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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.

<<44454647484950515253>> Total issues:525

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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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September 03, 2011, to September 10, 2011

Food testing In Indian State Finds High Incidence Of Contamination, Adulteration

Twenty-five percent of food samples tested recently in a lab in the Indian state of Bihar were found to be contaminated or adulterated. Products such as cereals, wheat and wheat flour, graham flour, refined flour and “sattu,” rice and grams were contaminated with dust, insects and fungus. Milk and milk products were found to be adulterated with starch and sodium bicarbonate. Spices and condiments were adulterated with artificial yellow color, lead chromate, brick powder and dust. Under India’s Food Safety and Standard Act, which took effect last month, people caught selling adulterated food can be fined and/or imprisoned. Genetically modified food, organic food, health food and dietary supplements, alcohol and beverages can be tested under the law act, along with tea, coffee, soft drinks, jelly, ketchup, etc.

Risk Of Hunger Among Younger Baby Boomers Has Risen Significantly, AARP Says

A report from the charitable arm of the AARP says that almost nine million Americans aged 50 and over were at risk of hunger in 2009, a 79 percent increase from 2001. People aged 50 to 59 are the youngest of the Baby Boomer generation – they are too young for Social Security and too old for programs targeting families with children. In 2009, 4.9 million 50- to 59-year-olds were at risk of hunger, representing a “staggering” 38 percent increase over 2007, AARP says.  Between 2007 and 2009, the most dramatic increase in food insecurity was among those with annual incomes more than twice the poverty line. “The recession has taken an especially large toll on older people, particularly those in the middle class,” says AARP Foundation President Jo Ann Jenkins.

Unilever Installs Manufacturing Intelligence Software In All Plants Across The Americas

Software and IT services firm Solarsoft Business Systems announced that Unilever is extending implementation of Solarsoft’s manufacturing intelligence solutions to all Unilever manufacturing sites in the Americas. Informance software tracks real-time performance in manufacturing environments. Unilever says it has been using the solutions to accelerate and enhance its total productive maintenance (TPM) program in ten ice cream plants in North America and will install the software in 35 additional factories in 13 countries in 2011. The company says the software installed at the ten ice cream plants where it was tested brought “real-time actionable insights.”

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August 27, 2011, to September 03, 2011

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.

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.

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.

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August 20, 2011, to August 27, 2011

Walmart Expands Presence In China's Smaller Cities

After growing from 70 stores in 2007 to more than 300 stores in 2011 Walmart said it will focus its China business on smaller cities and online opportunities, both areas where the company sees faster growth opportunities.  Walmart’s plans include opening supermarkets and Sam's Club warehouse markets in the country. China currently accounts for less than 10 percent of Walmart's revenue outside the United States although the market is expected to quickly grow in sophistication and size; sales revenue in China's retail sector is forecast to grow 14.5 percent annually to reach $5 trillion in 2016, according to Bloomberg News.

Nestlé Enhances Its “Nutrition Compass” Food Labeling System

Nestlé announced that it has revised its Nutritional Compass food label imprint, found on 97 percent of its products globally, to help consumers “make more informed choices about a healthy balanced diet and lifestyle.” The Compass comprises four information boxes that form a circle around the corporate logo. The company has added a “Good Question” box with product specific queries that are answered in a “Good to Know” box. A “Good to Remember” box offering supporting information has been merged with a “Good to Talk” box providing company contact details. Lastly, a Nutritional Information box states nutrient content, such as amounts of protein, carbohydrate, fat and sugar.

Coriander Oil Shows Potential As Natural Antibiotic

Portuguese researchers report that coriander oil is toxic enough to a variety of harmful bacteria to be used in foods to prevent food-borne illnesses. The researchers tested coriander oil against 12 bacterial strains, including Escherichia coli, Salmonella enterica, Bacillus cereus and meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Solutions containing 1.6 percent coriander oil killed or reduced the growth of the tested bacterial strains. According to the researchers, coriander oil damages the membrane surrounding the bacterial cell, inhibits essential processes and ultimately causes cell death. They suggest that in addition to use in the food industry, coriander oil could be used as a natural alternative to antibiotics in lotions, mouth rinses and pills.

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August 13, 2011, to August 20, 2011

Asda Creates 7,000 Jobs For Holidays

British retailer and Walmart business unit Asda announced that it is creating 7,000 jobs for the Christmas holiday season this year, including opportunities for shop floor colleagues, home delivery and customer service jobs. The positions are part of a £5 million ($8.2 million) investment in customer service for Christmas shoppers, the company said. Job openings will be available at Asda stores in the U.K. beginning in September; applicants who successfully complete an assessment process will begin work in November. The company is also offering 750,000 hours overtime to existing employees.

CHEP Renews Pallet Contract With P&G

Pallet and container pooling solutions provider CHEP says it has renewed a contract – and 15-year relationship – with Procter & Gamble. The company said it works closely with P&G to support retail supply chain activities like sustainability and standardization. CHEP’s returnable and reusable pallets are used to transfer numerous consumer goods, fresh produce, beverages and automotive products. Customers besides P&G include Sysco, Kellogg's, Kraft, Nestlé, Ford and GM.

US Consumers Uncertain About Economy's Future, Hold On To Their Money

In August 2011, American consumers' confidence about the economy dropped to levels lower than during the recession, according to a survey by the University of Michigan. A rise in consumer confidence seen at the start of the year stalled on news about oil price hikes, drops in job growth and home prices, and political fighting over the debt ceiling. The downgrading of U.S. debt by Standard & Poor's, as well as volatility in the stock markets, also shook consumers’ confidence. Absence of income growth has discouraged consumers from spending and an unwillingness to buy will restrain prospects for economic recovery in the US.

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August 06, 2011, to August 13, 2011

Farmers Markets Increasing, Expanding To Communities Across US

More than 1,000 farmers markets were added into the 2011 USDA Farmers Market Directory to reach a total of 7,175, showing a healthy expansion of farmers markets to communities in the United States. Farmers markets increased the most in Alaska, with 46 percent more than in 2010; Texas, with 38 percent; and Colorado and New Mexico, with 38 percent. The rise in farmers markets looks to indicate the local and regional food system is thriving and speaks to a growing interest - the USDA reported that from January to July, 2011, the USDA Farmers Market Directory had over 1.8 million page views, up 3x from the same period in 2010.

Gemoscan Adds Vitamin And Supplement Advice To Its Food Allergy Detection System

Gemoscan Canada Inc. introduced the Hemocode Food Intolerance System, a new version of its Hemocode System food allergy detection technology that comes upgraded with Pharmetics Inc.'s technology to offer personalized vitamin and supplement recommendations. Gemoscan's food intolerance detection system analyzes a consumer's blood sample to determine food intolerances. Consumers receive a personalized report detailing their immuno-based food and food additives allergies. Reports now also include vitamin and supplement recommendations that Gemoscan hopes will help consumers achieve "optimal nutrition."

Baby Boomers Turn To Functional Foods, Beverages To Maintain Health

Consumer demand for foods with functional health benefits is on the rise, especially among baby boomers who are putting their trust in foods and beverages to prevent or manage health conditions. The trend is driven by several forces, including the economic downturn, increasingly expensive health care, and a growing awareness that a healthy diet is strongly associated with good health. According to Steve French, managing partner at Natural Marketing Institute, about 70 percent of baby boomers say they want to take more responsibility for their health – particularly by eating a healthy diet – because of uncertainties regarding America’s health care system. The result is increased sales of food products that address digestive, heart and joint issues, and of functional products believed to have medicinal qualities.

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July 30, 2011, to August 06, 2011

Kraft Foods Splits, Aims For Better Performance And Shareholder Value

Kraft Foods Inc.'s board of directors plans to divide the company into two independent public companies through a tax-free divestiture of the North American business to company shareholders. A $32 billion company will take care of Kraft Foods' faster growing global snacks business, while the second company, with $16 billion in revenue, will take control of the North American grocery business. The food company has expanded its global snacks business by acquiring some of the biggest companies in the market, notably Cadbury,  while its North American grocery business focused more on increasing its revenue through innovations in product development and marketing and aiming for higher margins. The spinoff highlights the company's efforts to improve performance and shareholder value.

Unilever To Exit Food Market, Buy Home Care Company, Reports Say

Analysts believe that Unilever plans to sell its food division to finance reported plans to acquire a home and personal care company. Such an acquisition would help improve the company's performance in the stock market, where concerns about skyrocketing materials costs and declining consumer spending have hammered Unilever shares recently. Letting go of its food unit will enhance the company's growth potential, while an acquisition in the home care segment will strengthen the company's profile in that category. Some investment analysts advise clients to buy shares of Unilever, which is reportedly looking at Reckitt Benckiser as a potential takeover target.

GLG Launches Subsidiary To Exploit International Stevia Market Opportunities

Stevia developer GLG Life Tech Corporation has created a subsidiary to provide naturally sweetened zero and reduced calorie food and beverage formulations to customers outside mainland China. AN0C Stevia Solutions Company’s product lines will include natural sweeteners, natural flavors and natural colors in zero or low calorie beverage and food products. AN0C Stevia Solutions will focus on customer opportunities internationally; AN0C Anhui will focus on opportunities in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. AN0C Stevia Solutions is also developing customer opportunities in the Middle East and India.

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July 23, 2011, to July 30, 2011

Groupon Partners With Unilever To Offer Discounts On Ice Cream Products

Groupon and Incentive Targeting are partnering with SuperValu and Unilever to bring social buying to grocery shopping in Chicago, Ill. Unilever becomes the first consumer packaged goods company to allow consumers to buy certain ice cream products through Groupon at a 40 percent discount and pick them up at a neighborhood grocery store. For the Unilever "Summer of Ice Cream" program offer, a shopper purchases the deal on Groupon.com and enters a Jewel-Osco Preferred Customer Card number. Once the Groupon purchase is complete, the deal value is digitally loaded onto the shopper's loyalty card. When the shopper purchases ice cream at a Jewel-Osco store and scans the Preferred Customer Card at check-out, the deal is automatically credited on the bill.

Kraft Foods Joins Group Building Enval's Recycling Plant In UK

Kraft Foods is supporting a UK-based consortium to build a large recycling plant incorporating Enval's patented materials recovery technology as part of an effort to develop industry best practice.  The recycling technology will enable manufacturers and their suppliers to recycle materials used in their products and packaging, including those that were previously unrecyclable, such as plastic aluminium-foil flexible packaging laminates. This has encouraged several commercial goods and packaging companies to join the consortium that will finance the recycling plant's construction. Enval plans to ultimately sell its recycling technology to waste-handling service providers.

Whole Foods Expands UK Operations, Opens First Store In Glasgow

Whole Foods Market has opened its first outlet in Glasgow, Scotland, which has a reputation for deep-fried foods. The US-based natural foods retailer plans to keep expanding its operations in the UK despite the expansion costs and operating loss. Whole Foods' promotions have helped the company reduce its losses, although overall, the UK market has proved to be more challenging than the company anticipated. Also, analysts were surprised by the company's choice of Scotland as the site for its first store outside London.

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July 16, 2011, to July 23, 2011

Unilever Begins Construction Of Unilever Four Acres In Singapore

Unilever held a ground-breaking ceremony for the Unilever Four Acres, the company's proposed global leadership development center in Singapore. The company said the planned center highlights Unilever's commitment to emerging markets, particularly in Asia, which accounts for more than half of the company's total turnover. Unilever expects the center to help the company develop a global pool of management talent and help fuel its growth efforts.

Nestlé Acquires Controlling Stake In Singapore-Listed, China-Based Hsu Fu Chi

Nestlé has agreed with the Hsu family to acquire 60% of Hsu Fu Chi, a Singapore-listed manufacturer and distributor of confectionery products in China. The Hsu family will retain 40% of the company, with Hsu Chen remaining as CEO and chairman of Hsu Fu Chi. Nestlé offers to buy the shares of the company's independent shareholders who account for 43.5% of the shares in Hsu Fu Chi as part of the deal, which is subject to approval by regulators in China.

Study Analyzes Key Trends Driving Growth In Natural Foods Industry

A study by Food Technology magazine has found that several key factors are driving growth in the natural foods and beverages sector. Hot buttons include terms like organic, “naturally nutritious,” clean, “less-processed,” “preservative-free,” sustainable, ethical and humane. In 2010, for example, nearly one-third of the top-selling new foods/beverages launched in the U.S. carried a natural or organic claim. Other interesting data: “natural” topped the list of descriptors consumers looked for when purchasing foods/drinks at retail stores in 2010; twenty percent of shoppers buy natural and/or organic meat/poultry when it is on sale; seventy percent of shoppers believe that describing food as fresh means it is healthier; and nearly 75 percent of adults say humanely treated animals/cruelty free is important to them when shopping for food.

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July 09, 2011, to July 16, 2011

European Companies Unveil Products Based On Chr. Hansen’s Probiotics+Fiber Formulation

European dietary supplement companies have begun to launch retail products based on Chr. Hansen’s probiotic-plus-fiber formulation designed to fight constipation. The Chr. Hansen product is a stick with a powder blend of the probiotic strain Bifidobacterium BB-12 and fiber. It is sifted over breakfast cereals or poured into a glass of water once or twice a day. In February, the product Yovis Regola was unveiled in Italy; British firm Wren Laboratories Ltd. has just introduced a consumer version of the product in the UK under the brand OptiBac Probiotics. Chr. Hansen said it is working with other companies in other countries on probiotics-plus-fiber products to “help people tackle constipation.”

Bayer Settles US Farmers' GM Rice Contamination Lawsuits For $750 Million

Bayer AG's unit Bayer CropScience agreed to pay $750 million to settle lawsuits filed by thousands of U.S. farmers who claimed that a line of the company's genetically modified (GM) rice contaminated crops and damaged their export value. Farmers suffered financial losses after rice futures declined around 14% days after the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced in August 2006 the discovery of the contamination of non-GM crops from nearby farms. Exports also slowed down as the European Union, Japan, Russia, and other anti-GM markets stopped buying or demanded testing of U.S. rice for GM contamination. Bayer has denied allegations of negligence during the GM rice test planting.

General Mills Acquires Controlling Interest In Yoplait

General Mills paid US$1.2 billion to PAI Partners and Sodiaal for a 51 percent interest in Yoplait S.A.S., and a 50 percent interest in a company that owns the worldwide rights to Yoplait brands. Yoplait currently holds the second biggest share in the global yogurt market, while General Mills has been a Yoplait licensee since 1977, and owns the Yoplait business in the United States, where it is the leading yogurt brand. General Mills plans to expand the Yoplait brand in new markets, as consumer demand for yogurt continues to grow due to rising interest in healthy and convenient food products.
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