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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.

<<12345678910>> Total issues:387

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February 04, 2018, to February 11, 2018

Hain Celestial’s 2nd Quarter Sales, Profits Increase, But Miss Forecasts

Natural and organic food marketer Hain Celestial (Lake Success, N.Y.) posted second quarter profit of $47.1 million on sales of $775.2 million, a five percent increase over the same period last year. Second quarter profit was up 73 percent over the prior year period. But the results missed Wall Street estimates, sending shares on a downward slide, dropping 6.3 percent in morning trading. Nevertheless, CEO Irwin D. Simon said he was pleased with the financial performance and noted that the company continues to look for ways to simplify its brand portfolio and “reduce complexities.” Though net sales for Hain Pure Protein increased four percent to $159 million over the prior year period, the company said it is exploring the divestiture of the business.

New Choline Gummie Supplements Meet An Important Need In Young Children

Research over the years has shown that the brains of infants and young children are healthier when their moms supplement their pregnancy diets with larger doses of the vitamin-like essential nutrient choline. But choline – found in beef liver and eggs and in supplements – is also essential as children grow, though it can be difficult to get kids to ingest adequate amounts. An entrepreneur is trying to solve that problem with the launch of a gummie supplement that makes that task easier. Sarah Kline, founder of Austin, Texas-based BestCholine, begins shipping her choline supplement this month in 500mg capsules, the amount recommended by the American Medical Association. Her marketing challenge is twofold: spreading the word about her product while educating parents about the need for adequate amounts of choline in developing brains..

Steam Oven/Meal Kit Start-Up Gets Cash Infusion From Tyson Foods

The Tyson Foods investment unit has purchased a stake in a start-up subscription meal kit company that also sells an steam-based "smart" oven. Tyson Ventures will also collaborate with Chicago-based Tovala on Tyson-branded meals. Tovala began three-and-a-half years ago when the founder connected with an engineer with an idea for a modern version of the steam oven that looks like a microwave oven. The concept attracted the attention of Origin Ventures, which led the company’s $9.2 million round late last year, along with the Chicago-based Pritzker Group Venture Capital; Morningstar founder Joe Mansueto; restaurant and real estate entrepreneur Larry Levy; and Y Combinator. Tovala’s oven retails for $399, but the price drops when customers subscribe to the meal kits service..

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January 21, 2018, to February 04, 2018

Kroger’s Scan, Bag, Go Digital Shopping Service To Expand Nationwide This Year

Kroger said it will introduce its Scan, Bag, Go shopping technology this year in 18 operating divisions and 400 stores. The company said it tested the service in several locations and decided to expand its availability across the U.S. through Restock Kroger. Scan, Bag, Go allows customers to use a wireless handheld scanner or the smartphone app to scan and bag products as they shop. Shoppers can view and download digital coupons, keep a running total of their order, and view the current week's sales ad. They can then provide payment directly through the app so they can exit the store quickly. 

Walmart Makes Operational Changes To Speed Stock Replenishment, Delivery

Walmart has decided it can compete more effectively with Amazon.com if it shares more investory data with suppliers so out-of-stock items can be replenished more quickly. Formerly available only internally, the company’s On Shelf Customer Availability (OSCA) data information will be shared at the Supplier Growth Forum, a two-day event at Walmart headquarters. The retailer also said it will tighten deadlines for delivery. It is now requiring large suppliers to deliver full orders within a specified delivery window 85 percent of the time or face a fine of three percent of the cost of goods. Previously, large suppliers had to hit a 75 percent threshold to avoid fines. The delivery threshold for smaller suppliers will move to 50 percent, up from 33 percent, effective in April.   

Kroger Looks To Bolster “Restock Kroger” Initiative With Executive Changes

Kroger announced it is shuffling two management positions to bolster Restock Kroger, a data-drive initiative focused on pricing, personalized communications with customers, and a large revamp of product assortments. The company, the largest collector of food purchase data in the U.S., wants to put that data to competitive advantage as it expands meal- and food-shopping solutions. Thirty-seven-year Kroger veteran Steve McKinney, president of the Fry's Food Stores division, will become senior vice president of retail divisions, effective February 5. Monica Garnes, corporate vice president of produce-floral merchandising, will succeed McKinney as president of the Fry's division. She has been with Kroger for 23 years. 

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December 31, 2017, to January 21, 2018

Food Company Shareholders Submit Antibiotics Resolutions

Members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, a coalition of corporate investors, have each filed shareholder resolutions with three big food companies urging them to stop buying or producing meat raised with antibiotics. The resolutions submitted to McDonald’s Corp., Denny’s, and Sanderson Farms will be voted on at shareholder meetings unless challenged ahead of time. Last year, McDonald’s stopped buying chicken from suppliers who used antibiotics. The new resolution calls on the company to extend the practice to pork and beef. Rivals Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. and Panera Bread Co. already serve chicken, pork, and beef from animals raised without antibiotics. 

Start-Up May Have Sweetener Formula That Makes Sugar Obsolete

An Israeli entrepreneur and former PepsiCo exec has patented a clean-label sweetener he promises is a “breakthrough product that could ultimately make sugar obsolete.” Heylo is a proprietary combination of acacia and stevia, blended in a precise ratio using a technique that delivers clean taste and functionality. Unavoo Technologies, the brainchild of Yuval Maymon, says do-it-yourself concoctions of the two ingredients cannot duplicate the result. The patent protects the levels [of acacia and stevia], the formulation, and the interaction of the carrier with the sweetener. The sugar replacement market is large – as much as $20 billion – but current offerings have major problems that Heylo avoids. The biggest one: bulking agents (i.e., erythritol, maltodextrin, dextrose, maltitol and sorbitol) that comprise 80-90 percent of replacements. 

GAC’s “Brookie” Merges Two Chocolate Favorites

Mall-based retail bakery chain Great American Cookies has introduced a hybrid baked treat that blends a chocolate brownie with a chocolate chip cookie. The “Brookie” is available at GAC stores on a buy three, get one free basis. “Brownie and cookie,” the company says. “In our book, they are the sweetest royal couple." Great American Cookies, known for its signature Cookie Cakes, operates in shopping malls in the United States, Bahrain, Chile, Guam, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.  

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December 24, 2017, to December 31, 2017

Fermentation Of Veggies: One Tactic In War On Food Waste

A farm family in Maine has hit upon a healthful and tasty solution to the food waste, especially vegetable waste, problem. Each day they take vegetables from their farm that were not sold at the local farmers market and ferment them using brine, or just salt, in jars stored for later consumption. Fermented vegetables are filled with nutrients, digestive enzymes and "good bacteria" known as probiotics, as are other fermented foods like kombucha, kefir, yogurt, and beet kvass (fermented beet juice). Says Mary Margaret Ripley: “It's inexpensive, it's a way to use extra vegetables before they go bad, and it results in healthy, flavorful food.”

Harnessing Information/Communication Technology To Study Food Sharing

Though urban food-sharing initiatives are gaining momentum in the U.S., not much is known about the impact of activities on cities or on the nation as a whole. There is very little data that can be shared with municipal governments or with the citizenry. ShareCity is trying to plug that data gap by collating information on the nearly 4,000 initiatives – especially those using information and communication technologies – identified in 100 cities in 43 countries. It created a project website with an accessible online database. The organization found that food sharing occurs not only in urban areas celebrated for being “smart cities,” but also in cities facing immense social, economic and environmental challenges. Ultimately, the database allows for more consistent and comparable analysis of how food sharing is accomplished globally. 

FMCG Spending Grows In China, Report Shows

Consumer spending on fast-moving consumer goods in China grew 5.5 percent during the 12-week period ending November 3, 2017, compared with the same period in the previous year, according to Kantar Worldpanel. Data from the market research firm revealed modern trade expanded 3.1 percent during the period, faster than the same period in the previous year. Also, smaller-store formats grew the fastest, with supermarket and convenience stores growing by 3.9 percent and 4.8 percent, respectively, data showed. Among China's largest retailers, Yonghui grew the fastest at 11 percent, while Sun Art group, owner of the RT-mart brand, grew 5.7 percent, reinforcing its market-leading status.

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December 17, 2017, to December 24, 2017

Frito-Lay Settles False Labeling Suit Over GMOs

Settling a class action suit filed in 2012, snack maker Frito-Lay has agreed to remove the package claim “All Natural” from any products that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The suit had accused Frito-Lay of violating several false labeling and consumer protection statutes, and generally misleading consumers. The crux of plaintiffs’ argument was that GMOs do not occur naturally, therefore a product containing them cannot be called “all natural.” The company agreed to pay up to $2.1 million in plaintiffs’ attorneys' fees and costs and spend $215,000 to inform consumers about the settlement. As much as $5,000 was awarded to each of the named plaintiffs. A final decision is pending because two unnamed plaintiffs objected to the settlement, which does not create enforceable law regarding GMOs.

Decorate A Yule Log Cake At Home With A Kit From La Madeleine Bakery

La Madeleine French-style bakery has created for the holiday season a decorate-it-yourself kit specifically for yule log cakes, known in France as Bûche de Noël. The kit enables customers to follow the French Christmas tradition of decorating and eating the Bûche de Noël at home with family and friends. The yule log cake starts as a vanilla sheet cake that is topped with chocolate mousse, then rolled into the iconic yule log shape. A fully decorated take-out cake is available for about $32.00. La Madeleine has more than 80 corporate and franchised bakery-cafés in ten states and Washington, D.C.

Arca Unit Acquires Clean Label Snack Maker Deep River

One of Coca-Cola’s largest Latin American bottlers and the owner of Wise Snacks has acquired Connecticut-based Deep River Snacks, a clean label, “better-for-you” food company. Fifteen-year-old Deep River, whose annual sales are about $45 million a year, produces “clean and conscientious,” non-GMO snacks for the U.S. market. The company also donates a significant share of its profits to charitable organizations annually. The acquisition will give Deep River access to Arca Continental’s strong distribution network, and will allow the company to invest more heavily in innovation. Arca is Coke’s second largest bottler in Latin America..

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December 10, 2017, to December 17, 2017

Kellogg UK Revamps Cereal Line To Make Products More Healthful

Kellogg UK announced the launch of the “Better Starts Plan,” a healthful breakfast initiative that involves revamping its cereal line, mainly by cutting sugar content. The company says it will, for example, reduce sugar in Coco Pops by 40 percent and in Rice Krispies by 20 percent. It will also launch a range of vegan and organic cereals, and continue to cut salt levels. The company says it is able to do all of this because its food development team was able to maximize flavor with cocoa and grains to maintain taste without using artificial sweeteners. The new plant-based cereal range called WK Kellogg will include no added sugar, low sugar, organic and vegan options.

Cinnamon Compound May Provide Therapy For Obesity

Exposing fat-derived human stem cells to a cinnamon compound results in thermogenesis (heat production) and metabolic remodeling that could reduce obesity, according to research by Chinese and U.S. scientists. Cinnamaldehyde, the compound that gives cinnamon its flavor and scent, is known to protect against obesity and hypoglycemia in mice, so the researchers wanted to test its impact on human cells. They observed that cinnamaldehyde consistently activated thermogenesis in the human tissue in vitro, making it a “promising therapeutic target for obesity.” 

Abbott Labs Develops A Way To Make Curcumin Useful As Dietary Supplement

Though the yellow compound curcumin found in turmeric has been shown to have health benefits, especially in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis applications, it is not bioavailable because it is insoluble in water. To solve that problem, Abbott Laboratories developed a curcuminoid formulation that uses phosphatides and dextrins to improve oral bioavailability. The company’s global patent application says the chemicals can be used in food-grade applications because they have been approved by regulatory agencies, a stumbling block for other attempted remedies. The patent application said that its blend of curcuminoids, dextrins, and phosphatides “significantly increased” the aqueous solubility of the curcuminoid. 

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December 03, 2017, to December 10, 2017

Smartphones Have Had A Profound Effect On The Restaurant Industry

Thanks to smartphones, which have penetrated to half of the global population, consumers have a broad array of options for “eating out,” a trend that continues to have a major impact on restaurants themselves. Restaurant meals are diversifying, and becoming available outside restaurants, in the age of mobile shopping and food ordering. Eateries have figured out that they need to provide “compelling” dining experiences to grab attention. In addition, many new players are taking advantage of advanced technology to reach consumers through delivery-only “virtual” restaurants, fully-automated production, etc. 

Cricket-Based Bread Now Available For Insect-Loving Finns

Recent surveys of Scandinavian people have found that the Finns are the most receptive to eating insects. Armed with that data, a Finnish food company’s bakery division has created bread containing 70 crickets – dried and powdered – in each loaf. Known as Sirkkaleipa (cricket bread) the loaves are rich in protein, as well as insect-derived fatty acids, calcium, iron, and vitamin B12. The first batches of cricket bread are now on sale in major Finnish cities, but there is not enough cricket flour available yet for a nationwide rollout. The goal is to have the bread available in 47 bakeries in Finland in the near future. Insect-based foods of various kinds are also sold in Switzerland, Belgium, Britain, Denmark, and The Netherlands. 

Nestlé’s Resignation From GMA Is A Sign Of Major Trouble In The Food Industry

Big Food’s grip on Washington policymaking may be loosening amid grumbling over its handling of the evolving preferences of American food and beverage buyers. The latest sign of turmoil arose when Nestlé dropped out of the big lobbying group Grocery Manufacturers Association over disagreements about how to handle food industry trends, including the stagnation of iconic brands, as younger shoppers and moms look for more healthful, more transparent food products. But, though GMA says it is adapting to consumer trends, Politico’s interviews with industry leaders found that “complacency and a lack of leadership at GMA are also to blame.”

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November 26, 2017, to December 03, 2017

Start-Up Introduces Probiotic Beverages

A U.K.-based startup has introduced two probiotics drinks in citrus and raspberry flavors that deliver live bacteria and vitamins to support a healthy gut. Alive Biome’s mission is to provide beverages that could help solve many of the diseases and conditions that have been linked to an undernourished microbiome, the human gut’s collection of billions of beneficial bacteria. The drinks come in 375 ml water bottles, with a cap that safely stores the probiotics, vitamins, and botanicals. Twisting the cap releases the ingredients into the bottle when the consumer is ready to imbibe.

Coca-Cola Seeks Patent For Process That Naturally Protects Produce From Browning

Coca-Cola has applied for a patent with the World Intellectual Property Organization that would protect its discovery of a natural way to prevent “enzymatic browning” of fruit and vegetable juice that negatively affects color, taste, flavor, and nutrition. Browning is the result of oxidation of phenolic compounds by polyphenol oxidase. The company accidentally discovered a way to use the cherry-like fruit acerola to reduce browning and hopes to patent the process.

Top Coca-Cola Execs Discuss The Impact Of Culture Change On Innovation

At its recent investors day meeting, Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey and other top executives outlined for analysts how the company is changing its corporate culture to reflect shifts in consumer beverage and health trends. It is revamping e-commerce strategy, focusing on nutrition, and diversifying away from core soft drinks. Analysts were given examples of innovative international products in various markets and examples of incubating innovation and geographic scaling. Chief Growth Officer Francisco Crespo defined categories of innovation, including explorer brands (e.g., Honest Tea) that then graduate to challenger brands, and eventually to leader brands. Consumer-driven innovation is reflected in a growing presence in natural, craft, organic, and premium sparkling categories, and extension of the Coke brand to include Coca-Cola Coffee in Japan and Australia.

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November 19, 2017, to November 26, 2017

Unilever Starts Process Of Looking For New CEO

Unilever is working with executive search consulting firm Egon Zehnder International to search for current CEO Paul Polman's successor. Although the company has yet to officially announce a possible date for Polman's retirement, some unnamed sources expect the veteran executive to leave in about 18 months. According to Sky News, Egon Zehnder is helping Unilever's board of directors prepare for a formal search process.

Christina Minardi To Help Manage Whole Foods’ Integration With Amazon

Former Northeast regional president Christina Minardi was promoted to executive VP of operations for Whole Foods Market. As a regional president, Minardi was responsible for 40 stores in three states. Minardi will now lead four regions and help with the integration with Amazon. Her new responsibilities will include re-imagining the customer experience and driving e-commerce initiatives. 

U.K. Trademark Filing Signals Imminent Launch Of Amazon Meal Kits

Amazon has filed for a trademark for a meal kit slogan at the U.K.’s Intellectual Property Office. The slogan – “We Prep. You Cook” – echoes a similar slogan used in the U.S. Amazon’s meal kits were launched in the U.S. and retail at $15.99 to $19.99. The U.K. trademark filing signals an imminent launch of the product, according to industry watchers.

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November 12, 2017, to November 19, 2017

French Baker Defends His $29 Brioche Loaf

The owner of a French bakery that opened recently in San Francisco defends his expensive offerings as the “real deal,” and the same amount charged in any big city. Les Gourmands, owned by baker Sylvain Chaillout, sells a $29 brioche loaf, which some social media commenters castigated. Chaillout noted that the high prices help pay for the bakery’s 18-month paid apprenticeships for bakers-in-training, which start at $14 an hour. And the brioche? A San Francisco Chronicle reporter called it “sweet, rich and buttery.”

Bezos Aide Steve Keller To Helm Amazon’s Delivery, Grocery, Store Ventures

Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos has given a longtime aide responsibility for Prime Now, AmazonFresh, as well as the $13.5-billion Whole Foods Market acquisition and brick-and-mortar book and convenience stores. The idea, according to observers, is to facilitate changes across the rapid-delivery and grocery-delivery operations, and the physical facilities. Steve Kessel [left] spent several years managing Amazon’s digital ventures, including books and music. His teams developed the Kindle e-reader Fire tablet in late 2011. After a four-year sabbatical, he returned in 2015 to oversee efforts to reimagine the in-store experience.

Ahold USA Earns Perfect Survey Score On LGBT Workplace Equality

Ahold USA, the parent company of supermarket chains Stop & Shop, Giant, and Martin’s, as well as the grocery shopping/delivery company Peapod, received a perfect score on the 2018 Corporate Equality Index (CEI) administered by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. The national benchmarking survey and report evaluates corporate policies and practices lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) workplace equality. The high score earned Ahold USA the designation as a “Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality.”
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