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Pizza Hut Reformulates Pizzas To Cut Artificial Ingredients, Trans Fats, Sodium

May 26, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Yum! Foods subsidiary Pizza Hut says it is removing all artificial flavors and colors from its pizza line by the end of July. The company is working with suppliers to reformulate its menu following continuous testing to make sure flavors have been preserved. It has already gotten rid of hydrogenated oils (artificial trans fats) and MSG, and has cut sodium levels. Its Nutrition Bold Goal is to reduce sodium content in 20 percent of its pizzas to one-third of the daily recommended dietary allowance by the end of 2020.
"Pizza Hut Announces New Brand Standards For Ingredients", News release, Pizza Hut, May 26, 2015, © Pizza Hut, Inc.
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Sustainability Initiative Helping Business Grow, Unilever Says

May 21, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Unilever said its Sustainability Living Plan initiative has helped the company grow its business, as well as improve its cost efficiency and resilience for the future. Described by the company as “sustainable living brands,” these brands, such as Dove and Ben & Jerry's, are recording above-average growth, as highlighted by their high single- and double-digit sales expansion rates during the past three years. In 2014, Unilever focused on three key sustainability areas in the United States: Brands with Purpose, Sustainable Agriculture, and Transformational Partnerships.
"Unilever Sees Sustainability Supporting Growth", Unilever, May 21, 2015, © Unilever
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Tesco Reports Slightly Less Food Wastes For 2014‒2015

May 21, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Retailer Tesco said it reduced the amount of food waste generated at its stores and distribution facilities by 1,180 tonnes to 55,400 tonnes in the year 2014‒2015. Tesco, which announced it would stop publishing a printed corporate responsibility report, said bakery products accounted for 36 percent of total waste; fresh produce, 25 percent; and convenience, 9 percent. Also, the company said more than 3,000 tonnes of food was wasted in the impulse category, over 2,500 tonnes of meat, fish, and poultry, and more than 1,500 tonnes of beers, wines, and spirits.
Ian Quinn, "Tesco food waste figures reveal slight drop, 55,400 tonnes wasted", The Grocer, May 21, 2015, © William Reed Business Media Ltd
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Unilever CFO Resigns Effective In October

May 19, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Unilever CFO Jean-Marc Huët, 46, has resigned effective in October. Graeme Pitkethly, executive vice president of Unilever’s U.K. and Ireland business, will succeed Huët as CFO at that time. Like Huët, Pitkethly will become a member of the Unilever executive committee and eventually a board member. Pitkethly, 48, joined Unilever in 2002 and has held a number of senior financial roles within Unilever. Huët joined Unilever in 2010.
"Jean-Marc Huet to leave Unilever in October and Graeme Pitkethly to succeed him as Chief Financial Officer", News release, Unilever, May 19, 2015, © Unilever
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Cheese-Stuffed Soft Pretzel Nuggets Added To Auntie Anne’s Lineup

May 13, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Soft pretzel company Auntie Anne’s has added Cheddar Stuffed Pretzel Nuggets to its menu for a limited time. The cheesy Pretzel Nuggets are the first new pretzel product to be introduced since 2013, when Mini Pretzel Dogs were introduced. The Nuggets, freshly baked all day, will be offered only through December 2015. The average price will be $4.99. The company also makes Original soft pretzels, cinnamon sugar, pepperoni, roasted garlic parmesan, sour cream and onion, and sweet almond. Auntie Anne's locations include malls, outlet centers, Walmarts, universities, airports, travel plazas, amusement parks, and military bases.
Kaitlin Nonnenmocher, "Auntie Anne’s Announces a Cheesy Twist to the Pretzel Lineup", News release, FOCUS Brands, May 13, 2015, © Auntie Anne’s, Inc.
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French Company Introduces Of Brioche To American Bread Buyers

May 13, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Two years after expanding its business to the U.S., family-owned French bakery Brioche Pasquier says its products are now available in 248 Northern California Safeway stores, in addition to select local grocers throughout California and the Pacific Northwest. They are also available in Sprouts Farmers Markets in 11 states, including as far east as Georgia and Tennessee. The company makes a sliced brioche loaf, small brioche milk rolls, and small brioche rolls filled with chocolate or chocolate chips. Traditional French brioche is an enriched soft bread made with butter and eggs. Brioche Pasquier entered the U.S. market with the 2012 acquisition of Galaxy Desserts.
Shannon Gomes, "French Tradition of Brioche Continues to Rise in U.S. With Brioche Pasquier Expansion", News release, Brioche Pasquier, May 13, 2015, © Brioche Pasquier
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Will Kale Save McDonald’s?

May 7, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Although some foodie trend watchers say kale has already been supplanted by other superfoods, McDonald’s is forging ahead with market tests of a “kale-packed breakfast bowl” in nine restaurants in the Los Angeles area. The kale bowl – it also contains turkey sausage and egg whites, all topped with basil, tomato, and spinach – is one of two the fast food chain is testing. The other features chorizo, hash browns, scrambled eggs, cheddar jack cheese and pico de gallo. McDonald’s has been plagued by slumping sales in recent years as fast-casual chains grab market share. But will kale help reverse the company’s fortunes? “Likely not," says analyst Mark Kalinowski of Janney Capital Markets.
Nancy Luna / Staff Writer, "McDonald's kale: Here are the 9 restaurants testing kale breakfast bowls", Orange County Register, May 07, 2015, © Orange County Register
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New Whole Foods Stores Will Target Millennials

May 7, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Whole Foods is trying a new store format that it hopes will broaden its appeal and expand its brand by targeting Millennial shoppers intrigued by the company’s social and ethical standards but unable to afford the high prices. The new format will take the form of a separate chain of stores that will offer lower prices. Thanks to the rise of natural and organic foods competition from mainstream grocery chains, Whole Foods has lost some of its cachet. That loss is reflected in recent financial performance: the company’s 2nd quarter profit missed analyst expectations, and its stock dipped 10 percent. The new format stores will begin opening in 2016.
Hadley Malcolm, "Whole Foods to open chain for Millennials", USA TODAY , May 07, 2015, © USA Today
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Hain Celestial Posts Healthy 3rd Q Financial Performance

May 6, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Organic and natural products company Hain Celestial posted record third quarter net sales of $662.7 million, a 19 percent increase over last year. Foreign exchange rate changes impacted revenue totals negatively. Overall profit was $33.4 million and adjusted net income was $46.5 million. Earnings per share were $0.32, while operating income was $60.2 million. Net sales in the U.S. were $343.7 million, an eight percent increase. “The strength of our core brands and contributions from acquisitions helped us to overcome foreign currency impacts to deliver our 18th consecutive year-over-year double digit net sales growth," said CEO Irwin D. Simon.
"Hain Celestial Announces Record Third Quarter Fiscal Year 2015 Net Sales and Adjusted Earnings Per Share", Hain Celestial, May 06, 2015, © The Hain Celestial Group, Inc.
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Unilever Awards Itself Gold Stars For Advances In Sustainable Living

May 5, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Unilever has given itself a stellar report card in meeting the long-term goal of integrating sustainability into its businesses, product lines and supply lines. The strategy is driving growth in brands with cost efficiency and “resilience for the future,” according to the company. The 10-year ”Sustainable Living Plan,” a growth strategy launched in November 2010, is on track to meet most of the goals, including: helping a billion people improve their health and well-being; cutting its environmental footprint in half; and sourcing all agricultural raw materials sustainably. High-growth brands advancing sustainable living include Dove, Lifebuoy, Ben & Jerry’s and Comfort, all of which are achieving high single and double digit sales since 2012.
"Unilever sees sustainability supporting growth", News release, Unilever, May 05, 2015, © Unilever
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Nielsen Honors 12 “Breakthrough Innovation” Consumer Products

May 5, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Nielsen has been analyzing a lot of consumer product launches – 20,000 since 2008 – but has honored as “breakthrough innovators” only a tiny few, in fact only 0.5 percent of them. Honorees need to deliver a new value proposition, generate $50 million in sales the first year and at least 90 percent of first year sales in the second year. Many of this year’s winners were in the food category: Atkins Frozen Meals, Lunchables Uploaded, Müller Yogurt, Special K Flatbread Breakfast Sandwiches, and Tostitos Cantina Tortilla Chips and Salsa. Four of the winners were beverages, one was a household product (batteries), one was a family of hair care products, and one was a lightweight cat litter.
"Nielsen Announces 2015 U.S. Breakthrough Innovation Award Winners", News release, Nielsen.com, May 05, 2015, © The Nielsen Company
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Kellogg
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Nestle
PepsiCo
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Panera’s “No No” Ingredients List Includes Artificial Colors, Flavors, Etc.

May 5, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Panera bread has published a list of ingredients it either has removed or will remove from its bakery-café foods menus by the end of 2016 and replace with simpler ingredients. Included on the list are artificial colors and flavors, sweeteners and preservatives. The first menu items affected are salad dressings and salads, including the Strawberry Poppyseed & Chicken Salad and the Kale Caesar. The company said it consulted “third-party scientists and experts” to develop the so-called “No No List” of ingredients it plans to do without.
"Panera Bread Becomes First National Restaurant Company to Share List of Unacceptable Ingredients", News release, Panera Bread, May 05, 2015, © Panera Bread
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Starbucks Creates Tiny “Fast-Coffee” Shops For The Rushed Commuter

April 30, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
The new Starbucks “espresso shot store” has a small footprint, and is a big departure from the tried-and-true store model, eliminating the customer trip past the menu, the refrigerator, and the pastry case. The company is creating the tiny shops for busy commuters looking to grab a quick coffee and speed to work without lengthy lines and delays. An employee with a mobile ordering terminal greets the customer at the door, enters the selection, and sends him to the main counter for pick-up and payment. Starbucks expects to roll out mobile ordering nationwide in September.
Mark Wilson, "Starbucks Builds A Store With No Line", Fast Company, April 30, 2015, © Mansueto Ventures, LLC
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Starbucks Benefits From Trade-Up Strategy

April 23, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
“Premiumization” of its product line is driving Starbucks revenue and profit up, according to its top financial exec. CFO Scott Maw says the company is charging higher prices for offerings like Flat White espresso and reformulated baked goods, and it seems to be drawing in more customers. The company posted a higher second quarter profit, with same-store sales rising seven percent in the U.S. The company said much of the increase came from a hike in customer traffic (two percent, an added 10 million visits) and higher spending per visit. Besides premiumization (or “trade-up”), a lot of the traffic increase was due to redemption of gift cards purchased during the Christmas holidays.
Candice Choi, "Starbucks Extracts More Money With Pricier Drinks, Food", Associated Press, April 23, 2015, © The Associated Press
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Kraft Goes Natural With Mac & Cheese Colors, Flavors

April 20, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Kraft announced that beginning in January 2016 its original Mac & Cheese product sold in the U.S. will be dye-free and contain no artificial preservatives. Instead of synthetic dyes, the company will use paprika, annatto and turmeric to provide the familiar golden color. Another version of the product, Kraft Mac & Cheese Boxed Shapes, already sold in the U.S., contains no artificial flavors, preservatives or synthetic colors. The company says it took a while to introduce the new versions because they wanted to be sure there was no change in flavor. Kraft acted after an online petition gathered 365,000 signatures.
"Kraft Mac & Cheese shedding the dyes", Associated Press, Yahoo!, April 20, 2015, © The Associated Press
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Unilever's Sustainability Efforts Show Results

April 17, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
In 2015, Unilever reported it has reduced carbon emissions at its factories by 32 percent and water use by 29 percent, compared with levels in 2008. According to the company, every factory at its 240 operating locations produces zero waste. Launched in 2010, Unilever's sustainability initiative goes beyond in-house operations to include reviewing a product's lifecycle, from the raw materials used to landfill. Because of its size, Unilever believes even small achievements can mean a lot for the environment. For example, reducing plastic use by 15 percent can save about 27,000 ton of plastic resin each year. Unilever is partnering with other companies, such as Walmart, and even competitors to help promote sustainability as a business strategy.
Adele Peters, "How One Enormous Corporation Is Working To Slash Its Environmental Impact", Fastcoexist, April 17, 2015, © Mansueto Ventures, LLC
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Unilever Announces Strong Sales Growth In 1Q 2015

April 16, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Unilever said sales increased 12.3 percent to €12.8 billion, with a positive currency impact of 10.6 percent, in the first quarter of 2015. Underlying sales expanded 2.8 percent, with sales in emerging markets rising 5.4 percent. After the company released the results, which were better than expected, its shares jumped more than 4 percent to a record high. Also, the company reported underlying volume grew 0.9 percent, with pricing rising 1.9 percent. The company announced quarterly dividend at €0.302, an increase of 6 percent.
"UNILEVER TRADING STATEMENT FIRST QUARTER 2015", Unilever, April 16, 2015, © Unilever
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Morrisons Plans To Increase Staff In Its Supermarkets

April 16, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
The fourth largest supermarket chain in the U.K. plans to trim its head office staff while hiring more service people for its stores. Morrisons is recruiting 5,000 shop floor staff to improve service, increase product availability, and open more checkout counters. Many of the new jobs will be part-time. In the meantime it plans to reduce head office jobs by 720. Headquarters staff in Bradford have increased by 50 percent since 2008, a trend that has left many employees disgruntled. The lack of personnel in stores has been a major complaint among the rank-and-file at Morrisons.
Ronan Hegarty, "Morrisons to cut 720 head office jobs as it boosts shop floor numbers", The Grocer, April 16, 2015, © William Reed Business Media Ltd
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Unilever Ramps Up Its E-Commerce Strategy

April 16, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Unilever has accepted the reality – and potential benefits – of e-commerce. It is putting greater emphasis this year on targeted, and cheaper, digital marketing strategies to reach consumers directly and gain insights about their buying preferences. To some extent the new strategy bypasses retailers, who have traditionally had the closer relationship with shoppers. The strategy – whose basic goal is forty percent growth in online sales in 2015 -- includes both desktop and mobile formats, and not just to sell products. The company wants to understand how customers move between virtual and physical channels.
Seb Joseph, "Unilever targets 40% e-commerce sales lift in 2015", The Drum, April 16, 2015, © Carnyx Group Ltd
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Aldi Will Change Grocery Retail Scene In U.S., Analysts Say

April 14, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Discount retailer Aldi is looming to drastically change the grocery retailing market in the United States. With a retail strategy that focuses on selling its private-label equivalents of established American food products, Aldi combines a control label National Brand Equivalent portfolio with the removal of typical supermarket services from its offerings. For example, the retailer does not have counter service departments and shelving, and requires deposit from shoppers using its shopping carts.
"ALDI Is A Growing Menace To America's Grocery Retailers", Forbes, April 14, 2015, © Forbes.com LLC™
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Unilever Calls On Pakistan Government To Adopt Electronic Invoicing

April 10, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Unilever Pakistan Limited suggested to the country's ministry of finance to put in place an electronic invoicing system. Also, the company called on the government to offer 5 percent in rebates to encourage companies to issue electronic invoices. Unilever Pakistan's proposed 2015-2016 budget says electronic invoicing will help reduce the problem of “flying invoices and inadmissible claims of input tax.” Also, to simplify the process and reduce the incidence rate of false refunds, Unilever proposes that a non-VAT mode be adopted in collecting sales tax with a maximum rate of 4 percent, without any adjustment of input tax.
"Unilever urges Pakistan to start with VAT based e-invoicing", e-invoicing Platform, April 10, 2015, © e-invoicing Platform
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Unilever Requires Supply Chains To Commit To Anti-Deforestation Policy

April 8, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Unilever has told suppliers that all packaging materials containing wood fiber need to be traceable “from certified and known sources by 2020.” The move is part of an effort by the company to stop global deforestation in its supply chains by ensuring that paper and board packaging is sustainably sourced by the end of 2015. According to the company, sustainably sourced paper and board increased to 87 percent in 2014, up from 62 percent in 2013. Unilever research has found that 75 percent of consumers would be more likely to buy a product if it was made from sustainably sourced ingredients.
"New Wood Fibre Sourcing Policy aims to accelerate actions to halt deforestation", News release, Unilever, April 08, 2015, © Unilever
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Specialty Foods Are Becoming More Mainstream Grocery Items

April 7, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
As grocery shoppers increasingly look for foods considered more natural, less processed or locally produced, retail sales of specialty food items have been rising steadily, reaching $51 billion last year. Stores have begun stocking shelves with new, smaller brands of high quality, limited supply or “exotic” foods. The category accounted for 13.7 percent of retail food sales in 2013, up from 12.7 percent in 2012. That makes specialty foods – imported cheese, high-quality coffee beans, etc. -- less of a niche market, because the trickle-down effect eventually pushes them into big retail stores, like Walmart.
Leslie Josephs, "Specialty Food Products Taking Up More Space in Grocery Carts", The Wall Street Journal, April 07, 2015, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Mondelez May Sell Philadelphia Cheese Brand, But To Whom?

April 2, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Euromonitor says it’s likely that Mondelez – primarily a sweet snacks company since its split from Kraft – will sell off its Europe-based Philadelphia cream cheese brand. But to whom? The European spreadable cheese market is not a growth area. But sales of the Philadelphia brand in Europe have grown by $100 million since 2009, and its brand equity would make it a desirable acquisition by dairy companies like France's Bel Groupe and Lactalis. On the other hand, Kraft Heinz already owns the North American arm of Philadelphia cheese, so it makes good business sense for it to acquire the European arm. There would be cost efficiencies from synergies in production and marketing, and keeping costs under control is a top priority for Kraft Heinz.
Lianne van den Bos, "The Future of Mondelez’s Philadelphia: Possible Scenarios for the Cheese Brand", News release, Euromonitor International, April 02, 2015, © Euromonitor International
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EU Extends Healthy Blood Vessel Claim For Company’s Cocoa Flavanols

April 1, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Chocolate and cocoa manufacturer Barry Callebaut received a five-year EU extension of a health claim for its cocoa flavanols and cocoa extracts. The EU said the company could say on product labels and elsewhere that cocoa flavanols “help maintain the elasticity of blood vessels, which contributes to normal blood flow.” The claim can be used specifically on capsules and tablets that contain high-flavanol cocoa extract. The company provided evidence in 2013 that a daily intake of 200 mg of cocoa flavanols (provided by 2.5 g ACTICOA cocoa powder or 10 g ACTICOA dark chocolate) contributes to normal blood circulation.
"European Commission extends Barry Callebaut’s health claim on ACTICOA® products to extracts", Barry Callebaut, April 01, 2015, © Barry Callebaut
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HUL Women Executives Make It To India Inc's 2015 Women Leaders List

March 31, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Hindustan Unilever's Home Care executive director Priya Nair and Personal Care vice president Anuradha Razdan are included in India Inc's Rising Women Leaders of 2015. According to HUL, the recognition of the executives highlights the company's gender balance and diversity initiatives. HUL has several initiatives aimed at promoting gender balance at the workplace.
"Anuradha Razdan and Priya Nair feature in India Inc's Rising Women Leaders of 2015", Unilever, March 31, 2015, © Unilever
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Private Investors Merge Kraft Foods With Heinz In Mega-Deal

March 25, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Private investors 3G Capital of Brazil and Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway have worked out a deal to buy Kraft Foods Group and merge it with H. J. Heinz, which 3G and Buffett bought two years ago. The new company, Kraft Heinz, will have revenues of approximately $28 billion and a market value of $80 billion. The combined product lines will include eight brands worth $1 billion or more and five brands worth between $500 million and $1 billion. The deal comes at a time when U.S. consumers are backing away from processed foods and turning to local, fresh and organic products.
"H.J. Heinz Company and Kraft Foods Group Sign Definitive Merger Agreement to Form The Kraft Heinz Company", H.J. Heinz Company and Kraft Foods Group, Inc., March 25, 2015, © H.J. Heinz Company and Kraft Foods Group, Inc.
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Advertising Spend In Hong Kong Grows To Reach HK$3.3 Billion In February 2015

March 25, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Local advertising spend in Hong Kong grew 17 percent to HK$3.3 billion in February 2015, compared with the same period in the previous year, according to admanGO. Data from the market research firm revealed the Chinese New Year helped drive the increase in advertising spend by local marketers. All media recorded year-on-year growth except for magazines, which suffered an 8 percent decline, and newspapers and radio, which posted 1 percent drop. TV advertising revenue grew 8 percent, while free newspapers and outdoor ads rose 12 percent. Ad spending on interactive media grew 46 percent, while spending on mobile platforms rose 80 percent.
Matt Eaton, "CNY drives $3.3bn surge in Hong Kong ad spend", Marketing-Interactive, March 25, 2015, © Marketing-Interactive.com. Lighthouse Independent Media Pte Ltd
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New Kraft Heinz Company Should Have Major Impact On Food Industry

March 25, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
The creation of Kraft Heinz Company, with its expected $40 billion valuation, will have a major impact on the global food industry. According to a Mintel analyst, the new company will have significant leverage in the U.S. and worldwide, will allow expansion of Kraft’s food line into foreign markets, and will lead to tighter management, a streamlined supply chain, and lower production and overhead costs as competing brands, and their human resources, are merged. Other repercussions in the food industry include the possibility of an upsurge of M&A activity.
David Turner, "The Kraft Heinz Company: what will the move mean for the market?", News release, Mintel, March 25, 2015, © Mintel Group Ltd.
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Unilever Seeks To Increase Stake In Nigerian Unit

March 24, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Unilever Overseas Holdings B.V. said it plans to offer to increase its equity stake in Unilever Nigeria PLC from 50.04 percent to 75 percent, the maximum allowed under the country's foreign investment rules. Also, the company intends to maintain the company's listing on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. Under the terms of the proposal, Unilever would purchase up to 944,465,532 shares in the Nigerian unit at an offer price of NGN 45.50 per share, a 33.8 premium to the March 23, 2015, closing price.
"Unilever Overseas Holdings B.V. intention to make an offer to increase its equity stake in Unilever Nigeria PLC", Unilever, March 24, 2015, © Unilever
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Biscuit Taco: Another Weapon Added To Taco Bell’s Breakfast Arsenal

March 24, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Taco Bell is determined to make breakfast sales at least 20 percent of its annual revenues, and to do that it must make America aware that it’s “open for breakfast” in a big way. The latest flare it has sent up in that strategy is the Biscuit Taco, a biscuit shaped like a taco and stuffed with eggs, cheese and sausage or bacon. Analysts expect the company to replace the recently unveiled waffle taco with the new biscuit. Its revamped breakfast menu – launched a year ago with TV ads featuring real people named Ronald McDonald – helped Taco Bell post a six percent hike in same-restaurant sales for its fourth quarter ended in February.
Benjamin Snyder, "This is Taco Bell's latest breakfast food invention", Fortune, March 24, 2015, © Time Inc.
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Burger King Japan Might Launch Burger-Scented Perfume, Reports Say

March 20, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Fastfood chain Burger King Japan said it plans to release the Flame-Grilled, a Whooper-scented perfume on April 1, 2014. Possibly a hoax, due to the supposed date of release, the announced perfume will be available for one day only. The release will also highlight the inaugural Whooper Day, an event the company envisions would be an occasion for Whooper fans to wear the burger-theme perfume and eating burgers too.
Kate Bratskeir, "Burger King To Release Whopper-Scented Perfume", The Huffington Post, March 20, 2015, © TheHuffingtonPost.com, Inc.
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Mondelez Hopes Gum Sales Will Improve With Strategy Targeting Generation Z

March 19, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
With its chewing-gum sales stalling, Mondelez International is trying a somewhat arcane marketing strategy to revitalize Trident products among post-millennials in an era of social media and smart devices. Gum revenue was down three percent in 2014, though market share grew or remained stable in four of six markets. The company thinks the key reason for this sales decline is that Generation Z spends too much time on its smartphones, reducing personal human contact and eliminating daily rituals like gum chewing. So Trident commissioned a Japanese designer to create clothing that blocks radio signals. Whether the strategy is boosting gum sales is known so far only to Mondelez.
Seb Joseph, "Mondelez’s Trident mines fashion and privacy shared themes to get closer to Gen Z", The Drum, March 19, 2015, © Carnyx Group Ltd
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Restructuring Plans Eliminate Hundreds Of Jobs At General Mills Facilities

March 18, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
General Mills has completed a reorganization plan dubbed Project Catalyst that cut 800 jobs, and continues to implement another reorganization plan, Project Century. Under that plan, the company is shrinking its refrigerated dough capacity and eliminating the Canada and New Albany, Indiana, facilities – totaling 500 jobs -- that support U.S. retail, as well as international and convenience stores and foodservice supply chains. Also scheduled to be closed are Massachusetts and California facilities, cutting nearly 700 jobs.
"General Mills Completes Plan To Cut About 800 Jobs", Associated Press, March 18, 2015, © The Associated Press
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Kraft Recalls Potentially Tainted Mac & Cheese Dinners

March 17, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Kraft Foods, responding to complaints by eight consumers, has recalled 242,000 cases of Macaroni & Cheese that might contain small pieces of metal. The affected product was shipped in the U.S. and some Caribbean and South American countries, but not to Canada. The company advised buyers to return the appropriate boxes to the store of purchase for a full refund. The recalled boxes were the 7.25-oz., original flavor varietty with best-when-used-by dates of Sept. 18, 2015, through Oct. 11, 2015.
Jack Linshi, "Kraft Recalls 242,000 Cases of Macaroni & Cheese", Time, March 17, 2015, © TIME INC.
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Subway Launches Wi-Fi Customer Loyalty Program In Canada

March 6, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Subway Restaurants partnered with Wi-Fi monetization services provider Turnstyle Solutions to launch a rewards system at locations in Northern Ontario, Canada. Designed as a replacement for the retailer's previous loyalty program that included punch cards, the Wi-Fi-enabled customer loyalty program encourages customers to opt-in to wireless networks to gain access to free items and extra customized rewards. Subway aims to differentiate its loyalty program from those of its rivals, such as Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts, while driving more customers to its bricks-and-mortar stores at the same time.
Alex Samuely, "Subway wraps up consumer loyalty with location-based Wi-Fi rewards", Mobile Commerce Daily, March 06, 2015, © Napean LLC
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Oregon Bakery Introduced “White Bread Done Right”

March 5, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Dave's Killer Bread says it is bucking the declining popularity of white bread by launching “White Bread Done Right” at the Natural Products Expo West. The artisan-quality bread features “organic alternatives and clean ingredients”, and contains quinoa, spelt, rye, millet and barley. Each slice provides 10g of whole grains and 120mg of omega-3 fatty acids, and no starch, artificial coloring, high fructose corn syrup or bleached flour. The company also said it is expanding distribution to Midwestern and Eastern states. Co-founder of the company, Dave Dahl, has a long history of legal problems, culminating in a conviction – “except for insanity” -- last November on two counts of third-degree assault and one count of unlawful use of a weapon (an SUV).
"White Bread, Sprouted Loaves and Burger Buns Get a Dave’s Killer Bread Make-Over", News release, Dave's Killer Bread, March 05, 2015, © Dave's Killer Bread
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Unilever Now Demands Value For Its Digital Ad Bucks

March 5, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A Unilever media executive says the company has tightened its payment policy for in-view browser ads because it should “get what we pay for”. For several months now, the big digital media buyer has been paying only for browser ads that are 100 percent viewable, not the 50 percent that is standard in the industry. The tougher policy, announced last October, requires that at least half of a video ad must be played when in view with the sound turned on throughout viewing. The policy requires that an ad viewer must also press “play” instead of it being an auto-start. Unilever’s Sarah Mansfield said, “The industry standards are just not adequate enough for us as a big advertiser in this space.”
Jessica Davies, "‘We should get what we pay for’ – Unilever VP global media, Europe and Americas, on viewability-based ad trading", The Drum, March 05, 2015, © Carnyx Group Ltd
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Beacon Technology Test Is Encouraging For Unilever

March 4, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A Unilever beta test involving beacon and smartphone technology and Knorr soup brand and food vans proved successful enough for the company to investigate expanding the availability of the app to other media outlets. For the test, Unilever deployed branded food vans in Sweden where people could sample Knorr soups. When shoppers were within ten meters of the vans, the beacon devices picked up their smartphone IDs. The next day they were sent a personal message referring to the taste test and providing a discount coupon redeemable in-store. The results were encouraging enough for the company to ponder a mass rollout across all brands.
Jessica Davies, "Unilever eyes iBeacons trials extension across brand portfolio", The Drum, March 04, 2015, © Carnyx Group Ltd
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Hain Buys Remaining Interest In Kosher Poultry Producer

March 4, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Natural/organic foods marketer Hain Celestial Group has purchased the remaining 80 percent of EK Holdings and its subsidiary Empire Kosher Poultry (Mifflintown, Pa.) for about $58 million. The purchase price includes outstanding debt repaid at closing. Empire bought the Kosher Valley brand of natural chicken and turkey products from Hain Pure Protein Corporation in 2010. In exchange, HPPC received a 19 percent interest in Empire. Empire practices sustainable farming, “promotes social justice and strictly observes Jewish dietary laws to produce all-natural poultry products”, Hain said in a statement.
"Hain Celestial Announces Accretive Strategic Acquisition Of Empire Kosher Foods", News release, Hain Celestial, March 04, 2015, © Hain Celestial
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McDonald’s To Eliminate Antibiotics From Its Chicken Supply Chain

March 4, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
McDonald’s USA has announced a commitment to sourcing only chicken not raised with antibiotics, and milk from cows never treated with the artificial growth hormone rbST. The new antibiotics policy, developed with the cooperation of sourcing farmers, supports the company's “Global Vision for Antimicrobial Stewardship in Food Animals,” introduced in 2003. The company said it hopes to implement the new antibiotics policy to its supply chain over the next two years. Instead of antibiotics, farmers who supply chicken to McDonald’s will use ionophores, an antibiotic not used for humans that helps keep chickens healthy.
"McDonald's USA Announces New Antibiotics Policy and Menu Sourcing Initiatives", News release, McDonald's, March 04, 2015, © McDonald's
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Unilever's FY 2015 Performance Depends On Acquisition Moves In Personal Care, Divestments In Food, Cost Savings

March 4, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Unilever's revenue performance in fiscal 2015 is expected to be driven by acquisition-pushed growth in the personal care segment, divestments in food business, and cost savings. In 2014, Unilever's revenue dropped 2.7 percent, hampered by significant currency effects and a slowdown in emerging markets. Unilever is not expected to expand its acquisition efforts in the premium personal care market in 2015. Its share of the global skin and hair care is forecast to expand slightly from 10.5 percent in 2014 to 10.7 percent in 2015. With its plan to continue selling off some of its food brands, Unilever's share in the global grocery market is forecast to drop from 41.2 percent to 37.2 percent. Unilever's efforts to cut costs will help improve its overall adjusted EBITDA margin by 1 percentage point to 20.9 percent in 2015.
"Unilever: Key Trends to Watch in 2015", Trefis, March 04, 2015, © Trefis
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Investors Wish Unilever Would Speed Implementation Of CEO Polman’s Strategy

March 1, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
An independent poll of Unilever investors found considerable polarization of opinions about the company and CEO Paul Polman. But a strong theme was frustration with the lack of action on the company’s spread brands, perhaps due to Polman’s focus on sustainability issues. “The perennial ‘turnaround’ of spreads is frustrating; it is a constant drag on growth,” one respondent said. Bernstein Research’s poll of 100 investors found that generally they approved of Polman’s overall corporate strategy, but said the company had lost its momentum in executing the plan.
Scheherazade Daneshkhu, "Frustrated Unilever investors call for shake-up", The Financial Times , March 01, 2015, © The Financial Times Limited
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Want Less Processing? No Problem, Says Big Food

February 24, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Consumers around the globe are demanding food that be less processed, and the big U.S. manufacturers are responding. General Mills, for example, is cutting the amount of sugar in its Yoplait Original line by more than 30 percent and promising that Cheerios will be gluten-free by the summer, replacing wheat and barley with sorghum and millet. Kellogg this summer will launch the Origins line of muesli and granola cereals containing "no preservatives, no artificial colors, no artificial flavors” Campbell Soup promises to unveil a new line of "ultra-premium" cold pressed organic drinks. And, lastly, Hershey’s is modernizing its chocolate bars, eliminating lactose, the emulsifier PGPR, and vanillin, an artificial vanilla flavoring ingredient.
Jessica Wohl , "Food-makers' new products promise to be less processed", Chicago Tribune , February 24, 2015, © Chicago Tribune
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Danone Reports Significant Profit Drop In 2014, Warns Of Tough 2015

February 20, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Danone SA said full-year net profit dropped 21 percent to €1.12 billion in 2014, compared with €1.42 billion in 2013. Sales for the year declined slightly to €21.14 billion from €21.3 billion in the previous year, hampered by foreign exchange fluctuations. Sales increased 4.7 percent on an organic basis. For 2015, the company said it expects organic revenue to rise between 4 percent and 5 percent. Analysts were forecasting 5.6 percent growth, according to the company's compilation of analyst predictions.
Ruth Bender, "Danone Warns of Another Tough Year Ahead", The Wall Street Journal, February 20, 2015, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Sluggish Sales Of “Diet” Foods Prompt Repositioning Of Major Brands

February 20, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Big food companies are trying to adjust quickly to a trend in U.S. consumer eating preferences that is having a negative impact on sales. Americans apparently care more about simple, natural ingredients, gluten-free products, protein and ethnic flavors -- and less about calories. Nestlé, for example, is dealing with this new reality by repositioning its Lean Cuisine frozen dinners as a ”healthy eating and healthy lifestyles” brand, rather than a diet food. The company is also introducing new ethnic flavors such as Sweet & Spicy Korean-Style Beef. Kellogg is deemphasizing weight loss in its Special K snack bar line to focus more on healthy ingredients, even if they are calorie-packed.
Anjali Athavaley, "Food companies aim to reinvent diet foods to stay relevant", Reuters, February 20, 2015, © Thomson Reuters
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Nestle Posts Strong Profit Growth In 2014, Boosted By Non-Core Transactions

February 19, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Nestle S.A. said net profit grew 44 percent in 2014, driven by the sale of its stake in L'Oreal and its acquisition of dermatology company Galderma. With those transactions excluded, Nestle's earnings per share rose 4.4 percent, the company said. Sales in Europe, however, slowed down, growing only 1.5 percent. Net profit increased by 4.4 billion francs to 14.5 billion francs, or $15.4 billion, on sales of 91.6 billion francs.
David McHugh, "Nestle Profits Rise, But Held Back By Weak Pricing In Europe", Associated Press, February 19, 2015, © The Associated Press
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Pizza Hut Launches Nail Polish Line For Valentine's Day Poetry-Writing Contest In Australia

February 18, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Pizza Hut Australia created a limited-edition line of pizza-themed nail polish to be used as prizes for a poetry-writing contest. Part of the company's marketing campaign for Valentine's Day, the line featured colors, such as “Meat Me After Midnight” and “Dough You Need Me.” According to the company, 30 customers with the best pizza-themed poems will win the nail polish products.
Laura Stampler, "Pizza Hut Just Released a Very Exclusive Line of Nail Polish", Time, February 18, 2015, © TIME INC.
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Nestle To Use Only Natural Ingredients In Candy Bars

February 18, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Food giant Nestlé announced that it is replacing artificial flavors and colors in 250 chocolate bars sold in the U.S. with natural ones by year end. The company says the move is a response to American consumers who want organic and natural ingredients in their confections. Candy bars such as Baby Ruth, Butterfinger and Crunch will contain no Red Dye No. 40 or Yellow Dye No. 5 and will be labeled, "No artificial flavors or colors”. Nestlé cited a Nielsen survey that found that three out of five American candy lovers preferred natural ingredients. The artificial colors in the Butterfinger will be replaced by annatto, a coloring from the achiote tree. Vanillin flavor in the Crunch bar will be replaced by real vanilla.
Lindsey Bever , "Baby Ruth, Butterfinger and Crunch are going natural", The Washington Post, February 18, 2015, © The Washington Post Company
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Restaurant Brands International Posts Higher Total Sales For Burger King And Tim Hortons In 4Q 2014

February 17, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Restaurant chain operator Restaurant Brands International Inc. reported total sales for its Burger King and Tim Hortons brands grew 7.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014. Company executives, however, said total costs related to its acquisition of Canadian coffee-and-doughnut chain Tim Hortons brought overall net loss of $514.2 million for the quarter. Total revenue for the period reached $416.3 million. Burger King's total sales in the United States and Canada rose 4.2 percent during the period, compared with the same quarter in the previous year.
Ilan Brat, "Burger King, Tim Hortons Parent Posts Sales Gain", The Wall Street Journal, February 17, 2015, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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