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McDonald’s Corporate Turnaround Plans Anger Franchisees

January 20, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
A survey of McDonald’s restaurant franchisees has found many disgruntled by the marketing and promotional moves the company has made to regain customers and boost sales. Sales have improved – thanks in part to the all-day breakfast gambit – but franchisees complain their profit is down because they’ve been forced into a “price war” with competitors. The company recently introduced a ”McPick 2” promotion offering two of four menu choices for $2. It pleases customers, but angers franchisees.
Hayley Peterson, "McDonald's new plan to dominate fast food is angering some franchisees", Business Insider, January 20, 2016, © Business Insider Inc.
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McDonald’s Tries New Menu Items In Japan

January 19, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
McDonald’s fans in Japan will find an unusual sweet treat on their menus this month. The company is adding French fries slathered in “chocolate with cacao flavor and white milk chocolate” sauces. The company reportedly has no plans to introduce the “McChoco Potato” in the U.S., however. As McDonald’s seeks an investor to buttress its money-losing Japanese subsidiary, it has been experimenting with its menus in the country. This month it added the “chicken cheese burger” and the “cream stew pie” filled with potatoes, mushrooms, bacon, and onions.
Michal Addady, "McDonald’s Is Adding This Weird Topping to Its Fries", Fortune, January 19, 2016, © Time Inc.
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Unilever Reports Strong Profit Growth In 2015

January 19, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
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.
"Unilever 2015 Full Year Results: Consistent Profitable Growth In Volatile Markets", Unilever, January 19, 2016, © Unilever
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Artificial Colors, Flavors, Mostly Gone From General Mills Cereals

January 19, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
The General Mills Cereal Division announced that three quarters of its breakfast cereal products are free of artificial colors and flavors from artificial sources. The company said it just unveiled seven old favorites – Trix, Reese’s Puffs, Cocoa Puffs, Golden Grahams, Chocolate Cheerios, Frosted Cheerios and Fruity Cheerios – with new recipes that contain no artificial colors, flavors, or high fructose corn syrup. A new ad campaign, dubbed “Again,” touts the recipe changes while encouraging consumers to love General Mills cereals Again. The company has been working for more than a year trying to figure out how to get rid of the offending colors and flavors ”across some pretty big cereals where color was central to the product identity.” The process included investigating 69 colors and 86 flavors
Ashley Halladay, "Cereal team celebrates milestone", News release, General Mills, January 19, 2016, © General Mills Inc.
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PepsiCo To Market Doritos In India

January 18, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
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.
Ratna Bhushan, "PepsiCo to launch fastest growing snacks Doritos next week", The Economic Times, January 18, 2016, © Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd.
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Will Coke’s New Advertising Them Reverse Bleak Sales Trend?

January 18, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Coca-Cola is launching an ad campaign with a new theme – “Taste the Feeling” – in hopes of revving up sales in an era of anti-sugary drink hoopla. The ten-year slide in soda consumption continues: Coke’s sales rose only one percent in the first nine months of 2015. New ads will feature the refreshing taste of Coke and relate stories about special Coke-centered moments in life. The challenge for the company is to somehow counter the flood of criticism that ties sugary sodas to some major health woes, including obesity, diabetes and tooth decay. Coca-Cola says the criticism is unfair because soda drinking makes up only a small part of peoples’ diets.
Mike Esterl et al., "Coke Looks to Get Pop From New Ad Campaign", The Wall Street Journal, January 18, 2016, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Chipotle Says It Has Righted Its Food Safety Ship

January 14, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Battered by a loss of customers and sales, a severe drop in stock value, and facing a bundle of lawsuits and even a federal criminal probe, Chipotle Mexican Grill says it has taken the necessary steps to ensure that the spate of foodborne illness outbreaks at its restaurants since July 2015 does not continue. The company hired a food safety specialist who says all of his recommendations have now been adopted, and the risk of further food contamination is now at “a level of near zero.” But Seattle-based attorney Bill Marler, who is handling several of the lawsuits against Chipotle, believes that the company still doesn’t know “how to embrace food safety with the same zeal they’ve shown for the other things” – i.e., being local, organic and fresh – “they’re striving for.”
James B. Stewart, "Chipotle’s New Mantra: Safe Food, Not Just Fresh", The New York Times, January 14, 2016, © The New York Times Company
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General Mills Buys Meat-Fruit Snack Maker

January 14, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
General Mills has acquired premium meat snacks manufacturer EPIC Provisions, based in Austin, Texas. The company said EPIC will operate under GM’s recently-purchased Annie’s business, a natural and organic food company that sells more than 145 products. The original EPIC meat, fruit, and nut bar — developed by two competitive athletes who wanted to add more protein to their diet —created a unique snacking category, according to General Mills. EPIC Bars come in several flavors, including bison bacon cranberry, beef habanero cherry, chicken sesame BBQ, and pulled pork pineapple.
"Premium meat snacks business expands company’s natural and organic portfolio", News release, General Mills, January 14, 2016, © General Mills
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Unilever Receives Top-Employer Honors From China's Top Employers Institute

January 14, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
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 named top employer in China", Unilever, January 14, 2016, © Unilever
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Brazilian Yogurt Maker Joins General Mills Family

January 14, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
General Mills has acquired a family-owned dairy products company headquartered in Ribeirão Claro, Paraná, Brazil.  Carolina Administração e Participações Societárias Ltda., (Carolina) was established in 1969 and is primarily known for its regional yogurt brands, Carolina, VeryGurt and Gluck. The company sources high-quality milk from farmers in the dairy-rich region of Paraná, and markets more than 20 different dairy product lines.  The company has significant regional operating, sales and distribution infrastructure, according to General Mills. A GM spokesman said Brazil is “a strategic market for General Mills, and yogurt is a growing category.”
"General Mills announces acquisition of Brazilian yogurt maker Carolina", News release, General Mills, January 14, 2016, © General Mills
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Hain Celestial Expands Fruit Product Marketing In Europe With Acquisition

January 14, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Organic and natural products company Hain Celestial Group said its British subsidiary has acquired Orchard House Foods Limited, a U.K. marketer of prepared fruit, juices, fruit desserts and ingredients. Founded in 1985, the company supplies retailers, on-the-go food outlets, food service providers and manufacturers. Hain Celestial said the acquisition provides the ability to expand fruit product offerings into continental Europe, as well as new product development with cold pressed juice and branded fruit product offerings in the U.K.  It will also provide sales and operating efficiencies in fruit procurement around the world. Orchard House expects sales of $60 and $65 million in 2016.
"Hain Celestial Announces Accretive Strategic Acquisition", News release, Hain Celestial, January 14, 2016, © Hain Celestial
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Africa’s Beleagured Cocoa Farmers Get Needed Help From Chocolate Makers

January 13, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Cocoa production is down, especially in Ghana, and prices have soared by 40 percent in the last four years. Worse, this frustrating situation has occurred at a time when demand is up in markets like China and India, where chocolate treats have always been considered unaffordable. To rectify the problem, Mondelez and 10 big chocolate producers and cocoa processors are investing a billion dollars in cocoa-sustainability programs to boost crop productivity. Cocoa production in Ghana in 2014 fell 18 percent from 2013 earlier, thanks to disease, dry weather and shifts in government policy. Ivory Coast’s cocoa harvest increased 2.8 percent. Global demand for chocolate rose 0.6 percent in 2015, but production fell 3.9 percent to 4.2 million tons.
Alexandra Wexler, "Chocolate Makers Fight a Melting Supply of Cocoa", The Wall Street Journal, January 13, 2016, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Marketers Face Growing Consumer Efforts To Avoid Ads

January 11, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
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.
Jack Neff, "The Big Agenda: What Lies Ahead for Marketing in an Increasingly Ad-Free Future", Advertising Age, January 11, 2016, © Crain Communications
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Nestle To Help Bring Microbiome Therapeutic Products To Market

January 11, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Nestlé announced it would participate in commercialization efforts for the Ecobiotics line of microbiome drugs being tested in clinical trials by Seres Therapeutics. Nestlé Health Science has purchased an equity stake in Seres (Cambridge, Mass.), which is developing the microbiome products for the treatment of Clostridium difficile bacterial infections of the digestive system, and for inflammatory bowel disease. The various products, based on microbial organisms, target the 100 trillion microorganisms that live within the human body. They are in different phases of human testing. C. diff infections are most common in people 65 years and older, and in immune-compromised patients treated with antibiotics for underlying infections.
"Nestlé Health Science Makes Latest Move In Breakthrough Microbiome Field", Nestlé Health Science, January 11, 2016, © Nestlé Health Science
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Campbell’s Supports Mandatory GMO Food Labeling

January 7, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
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.
Denise Morrison, "Why We Support Mandatory National GMO Labeling", News release, Campbell Soup Company, January 07, 2016, © Campbell Soup
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EU Authorizes Digestive Health Claims Of Company’s Inulin Ingredient

January 1, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
The EU Commission has approved a digestive health claim for a functional ingredients manufacturer’s chicory root inulin fiber product. German company Beneo says its customers may now use the claim: "chicory inulin contributes to normal bowel function by increasing stool frequency." In addition, the 13.5 authorization also applies to general health-related well-being claims under article 10.3. These include "promotes digestive health" or “supports a healthy and balanced digestive system." The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) reviewed the company’s scientific proofs, which included six human intervention studies that proved that consumption of Orafti Inulin increases stool frequency and supports a healthy digestive system.
"Authorised 13.5 health claim with proprietary use for Beneo’s inulin promoting digestive health", News release, BENEOnews.com, January 01, 2016, © Beneo
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Oprah Winfrey’s Midas Touch Reverses Weight Watchers’ Stock Slide

December 31, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
An endorsement, investment, and advertisement from Oprah Winfrey were apparently just the shot in the arm that Weight Watchers needed to reverse its recent stock slide. In October, Winfrey bought $40 million worth of the company’s stock after it announced its new mission: healthy weight loss and wellbeing, rather than deprivation. Her investment doubled in value almost immediately. Now the company’s brand ambassador, Winfrey also launched a video campaign on Twitter targeting her 30 million followers. The stock climbed 30 percent after the campaign began. Winfrey’s stock is now valued at about $150 million, a 375 percent gain.
Jessica Goodfellow, "Weight Watchers stock prices soar following Oprah Winfrey campaign", The Drum, December 31, 2015, © Carnyx Group Ltd
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Tetley To Spend Millions To Revive Tea Market, And Its Sales

December 30, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Tea company Tetley has launched a marketing campaign designed to change British shopper attitudes toward the beverage, reverse market sluggishness, and return itself to its former market leadership role. The $14.5 million campaign begins with television ads running from January to March whose purpose is to “create desire for tea” while nourishing consumer engagement at every step of the “shopper journey.” The “It Starts with Tea” campaign will play out in print, digital and social media, as well as in store and in-depot.
"Tetley announces big marketing plans for 2016", Food & Drink Innovation Network, December 30, 2015, © Food & Drink Innovation Network
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Special K Backs Away From Dieting Message, Now Stresses Nutrition

December 29, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
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.”
Jessica Wohl, "Special K Recipe for 2016: New Cereal Promoted By New Agency", Advertising Age, December 29, 2015, © Crain Communications
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Costco Promises To Sell Only Cage-Free Eggs

December 28, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Costco announced plans to sell only cage-free eggs. According to Costco, the retailer expects to sell more than 1 billion cage-free eggs in calendar year 2016. It added that while in 2006, only 2 percent of the eggs it sold were cage-free, the figure now stands at 26 percent. Costco said it will take time before all the eggs it sells are cage-free; however, the Humane Society of the United States commended the company and said it believes Costco can achieve that goal quickly.
Deena Shanker, "After months of pressure, Costco commits to a cage-free egg supply", Quartz, December 28, 2015, © Quartz
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Coca-Cola Embroiled In Ethics Controversy Over Donations To Colorado Researcher

December 28, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
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.
Michal Addady, "Coca-Cola Paid $550K to Head of Anti-Obesity Group", Fortune, December 28, 2015, © Time Inc.
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Retail Industry Is Experiencing A Quiet, But Profound, Makeover

December 24, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Transformative new technologies, hotter and more exotic restaurant spices, and major shifts in food and consumer goods buying patterns will be the key themes in retail in 2016, according to experts. Restaurants will exploit the Sriracha hot sauce phenomenon with ever spicier concoctions, but also with more exotic ones: Indian ghost pepper from India, Southeast Asian sambal, Korean gochujang, and North Africa’s harissa, sumac and dukka. Millennials are gravitating away from status-badge consumer goods toward unique brands from niche and specialty retailers. Consumers can expect to see ever wider implementation of mobile wallet schemes that make the checkout experience super-fast. And brick-and-mortar stores, including grocers, will adapt dynamic pricing technologies – used routinely online – that allow prices to be changed quickly depending on demand, inventory levels and sell-by dates.
Sarah Halzack , "From secret entrances to the next Sriracha, here’s what experts predict will be hot in retail in 2016", The Washington Post, December 24, 2015, © The Washington Post
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No More Advertising Nesquik As Nutritious For Kids, Britain’s ASA Orders Nestle

December 23, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
The U.K.’s Advertising Standards Authority has forced Nestlé to drop ads for its Nesquik flavored drink powders that tout it as a “great start to the day” and nutritious for children. At the request of the Children’s Food Campaign, the ASA specifically banned Nesquik bunny ads that promote a product to children that is loaded with sugar (11 g, or 23 g when served with a cup of milk). Nestlé acknowledges the bunny ads appeal to children, but the message is to eat a balanced diet. The ASA has supported Nesquik’s nutritional claims in the past, but anti-sugar trends have begun to hold sway. The Nesquik ads were found on Asda’s house milk bottles.
Charlotte Mceleny, "Nestlé can no longer claim Nesquik is a ‘great start to the day’ following ASA ruling", The Drum, December 23, 2015, © Carnyx Group Ltd
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Upgrade Of U.K. Ice Cream Factory Boosts Production, Reduces Carbon Footprint

December 22, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
The U.K.’s R&R Ice Cream has upgraded its Leeming Bar factory in North Yorkshire that boosts production capacity by more than 20 percent. The $37 million renovation of the factory results in 22 production lines that will produce about 250 million liters of ice cream annually. Effluent treatment capacity will increase by 150 percent to 1.5 million liters a day. The 30,000 tons of waste produced at the plant will be used at a local anaerobic digester producing biomethane for a gas network. The factory produces R&R’s brands Cadbury, Fab, Oreo, Rowntrees and Yoomoo, and own label products for other major U.K. companies.
Simon Gwynn, "R&R Ice Cream completes £25m update at Leeming Bar factory", The Grocer, December 22, 2015, © William Reed Business Media Ltd
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ISO Releases Flow Cytometry Standard For Dairy Bacteria Quantification

December 22, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
The International Standards Organization (ISO) has released a standard for using flow cytometry to count lactic acid bacteria in fermented products, starter cultures, and probiotics in dairy products. The standard was developed by a scientist at Danish food ingredients provider Chr. Hansen. Flow cytometry is used to assess the quality and stability of cultures and to optimize production processes. The scientist who developed the standard says it provides “a blue stamp of its validity, speeds up quality control and facilitates trade of probiotics and starter cultures.”
"Chr. Hansen scientist spearheads development of new international standard for counting bacteria", News release, Chr. Hansen, December 22, 2015, © Chr. Hansen Holding A/S
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Nestle Expects To Use Only Cage-Free Eggs By 2020

December 22, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Nestlé announced it will use only cage-free eggs in its food products within five years. The company uses 20 million pounds of eggs a year to make three brands of ice cream, Toll House cookie dough, Buitoni pasta, lean Cuisine and Stouffer’s breakfast foods. The move to using exclusively cage-free eggs isa response to consumers, the company says, that establishes “a precedent for farm animal welfare." Nestlé is also developing pilot projects with suppliers and the World Animal Protection group to create a roadmap for sourcing cage-free eggs in Europe and elsewhere.
"Nestlé to Use 100% Cage-Free Eggs for All U.S. Food Products by 2020", News release, Nestlé, December 22, 2015, © Nestlé
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What’s Hot In The Whole Foods Market Crystal Ball Of Food Trends

December 21, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Joining other end-of-year clairvoyants of the comestibles industry, Whole Foods Market experts have created a list of hot trends to keep an eye on in 2016 (and look for on Whole Foods shelves). At the top is uncommon protein sources, including ”once-overlooked” meat cuts like sirloin top, pork T-bone chop and Denver steaks, and seafood like farmed paiche and wild-caught blue catfish. The availability of these exotic fish will ease pressure on salmon, tuna, and shrimp. Other key trends: wine in a can, plant-based ingredients (like quinoa protein) in hair care products, fermented foods and products, non-GMO-fed verified foods, non-tomato heirloom products, alternative and wheat-free flours, and lots of bizarre flavors from Korea, Japan, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East.
"Whole Foods Market Experts Forecast Top 10 Food Trends For 2016", News release, Whole Foods Market, December 21, 2015, © Whole Foods Market
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Food Ingredients Firm Acquires Purple Corn Maker Suntava

December 17, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Healthy Food Ingredients (Fargo, N.D.) has acquired the plant-based ingredients maker Suntava (Afton, Minn.). Suntava is known for its proprietary purple corn (a natural non-GMO hybrid) used in functional foods, beverages, nutraceuticals, and cosmeceuticals, and as a natural colorant for food and beverages. It is the first U.S. company to commercialize antioxidant-rich purple corn, derived from ancient strains of Andean maize. The purple corn is available as whole kernel, flour, meal, grits, masa flour, IQF, and freeze dried fresh. HFI provides non-GMO, organic, gluten free, and identity preserved ingredients to the food, pet food, and food service industries.
"Healthy Food Ingredients Acquires Suntava", Prepared Foods, December 17, 2015, © BNP Media
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Unilever Expected To Appoint Leena Nair As Global HR Boss, Reports Say

December 15, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
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.
Chaitali Chakravarty & Sagar Malviya, "Unilever likely to name Leena Nair as its global HR chief", Economic Times, December 15, 2015, © Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd.
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Wheat Farmers To Benefit From Ardent Mills' Organic Acreage Initiative

December 15, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Banking on continuing strong demand for organic wheat-based products, food ingredient company Ardent Mills has launched an initiative to help wheat farmers double their organic acreage within three years while providing them a “robust supply chain.” Demand for organic wheat flour is growing not only among consumers, but also among restaurants and food companies. Ardent calls this a “significant opportunity for growers” to take advantage of an emerging market and add value to their wheat production by becoming organically certified. Ardent has been selling organic wheat flour since 1996.
"Ardent Mills to Help Farmers Double U.S. Organic Wheat Acres by 2019", News release, Ardent Mills, December 15, 2015, © Ardent Mills
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Merger Of Dow And DuPont Would Create Three Independent Companies

December 14, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
An all-stock “merger of equals” – massive chemical firms Dow and DuPont – would lead to the creation of three independent, global publicly-held companies. The new entities would include a pure-play agriculture company, a pure-play material science company; and a specialty products company. The combined company would be called DowDuPont and have a total market cap of about $130 billion. According to Dow and DuPont, the new agriculture company will unite the current seed and crop protection businesses. The new specialty products company will include DuPont’s nutrition and health, industrial biosciences, safety & protection and electronics & communications businesses, as well as the Dow electronic materials business.
"DuPont and Dow to Merge", Nutraceuticals World, December 14, 2015, © Rodman Media
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Unilever CEO Polman Commends World Leaders For Paris Agreement On Climate Change

December 12, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
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.
"Paul Polman praises historic Paris Agreement", Unilever, December 12, 2015, © Unilever
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Nestle’s Bulcke Optimistic About Growth, But Warns Country About Pay Limits

December 12, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
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.”
"Nestlé CEO says won't revise targets, leaves board move open –paper", Reuters, December 12, 2015, © Thomson Reuters
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Walmart Canada Launches Private-Label Line Of Organic Foods

December 11, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Walmart Canada launched Great Value Organics, its private label line of affordable organic food products. Described by Walmart Canada’s senior director brand management as designed to help customers save money and eat healthy foods, the product line includes flours, breakfast oats, seeds for salads, and yogurts. Canada Organic Trade Association director general Matthew Holmes welcomed the launch of the product line.
Mark Cardwell, "Walmart’s newest private label line is all about organic growth", Canadian Grocer, December 11, 2015, © Rogers Media Inc.
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Coca-Cola Revamps N. American Operations

December 8, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Instead of simply hiring a new president of sparkling brands and strategic marketing (N. America) to replace exiting Wendy Clark, Coca-Cola is revamping North American operations entirely. The new USA Operations unit will have responsibility for U.S. beverage (sparkling, carbonated and still) brand strategy, marketing and integrated content. The unit will also oversee retail sales and franchise operations. Hendrik Steckhan of Coke's German business will manage USA Operations, and Stuart Kronauge will assume responsibility for marketing major brands like Coca-Cola and Sprite, as well as water, tea, and coffee. Ivan Pollard will lead strategic marketing.
E.J. Schultz, "Coke Shuffles Management in Wake of Wendy Clark Exit", Advertising Age, December 08, 2015, © Crain Communications
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Grocery Manufacturers Association Finds Growing Support For SmartLabel Initiative

December 8, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Unilever, Procter & Gamble, and Clorox are among the 30 companies supporting the SmartLabel product ingredient transparency initiative of the Grocery Manufacturers Association. Designed as a digital solution to provide shoppers with information about product ingredients, SmartLabel will include detailed data on ingredients and other product attributes. As part of the companies’ support for the initiative, they are launching SmartLabel-equipped products in late 2015 and early 2016, with some 30,000 products expected to come with the labeling system by end of 2017.
Mike Troy, "Virtual product labels start to hit shelves", Drug Store News, December 08, 2015, © Drug Store News
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An Inside Look At McDonald’s Ingredients, Food Sources

December 8, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Battered by weak sales and a somewhat tarnished consumer image, McDonald’s is fighting back with a marketing campaign reassuring consumers that its food meets transparency standards. The company is responding to consumer-submitted questions about ingredient sources and processing methods. For example, most of the beef comes from the U.S. Its eggs are not free-range or organic, however. To keep costs down, they come from caged chickens, which are cheaper. How close is McDonald’s cheese to being plastic? Not close at all, the company says. The “major ingredient” is natural cheese plus emulsifiers. And, yes, McNuggets frying oil contains a small amount of dimethlypolysiloxane, which keeps the oil from foaming and spattering. The stuff is also used to make putty, caulks and cosmetics.
Hayley Peterson, "Everything you ever wanted to know about how McDonald's food is made", Business Insider, December 08, 2015, © Business Insider Inc.
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Kellogg Strengthens Greenhouse Gas Emissions Goals

December 8, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
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."
"Kellogg Company Announces New, Ambitious Global Greenhouse Gas Emission Goals Across Manufacturing and Agricultural Supply Chains", News release, Kellogg Company, December 08, 2015, © Kellogg Co.
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Dunkin’ Donuts Promises 100% Cage-Free Eggs Within Nine Years

December 7, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Dunkin’ Donuts has clarified and strengthened its commitment to using only cage-free eggs in its U.S. menu. Earlier this year it said it would source ten percent of the eggs used in its breakfast sandwiches from cage-free sources by the end of 2016. In December, the donut chain and the Humane Society of the U.S. announced that the company would serve only cage-free eggs by 2025. The company also promised to “map” its worldwide egg supply chain to see whether it is feasible to transition to 100 percent cage-free eggs globally.
"Dunkin' Donuts, With The Humane Society Of The United States, Announces Timeline For Sourcing 100 Percent Cage-Free Eggs", News release, The Humane Society of the U.S., December 07, 2015, © The Humane Society of the United States
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Weight Watchers Hopes New Strategy Will Help It Gain Members And Revenue

December 6, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
The 52-year-old Weight Watchers diet company, which has experienced a steady slide in members, sales, and stock price, has figured out that though middle-aged women want to lose weight, they want to do it by lifestyle change, rather than deprivation. So, with Oprah Winfrey’s money and advice, that is what the company is now providing. Instead of a diet plan, Weight Watchers has launched “Beyond the Scale,” a program offering revamped food guidelines, a focus on fitness, and motivational tools to “find and fuel inner strength.” The new program has worked so far for Oprah, who has lost 20 pounds since her $43 million investment. The company hopes it works for itself, too, but in reverse. It needs to gain back the 1.4 million members – and several billion dollars in revenue – lost since 2013.
Ellen Byron, "Weight Watchers’ Plan: Don’t Call It a ‘Diet’", The Wall Street Journal, December 06, 2015, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Hershey’s Kisses To Carry First Scannable SmartLabel

December 4, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Holiday packages of Hershey’s Kisses will carry the SmartLabel QR code (tagged “Scan to Learn What’s Inside”), the first product that attempts to fulfill the American consumer’s desire for more transparency in food and beverage ingredients. The SmartLabel, sponsored by the Grocery Manufacturers Association, allows consumers with smartphones to scan a QR code on product packaging to access a webpage or speak to a company’s customer-service hotline. Ingredient information is available for nearly 30,000 participating products, from laundry detergents to cat food. Besides required basic nutritional information, the label discloses allergens, third-party certifications, GMOs, and extent of compliance with responsible sourcing, “fair trade” or “dolphin safe.”
Dale Buss, "Hershey Pioneers SmartLabel QR Codes to Promote Transparency", Brand Channel, December 04, 2015, © Interbrand
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Strategic Moves Are Paying Off For Kroger

December 4, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Grocery retailer Kroger, second only to Walmart in sales, recently reported strong revenue and profit performance, including the 48th consecutive quarter of higher same store sales and 7th consecutive quarter of earnings growth. All this despite a stagnating retail – including grocery – environment. The reason for Kroger’s continuing success can be traced to several key strategies. The company was among the first traditional grocers to apply customer data analytics to keep up with shopping trends. It has bet heavily on the move to natural, organic and “locally grown” foods. It has borrowed heavily from Walmart’s playbook. Some of its stores now look like Walmart supercenters, featuring high-margin general merchandise, health clinics, in-store pharmacies, and a mix of private-label and premium products.
Shelly Banjo, "Kroger Will Save the Grocery Store", Bloomberg Gadfly, December 04, 2015, © Bloomberg L.P.
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Heinz, French’s Duke It Out Over Slow-Growing Condiments Business

December 4, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Mustard market leader French’s Food is launching an all-out attack on Heinz and other condiment rivals, touting the new healthfulness of its product line. Over the past year, the company has been quietly removing preservatives, artificial flavors and high fructose corn syrup from its more than 30 mustard and ketchup products. The first salvo in the attack will be the placement of a “promise seal” on squeeze bottles publicizing the healthy ingredients. Early in 2016 it will launch a $25 million television, print and radio marketing barrage. The two companies have been pummeling each other all year with strategic product introductions. Industry watchers say they have little choice: the $24 billion condiments business will only grow 2.4 percent over the next five years.
Lisa Fickenscher, "French’s takes aim at Heinz in condiments war", New York Post, December 04, 2015, © NYP HOLDINGS, INC.
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Unilever Uses Company’s Crowdsourcing Engine To Power Sustainability Foundry

December 3, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Crowdsourcing software vendor Spigit says it is working with Unilever Foundry to help the company attract and connect innovators in sustainability. California-based Spigit is the Software-as-a-Solution (SaaS) platform that provides a single entry-point and connection mechanism for individuals, start-up companies and corporations who want to partner with Unilever Foundry and tackle its “challenges.” Applicants submit ideas to: improve global nutrition, imagine the “shower of the future,” boost access to toilet and sanitation solutions, and reinvent the laundry process to use less water. Since its founding in June 2015, Unilever Foundry IDEAS has received 300 proposals from entrepreneurs around the world.
"Spigit Powers Unilever Foundry IDEAS Innovation Platform", News release, Spigit, December 03, 2015, © Spigit
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E. Coli Outbreak May Sabotage Chipotle’s “Buy Local” Tradition

December 3, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Thanks to a severe E. coli outbreak, Chipotle Mexican Grill is making some major changes in its supply chain practices that could adversely affect its seven-year-old “buy local” commitment. The outbreak, whose cause has not been pinpointed, sickened 43 people and led to the temporary closing of restaurants in six states for deep cleaning. The health scare has hurt the company’s stock price, which dropped 11 percent in October and 9.5 percent in November, and slowed sales. In response, Chipotle has tightened safety standards, especially ingredients testing, for produce suppliers. Smaller local suppliers may not be able to meet the elevated standards, the company acknowledged, putting a crimp in its promise of using food grown locally.
Leslie Patton, "Chipotle Tightens Standards Amid E. Coli Outbreak, Putting Buy-Local Pledge in Jeopardy", Bloomberg Business, December 03, 2015, © Bloomberg L.P.
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Unilever’s Dove Brand Benefits From Equity In Indian Market

December 2, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Unilever’s Dove moisturizing soap brand has quietly, yet steadily, expanded its product portfolio with surprising success in India. The idea was to establish and build the Dove brand equity, with its key benefit of “moisturization,” then expand on that equity. Introduced as a somewhat expensive soap bar in 1997, Dove has built a family of products without much fanfare. Indian consumers have gradually gravitated to them, attracted by the “moisturization” benefit that extends to each product in the line. Already the top premium soap, the expanded Dove line now includes shampoo (No. 2), conditioner (No. 1), body lotion and body wash.
Ravi Balakrishnan, "Dove's meteoric rise from 30 to 4 in the 'Most Trusted Brands' list decoded", Economic Times, December 02, 2015, © Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd.
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Australia’s Blackmores Now Offers Natural Superfood Powders

December 2, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Australian food manufacturer Blackmores is expanding its product line into natural superfoods, including nutritional powders containing cacao, chia, matcha green tea, coconut water, super greens and wild blueberry. All of the products in the company’s Superfoods + Nature Boost line are fortified with concentrated vitamin C, antioxidants, magnesium and other nutrients. The new line of natural superfoods taps into a desire among Australians for health and wellbeing supported by optimum nutrition, the company says.
R. J. Whitehead, "Blackmores launches fortified superfoods range", FOODnavigator-asia.com, December 02, 2015, © William Reed Business Media SAS
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Fonterra Oceania To Provide Dairy-Based Nutritionals To Infant Formula Maker

November 29, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
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.”
"Bellamy’s forms infant formula alliance with Fonterra", SereLT.com, November 29, 2015, © SereLT.com
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Swiss Chocolate Maker Improves Sustainability Record

November 26, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
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.
"The Barry Callebaut Group – Chocolate Sustainability Report 2014/15", News release, Barry Callebaut, November 26, 2015, © Barry Callebaut
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Will Free Fruit Giveaway Change Customer Attitudes Toward Tesco?

November 25, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Following the lead of an innovative Tesco store manager in Lincolnshire, the British grocery retailer has decided to test market the idea of giving away free fruit to children at 15 of its stores. The stores will take part in a four-week trial during which boxes of apples, bananas and oranges will be placed at entrances for parents to give to children. Though Tesco says the test is based on altruistic intentions, a more practical agenda may be in play. The company is locked in a battle for customers with grocery discounters and online food shopping sites. It is also dealing with some bad press due to an accounting scandal and shopper perceptions of high prices and poor customer service.
Sarah Butler, "Tesco to trial free fruit for children", The Guardian, November 25, 2015, © Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies
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