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Hain Celestial Reports Strong Revenue Numbers For 4Q And FY 2014

August 20, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
The Hain Celestial Group, Inc. said net sales rose 24 percent for its fiscal year 2014, while operating free cash flow tripled to $143 million for the 12-month period ending June 30, 2014. For the fourth quarter of FY 2014, net sales increased 26 percent to $583.8 million, while GAAP earnings per diluted share from continuing operations rose 32 percent to $0.70. Adjusted earnings per diluted share from continuing operations increased 39 percent to $0.90. Adjusted operating income was $73.9 million, or 12.7 percent of net sales during the period.
"Hain Celestial Announces Highest Quarterly And Fiscal Year Net Sales In The Company's History", Hain Celestial, August 20, 2014, © The Hain Celestial Group, Inc.
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Americans Love Breakfast, But Not Cereal

August 20, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
One should not conclude from the continuing slide in breakfast cereal sales that American no longer eats breakfast. Market researcher Nielsen says breakfast is more popular than ever. Egg sandwiches, sausages, cereal bars, pastries, etc., are all catching up to breakfast cereals (still an $8.5 billion industry). Key reasons for the trend: less interest in fiber and more interest in protein. Interest in non-GMO foods is up 67 percent in the past five years, while interest in gluten-free foods and foods without corn syrup has soared. What’s left? “The gluten-free, unsweetened, high-protein, non-GMO egg”. General Mills says “significant product innovation” eventually will rescue it from the sales malaise: it is looking closely at yogurt and snacks.
Eric Chemi, Braulio Amado, Shawn Hasto , "Mikey Doesn't Like It: How Cereal Is Missing the Breakfast Boom", Bloomberg Businessweek, August 20, 2014, © Bloomberg L.P.
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McDonald’s Restaurants In Moscow: Pawns In A Larger Geopolitical Game?

August 20, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
A Russian food monitoring agency that has a history of banning food from countries out of favor with the government has closed four McDonald’s restaurants in Moscow because of “sanitary violations”. In the past, the agency has prohibited wine from Georgia and dairy products from Belarus after they sought closer relations with western nations. Recently the agency outlawed canned vegetables, fruit, fish, juice and certain beer and vodka from Ukraine. McDonald's said it was trying to figure out what it needs to do to get the restaurants re-opened “as soon as possible".
Alec Luhn, "Russia closes McDonald's restaurants for 'sanitary violations'", The Guardian, August 20, 2014, © Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies
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Danone Unveils Actimel Yogurt Drinks For Kids

August 19, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Kids already eat half of the Actimel yogurt drink bought by British families, so Danone has decided to target children with a range of kid-friendly products. Newly-designed 100-gram bottles will feature three Actimel "heroes": AC, TI and MEL. The drinks will be available in strawberry, raspberry and vanilla flavors, and contain healthful ingredients calcium, vitamins and L. casei live cultures. The product launch is backed by a multi-million pound ad campaign that includes TV for parents and kids, sponsorship and PR, as well as in-store activation, the company said.
"Danone launches Actimel for kids", The Food & Drink Innovation Network, August 19, 2014, © Food & Drink Innovation Network
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McDonald’s To Sell Bagged McCafé Coffee In Retail Outlets Starting In 2015

August 19, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Building on the success of McCafé coffee in its restaurants, and hoping to boost sales, McDonald's has partnered with Kraft Foods to offer McCafé premium bagged coffee at retail grocery, mass merchandise, club and drug stores in the U.S. beginning next year The roll-out follows successful testing in the U.S. and Canada in 2013. A McDonald’s spokesman said the decision to market bagged coffee was “a natural next step”, considering that more than 70 percent of coffee in the U.S. is consumed at home. Products to be offered will include ground, whole bean and single-serve coffee in varieties like premium roast, breakfast blend, French roast, Colombian, etc.
Maureen Morrison, "Kraft, McDonald's to Roll Out Bagged McCafe Coffee Nationally", Advertising Age, August 19, 2014, © Advertising Age
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Excessive Lead In Baby Cereal Sold In China Prompts Heinz Recall

August 19, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Food safety officials in China’s Zhejiang province found “excessive amounts of lead” in 1,472 boxes of U.S. food maker H.J. Heinz’s AD Calcium Hi-Protein Cereal for babies, prompting a recall. The company, which issued an apology to customers, said it would recall four batches of the cereal as a precautionary measure. Safety officials urged Heinz to compensate customers who had purchased the tainted cereal.
Sui-Lee Wee, "Heinz recalls four batches of infant food in China", Reuters, August 19, 2014, © Thomson Reuters
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No Way To Sugar-Coat It: Breakfast Cereal Sales Are Hurting

August 14, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Sales of breakfast cereals continue to tumble. Overall, between 2009 and 2010, cereal sales dropped a “nauseating” – AdWeek’s term – 6.3 percent, according to Mintel. Kellogg reported recently that sales of its cereal products fell 4.9 percent, contributing to a 15 percent slide in profit. AdWeek cites several market factors at work in these disturbing numbers. The number one reason is the perception that cereals are too loaded with sugar, contributing to the childhood obesity epidemic. Other factors: concerns about gluten sensitivity, increasing competition from highly portable snack bars and yogurt, and the fact that more and more people just skip breakfast altogether.
Robert Klara, "Why Don't Americans Like Breakfast Cereal Anymore?", AdWeek, August 14, 2014, © Adweek
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Whole Foods Sells Rabbit Meat; Rabbit Fans Protest

August 13, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Retailer Whole Foods Market’s decision to sell rabbit move was met with protests by The House Rabbit Society and other rabbit welfare activists. Whole Foods claimed the meat it is selling at selected stores came from rabbits raised in facilities designed to “ensure the overall health and well-being of the animals.” Also, the company said it decided to sell rabbit meat after receiving requests to do so from many shoppers.
Ryan Grenoble, "Whole Foods' Plan To Sell Rabbit Meat Incites Fury", The Huffington Post, August 13, 2014, © TheHuffingtonPost.com, Inc.
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Nestle Seeks To Get Kids Off Cocoa Farms, Into Classrooms, In Côte d'Ivoire

August 12, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Nestlé announced it is continuing efforts to reduce and eventually eliminate child labor on cocoa farms in Côte d'Ivoire, where the company sources the cocoa for its chocolate. The company hopes to get hundreds of children off the farms and into schools by providing the “practical support and means” to cocoa farmers. The first step in the process is identifying the scope of the problem, which was recently highlighted in a report on child labor code compliance issued by the Fair Labor Association. The company’s "monitoring and remediation" system currently operates in 10 of the 57 cocoa production cooperatives in Côte d'Ivoire and plans to operate in all of them by the end of 2016.
"Nestle: Tackling child labour in cocoa farming", News release, Nestlé, August 12, 2014, © Nestlé
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Special K Nourish Featuring “Superfoods” Debuts Down Under

August 11, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
The new variety of Special K containing several “superfoods” was debuted by Kellogg in Australia. Different flavors of Special K Nourish contain oats, rye and quinoa, as well as pepita seeds, almonds and cranberries. The cereals are high in fiber and protein, and fortified with vitamins and minerals, including iron. The new Nourish line offers three flavors: blackcurrant, apple and pepita; wildberry, raisin and pepita; and apricot, cranberry and almond. The revamped cereal line represents “a new, healthier direction” for the breakfast food maker, a spokesman said.
"Kellogg launches Special K Nourish in Australia", Australian Food News, August 11, 2014, © Australian Food News
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Single-Source Strategy May Help Nestle Make A Splash In Premium Chocolate

August 8, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
A single-origin cocoa bean strategy, already working well for other chocolate makers and retailers, may set Nestlé on the road to successful “premiumization” of its chocolate product line. The company is launching the strategy with a new chocolate molding and packing operation in Ecuador, famous for the Arriba cocoa beans used to make value-added chocolates for export and domestic consumption. The move puts Nestlé out in front of a major confectionery trend: growing global demand for premium chocolate, especially single-source chocolate. Prices are on the rise worldwide and are expected to keep rising over the next five years.
Pinar Hosafci, "Single-Origin Chocolate: The Future of Premium Chocolate Confectionery Foretold", Euromonitor International, August 08, 2014, © Euromonitor International
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Despite Food Price Pressure, Nestle Posts Healthy Half-Year Sales Growth

August 7, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Swiss food giant Nestlé said it benefited from a 4.7 percent hike in “organic” sales – net of currency fluctuations and acquisitions – for the first half of the year, outpacing European rivals Danone and Unilever. But the company tempered the good news with caution, noting that it still faces pricing pressure on its foods. Sales rose in all three of Nestlé's geographic regions, though market conditions in Europe remained tough. Danone and Unilever posted sluggish sales growth numbers, blaming weak economic conditions in Brazil and the U.S. A massive food scare in Asia also depressed sales growth for the firms.
John Revill, "Nestle Outperforms European Rivals", The Wall Street Journal, August 07, 2014, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Foreign Exchange Issues Buffet Nestlé

August 7, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
“Unprecedented” foreign exchange issues have had a major impact on all levels of Nestlé’s operations, according to the company’s chief financial officer. Wan Ling Martello said the foreign exchange problems have hurt sales, profits, cash flow and earnings per share. Martello also noted the company is struggling with low prices and poor consumer spending in developed markets, as well as slow growth in emerging markets. Despite the problems, the company said that it planned to complete a buy-back of shares worth £5.2 billion by the end of 2015 as a show of confidence.
Rod Addy, "‘Unprecedented’ foreign exchange storm hits Nestlé", FOODmanufacture.co.uk, August 07, 2014, © William Reed Business Media Ltd
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Kellogg Rumored To Be Interested In Buying The U.K.’s United Biscuits

August 7, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Sources have told Reuters that Kellogg is considering making an offer to purchase British cookie and snack maker United Biscuits, which is owned by private equity firms. Kellogg is not actively negotiating with the British company, but has apparently hired a consultant to advise it on a possible acquisition. Neither party will comment on the rumors. Earlier reports said that Kellogg and an investment banker were considering a $3.4 billion bid for United Biscuits, which owns the McVitie's brand.
M Rochan, "Cereal Maker Kellogg Eyes McVitie's Owner United Biscuits", Yahoo! News, August 07, 2014, © Yahoo News Network
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Mondelez Sales Growth Suffers, But Cost-Cutting Boosts Profit

August 6, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Snack company Mondelez has lowered its sales growth and earnings per share projections for 2014, citing the negative second quarter impact of prices hikes. The company’s stock dropped two percent when it announced sales for the quarter would not meet Wall Street expectations. Cost slashing to offset weaker sales – an industry trend – helped push profits up by 3.5 percent. The company recently upped its prices to offset the rising costs of ingredients like cocoa and dairy products.
"Mondelez says price hikes scared off customers", Associated Press, August 06, 2014, © The Associated Press
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Food Industry Loves The Growing American Obsession With Snacking

August 4, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
It’s a little hard to tell whether food companies are reacting to, or creating, the increased interest in snacking. Whichever, the trend is real. Sales of snack bars are up and chain eateries are doing whatever they can to attract the attention of the P.M. snack crowd. A Nielsen survey of 1,139 consumers finds that 91 percent admit to snacking every day. Twenty-five percent said they snack as much as five times a day. Women prefer chocolate, candy or cookies, while men like the salty fare, including pretzels and chips. “Clearly, snacking is a trend, a positive trend,” says General Mills CEO Ken Powell. “We are very focused on the snacking trend.”
Venessa Wong, "Americans Cannot Stop Snacking", Bloomberg Businessweek, August 04, 2014, © BLOOMBERG L.P.
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Hispanic Media's Growth Outpaces US Market's, Report Shows

August 4, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
The United States Hispanic media market grew 8.1 percent to $8.3 billion in 2013, according to the “Hispanic Fact Pack 2014” report by the “Advertising Age” magazine. Data from the marketing and media report also revealed that Hispanic millennials helped drive growth in the market as “trendsetters and consumers”. Market growth has prompted leading marketers, such as Procter & Gamble, AT&T, and L’Oreal, to increase their marketing budgets for the Hispanic media by as much as 26 to 38 percent. Also, U.S. Hispanic-focused agencies’ revenue grew 5.7 percent to $597 million in 2013, while leading media groups, including Twitter and Clear Channel Media and Entertainment, hired Latino executives to take charge of their Hispanic media and marketing efforts.
Nicole Akoukou Thompson, "Hispanic Millenials Spur Growth of Latino Media Market, Increase in Targeted Advertising Spending", Latin Post, August 04, 2014, © The Latin Post Company
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Italian Pastry Bakery Inks Distribution Deals With Three U.S. Grocery Retailers

August 4, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Italian cake and pastry bakery Bauli has launched its product line in the U.S. with retail deals involving the Fairway, Whole Foods and Duane Reade chains. The company will export traditional Italian desserts made with natural ingredients. Core products include two Christmas breads: Il Panettone di Milano, made with candied citron, lemon zest and raisins; and Il Pandoro di Verona, baked in a special star-shape mold, sprinkled with confectioners' sugar. Also available will be croissant treats made with chocolate cream, vanilla custard, and cherry jelly. Bauli exports to more than 60 countries on five continents.
"Bauli Officially Launches Line Of Italian Baked Goods In The U.S. ", News release, Bauli, August 04, 2014, © Bauli
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Unilever To Cut More Jobs, Close Factories If European Consumer Income Falls, CEO Says

August 2, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Unilever would have to cut its European workforce further if consumers’ income levels fall in the region, according to company CEO Paul Polman. Reports said Polman indicated his company would “cut costs now and also close factories if the need is no longer there.” Unilever downplayed the report, however, with a company spokesperson saying the company has not announced any cost-cutting programs, based on its July 24, 2014, quarterly report.
"Unilever would eye job cuts if markets weaken: magazine", Reuters, August 02, 2014, © Thomson Reuters
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Whole Foods Announces Five-Pronged Growth Strategy

July 31, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Whole Foods Market, Inc. co-CEO Walter Robb revealed the natural foods retailer is pushing five “strategic priorities” that will support long-term growth. Discussed during a July 30 conference call with financial analysts focusing on third-quarter results, which included a 10 percent increase in sales to $3.377 billion, the strategic thrusts include unit development, revival of older stores, value creation, launch of its first national marketing and brand campaign, and a focus on “digital initiatives” to promote customer engagement in-store and online.
Monica Watrous, "Whole Foods details five drivers for growth", Food Business News, July 31, 2014, © SOSLAND PUBLISHING CO.
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Unilever To Assess Marketing Agency Capabilities As It Scrutinizes Digital Strategies

July 29, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Unilever has contracted with business development agency MediaLink to help evaluate digital strategies in creative, Web development, online marketing, mobile, social media and data and analytics. As part of the evaluation the company is looking at incumbent and new marketing agencies, an array of which will outline their capabilities in mid-August meetings. The process is not expected to finish until the end of the year. Unilever last year said it planned to cut in-house  marketing staff worldwide by more than 800 people, and would trim agency and commercial production fees as part of an ongoing cost-saving effort.
Alexandra Bruell, "Unilever Begins Global Digital Agency Review to Revamp Roster", Advertising Age, July 29, 2014, © Crain Communications
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Marketers Bet That Nascent Virtual Reality Technology Could Become An Effective Sales Tool

July 28, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
A market research firm predicts that sales of virtual reality and augmented reality hardware, including smart glasses and head-mounted displays, will reach $1.06 billion by 2018. Marketers like Coca-Cola, HBO and Nissan are betting on the eventual selling power of the technology, if hardware prices drop to levels that consumers can afford. Right now, these early experimenters have to provide the gadgetry themselves, so testing is done at big events like the Detroit Auto Show. Despite significant current hurdles – i.e., high cost and cumbersome equipment – the early players are betting that eventually the technology will deliver the “visceral customer experiences” that could drive product sales.
Cotton Delo, "Virtual Reality: Advertising's Next Big Thing?", Advertising Age, July 28, 2014, © Advertising Age
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Safeway's Shareholders Give Consent To Proposed Merger With Albertsons

July 25, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Safeway Inc.’s shareholders approved private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LP’s acquisition of the company and a planned merger with retailer Albertsons. Cerberus Capital Management agreed to buy Safeway in March 2014. Shareholders also elected the company’s nine directors and refused a proposed labeling of products with genetically engineered ingredients.
Maria Armental, "Safeway Shareholders Approve Albertsons Merger", The Wall Street Journal, July 25, 2014, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Cactus Juice Marketer’s Health Claims Deemed False By FTC

July 15, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
The Federal Trade Commission has ordered a cactus–based juice marketer to refund $3.5 million to consumers who fell for false claims that the drink relieves joint and muscle pain, inflammation, and respiratory and skin problems. Juice marketer TriVita, Inc., sells quart-size bottles of the “prickly pear” fruit drink derived from the Nopal cactus. In its advertising, the company used celebrity spokespeople and paid actors pretending to be satisfied customers, and made phony claims of clinical studies supporting the healing powers of the juice. “These kinds of unfounded claims are unacceptable, particularly when they impact consumers’ health,” an FTC official said.
"Cactus Juice Marketers to Pay $3.5 Million in Refunds to Consumers for Deceptive Claims that Their Product Treats Diseases", News release, Federal Trade Commission, July 15, 2014, © Federal Trade Commission
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Hershey Bumps Up Candy Prices As Ingredient Prices Soar

July 15, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Faced with soaring ingredients costs, Hershey Company has raised prices on certain of its candy lines by eight percent. The commodity cost inflation is taking a toll on the company’s bottom line: Hershey adjusted its 2014 profit forecast downward. Spot prices for candy ingredients such as cocoa, dairy and nuts have risen “meaningfully” since January, Hershey said. Cocoa futures reached a near-three-year high this month. The price hikes will affect instant consumable, multi-pack, packaged candy and grocery lines.
"Hershey increases prices as commodity costs rise", Reuters, July 15, 2014, © Thomson Reuters
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General Mills Sees China As A Bowlful Of Delicious Marketing Opportunities

July 15, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
General Mills says its new $15 million technical center in Shanghai, China, confirms its belief that the Chinese market presents a huge marketing opportunity for its cereals, snacks and other food products. The 75,000-square-foot center, one of several international technical centers it operates outside of headquarters in Minneapolis, Minn., gives the company the ability to take advantage of emerging consumer trends, build “bigger and better innovation pipelines”, and ensure food safety within its product lines. The center will develop snacks, convenient meals, yogurt and super-premium ice cream for Chinese consumers. Product R&D, food safety, nutrition research, and food sensory evaluation will all be housed there.
Eric Schroeder, "General Mills opens technical center in China", BakingBusiness.com, July 15, 2014, © Sosland Publishing Co.
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Taco Bell Replaces Cantina Bell Menu Items With Higher-Protein Meals

July 10, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Taco Bell has jumped on the protein bandwagon with the launch of Cantina Power bowls and burritos that also offer fewer carbs. The Cantina Power line, packed with double the meat and 20 grams of protein, replaces Cantina Bell burritos and bowls. It’s a fairly crowded bandwagon, now that food chains like Panera Bread and Subway have begun including more protein and other ingredients considered more healthful. A Taco Bell exec, noting that its customers aren’t looking for diet food, said, “Cantina Power is a big step forward in pleasing customers who like to eat a lot of protein.” Cantina Power menu items will remain less than 500 calories each and cost about the same as the Cantina Bell items.
Anne D'innocenzio , "Taco Bell pushes more protein with 'Cantina Power'", Businessweek, July 10, 2014, via Associated Press, © The Associated Press
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Nestle Divests Its Juicy Juice Beverage Business

July 2, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Nestlé USA has sold its Juicy Juice line of products to Harvest Hill Beverage Company, a portfolio company of Brynwood Partners VII L.P. The sale is the sixth and largest by Nestlé to a Brynwood-owned firm, and the third in the last 14 months. Terms and conditions were not disclosed. The 37-year-old Juicy Juice brand introduced by Libby's is widely distributed through food, mass and club retailers in the U.S. Brynwood said it will further develop the brand’s “nutritional and wellness attributes”.
"Nestle Sells Juicy Juice Brand", Consumer Goods Technology, July 02, 2014, © Edgell Communications.
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Survey Results Indicate A Shift In America’s Fast-Food Preferences

July 2, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Wake up call for the big fast-food chains: Americans don’t think your food tastes very good. A survey of more than 32,000 subscribers by Consumer Reports finds, for example, that hamburger aficionados prefer the fare served at In-N-Out-Burger, The Habit Burger Grill and Culver's over the burgers served at McDonald's. In fact, McDonald’s came in at No. 21 on the list of best-tasting burgers, behind Jack in the Box, Wendy's and Burger King. The best-tasting Mexican food is not served at Taco Bell, either, but at Rubio's Fresh Mexican Grill, Chipotle Mexican Grill and Qdoba Mexican Grill (Taco Bell came in at No. 8 on the list). A Consumer Reports editor noted that "more and more, food quality – not just low price – is emerging as a deciding-factor for many Americans”.
"McDonald's, Taco Bell, KFC laggards in U.S. fast-food survey", Reuters, July 02, 2014, © Thomson Reuters
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Hormel Buys Protein-Based Foods Maker CytoSport

June 30, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Meat processor Hormel Foods will acquire protein powder maker CytoSport Holdings for about $450 million. The move gives Hormel, producer of Spam, a broader profile in the growing market for high-protein supplements. CytoSport sells Muscle Milk and 100% Whey protein powder to consumers interested in weight loss, body building and fitness. Hormel CEO Jeffrey Ettinger said the acquisition “will build upon our strength in protein”. Researcher Nielsen said U.S. sales of packaged protein foods rose to $7.5 billion in February 2014, a 50 increase from four years ago. In 2013, Hormel acquired the Skippy peanut butter brand from Unilever.
Dana Mattioli et al., "Hormel Foods Agrees to Buy Muscle Milk Maker", The Wall Street Journal, June 30, 2014, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Nestle’s U.S. Chief Hopes To Fix Or Flush The Company’s Ailing Product Lines

June 30, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Paul Grimwood’s mission as head of Nestlé’s stressed U.S. operations is to turn troubled brands and product lines from sagging to soaring, or give them the ax. U.S. sales represent about 25 percent of the company’s annual $103 billion in revenues. But sales of many of its diverse brands – e.g., Oh Henry and 100 Grand candy bars, Juicy Juice fruit drinks, Ovaltine milk powder – have slowed considerably in recent years. Grimwood has already cut the number of flavor versions of products like Hot Pockets, and sold off the Jenny Craig diet business and PowerBar snack brands. Future targets include frozen meals (Lean Cuisine) and ice cream brands.
Annie Gasparro et al., "Nestle U.S. Chief Looks for Brands to Fix or Toss", The Wall Street Journal, June 30, 2014, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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No. 2 Hummus Brand Hopes To Boost Profile With Print, TV Ads

June 26, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Sales of refrigerated flavored spreads, like chick pea-based hummus, grew 21 percent in the year ended in May to a healthy $696 million. The market is dominated by the PepsiCo-owned Sabra brand, with a 63 percent share, followed at a distant second, with seven percent, by Tribe. To narrow the gap, Tribe has launched a print and TV ad campaign designed to distinguish it in the minds of hummus buyers, who, research has shown, don’t really pay much attention to anything but the color of the package. Tribe’s TV ads feature a mock National Geographic documentary style that focuses on couples “mating” and then eating Tribe hummus. The print ads take a different tack, humorously emphasizing the quality of the product – e.g., “The caviar of hummus.”
Andrew Adam Newman, "Tribe, Purveyor of Hummus, Hopes to Narrow Sabra’s Lead With New Campaign", The New York Times, June 26, 2014, © The New York Times Company
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Nestlé Sees Personalized Vitamins On The Horizon

June 26, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
A Nestlé company health research unit has joined forces with a Massachusetts-based analytical technologies firm to research the possibility of creating “made-to-measure” vitamin combinations customized for individuals. The first phase of their research will develop tests that can accurately measure levels of vitamins and other nutrients in blood and urine. Current analytical techniques aren’t sensitive enough, Nestlé says, are too slow, and lack the ability to measure a wide variety of molecules. Nestlé and Waters Corporation hope to come up with technologies that measure nutrients “in a quick, accurate and robust way”.
"Nestle takes first step towards made-to-measure vitamins", News release, Nestlé, June 26, 2014, © Nestlé
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Carl’s Jr. Unveils A New “Frankenfood”

June 25, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Yet another snack/dessert mash-up was introduced to the world recently when fast-food eatery Carl’s Jr. unveiled the Bisnut, a hybrid biscuit-doughnut it is market-testing. The treats are basically doughnut-shaped biscuits covered with white or chocolate icing and rainbow sprinkles. The company is testing the new product in its Southern California outlets, priced at $0.99 each or two for $1.89. A company spokesman said the restaurants had the signature “Made from Scratch Biscuit” dough laying around anyway, so they “tried making donuts out of it, and they tasted great".
Mary Beth Quirk , "Hey, Southern California: Carl’s Jr. Would Like You To Try Its New “Bisnuts”", Consumerist, June 25, 2014, © Consumer Media LLC
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Nestlé’s New Extrusion Capability In Egypt Will Help Expand Snack Production

June 24, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Nestlé has added an extrusion capacity to its Egyptian dry goods manufacturing facility to allow for the production of Crunch, a chocolate snack. Nestlé says it has invested about $140 million and doubled its workforce in Egypt since 2011. The company expects the new extrusion capacity will take advantage of the fast-growing snack food industry in the country, currently valued at $1.6 billion.
"Nestle inaugurates chocolate factory in Egypt", News release, Nestlé, June 24, 2014, © Nestlé
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Tesco Launches My Fit Lifestyle Line Of Healthy Food Products In UK

June 18, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Tesco launched its “my fit lifestyle” range of food products for consumers who want to eat healthy. Citing results of a research showing six out of 10 people eating at their work desk or on the move, and almost 90 percent of respondents saying they consume unhealthy foods because of their busy lifestyles, Tesco said the product range aims to help shoppers looking to have personalized eating plans. To help promote the product range, Tesco is employing the Ride ‘n’ Dine mobile restaurant and pre-booked taxi service to offer Londoners a chance to sample products from the “my fit lifestyle” lineup.
"Tesco launches brand new healthy food range for people ‘on the go’", Tesco PLC, June 18, 2014, © Tesco PLC
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Retailers & Private Label
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The Fig Newton Now Has Several Fruity Siblings – For A Carefully Researched Reason

June 18, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
It’s possible that only a few snack shoppers paid much attention when an old Nabisco snack – the Fig Newton was introduced in 1891 – suddenly became known simply as the Newton. It was no accident that the company started making Newtons with other fruit fillings years ago. Nabisco dropped the fig part of the name when research revealed that consumers thought of the fig as a “geriatric” fruit. It reminded people of prunes – a little too “laxative-y” -- and did not suggest natural or healthy. 
Robert Klara, "Kicking the Figs out of Fig Newtons", Adweek.com, June 18, 2014, © Adweek
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Pom Wonderful’s False Advertising Suit Against Coca-Cola May Proceed, Supreme Court Rules

June 12, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
A juice marketed by Coca-Cola as “Pomegranate Blueberry” actually contains very little juice from either of those fruits, according to the U.S. Supreme Court, which allowed a false advertising suit filed by juice maker Pom Wonderful to proceed. Coca-Cola’s advertising practices regarding the juice “allegedly mislead and trick consumers, all to the injury of competitors”. Coca-Cola’s juice blend is 99.4 percent apple and grape juices, 0.3 percent pomegranate juice and 0.2 percent blueberry juice, the court noted. At issue in the case was how to reconcile two federal laws, one allowing private lawsuits over misleading advertising and the other authorizing federal regulation of food labels. Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the unanimous Court, ruled that the two laws had different purposes.
Adam Liptak, "Coke Can Be Sued by Rival Over Juice Claim, Court Says", The New York Times , June 12, 2014, © The New York Times Company
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New Patented Process Allows Protein-Enhanced Pasta With Familiar Texture

June 10, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
The U.S. Patent Office has issued a patent to Kraft Foods for an invention called “nutritionally enhanced pasta”. The process employs a texture modifying agent that is added to pasta dough that has been “nutritionally enhanced” with ingredients like extra protein. The texture modifier allows the pasta producer to boost protein content without harming the quality of the pasta. According to the USPTO abstract, the agent contains an enzyme that allows the protein-packed pasta dough to be ”extruded in conventional pasta manufacturing equipment” to make a product whose texture is similar to typical semolina-based pasta.
"US Patent Issued to Kraft Foods Group Brands on June 10 for "Nutritionally enhanced pasta" (Illinois Inventors)", U.S. Fed News, June 10, 2014, © U.S. Fed News
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Acquisitions By Canadian Bread Company Position It To Serve Growing Ethnic Market

May 30, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Canadian bread company A. C. Simmonds and Sons has acquired FoodCrafters Group Inc., a Toronto-based supplier of baked and gluten-free products to retailers and food manufacturers. FoodCrafters owns Breadko National Bakery and Plasticap, a supplier of caps and closures for the food, dairy and beverage industries. Breadko makes pita bread, flat bread, thin buns, panini and thin bagels under brand names Alwatan Pita, Zeus Flatbread and Tiranga Nan. Simmonds also announced the launch of Mozaic Brands Corp., which will consolidate the company’s food businesses, including recently-acquired Goudas Foods, under one roof.  Simmonds says the acquisitions and realignments position it to better serve the expected $12 billion ethnic market in Canada, which over the next decade will comprise immigrants from China, South Asia and Latin America.
"A.C. Simmonds and Sons Inc. (BLVD Holdings Inc.) Acquires FoodCrafters Group and Launches Mozaic Brands Corp.", News release, A.C. Simmonds & Sons, May 30, 2014, © A.C. Simmonds & Sons
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Joint Venture Flour Milling Company Approved By Justice Dept.

May 27, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
A new joint venture involving three of the largest U.S. flour companies is set to begin operations soon following a nod from the U.S. Justice Dept. Flour miller Ardent Mills has somewhat complex parentage: it merges ConAgra Mills and Horizon Milling, itself a joint venture of Cargill-CHS joint venture formed in 2002. Ardent will focus on developing “innovative flour and grain products, services and solutions”, according to the companies. As a condition of the merger, DOJ required ConAgra and Cargill to sell four flour milling facilities to a U.S.-based subsidiary of Tokyo-based Nisshin Flour Milling Inc. Ardent Mills, now the nation's largest miller, will comprise 40 flour mills, three bakery mix facilities and a specialty bakery in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. The company headquarters will be in the Denver metro area.
"Big flour merger nears completion", AG Journal, May 27, 2014, © Gatehouse Media, Inc.
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ConAgra
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Diet Soda Drinkers Lose More Weight Than Water Dieters – Study

May 27, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
A 12-week clinical study subsidized by the U.S. beverage industry finds that drinking diet sodas helps people lose weight. The researchers, two of whom are paid consultants of the Coca-Cola Company, said that those who drank diet beverages during the study “lost more weight and reported feeling significantly less hungry” than participants who drank only water. The study among 303 people showed that people who drank diet sodas lost an average of 13 pounds – 44 percent more than the control group, which lost an average of nine pounds. Sixty-four percent of the diet soda group lost at least five percent of their body weight, compared with only 43 percent of the control group. Both diet soda and water groups saw reductions in waist circumference and blood pressure.
John C. Peters et al., "The effects of water and non-nutritive sweetened beverages on weight loss during a 12-week weight loss treatment program. ", Obesity, May 27, 2014, © The Obesity Society
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Coca-Cola Company
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Mexican Baking Giant Completes Purchase Of Canada Bread

May 23, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Giant Mexican baking company Grupo Bimbo has completed its purchase of Canada Bread Company for $1.83 billion in cash. Canada Bread’s shares were delisted from the Toronto Stock Exchange as of May 26. Shareholders of Canada Bread will receive payment of $72.00 a share in cash and a dividend of $0.437 a share. Grupo Bimbo’s main product lines include sliced bread, buns, cookies, snack cakes, English muffins, bagels, pre-packaged foods, tortillas, salted snacks and confectionary products. The company has 144 plants and more than 1,600 distribution centers in 19 countries in the Americas, Europe and Asia.
"Grupo Bimbo Completes Acquisition of Canada Bread", News release, Canada Bread Company, May 23, 2014, © Canada Bread Company
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Scent Marketing Plays A Growing Role In Attracting Customers

May 20, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Though scent marketing is a complex science – it can attract customers but also irritate neighbors – it is all the rage among retail stores, high-end apartment buildings and hotels, even senior living facilities. A company benefiting from the trend is Scentair Technologies Inc., a large seller of scent diffusers. A spokesman says sweet smells like brown sugar and apple work well, but "cooked food" aromas smell inauthentic. Scent marketing especially benefits stores that naturally create enticing aromas. And they are doing whatever they can to enhance that advantage. Bakery chain Cinnabon puts its ovens near the front of stores to get the most from the aroma of warm cinnamon rolls. Panera Bread is reassigning its baking staff to day shifts so customers will smell the bread as it bakes.
Sarah Nassauer, "Using Scent as a Marketing Tool, Stores Hope It--and Shoppers--Will Linger", The Wall Street Journal, May 20, 2014, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc
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Move Over Ronald, Happy Is Here To Sell The McDonald’s Menu To Kids

May 20, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Add another cute character to the list of marketing icons McDonald’s has used to get its unhealthful food message across to kids. At least that’s how the anti-McDonald’s community sees it. The fast-food giant recently introduced Happy, the new mascot of the child-focused Happy Meal. According to the director of the Value the Meal campaign at Corporate Responsibility International, Happy – basically a red Happy Meals box with a toothy grin, bug eyes, a golden arches hat and spindly legs – is the company’s latest effort to “market an unhealthy brand to kids”. The aging clown Ronald McDonald, meanwhile, is apparently getting a makeover so he’ll remain “modern and relevant”, according to a company spokesman.
Tom Gara and Julie Jargon, "A New Mascot in Old Fight Over Fast Food and Kids", The Wall Street Journal, May 20, 2014, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc
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Unilever Plans Building New Factory In Kenya For East Africa Market

May 18, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Unilever Ltd. said it plans to invest about Sh13 billion, or $150 million, to build a new factory in Kenya to help improve its production capacity in the country. Part of the company’s strategy to expand into the region and gain access to potential markets, the planned factory will manufacture products for the East African region and nearby emerging markets. Unilever executive vice president for East Africa and Emerging Markets Marc Engel said his company is pushing to transform Kenya into a manufacturing hub in the region, with production expected to start by 2016.
Winsley Masese, "Unilever mulls new Sh13 billion factory ", Standard Media, May 18, 2014, © The Standard Group
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Unilever
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Brands That Offer Eye Contact Have Serious Durability

May 16, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Turns out, eye contact – even from cartoon mascots on children’s cereal boxes and oatmeal canisters – is crucial to making connections with people and food products. Recent research into the importance of eye contact suggests that a lack of it in infancy may explain conditions as autism and schizophrenia. Eye contact makes people more socially aware and empathetic, and it can also lead to better health outcomes in doctor-patient relationships (if the doctor in fact looks at the patient rather than a laptop). It’s no surprise, then, that food brands that use characters – Aunt Jemima, Chef Boyardee, Uncle Ben, the Gerber baby, etc. – have been around a long time, while competitors without eye contact have vanished.
Kate Murphy, "Psst. Look Over Here.", The New York Times , May 16, 2014, © The New York Times Company
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Kellogg
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PepsiCo
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McDonald’s Stock Is Not For Fast-Buck Investors

May 16, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
McDonald’s is in the midst of a turnaround year, despite some much-publicized problems. The company’s stock is up seven percent so far in 2014 after a lackluster performance last year. One might wonder why: the company has posted six quarters of declining same-store sales in a row in the U.S. (though international sales rose 0.5 percent in the first quarter). Analysts say there is reason to be optimistic: an impressive dividend yield of 3.16 percent, for one thing, and a rock-solid position in the low-priced fast-food space. Lastly, the company’s sales per share continue to rise. That makes the stock “a defensive play in what may be an overheated stock market”. In other words, it’s a stock for conservative investors willing to stick around for a long, mostly low-risk, ride.
Philip van Doorn, "Burgers beat burritos — McDonald’s snaps back", Marketwatch, May 16, 2014, © Marketwatch Inc.
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Panera Opens Test Bakery In Connecticut

May 13, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
The Panera Bread Company has established a test bakery that experiments with its current products and also tests product innovations and “staffing models”. Located in New Haven, Conn., the test bakery allows customers to watch baking staff as they work during the day. The company expects to roll out a new sprouted grain bread offering that was tested at the New Haven bakery. It will be sold at all Panera locations as a bagel flat beginning this month. The company will also roll out a staffing model system-wide that permits bakers to interact more with customers during the day.
"Panera Bread Reveals Test Bakery", News release, Panera Bread , May 13, 2014, © Panera Bread
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WSJ Asks: Isn’t Advertising Covered By The First Amendment?

May 1, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
The Wall Street Journal sees a threat to free speech, and an attempted Federal Trade Commission “power grab”, in a lawsuit now at the federal appellate level that seeks to restrict the advertising claims of a pomegranate juice manufacturer and, by extension, other food and beverage companies. The makers of Pom Wonderful allegedly overstepped the boundaries of truthful advertising when they said the juice would help consumers “cheat death”. The Journal says the FTC seeks to create a burdensome hurdle – findings from at least two clinical trials – for food companies to make health claims for a product.
"Warning: Contains Juice", The Wall Street Journal, May 01, 2014, © Dow Jones
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