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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.

<<45678910111213>> Total issues:387

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June 04, 2017, to June 11, 2017

Shiseido’s Sweets Business Is Expanding Overseas

Shiseido Parlour is expanding its pastries and foodservice business beyond the Japan home of its parent cosmetics company. Parlour operates 15 restaurants and cafes in Tokyo, and sells its own brand of cheesecakes and bicuits at 60 locations around Japan. It has already opened a shop in Singapore, and is planning a new location in Bangkok. The goal is to “make [Shiseido Parlour] a comprehensive beauty business from the perspective of foods.” The company hopes to generate $2.68 million a year by 2020.

Unilever To Expand Indonesian Production Capacity

Unilever Indonesia will spend half a billion dollars over the next five years to improve its production capacity in nine factories in the country. The money will be spent to improve production capacity for products in its two main businesses: home and personal care, and food and refreshment. The company posted first quarter sales of $812 million, representing a year-on-year growth 8.9 percent. 

Walmart Tests Large Parking Lot Kiosk For Online Order Pickup

Walmart is testing the use of a large self-service kiosk that would allow customers to pick up their online purchases without contact with an employee. After purchases are paid for online, Walmart employees find and pack the orders in bins in the 20-by-80-foot test structure, which is located in the parking lot of a Warr Acres, Okla., supercenter. Customers gain entry to the kiosk, which contains refrigerators and freezers to maintain food freshness, via a typed-in code. Customers must spend at least $30 online to use the kiosk, which is open 24/7 and can fulfill hundreds of customer orders in a day.

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May 28, 2017, to June 04, 2017

Charitable Food Distributions On The Rise In Great Britain

The U.K. is experiencing an upsurge in charity food distribution, according to a report by the country’s largest food bank network, Trussell Trust. The network handed out 1.2 million food parcels to families and individuals in need from 2,000 pantries in 2016-2017, the ninth consecutive annual rise. But Trussell is not the only food distribution operation in the U.K. The Independent Food Aid Network (Ifan) says at least 651 grassroots food banks operate independently of Trussell. They include small voluntary groups that distribute only a few food parcels a week, to larger charitable operations that hand out thousands of parcels each year. A Labour Party MP said the figures “show the tide of hunger sweeping the U.K.”

Inflation Boosts U.K. Grocery Sales Numbers

Growth in the U.K.’s retail grocery segment is being fueled partly by rising inflation, according to Kantar Worldpanel. Inflation stood at 2.9 percent for the 12-week period ending May 21, while overall sales rose 3.8 percent, the best in four years. Sales at Morrisons, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco grew collectively by 1.6 percent in the period, while sales at German discounters Aldi and Lidl were up 19.2 percent over last year and reached a record market share of 12 percent. Sixty-two percent of the U.K. population shopped in an Aldi or Lidl during the past 12 weeks, compared to 58 percent a year ago. That amounts to an additional 1.1 million households shopping at either of the stores.

Nestle To Improve Nutritional Profile Of Maggi Brand Of Foods

Nestlé says it will work to improve the nutritional profile of its Maggi brand of seasonings, instant soups, and noodles. The move, part of its global “Simply Good” initiative, will basically involve fortifying products where necessary with micronutrients like iodine, iron or Vitamin A; adding vegetables and original flavors from vegetables, herbs and spices, grains and fiber; reducing sodium content; and removing “ingredients that consumers do not easily recognize.” The company also promised to help people cook healthily on a budget and reduce food waste. The goal is to implement the changes by 2020.

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May 21, 2017, to May 28, 2017

Potential Hikes In Prices, Fate Of NHS, Have British Consumers On Edge

Mintel consumer research finds that Britons are worried about the prospect of higher prices of goods and services, including food, vacations and clothing. Eighty-three percent worry about price hikes generally, and 59 percent worry about more expensive groceries. With the impact of Brexit still largely unknown yet looming, and despite concerns about rising prices,  consumer confidence remains relatively strong. People still expect their personal finances to hold up well over the next year. However, the fate of the National Health Service (NHS) and the nation’s economy worry consumers.

High-Protein, Natural Ingredient Spheroid Snacks Available In U.K.

A British company has launched a new natural food brand – Boostball – that features six high-protein spheroidal snacks made with only seven natural ingredients. The snacks are rich in fiber, as well as vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, B, E, B12, calcium, iron and zinc. They are made with raw, cold-pressed ingredients such as natural sugars found in fruits and plants, and produced without baking or refining. The product range includes two vegan varieties.

Danone Buys Entry Into Smaller, Quicker, Tuned-In Food Companies

The venture funding unit of France’s yogurt multinational Danone has invested in a four-year-old, two-woman investment firm whose portfolio features small “disruptive food and beverage companies” in the natural and organic market that are “stealing shelf space and sales from established food companies.” AccelFoods of New York is nurturing 30 start-ups that produce everything from “better-for-you” bouillon cubes to calamansi juice drinks to flavored organic pressed teas. Adding Danone to the fund raised another $15 million, for a total of about $30 million. Danone’s investment comes at a time when Danone’s investment in AccelFoods is part of a strategy to boost sales by expanding in the U.S. It also acknowledges that smaller, more agile companies have a better grasp of the fast-evolving tastes of younger food consumers.

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May 14, 2017, to May 21, 2017

Opportunities For Confectioners In Asia’s Functional Candy Market

Concerns about health among Chinese consumers have both helped and hindered the country’s confectionery industry, according to Mintel data. On the one hand, there is growing anxiety that the Chinese diet contains far too much sugar. This is reflected in a decline in volume candy sales beginning in 2015, a trend not helped by a general economic slowdown. However, Chinese consumers are buying more functional candy, for example throat-soothing or vitamin C candies. This presents a product development and marketing opportunity for confectionery firms, especially those that analyze the demands of demographic segments in Asian countries. One functional ingredient in candy is collagen, an anti-aging protein. Another is iron, already available in candy in Japan and Taiwan. Associated with good health and energy, iron is beneficial for skin complexions, and often taken to prevent anemia. ]

Unilever Names New VP Of Sustainable Business Development

Unilever has appointed Weber Shandwick's Benelux CEO Annick Boyen as vice president of sustainable business development and communications for Europe. Boyen, who has had a 22-year career with Weber Shandwick, will also manage Unilever's external affairs operation in Brussels. She will report to Sue Garrard, Unilever's global SVP of sustainable business development in the UK, and Europe president Jan Zijderveld.

As Retail Industry Continues To Sag, Walmart Booms

Walmart bucked depressing retail industry trends in the first fiscal quarter, posting a 1.4 percent increase in revenue to $117.54 billion, slightly less than the $117.74 billion expected by Wall Street. Earnings per share were up by two percent to $1.00, better than analyst expectations of $0.96 a share. The glowing performance in a time of limp retail sales was generally driven by aggressive pricing that increased store traffic by three percent (on a two-year stacked basis) and by successful expansion of its online business. E-commerce sales soared 63 percent, up from 29 percent growth last quarter, mostly due to organic growth and not acquisitions. Same-store sales grew for the 11th consecutive quarter.

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May 07, 2017, to May 14, 2017

Grocery Discounter Aldi Increases The Pressure On Low-Price Competitors

German discount grocery chain Aldi is solidifying its gains in the U.S. market by competing even more on price, enhancing its product line, and remodeling stores and adding new ones. Internal research shows that Aldi already undercuts Walmart prices by an average of 21 percent, and it plans to keep the pressure on. The pricing strategy, aimed directly at low-price competitors like Walmart, includes expanding its array of private-label products. The company will spend $1.6 billion to expand and remodel 1,300 of its 1,600 U.S. stores, while opening 400 new stores in Florida, Texas and on the East and West coasts within a year and a half. CEO Jason Hart said all of these moves are designed to convince grocery shoppers to start their shopping trips at Aldi.

Osteoporosis Risk Drops When People Eat More Yogurt

A large study – 3,881 women, 2,053 men – by researchers at Trinity College Dublin has determined that people who eat more yogurt tend to have denser hip bones and thus a reduced risk of osteoporosis, a chronic condition leading to weaker bones and more bone fractures. The researchers looked at a wide array of possible risk factors, including BMI, kidney function, physical activity, servings of milk or cheese, calcium or vitamin D supplements, smoking, inactivity, and alcohol use. After adjusting for these, they found that a unit increase in yogurt intake in women was associated with a 39 percent lower risk of osteoporosis, and a 52 percent lower risk in men. Vitamin D supplements also helped reduce osteoporosis risk.

Whole Foods Market Suffers Another Quarterly Drop In Same-Store Sales

Whole Foods Market posted generally healthy second quarter financials, but endured another quarterly decline in same-store sales. Total sales were up 1.1 percent to a record $3.7 billion for the quarter. Same-store sales, however, slid 2.8 percent, the seventh consecutive quarterly drop. Profit was $99 million (2.6 percent of sales), or an expected $0.37 a share. The company returned $45 million in dividends to shareholders. CEO John Mackey said a key goal is to return to positive same-store sales and earnings growth next year, though the company expects same-store sales to remain depressed this fiscal year. It hopes to trim $300 million in costs this year, and has hired a consulting firm to help it figure out how. Keith Manbeck was named the new chief financial officer.

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April 30, 2017, to May 07, 2017

Certification To Transform Unilever Philippines Factory Into “Halal Hub”

Fortified with its new halal certification, the Unilever Philippines factory in Cavite will begin producing products across its home care, personal care, food, and refreshment segments for domestic and foreign Muslim markets. The company said the Cavite factory will become the “halal hub” for the Southeast Asia and Australia markets. A new mega-distribution center in Cabuyao, Laguna, expected to be finished by October, would handle distribution and transport of Unilever products manufactured in Cavite and Paco, Manila.

Subway U.K.’s New Low-Sugar Drink Options Lower Calorie Intake By 3.7 Billion

Subway in the U.K. has forged a new beverage contract with Britvic and PepsiCo that means a wider selection of drinks for consumers and a lower overall calorie and sugar intake – as much as 3.7 billion calories by July 2017. Redesigned drinks fountains and refrigerators emphasize the low/no sugar beverage arrays. The changes have already led to significant changes in consumer purchases. Options include no-sugar Pepsi Max or Diet Pepsi, 7Up Free, and Britvic’s lower sugar Orange Tango. Subway says the changes have led to a 30 percent reduction in calorie consumption, or early two million calories per store a year.

Survey Puts Amazon, Google At Top Of Beloved Consumer Brands List

Digital media and survey research firm Morning Consult says the two “most loved” consumer brands in the U.S. are Amazon and Google, followed by Campbell Soup, Hershey Company, UPS, FedEx, Sony, Home Depot, Lowe’s and Google unit YouTube. The rankings are based on 200,000 interviews that covered 27 consumer brand sectors. In the food and beverage category, beer is led by Heineken, followed by Budweiser and Samuel Adams. Among restaurants, Baskin Robbins is the leader, followed by Wendy’s and Dunkin’ Donuts. And Kroger edges out Whole Foods in the grocery category.

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April 23, 2017, to April 30, 2017

Smaller Portions Benefit Diners And Help Reduce Food Waste

A new fast-casual, “farm fresh” eatery opened recently in Washington, D.C., that operates on a novel business model. It offers smaller portions – half sandwiches, half pizzas, etc. – to people looking for less than “a ton of food” when they dine. The co-owner of Unum in Georgetown – it has sister restaurants elsewhere in the U.S. – said half portions allow customers to create “more of a tasting-menu experience:” they get to try more dishes than the usual appetizer and entrée. Diners have more control over the number of calories they consume, as well and, as an added and significant benefit, send less uneaten food to the trash barrels. That means a reduction in food waste, which the USDA says affects 30 to 40 percent of the food supply. 

U.K. Supermarket Chain Launches Coffee Grounds Giveaway Program

A Morrisons supermarket is giving away spent coffee grounds collected from its in-store café to its green thumbed customers. The grounds are bagged by the store, and there is no limit to the number a customer may take. Coffee grounds make great fertilizer, either in composting, or simply placed around plants in the garden. Grounds are rich in nitrogen, and encourage the growth of beneficial micro-organisms. They are also said to attract earthworms. Morrisons uses 316 tons of coffee beans to make 18 million cups a year in its cafés. The coffee recycling program will be expanded nationwide in late April.

Danish Supermarkets Look For Ways To Cut Food Waste In Half By 2030

Although Danish holding company Dansk Supermarked says only 2.5 percent of the food it buys for its constituent grocery chains is discarded, that still adds up to more than 33,400 tons of mostly edible perishables a year. Seventy percent comprises fruit, vegetables and bread, a lot of which is converted to animal feed or biomass. The company hopes to change all of that, and cut food waste in half by 2030, with the help of new ideas, processes and technology. Its employees will dialogue with customers, suppliers, and organizations fighting against food waste. Customer support is certainly there, the company says: a survey found that 44 percent of Danes believe conquering food waste would go a long way toward reducing man-made climate change. 

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April 16, 2017, to April 23, 2017

Whole Grains Once Again Shown Important To A Healthy Diet

Thanks to research, dietary fat is almost back in style. But grains – even whole grains – continue to fight an uphill battle. That might change soon, though, as scientific evidence supporting the health benefits of whole grains continues to accumulate. A recent study by Tufts University scientists found that diet rich in whole grains led to a favorable energy balance compared to one heavy on refined grains. In other words, people eating whole grains burned more calories while absorbing fewer. They also showed better glucose tolerance. The conclusions jibe with U.S. dietary guidelines recommending that carbohydrates – including six ounces of whole grains – should comprise 45 to 65 percent of a healthy diet.

For Now, Aldi Is Top Dog In The Discount Retail Grocery Biz

Retail grocery analyst Planet Retail expects German food discounter Lidl to grow more robustly than competitor Aldi in the coming years, but it will not unseat Aldi as the global number one in discount food sales. Aldi’s sales in 2017 – including Aldi Nord and Süd – will total €83.3 billion ($89 billion), compared to Lidl’s €76 billion. But Lidl will catch up over the next five years. By 2022, both chains will be doing about €105 billion. The leveling out will take longer, Planet Retail says, because of Aldi’s strong, and growing, presence in the U.S., where Lidle is also beginning to establish roots.

Unilever Posts Strong Revenue Gains In First Quarter Of 2017

Unilever PLC reported revenue jumped 6.1 percent to €13.3 billion in the first quarter of 2017, compared with the same quarter in 2016. According to the company, underlying sales rose 2.9 percent, higher than analyst forecasts of 2 percent. Underlying sales in emerging markets increased 6.1 percent, with price up 5.3 percent and volume 0.8 percent higher. Unilever said it has increased its quarterly dividend by 12 percent to €0.3585 per share.

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April 09, 2017, to April 16, 2017

Yum Brands Caves To Pressure: KFC Will Transition To Antibiotics-Free Chicken

Years of pressure from food safety and consumer advocates have finally nudged Yum Brands, owner of KFC, into the clean-label chicken camp. The company announced it plans to stop sourcing chicken from farms that use antibiotics over the next two years. McDonald's, Chick-fil-A, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell have all pledged to transition to antibiotics-free chicken because the widespread use of human antibiotics in animal husbandry seems to be contributing to the rise of drug resistant pathogens. With the shift by KFC, more than half of the nation's poultry supply chain will be antibiotic-free soon, according to advocates.

Unilever To Sell Its Margarine, Spreads Unit

Like many big food companies, Unilever is struggling to keep with the times, and with evolving consumer tastes, preferences and health concerns. The latest manifestation of the strategic rethinking, revamping, cost-cutting process – spurred by the failed Kraft Heinz takeover bid in February – is its decision to sell its margarine and spreads business for a price upwards of $7.5 billion. In addition to cost cutting, the Anglo-Dutch multinational hopes to buttress returns by implementing a dividend boost and a share buyback. Unilever’s margarine and spread business includes familiar brands Country Crock and I Can’t Believe It’s not Butter. Other companies that have recently announced plans to divest or acquire businesses include Reckitt Benckiser, Danone SA, ConAgra Brands, Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc., and PepsiCo Inc. 

Nestle CEO Says Corporate Growth Should Take Priority Over Short-Term Profits

NestlÄ—’s CEO says the cost-cutting fad among food and beverage companies – think Kraft Heinz, Anheuser-Busch, Unilever, etc. – undermines efforts to grow. Ulf Schneider, an outsider from the healthcare industry who became CEO on January 1, told shareholders that the quest for short-term profit “is not sustainable.” His company certainly puts a priority on efficient business operations, he noted, but it is also hiking investment in its fastest-growing businesses and plans to expand digital ventures and online operations, which have experienced 20 percent growth in sales. Nevertheless, Schneider said, NestlÄ— will do whatever it has to where growth is slow. 

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April 02, 2017, to April 09, 2017

FEATURE: Where Now For Unilever? We Lay Out Our Thoughts And Suggested Response To The Humbling Kraft Heinz Bid

The unexpected and deeply unwelcome Kraft Heinz takeover bid shook  Unilever* to its core. Analysts and commentators expected 3G to use Kraft Heinz as a vehicle for further acquisitions in the food space as it pushed to aggressively cut costs across larger businesses, but Unilever was thought to be above the fray.  In a tacit admission of past failure, Unilever convened a hurried review of ways to boost its valuation and in coming days or weeks we’ll see what this holds. Meanwhile, we have clarified our own thinking about how Unilever should move forward as a vibrant independent company that quickly surfaces its underlying value. You can read a summary of our analysis here and contact us if you want further details.
*Disclosure: Unilever is a client of ours, as are most of the companies we list as acquisition targets. Also, our newsletters are read by recipients at all companies mentioned in this piece.

Panera’s Stock Price Soars As Rumors Of A Sale Swirl

After receiving “takeover interest,” $6.5 billion Panera Bread is purportedly consulting with business advisors about the possibility of putting itself up for sale. Likely suitors include Starbucks, Domino’s, and JAB Holding, owner of a variety of brands such as Krispy Creme doughnuts and Keurig Green Mountain coffee. Panera’s stock has risen 28 percent over the past year, reaching an all-time high of $261.87 through the end of March. The stock bounded to $282.45 on April 4 when word of a possible sale leaked. None of the potential suitors commented publicly on the news.

IRI Lists Most Successful 2016 CPG Product Debuts

A new report from market researcher IRI lists the consumer packaged goods launches in 2016 that proved to be the big winners out of thousands. The analysis found that eight of ten of the top-ranking products came from small and medium-size manufacturers. They accounted for 64 percent of IRI’s Pacesetter dollar sales. The 200 bestsellers accounted for $5.8 billion. Brand leaders tended to stick to three key principles of innovation – namely, prevention, personalization and “pizzazz.” Quick summary: top ten food and beverage brands: DairyPure, Dunkin' Donuts K-Cups, Not Your Father's Root Beer; non-food brands Flonase, Gillette Fusion ProShield, Garnier SkinActive; and C-store brands: DairyPure, Red Bull Summer Edition, and Quest Bar.
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