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Pinnacle Buys Foothold In Healthy Foods Market

November 24, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
In a move to diversify its product line to attract younger shoppers with healthier, less-processed foods, Pinnacle Foods will acquire Boulder Brands for $682 million. The deal, which includes $262 million debt and represents a 9.2 percent premium on Boulder’s November 23 stock price, will give Pinnacle, maker of old traditional brands like Duncan Hines and Vlasic Pickles, an entry into the trendy gluten-free, organic foods market. Boulder makes Udi’s gluten-free pizzas and Evol natural frozen dinners  The Pinnacle-Boulder deal is the latest in a trend. General Mills Inc. last year paid $820 million – a 37 percent premium – for natural and organic snack maker Annie’s Inc.
Annie Gasparro, "Pinnacle Foods to Buy Boulder Brands", The Wall Street Journal, November 24, 2015, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Unilever Sees Failure As Tool For Promoting Innovation

November 23, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Unilever created an experimentation fund for business and innovation ideas that do not go through the usual research processes, according to Unilever senior marketing director Aseem Puri. Speaking at the Campaign Asia-Pacific’s 2015 Marketing Innovation Summit in Singapore, Puri said companies should see failure as opportunities for promoting innovation and entrepreneurship among employees. According to the executive, the company’s Unilever Foundry initiative seeks to promote partnerships with startups in creating and promoting innovations that can disrupt the FMCG market.
Gabey Goh , "Unilever at MIS: Brands must accept failure if they seek to innovate", Campaign Asia Pacific, November 23, 2015, © Campaign Asia-Pacific
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PepsiCo Flexes Its Social Media Muscle With Halloween Cheetos Prank

November 19, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
PepsiCo and smartphone food delivery app Caviar tried a Halloween marketing trick designed to boost awareness of Frito-Lay Cheetos and the app itself. The idea was to videotape the arrival of the Caviar food delivery – along with trickster Cheetos mascot Chester Cheetah – at unsuspecting customer residences, along with free samples of Cheetos. The customers’ startled reactions were then posted to social media sites. It’s not known whether there was any customer backlash, but the idea was to build Caviar name recognition while promoting the snack. An industry observer called it a “perfectly timed scare promotion” and “a great way to create that viral component that has shareable components."
Brielle Jaekel, "Cheetos scares Caviar users in trick-or-treat video series", Mobile Marketer, November 19, 2015, © Napean LLC.
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Upstart Indian FMCG Pins Growth Plans On Consumer Insights

November 18, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A small but ambitious Indian FMCG company with roots in retail believes it may have a marketing edge on the entrenched big brands that dominate the retail universe in the country. Future Group believes that its understanding of Indian needs and preferences will make a big difference. The company has learned that cheaper prices and fancy store displays don’t work as well as consumer insights. Consider body wash, for example, a product that does not sell well. Imported brands tend to be expensive and thick, made for consumers used to taking showers.  Future Group came up with a cheaper product, Think Skin, that is thinner and better suited for use with mugs and buckets. It is now a market leader.
Ravi Balakrishnan, "Can FMCG newbie Future Group take on biggies Britannia & Unilever?", Economic Times, November 18, 2015, © Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd.
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Hershey Kisses And Bars Transition To “Familiar” Ingredients

November 12, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
The Hershey Company announced that, for the 2015 holiday season, it was introducing Kisses and Chocolate Bars made with “simple ingredients” and without artificial flavors. The idea behind the move is to provide consumers with chocolate candies containing ingredients that are “familiar.” The new products are made with fresh milk from Pennsylvania farms, pure cane sugar, natural flavors, and cocoa beans “sourced responsibly from West Africa.” The packages for the simpler chocolates feature the SmartLabel, a mobile tool with a QR code providing product information such as nutrition facts, ingredients, and allergen alerts.
"Hershey’s Kisses Milk Chocolates and Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars with Simple Ingredients Roll Out This Holiday Season", News release, The Hershey Company, November 12, 2015, © The Hershey Company
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KFC Test-Markets Smartphone-Based Home Delivery

November 12, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
KFC has begun testing fried chicken delivery at 60 restaurants in San Francisco and Los Angeles. The company has partnered with food delivery app Door Dash. Customers may order food using their smartphones or the Door Dash Web site. It is expected that the test will expand to Houston, Texas, by the end of the year, bringing the total of stores involved to 100. A KFC delivery initiative failed several years ago, but this is the first time the company is working with a high-tech delivery service.
Sarah Spigelman Richter, "KFC now delivers fried chicken to your doorstep", Mashable, November 12, 2015, © Mashable, Inc.
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Waitrose Unveils Two Customer-Focused Marketing Initiatives

November 12, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
UK retailer Waitrose plans to launch two promotion campaigns. In partnership with sushi bars and counters company Sushi Daily, the retailer will open fresh sushi counters in as many as 50 of its stores across the country. Aimed at consumers looking for delicious and convenient food, Waitrose will offer delivery of on-the-go and food-for-later products. Also, to promote customer loyalty, the company is adding two batches of seasonal lines to its Pick Your Own Offers program for the holiday season.
"Waitrose Announces Two New Customer-Focused Developments", Retail Analysis, November 12, 2015, © IGD Services Limited
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Consumer Acceptance Of Plant-Based Dairy Products Boosts WhiteWave

November 9, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Plant-based dairy company WhiteWave Foods, a spinoff of Dean Foods, is riding a trend of health-conscious shopping and nontraditional diets to increased profits. WhiteWave, maker of almond- and soy-based milk products like Silk, expects adjusted 4th quarter EPS of $0.34 to $0.35. The company also increased the full-year EPS guidance to $1.17 to $1.18 from $1.14-$1.17, beating consensus estimates of $1.15. WhiteWave cited cost leverage, higher productivity, improved commodity and other cost overlaps, and increased contributions from acquisitions as key drivers of better financial performance. Dean Foods, meanwhile, posted a 3rd quarter EPS of $0.30, up from a $0.03 loss year ago, thanks in part to a 30 percent decline in milk costs.
Bill Peters, "WhiteWave, Dean Foods Rise On Cheaper Milk, New Diets", Investor's Business Daily, November 09, 2015, © William O'Neil + Co. Incorporated
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Walmart Slotting Fees Will Hurt Smaller Brands With Little Room To Maneuver

November 9, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Last June Walmart announced it would change payment terms and charge fees, including slotting (shelf space) fees and distribution center fees. It was a setback for smaller marketers and suppliers who, it is felt, may have to compensate for the increased costs by cutting back on innovation and marketing, a bad move because brands need to advertise to survive. Larger suppliers, like P&G and Clorox, have more flexibility. They can pressure their own suppliers and find other ways to trim costs. A former retail executive says the big question for younger, smaller brands is whether to “jump into the Walmart game at all” or figure out some way to build the business through other channels, like Amazon.com.
"Hitting a Wall(mart)", Happi.com, November 09, 2015, © Rodman Media
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Today’s Technologies Thwart The Marketing Message

November 6, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Modern technologies that allow ad-weary consumers to avoid advertising on TV and online have got marketers very worried. One of the biggest, Unilever, is no exception, as one of its media mavens said in a recent podcast. “We’re having genuine issues over how to reach our consumers,” said Babs Rangaiah. Among the technologies impeding efforts to get the message to potential customers are DVRs and ad blocking. Rangaiah, however, says ad blockers may be a cloud with silver lining. They may get advertisers to improve online ads that create a poor user experience, hog bandwidth and sometimes infect devices with malware. To improve the online ad experience, Unilever works directly with platforms (i.e., Google, Facebook) “to create something that’s fit for purpose for today’s world.”
Brian Morrissey, "Unilever’s Babs Rangaiah: 'There’s a crisis in the ad business.'", Digiday, November 06, 2015, © Digiday
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Hain Celestial Reports Strong 1st Quarter Financial Results

November 5, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Organic and natural products company Hain Celestial posted robust first quarter financial results, including $31 million in profit (up 67 percent over a year ago) on net sales of $687 million (up nine percent) increase. The company said both sales and profit were hurt by currency headwinds. CEO Irwin D. Simon said U.S. performance in snacks, yogurt, tea, and personal care brands was strong but “overshadowed by temporary disruptions from some of our distributor and retail customers as well as a decline in grocery brands.” For 2016, the company expects total net sales to reach $3 billion (up 15 percent), and profit per share to increase as much as 20 percent over 2015.
"Hain Celestial Announces Record First Quarter Fiscal Year 2016 Results", News release, Hain Celestial, November 05, 2015, © The Hain Celestial Group, Inc.
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Panera Says Four More Years Until 100% Cage-Free Eggs

November 5, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Noting that it has been working for ten years to “reduce antibiotic use and confinement” of food animals in its supply chain, Panera Bread announced progress among pigs, poultry and beef cattle in 2015. However, it said its laying hens would not be cage-free for another four years. This year, pregnant pig sows would be 100 percent gestation-crate free; all chickens and turkeys used in sandwiches and salads would be raised without antibiotics; and 89 percent of beef cattle would be grass-fed and free range. CEO Ron Shaich said there was more work to do, but “we are within reach of a menu without antibiotics and unnecessary confinement.”
"Panera Bread says it will move to cage-free eggs by 2020", News release, Panera Bread, November 05, 2015, © Panera Bread
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Morrisons Plans To Launch Own Line Of Fresh Sandwich

November 3, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Supermarket company Morrisons said it plans to launch its own line of freshly made sandwiches. Part of the company’s efforts to grab a share of the expanding food-to-go market, the planned launch will involve training around 1,000 staff to make and sell 3 million sandwiches each year. Morrisons said this move would make it the first of the big 4 supermarkets to compete with high street “designer” sandwich chains.
Martyn Leek, "Morrisons takes on fresh sandwich chains with own offer", BakeryInfo.co.uk, November 03, 2015, © William Reed Business Media Ltd
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Unilever Reorganizes Marketing Group In Australia; Announces Departure Of Top Marketing Executives

November 2, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Unilever combined the marketing departments for the company’s personal care and food and home units in Australia. As part of the reorganization, the company’s joint top marketing executives, Andrea Martens and Hugo Verkuil, are leaving Unilever. One of the biggest advertisers in the country, Unilever has a media spending budget of about $57 million, according to Nielsen.
Rosie Baker, "Unilever restructures, combines marketing VP roles into a CMO", AdNews, November 02, 2015, © AdNews
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China’s FMCG Market Growth Slows, Though Online Shopping Is Booming

November 2, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Spending in China’s fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) market slowed in the year that ended in September, growing by only 4.7 percent, according to Kantar Worldpanel. For the third quarter, growth dropped to 2.7 percent, the lowest rate in three years, from 6.6 percent in the second quarter. Growth in hypermarkets, supermarkets and convenience stores grew only 2.4 percent in the third quarter. International retailers continued to struggle: market share slid from 14.5 percent to 13.5 percent. China’s local retailers fared much better. Sun-Art Group boosted market share to 7.5 percent, up from 6.9 percent in the third quarter of 2014. 2014Q3. Online shopping in China rose 37 percent during 2015, spurred by gains in penetration and purchasing frequency.
Jason Yu, "China FMCG market hits a new low growth", Report, Kantar WorldPanel, November 02, 2015, © Kantar WorldPanel
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Unilever Accredited As “Living Wage” Company

November 2, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
The Living Wage Foundation has formally acknowledged that Unilever pays its entire U.K. workforce a living wage. The company is also committed to encouraging its suppliers to pay a living wage. The Foundation says the accreditation of Unilever as a living wage company means that more than a quarter of the Financial Ttimes Stock Index (FTSE) 100 are now part of the living wage movement. More than 2,000 other British businesses voluntarily pay the living wage rate based on the real cost of living in the U.K.
"Unilever signs up to Living Wage Foundation", Press release, Unilever, November 02, 2015, © Unilever
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Panera Pins Profit Future On Success Of Technology Initiatives

October 30, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Panera Bread is determined to boost its sagging profit margins by using technology to streamline ordering, payment and other processes. The keystone of the cost-cutting plan is converting all of its bakeries to the Panera 2.0 initiative – only 100 of its 400 shops have yet to adapt – and so far customer response to rapid pick-up service, delivery to tables, fast-lane kiosks, customizable ordering and mobile payment options, has been positive. Though the company’s sales rose in the third quarter, profit dropped 17 percent because of escalating costs.
Alex Samuely, "Panera stirs up mobile ordering focus as Q3 profits wobble", Mobile Commerce Daily, October 30, 2015, © Napean LLC
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Lidl Launches MSC-Certified Whole Lobster In UK

October 26, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Lidl began selling wild-caught whole lobsters certified by the MSC. Launched in Lidl stores across the UK, the lobsters are sourced from a fisher in New Brunswick, Canada. Lidl has cooperated with the MSC for the past year to expand its range of certified sustainable seafood products. Forty-one percent of its wild seafood products are certified by the MSC, a 24 percent increase from 2014 level, with 100 percent of its fresh wild-caught fish MSC-certified.
Carina Perkins, "Lidl is first UK supermarket to offers MSC-certified lobster with Canadian catch", The Grocer, October 26, 2015, © William Reed Business Media Ltd
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New Malaysian Factory To Produce Popular Ready-To-Drink Breakfasts

October 26, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Nestlé announced the opening of its eighth factory in Malaysia, pushing its total capital investment in the country to $343 million over the last seven years. The new Sri Muda Factory will produce ready-to-drink products, including Milo, Nescafé, and Nestlé Omega Plus, to meet a growing demand for such products domestically and overseas. Nestlé Malaysia’s capital expenditure on manufacturing and distribution capabilities includes about $66 million on the Sri Muda Factory. Milo Nutri G combines the original chocolate and malt ingredients with whole grains to make a “breakfast-on-the-go” packaged in recyclable PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles.
Shah Alam, "Nestlé Positive on Prospects in Malaysia", News release, Nestlé, October 26, 2015, © Nestlé
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Sales Of Diet Colas Are Up In Western Europe

October 25, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Sales of regular cola beverages in Western Europe will probably decline by as much as three percent over the next five years, but sales of diet colas will grow by three percent. This is in sharp contrast to the outlook for diet colas in the U.S., where negative publicity about the potential health dangers of artificial sweeteners, especially aspartame, helped push sales down 18 percent. According to Euromonitor, diet colas are doing well in Western Europe for several reasons, including historically lower carbonates consumption patterns, product innovation and product marketing, and comfort with alternative sweeteners. European consumers feel that consuming moderate levels of artificial sweeteners is safe, having been reassured by a favorable 2013 report from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
Virginia Lee, "Why Are Diet Colas Doing So Well in Western Europe?", Blog, Euromonitor International, October 25, 2015, © Euromonitor
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General Mills Hopes Investing In Small Start-Ups Will Pay Off Big

October 22, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
General Mills has changed the strategy for its internal new venture development unit 301 Inc. The three-year-old unit will emphasize investment in small regional start-ups that have the potential to make big – and innovative – waves in the food industry. The idea is to provide capital to the start-ups to help smooth their way to significant market share. One example of the new strategy involves plant-based food maker Beyond Meat. General Mills took a minority stake in the company two years ago, and since then has helped it solve supply chain challenges. Beyond Meat is working on new products that General Mills hopes will reach grocery shelves early next year.
John Kell, "General Mills is starting a VC for food startups", Fortune, October 22, 2015, © Time Inc.
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Healthy Global Snack Market Continues To Evolve

October 21, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
The sweet and savory snacks market is not going away – it’s actually outperforming the rest of the packaged foods market – but is evolving or “repurposing,” according to Euromonitor. Meat-based snacks like Slim Jims have been “repurposed,” and are now popular among health-conscious consumers and selling much better than potato chips and candy in the U.S. and Europe. Millennials are eating fewer meals, and snacking more, especially on healthful snacks. Some traditional snack and candy companies are responding through acquisitions. Hershey, for example, bought Krave Jerky. And PepsiCo, which has seen major growth in potato and tortilla chip sales in Japan and China, is gradually turning toward healthier snacks to boost U.K. and U.S. sales.
Jack Skelly, "What’s New in Sweet and Savoury Snacks: Opportunities Abound for a New Wave of Products", Blog, Euromonitor International, October 21, 2015, © Euromonitor
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All Subway Meats Will Be Antibiotics-Free By 2016

October 20, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Subway Restaurants has expanded its policy of using only antibiotic-free chicken in its sandwiches and meals to include all meats. The chain will transition to serving only protein from animals that have never been fed antibiotics across all of its 27,000 U.S. restaurants by early 2016. In June 2015, the company said it would remove all artificial colors, flavors and preservatives from its sandwiches, salads, soups and cookies in North America by the end of 2017.
"SUBWAY® Restaurants Elevates Current Antibiotic-Free Policy", News release, SUBWAY, October 20, 2015, © SUBWAY
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Nestlé Toll House Spotlights Baking “Trends” That Use… Premade Cookie Dough!

October 20, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
According to baking products maker Nestlé Toll House, three major baking “trends” are in play in 2015, all identified by Lucien Vendôme, director of culinary innovation, and all using Toll House products. The “speed scratch” trend involves the use of unusual ingredients and premade dough to simplify preparation. “Farmers market inspired baking” uses ingredients that are in season and Toll House dough like Harvest Apple cookie dough. The third trend is termed “tradition reinvented.” To create a “Latin inspired” treat, for example, add corn flour to sugar cookie dough. The baked cookies are then sandwiched around dulce de leche filling and flavored with spice and honey.
"Nestlé Toll House Unveils 2015 Baking Season Trends", News release, Nestlé Toll House, October 20, 2015, © Nestlé Toll House
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Whole Foods Struggle To Meet Growing Demand For Sustainably Sourced And Humanely Raised Meat

October 18, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Demand for sustainable, organic, natural, and humanely raised meat and other foods is growing faster than the production capacity of farmers. Whole Foods meat supplier Sweet Stem Farm’s dispute with the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals highlighted the problems posed by this trend for retailers and their customers. Data from the Organic Trade Association revealed sales of organic products in the United States grew 11 percent in 2014. For its part, sustainable-food restaurant chain Chipotle Mexican Grill dealt with a shortage of sustainably raised pork by pulling off its “carnitas” burrito filling from the menu.
Andrew Martin et al, "Just How Happy Are the Pigs That End Up at Whole Foods?", Bloomberg Business, October 18, 2015, © Bloomberg L.P.
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Marketers Look At Programmatic Media Buying

October 15, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Unilever, Nestle, GlaxoSmithKline, and TUI plan to scale their programmatic media buying approaches with dynamic delivery of creative as part of their efforts to deal with the issue of brands reaching the right audience but with the wrong creative. Marketing experts featured at the recent Ad:Tech conference said programmatic advertising is basically about audience trading; however, marketers and their agencies have yet to fully leverage its potential benefit to create more dynamic creative. For its first attempt at employing the technology, Unilever launched the video “Romeo Reboot” for its Axe brand in Brazil.
Seb Joseph , "Unilever, Nestle, GSK and TUI to scale programmatic ads with dynamic creative", The Drum, October 15, 2015, © Carnyx Group Limited
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Unilever Reports Strong Sales Growth In 3Q 2015

October 15, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Unilever reported sales grew 9.4 percent to €13.4 billion, with a positive currency impact of 2.9 percent, in the third quarter of 2015. Underlying sales rose 5.7 percent, with volume expanding 4.1 percent and price up 1.5 percent. Also, the company saw underlying sales growth of 8.4 percent in emerging markets, with volume higher by 4.8 percent and price up 3.5 percent. For the first nine months of the year, sales grew 11.1 percent to €40.4 billion, with a positive currency impact of 7.6 percent.
"UNILEVER TRADING STATEMENT THIRD QUARTER 2015", Unilever, October 15, 2015, © Unilever
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Innovation Is Key To Unilever’s Bright 3rd Q Sales Picture

October 15, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Unilever says its 3rd quarter sales boomlet is due to success in its innovative ice cream and personal care brands and in its e-commerce business. Sales in the period grew 9.4 percent to £9.9 billion (€13.4 billion), and underlying sales grew 5.7 percent. Sales in Europe grew by 2 percent. Food sales rose 1.6 percent while personal care and refreshment were up 6.2 percent and 8.5 percent respectively. The company said innovations like Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Core helped fuel double digit growth, along with the premium Magnum Pink and Black brand. In addition, e-commerce globally is growing at 20 percent a year and now accounts for seven percent of the overall business.
Leonie Roderick, "Unilever credits beauty and ice cream innovation for Q3 growth", Marketing Week, October 15, 2015, © Centaur Communications Ltd (a member of the Centaur Media plc group)
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HUL Reports Business Grew 5 Percent In September Quarter 2015

October 14, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Hindustan Unilever Limited reported its Domestic Consumer business grew 5 percent, with 7 percent underlying volume growth, for the quarter ending September 30, 2015. Reduction in input costs resulted in cost of goods sold lower by 320 bps. Profit before interest and tax rose 7 percent and PBIT margin improved by 40 bps. Profit after tax before exceptional items rose 1 percent to Rs.970 crores, with net profit at Rs.962 crores.
"HUL RESULTS FOR SEPTEMBER QUARTER 2015", Unilever, October 14, 2015, © Unilever
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Promising – And Delivering – Gluten-Free Cereals Is No Easy Task

October 11, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
General Mills is betting heavily that gluten-free food products – a hot industry trend – will help revive its slumping cereal sales. So it’s no surprise that the company acted quickly when reports started coming in that some Cheerios buyers were experiencing intestinal discomfort, a symptom of celiac disease, an immune response to gluten. Oats, of course, do not contain gluten. But oats mills and cereal manufacturing plants can often be contaminated with wheat, rye or barley flour. General Mills spent tens of millions of dollars to make sure its huge Fridley, Minn., flour mill was itself gluten-free. But the fail-safe systems in place somehow failed. The company last week recalled 1.8 million boxes of Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios made at a plant in Lodi, Calif., after discovering the cereal accidentally contained wheat.
Mike Hughlett , "Cheerios gluten-free misstep prompts quick actions by General Mills", Star Tribune (Minn.), October 11, 2015, © StarTribune
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Grocery Makers In Australia Cut Product Sizes Without Cutting Prices

October 9, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Consumers’ favorite grocery items, such as laundry liquid, deodorants, chips, and chocolates, have shrunk by as much as 30 percent without any corresponding reduction in price, according to News Corp. Australia. Manufacturers’ justification for the reductions include protecting the environment, portion control, and saving local jobs. Consumer advocates, who call such reductions “weight-outs,” claim making more money is manufacturers’ main motivation. Queensland Consumers Association representative Ian Jarratt said downsizing was manufacturers’ attempt at taking advantage of consumers’ focus on total price instead of quantity and unit price. Some of the most significant downsizing incidents include the 30 percent size cut in Unilever’s Omo laundry liquid and the 25 percent cut in Cadbury’s Caramello Koala chocolate product.
John Rolfe, "Honey, they’ve shrunk the groceries! Some popular items now 30 per cent smaller but cost the same", Daily Telegraph, October 09, 2015, © News Limited
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Diet Pepsi Stalwarts Give Thumbs Down To New Sucralose Formula

October 8, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
It’s been a month since PepsiCo’s newly reformulated Diet Pepsi – it’s sweetened with sucralose instead of aspartame – hit store shelves, and its performance so far suggests it’s not going to reverse plummeting industry-wide sales of diet sodas. PepsiCo’s CEO says it’s still too early to judge, but fans of the old formula have been using terms like “yuck” and “unpalatable” to express their aversion on social media. Initial consumer reaction to a change in an established product is often negative, the company says. PepsiCo has received only 3,000 complaints – it expected 9,000 – and nearly 370 positive responses.
Mike Esterl, "New Diet Pepsi Leaves Some Loyalists With Bad Taste", The Wall Street Journal, October 08, 2015, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Campbell’s Jumps Aboard Amazon’s Rocket Ship To The Future

October 7, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Campbell’s is helping Amazon revamp the way we re-order household brands and ask for – and receive – recipes. Campbell’s is testing Amazon Echo, a new speaker system with voice-control technology. Users can use an app called Alexa to ask Echo for several verbal or e-mailed recipes a day from Campbell's Kitchen, the company’s online cooking portal. Though Amazon and Campbell are keeping their product testing cards close to the vest, it seems that Echo complements Amazon Dash, the $5 smart buttons that can be installed around the house to instantly re-order products like beverages, diapers, toilet paper and coffee.
Christopher Heine, "How Campbell's Is Offering Recipes via Amazon's Voice-Control System Say 'hello' to our Jetsons-like future", AdWeek, October 07, 2015, © Adweek
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Chick-fil-A Continues Aggressive Expansion Strategy

October 2, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Chick-fil-A, which ranks third nationally in number of outlets, is accelerating its expansion activities by opening a hundred new restaurants this year. The Atlanta-based chain has more than 1,900 stores in 42 states. The latest outlet will be in New York City, a sign that it wants to expand significantly beyond the South, where it is most heavily concentrated. “We could build restaurants for a long time," says a Chick-fil-A vice president. Though McDonald's (with 14,300 locations) and KFC (with 4,300) are bigger chains, Chick-fil-A restaurants do much better in average sales ($3.2 million). McDonald’s locations average $2.5 million and KFC $960,000.
Candice Choi, "Chick-Fil-A Opening NYC Outpost In National Push", Associated Press, October 02, 2015, © The Associated Press
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Top Employers In Africa Chose For 2016

October 2, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A global HR certification organization has named a group of top performing companies in Africa for 2016. The Top Employers Institute picked eight organizations comprising 61 operations in Africa that symbolize increased investing in talent and best practice to secure superior performance. Among the top employers are multinationals Abbvie, Becton Dickinson, DHL, EY, G4S, Old Mutual, Orange (including Orange Business Services Egypt and Mobinil) and Unilever. The Top Employers Institute annually conducts a certification program in over 100 countries around the world. Selected top employers are allowed to use the certification seal on their official communications.
"Africa’s Top Employers for 2016 announced", Mail & Guardian, October 02, 2015, © Mail & Guardian Online
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Smaller Countries Serve As Innovation Labs For McDonald’s

October 2, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
McDonald’s is determined to reverse the downward trend in same-store sales and get consumers interested in its brand again. To do that it is testing innovations in smaller markets like Canada and Australia where the gamble is less risky and the scale is smaller. The experiments sometimes fail, but some lead to roll-outs, both here and abroad. A significant example is the DIY Create Your Taste digital self-serve station, tested in Australia and now rolling out in the U.S. It will expand the program to 1,400 Canadian locations over the next year. Self-service kiosks and table delivery with dedicated wait staff are part of the plan. The key question for the fast-food chain: can it implement these innovations fast enough to re-engage consumers and re-invigorate the bottom line?
Dale Buss, "McR&D: How McDonald’s Tests Innovations in Canada and Australia", BrandChannel, October 02, 2015, © Interbrand
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Kroger Launches HemisFares Collection Of Quality Food Products From Worldwide Sources

October 1, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Retailer The Kroger Co. introduced HemisFares, a corporate brand of imported food products from the world’s most food-rich regions. Found exclusively at the company’s stores, the collection includes 27 authentic Italian products, with more products from other countries to be added soon, Kroger said. Developed by Kroger in partnership with the best food connoisseurs, the collection comes with unique product packaging designed to highlight the food and the story behind it.
"Kroger Introduces HemisFares", Kroger, October 01, 2015, © SNL Financial LC/ The Kroger Company
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Unilever Pakistan CEO Malik Retires

September 30, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Unilever Pakistan Limited announced CEO Ehsan Malik’s retirement effective October 31, 2015. Current Unilever Sri Lanka chairperson Shazia Syed will assume the CEO post at Unilever Pakistan. Malik spent 24 years of service at Unilever, while Syed is on her 26th year.
"Change in Leadership at Unilever Pakistan", Unilever, September 30, 2015, © Unilever
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Whole Foods Announces End To Selling Foods Made With Inmate Workers

September 30, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Retailer Whole Foods Market said that by April 2016 it will stop selling foods produced using prison labor. Whole Foods made the decision following a protest rally organized by the End Mass Incarceration Houston in Houston. At present, Whole Foods sells foods produced by Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy and Quixotic Farming. Both companies have partnered with the Colorado Department of Corrections to employ prisoners to milk goats and raise fish.
Allison Aubrey, "Whole Foods Says It Will Stop Selling Foods Made With Prison Labor", National Public Radio, September 30, 2015, © npr
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3D Viewer, Smartphone App Show How Nescafé Is Helping Coffee Farmers

September 29, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Nescafé has launched an app that turns an Android or iPhone smartphone into a 3D virtual reality viewer with the help of a cardboard headset. Once the Nescafé 360˚ app is downloaded, the smartphone is inserted into a Google Cardboard viewer equipped with two lenses for stereoscopic viewing. The app then transports the user to Brazil’s coffee fields where three 3D videos show how the company is helping coffee farmers “achieve better quality coffee, higher yields and an increased income.” The app was launched in late September to coincide with International Coffee Day. About 10,000 viewers were expected to be distributed.
"Nescafé teams up with Google to offer first virtual reality coffee experience", News release, Nestlé, September 29, 2015
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McCormick Terminates JV Agreement With Disgruntled Indian Rice Supplier

September 28, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
After Indian basmati rice maker Kohinoor Foods Ltd (KFL) accused spice giant McCormick & Co. of breaching their joint venture rice supply agreement, McCormick confirmed that it had terminated the relationship. At the core of the controversy is KFL’s charge that McCormick had been buying rice from other mills, which it said was a breach of the contract. McCormick’s and KFL’s joint venture (Kohinoor Speciality Foods, or KSF) was created to market and sell pre-cooked basmati rice, ready-to-eat rice and frozen foods, under the Kohinoor brand in India. According to KFL, KSF bought rice from other mills while KFL's mills were not used and its inventory was unsold. The result was “a huge loss to KFL." The termination of the 2011 agreement comes two years before the lock-in deadline.
Ratna Bhushan, "McCormick terminates contract with Kohinoor before lock-in period ends", The Economic Times, September 28, 2015, © Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd.
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Acquisition Of Egyptian Cereal Maker Furthers Kellogg’s Strategic Goals

September 28, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Kellogg Company says it is furthering its emerging markets growth strategy and “unlocking the growth potential” of cereal in North Africa by acquiring Egypt’s $18 million Mass Food Group. Calling the company an “excellent strategic fit,” Kellogg said Mass brings manufacturing capabilities, established local brands, and sales and distribution infrastructure. As part of its emerging market plan, the company recently acquired Egyptian biscuit maker Bisco Misr, created a joint venture to develop snacks and breakfast foods for West Africa, and acquired a 50 percent stake in a sales and distribution company in Nigeria and Ghana. Family-owned Mass Food Group, which introduced breakfast cereal to Egyptian consumers, was founded in 1996 and now has 600 employees.
"Kellogg Company Acquires Mass Food Group, Egypt's Leading Cereal Company", News release, Kellogg Company, September 28, 2015, © Kellogg Company
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Pepsi NFL-Themed Smartphone Promotion Hopes To Trade Prizes For Info

September 25, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
PepsiCo is trying a promotion that involves in-store signs, key word texting, prizes and NFL football to tout its NFL sponsorship, grab some useful personal information and maybe even boost soft drink sales. Signs in stores urge shoppers to text key works like “tailgate,” “blitz” and “score” to a special number. In return, texters receive clickable links to microsites. Fans then exchange personal information for some “relevant prizes,” including a $25 gift card. Pepsi contracted with rewards platform Snipp to roll out the fall promotion, which end in October.
Alex Samuely, "Pepsi uncaps SMS to add fizz to NFL sweepstakes", Mobile Marketer, September 25, 2015, © Napean LLC
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Japanese Sweetener Firm Sells French Factory To HYET Holding

September 24, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Dutch company HYET Holding B.V., a supplier of various artificial sweeteners, has purchased France-based Japanese sweetener maker Ajinomoto Sweeteners Europe S.A.S. (ASE). The French factory, based in Gravelines in Northern France, would have been closed by Ajinomoto as part of a consolidation strategy involving the transfer of aspartame production to Japan. Consolidation was necessary to maintain efficiency in a time of sliding aspartame prices. The acquisition of the French unit ensures that factory employees will continue to have a job. HYET Holding is a sister company of HYET Sweet (The Netherlands), which makes aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame-K and stevia.
Robin Wyers, "Ajinomoto Sells French Sweetener Business to HYET", Food Ingredients 1st, September 24, 2015, © CNS Media BV
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Nine More Companies Join Campaign To Promote Renewable Electricity

September 23, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
The U.K.-based Climate Group announced that nine major companies have joined 27 others in a year-old initiative known as RE100, pledging to source 100 percent of their electricity from renewable energy to reduce CO2 emissions. The newly-added members are Goldman Sachs, Johnson & Johnson, NIKE, Procter & Gamble, Salesforce, Starbucks, Steelcase, Voya Financial, and Walmart. The goal of RE100 is to massively increase private sector demand for renewable power, accelerate the transformation of the global energy market, and enable the transition to a prosperous low-carbon future.
"Fortune 500 listed companies pledge to use 100% renewable electricity", News release, The Climate Group, September 23, 2015, © The Climate Group
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Company’s Scientists Find That Its Weight Loss Program Works Well

September 22, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A study conducted by scientists at weight loss company Medifast found the 4 & 2 & 1 Plan used at Medifast Weight Control Centers was effective for weight loss after 12 weeks. The scientists looked at the records of 310 customers, finding that the average weight loss was 24 pounds. The plan was also effective at preserving lean muscle mass and improving cardiometabolic risk factors. Customers – men, women, and younger and older adults – who stuck with the plan for 24 weeks lost an average of 35 pounds. More than 75 percent of active 12-week customers lost at least five percent body weight and more than 85 percent of 24-week customers lost five percent or more.
Christopher D. Coleman et al., "Effectiveness of a Medifast meal replacement program on weight, body composition and cardiometabolic risk factors in overweight and obese adults: a multicenter systematic retrospective chart review study", Nutrition Journal, September 22, 2015, © BioMed Central Ltd
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Heinz Takes Aim At “After-School” Meal Market In New Ad Campaign

September 21, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Heinz’s new “After School Heroes” ad campaign featuring DC Comics superhero characters is the company’s latest attempt to reach the key after-school or teatime market in the U.K. Products included in the campaign are Pasta, Beanz, Soup and Reduce Sugar and Salt Tomato Ketchup. Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman are the cartoon pitchmen.  The 12-week back-to-school campaign highlights the role Heinz products play in making afternoon meals fulfilling for parents and kids. The campaign will run on-pack, in-store, on TV, and in digital media and PR
"Heinz launches ‘After School Heroes’ campaign", The Food & Drink Innovation Network, September 21, 2015, © Food & Drink Innovation Network
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Online Grocery Shopping Forecast To Reach $21 Billion In Value By 2016, Report Says

September 21, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
In the United States, online grocery shopping is forecast to expand from $15 billion to $21 billion by end of 2016, according to Forrester Research. Data from the market research firm’s report “Groceries 2.0” revealed a list of reasons for grocery shoppers’ reluctance to embrace online shopping. These include the inability to touch, smell, and feel fresh food products purchased online and not being able to avail of in-store promotions and discounts. Citing the experience of Walmart, the report identified challenges and opportunities for online grocers, such as the importance of marketing, the need to consider timing, and determining which products need to be available online.
Gemma Mainland et al, "America’s online grocery shopping expected to grow 40% by end of 2016", Australian Food News, September 21, 2015, © Australian Food News
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Grocery Chain Renames, Expands Its Natural, Organic Product Line

September 19, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A Michigan-based retail grocery chain is combining its house organic and natural foods line under one brand name and says sit plans to expand the 225-product family to 325. Meijer says the products – including granola chips, coconut oil, macaroni and cheese, juice boxes and spices – will be branded “True Goodness” to reflect consumer desire for healthier options, especially less-processed foods. They will contain no artificial ingredients or hydrogenated oils. USDA certified organic items will not contain GMOs, growth hormones, antibiotics, conventional pesticides, synthetic fertilizers or ionizing radiation.
Susan Selasky, "Meijer expands and renames organic and all-natural line", Detroit Free Press, September 19, 2015, © www.freep.com
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Nestlé Seeks Advice On Digital Transformation From Young Mentors

September 17, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Nestlé believes that its older employees need to better grasp today’s social media trends and technologies if the company is ever going to reach younger generations like Millennials. So what better way to educate those C-level executives – and speed the company’s digital transformation – than by a “reverse mentoring” plan involving social media-savvy young people? The CEO of Nestlé’s Germany division, Beatrice Guillame-Grabisch believes the initiative will help its executives understand “different perspectives from different generations.” Guillame-Grabisch herself has a female mentor in her twenties.
Natalie Mortimer, "How Nestlé is tapping into the millennial mind by embracing reverse mentoring", The Drum, September 17, 2015, © Carnyx Group Ltd
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