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French Baker Defends His $29 Brioche Loaf

The owner of a French bakery that opened recently in San Francisco defends his expensive offerings as the “real deal,” and the same amount charged in any big city. Les Gourmands, owned by baker Sylvain Chaillout, sells a $29 brioche loaf, which some social media commenters castigated. Chaillout noted that the high prices help pay for the bakery’s 18-month paid apprenticeships for bakers-in-training, which start at $14 an hour. And the brioche? A San Francisco Chronicle reporter called it “sweet, rich and buttery.” [ Image credit: ©  Les Gourmands  ]

"Pricey or ‘Ripoff’? Recently Opened San Francisco Bakery Sells $29 Loaf of Bread", The Sacramento Bee, November 10, 2017

Bezos Aide Steve Keller To Helm Amazon’s Delivery, Grocery, Store Ventures 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 Puts Whole Foods, Delivery Units Under Bezos Lieutenant", The Wall Street Journal, November 09, 2017

Ahold USA Earns Perfect Survey Score On LGBT Workplace Equality

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

Au Bon Pain Reunites With Panera Bread

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   ]

"Panera Bread Buys Au Bon Pain, Adding to JAB’s Breakfast Empire", The New York Times, November 08, 2017

Aldi Customers Using The Venmo Payment App Can Donate Meals To Needy

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 ]

"Aldi Partners with Venmo for Emoji-Based Holiday Giving Campaign", Mobile Marketer, November 07, 2017

Starbucks To Offer Princi Foods In Its Reserve Roastery Locations

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

New Packaging Technology Extends Shelf Life Of Baked Goods

A new packaging technology is now being used by a German baking company to provide ready-to-serve cakes without the need for cold chain, freezers, or defrosting by the consumers. The technology, developed by Constantia Flexible, comprises a sealed aluminum container that keeps the cakes at ambient temperature for a full year without artificial preservatives. Bäckerei Stiebling, which is bringing its Cakees business to the U.S., says the alufoil containers are resistant to the baking process and can be sealed airtight instantly after the baking process.  [ Image credit: © Bäckerei Stiebling  ]

"Cakees Sees Geographic Expansion Thanks to Ready-To-Serve Cake Container",, November 07, 2017

Italian Fashion Company Adopts Food Theme As It Partners With Pasta Maker

The Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana has partnered with Italian pasta maker Pastificio di Martino to produce a limited-edition tin of pastas accompanied by a D&G-designed apron. Just 5,000 of the tins will be available worldwide, only a fifth of which will be sold in the U.S. Pastificio di Martino, based in Naples, produces more than 9,000 tons of pasta a day from 100 percent Italian durum wheat. Dolce & Gabbana has designed the packaging for three of Pastaficio’s 125 shapes: spaghetti, the tubular paccheri, and penne mezzani rigate. In September, D&G’s line of food-oriented outfits walked the runway at the Paris show for its spring 2018 collection.  [ Image credit: © Pastificio di Martino ]

"Dolce & Gabbana Is Now in the Pasta Business", Bloomberg Pursuits, November 03, 2017

Not Clear If “Pimple Cupcakes” Video Boosted Bakery’s Business

A video made by an Oklahoma baker and shared on Facebook has garnered 42 million views. The video shows one of her “pimple cupcakes” being squeezed and “popped,” as yellow pus-like filling squirts out the top. The video has been called disgusting and hilarious, but no matter what, it is always fascinating. The popularity of the footage – 300,000 shares on Facebook – has led to requests from around the world for orders. But the baker has balked at global shipping, and has apologized to potential customers. She said it would be “reckless” to try shipping cupcakes without knowing how to protect them from being “mushed.” Really? Noted Kansas City Star food writer Lisa Gutierrez: “Like that’s the worst thing she’s ever done to a cupcake.”  [ ...  More

"Eeeew! Millions are Fascinated by this Popping Pimple Cupcake Video", The Kansas City Star, November 03, 2017

U.S. Consumers Need To Know About Benefits Of Unrefined Whole Grains

Australia’s Freedom Foods Group is on a mission to educate American consumers about the benefits of unrefined whole grains, the kind it uses to make its range of Barley+ breakfast muesli products and snack bars. According to the company, the highly refined carbohydrates in the American diet not only do not deliver nutritional benefits like a healthier gut, they increase the risk of disease. Kroger Supermarkets in the U.S. is selling the Barley+ range, with distribution expanding in both the U.S. and Australia. The toasted muesli collection is available in three flavors: cranberry and nuts, pink lady and macadamia muesli, and maple and nut. They retail for $6.49.  [ Image credit: © Freedom Foods  ]

"Carbs are Not the Enemy: Natural Foods Company Believes They Are The Secret to Gut Well-Being", News release, Freedom Foods Group, October 31, 2017

L’Oreal And Nestle To Face Ownership Options For French Cosmetics Group

The death of heiress Liliane Bettencourt, whose family owns 33 percent of L’Oréal, will likely force key investors to address the company’s ownership structure. Nestlé SA, which owns 23 percent, agreed with the Bettencourts not to increase stakes in L’Oréal, but this agreement expires in six months.  Nestlé could then purchase a controlling share in L’Oréal but is more likely to sell its stake, a move that would force L’Oréal to accept wider (and potentially hostile) ownership or opt to invest further funds in the company, boosting earnings per share but reducing funds available for acquisitions.  For Nestlé, the resulting 24 billion euro windfall brings a dilemma. It could payout funds to appease shareholders and especially its activist ...  More

"A Historic Moment for L'Oreal... and Nestle", Bloomberg Gadfly, September 22, 2017

Companies, Organizations  

Successful Innovators Embrace Failure

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,, 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.”

"How Coca-Cola, Netflix, and Amazon Learn from Failure", Harvard Business Review, November 10, 2017

Market News  

PepsiCo’s Indian Bottler Drops Plans To Sell Competing Salty Snack

Following discussions with PepsiCo, Indian bottling company RJ Corp shelved plans to sell salty snacks under the Kaabuli brand, which competes directly with PepsiCo’s Kurkure snack brand. RJ Corp, PepsiCo’s largest bottler, has a noncompete agreement with PepsiCo in the beverage market. However, “both companies leverage synergies across the former’s retail and hospitality ventures,” according to The Economic Times.

"RJ Corp withdraws plans to launch salty snacks under Kaabuli brand", The Economic Times, November 16, 2017

The Evolution of Breakfast in Japan

Mintel, November 10, 2017

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