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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.

<<47484950515253545556>> Total issues:558

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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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December 17, 2011, to December 31, 2011

Abbott Labs Partners With Univ. Of Illinois To Research Impact Of Nutrition On Learning

Abbott Laboratories and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have created a multi-disciplinary nutrition and cognition research center to explore the impact of nutrition on learning and memory in the human brain. The center will use two research facilities on the Urbana campus: the Institute for Genomic Biology and Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, plus the university's Division of Nutritional Sciences and Neuroscience Program. The center will call annually for proposals for projects designed to uncover innovative scientific research relating to nutrition's role in learning and memory.

Ad Agency Spotlights Six Trends Shaping American Society

Advertising agency Leo Burnett says American society has evolved to the point where the so-called “Big Plan” – school, marriage, kids, corporate ladder – no longer applies. Instead, America is now a place where men stay at home, women are the breadwinners, and 40 percent of children are born to single women. In a new study, the company sheds light on six key trends shaping American society: a decline in the sense of fairness and a rise in unhappiness; the disappearance of the “average” family;” the end of the universal archetype of masculinity; increasing interest in healthier restaurant fare; a rise in “collective bargaining” for better deals on consumer goods and services; and the pervasiveness of social/mobile technology requiring marketers to provide practical solutions to consumer problems.

More And More Men Are Driving The Grocery Carts In A Recession-Induced Paradigm Shift

Though more and more men have been doing the grocery shopping and managing the household for decades, the recession – and the increase in layoffs – seems to have kicked the trend into high gear. The biggest of U.S. food and personal products makers have recognized the sea change and are paying closer attention to men, marketing products and rearranging store layouts to cater to them. Market researchers have noticed that males aged 18 to 50 are content to do the grocery shopping themselves or at least participate. GfK MRI and ESPN report that 31 percent of men nationwide are now the primary household grocery shoppers, more than double the 14 percent in 1985. And a Yahoo! survey of 1,000 fathers found that 51 percent were the primary grocery shoppers in their household.

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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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