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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.

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June 18, 2017, to June 25, 2017

Langrock Named CFO At Hain Celestial

Organic and natural products company Hain Celestial has named James M. Langrock as executive vice president and chief financial officer to succeed Pasquale Conte, who is leaving to pursue other opportunities. Langrock, who joined the company in November 2015 as senior vice president, finance and treasurer, has more than 25 years’ experience at companies like Monster Worldwide, Motorola's Enterprise Mobility Division, Symbol Technologies, and Citibank.

Hain Celestial Reports Healthy Financial Numbers

Organic and natural products company Hain Celestial posted an adjusted profit of $192.9 million on net sales of $2.9 billion for fiscal 2016, an 11 percent increase over 2015, and 13 percent on a constant currency basis, compared to fiscal 2015 sales of $2.6 billion. Sales figures were buffeted by $69.2 million in foreign exchange fluctuations over the prior year. For the first nine months of fiscal 2017, the company reported flat net sales of $2.1 billion over the prior year, but a four percent increase on a constant currency basis. Sales were affected by $96.2 million from foreign exchange rate movements over the prior year. CEO Irwin Simon said the company accomplished “substantial cost-savings, enhancing customer-centric, go-to market initiatives and fueling innovation.”

Unilever Continues To Realign Agency And Ad Tech Relationships

Unilever and British advertising/PR firm WPP announced they are investing in mobile creative management platform Celtra. The move furthers Unilever’s goal of boosting and applying creative technology innovation while reducing associations with ad agencies. As Unilever gets more involved in data and ad tech it has cut the costs and complexities of advertising across its 400+ brands. Celtra has been providing top brands with the ability to connect operational data, creative, advertising and analytics. The company has worked for several years with Unilever and with WPP’s Mindshare.

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June 11, 2017, to June 18, 2017

Discount Grocer Aldi To Add 900 Stores By 2022

Aldi announced it is adding 900 stores in the U.S. over the next five years. The $3.4 billion expansion is in addition to the $1.6 billion it is spending to remodel 1,300 U.S. stores by 2020. According to the company, the new stores – it currently has 1,600 – will make Aldi the third largest grocery chain in the U.S., with a goal of serving 100 million customers a month. The expansion will add 25,000 new jobs in stores, warehouses and offices.

Jet.com Sheds Its Costco Ethos

E-commerce company Jet.com’s co-founder Marc Lore was inspired by the Costco example. Its original business model was based on membership fees, and on bulk sales savings passed on to the customer. But now that it has been acquired by Walmart, and continues to integrate its operations with the giant retailer, it has begun phasing out the Kirkland Signature brand of products, replacing them with products offered under the Sam’s Club Member’s Mark brand. According to analytics provider 1010data, Jet accounted for 5.5 percent of online sales of the Kirkland brand in the first half of 2016, behind Amazon and Costco.com.

Low-Fat Dairy Products Linked To Higher Risk Of Parkinson’s

U.S. researchers who analyzed 25 years of diet and health data on nearly 130,000 men and women found that three servings of low-fat dairy products a day were linked with an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease. No such association was found with whole milk or other full-fat dairy products. People who consumed at least three servings of low-fat dairy a day had a 34 percent greater chance of developing Parkinson's than people who consumed less than one serving a day. Consuming more than one serving of skim and low-fat a day was associated with a 39 percent greater chance of developing Parkinson's. The researchers acknowledged that early Parkinson's symptoms may have affected the dietary behaviors and questionnaire responses of study participants.

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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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