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India’s Food Safety Regulator Announces Initiatives To Promote Safe Food

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India has unveiled a set of initiatives to promote safe food in a variety of venues. The ten initiatives, launched on the anniversary of the Food Safety and Standards Act of 2006, will target homes, schools, offices, trains and railway stations, restaurants and religious facilities. FSSAI, for example, will provide a comprehensive guide to households and create a dedicated website for safe and nutritious food at home. It will  prepare a list of high fat, sugary and salty junk foods to ensure food safety and nutrition in schools. And it will require businesses that provide mid-day meals to be licensed by the FSSAI.

"FSSAI Announces Initiatives to Promote Safe Food Culture", The Economic Times, August 23, 2016

UK Retail Market Posts Fastest Growth In August 2016 Quarter

In the UK, the grocery market grew 0.3 percent during the 12-week period ending August 14, 2016, according to Kantar Worldpanel. Data from the market research firm's latest report showed the sunny weather drove sales growth for the frozen confectionery segment, with 23 percent, and chilled drinks, 10 percent. Promotional sales dropped to 37.7 percent of total grocery sales from more than 40 percent recorded in 2015. Aldi saw sales rising by 10.4 percent, with its market share also going up 0.6 percentage points to 6.2 percent. Tesco's sales dropped 0.4 percent, the slowest decline rate for the retailer in six months. Co-op's market share expanded to 6.6 percent, driven by the 2.8 percent increase in sales.

"Grocery market heats up while promotions cool", Kantar Worldpanel, August 22, 2016

Strong Technology And Supply Chain Provide Winning Formula For Target

In the year since Mike McNamara took over the CIO job at Target, he realized that prioritizing the company’s 800 IT projects was Job One. He and his team whittled the “to do” list down to a hundred that represented Target’s top business objectives. These included enhancing the company’s online and in-store shopping experience, supporting small-format stores, modernizing the supply chain, and improving in-stocks. The result, according to McNamara, was “nothing short of sensational,” as the company reduced reliance on third party IT consultants from 70 percent to 30 percent, saving hundreds of millions of dollars. Stability and performance of key retail systems – i.e., cash registers and hand-held devices – have improved. McNamara... More

"Target CIO: Prioritizing Stores, Digital, Supply Chain and Hiring Engineers", News release, Target , August 22, 2016

Seafood Quick-Service Chain’s Mobile Campaign Explains Sustainability Efforts

Fast-seafood chain Long John Silver’s has launched a social responsibility mobile ad campaign with a video on sustainability that highlights its primary menu items – 100 percent wild-caught Alaskan pollock and cod – and tells viewers about its continuous monitoring of Northern Pacific waters. Fishing quotas for the two fish species are regularly adjusted to ensure the species’ strength and survival. The two-minute video was filmed in Alaska and features narration alongside clips showing the state’s Pacific shores. Other videos in the campaign appearing on Vine, YouTube and Facebook, will discuss family and food quality.

"Long John Silver’s Highlights Corporate Sustainability With Snackable Mobile Videos", Mobile Marketer, August 19, 2016

U.K.’s Competition Regulator Says It Will Likely Okay A Hain Celestial Acquisition

The U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority has said it will likely accept a proposal from Hain Celestial that would allay the agency’s concerns regarding the American company’s acquisition of British firm Orchard House Foods. The CMA was worried about the impact of the acquisition on Britain’s fruit juice market. To dispel the concerns, Hain Celestial offered to sell its assets in the manufacture and supply of branded and own-label freshly squeezed fruit juice to retail and foodservice customers, except for one juice brand. The company said it would sell the assets to U.K. food and beverage firm Multiple Marketing Limited.

"Hain Celestial Ends Week with Sign of Optimism Over Orchard House Deal in UK", Just-Food, August 19, 2016

Whitworths Develops Two Fruit-Based Bake Mix Add-Ins

A British supplier of dried fruits and nuts has launched a family of baking mixes that combine “natural ingredients with tasty indulgences.” Whitworths’ Mix ‘n’ Bake products, available only at Asda stores beginning in September, come in two flavors: Choc Salted Caramel and Dark Choc Cherry. The mixes contain, in addition to chocolate or caramel, either apple pieces or cherry berries, cherry apple pieces, and raisins. The mixes are added to recipes for cookies, flapjacks, cupcakes or brownies. The company said the products were developed after extensive market research and a public vote on its social channels.

"Whitworths Launches Mix ‘N’ Match", The Food & Drink Industry Magazine, August 18, 2016

Walmart’s Stellar Online Sales Quarter Also Saw A Rise In Store Traffic

After several years, and billions of dollars in investment, Walmart is finally reporting an upbeat online sales picture. Second-quarter (ending July 31) online sales leapt 11.8 percent, after nine quarters of sluggishness. The encouraging sales report, observers say, was due to a mix of factors, including the roll-out of its Walmart Pay mobile app, expansion of free grocery pickup for online orders, and the launch of an Amazon Prime-like subscription service. But perhaps most encouraging was the fact that Walmart succeeded in boosting store traffic –  up 1.2 percent – while increasing online buying. The results prove the company’s strategic axiom: digital sales and store sales must be symbiotic.

"Here's How Walmart Is Reigniting Its E-Commerce Growth", Fortune, August 18, 2016

Walmart Reaps Benefits Of Investment In Ecommerce, Store Environment, And Employees

Though some other big retailers – e.g., Target and Macy’s – are slogging their way through a period of sluggish store spending, Walmart is sailing along on prosperous seas. After investing billions of dollars into making its U.S. stores more efficient and pleasant, raising employee wages, and streamlining ecommerce operations, the company reports not only increased online sales but higher store traffic (assisted in part by lower gas prices). Walmart’s online sales rose faster than the previous quarter – the first time this has happened in nine quarters. For the quarter ended July 31, Walmart profits were up 8.6 percent, and revenue crept up by 0.5 percent to $120.85 billion.

"Wal-Mart Store Overhauls Help Boost Sales", The Wall Street Journal, August 18, 2016

U.K. Unveils Details Of Plan To Deal With Childhood Obesity

The British government has crafted a plan to fight childhood obesity that asks food and beverage manufacturers to voluntarily trim sugar levels by 20 percent within five years, and five percent in the first year. “Other levers” will be applied if the voluntary targets are not met. The plan includes a two-level sugar tax that treats sugar content of five grams per 100 milliliters differently from sugar content of eight grams per 100 milliliters. The plan does not include a ban on advertising sugary drinks. Lastly, the plan stresses exercise in school, calling for primary school children to get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a day.

"Sugar Tax Included In Strategy To Tackle Childhood Obesity", Retail Week, August 18, 2016

Euromonitor Acts To Save Orangutan Habitat In Indonesia Through Reforestation

Euromonitor announced it is sponsoring reforestation in Indonesia, where forest fires and palm oil plantations have taken their toll on the habitat of native orangutans. The animals were recently added to the critically endangered list because, under current conditions, they are likely to become extinct in the wild. Euromonitor’s replanting program has already begun, with the first 10 hectares of land reforested with a total of 11,221 seedlings purchased from the Mantangia Village Nursery between December 2015 and April 2016.  The company expects to replant 1,000 hectares during its Carbon Balance Program.

"Deforestration, Palm Oil, the Orangutan, and Euromonitor’s Carbon Balance Programme", Blog entry, Euromonitor International, August 16, 2016

Company Sees Market Potential For Nutritious Waste Product Of Rice Milling

A company founded in 1998 to make use of a “waste” byproduct of white rice milling is refocusing its product strategy from animal feed to human food, thanks to its application of a proprietary technology that prevents the product from going rancid. RiceBran Technologies says the nutritious protein-rich brown, outer layer of rice has numerous applications, from functional beverages to protein bars, snacks, pasta, crackers, a filler in blended meat products, and breading and batters. The main reason rice bran has been wasted is that the lipase enzyme spoils the product quickly unless it is stabilized. RiceBran’s stabilizing technology uses enzymes to preserve the nutrition. The company says the market potential of rice bran as human... More

"How One Company Used an Enzyme to Turn Food Waste Into a Superfood", Epoch Times, August 16, 2016

Australian Online Produce Firm Expands With More Items, Free Delivery

An Australian online retailer that once specialized in fresh produce has launched what it calls The General Store, an expanded grocery store with free delivery service that requires no minimum purchase. Aussie Farmers Direct, which began 11 years ago as a source of fresh produce, now offers 170 Australian-sourced fruit and vegetables, dairy, bread, deli items, meat, chicken, seafood, pasta and fresh gourmet meals. The new delivery program puts the company in direct competition with big online grocery marketers like Coles and Woolworths, providing an alternative for shoppers and for food producers looking for a new sales channel.

"Aussie Farmers Direct Takes on Coles and Woolies with Online Grocer The General Store", Smart Company, August 16, 2016

Big Food Companies Study The Success Of Food Delivery Start-ups

The success of start-ups in home food kit delivery like Plated and Blue Apron has caught the attention of some big companies that seem a little surprised there is such strong consumer interest in convenience. The big question for ConAgra is not whether to get involved in home delivery of food kits, but how: Partner? Acquire? Analytics chief Bob Nolan says the company needs to “develop a solution for the next ten years” that will be a radical departure from what it’s done for 50 years. Unilever, however, has experience working with partners in ecommerce and is exploring how such deals would work in food delivery. Shopper insights director and busy mother of three Allison Scott admits that “Plated has changed my life.” She is... More

"ConAgra, Unilever Mull Delivering Meals to the Home", CPG Matters, August 15, 2016

Supermarkets Turn To “Experiential Retailing” To Grow Market Share

Though 25 percent of U.S. grocery shoppers say they are spending more at supermarkets, Mintel data show otherwise. Consumers are actually more likely to shop for groceries at other channels, like mass merchandisers, warehouse clubs and drug stores. Nearly two in five consumers shop secondarily at Walmart, the highest retailer “also shopped” for groceries. Total U.S. multi-outlet sales of groceries will rise 2.5 percent this year to $652 billion, but supermarket sales will grow only 1.9 percent to $317.8 billion. The result? To compete, grocers are turning to innovation and experiential retailing to hold onto or grow market share. For example, ShopRite in Morristown, N.J., offers an in-store restaurant, juice bar, oyster bar and a... More

"US Grocery Stores Struggle To Keep Up", Blog entry, Mintel, August 15, 2016

New Innovation Center Helps Walmart Fine-Tune New Product Launches

It’s important for Walmart to get its grocery offerings just right, because grocery accounts for 56 percent of sales. To accomplish that, the company has opened a 12,000 ft2 culinary and innovation center in Arkansas outfitted with 10 kitchens, including replicas of in-store bakery and deli kitchens, as well as stoves, ovens and microwaves like those found in customer homes. A sensory lab provides staff with food and beverage feedback from customers and employees on topics like texture, saltiness, and sweetness. The company shares findings with suppliers, saving money and shortening product launch times.

"A Look At Wal-Mart's Food Lab, Aimed At Developing New Items", Associated Press, August 12, 2016

Spending Trends Make Some Retail Sectors Skittish

Retail sales in the U.S. were sluggish in July, especially among clothing and electronic goods vendors, where shopping is shifting from brick-and-mortar stores to the Internet. It’s not because American consumers aren’t spending. After all, unemployment is down, income is up, and energy prices remain low. U.S. households have increased spending every quarter since the end of 2009. But there has been a shift in where Americans spend, toward entertainment, travel and healthcare -- and online. The experts don’t seem alarmed. One economist said the news signals “a pause in a good pace of spending”, while a global forecaster expects a 2.6 percent gain in gross domestic product this quarter over a year earlier. Still some sectors have... More

"Where We Spend Is Upending Traditional Retail", The Wall Street Journal, August 12, 2016

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