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Period: August 27, 2011 to September 3, 2011
Comment & Opinion or Companies, Organizations or Consumers or Controversies & Disputes or Deals, M&A, JVs, Licensing or Earnings Release or Finance, Economics, Tax or Innovation & New Ideas or Legal, Legislation, Regulation, Policy or Market News or Marketing & Advertising or Other or People & Personalities or Press Release or Products & Brands or Research, Studies, Advice or Supply Chain or Trends
Companies, Organizations  

Unilever Aids Relief Efforts In Drought-Stricken East Africa

With the U.N. declaring countries in the so-called Horn of Africa (Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, etc.) in a state of crisis or emergency because of severe drought and famine, Unilever says it is working with disaster and emergency relief partners to determine how to boost relief efforts. East African countries are enduring the worst drought in six decades, according to the U.N. About 2.8 million people need immediate life-saving assistance; 450,000 are affected by the famine. The company says its local businesses in Kenya and South Africa have been donating cash and food products; the Unilever global business has pledged €500,000 in cash and food products through UNICEF, Save the Children, Oxfam, Population Services International (PSI) and WFP.

"Unilever responds to East Africa crisis", Unilever, August 30, 2011

Nonprobiotic Digestive Heath Products Benefit From Dannon’s Ad Campaign For Activia

Products in the digestive health category are selling well, thanks at least in part to Dannon’s aggressive marketing campaign for its Activia yogurt. Ads featuring actress Jamie Lee Curtis have made countless people aware of the importance of digestive health, says Danielle Harrison of National Enzyme Co. And probiotics aren’t the only beneficiary of the campaign. Nonprobiotic ingredients that have experienced an uptick in sales include aloe vera, fiber and enzymes. The business development manager at Xsto Solutions says his company’s products, including a Japanese chelated zinc and L-carnosine ingredient, is experiencing double-digit growth. PepZin GI, supports a healthy mucosal lining in the digestive system.

"Despite rumblings, probiotics are still the gods of the gut", Functional Ingredients/Newhope, August 29, 2011

Market News  

Carrefour Posts Half-Year Drop In Profit

French retail chain Carrefour reported a 2.3 percent increase in sales in the first half of 2011 to €39.6 billion ($56.3 billion), but a drop in profit of €927 million ($1.3 billion), compared to a profit of €14 million a year ago. The company attributed the drop in profit to “unsatisfactory performance” in France and a “tough environment” in Europe. Weak sales and unsatisfactory profit performance were the key problems in France, along with underperformance in Italy and Greece. Latin America, however, experienced solid growth in sales, and included an “encouraging turnaround” in Brazilian hypermarkets. The company also reported good growth in China and a confirmed recovery in Taiwan.

"Carrefour H1 2011 Results", Press release, Carrefour, August 31, 2011

Walgreens Introduces New In-House Brand

Walgreens has introduced its Nice! store brand in retail stores across the United States. The brand will include more than 400 grocery and household products, which the company claims will come 30 percent cheaper than other national brands. Walgreens plans to place Nice! products on its shelves by early 2012 and will keep adding to the brand products other than soups, sauces, and bakery items. Consumer response to the more than 20 products added to the brand has been positive, the company claims.

"Walgreens Launches Nice!™ Store Brand Chainwide, Continues Building Value and Loyalty with its Private Brands", Walgreens, August 18, 2011

Study Shows Consumers Worldwide Are Warming Up To Omega-3

Global awareness of omega-3 fatty acids as a vital nutrient for physical and mental health has reached "critical mass," according to the report "Omega-3: Global Product Trends and Opportunities," by Packaged Fats. For example, 9% of U.S. grocery shoppers buy food or beverage products with high omega-3 content in a regular shopping visit. Also, the portion of adults who take fish oil supplements has increased from 8 percent in 2006 to 17 percent in 2011. Global consumer spending on omega-3 food and beverages, health and beauty care products, and pet products grew to $13 billion in 2011, according to Packaged Facts estimates. Factors driving positive public image of omega-3 products include growing public awareness of health benefits, consumers' willingness to try new functional food and supplements, and positive media reporting.

"Omega-3 Awareness on the Rise", Grocery Headquarters Magazine, August 17, 2011

Global Food Firms Stir Local Ingredients

Wall Street Journal, August 23, 2011

Research, Studies, Advice  

Vitamin C Improves Asthma Symptoms In Some Children

Vitamin C can have a beneficial effect on some, but not all, children with asthma, researchers in Finland and Egypt have found. The study analyzed the impact of 0.2 g of vitamin C on the forced expiratory volume (FEV1) of 60 young asthmatic children. They determined that age, the severity of the condition, and exposure to molds and dampness were the critical factors. Vitamin C increased the FEV1 of children aged seven to 8.2 years old, with no exposure to molds or dampness, by 37 percent. But in older children (8.3 to ten years old) who were exposed to molds or dampness in their bedrooms a year before the study, vitamin C increased the FEV1 level by only 21 percent.

"Vitamin C and asthma in children: modification of the effect by age, exposure to dampness and the severity of asthma", Clinical and Translational Allergy, August 31, 2011

Some Dietary Supplements And Herbal Remedies Do Seem To Reduce Blood Pressure

Hypertension researchers at the University of Rochester (N.Y.) Medical Center conducted a review of so-called “natural” products marketed as treatments for high blood pressure, finding that a couple of dietary supplements and herbal remedies seem to show promise, at least on an individual basis. For example, the supplement coenzyme Q10, an antioxidant enzyme involved in energy production, significantly reduced blood pressure. Potassium also helps lower blood pressure, whether it comes from the foods or from a supplement. Promising herbal remedies included mistletoe extract, which can be toxic at high doses, and Hawthorn extract. Some herbal remedies on the other hand – St. John's wort, ephedra/ma huang, yohimbine and licorice – seem to increase blood pressure.

"Nondrug Interventions for Treatment of Hypertension", Journal of Clinical Hypertension, August 30, 2011

Consuming High Levels Of Chocolate Is Associated With A Reduced Risk Of Heart Disease

British and Colombian researchers who looked at seven studies involving 100,000 people have found that consuming high levels of chocolate was associated with a 37 percent reduction in the risk of heart disease. The studies did not differentiate between dark or milk chocolate, and included consumption of chocolate bars, drinks, biscuits and desserts. But the researchers offered several caveats to their findings. More studies are needed to find out whether chocolate actually caused the reduction in heart disease risk or if some other unmeasured factor was involved. And they cautioned that commercially available chocolate is loaded with calories – around 500 calories for every 100 grams – and eating too much can cause weight gain, boosting  the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

"Chocolate consumption and cardiometabolic disorders: systematic review and meta-analysis", British Medical Journal (BMJ), August 29, 2011

Unadorned, Microwaved Potatoes Reduce Blood Pressure In Clinical Study

U.S. research among obese people with hypertension has found that eating potatoes every day – just plain potatoes cooked in a microwave – reduces high blood pressure without inducing weight gain. For the study, 18 hypertensive overweight/obese patients ate six to eight golf ball-size purple potatoes twice a day for 30 days. Purple potatoes were used because the pigment is rich in beneficial phytochemicals. According to the researchers, the average diastolic blood pressure dropped by 4.3 percent and the systolic pressure decreased by 3.5 percent. The majority of subjects took anti-hypertensive drugs and still had a reduction in blood pressure. None of the study participants gained weight. A similar test is planned for white potatoes, and similar results are expected.

"Potatoes Reduce Blood Pressure in People With Obesity and High Blood Pressure", News release, presentation, National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, August 29, 2011

Walnuts Added To Diet Of Gene-Modified Mice Cut Cancer Risk In Half

U.S. researchers report that the risk of breast cancer was significantly reduced in mouse models of cancer when their diet was enriched with small amounts of walnut. The study compared a typical diet with a walnut-fortified diet over the lifespan of the animals: through the mother from conception through weaning, and then through eating the food directly. The amount of walnut used to feed the mice was equivalent to about two ounces a day for humans. The researchers said the walnut group developed breast cancer at less than half the rate of the group with the typical diet. And the number of tumors and their sizes were significantly smaller. "We were able to reduce the risk for cancer even in the presence of a preexisting genetic mutation," the researchers said.

"Dietary Walnut Suppressed Mammary Gland Tumorigenesis in the C(3)1 TAg Mouse", Nutrition and Cancer, August 11, 2011


Fear Of Alzheimer’s Means Sales Bonanza For Supplement Makers

Makers of supplements and functional foods that claim to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease should be encouraged by recent Harvard University research findings that Alzheimer’s tops the list of most feared diseases among Americans and Europeans. A telephone survey of 2,678 adults also uncovered the fact that between 27 percent and 63 percent believe that some supplements can slow the onset and development of the dreaded disease. Couple that with the fact that large numbers of consumers are also searching for products that improve mood and relieve stress, and it’s no mystery why sales of “cognitive health ingredients” have increased by 12 percent. The main focus is on ingredients such as omega-3s; vitamins B, D and E; zinc; phosphatidylserine; coenzyme Q10; ginkgo biloba; St. John’s wort; SAM-e and kava.

"Alzheimer's fears drive sales growth in cognitive category", Functional Ingredients, August 29, 2011

Nestlé Chairman Says Organic Farming Not The Solution To Global Food Supply Problem

Although Nestlé board chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe believes organic farmers and farming should be supported, they are ultimately not the answer to the world food supply problem and are not a priority for Nestlé, Fast Company reports. "There's no way you can support life on earth if you go straight from farm to table," Brabeck-Letmathe says, calling organic farming “a privilege” supported by wealthy people in Europe and the U.S. who can pay the higher prices. Organic farming is a "romantic" notion that is not scalable. Moreover, organic farming does not lead to more nutritious foods, he says, and can be dangerous because of the use of manure-based fertilizers.

"Nestlé Chairman Skeptical Of Growth In Organic Food Market", Fast Company, August 21, 2011

Edible Perfume Melds Flavor and Fragrance

GCI Magazine, August 23, 2011

General Mills bakes up a new e-commerce strategy

Internet Retailer, August 21, 2011

A company with a conscience

Business Times Singapore, August 19, 2011

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