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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.

<<43444546474849505152>> Total issues:525

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April 21, 2012, to May 05, 2012

Hain Celestial Group Breaks Previous Records With Sales In Third Quarter 2012

Hain Celestial Group, Inc.'s net sales increased 31.5 percent, with net income rising 43.7 percent to $24.1 million in the third quarter ended March 31, 2012. The company also reported its adjusted net income grew 53.6 percent, while operating income rose 31.7 percent. Its adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization grew 32.8 percent to $51.6 million from $38.8 million in the previous year's third quarter. Also, operating free cash flow improved by 30.1 percent to $79.3 million for the fiscal year from $61 million in fiscal year 2011.

Technology Helps Online Grocers Expand, Grab Bigger Share of India's Food And Grocery Market

Online grocery retailers, such as Bigbasket.com and Mygrahak.com, are using technology to expand their business and their shares of India's food and grocery market estimated to be $343 billion in value. Online retailers use supply-chain management technology that allows online consumers to purchase items using "multiple channels;" they also use applications that allow them to forecast customer behavior, which lets them maintain low inventory levels and cut operating costs.

Making Tasty Oil, Shelf-Stable Flour From Pecans Is Now Possible, Just Not Feasible

Researchers in New Mexico are developing a technology to economically extract oil and process flour from pecans, but it will be awhile before any commercial products reach the market. The current way to process pecans produces oil but also a fatty meal that is not shelf-stable. The new propane-based process extracts oil that does not have to be filtered, and leaves behind a de-fatted, gluten-free flour that will not turn rancid. Consumers taste-tested the oil against olive oil, and sampled cookies and breads made from pecan flour, and were pleased with the results. Unfortunately, the initial investment in a processing facility is prohibitive. And pecan growers lack an economic incentive: they are already making a lot of money just selling pecans.

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April 14, 2012, to April 21, 2012

Clean Food Labels: A Trend That Lacks A Precise Definition

One of the biggest trends affecting food and drink companies in the U.S. and Europe is clean ingredient labeling, even though a precise or official definition of the term doesn’t exist. To some experts, a clean label is one that's easy for consumers to understand: no technical jargon, no vague, unpronounceable ingredient names. Others say a clean label means there are no preservatives, artificial ingredients or anything suggesting extra processing. Or it means there is no MSG, high-fructose corn syrup, hydrolyzed vegetable protein or hydrogenated oils. But whatever the term means, it is important for food companies to remember that more and more consumers these days are paying very close attention to what the label says.

Is Japan Returning To A Rice-Based Diet? New Bread Machine Sales Signal The Possibility

Slate Magazine traces the history of Japan’s century-long transformation from a rice-based to a wheat-based diet, focusing especially on America’s impact on the process. The change has been so complete that in the last four decades, the Japanese have increasingly included wheat-based foods such as bread, pasta, pizza and noodles in their diet. In the meantime, rice consumption has dropped by half. But a turnaround may be in the offing, signaled perhaps by the increasing popularity of a bread making machine that produces fresh loaves from raw, whole grains of rice. According to Slate, only 10 months after release of the Gopan machine in 2010, it has sold more than 160,000 units and has spurred a rage for packaged rice-based noodles, cakes, pastries, and pasta. Another indicator of the rekindled interest in rice: Japanese Pizza Hut outlets are using rice flour in their pizza dough.

Weetabix Tailors The Marketing Message To Different Cultures

The U.K. makers of Weetabix breakfast cereals have learned over the years to adapt their marketing strategies to meet the conditions of individual countries and cultures. In Kenya, for example – where Wheetabix has a lock on 70 percent of the cereals market – the company employs a bicycle riding sales force that delivers small packets of two palm-sized biscuits to little shops in the countryside. In Mexico, shoppers are more likely to buy large boxes containing 48 biscuits. Because many cultures are unfamiliar with cereal-and-milk in a bowl breakfast, the strategy for entering a new market involves consumer education: what the brand stands for and how to consume it.

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April 07, 2012, to April 14, 2012

New Dads Are Getting More Involved In Social Networks

A growing number of first-time dads – those whose oldest child is no older than two – actively use social networks to share updates (42 percent), photos (56 percent) and videos (21 percent) with friends, according to a survey. The survey also found that millennial dads have more online friends than millennial moms: an average of 96 as opposed to 70. The findings correlate with a deeper trend: with about 17 percent of fathers these days at home, dads increasingly view themselves as partners with moms, sharing household responsibilities like nurturing, cooking and  food shopping. And dads are catching up to moms in another area: a study done a year ago found that 25 percent who use social networks follow a brand.

CPG Companies Tinker With Coupon Promotions As Shoppers Search For Bargains

Consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies are tweaking their coupon marketing programs to get the most value from promotions. But the changes being tested – faster expirations, multiple item requirements – don’t appear to be deterring price-conscious shoppers looking for deals. They redeemed $4.6 billion in coupons in 2011, a 12 percent increase from 2010. One researcher found that CPG companies distributed 8.1 percent fewer coupons in 2011, with the decline coming mainly in grocery products. On the other hand, there was an increase in discount offers for health and beauty products, including hair care, eye care and cosmetics.

Dietary Supplement Trade Group Disputes Study On Heart Benefits Of Omega-3s

A dietary supplement industry trade group has issued a statement disputing the findings of a recent study that said there wasn’t enough evidence that omega-3 fatty acid supplements improve cardiovascular health in heart patients. The Natural Products Association (NPA) pointed to a “wealth of evidence” from epidemiological and observational studies showing that omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for heart disease. According to the NPA, two studies in particular – the GISSI-Prevenzione trial and the Japan EPA Lipid Intervention study – showed that omega-3 supplements reduced the risk of death, nonfatal myocardial infarction and nonfatal stroke.

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March 31, 2012, to April 07, 2012

As China’s Diet Changes, Grocery Sales Surge

Food industry analysts IGD report that the Chinese grocery sector is now the world leader at $970 billion, pushing the U.S. market ($913.5 billion) into the No. 2 spot for the first time. The grocery spending gap is likely to widen even more by 2015. The growth will occur despite a significant slowdown in China’s economy as the country’s diet moves beyond rice and pork to include dairy products, wheat, grains, and white and red meats. Increased demand for these products in China has led to price hikes around the globe. IGD also expects that Brazil, Russia, India, and China (the BRIC countries) will comprise four of the top five grocery markets in the world by 2015.

Much-Improved Whole Grain Breads Catching On In Supermarket Bread Aisles

Increased fiber content, better flavor, longer shelf life and a shift in consumer perception of the healthfulness of breads – especially those baked with sprouted, ancient and other whole grains – have significantly altered buying patterns in the supermarket bread aisle. What has happened essentially is that as bakers have gotten more skilled at working with whole grains, reducing the need to boost nutritional profiles with additives. Market researcher Mintel reports that there were 2,600 bread launches over the last five years, with most falling into the “better-for-you” category. The most popular type of bread is whole wheat, followed by white and multigrain. White bread is “hanging on,” says a grocery sale manager at a Big Y Foods, mainly because whole grains have been successfully added to formulations.

Unilever Launches Marketing Campaigns Targeting Hispanic Consumers

Unilever expanded its Hispanic-targeting marketing efforts by launching the Disfruta la Pasion de la Vida (Enjoy Life's Passion), an in-store marketing campaign in partnership with independent supermarket chains in the Western U.S., and the Vivemor (Better Living), an online marketing push that includes Facebook and in-store events. The events include interactive activities, such as Caress hand-wash stations and Pond's testing area, Hispanic-themed foods and music, and Spanish-language coupons and cookbooks.

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March 24, 2012, to March 31, 2012

Walmart To Slash Grocery Prices By $1 Billion To Boost Store Traffic

Walmart Stores is hoping to bolster its 2011 comparable stores sales gains by reducing grocery prices by $1 billion, a move that will be difficult for grocery competitors to match. The price reductions, which Walmart calls “investing in price,” could have a negative impact on margins, according to analysts, but the company hopes the increase in store traffic will offset the drop in profit. In addition, the company believes that losses in the thin-margin grocery section will be made up in other higher margin areas, like clothing. Walmart’s 2011 grocery sales were $145 billion.

New Device Based On Firefly Enzyme Provides Quick, Simple Detection Of Food Pathogens

British scientists have developed a simple device that senses food contamination using a version of the enzyme luciferase, which also produces light in fireflies. The Bioluminescent Assay in Real-Time (BART) allows the rapid – ten minutes to an hour – testing for food poisoning bacteria by detecting pathogen DNA. If present, the bacteria trigger the luciferase and produce light. The inventors hope to be able to develop the system to detect other diseases, such as HIV-AIDS.

Foods Consumed During Breakfast “Eating Occasions” Vary Widely Among Americans

Market researcher NPD Group reports that only one in five “eating occasions” experienced by Americans before 11:00 a.m. consist of a complete or full breakfast meal. Forty-three percent of breakfast-time occasions consist only of a beverage, such as coffee, but no food. Other such occasions include a small or mini meal (24 percent) or a snack (11 percent). About 38 percent of Americans limit themselves to one morning eating or drinking occasion, but 41 percent consume a small early morning meal and then a late morning beverage. NPD says knowing about morning eating occasions “helps food manufacturers size the morning opportunity …”

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March 10, 2012, to March 24, 2012

Procter & Gamble Expands Use Of Rail Freight In Europe

Procter & Gamble reached its target of increasing its use of railroad cargo from 10 percent to 30 percent by 2015, three years ahead of schedule. Announced in 2009, P&G's rail freight initiative in Europe is part of the company's efforts to reduce carbon emissions without increasing distribution costs or lowering the quality of services relative to road cargo.

Industry Group Launches Guide To Effective, Sustainable Packaging For Online Goods

The UK-based Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment released the "Packaging and the Internet: A guide to packaging goods for multi-channel delivery systems," to help manufacturers and ecommerce companies in designing effective and sustainable packaging for products sold online. Packaging, which is costly, offers manufacturers an opportunity for saving; consumers demand products that meet their requirements and come in packaging with minimal environmental impact, according to the guide.

Many Consumers Seek Alternatives To Fish Oil As Source Of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

A sizeable minority of consumers are put off by the taste, aftertaste, smell or size of fish oil supplements, and are searching for more palatable sources of omega-3 fatty acids, according to a Discovery Research Group survey. Thirty-seven percent of consumers who take multivitamins or other nutritional supplements said they either want to, or currently do, take an omega-3 supplement, but would prefer to take something other than fish oil. Other sources of omega-3 fatty acids include krill oil, flax seed oil and cod liver oil.

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February 25, 2012, to March 10, 2012

No More Artificial Ingredients In Nestlé’s Confectionery Products

Nestlé announced it has replaced all artificial ingredients in its U.K. confectionery line with natural ingredients, including carrot, hibiscus, radish and lemon. The company is the first in the U.K. to accomplish this, noting that the move represents a “significant milestone” and a “responsible approach” to serving consumers. Nestlé said the changes were made in response to consumer demand in the U.K., where three-fourths of  confectionery buyers reportedly shop for products that contain no artificial additives.

Ethnic Foodies Rate Authentic Flavor As The Most Important Characteristic

Interest in genuine ethnic foods continues to rise, aligning with the broad consumer trend dubbed “The Real Thing,” industry researcher Mintel finds. Two-thirds of respondents to a survey said  authentic or traditional flavors are the most important factors when buying or eating ethnic food. Besides authentic flavor, people who eat ethnic foods at home or at restaurants want fare that is all-natural (49 percent), premium/gourmet or artisanal (49 percent) and reduced fat (48 percent). Mintel advises food marketers to keep those claims in mind when positioning products because they are more likely to resonate with consumers. The five most popular ethnic cuisine menu items in restaurants at the end of Q3 2011 were Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Pan-Asian and Japanese, Mintel says.

Walmart Canada Will Not Let Target Break Its Stride

Walmart Canada CEO Shelley Broader said her company plans to keep its focus on offering price savings and convenience to consumers despite the planned entry into the Canadian retail market of Target, the second largest discount retailer in the United States. Retailers, including Sears Canada and Loblaw, are revising their business strategies in anticipation of Target's plan to open as many as 135 stores starting in March 2013.

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February 18, 2012, to February 25, 2012

FMCG Vendors Expand Social Media Presence, Cuts Down On Traditional Marketing

Fast-moving consumer goods companies Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Procter & Gamble are downsizing their traditional marketing costs and workforce and are expanding their online marketing efforts. Successes with social media marketing, such as P&G's Facebook campaign that helped increase sales by 9 percent for its Secret deodorant brand, encourage marketers to adopt digital marketing.

Walmart Spotlights Its Healthy Food Products With New “Great For You” Label

A “Great For You” label will begin to appear this spring on Walmart food products that meet the company's newly developed standards for healthiness and nutrition. The bright green labels, part of a recent commitment to boost the nutritional quality of the foods it sells, will appear on its Great Value and Marketside food lines. The labels will also be displayed on signs in the fresh fruit and vegetable sections of stores. The company will allow use of the label – without requiring a licensing fee – by non-store brands, as long as products meet the company’s nutritional standards.

Hot Trend In Baking – Red Velvet – Conquers The Wedding Cake Industry

Red velvet has become something of a color phenomenon in the baking and dessert world, appearing in restaurant desserts, as well as in doughnuts, ice cream, tea and cakes in grocery stores. Hundreds of recipes for red velvet cake are available on the Internet, along with numerous variations on white frosting (Cream cheese? Butter cream?). Red velvet has also made an appearance in wine (from Cupcake Vineyards) and in pet foods (red velvet "pupcakes"). But the biggest user of red velvet color is the wedding cake industry, where red cakes made with cocoa flavor and rich white frosting reign supreme. But bakers aren’t stopping at red food coloring for their output: some have experimented with blue velvet cakes, as well as green, purple and orange.

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February 11, 2012, to February 18, 2012

Retailers’ Prepared Foods Taking A Bite Out Of Restaurant Business

A Technomic survey of Southern California consumers found that 40 percent felt retailers’ prepared food offerings matched the quality of restaurant foods at a better price. Two-thirds of those surveyed said there has been a major improvement in retailers’ prepared foods over the past five years. Though all restaurants are losing business to retail prepared foods, the biggest impact is on lower-priced restaurants, including family style, upscale fast-food and traditional fast-food establishments. Prepared foods offered by retailers are “considered viable alternatives restaurants of all types,” according to a Technomic analyst.

Brown Sauce Gains Sales Momentum In The U.K., Thanks To New Product Development

Sales of brown sauces in the U.K. have increased signicantly over the past year, thanks in part to new product development, research from Mintel finds. Their latest analysis of the sauce and seasonings market show a nine percent hike in brown sauce sales between 2010 and 2011, an increase to £51 million. Mintel says as many as 58 percent of British consumers keep a supply of brown sauce on hand, along with ketchup, whose sales dipped two percent during the same period. A Mintel analyst says new product development in the brown sauce segment “shows how brand extensions peripheral to the core brand can attract renewed interest …”

Eating “On-The-Go” Is Now A Significant Lifestyle Pattern Among Younger Germans

A survey by Nestlé finds that both male and female twenty-something Germans have “unpredictable” eating routines, often substituting snacks for main meals. Only 20 percent of people in their twenties eat at fixed times during then day. Forty-three percent eat only when they have time, and 31 percent eat whenever they’re hungry. The study also found significant differences in the eating patterns of German men and women in their twenties. More than 55 percent of women said they worry too much about their diet, compared to only 32 percent of men. And longer working hours affect women’s eating patterns more than men’s.

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December 31, 2011, to February 11, 2012

Selling Raw Milk Puts Farmers – And The Public – At Considerable Risk

Though selling unpasteurized, raw milk can save farmers money, it can also put their livelihoods – and the general public – in jeopardy, thanks to the dangers of bacterial contamination, according to researchers at Cornell University who testified before a New Jersey legislative committee. The researchers cited a $2.4 lawsuit in Washington that resulted from raw milk illness that may be traceable to a dairy farm. And 35 people in four states became sick recently after drinking unpasteurized raw milk. The researchers called pasteurization a” proven public health mechanism” that can prevent the health, and legal, problems associated with selling and drinking raw milk.

Scientists Discover New Method Of Destroying Harmful Food-Borne Bacteria

A study by U.S. researchers has determined that treating uncooked poultry with plasma – a high-energy, charged mixture of gaseous atoms, ions and electrons sometimes called the “fourth state of matter” – significantly reduced the levels of dangerous bacteria. In the study, raw chicken samples contaminated with Salmonella enterica and Campylobacter jejuni – the bacteria found on  70 percent of chicken meat tested – were treated with plasma for varying periods of time. The treatment eliminated or nearly eliminated bacteria in low levels from skinless chicken breast and chicken skin, and significantly reduced the level of bacteria when contamination levels were high.

Many Fast-Food Diners Would Rather Choose Smaller Portions Than Heed Calorie Data

Fast-food diners would rather get smaller portions in their restaurant meals than read – and heed – calories postings, according to the U.S. study. When servers asked whether customers would like to “downsize” starchy side dishes at a Chinese fast-food restaurant 33 percent gladly cut back, saving an average 200 calories each meal. The offer of a discount on the down-sized meal had virtually no impact on the decision about smaller portions. The researchers said they hoped the study would help restaurants understand that helping diners exercise portion control won’t alienate customers, a finding that may be “counterintuitive.” It is “an interesting and easy strategy to implement that could help their customers make healthier choices,” they said.
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