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Danone Trims Stake In Yakult, But Expands Collaboration

February 14, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
French food and beverage giant Danone said it is extending its collaborative relationship with Japanese probiotic beverage company Yakult Honsha Co. to “promote probiotics as part of a balanced diet.” Danone also disclosed that it has agreed to trim its 21.29 percent stake in Yakult to seven percent “in line with capital allocation priorities.” The companies said they would step up efforts to promote probiotics through their Global Probiotics Council, and will expand the Ishoku Dogen program focusing on the link between diet and health. Potential new collaboration projects include testing distribution of Yakult's products by Danone in European markets, starting with Spain.
"Danone Enters a New Phase in its Strategic Partnership with Yakult", News release, Danone, February 14, 2018, © Danone
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McDonald’s Sees Better Quality Chicken As Vehicle For Extending Growth Curve

February 13, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
McDonald’s, which is in the midst of a three-year growth period, is betting that offering “Better Chicken” will keep that growth bubbling along. The company’s plan is to upgrade the chicken items on its menu to achieve a premium status similar to Chik-fil-A. It has already implemented some customer-pleasing changes to its McNuggets and sandwich lines: it has promised to stop serving poultry with antibiotics; removed artificial preservatives from McNuggets; and launched Southern-style sandwiches and tenders coated in a crispy buttermilk breading. It’s a major shift for the decades-old burgers-and-fries company, whose customers see chicken as a healthier protein. "It's definitely a transformational era for McDonald's," said an analyst at Motley Fool. "Chicken is part of that." [ Image credit: © McDonald's ]
 
Leslie Patton, "McDonald's Bets that 'Better Chicken' can Keep Growth Run Going", Chicago Tribune, February 13, 2018, © Chicago Tribune
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Hain Celestial’s 2nd Quarter Sales, Profits Increase, But Miss Forecasts

February 7, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Natural and organic food marketer Hain Celestial (Lake Success, N.Y.) posted second quarter profit of $47.1 million on sales of $775.2 million, a five percent increase over the same period last year. Second quarter profit was up 73 percent over the prior year period. But the results missed Wall Street estimates, sending shares on a downward slide, dropping 6.3 percent in morning trading. Nevertheless, CEO Irwin D. Simon said he was pleased with the financial performance and noted that the company continues to look for ways to simplify its brand portfolio and “reduce complexities.” Though net sales for Hain Pure Protein increased four percent to $159 million over the prior year period, the company said it is exploring the divestiture of the business. [  Image credit:  © Hain Celestial  ]
"Hain Celestial Reports Second Quarter Fiscal Year 2018 Financial Results", Earnings release, Hain Celestial, February 07, 2018, © Hain Celestial
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Coca-Cola CEO Promises Further Innovation, Hints At Further Acquisitions

February 5, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey continues to call attention to his company’s need for ongoing innovation – even if there are some flops along the way – that will bring more consumer beverage choices not involving traditional soft drinks. “We need to learn, move on, and reinvent,” he said, noting that the company accepts the fact that beverages like water, juices, and tea may comprise the portfolio of the future, alongside traditional, and innovative, Coca-Cola soda brands. Quincey realizes that investors are looking for some excitement to rev up the company’s stock price, and even let on that further acquisitions are a possibility. And, significantly, he did not nix the possibility of entering the food or alcoholic beverage markets. “Never say never,” he told a CNN interviewer.
Paul R. La Monica, "Coca-Cola's New CEO: 'We've got to Experiment'", CNN Money, February 05, 2018, © Cable News Network
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Danone Manifesto Leads Funding Round For Organic Coconut Water Company

February 1, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Danone’s venture capital unit took the lead in a $30 million funding round for refrigerated premium coconut water producer Harmless Harvest (San Francisco, Calif.), citing its “unique DNA.” The company uses a novel micro-filtration process to produce fresh organic coconut water certified by Fair for Life. Danone Manifesto joined Mousse Partners, Accelfoods, and current shareholders in the round. Harmless Harvest will use the investment to boost production capacity, increase marketing, and expand distribution to “meet growing consumer demand for refrigerated premium coconut water.”
"Danone Manifesto Ventures Invests in Harmless Harvest, a U.S. Leader in the Premium Coconut Water Category", News release, Danone, February 01, 2018, © Danone Manifesto Ventures
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Hostess Builds Breakfast Brand Portfolio With Aryzta Acquisitions

February 1, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Hostess Brands said it is completing the acquisition of certain U.S. breakfast assets of Aryzta LLC, including a Chicago Cloverhill bakery, and the Big Texas and Cloverhill brands. Hostess said the addition of the brands to its business portfolio will “add significant strength to our growing breakfast business.” Specifically, Hostess: will gain greater access to the club, vending, cash and carry, and independent convenience stores sales channels; will have an expanded range of offerings in the breakfast category of sweet baked goods, including HoneyBuns, Danish Pastries and Cinnamon Rolls; and will have a 137,000 square-foot bakery facility that makes individually-wrapped Danish pastry. The company expects EBITBA losses in 2018 and 2019 as a result of the acquisition, but EBITBA contributions of $20 million to $25 million by 2020.  [ Image credit: ©  Aryzta ]
"Hostess Brands, Inc. Acquires Breakfast Brands and Expands Product Range", News release, Hostess Brands, February 01, 2018, © Hostess Brands
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British Produce Firm Acquires Large Stake In Dole Food

February 1, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
European fresh produce company Total Produce announced it has acquired a 45 percent stake in California-based Dole Food Company for $300 million. The equity was acquired from Board Chairman David H. Murdock. Dole generated $4.5 billion in revenue during the year ended in October 2017. The company said the transaction “creates the world's leading fruit and vegetables group with potential to realize synergies.” The Dole management team will continue to operate the business; Total Produce will share governance rights including equal board representation. Murdock will continue as chairman; Carl McCann, chairman of Total Produce, will be vice chairman.  [  Image credit:  ©  SEC.gov  ]
"Investment in Dole Food Company", Total Produce PLC, February 01, 2018, © Total Produce PLC
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“Blue” Chocolates Debut In Japan

January 31, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Japanese confectionery innovators have developed a naturally blue-tinted chocolate in two tones. Novelty store Village Vanguard said the chocolates come in two styles: one resembling the complex night sky, and the other suggesting the still winter atmosphere “where the air remains clear throughout.” The introduction of blue chocolate follows naturally-pink-colored ruby chocolate, dubbed the “fourth type of chocolate” in the world. Kit Kat Japan commercialized it last year. Village Vanguard said it was difficult to color the chocolates a deep blue. It solved the problem by adding blue-colored herbs from Thailand.  [  Image credit:  ©  Oh! Nuts  ]
 
Mikelle Leow, "Japan Invents Naturally Blue Chocolates Tinted in Colors of Day & Night Skies", DesignTAXI, January 31, 2018, © DesignTAXI
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Kroger’s Scan, Bag, Go Digital Shopping Service To Expand Nationwide This Year

January 31, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Kroger said it will introduce its Scan, Bag, Go shopping technology this year in 18 operating divisions and 400 stores. The company said it tested the service in several locations and decided to expand its availability across the U.S. through Restock Kroger. Scan, Bag, Go allows customers to use a wireless handheld scanner or the smartphone app to scan and bag products as they shop. Shoppers can view and download digital coupons, keep a running total of their order, and view the current week's sales ad. They can then provide payment directly through the app so they can exit the store quickly.  [ Image credit: © Kroger  ]
"Kroger Announces Divisions for Scan, Bag, Go Expansion", News release, Kroger Co. , January 31, 2018, © The Kroger Co.
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Mondelēz Stake In New Keurig Dr Pepper Enables Future Rewards

January 31, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Snack and candy company Mondelēz International has purchased a 14 percent stake in Keurig Dr Pepper, the company created by the recent acquisition of Dr Pepper Snapple Group by Keurig Green Mountain. The relatively small investment nevertheless gives Mondelez an insider’s perch to watch company performance, according to industry researcher Mintel, which notes that the stake could lead to a boost in investment or outright acquisition. This, in turn, would give Mondelēz a product portfolio that could compete against Nestlé, PepsiCo and other food and drink corporations. “In particular,” Mintel said, “Keurig Dr Pepper would allow Mondelēz to re-enter the fast-growing global coffee market and also to leverage Dr Pepper Snapple’s partnerships with emerging ready-to-drink beverage brands.”
Jennifer Zegler, "Mondelēz Could Emerge as a Winner in the Keurig Dr Pepper Merger", Blog entry, Mintel, January 31, 2018, © Mintel Group Ltd.
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McDonald’s Beats 4th Quarter Estimates

January 30, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
McDonald’s profit totaled $698.7 million ($0.87 a share) on $5.34 billion in revenue in the 4th quarter that ended December 31. Adjusted earnings were $1.71 per share, which beat the Wall Street forecast of $1.59 per share, as did revenue performance. U.S. same-store sales were up 4.5 percent during the quarter, due mainly to the two-for-$5 special known as McPick 2, to soda promotions, and to new Buttermilk Crispy Tenders. Early in the New Year, the company revived its McDonald's revived its popular Dollar Menu with $1, $2, and $3 items. One retail analyst called value meals a "necessary evil," however, because they lower profits and hurt sales of more expensive items even though they draw more customers.  [  Image credit:  ©  McDonald's   ]
Joseph Pisani, "McDonald's Boosted by Value Meals and New Chicken Snack", Chicago Tribune, January 30, 2018, © Chicago Tribune
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Walmart Makes Operational Changes To Speed Stock Replenishment, Delivery

January 30, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Walmart has decided it can compete more effectively with Amazon.com if it shares more investory data with suppliers so out-of-stock items can be replenished more quickly. Formerly available only internally, the company’s On Shelf Customer Availability (OSCA) data information will be shared at the Supplier Growth Forum, a two-day event at Walmart headquarters. The retailer also said it will tighten deadlines for delivery. It is now requiring large suppliers to deliver full orders within a specified delivery window 85 percent of the time or face a fine of three percent of the cost of goods. Previously, large suppliers had to hit a 75 percent threshold to avoid fines. The delivery threshold for smaller suppliers will move to 50 percent, up from 33 percent, effective in April.  [  Image credit:  ©  Walmart  ] 
"Walmart to share inventory data with suppliers in battle with Amazon", Reuters , January 30, 2018, © Reuters
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Kroger Looks To Bolster “Restock Kroger” Initiative With Executive Changes

January 30, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Kroger announced it is shuffling two management positions to bolster Restock Kroger, a data-drive initiative focused on pricing, personalized communications with customers, and a large revamp of product assortments. The company, the largest collector of food purchase data in the U.S., wants to put that data to competitive advantage as it expands meal- and food-shopping solutions. Thirty-seven-year Kroger veteran Steve McKinney, president of the Fry's Food Stores division, will become senior vice president of retail divisions, effective February 5. Monica Garnes, corporate vice president of produce-floral merchandising, will succeed McKinney as president of the Fry's division. She has been with Kroger for 23 years.  [  Image credit:  ©  Kroger  ]
"Kroger Names Steve McKinney Senior Vice President of Retail Divisions, Monica Garnes President of Fry's Division", News release, Kroger Co., January 30, 2018, © Kroger Co.
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Tyson Foods Invests In Another Alternative To Livestock-Sourced Protein

January 29, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Meat producer Tyson Foods, which markets about 20 percent of the meat sold in the U.S., has invested in a company whose mission is to eradicate farm-raised protein. The company invested in Silicon Valley-based Memphis Meats, which is trying to grow meat from animal cells, through its venture capital arm, joining Cargill, Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Atomico, and DFJ. Memphis Meats CEO Uma Valeti said he hopes his company will benefit from the Tyson and Cargill investments because of their deep knowledge of meat distribution. “They really understand how to scale up,” he says. “They’ll help us learn a lot about getting meat on the shelf.” Tyson has also backed Beyond Meat, which is attempting to replicate the taste of meat with plants.  [  Image credit:  ©  Wikipedia  ]
Beth Kowitt, "Tyson Foods Has Invested in a Startup That Aims to Eradicate Meat from Live Animals", Fortune, January 29, 2018, © Time Inc.
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Breakfast Biscuits Contribute To Steady Decline Of Breakfast Cereals

January 24, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Breakfast cereal sales are declining as fast as canned soup and cigarette sales, thanks in part to the rise of the simple breakfast biscuit, whose success is typified by Mondelez International’s belVita brand. Since its debut in the U.S. in 2012, sales have doubled to more than $600 million. Marketed as a healthful and nutritious energy boost, European-style belVita has gathered a loyal following as America’s breakfast preferences have changed dramatically. belVita’s sales have grown by double digits every year. On the other hand, breakfast cereal – which remains big business at $8.4 billion annually – has been declining at an annual rate of 2.6 percent over the past four years.. [ Image credit: © Mondelez International  ]
Greg Trotter, "How Breakfast Biscuit Became a Cereal Killer", Chicago Tribune, January 24, 2018, © Chicago Tribune
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Food Company Shareholders Submit Antibiotics Resolutions

January 14, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, a coalition of corporate investors, have each filed shareholder resolutions with three big food companies urging them to stop buying or producing meat raised with antibiotics. The resolutions submitted to McDonald’s Corp., Denny’s, and Sanderson Farms will be voted on at shareholder meetings unless challenged ahead of time. Last year, McDonald’s stopped buying chicken from suppliers who used antibiotics. The new resolution calls on the company to extend the practice to pork and beef. Rivals Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. and Panera Bread Co. already serve chicken, pork, and beef from animals raised without antibiotics.  [ Image credit: © ICCR  ]
Lisa Baertlein, "Investors Call on Sanderson, Denny's, McDonald's to Cut Antibiotics", Reuters, January 14, 2018, © Reuters
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Unable To Make A Dent, Danone Abandons The Indian Dairy Market

January 12, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
France’s Danone is discontinuing dairy brands in India that have been underperforming, including ultra-high temperature processing (UHT) brands and fresh dairy products, which have accounted for only ten percent of the company’s revenue in the country. Danone’s dairy portfolio comprised flavored yogurt, lassi and misti doi, and milk. India’s estimated $14 billion dairy market is dominated by cooperatives like the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd that owns the Amul brand. The decision means Danone’s factory at Rai, Sonipat, will stop production. The company said it will re-emphasizse the marketing of its portfolio of nutrition brands in the country.
Sounak Mitra, "Danone to Shut Down its Dairy Business in India", LiveMint, January 12, 2018, © HT Media Ltd.
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Dunkin’ Removes All Synthetic Dyes From Donuts

January 4, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Dunkin’ Donuts has removed all artificial dyes from its donuts in the U.S., almost a year before its original deadline. Calling the accomplishment ”an incredible milestone moment,” the company said it took years of research to make the transition to simpler donut ingredients and hopes to continue the trend with “innovative new flavors” in the months ahead. The company said it is on track to meet its end-of-2018 deadlines for removing synthetic dyes from its entire menu, including donut icings, fillings and toppings, and frozen beverages such as Coolatta frozen beverages, baked goods, breakfast sandwiches and coffee flavorings. Sister brand Baskin-Robbins is also working to remove synthetic dyes from its products. [ Image credit: © Dunkin' Donuts  ]
"To Ring in the New Year, Dunkin' Donuts Removes Artificial Dyes from Donuts", News release, Dunkin' Donuts, January 04, 2018, © Dunkin' Donuts
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Kroger Continues To Expand Its Clean-Label Product Offerings

January 3, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Kroger’s “Simple Truth” product line, which are free from more than a hundred artificial preservatives and other undesirable ingredients such as GMOs and antibiotics, is being expanded, the company announced. Simple Truth brand includes more than 1,400 natural and organic products in categories such as grocery, meat, produce, deli, bakery, baby, household essentials and personal care. New Simple Truth products will debut this year that “align with customer trends, including increasingly popular categories like beverage, snacking and non-animal proteins." The company said Simple Truth 3rd quarter sales grew 19 percent.  [ Image credit: © Kroger  ]
Alissa Marchant, "Kroger Will Expand Its Simple Truth Lines to ‘Align With Customer Trends’", The Shelby Report, January 03, 2018, © The Shelby Report
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Big Grocery Chains Can Do A Lot To Reduce Food Waste

December 19, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Three business and management scholars writing in the Harvard Business Review suggest several ways large food retailers – Kroger, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Carrefour, Walmart, etc. – can help reduce food waste in their supply chain, stores, and communities. The four-pronged strategy includes the following suggestions: upgrade inventory systems with the latest technology; partner with farms, where seven percent of U.S. produce is left unharvested; modify or eliminate traditional store practices that increase waste, e.g., focusing too heavily on the cosmetics of produce; and team up with consumers, only three percent of whom attach a social stigma to throwing away food. [ Image credit: © Walmart  ]
Yasemin Y. Kor et al., "How Large Food Retailers Can Help Solve the Food Waste Crisis", Harvard Business Review, December 19, 2017, © Harvard Business School Publishing
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Frito-Lay Settles False Labeling Suit Over GMOs

December 15, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Settling a class action suit filed in 2012, snack maker Frito-Lay has agreed to remove the package claim “All Natural” from any products that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The suit had accused Frito-Lay of violating several false labeling and consumer protection statutes, and generally misleading consumers. The crux of plaintiffs’ argument was that GMOs do not occur naturally, therefore a product containing them cannot be called “all natural.” The company agreed to pay up to $2.1 million in plaintiffs’ attorneys' fees and costs and spend $215,000 to inform consumers about the settlement. As much as $5,000 was awarded to each of the named plaintiffs. A final decision is pending because two unnamed plaintiffs objected to the settlement, which does not create enforceable law regarding GMOs. [ Image credit: © Frito-Lay  ]
Andrew M. Levad, "Frito-Lay Removes "All Natural" Label From Products Containing GMOs", Mondaq, December 15, 2017, © Mondaq Ltd
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Blue Bottle Coffee Expands To South Korea

December 8, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Nestlé, which acquired Blue Bottle Coffee in September, reportedly has established a Korean subsidiary (Blue Bottle Korea) and named a former Nestlé Korea executive director as general manager. Industry sources told Korea Times that a Blue Bottle Coffee shop will open in Seoul in March. Blue Bottle, founded in San Francisco 15 years ago, is considered a major player in the high-end coffee market, emphasizing “deliciousness, hospitality and sustainability as its corporate values.”
Park Jae-hyuk, "Blue Bottle Coffee coming to Seoul in March", KoreaTimes.co.kr, December 08, 2017, © KoreaTimes.co.kr
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Nestlé Expands Presence In Cuba With New Coffee Factory

December 6, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Nestlé is investing $54.4 million in a Nescafé coffee plant in Cuba that will employ 260 people by its third year of operation. The plant, a joint venture between Nestlé and Cuban food enterprise Corporación Alimentaria, S.A. (Coralsa), will also produce the local Cuban roast and ground coffee Serrano, Nestlé Fitness cereal based snacks, the Nesquik powdered beverage, and Maggi cooking aids. Nestlé has been operating in Cuba since 1908.
"Nestlé invests in new factory in Cuba", News release, Nestlé, December 06, 2017, © Nestlé
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Kellogg UK Revamps Cereal Line To Make Products More Healthful

November 30, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Kellogg UK announced the launch of the “Better Starts Plan,” a healthful breakfast initiative that involves revamping its cereal line, mainly by cutting sugar content. The company says it will, for example, reduce sugar in Coco Pops by 40 percent and in Rice Krispies by 20 percent. It will also launch a range of vegan and organic cereals, and continue to cut salt levels. The company says it is able to do all of this because its food development team was able to maximize flavor with cocoa and grains to maintain taste without using artificial sweeteners. The new plant-based cereal range called WK Kellogg will include no added sugar, low sugar, organic and vegan options. [ Image credit: © Kellogg UK  ]
"Kellogg UK Commits to Making Breakfasts Healthier with the Launch of Its New Better Starts Plan", News release, Kellogg UK, November 30, 2017, © Kellogg Co.
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Chipotle Founder Exits Company Battered By Food Safety Disasters

November 29, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Chipotle Mexican Grill founder and CEO Steve Ells [left] has resigned under pressure from investors unhappy with the failure to turn around the troubled chain over the last two years. Chipotle’s sales have never fully recovered from a string of E. coli, salmonella and norovirus outbreaks that sickened hundreds of U.S. customers in 2015. Chipotle shares, down more than 20 percent this year, rose more than five percent to $301.99 with the news of Ells’ departure. Prior to the food safety problems, the stock had reached a high of $742. [ Image credit: © Cornell University  ]
Lisa Baertlein, "Chipotle Founder Out as CEO as Investor Patience Expires", Reuters, November 29, 2017, © Reuters
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Gold Medal, Pillsbury Baking Products Reformulated Without Artificial Colors, Flavors

November 29, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
General Mills’ Gold Medal and Pillsbury baking mixes and frozen baked goods will no longer be formulated with artificial flavors or colors “from artificial sources.” The revamped line of products includes bread, biscuit, brownie, cake and muffin mixes, and frozen cinnamon rolls, muffins, and scones. According to the company, the products were reformulated to help bakeries, restaurants, and food service operations better meet the needs of customers with food intolerances or allergies, or who are following avoidance diets. Revamped Gold Medal muffin, brownie, and cake mixes will be available in June 2018. The new Gold Medal products will also have redesigned packaging with updated graphics, photography, and easier-to-read instructions.. [ Image credit: © Pillsbury  ]
Rebekah Schouten, "General Mills Launches Clean Label Baking Products", BakingBusiness.com, November 29, 2017, © SOSLAND PUBLISHING COMPANY
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New Production Plant In Myanmar Will Reduce Nestlé Imports By Half

November 27, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Nestlé Myanmar announced that it will be able to cut in half the number of Nestlé products imported from other ASEAN countries next year when its recently opened factory in the Yangon region achieves full production. Thailand is the main supplier of Nestlé products, along with Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Philippines. The six major brands produced and distributed in the area are Lactogen, Cerelac, Milo, Nescafe, Bear Brand, and Maggi.
Khine Kyaw, "Nestle Myanmar to Locally Produce Half of its Products", The Nation, November 27, 2017, © THE NATION
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Unilever Starts Process Of Looking For New CEO

November 23, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Unilever is working with executive search consulting firm Egon Zehnder International to search for current CEO Paul Polman's successor. Although the company has yet to officially announce a possible date for Polman's retirement, some unnamed sources expect the veteran executive to leave in about 18 months. According to Sky News, Egon Zehnder is helping Unilever's board of directors prepare for a formal search process.
Mark Kleinman, "Dove-maker Unilever paves way for exit of veteran CEO Polman", Sky UK, November 23, 2017, © Sky UK
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Restaurants Can’t Ignore Customers Looking To Avoid Certain Foods

November 21, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Big restaurant chains are swerving from their standardized approach to foods and beverages to better serve customers trying to avoid gluten and dairy. Customers with food intolerances or allergies, or who are following avoidance diets, have become a market simply too large to ignore. Starbucks, for example, now sells a hot chocolate drink made with steamed almond milk. California Pizza Kitchen offers a gluten-free cauliflower crust for those who don’t eat wheat-based foods. Industry research has found that lactose comes in third, after high fructose corn syrup and GMOs, as America’s most-avoided ingredients. Gluten and wheat came in at No. 7. [ Image credit: © Starbucks  ]
Zlati Meyer, "Starbucks, Other Chains Cater to Customers Who Avoid Dairy, Gluten", USA Today, November 21, 2017, © USA Today
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Top Coca-Cola Execs Discuss The Impact Of Culture Change On Innovation

November 21, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
At its recent investors day meeting, Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey and other top executives outlined for analysts how the company is changing its corporate culture to reflect shifts in consumer beverage and health trends. It is revamping e-commerce strategy, focusing on nutrition, and diversifying away from core soft drinks. Analysts were given examples of innovative international products in various markets and examples of incubating innovation and geographic scaling. Chief Growth Officer Francisco Crespo defined categories of innovation, including explorer brands (e.g., Honest Tea) that then graduate to challenger brands, and eventually to leader brands. Consumer-driven innovation is reflected in a growing presence in natural, craft, organic, and premium sparkling categories, and extension of the Coke brand to include Coca-Cola Coffee in Japan and Australia.
Dale Buss, "Coca-Cola Investor Day Outlines New Beverages, New Approach", BrandChannel, November 21, 2017, © Interbrand
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Coca-Cola Adapts Marketing Expertise To The E-commerce Experience

November 17, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Coca-Cola, which knows a thing or two about driving store traffic, is using that knowledge to enhance its e-commerce tactics in a world where customers are increasingly likely to purchase beverages using an online cart rather than a grocery store cart. To that end, it is improving the appearance of its digital store shelves,” integrating with voice technologies like Amazon Echo, and adding impulse buy options to click-and-collect pickup lockers. The idea behind these changes is to focus on current customers to drive digital sales, with the help of grocers and other online partners. It is also experimenting with direct-to-consumer marketing.
Jennifer Kaplan, "Coca-Cola Bid for Amazon Shoppers Means Boosting Digital Lineup", Bloomberg Technology, November 17, 2017, © Bloomberg Finance L.P.
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Millennials Will Drive Growth Of Frozen Foods, ConAgra CEO Says

November 15, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Conagra is betting that frozen foods will continue to grow – dollar sales were up two percent over the last 12 months – as Millennials try to save money and time, and still eat healthfully. The company has launched several new products within its frozen food brands, including Healthy Choice, Banquet, and Marie Callender's. Although the company does not say how much it spent on the revamp of those brands, the investment seems to be paying off. All three have posted sharp gains after the new lines were launched. The company also introduced new products under the Frontera and Alexia. CEO Sean Connolly said ConAgra’s next target is likely to be snack foods.  [ Image credit: © Healthy Choice.com  ]
Angelica LaVito, "Conagra's Bet on Frozen Food Appears to Be Paying Off", CNBC, November 15, 2017, © CNBC LLC
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Cold Coffee From Grocery Stores Is Cheaper, Faster, And Maybe More Healthful

November 12, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
U.S. retail sales of refrigerated ready-to-drink coffee rose 29 percent in the 52 weeks ended September 10 to more than $289 million, while the broader ready-to-drink coffee category that includes beverages sold at room temperature but intended to be chilled after opening is valued at $2.7 billion, and could reach $4.4 billion by 2022. Major coffee makers are filling grocery store refrigerated shelves with bottle or canned coffee beverages. But why? Cold coffee is the beverage of choice among Millennials, who often view it as a more healthful alternative to energy drinks and soda. It is also cheaper than a specialty coffee at a coffee shop, and can be purchased on-the-go without having to waste time waiting.
Julie Jargon, "Why Millennials Crave Cold Coffee", The Wall Street Journal, November 12, 2017, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Successful Innovators Embrace Failure

November 10, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
While many top executives pay li[p service to the virtues of innovation and creativity, they fear mistakes, missteps, and disappointments. Creativity and innovation disappear. People and organizations need to keep learning as the world changes, or they will stop growing and evolving. One of the reasons for the success of companies like Netflix, Amazon.com, and Coca-Cola, is that their leadership embrace failure as a learning and innovation tool. Coke CEO James Quincey, for example, recently told his executives to shed their fear of failure – remember the “New Coke” fiasco? – so they could really ramp up innovation. “If we’re not making mistakes,” Quincey said, “we’re not trying hard enough.”
Bill Taylor, "How Coca-Cola, Netflix, and Amazon Learn from Failure", Harvard Business Review, November 10, 2017, © Harvard Business School Publishing
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Bezos Aide Steve Keller To Helm Amazon’s Delivery, Grocery, Store Ventures

November 9, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos has given a longtime aide responsibility for Prime Now, AmazonFresh, as well as the $13.5-billion Whole Foods Market acquisition and brick-and-mortar book and convenience stores. The idea, according to observers, is to facilitate changes across the rapid-delivery and grocery-delivery operations, and the physical facilities. Steve Kessel [left] spent several years managing Amazon’s digital ventures, including books and music. His teams developed the Kindle e-reader Fire tablet in late 2011. After a four-year sabbatical, he returned in 2015 to oversee efforts to reimagine the in-store experience. [ Image credit: © Amazon.com ]
Laura Stevens, "Amazon Puts Whole Foods, Delivery Units Under Bezos Lieutenant", The Wall Street Journal, November 09, 2017, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc
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Au Bon Pain Reunites With Panera Bread

November 8, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Soup and sandwich restaurant chain Panera Bread has purchased 304-unit cafe/bakery company Au Bon Pain, which was once spun off from the Panera business by founder Ron Shaich. JAB Holding Co., a family-held European company, purchased publicly-held Panera earlier this year for $7.5 billion and took it private. JAB owns the coffee brands Keurig Green Mountain, Peet’s Coffee, and Caribou Coffee, and last year paid $1.35 billion for the Krispy Kreme Doughnuts chain. Shaich will step down as Panera CEO in January. [ Image credit: © Wikipedia   ]
Tiffany Hsu, "Panera Bread Buys Au Bon Pain, Adding to JAB’s Breakfast Empire", The New York Times, November 08, 2017, © The New York Times Company
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Ahold USA Earns Perfect Survey Score On LGBT Workplace Equality

November 9, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Ahold USA, the parent company of supermarket chains Stop & Shop, Giant, and Martin’s, as well as the grocery shopping/delivery company Peapod, received a perfect score on the 2018 Corporate Equality Index (CEI) administered by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. The national benchmarking survey and report evaluates corporate policies and practices lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) workplace equality. The high score earned Ahold USA the designation as a “Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality.” [ Image credit: © HRC ]
"Ahold USA Earns Top Marks In 2018 Corporate Equality Index", News release, Ahold, November 09, 2017, © Ahold
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Restaurant Nutritional Labeling To Arrive In May 2018

November 8, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
After numerous delays over eight years, the USDA has issued guidance on the implementation of the Obama-era law – part of the Affordable Care Act – requiring nutritional menu labeling. The guidance is intended to provide more flexibility to restaurants, convenience retailers, and pizza chains by offering more options for labeling calories on their menus. Restaurants could place a single placard a buffet bar, for example, instead of labeling each item individually. The controversial requirement, set to take effect in May of this year, was delayed again by the Trump administration. The new implementation date is May 2018. [ Image credit: © restaurant.org  ]
"FDA Is Moving Forward With Menu-Labeling", NACS, November 08, 2017, © NACS
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Starbucks To Offer Princi Foods In Its Reserve Roastery Locations

November 7, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Starbucks Coffee Company has opened the first Princi bakery and café location in the U.S. at its Reserve Roastery in Seattle, which opened in December 2014. The Princi bakery offers freshly-baked Italian food based on artisan baker Rocco Princi’s recipes. Princi also operates six bakeries in Milan and in London’s Soho neighborhood. The company said Princi will become the exclusive food offering in new Reserve Roastery locations, including Shanghai, opening next month, Milan in late 2018, and later in New York, Tokyo, and Chicago. [ Image credit: © Starbucks   ]
"Starbucks Brings Renowned Italian Princi Bakery to the U.S. Inside Seattle Reserve Roastery", News release, Starbucks, November 07, 2017, © Starbucks Corporation
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Hain Celestial‘s 1st Quarter Delivered “Solid” Gains In Sales, Profit

November 7, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Organic and natural products company Hain Celestial posted a healthy first quarter 2018 net sales increase of four percent to $708.3 million. Gross margin rose 250 basis points to 18.6 percent, and operating income soared 129 percent to $31.5 million. Diluted earnings per share was $0.19, while adjusted diluted EPS was $0.23. CEO Irwin D. Simon called the results "solid with improved net sales growth and profitability” and met expectations across all business segments. [ Image credit: © Hain Celestial ]
"Hain Celestial Reports First Quarter Fiscal Year 2018 Financial Results", News release, Hain Celestial, November 07, 2017, © Hain Celestial
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Aldi Customers Using The Venmo Payment App Can Donate Meals To Needy

November 7, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Discount grocery chain Aldi has partnered with the PayPal Venmo payment app to donate Thanksgiving meals to Feeding America. The meals are automatically donated every time a Venmo user adds a Turkey Hand Thanksgiving emoji on the payment screen. Feeding America annually provides meals to more than 46 million people through a network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs. Germany-based Aldi operates 1,700 stores in 35 U.S. states. [ Image credit: ©  Aldi ]
Chantal Tode, Robert Williams, "Aldi Partners with Venmo for Emoji-Based Holiday Giving Campaign", Mobile Marketer, November 07, 2017, © Industry Dive
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Coca-Cola EP Says Quarterly Revenue Drop Was Anticipated

November 7, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
The CEO of Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) said the company had expected the 1.5 percent drop in third quarter revenue year-over-year, noting that operating profit still rose 2.5 percent. Total revenue in the quarter was $3.5 billion (€3 billion) with operating profit reaching $547 million (€470 million). Damian Gammell said the company remains focused on driving profitable revenue growth, expanding its portfolio, and continuing to invest in the business by improving sales force capabilities, evolving routes-to-market, reducing low-value promotions, and leveraging digital caabilities. For the full 2017 financial year, the company sees diluted earnings per share in the range of $2.44 (€2.10) to $2.48 (€2.13).
"Coca-Cola European Partners Sees Revenue Drop 1.5% in Q3", European Supermarket Magazine, November 07, 2017, © European Supermarket Magazine
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Amazon Closes Two Whole Foods Stores In UK

November 6, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Online retailer Amazon said it plans to close two Whole Foods stores in the UK. Included in the shutdown list are the stores in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, and in Giffnock, East Renfrewshire, cutting the number of Whole Foods store in the country down to seven. About 150 people work at the two stores.
Ashley Armstrong, "Amazon closes two UK Whole Foods stores just two months after completing its £10.7bn takeover", Telegraph, November 06, 2017, © Telegraph Media Group Limited
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Whole Foods’ Top Trends In Beverage Ingredients And Formats

November 6, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Floral-flavored beverages are among the top food trends for 2018 spotlighted by the global buyers at Whole Foods Market. Whole flowers and petals like lavender, rose, hibiscus, and elderflower have made their way into lattés, cocktails, and sparkling waters. Powders like matcha, maca root and cacao offer an alternative to coffee. Functional mushrooms, including reishi, chaga, cordyceps, and lion’s mane star, are showing up in bottled drinks, coffees, smoothies, and teas. Plant-based ingredients and proteins (e.g., pili nuts, peas, bananas, macadamia nuts, pecans) are being used in nut milks and yogurts. Last but not least: flavored sparkling waters include plant-derived options from Sap! (made with maple and birch) and sparkling cold brew from Stumptown. “Mocktails” are being made with Topo Chico and Whole Foods fizzy waters.
"Whole Foods Market Reveals Top Food Trends for 2018", News release, Whole Foods Market, November 06, 2017, © Whole Foods Market
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Stagnant Indonesia Economy Could Drive Unilever To Tinker With Product Portfolio

November 2, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A PT Unilever Indonesia executive said a stagnant business environment tends to increase the cost of living and push middle-class consumers toward smaller, cheaper products. More affluent consumers, however, continue to buy premium-priced goods. Consumer research in Indonesia shows that the composition of high-income, middle-income, and low-income consumers is now 10 percent-40 percent-50 percent, respectively. The middle-income segment could decline, however, if the stagnant environment persisted. Anticipating that, Unilever would “need to change our portfolio."  [ Image credit: © Unilever Indonesia   ]
Anton Hermansyah, "Middle consumer segment shifts to lower-value goods", The Jakarta Post, November 02, 2017, © PT. Niskala Media Tenggara
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Danone Russia Tests Selling Dairy Products Online

November 1, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Danone’s Russian division has launched a test website to sell dairy and baby food products online. The Tema, Prostokvashino, Activia, and Actimel (drinkable yogurt) brands will be offered on milkdirect.ru with a minimum purchase of $8.68, and free delivery within 30 km of the Moscow Automobile Ring Road (MKAD). Industry experts say at least a thousand orders a day are required for profitability. Danone plans similar projects in the U.S. and France.
"Russia: Danone launches online store", Esmerk, November 01, 2017, © Esmerk Oy
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Coke India Now Offers Localized Beverage Options

October 28, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Coca-Cola India’s new president says his company is now catering to the country's beverage preferences with a “hyper-local” range of juices, including multiple pack options, and sparkling drinks. It is testing ethnic flavors in carbonated soft drinks, such as the “jeera” drink “RimZim” and the grape-flavored “Portello.” It is experimenting with flavored hydration drinks, and exploring low-sugar options within its carbonated beverage brands. The company said its new approach is based on the discovery that consumers appreciate customization – now provided by smaller players – and are looking for ethnicity. Coke’s mistake was trying to create a national brand, says T. Krishnakumar.
Ratna Bhushan, "Coca-Cola India to Flavour a Bigger Portfolio with Ethnicity", The Economic Times, October 28, 2017, © Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd.
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Data Analytics Platform Helps Tesco India Detect, Prevent Shopping Fraud

October 27, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
The Indian technology center for supermarket chain Tesco has created a platform and team that detects online and offline fraud involving its massive amounts of collected customer data. The 18-member staff is focused on combating fraud for online businesses (food and non-food), buyer-supplier collusion fraud, and employee fraud at checkout counters. The platform is programmed to detect anomalies in purchasing patterns that might indicate fraud, such as bulk purchases of products like alcohol and cigarettes.  [ Image credit: © geograph.org.uk  ]
"Tesco unit builds anti-fraud platform for online businesses", Economic Times, October 27, 2017, © Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd.
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Big Food Agrees To Clarify Food Expiration Labels

October 26, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Fifty of the biggest players in the food industry, led by Campbell, Walmart, Kellogg, and Nestlé, are changing their expiration labels exclusively to “Use By” over the next three years. That means that by 2020, consumers will not have to deal with confusing labels that say “Sell By,” “Display Until,” or “Best Before.” The companies, all members of the Consumer Goods Forum Board, unanimously approved the change after concluding that confusing labeling that leads to premature disposal is one of the leading causes of food waste around the world. About 40 percent of food that is bought in the U.S. is thrown out often unnecessarily. About 1.3 billion tons of food are wasted annually around the world, contributing to eight percent of greenhouse gases. [ Image credit: © General Mills  ]
Leanna Garfield, "Walmart and Nestlé are spearheading a Massive Change in Food Expiration Dates", Business Insider, October 26, 2017, © Business Insider Inc.
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Danone Expands Plant-Based Beverage Factory Acquired In WhiteWave Deal

October 26, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Danone announced it will spend $60 million to expand production and warehouse capacity at its plant-based beverage factory in Rockingham County, Virginia. The company acquired the factory, located in Mount Crawford, in the $12.5 billion purchase of WhiteWave Foods, now known as DanoneWave. The 500-employee unit’s plant-based portfolio includes brands such as Silk, So Delicious Dairy Free, and Vega. The company said the plant expansion will add 49 new jobs.
"Danone to Invest $60m in Plant-Based Beverage Operation in US", FoodBev, October 26, 2017, © FoodBev Media Ltd
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