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Food Business Insight Alert Archive

Have a look at some of our recent alerts. These give broad coverage of the industry - if you want something more specific create your own here.

<<40414243444546474849>> Total issues:484

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November 19, 2011, to December 17, 2011

Kraft Expands Marketing Of Chocolate Products In India

Kraft Foods has increased advertising, capital expenditure, and sales and marketing spending in India by more than 70 percent over the past year in an effort to boost annual sales by 30 percent for chocolate. The aggressive spending follows on the heels of its acquisition of Cadbury Plc., which controls 70 percent of the chocolate market in India, according to company executives. The company is also expanding into the growing $ 3 billion market for biscuits (cookies): it has started selling Oreos, which Kraft makes locally despite rising sugar prices and declines in the rupee against the dollar. “If we can get a substantial percentage of that market it would be very good,” an executive said. “We’d like to make up for the lost time.”

Company Launches “Metabolomics-Based” Flavor Analyzer For Foods, Beverages, Etc.

German company Metabolomic Discoveries has launched a technology platform that allows the identification of relevant taste and aroma components in products and natural sources. The company says its metabolomics-based Flavor Profiler will help the food and beverages, agriculture, and cosmetics industries to optimize their products by making flavor more objective and by identifying the underlying chemical basis, according to CEO Nicolas Schauer. Unlike sensory profiling, it can measure all the relevant taste and aroma compounds in the product. The flavor analysis can be done in an early stage to support the further development of a product, but can also screen products and production processes for potential changes in flavor.

New Gastrointestinal Simulation Technology Speeds Up Introduction Of Functional Foods

International Food Network has introduced an in vitro gastrointestinal modeling technology that tests the performance of functional foods and supplements in a simulated digestive environment. The GastroLab modeling system focuses on stomach processing, replicating gastrochemical make-up and pH profile to evaluate physiochemical properties. Food and beverage companies are under severe pressure to get products to market quickly; the GastroLab system speeds up product launches while minimizing risk and enhancing results, the company says. “We have the ability to determine what will survive the rigors of the digestive tract and develop new food and beverage forms to optimize their functionality,” CEO Peter Salmon told Nutraceuticals World.

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November 12, 2011, to November 19, 2011

Restructuring At Unilever Ireland Results In €9.8 Million Loss In 2010

Unilever’s Ireland unit lost €9.8 million in 2010, mainly because of restructuring costs totaling €7.1 million, which included severance payments, according to a report filed with the Irish Companies Office. The report noted that sales in the country dipped slightly in 2010 to €247.7 million from €248.4 million in 2009. The company’s pre-tax loss of €9.8 million was slightly better than the €10.6 million figure recorded in 2009. According to company directors, Unilever Ireland “saw decline in underlying turnover for the third consecutive year” and “In order to ensure the future success of the business, we announced a significant restructure.” The number of employees dropped to 210 from 238, and staff costs decreased by 10 percent, after “significant redundancies across all functions” were found.

NPA To Take The Lead In Providing Concrete Definitions Of “Natural” Food Products

Unlike the term “organic,” “natural” foods lack an authoritative definition that consumers, retailers and manufacturers can look to when applying that term to products. Stepping in to fill the void is the Natural Products Association, which is expected to begin unveiling more tangible definitions of natural food products sometime in 2012. The NPA issued such a definition and seal for natural home care products in 2008. Six food categories have been targeted by the organization, and two – snacks and cereals, meat and poultry – will have definitions and seals next year, according to reports. Some observers feel the FDA should take the lead in the call for a definition of natural, but the agency hasn’t shown any indication it will.

Americans Love Their Snacks – Survey

Forty percent of Americans say they prefer to curb their hunger with snack foods throughout the day rather than by eating the traditional three square meals, according to a survey by Snack Factory’s Pretzel Crisps brand. More than three fourths (78 percent) said they eat snack foods for lunch and 55 percent eat snacks for dinner. The trend toward substituting snacks for full-course meals is greater among younger people – ages 18 to 49 years. Only 31 percent of people age 50 or older skip meals for snacks. But the survey found that  whatever the age, “more and more people are relying on snacks to get them through the day.”

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November 05, 2011, to November 12, 2011

Seven Key Restaurant Trends To Watch In 2012

Food industry consultant Technomic says restaurants will be affected by seven key trends during 2012. At the top of the list is a consumer preference for familiar comfort foods and formats that offer novel flavors. Also, diners are demanding rustic fare using simple preparations and fresh ingredients. This trend will push restaurant operators to curtail purchases of value-added items in favor of cheaper cuts, beans, grains and produce that can be transformed into home-style food. Other trends include: growing use of seasonal and local-sourced foods, greater use of social networking to share restaurant experiences and opinions, increased demand for product and menu nutrition information, etc.

Peruvian Legislators Ban GMO Imports

Peru's Congress has imposed a 10-year moratorium on imports of genetically modified organisms (GMO) to safeguard the country's biodiversity. The measure, approved by an overwhelming margin, bans the importation of  GMOs such as seeds, livestock, and fish for cultivation or to be raised locally. The Congress did allow some exceptions: for example, GMO can be used for research in closed environments though they must be carefully monitored. The bill requires the signature of President Ollanta Humala before becoming law. Humala is a strong opponent of GMO programs. Peru earns about $3 billion a year from the export of organic food, including coffee and cocoa.

British Organic Producer Delivers The Goods Much More Cheaply Than Big Food Retailers

Riverford Organic, a British organic grower that delivers vegetables and other farm produce through a network of franchisees, reports that its products are an average 19.3 percent cheaper than big U.K. food retailers likeTesco, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s. Riverford is 32 percent cheaper than Sainsbury’s, and their best value boxes beat the supermarket equivalent by more than 40 percent for the second month in a row. Riverford founder Guy Watson says the company’s goal is to grow and sell affordable and accessible organic produce without compromising on flavor or freshness. Key principles driving its success are its fair treatment of growers, a minimal approach to packaging and model regional farms that reduce food transport miles.

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October 22, 2011, to November 05, 2011

USDA, Other Groups, Provide Farmers With Info On Walmart’s Locally-Grown Food Initiative

Farmers in southwest Georgia (U.S.) are looking for more information about how to participate in, and benefit from,  Walmart’s new Heritage Agricultural Program, an initiative supporting consumers’ interest in local and sustainable farming. Various organizations, including the USDA, have been meeting with Georgia farmers to tell them what they need to do – like having the proper infrastructure in place – to supply produce to Walmart. The company wants to reduce the number of miles perishable fruits and vegetables travel from farm to market by purchasing locally-grown produce for stores, and is encouraging farmers to grow crops traditionally produced in their regions.

Survey Finds That Americans Believe Canned Foods Are Not As Nutritious As Frozen Or Fresh

A survey conducted by a group representing steelmakers and some food processors found that only 46 percent of Americans know that canned foods count toward U.S. government recommended dietary guidelines; 40 percent believe canned foods are less nutritious than frozen foods; and sixty percent believes canned foods are not as nutritious as fresh. But according to the Canned Food Alliance, food packaged in steel cans “can be just as nutritious (and sometimes more nutritious) than fresh and frozen varieties.” CFA Executive Director Rich Tavoletti said canned foods provide affordable, accessible and convenient nutrition.

Consumer Focus On Shedding Pounds Drives Healthy Retail Sales Of Weight Loss Products

Consumers interested in losing weight are responding to marketing promises, driving healthy weight management product sales, according to a Euromonitor report. Weight loss companies have successfully upgraded their meal replacement lines, introducing new flavors for current products, and launching new powders, soups and bars. All have enjoyed success at the retail level. Palatability and texture have improved markedly, thanks to the application of new ingredient technologies. Meal replacement slimming and weight loss supplements posted the highest sales in the U.S., mainly because of strong promotional efforts from direct sellers Amway and Herbalife. “A combination of high overweight/obesity rates, affluence and the desire for a perfect body helped North America dominate retail value sales of weight management products in 2010,” Euromonitor said.

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October 15, 2011, to October 22, 2011

Unable To Control Product Sourcing In China, Walmart Pays A Heavy Price

Walmart has found itself embroiled in a controversy resulting from China’s efforts to improve food safety standards after several recent scandals. Walmart stores in southwest Chinese city Chongqing were caught selling ordinary pork mislabeled as organic. Thirteen stores were closed for two weeks and two store managers were arrested.The CEO of its Chinese unit and a top human resources executive resigned for “personal reasons.” The controversy comes at a bad time for Walmart, which is relying on the Chinese market to help make up for inadequate sales growth in mature markets. Part of the problem stems from the fact that Walmart has been unable to centralize source decisions because of a lack of relationships with local companies and the local government, according to the Financial Times.

PepsiCo Says Healthy Foods Will Comprise 30 Percent Of Its Product Line by 2021

PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi told Reuters recently that her company’s product line will grow much healthier over the next ten years, thanks to an expansion of more nutritious juices, dairy products and grain products. Nooyi said that within ten years, healthier products will comprise as much as 30 percent of its portfolio, up from a current 22 percent. The new focus by PepsiCo takes advantage of a growing consumer trend toward purchasing more nutritious products. The company hopes to double sales of healthier products to $30 billion in the next nine years.

Nine Of Ten Mothers Would Like Clear Labeling Of Foods Containing GMOs

Though 45 percent of mothers surveyed had no idea what genetically modified organisms (GMOs) were, organic cereal manufacturer Nature’s Path said that once they were informed, most mothers – 90 percent of those surveyed – said they wanted foods containing GMOs to be clearly labeled as such. According to Nature’s Path, up to 80 percent of the packaged food eaten in North America may contain GMOs, though there is no law requiring that they be labeled. The survey of 566 moms also found that 80 percent are pretty certain of the ingredients of the processed foods they buy. More than half (52 percent) said genetically engineered ingredients would have a negative impact on their health and that of their families.

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October 08, 2011, to October 15, 2011

OTA Launches Information Resource Web Site On Global Organic Exporting

To ease international trade in organic produce, the Organic Trade Association (OTA) has launched a Web site with an interactive map showing up-to-date, country by country information on organic standards and trade arrangements. The Organic Trade Resource Guide site will serve as a resource for U.S. exporters who need to know about export requirements and organic regulations worldwide, the OTA said. U.S. companies can select a target country and find out if the market is open or if trade barriers exist. The site also describes the country’s laws and standards for organic, contact information, etc.

Organic Yogurt Producer Advocates Sustainable Farming Methods

A leading U.S. organic yogurt producer told an audience at College of Holy Cross (Mass.) that organic farming methods are superior to conventional for many reasons. Gary Hirshberg, head of Stonyfield Farm, said organic, sustainable food production is not only better for people and the environment, but it can also make good economic sense. As an example of how organic methods work better, he said traditional sugar cane production involves burning the cane fields to harvest crops, a process that is wasteful and destructive to topsoil. His farm in Brazil, however, separates cane from waste material and puts the waste back on the field, leaving the topsoil unharmed.

Trade Group Disputes Companies’ Claim That Algae-Derived Omega-3s Support Brain Health

A nonprofit trade group representing fish-derived omega-3 product manufacturers has filed a class action lawsuit against Dean Foods and White Wave Foods for making certain “structure-function claims” for an organic milk product containing plant-derived DHA. Filed by  the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s (Utah) against Dean Foods and White Wave Foods, the suit alleges that Horizon Organic Milk with DHA-Omega-3’s claim to support brain health is “false, misleading and reasonably likely to deceive the public” because the DHA is derived from algae, not fish oil. The suit says no scientific studies have shown a “causative link” between DHA algal oil – a plant source – and brain health. Such claims have only been validated for fish-derived omega-3s.

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October 01, 2011, to October 08, 2011

America’s Childhood Obesity Problem Begins Early With Poor Eating Habits

Unhealthy dietary patterns in children as young as a year old are the root cause of America’s childhood obesity problem, Nestlé Nutrition research has found. One-third of the calories consumed by toddlers from the age of 12 months and up come from between-meal snacking on nutrient-poor foods. Bad eating habits start early in life, according to the study, which noted that those habits mirror those of older children and adults. The solution starts with giving parents and guardians better nutrition guidance, establishing healthy eating habits early, and making simple dietary changes. For example, parents could make snack times “mini-meal” times when kids could eat fruits, vegetables, low fat yogurt, and whole grain foods instead of junk.

Amid Tough Competition, Sales Of Immune-Strengthening, Cardiovascular Ingredients Rising In Europe

U.K.-based market researcher Frost & Sullivan reports that manufacturers of functional ingredients for immune-boosting and cardiovascular supplements are profiting handsomely from Europe’s fear of epidemics such as the deadly swine flu. Sales of immune-boosting ingredients are steadily growing, thanks to a growing awareness of the relationship between a healthy immune system and prevention of flu-like diseases and respiratory ailments. Likewise, a Frost & Sullivan analyst said, there are “significant opportunities for ingredient manufacturers” because of the extent that cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure, affects the European population. However, the analyst warned that manufacturers need to better educate consumers about the benefits of their ingredients in order to stand out from the competition.

Affordable Potatoes Pack More Potassium Than Any Other Vegetable - Study

U.S. researchers told a nutrition conference that potatoes are one of the best nutritional values in the produce department, providing significantly better nutritional value per dollar than most other raw vegetables. Per serving, white potatoes were the largest and most affordable source of potassium of any vegetable or fruit, the researchers said. For the study, which was funded by the United States Potato Board, the researchers merged nutrient composition data from the USDA Food and Nutrition Database with the USDA national food prices database. They also obtained frequency of consumption data and used the Affordable Nutrition Index to assess nutritional value per dollar for potatoes and for other vegetables. They found that potatoes were the lowest cost source of dietary potassium, in fact half that of most other vegetables.

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September 24, 2011, to October 01, 2011

Sustainability Seen Emerging As Basis For Competition

A review in HBR looks to the arrival of sustainability as the primary driving force of financial success for companies, with the trend driven by three factors. First is the growing quantification of factors once considered irrelevant or priceless (such as externalities); second, social investing has emerged as a meaningful value-seeking discipline and is a force for change; last, industries look to be coalescing around standard metrics by which to rate sustainability. A critical element in the shift towards sustainability competition will be the broad acceptance of standard value-chain indices that amass relevant data in a full assessment of each product’s sustainability credentials.

National Starch Creates A New Language To Describe Food Textures

National Starch has come up with a unique set of words, including some newly-coined ones, to better describe the consumer food texture experience. The new Texicon food texture language was created to “translate the consumer texture experience into measurable scientific terms,” according to National Starch. By using the new language, National Starch customers can quickly target and achieve the right texture in their products. Among the new words being used are “crinchy,” which describe food that is between crunchy and crispy, and “flumpy,” which describes mayonnaise as it comes from the jar. The Texicon language applies to a range of low- and high-moisture systems, such as baked snacks, creamy dressings, barbecue sauces, yogurt, sour cream, etc.

As Organic Interest Grows, So Does A Fledgling Industry: Organic Delivery

The Organic Industry Examiner reports that organic food delivery services are springing up in metropolitan areas around the country, creating a new type of food delivery industry that is “more than just a trend.” Urban Organic in New York City, for example, delivers organic groceries three times a week, while Greenling offers a similar service in two Texas cities, and Healthy Bites serves the Washington, D.C. area. Their business models are dissimilar – Healthy Bites, for example, delivers full meals using organic foods twice a week – but all promise “organic when available,” certified pesticide- and GMO-free foods.

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September 17, 2011, to September 24, 2011

Poland Beginning To Boost Its Presence In European Organic Food Production

The Warsaw Journal reports that Poland has the right mix of resources and other factors that could make it “an important player” in Europe’s growing organic foods market. The country so far has been a small consumer of organic foods – only 0.2 percent of food purchases in 2009, or about €50 million, were in the organic category – but consumer interest is growing. With European and global organic demand on the rise, organic production in Poland is increasing as well, thanks to competitive prices, a large workforce and many small-scale, traditional farms that are easy to convert to organic methods. Through 2010, the number of organic farms and total area devoted to organic food production have soared: from 3,760 to 20,000 farms, and from 82,730 to more than 500,000 hectares. The number of processing plants in turn grew from 50 to nearly 300. Also driving expansion has been the rapid development of a sales network for organic products in Poland. The number of organic stores should grow from 300 in 2010 to around 500 by the end of 2011.

New Cargill Stabilizers Help Yogurt Makers Control Costs, Maintain Taste And Texture

Cargill has introduced a customizable functional stabilizer system that allows yogurt makers to keep raw material costs down while providing the creamy products consumers expect. According to the company, Vitex AYS stabilizers feature modified food starch and hydrocolloids that create “a cost-effective alternative to gelatin” while maintaining yogurt flavor and texture. A Vitex AYS product manager said the rising cost of gelatin and starch was the motivating force behind development of the stabilizers. 

Organic Food Prices Still A Hindrance To Grocery Shoppers – Poll

An online survey of 2,112 adults conducted in August for Whole Foods Market found that food prices have had a major impact on their food buying patterns. Eighty-two percent said current food prices have affected their grocery shopping, and more than 75 percent said they have changed their cooking and eating habits due to the economy. Large majorities saying they would buy natural or organic foods if they could afford it. Seventy-one percent said they would buy natural/organic foods over conventional foods if the prices were the same. And 70 percent said they would buy organic if prices fit their budgets. Twenty-four percent said natural/organic foods would account for only a quarter of their total household food purchases in 2011.

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September 10, 2011, to September 17, 2011

Companies Expand Campus Marketing, Hire Student Marketers

An increasing number of companies are employing college students as their representatives on campuses in the United States to tap the student market; college students spent some $36 billion on computers, mobile phones, and other consumer products in the 2010–2011 school year, according to Re:Fuel. Brands hire popular students as “brand ambassadors” or “campus evangelists” to give out freebies and promote their goods and services.  Some university officials, however,  are uneasy over the practice, especially cases that entail extensive on-campus presence such as Target’s sponsorship of several school-year opening events for students. The trend, however, is likely to continue, with companies aware that college students are potential lifelong customers.

China’s Interest In Nutricosmetics Sparks Strong Sales Growth

Though nutricosmetics haven’t caught on in other parts of the world, market data from Datamonitor show high per capita spending in Asia, particularly in Japan. Nutricosmetics sales are  growing especially strongly in China, which is  expected to overtake Japan by 2015, according to market researcher Frost & Sullivan. Driving the phenomenon in China are rising disposable incomes, increased concerns about beauty, and strong cultural acceptance of the beauty-from-within concept, thanks to centuries of use of herbs and plants to cure beauty-related problems. In this report, Happi.com outlines nutricosmetics market opportunities for both established companies and new entrants in the Asian region.

Certain Varieties Of Irish Seaweed Are Rich In Heart-Healthy Fatty Acids

Researchers at Teagasc, the Irish agency that provides advice and services to the agriculture and food industries, have found that two varieties of seaweeds harvested in Ireland are rich in essential fatty acids (lipids) known to reduce the risk of heart disease. Seaweeds contain a number of heart-healthy compounds, including ACE inhibitors and antioxidants, as well as fatty acids. Eight Irish and Canadian seaweed species were tested in the study, though two – Pelvetia canaliculata and the sustainable Irish seaweed Ascophyllum nodosum – had the highest percentages of lipids per dry weight. Further study is needed, but the researchers said these lipids could potentially be used in foods such as bread and soup. In Ireland, approximately 36,000 tons of seaweed are harvested annually.
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