ Image credit: © Boston Market ]
"Boston Market Commits To Serving 100 Percent Antibiotic-Free Rotisserie Chicken", News release, Boston Market, March 10, 2017, © Boston Market
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General Mills Subsidizes Commercial Development Of Western Asian Grain

March 9, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Breakfast cereal maker General Mills bestowed its imprimatur on a fairly obscure cousin of wheat when it announced it would buy a significant supply of wild triga, known commercially as kernza, for use in its Cascadian Farm organic food brand. A perennial plant originating in the Caspian Sea region, triga was domesticated by scientists in Kansas. General Mills also donated $500,000 to find good ways to commercialize the grain, perhaps touting its potential as a new superfood. Kernza has several cultivation advantages over wheat: its roots stretch 10 ft into the earth, locking in nutrients and water, anchoring the plant and protecting against erosion. But the fact that General Mills is backing it suggests it will show up someday on store shelves as a breakfast or snack food. [ Image credit: © The Land Institute ]
Chase Purdy, "Is Kernza the New Quinoa? The maker of Cheerios is Investing in the Experimental and Sustainable Grain", Quartz, March 09, 2017, © Quartz
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Great Brownies, Cookies, And A Progressive Hiring Policy

March 8, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
New York’s Greyston Bakery is launching a line of “grab-and-go” cookies baked without preservatives, and with cage-free eggs and fair trade sugar. Greyston is already famous for its brownies, which are the key ingredient in Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream. The new cookie line features Harvest Cookies and Chocolate Chunk Cookies, sold, like the brownies, exclusively at Whole Foods Market stores. Greyston is also noted for its impact on the community. The company has an open hiring policy: it hires people with barriers to employment, no questions asked. CEO Mike Brady says, “We don’t hire people to bake cookies, we bake cookies to hire people.” Its partnership with Whole Foods Market has created 20 full-time positions at the bakery, [ Image credit: © Greyston Bakery ]
Kerry Sesil, "Greyston Launches New Cookies at Whole Foods Market®, Expands Job Impact", Specialty Food Association, March 08, 2017, © Specialty Food Association, Inc.
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Key Execs At Hain Celestial Given New Strategic Responsibilities

March 6, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Organic and natural products company Hain Celestial has moved several key executives into new positions that report directly to CEO Irwin D. Simon. Hain Celestial North America CEO John Carroll is the new EVP-Global Brands and New Business Ventures. He will oversee global branding, new ventures, M&A, and the Project Terra cost savings and divestiture program. Gary W. Tickle has been named CEO of Hain Celestial North America.  And Beena Goldenberg, CEO of the company’s Canadian unit, will head up the Cultivate Ventures platform dedicated to investing in lifestyle brands, smaller portfolio brands and concepts, and incubator opportunities. [ Image credit: © Hain Celestial ]
"Hain Celestial Announces Executive Appointments", News release, Hain Celestial, March 06, 2017, © Hain Celestial
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Aldi To Use Alibaba Online Platform To Market German Brands In China

March 3, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Germany’s fast-growing discount grocery chain Aldi hopes to interest Chinese consumers in German food and beverage brands, especially wine, snacks and breakfast foods. With that goal in mind, the company will "soft launch" an online presence on Alibaba’s Tmall Global platform, followed by a full launch event in Shanghai on April 25. The Chinese venture is being managed by Aldi South, owner of Aldi U.S. and manager of the British chain. An Alibaba manager said the Chinese middle-class is increasingly interested in German products.
Victoria Bryan, "German discounter Aldi to start online sales in China", Reuters, March 03, 2017, © Thomson Reuters
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Kroger CEO “Disappointed” With 4th Quarter Profit

March 2, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Kroger posted a disappointing 4th quarter profit of $506 million (53¢ a share), down from $559 million (57¢ a share) last year. Sales were $27.6 billion, up 5.5 percent ($26.2 billion) from a year ago. Net earnings for fiscal 2016 totaled $1.98 billion, or $2.05 a share. Excluding the restructuring of some multi-employer pension obligations, adjusted net earnings for the year were $2.05 billion, or $2.12 a share (up from 2015’s $2.04 billion, or $2.06 a share. The company said it created 12,000 new supermarket jobs in 2016. CEO Rodney McMullen, noting that the company was “obviously disappointed” with 4th quarter profit, said further cost cutting would allow the company to reach its long-term EPS growth rate target of 8 to 11 percent. [ Image credit: © Kroger Co. ]
"Kroger Reports Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2016 Results", Earnings release, Kroger, March 02, 2017, © The Kroger Company
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New Line Of Prepared Frozen Fruits, Vegetables Helps Reduce Food Waste

March 2, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
British supermarket chain Tesco has launched a range of prepared frozen produce designed to take the "fuss” out of cooking with unusual but antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, including pomegranates, watermelon, coconut and beetroot (beets). Sold in resealable packages are frozen diced beetroot and coconut, chunks of watermelon, and seeded pomegranate. The range will also help reduce food waste because consumers take what is needed and leave the rest in the freezer, Tesco says.  [ Image credit: © Tesco ]
"Tesco Addresses Food Waste with Fuss-Free Frozen Fruit", Food Ingredients 1st, March 02, 2017, © CNS Media BV
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Dunkin’ Donuts Parent Company To Replace Synthetic With Natural Colorings

March 2, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
As part of an ongoing plan to offer cleaner menu labels, the parent company of Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins said it will replace artificial colorings in its foods with naturally-sourced colorings by the end of 2018. Dunkin' Brands Group said its doughnuts unit will remove synthetic colors from donut icings, fillings, toppings, frozen beverages, baked goods, breakfast sandwiches and coffee flavorings. Likewise, Baskin-Robbins will remove synthetic colors from all ice cream, syrups, sauces, sprinkles and beverages. In 2014, Dunkin' Brands revamped its new product development process to focus on reformulating products to simplify ingredient labels, and reduce sodium and sugar content without sacrificing flavor.
"Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin-Robbins Plan to Remove Artificial Colorings from U.S. Menus by End of 2018", News release, Dunkin' Brands Group, March 02, 2017, © Dunkin' Brands Group
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Bottled Water Giants Partner To Speed Biomass-Based Bottle To Market

March 2, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
French food company Danone is partnering with Nestlė Waters and a young technology company to accelerate commercial use of a 100 percent sustainable and renewable bio-based plastic bottle. The two giants in bottled water are working with a Sacramento, Calif.-based startup known as Origin Materials, which developed the technology. Together, the NaturALL Bottle Alliance will develop and launch commercially a PET1 (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic bottle made from biomass feedstocks, such as previously used cardboard and sawdust. A major advantage is that it does not divert resources or land from food production. [ Image credit: © Steven Depolo ]
"Danone and Nestlé Waters Launch NaturALL Bottle Alliance with California Startup to Develop 100% Bio-Based Bottles", News release, Nestlé Waters, March 02, 2017, © Nestlé Waters
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Consumer Goods Forum Draws Closer To Meeting Goals In Latest Health And Wellness Report

March 1, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), a global network of business stakeholders from 70 countries with a mission to help accomplish health and wellness-related Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations by implementing Health and Wellness Resolutions, released its the fourth edition of its Annual Health and Wellness Progress Report. CGF noted progress in the Commitments signed by its members: the first commitment is for greater transparency in nutritional policies and product formulation and the second commitment is to implement better employee health and wellness programs. Of the companies that participated in the CGF survey over the last two years, 38% has met the first commitment and 66% achieved the second the commitment. The CGF notes that larger companies worldwide are demonstrating leadership in meeting their health and wellness goals and are inspiring other members to move forward. The report provides comprehensive information on the progress of health and wellness programs across the world. It reveals that some 2.3 billion people and 30,000 communities have been reached by H&W programs, with 1.3 million employees, 1.4 million H&W professionals and 386,000 schools participating in its implementation. Interestingly, some 180,000 products have been redesigned to align with the H&W resolutions of member companies. [Image credit © The Consumer Goods Forum]
"Health & Wellness Progress Report", The Consumer Goods Forum, March 01, 2017, © Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited
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Cage-Free Eggs Movement Marches On

March 1, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
General Mills has joined other food industry players – food manufacturers, foodservice companies, fast food chains, and retailers – in pledging to eventually source only cage-free eggs globally for use in its products. The company’s commitment will be fully implemented by 2025. The decision was praised by the cage-free campaign Open Wing Alliance initiated by The Humane League earlier this year. In related news, all 99 Cents Only Stores that sell eggs will offer a cage-free option at a competitive price. And Farmer Boys Restaurants said it has completed its transition to cage-free California eggs in all 89 locations. [ Image credit: © Wikimedia ]
Gill Hyslop , "General Mills reiterates cage-free egg commitment", Bakery and Snacks, March 01, 2017, © William Reed Business Media SAS
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Nestle Adds Gluten-Free Production Capacity In New Zealand Factory

March 1, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Nestlé has expanded the production capacity of its factory in New Zealand (South Auckland) to make gluten-free noodles, seasonings, flavor boosters, recipe bases, gravies, sauces, soups and dessert mixtures. The company said the multimillion-dollar facility turns out products under the Maggi and Docello brands. Exports already total more than $60 million. Nestlé expects this total to expand significantly with the addition of gluten-free versions. About 0.7 percent of New Zealanders are diagnosed with celiac disease, for which a strict lifelong gluten-free diet is essential. [ Image credit: © Nestlé S.A. ]
"Nestlé Factory Investment in Gluten Free Production Opens Export Opportunities", News release, Nestlé, March 01, 2017, © Nestlé
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Amazon Anticipates Permission From India To Launch Produce Delivery Venture

March 1, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Amazon Fresh, a growing competitor of supermarkets in the U.S., U.K., and Europe, is waiting for foreign direct investment approval from the Indian government before launching a grocery delivery operation there. The company expects to be delivering produce, lentils, milk, and other staples sourced from local farmers. Amazon already sells fresh produce and dairy products through its Amazon Now venture in four Indian cities, though the food is sourced from local supermarkets.[ Image credit: © SounderBruce ]
Writankar Mukherjee, "Amazon Awaits FDI Approval to Deliver Groceries at Doorstep ", Economic Times, March 01, 2017, © Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd.
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Grupo Bimbo Buys Columbian Frozen Bakery Company

March 1, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
The global frozen bakery market is a high-growth area, thanks to increasing demand for “thaw-and-serve” and “bake-off” products that deliver convenience to consumers, bakeries, supermarkets and quick-serve eateries. Analysts forecast the segment to top $21 billion within three years at a CAGR of 8.5 percent from 2015 to 2020. So it’s no mystery why Mexico’s baked goods giant Grupo Bimbo (Mexico City) just bought Panettiere, a Columbian frozen bakery company. In addition to its frozen products, the company Panattiere sells puff pastry, sandwich rolls, muffins and soft bread. The acquisition allows Bimbo to “participate in the in-store and food service bakery channels” in Latin America, the company said. [ Image credit: © Scoictho, Wikimedia  ]
Douglas Yu, "Bimbo Acquires Frozen Bakery Brand Panattiere", BakeryAndSnacks.com, March 01, 2017, © William Reed Business Media SAS
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Campbell Soup Says Its Four Platforms Will Ensure Future Growth

March 1, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Campbell Soup CEO Denise Morrison told consumer industry analysts recently that she and her company understand that the “future food world” will be complex and challenging, with unpredictable and unrelenting change. There will be both “opportunities and disruptions” caused by advancements in food, health and wellness, and technology. With that in mind, the company has established four platforms for growth: further developing its omnichannel strategy, especially e-commerce; focusing on affordable, high-quality, and even functional snacks; taking advantage of the future biometrics-based personalization of foods; and applying the concept of “limitless local” that embraces smaller and more regional farming and food production models. [ Denise Morrison, iImage credit: © Campbell Soup Company ]
Lynne Cooke, "Campbell Soup Outlines Four Platforms to Drive Growth", CPG Matters, March 01, 2017, © CPG Matters
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It’s Really Not More Expensive To Eat Healthful Foods

March 1, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Are poor diets and obesity the direct result of the unaffordability of healthful food? According to one analyst, the answer is no, though many people believe it. One reason for that is that some studies have looked at food prices on a price-per-calorie basis, which makes many high-calorie foods seem inexpensive. For example, a low-calorie yogurt would appear more expensive than an identical high-calorie yogurt even though their retail prices are the same. Christopher Snowdon says his report compares directly the prices of healthy and less healthy food substitutes and also compares them by “edible weight.” He found almost no difference between the price of regular food products and their healthier substitutes. Analyzing by edible weight, healthier supermarket food tends to be cheaper than less healthy food. [ Image credit: © Peg93, Wikimedia  ]
Christopher Snowdon, "Cheap As Chips", Report, The Institute of Economic Affairs, March 01, 2017, © The Institute of Economic Affairs
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Future Group Eyes Expansion Into Personal Care

February 28, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Future Group CEO Kishore Biyani said the Indian retailer will focus next on the personal care market, following its signing of a joint venture deal with organic products company Hain Celestial. To better focus on its core fashion and food businesses, and to ensure the success of the Hain venture, the company plans to sell its home furnishings unit HomeTown and close sportswear retail unit Planet Sports. [ Image credit: © Future Group ]
Priya Sheth, "Future Group will Target Personal Care Next: Kishore Biyani", Money Control, February 28, 2017, © e-Eighteen.com Ltd.
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Unilever Ghana Names Two New Directors

February 28, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Unilever Ghana Limited said it has appointed Angela Peasah and Gladys Amoah as directors of the company. Peasah, a chartered accountant by profession, was named a non-executive director effective February 9, 2017. Amoah was named a director in charge of customer development in the country effective November 1, 2016.
"Unilever Ghana Appoints New Directors", Ghana News Agency, February 28, 2017, © Ghana News Agency
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Unilever Eyes Changes To Executive Pay System To Encourage Loyalty, Entrepreneurship

February 28, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Unilever announced plans to revise its pay structure for the company's executives and directors that would encourage them to see themselves as owners of the business. Once approved by the shareholders at the company's annual general meetings in April 2017, the proposed revisions would be effective for three years. According to the company, the changes would focus more on “long-term employee share ownership and personal commitment.”
Martinne Geller, "Unilever Seeks Changes to Pay to Give Managers Owner's Mindset", Reuters, February 28, 2017, © Reuters
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Company Launches Crisp Ingredient That Is 60 Percent Pea Protein

February 28, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Food ingredients supplier PGP International has launched a snackcrisp that is 60 percent pea protein. The new crisp is targeted at food manufacturers developing snacks and other foods that will meet consumer demand for protein and clean foods. The company says the new chip can be incorporated into cereals, snack bars, energy foods and confectionery. The company uses an advanced extrusion technology that ensures the chips contain high levels of protein but are free from hexane, a neurotoxic petrochemical solvent. The chips are gluten free, vegan, kosher, easily digested, and hypoallergenic for those intolerant to animal-based proteins or soy. [ Image credit: © PGP International  ]
"PGP International Launches New 60% Pea Protein Crisp", News release, PGP International, February 28, 2017, © PGP International
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Hershey To Cut 15 Percent Of Non-U.S. Workforce, Probably In China

February 28, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
In an effort to boost its operating profit to 23 percent within two years, Hershey Co. says it will cut 2,700 non-U.S. hourly workers, or about 15 percent of its global workforce. At the end of 2016, the company had 16,300 full-time and 1,680 part-time employees worldwide. Analysts expect many of the job cuts to occur in China. Overhead costs have climbed since Hershey acquired a candy company there in 2014, just as the country’s economy slowed and competitors began to set up shop. Like other confectioners, Hershey is struggling as the food preferences of U.S. consumers evolve. It has broadened its product line beyond candy in recent years, buying a beef jerky company and developing protein drinks. [ Image credit: © Hershey Co. / BusinessWire ]
Annie Gasparro, "Hershey Plans 2,700 Job Cuts to Boost Profits", The Wall Street Journal, February 28, 2017, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Walmart Aims To Close Pricing Gap With Aldi, Other Discount Retailers

February 27, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Walmart is seeking to narrow a pricing gap with discount retailer Aldi, as well as with other U.S.-based retailers, such as Kroger.  According to reports, Walmart launched a price-comparison test in at least 1,200 of its store locations in the country. Also, the retailer is requiring its packaged goods suppliers to lower their product costs. [ Image credit: © Jared C. Benedict, Wikimedia Commons ]
Nandita Bose, "Exclusive: Wal-Mart launches new front in U.S. price war, targets Aldi in grocery aisle", Reuters, February 27, 2017, © Thomson Reuters
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Mead Johnson Acquires Production Capabilities From Australia’s Bega Cheese

February 27, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Pediatric nutrition company Mead Johnson (MJ) will acquire spray-drying and finishing capabilities in Australia from Bega Cheese Limited, a certified ingredient supplier for MJ products since 2009. The acquisition establishes a strategic beachhead that will allow further expansion in China “by creating both additional capacity and the ability to adapt to a changing regulatory environment.” The deal is expected to close in the 2nd quarter of 2017. [ Image credit: © Bega Cheese ]
"Mead Johnson Acquires Strategic Capabilities and Capacity in Australia", News release, Mead Johnson, February 27, 2017, © Mead Johnson Nutrition
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Tesco Adjusts Customer Service Structure In Its C-Stores To Better Compete

February 27, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
British supermarket chain Tesco is expanding the number of customer service personnel in its Express convenience stores to “improve the shopping experience” for customers. The company is creating what it calls shift leaders, at the same time eliminating deputy manager positions. The new structure, successfully tested in several Express stores, is part of a broader program launched two years ago to make sure the company is poised to compete in the rapidly changing retail sector. About 3,300 shift leader positions are being created in the 1,700+ Express stores.
"Tesco announces changes to improve the shopping trip in Express stores", News release, Tesco, February 27, 2017, © Tesco PLC
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Tyson Foods Includes Antibiotics-Free Chicken In Its Sustainability Strategy

February 23, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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.
"Tyson Foods Commits to Make Antibiotic-Free Chicken Products", Food and Business Review, February 23, 2017, © FBR
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Food Deliverer Thistle Launches Frozen Meal Kits For Infants, Toddlers

February 23, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Food delivery startup Thistle is launching meal kits for busy parents who want to make nutritious baby foods at home. The founders say available baby and toddler foods are not particularly nutritious, and even the healthier options are over-processed, pureed, watery, and don’t taste like real fruits or veggies. The vacuum-sealed, flash-frozen Thistle meal kits are steamed, pureed and spiced at home. The company specializes in organic, gluten-free plant-based ingredients, but also offers omnivore meals. The main competition is baby foods sold in boxes, pouches, and jars by grocery stores. But a few e-commerce companies deliver kid-friendly meals or meal kits to the home. Though 14 percent of consumers are buying food online (Nielsen), it remains to be seen what portion of the $30 billion baby foods and formula market will shift to e-commerce models.
Lora Kolodny, "Thistle Launches Meal Kits to Make Nutritious Baby Food at Home", Tech Crunch, February 23, 2017, © AOL Inc.
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Unilever Launches Strategic Review After Kraft Heinz Drops Takeover Bid

February 22, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
After Kraft Heinz withdrew its two-day-old unsolicited takeover bid for Unilever, CEO Paul Polman launched a strategic review of the company to determine how it can increase its value, deter unwanted buyers, and keep investors loyal. Some observers said the review could lead to a breakup – involving perhaps jettisoning the troubled spreads unit. Or it may lead the company toward more aggressive cost-saving measures. Unilever’s share price leapt 5.7 percent when Kraft Heinz dropped its $143 billion takeover proposal. The strategic review is expected to be completed by early April. [ Flora spread image credit: © Flora.com ]
Thomas Buckley and Ruth David, "Unilever Reviewing Options for Change After Kraft Bid Fails", Bloomberg, February 22, 2017, © Bloomberg L.P.
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Unilever Eyes Steps To Boost Shareholder Value After Saying No To Kraft's $143-Billion Bid

February 22, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Unilever said it plans to conduct a strategic review aimed at improving shareholder value, after the consumer-goods giant rejected a proposed takeover by Kraft Heinz Co. Unilever shares gained 5.7 percent in London, back to the levels immediately following Kraft's announcement of its $143 billion bid. According to market observers, Unilever's strategic review could bring about a breakup of the company or an increase in its merger-and-acquisition activity.
Thomas Buckley and Ruth David, "Unilever Reviewing Options for Change After Kraft Bid Fails", Bloomberg, February 22, 2017, © Bloomberg L.P.
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Canadian Grocery Delivery Service Offers New Ben & Jerry’s Treats Daily

February 21, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Unilever is using a Canadian grocery delivery service to introduce two dairy-free Ben & Jerry’s frozen dessert flavors: P.B. & Cookies and Coffee Caramel Fudge. Toronto-based Urbery began offering the new flavors before their official store release late last month. A pint of the non-dairy dessert sells for $9.99, and regular flavors sell for $8.99. Urbery’s $4.99 delivery fee is waived if customers order three or more pints. The desserts are purchased on a dedicated website that offers daily delivery between 5 and 10 p.m. in downtown Toronto within 30-45 minutes. [ Image credit: © Ben & Jerry's ]
Chris Powell, "Ice Cream, On-Demand", Canadian Grocer, February 21, 2017, © EnsembleIQ
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Mondelez Invests In High-Growth Channels And Products

February 21, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
N.J.-based snack maker Mondelez International's strategy is to boost its presence in high-growth channels like e-commerce, discounters, convenience stores and traditional trade. To build its e-commerce snacks business, it is spending heavily on capabilities, infrastructure and broadening the online product portfolio. The effort is working: net revenues in e-commerce grew more than 35 percent last year. More specifically, the company is investing in what it calls its “power brands” – namely, Oreo, Milka and belVita – which account for 70 percent of global revenues. The effort is paying off: last year those brands grew organic net revenue at twice the rate of the company overall and continue to outpace category growth, according to Chief Growth Officer Tim Cofer.
Jeff Gelski, "Mondelez Sees Opportunity in 'power Brands,' E-Commerce", Food Business News, February 21, 2017, © SOSLAND PUBLISHING CO.
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Campbell Soup Sales, Profit Slide In 2nd Quarter

February 17, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Campbell Soup Co. posted $205 million in profit – $0.33 a share – in its fiscal second quarter, ended January 29, 2016. Profit was down 61 percent ($0.85 a share) from the same period last year. Net sales were $2.171 billion, a decline of one percent from the second quarter last year. Operating income during the first six months of fiscal 2017 of Campbell’s Global Biscuits and Snacks business was $247 million, a drop of three percent from the first half of fiscal 2016. Sales were $1.351 billion, up one percent. CEO Denise Morrison, noting her disappointment in second quarter sales, said she was nevertheless encouraged by the performance of several Campbell businesses, including Pepperidge Farm snacks, mainly Goldfish crackers and Milano cookies. But sandwich bread sales, including Pepperidge Farm brands, were down. [ Image credit: © Pepperidge Farm ]
Josh Sosland, "Sandwich Bread Sales under Pressure at Pepperidge", BakingBusiness.com, February 17, 2017, © Sosland Publishing Co.
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Retail Food Chain Says All House Brands Are Non-GMO

February 17, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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. [ Image credit: © Earth Fare ]
"Earth Fare Unveils New Non-GMO Product Line, Continues Decades-Long Commitment to Healthy Food", News release, Earth Fare, February 17, 2017, © Earth Fare
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Waitrose Supermarket Chain Is In The Avant Garde Of Food Waste Handling

February 17, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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)
Adele Peters, "These Grocery Delivery Trucks Are Powered By Food Waste", Fast Company, February 17, 2017, © Mansueto Ventures, LLC
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Strong Performance For Unilever Indonesia In 2016

February 16, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Unilever Indonesia achieved a 9.8 percent in net revenue growth in 2016 along with a 9.2 percent in net income. Revenue increased from Rp 36.5 trillion in 2015 to Rp 40 trillion last year, with its home and personal care business segment accounting for 69 percent of total sales. Unilever Indonesia chief financial officer Tevilyan Yudhistira Rusli said the company's overall business performance had been “quite outstanding” and is supported by their product innovation, including last year's launch of Molto and Sunsilk brands. Unilever Indonesia has set aside €115 million for factory expansion, mostly for production of home and personal care products. [Image credit © Unilever]
"Unilever Indonesia's Net Income Surges 9.2% in 2016", Jakarta Globe, February 16, 2017, © Jakarta Globe
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Hain Celestial Expands Premium Soup Offerings In U.K. With Acquisition

February 16, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Organic and natural food marketer Hain Celestial is expanding its presence in the premium soup market in the U.K. with the acquisition of Yorkshire Provender Limited. The company’s premium branded soup and other products are sold in retailers, on-the-go food outlets and food service providers. Hain owns the New Covent Garden Soup Co. and Cully & Sully brands in the U.K. In 2016 Yorkshire Provender (North Yorkshire) had approximately £6 million ($7.5 million) in net sales and is expected to be accretive to Hain Celestial's (Lake Success, N.Y.) earnings in fiscal year 2018. [ Image credit: © Yorkshire Provender ]
"Hain Celestial Announces Strategic Acquisition", News release, Hain Celestial, February 16, 2017, © Hain Celestial
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“Guilt Free” Maybe, But Are Those PepsiCo Drinks And Snacks Healthful?

February 15, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
After PepsiCo reported that last quarter sales rose three percent for snacks and one percent for beverages, CEO Indra Nooyi told securities analysts that the company is betting that "positive" ingredients such as grains, fruits and vegetables will drive growth. The company calls foods with these ingredients “guilt free,” despite other questionable additives. Salty baked Lay’s potato chips are dubbed guilt free, as are Naked beverages, some of which are packed with sugary, fruit-based calories. Quaker’s 180-calorie "breakfast cookie" is loaded with fat and sugar along with the oats. Nooyi said 45 percent of PepsiCo’s revenues come from products designated “guilt free.” And despite pledges from Coke, Pepsi and Dr Pepper in 2014 to cut the number of calories from drinks by 20 percent by 2024, beverage-based calories declined by only 0.2 percent in 2015 – less than in previous years. [ Breakfast Cookie; image credit: © Quaker Oats Co. ]
Candice Choi, "Pepsico Sees Growth From "Guilt-Free" Items Like Baked Lay's", Associated Press, February 15, 2017, © The Associated Press
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Tesco Moves To Make Sure Promo Prices Are Updated

February 13, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
UK retailer Tesco is making sure that prices on stores’ on-shelf promotions are up to date. Tesco took the step following a story by an undercover reporter broadcast by the BBC Inside Out TV program. According to the reporter, promotional offers at two-thirds of Tesco stores visited had prices were out of date and not honored at the checkout. Also, some stores failed to remove old labels on the shelves even after reporters told them of the discrepancies.
Ian Quinn, "Tesco Orders Promotion Checks after Damning BBC Probe", The Grocer, February 13, 2017, © William Reed Business Media Ltd
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Reckitt Benckiser Plans To Buy Mead Johnson Nutrition Company

February 10, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Reckitt Benckiser Group PLC said it plans to buy Mead Johnson Nutrition Company. Total value of the proposed acquisition deal is $17.9 billion, or $90 per share in cash, valuing Mead Johnson’s equity at $16.6 billion. Including Mead Johnson’s net debt, the deal is expected to help RB become a global leader in the consumer health market.
"Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc to Acquire Mead Johnson Nutrition Company", Reckitt Benckiser, February 10, 2017, © Reckitt Benckiser Group plc
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McDonald’s Experiments With Fast-Food Versions Of Regional Favorites

February 10, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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. [ Crab Sandwich, image credit: © McDonald's ]
"McDonald's Tests Crab on Sourdough", News release, QSR Web, February 10, 2017, © Networld Media Group, LLC
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