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Amazon-Whole Foods Merger Shakes And Rattles The Retail Industry

June 16, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Drug Store News outlined several key points to keep in mind now that Amazon plans to acquire Whole Foods Market. The $13.7 billion acquisition, awaiting approval by regulators and shareholders, will have major repercussions for retailers that sell groceries, beauty products and health products. A few of the key takeaways: both companies benefit from a merger. Amazon extends its beachhead into grocery sales, while Whole Foods gets a rich uncle. The entire retail industry knows now that it’s no longer business as usual: witness the stock slides of Target, Walmart, Kroger, Costco, and Supervalu. The acquisition furthers Amazon’s metamorphosis into a true omnichannel business, thanks to the addition of 460 brick-and-mortar stores. [Image Credit: ©   Amazon.com]
David Orgel, "Amazon and Whole Foods: 5 things to know about the blockbuster deal", Drug Store News, June 16, 2017, © Drug Store News
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Some Of The Advantages Of The Amazon-Whole Foods Deal

June 16, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Amazon has been tiptoeing into the huge consumer grocery business since it launched its AmazonFresh home delivery service in 2006. The acquisition of Whole Foods Market, with its 460 physical stores, accelerates the move, and offers benefits to bother companies. It is probable that the deal will mean Whole Foods’ Instacart delivery service will be replaced with an Amazon version that adapts Prime Now and AmazonFresh. As to pricing, Amazon is also likely to use its scale and efficiencies to help relieve pricing pressure on Whole Foods. And Amazon could also use Whole Foods’ partnerships with suppliers to lure them to the Amazon platform and take advantage of Amazon’s 300 million customer accounts. [Image Credit: © Whole Foods Market ]
Michelle Grant, "The Implications Amazon’s Acquisition of Whole Foods", Blog entry, Euromonitor International, June 16, 2017, © Euromonitor International
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Amazon-Whole Foods Deal Signals A Major Economic Trend

June 16, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
The recently announced acquisition of Whole Foods Market by Amazon is an indicator of a fact well-known by retail analysts: both Amazon and Walmart are trying to be like the other. Amazon is establishing brick-and-mortar bookstores and buying 460 grocery store locations. Walmart, through its recent acquisition of Jet.com and other moves, is strengthening its online presence and infrastructure. But the larger picture is that the retail industry is undergoing consolidation among a few big companies whose resources stretch globally, whose access to sophisticated supply lines, and advanced marketing and delivery technologies, gives them major market advantages over smaller competitors. This consolidation is happening in other industries, including banking, airlines and telecommunications. And it’s creating a real economic gulf between two groups of workers: those employed by the prosperous new super companies – and those employed elsewhere. 
Neil Irwin , "The Amazon-Walmart Showdown That Explains the Modern Economy", The New York Times, June 16, 2017, © The New York Times Company
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Millennials Push Beverage Makers Toward Clean Label

June 16, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
The Millennial generation is driving the clean label trend as they seek drinks that are authentic and healthful, in particular natural, organic and non-GMO. Their preferences are also driving a trend toward premiumization because Millennial consumers are willing to pay a higher price for these characteristics. The result is that beverage manufacturers are asking flavor suppliers for ingredients that reflect Millennial preferences, especially certified organic, non-GMO, natural – and “true-to-nature” – and allergen-free flavors to mention on their labels. [Image Credit: © Ocean Spray Cranberries ]
Amanda Del Buono, "Millennials, Clean Labels Impact Beverage Flavor Selection", Beverage Industry, June 16, 2017, © BNP Media
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Tesco Reports Sales Grew In 1Q Of FY 2017-2018

June 16, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
UK retailer Tesco reported like-for-like sales grew 1.0 percent in the first quarter of fiscal year 2017-2018, marking the company's 6th consecutive quarter with positive like-for-like sales growth. In the UK, like-for-like sales grew 2.3 percent, driven by 2.7 growth in like-for-like sales in food. Also, customer transactions rose 1.3 percent, which means an increase of 10 million from the previous year. According to the company, its overseas sales performance during the period was affected by its move to stop its bulk selling business in Thailand.
"Tesco First Quarter Trading Statement 2017/18", Tesco, June 16, 2017, © Tescoplc.com
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Wienermobile Hits The Road To Showcase Nitrate-Free Dogs

June 15, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
After a year of experimenting, Kraft’s Oscar Mayer brand of hot dogs announced it has gotten rid of added nitrates and nitrites. The only remaining traces of those compounds are found naturally in celery juice, an ingredient used in processing. The product also contains no artificial preservatives or by-products. To make sure Americans know about the changes, Oscar Mayer has launched a summer Wienermobile campaign. The hot dog-shaped vehicles, driven by “HotDoggers,” will travel the U.S. distributing samples.
S.A. Whitehead, "Oscar Meyer Teaches an Ol' Dog New, Nitrate-Free Tricks", QSRWeb, June 15, 2017, © Networld Media Group, LLC
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Unilever Hopes To Sell Margarines-Spreads Unit By End Of Year

June 15, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Reuters reports that Unilever CFO Graeme Pitkethly expects to shed the margarine and spreads business by the end of the year via an auction that would take place in the fall. The decision to divest margarines and spreads was taken after Kraft-Heinz launched an unsuccessful takeover bid last February. Pitkethly said if the company doesn’t get its asking price it will move to “demerge” the business, which could take longer. Sources told Reuters the sale could net $7.6 billion.
"Unilever to Start Auction of Spreads Business in the Autumn", Reuters / The New York Times, June 15, 2017, © Reuters / The New York Times Company
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Kraft’s Ingredients Unit Rebrands As Kraft Heinz Ingredients

June 14, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Now that the food ingredients unit of Kraft Heinz has absorbed the Heinz products into its portfolio, it has rebranded itself. Kraft Heinz Ingredients will introduce itself to the food ingredient industry at IFT17 in late June. Company reps will distribute samples of Kraft Cheeses and Barbecue Sauce to attendees and will demonstrate how the company can help food manufacturers’ with any applications that involve cheese, dairy, confectionery, condiments and sauces. [Image Credit: © Kraft Heinz ]
"Kraft Food Ingredients is Now Kraft Heinz Ingredients", News release, Kraft Heinz, June 14, 2017, © Kraft Heinz
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“New York-Style” Bagels Can Have Blueberries And Peaches, Right?

June 14, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
National chain Bruegger’s Bagels, founded in Troy, N.Y., and headquartered in Dallas, Texas, still promises authentic New York-Style bagels. The company says its summertime menu is inspired by the kind of seasonal ingredients “you'd find while strolling through a farmers’ market on a summer morning.” The menu features sandwiches and bagels made with avocados, peaches, blueberries, tomatoes and basil. The Pretz Mex, for example, is a pretzel bagel made with spicy guacamole, egg, peppered bacon and Swiss cheese. The Sweet Georgia Turkey sandwich is made with peach preserves, roasted turkey, muenster cheese, and tomatoes served on butter-toasted tomato basil bread. [Image Credit: © Bruegger's ]
"Bruegger's Bagels Looks to Farmers Markets for Seasonal Menu Inspiration", News release, Bruegger's, June 14, 2017, © Bruegger's
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Gleaning Program Reduces Food Waste, Feeds The Needy

June 13, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Farmers often end up with a surplus of edible produce, either because of intentional over-production, or because much of the crop is too ugly for retail grocers. In 2016, a survey in Vermont found that 14.3 million pounds of vegetables and berries grown each year never reach the dinner plate. To help solve that problem, volunteers at the Healthy Roots Collaborative Gleaning Program collect the surplus from the fields, transport it to 18 charitable distribution centers, and share it with needy families. The program plans to double the amount of gleaned produce from two counties during the 2017 growing season to 20,000 pounds. [Image Credit: © Healthy Roots Collaborative ]
Hannah Baxter, "Summer Gleaning", St. Albans Messenger (Vermont), June 13, 2017, © Vermont Publishing Company
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New Bread Formulation Will Benefit Astronauts, Space Tourists

June 13, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
The forces of gravity are important to bread – especially in outer space. Back in 1965 astronauts on a space mission found that without gravity, a sneaked-on corned beef sandwich crumbled into bits and pieces. NASA got mad because the free-floating crumbs endangered astronauts’ health as well as sensitive electronic gear. NASA banned bread in space, though tortillas are okay. But those days may soon be over, because a German company, Bake In Space, is developing a zero-gravity bread mixture that will bake at low pressure and heat. The fluffy rolls won’t produce “astronaut-killing crumbs.” The innovation would not only benefit astronauts, but also the outer space tourists of the future.
"Bread Me Up, Scotty: Crumb-Free Pastries Coming to the ISS", Sputnik, June 13, 2017, © Sputnik
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Food Companies Getting Certified As “Clean Label,” Despite Lack Of A Definition

June 13, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
As the “clean” eating trend gathers momentum  in the U.S., a web-based food ingredients tracking initiative has evolved into a certification program. The “Go Clean Label Certified” program, however, lacks a clear legal definition of what constitutes “clean” ingredients. The website lists ingredients that big food companies – so-called “influencers” – have been removing from their products. The founders hope to eventually meet with key food brands and grocery chains to develop an objective definition of clean label. A few brands have gone through a certification process which involves filling out an inquiry form, signing a license agreement, paying license fees, and then undergoing a product evaluation. Approved companies can then stick the Go Clean Label Certified logo on their packaging, website and marketing materials. [Image Credit: ©   Go Clean Label]
Elaine Watson, "'GoCleanLabel Certified' Scheme Rolls Out, But What Does it Mean?", FOODnavigator-USA.com, June 13, 2017, © William Reed Business Media SAS
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Jet.com Sheds Its Costco Ethos

June 12, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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. [Image Credit: © Walmart ]
Matthew Boyle, "Jet.com Will Phase Out Costco Products After Wal-Mart Acquisition", Bloomberg , June 12, 2017, © Bloomberg LP
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Discount Grocer Aldi To Add 900 Stores By 2022

June 12, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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. [Image Credit: © Aldi ]
"Aldi Ramps Up US Expansion with Goal of 2,500 Stores by End of 2022", News release, Aldi, June 12, 2017, © Aldi
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Low-Fat Dairy Products Linked To Higher Risk Of Parkinson’s

June 11, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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. [Image Credit: © Clover Sonoma ]
Ali H. Rajput et al., "Baseline motor findings and Parkinson disease prognostic subtypes", Neurology, June 11, 2017, © Rajput et al.
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U.S. Households Are Buying Packaged Foods/Drinks With Less Sodium

June 11, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A U.S. study has found that the amount of sodium households acquired from packaged food and beverages decreased between 2000 and 2014 by 396 mg/day per person, from 2,363 mg/day to 1,967 mg/day. In addition, the amount of sodium relative to the amount of food purchased also declined 12 percent (49 mg/100 g). The researchers analyzed data acquired from food and beverage barcode scanning from 2000 to 2014 among a sample of 172,042 U.S. households. The data are somewhat flawed because consumers did not report how much of the food purchased was actually consumed. So there is no way to tell if sodium intake was reduced as well.
Jennifer M. Poti et al., "Sodium Reduction in US Households’ Packaged Food and Beverage Purchases, 2000 to 2014", JAMA Internal Medicine, June 11, 2017, © American Medical Association
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Vitamin K: Not Just Found In Leafy Greens

June 11, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
USDA nutrition researchers have shown that the relatively obscure vitamin K, once thought to exist only in leafy green vegetables, is also present in significant amounts in dairy products containing fat, including milk, yogurt, and cheese. Vitamin K, which helps the blood to clot, is found in two natural forms: phylloquinone, which is plant-based, and menaquinones, found in animal products and fermented foods, and produced by bacteria in the human gut. The researchers say more research is needed to determine the role of microbes used in production of dairy products, and their impact on menaquinone content. There is also a need to determine the bioavailability of all menaquinone forms, considering their abundance in the U.S. diet.
Xueyan Fu et al., "Multiple Vitamin K Forms Exist in Dairy Foods", Current Developments in Nutrition, June 11, 2017, © Fu et al.
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After Trump Spurns Paris Accords, Coca-Cola Renews Commitment To Green Policies

June 9, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Coca-Cola was one of several Atlanta, Ga.-based companies that announced renewed commitment to their energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction policies in the wake of President Trump’s spurning of the 2015 Paris accord in early June. Trump ignored a strongly worded letter signed by 30 CEOs and published in The Wall Street Journal on May 10 that urged the president not to reject the Paris agreement. The letter said dropping out of the pact would create “strong potential for negative trade implications.” Signers included James Quincey of Coca-Cola, and top executives of General Electric, HomeDepot, Delta Airlines, and others. [Image Credit: © Coca-Cola Company ]
Maria Saporta and Dave Williams, "Atlanta companies double down on clean energy following Trump announcement", Atlanta Business Chronicle, June 09, 2017, © American City Business Journals
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Wholesale Baker Kangaroo Brands Says Its Flatbread Sandwiches Are Clean Label

June 9, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Milwaukee, Wis.-based Kangaroo Brands announced that its Sandwich Bros. of Wisconsin frozen sandwiches are now made with all natural flatbread pockets filled with 100 percent Angus beef, antibiotic-free chicken, all natural Jones sausage and Wisconsin Cheese. The company also noted that the sandwiches contain no “bad stuff,” like artificial flavors, trans fats, or high fructose corn syrup. The frozen, handheld breakfast and snack sandwiches are sold nationwide to grocery stores, club, convenience stores, and mass merchandisers, as well as foodservice, military and private label customers. [Image Credit: © Kangaroo Brands ]
"Sandwich Bros. Sandwiches Now Made With All Natural Flatbread Pockets", IChainnel, June 09, 2017, © iChainnel
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“Pink Slime” Defamation Lawsuit Goes To Trial

June 7, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A lawsuit brought by Beef Products, Inc., maker of a ground beef additive dubbed “pink slime” by ABC News, went to trial this week in South Dakota. BPI filed the lawsuit in 2012, calling ABC’s reporting on the product defamatory and misleading, and causing BPI’s revenue to drop by 80 percent. BPI says its product does contain small amounts of ammonia to kill pathogens, but not enough to be harmful. Some experts say that’s not really the problem: even with the added ammonia, the product may not be as pathogen-free as regular ground beef. But ABC could lose the case anyway because it’s not likely that a jury in South Dakota would side with a big media company “against a large meat manufacturer who employed a bunch of people.” [Image Credit: © BPI, Inc. ]
Jenny Luna, "ABC News May Have to Pay Billions of Dollars Because of “Pink Slime”", Mother Jones, June 07, 2017, © Mother Jones and the Foundation for National Progress
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Unilever To Expand Indonesian Production Capacity

June 7, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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.  [Image Credit: © Unilever Indonesia ]
"Unilever Indonesia to Invest $500 Million in Production Expansion", Indonesia Investments, June 07, 2017, © Van der Schaar Investments
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Coca-Cola Diversifies Into Frozen Desserts In India

June 7, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Continuing its diversification away from carbonated soft drinks, Coca-Cola is introducing fruit-based frozen desserts in India under the Minute Maid brand, challenging Hindustan Lever and Amul in the ice cream and frozen desserts arena.  The new products will be available this summer in institutional locations, such as movie theaters, rather than in retail outlets. The company is also putting fruit chunks in Maaza and Minute Maid “to make the drinks healthier.” Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation, that sells the Amul brand, is the largest maker of ice cream and frozen desserts in India with a 17 percent market share. HUL follows with about 10 percent.  [Image Credit: ©   Coca-Cola Company ]
The Economic Times, "Coca-Cola plans to launch frozen desserts in India", The Economic Times, June 07, 2017, © The Economic Times
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Flavoring Blend Said To Cut Sodium Content In Processed Meats By A Third

June 7, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Israeli salt producer Salt of the Earth Ltd. says it has found a way to reduce salt content in processed meats by as much as a third while maintaining flavor. Working with meat companies, Salt of the Earth developed a clean-label, natural flavoring based on Mediterranean umami – a blend of vegetal concentrates and extracts – mixed with sea salt. Reductions in sodium can be achieved in a variety of meat products, including frankfurters, sausages and injected chicken pastrami, the company said.
"Salt of the Earth Helps Meat Companies Reduce Sodium", News release, Salt of the Earth, June 07, 2017, © Salt of the Earth
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Shiseido’s Sweets Business Is Expanding Overseas

June 7, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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. [Image Credit: © Shiseido Parlour ]
Motokazu Matsui, "Shiseido has something for Asia's sweet tooth", Nikkei, June 07, 2017, © Nikkei Inc.
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Wheat Market Worries About The Future Of Gluten-Rich Varieties

June 6, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Global grain, especially wheat, stockpiles have never been higher, and recent harvests have been abundant. But agricultural experts say the quality of the harvests has been disappointing. There has been a dearth of high-protein – that’s right, gluten-rich – crops and prices have climbed. Agricultural experts who have been watching global winter and spring wheat production are worried. Adverse weather and other stressful conditions in certain parts of the world are lowering production forecasts. "Not all wheat is created the same," said one observer. "It looks like protein's going to be very dear again this year."
Megan Durisin, "Forget Gluten-Free: In Wheat Market, Protein Is at a Premium", Bloomberg Markets, June 06, 2017, © Bloomberg Finance L.P.
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Walmart Tests Large Parking Lot Kiosk For Online Order Pickup

June 6, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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. [Image Credit: © Walmart ]
Hayley Peterson, "Walmart built a giant vending machine that retrieves groceries", Business Insider, June 06, 2017, © Business Insider Inc.
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Millennials Not Very Adventuresome When It Comes To Eating Out

June 5, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
According to new Harris Poll research, Millennials are extremely loyal to chain restaurants like Five Guys, Chick-fil-a, and Starbucks. The data are somewhat counter-intuitive because Millennials are known to favor experiences like travel over collecting “stuff.” But it turns out they also value convenience, affordable prices, and familiarity, which chain restaurants have in spades. It doesn’t hurt that chain eateries have taken to social media platforms to make ordering and picking up easier. Facebook and Instagram enable chains to engage with customers using mouth-watering pix of menu items, a phenomenon known as “food porn.” 
Nicole Spector, "Why Millennials Are Hooked on Chain Restaurants", NBC News, June 05, 2017, © NBCNews.com
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It Pays To Buy Own-Brand Groceries At Australia’s Aldi Stores

June 5, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A grocery price survey conducted by an Australian consumer research firm found that a standard basket of own-brand products cost the least at Aldi stores, while leading brand products cost the most at IGA. The average leading brand basket cost $170.54 at Coles and $168.74 at Woolworths. A comparable basket of Aldi brand products cost $102.50, saving 49-50 percent. According to the Choice Consumer Pulse Survey, switching to other budget options where available can save shoppers as much as 59 percent when buying own-brand groceries from Aldi, rather than leading brands at Coles and Woolworths. Independent chain IGA charged 5-7 percent more than Coles and Woolworths for an identical basket of leading brand items. Choice checked110 supermarkets in 33 locations across Australia for its survey.
Rachel Clemons, "Which supermarket has the cheapest groceries?", News release, Choice, June 05, 2017, © Choice
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Coca-Cola To Spend $800 Million On Indian Juice Production Through 2022

June 5, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Coca-Cola said it is investing $800 million through 2022 into fruit pulp and concentrate production in India to enhance the Minute Maid brand with newer variants and put juice into sparkling beverages. The company has also launched a pulpy Minute Maid brand containing Mosambi juice. The investment in juice production dovetails with government initiatives to double farm income over the next five years, fits with trends toward more healthful beverage options, and is a step forward in the company’s global strategy of becoming a "total beverage" company. Overall, the company, its bottlers, and its fruit suppliers and processors in India, will invest $1.7 billion in India’s farming ecosystem through 2020 in an initiative dubbed the “fruit circular economy.” [Image Credit: © Coca-Cola Company ]
Press Release, "The Coca-Cola Company and its Partners in India to Contribute USD 1.7 BN in the Agri Ecosystem by 2022", Business Wire India, June 05, 2017, © Business Wire India
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Sugar Users Seek To Avoid Trade War With Mexico

June 4, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Big sugar-using companies like Coca-Cola are pushing U.S. trade negotiators to reach a new agreement with Mexico and avoid a trade war that would disrupt sugar supply lines and raise costs. The position directly conflicts with that of the U.S. sugar industry which wants to prevent Mexico from dumping low-price sugar into the U.S. market. Corn syrup makers also want to avoid a trade war with Mexico, one of their biggest markets. The three-year-old tug-of-war needs to be resolved, along with the Canadian lumber imports dispute, before the Trump administration can begin renegotiating NAFTA. Meanwhile, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross worked out a new sugar trade deal with Mexico, though several prickly issues have yet to be finalized. (See http://reut.rs/2ra6GOp).

 
Chris Prentice , "Coke, Cargill enter fray as sugar dispute threatens Mexico trade", Reuters, June 04, 2017, via Reuters, © Reuters
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Charitable Food Distributions On The Rise In Great Britain

June 4, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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.” [Image Credit: ©   Tesco]
Patrick Butler, "Report Reveals Scale of Food Bank Use in the UK", The Guardian, June 04, 2017, © Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies
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Bakery Adds New Version Of Its Soft Drink-Based Cakes

June 2, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Wholesale baker Café Valley Bakery has teamed up with Dr Pepper to expand its soda cake line-up with Dr Pepper Cake. The line-up also includes 7UP, Orange Crush, and A&W Root Beer cakes. The new variety is made with real Dr Pepper, a soft drink formulated from a blend of 23 flavors. Café Valley’s locations in Arizona and Indiana sell croissants, muffins, bundt cakes, ring cakes, loaf cakes, Danishes and turnovers to in-store bakeries, club stores, food services and convenience stores. [Image Credit: © Café Valley Bakery ]
"Café Valley Introduces New Dr Pepper Cake At International Dairy Deli Bakery Association Show", News release, Café Valley Bakery, June 02, 2017, © Café Valley Bakery
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Turning Flat Sheets Of Pasta Into (Nearly) Instant Meals

June 1, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston have developed a type of pasta comprising flat sheets of edible gelatin and starch. When submerged in water, they instantly expand into 3D structures, including pasta shapes like macaroni, rigatoni and rotini. While the idea of shape-shifting sheets of pasta is fun, there is a practical idea behind it. Even when packed perfectly, the researchers found, 67 percent of a box of pasta is air. Shipping and packaging costs could be saved if the product were shipped flat to consumers who would then turn the sheets into a meal.  [Image Credit: ©   Michael Indresano Production / MIT]
"This New Pasta is Special, it's Fun Eating It", News24Online.com, June 01, 2017, © B.A.G. Convergence Pvt. Ltd.
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How Walmart Might Foil Incursions By Discount Grocers Aldi, Lidl

June 2, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Walmart has been doing a good job of beefing up its e-commerce program to stay close to online retail competitor Amazon. But analysts say another big challenge is to better compete against the German no-frills grocery retailers Aldi and Lidl. That battleground is mainly about price, but not completely. Walmart’s U.K. grocery unit Asda, whose unique selling proposition was low prices, got beat in the price arena by Aldi and Lidl. It is still trying to recover. As the two German retailers expand their presence in the U.S., Walmart needs to make sure it is not out-discounted again. It also needs to make sure its house brands compete on quality as well as price. The good news is that the company’s growing e-commerce strengths could help it fend off low-tech discounter competition, especially if it continues to boost its shop-online/pick-up-in-store strategy. [Image Credit: © MidAmerica Nazarene University ]
Andrea Felsted, "Walmart's Big New Problem Isn't Amazon", Bloomberg , June 02, 2017, © Bloomberg LP
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S.C. Firm Provides Food Waste Pickup, Composting Service

June 1, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A South Carolina company that specializes in commercial food waste collection and composting is extending its services to households in Spartanburg and Greenville. Atlas Organics offers a weekly service in which households pack their food waste into sealable bins for pickup ($24 a month), or drop it off themselves ($14 a month). Atlas takes the waste to its site at a local landfill and turns it into compost. Subscribers to the compost service receive a monthly delivery of high quality compost in return – for free. Subscribers can feel good about helping the environment and “putting your waste to work." [Image Credit: © Atlas Organics ]
Lillia Callum-Penso, "Upstate Company Offers Solution to Food Waste Problems at Home", Greenville Online, June 01, 2017, © USA Today
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Increasing Concern, Confusion, About Animal Welfare In U.S. Food Industry

June 1, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Animal welfare – i.e., housing, handling, feeding, and slaughter – in the food industry is a major concern of American consumers, according to a market researcher. The concern stems from worries about food safety: there is a belief that animals raised under healthy conditions will produce meat and poultry that is safer, better tasting and more nutritious. But consumers seem to be confused about some product claims. For example, only 19 percent said they understood the terms ”grass-fed” or “certified humane.” A third said they are well-informed about claims such as hormone-, steroid-and antibiotic-free, cage-free, free-range, pasture-raised, and certified humane. Nevertheless, two-thirds agreed that humane treatment of animals raised for food should be a societal concern and a regulatory issue.
"Animal Welfare in U.S. Food Industry Both Helped and Hindered By Consumer Misconceptions", News release, Packaged Facts, June 01, 2017, © Packaged Facts
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Fast-Casual Restaurant Growth Slows

June 1, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
The fast-casual restaurant boom that took off in the 1990s, luring Millennials with fresh ingredients and modern design, has apparently plateaued. Growth in sector sales is expected to sag to only six or seven percent, down from eight percent a year ago, and between 10 and 11 percent in the prior decade, according to the Pentallect consultancy. Fast-casual companies are shutting down outlets, rebranding them, or abandoning expansion plans. Part of the problem appears to be competition from better performing fast-food chains and mom-and-pop eateries that have upgraded food quality and service. In addition, consumers are attracted by the convenience of online meal purchasing and delivery. [Image Credit: © Red Robin ]
Leslie Patton, "America’s Fast-Casual Dining Boom Is Over", Bloomberg, June 01, 2017, © Bloomberg L.P.
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PURCHASING: Coca-Cola Ups Fruit Imports From India

June 1, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Coca-Cola is increasing the amount of Indian fruit it buys for soft drink manufacturing from current level of 200,000 metric tons annually. Announcement comes two weeks after hiring of T. Krishnakumar as president of Coca-Cola India and South West Asia, and appointment of Asim Parekh as vice president of Fruit Circular Economy for India and South West Asia (INSWABU). Parekh’s mission is to connect end-to-end value chain from farmer to grocer.
"The Coca Cola Company to Boost Sourcing of Fruits in India", Drinks-Insight-Network.com, June 01, 2017, © Kable, a trading division of Kable Intelligence Limited
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Blue April Meal Kit Company Plans To Go Public

June 1, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
New York-based Blue Apron Holdings, whose subscription-based service ships cook-at-home meal kits and wine, has begun the SEC procedure for launching an initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange. In an earlier private capital round, the company was valued at $2 billion. The IPO documents filed with the SEC showed a first quarter (ended March 31) loss of $52 million on revenue of $244.8 million. The five-year-old company expects to continue to lose money as it pursues expansion plans. The SEC filing lists $61 million in cash and $99.6 million in debt. Since March 31, the company has borrowed another $63.5 million. [Image Credit: © Blue Apron ]
Maria Armental, "Blue Apron Files for IPO", The Wall Street Journal, June 01, 2017, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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When Flies Pig Out, China Reduces Its Food Waste Problem

May 31, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
China, with 1.4 billion of people, has a serious food waste problem. A farm in Sichuan province in the southwestern region of the country is working on it, however, using the larvae of black soldier flies – maggots – to devour mountains of leftover meat, vegetables and fruits. The larvae can eat twice their weight in food refuse. On average, one kilogram of maggots can eat two kilos of garbage in four hours. Not bad considering that each person in the country throws away almost 30 kilograms of food every year. And it’s a sustainable system: the farm processes the maggots into a high-protein animal feed and their feces into an organic fertilizer.
"In China, Maggots Help Deal With Food Waste Problem", AFP Relax News, May 31, 2017, © Network18 Media and Investments Ltd
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New Breakfast Smoothies Target Brazilian Consumers With Health Concerns

June 1, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Nestlé Brasil Ltda has introduced two drinkable brown rice-based Nesfit breakfast smoothies that feature healthful ingredients like grapes, beets, ginger, cranberries and passionfruit. Because they are made from brown rice, they are low-calorie, high-fiber, and rich in vitamins and minerals. The lactose- and gluten-free smoothies are sold in 260ml plastic bottles at a retail price of about $1.99. [Image Credit: © Nestlé ]
Product Launch Tracker, "Nestle Nesfit's range of Smoothie de Arroz in Uva, Beterraba & Gengibre, Amora e Maracuja varieties available in Brazil", Product Launch Tracker, June 01, 2017, © Product Launch Tracker
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Thomas’ Introduces S’mores English Muffins, Mini Bagels

May 31, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Bimbo Bakeries USA announced that its Thomas’ brand of English muffins has come up with limited edition S’mores muffins and bagels. S’mores are a classic summertime campfire treat comprising roasted marshmallows and chocolate sandwiched between graham crackers. The basic formula has been adapted to cupcakes, cookies, pies, and other baked goods. The suggested retail price for a six-count pack of S’mores English Muffins is $4.49; $3.99 for Mini Bagels.  [Image Credit: © Bimbo Bakeries USA ]
"Thomas' Introduces Limited Edition S'mores English Muffins and Mini Bagels", News release, Bimbo Bakeries USA, May 31, 2017, © Bimbo Bakeries USA
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Peapod Fine-Tunes Customers’ Online Search Options

May 31, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Online grocer Peapod’s smart shopping technology now has more search filters so shoppers can further refine selections based on personal dietary tastes and preferences.. In addition to common search filters like brand preference, price and sale specials, the company now offers 16 nutrition options, including non-GMO, sugar free, vegan, and vegetarian. The new filters were selected based on consumer food and nutritional trend data. For example, 42 percent of consumers read nutrition labels before purchasing, 33 percent of Millennials say they eat a meat alternative product every day, and sales of non-GMO products will hit $330 billion by 2019. [Image Credit: © Peapod ]
"Peapod Expands Nutrition Filter Options To Help Shoppers Make Mindful Food Decisions Even Faster", News release, Peapod, May 31, 2017, © Peapod
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Inflation Boosts U.K. Grocery Sales Numbers

May 31, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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.
Chris Hayward, "Market heats up as Aldi and Lidl grow at fastest rate since 2015", News release, Kantar Worldpanel, May 31, 2017, © Kantar Worldpanel
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Apartment-Based Cake Baker Transformed Herself Into A Social Media Star

May 30, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A Manhattan cake baker no longer sells her apartment-made cakes to friends to make money. A much easier revenue-generating scheme allows her to create masterpieces in her kitchen, videotape the process, and share the edited results with fans on social media. She has 250,000+ followers, and her videos regularly generate hundreds of thousands of views. An Instagram celebrity, Chelsey White makes money basically selling the concept of cake, rather than the cake itself, with help from partners such as the Food Network and AwesomenessTV.
Polly Mosendz, "Bakers Are Cashing In on Instagram’s Cake Obsession", Bloomberg, May 30, 2017, © Bloomberg Finance L.P.
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Food Sharing Service In English Village Hopes To Expand

May 30, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
The founder of a community fridge in a Hampshire village in England was pretty surprised to find how people from as far away as Germany were interested in her idea, and eager to get her advice. The community fridge in Botley is the fourth in the U.K. to offer food sharing, a concept that not only reduces food waste, it helps people in need. Riki Therivel’s “nice way for neighbors to share food” has become so popular that families regularly use it. Retail grocer Tesco drops off food twice a week as well. It’s providing such a useful service to the community that its temporary home at a local church has become permanent, though the fridge hopes for a larger facility in a shopping center. [Image Credit: © United Nations University ]
Callum Keown, "Community Fridge a 'Huge Success' and Could Move into West Way Centre", The Oxford Times, May 30, 2017, © Newsquest (Midlands South) Ltd
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Nestle To Improve Nutritional Profile Of Maggi Brand Of Foods

May 30, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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.
"Simply Good: Maggi to Offer Tastier and Healthier Choices", News release, Nestlé’s, May 30, 2017, © Nestlé’s
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Tesco Reports Improved Sales And Profits In FY 2017

May 28, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Tesco reported sales, excluding VAT and fuel, rose 1.1 percent in fiscal 2017. According to the retailer, it recorded positive growth in both UK and international operations. Group operating profit before exceptional items jumped 29.9 percent to ₤1.28 billion, compared with the previous year. Statutory profit before tax dropped 28.2 percent to ₤145 million, including ₤263 million in exceptional costs. Retail operating cash flow was ₤2.3 billion, an increase of 9.1 percent from the previous year, the company said. Tesco said it has reduced its net debt by 27 percent to ₤3.7 billion.
"Tesco Plc Annual Report and Financial Statements 2017", Tesco, May 28, 2017, © Tesco Plc
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PROMO CAMPAIGN: Coke Links Music Event Tix With Bottle Labels To Attract Romanian Teens

May 28, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
To spur Romanian teenagers to drink Coca-Cola, the company has launched a promotional campaign using detachable bottle labels, some of which double as tickets to major musical events in the country. Coke buyers need to use a special smartphone app to tell whether their bottle label is a winner. Consumer research told the company that 40 percent of Romanian teens hadn’t tried a Coke in the past month.
Patrick Kulp, "Coke is Printing Music Festival Wristbands on its Bottles in Romania", Mashable, May 28, 2017, © Mashable, Inc.
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ALTERNATIVE BEVERAGES: As Carbonated Soft Drink Sales Sag, Alternative Beverages Pick Up Steam

May 26, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
New Moody’s report confirms ongoing decline in carbonated soft drink consumption in U.S., as health-conscious consumers with more spending money switch to ready-made coffees, teas, organic juices, enhanced waters, all perceived as higher quality, more healthful. Though alternative drinks are still small market compared to carbonated soft drinks, beverage makers see benefit from shift in consumer preference. Despite lower volume sales, alternative drinks are inherently higher value: premium prices mean higher profit. Moody’s says large scale, cash-rich Coca-Cola, PepsiCo are well-positioned to develop strong alternative beverage portfolios.
"Announcement: Moody's: US Beverage Makers Look Beyond the Soda Bottle for Future Growth", Report, Moody's, May 26, 2017, © Moody's Investors Service, Inc.
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