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Unilever Applies Zero-Based Budgeting To Adjust Operational Margins

November 30, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Unilever says it is further applying zero-based budgeting to reset its operating margin goals. The new target for the “core operating margin” will be between 40 and 80 basis points a year from 2017 to 2019. The company’s current goal is annual growth of 20 to 40 basis points. CFO Graeme Pitkethly said the company will continue to improve the mix of the business with “margin-accretive innovation” and a focus on margin in the ice cream and home-care categories. Zero-based budgeting cost savings and savings from organizational changes should be about €1 billion by 2019.
Dean Best, "Unilever Sets New Margin Target with Help from Zero-Based Budgeting", Just-Food, November 30, 2016, © just-food.com
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Imported FMCG Market Is Booming In China

November 30, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
China’s domestic Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) market has slowed from five years ago. Third quarter growth was a mere 3.6 percent higher than last year, while in 2011 third quarter growth was 15 percent, according to Kantar Worldpanel. Imported FMCG is a different story, however. Sales/consumption of imported goods in China grew 18 percent during the 12 months before June 2016, six times faster than market average. Growth was driven by imported milk, coffee (+32 percent), instant noodles (+29 percent), and snacks (+26 percent). In non-food categories, hair care, personal wash and cosmetics experienced strong sales growth.
Jason Yu , "Imported goods outgrows market by 6 times", Report, Kantar Worldpanel, November 30, 2016, © Kantar Worldpanel
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U.S. Food Companies Need To Commit Strongly To Non-Deforestation Beef

November 29, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
A report by a group of scientists who examined U.S. food companies that sourced beef from South America found that 13 of them had no deforestation-free policies or procedures in place. Beef production is the main  contributor to tropical deforestation worldwide, predominantly in South America, and especially in the Amazon rain forest. It’s not easy to guarantee that beef comes from non-deforestation companies, however, because cattle can be shifted from ranch to ranch to meat packer, making it difficult to monitor. But the Union of Concerned Scientists says food companies should work with meatpackers, ranchers, and the government to develop a plan to end beef industry deforestation practices. U.S. companies rated on the strength of their deforestation policies in the report include Mars, McDonald’s, Walmart, Nestlė, Hormel, Wendy’s, Jack Links, Subway, Burger King, ConAgra, Kroger, Safeway and Pizza Hut.
Stacey McFadin, "13 U.S. Companies Failing on Deforestation-Free Beef", Food Tank, November 29, 2016, © Food Tank
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Arla Enters Iced Coffee/High-Protein RTD Market With Whey Product

November 29, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Danish food ingredients company Arla has introduced a whey-based iced coffee that delivers 20 grams of protein per 350-ml (12 ounce) serving. Arla is pitching the drink to “busy urban consumers” looking to build or maintain muscle mass. The product contains calcium and phosphorous from milk minerals, and caffeine, equivalent to two cups of espresso, from coffee beans. Iced coffee RTDs and protein-rich drinks are a hot item these days. One market researcher reported that the CAGR of iced coffee RTDs was 8.4 percent from 2012 to 2015; the CAGR of high-protein beverages in the same period was 34 percent.
"Arla Launches Protein Iced Coffee", The Food & Drink Innovation Network, November 29, 2016, © Food & Drink Innovation Network
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McCormick To Buy Italian Flavorings Manufacturer

November 29, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Spice manufacturer McCormick & Co. announced it is acquiring Italian flavorings company Enrico Giotti SpA for a cash payment of approximately $127 million. Based in Florence, Giotti’s annual sales are about $56 million. The company manufactures natural flavors, aromatic herbal extracts, and concentrated juices. McCormick CEO Lawrence E. Kurzius said the acquisition of 88-year-old Giotti will “add greater scale to our already substantial industrial segment business in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region."
"McCormick Announces Acquisition of Enrico Giotti SpA", News release, McCormick & Co., November 29, 2016, © McCormick & Company, Inc.
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Swiss Chocolate Maker Plans 100% Sustainability In Supply Chain By 2025

November 28, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Chocolate and cocoa product manufacturer Barry Callebaut has launched a comprehensive strategy – “Forever Chocolate” – to tackle what it calls “key sustainability challenges” in the chocolate supply chain by 2025. The company acknowledged that despite its ongoing efforts, only 23 percent of the cocoa beans it sources are from sustainability programs. The goal is to get that level to 100 percent over the next 10 years. The strategy comprises other related goals: eradication of child labor from the supply chain; lifting more than 500,000 cocoa farmers out of poverty; and becoming carbon and forest positive.
"“Forever Chocolate”: Barry Callebaut targets 100% sustainable chocolate by 2025", News release, Barry Callebaut, November 28, 2016, © Barry Callebaut
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Mondelez Signals Importance Of E-Commerce To Its Growth Plans

November 28, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
The departure of chief media and e-commerce officer Bonin Bough has led to organizational changes that affect Mondelez’s e-commerce and marketing strategies. Jeff Jarrett will now head global e-commerce under chief growth officer Tim Cofer, who said the move demonstrates that e-commerce is “a key priority and growth pillar” and signals the company’s strong belief in the value of direct-to-consumer channels. The e-commerce team will have complete responsibility and accountability for its revenue, margin and operations. According to Cofer, the goal is to build an e-commerce snacks business worth $1 billion by 2020.
Jennifer Faull, "Mondelez Separates E-Commerce from Marketing Following Bonin Bough Exit", The Drum, November 28, 2016, © Carnyx Group Ltd
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New Technology Helps Distribute Donated Food While Tracking Tax Breaks

November 27, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Two MIT business school graduates, together with a techno-savvy friend, last year won $50,000 to nurture their food-matching platform, Spoiler Alert. In November, the start-up raised $2.5 million in seed funding, then partnered with wholesale food giant Sysco Corp. The Spoiler Alert platform, adopted now by 200 businesses and nonprofits in the New England region, connects food distributors with food-rescue organizations. Using the platform, organizations and food companies cut down on wasted food and spur food donations by making them easier to track. But Spoiler Alert is even more valuable because it helps companies navigate newly-expanded federal tax breaks for organizations that donate food. That makes it easier for small businesses to donate, and for farmers to determine fair market value of inventories. [ Image credit: ©  FoodSpolierAlert.com ]
Janelle Nanos, "Spoiler Alert: It Makes Sure Nothing Goes to Waste", Boston Globe, November 27, 2016, © Boston Globe Media Partners, LLC
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High-Protein Waffles Fit In With Consumer Demand For Healthful Foods

November 26, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Two thirty-something entrepreneurs are building a business based on healthful breakfast foods. Their first products include high-protein, high-fiber frozen waffles, and waffle and pancake mixes. Grocery stores in Missouri and Illinois have begun stocking the products made by the pair, whose company is called Start Right Foods. The waffles are gluten-free, contain no added sugar, and are packed with 15 grams of protein and a third of a cup of fruit and vegetables. The two waffle makers have arrived on the scene at the right time: Nielsen says consumers are reading labels, looking for more nutritious foods, and nearly nine out of ten are willing to pay a premium for them.
Juliana Goodwin, "Young Entrepreneurs Turn Passion for Healthy Food into Line of High-Protein Waffles", News-Leader, November 26, 2016, © USA Today
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Advanced Technologies Can Help Consumers, Businesses Avoid Food Waste

November 24, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Research data suggest that a large amount of the £17 billion of food waste generated in the U.K. annually could be avoided if consumers and businesses behaved differently. Newly developed technologies can help with behavior change. The Wrap charity says 58 percent of the 1.9 million tons of surplus food created by industry is avoidable, and emerging tech solutions could play a major role. British trade publication The Grocer outlines eight of the “most exciting innovations solving food waste.”  Among them: an app that allows businesses to share information about their surplus food with registered charities; a robotic “chef” that boosts efficiency and precision in food production; and a tech solution called Winnow that foodservice operations can use to track and monetize food wasted in their kitchens.
Megan Tatum, "How is New Technology Tackling Food Waste?", The Grocer, November 24, 2016, © William Reed Business Media Ltd
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Cargill Expands Poultry Processing Operations In Asia-Pacific Region

November 24, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Increasing customer demand in Thailand for Cargill’s chicken products has spurred the Minn.-based company to spend $50 million expanding its poultry processing facilities in the country. Cargill Protein Southeast Asia, which employs 13,500 workers in 14 locations in Thailand, said the expansion will create 1,400 new jobs. Construction on the addition to a current factory has begun, and the larger facility should be operational early in 2018. Through joint ventures, Cargill recently opened a poultry processing plant in the Philippines and a fully-cooked chicken production facility in Indonesia.
"Cargill Invests $50 Million to Expand Poultry Processing Operations in Thailand", News release, Cargill, November 24, 2016, © Cargill, Incorporated
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“Pay As You Feel” Food Waste Market Opens In U.K.

November 23, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
The U.K.’s first “food waste market” in Leeds stockpiles and sells edible food discarded by supermarkets because of expired “sell by” dates. Needy shoppers purchase the food on a “pay as you feel” basis, with money or work. The Real Junk Food Project, which operates cafés around the world on the same basis, opened the grocery, and hopes to replicate it all over the country. New food waste markets are planned for the English cities of Sheffield and Bradford.
"UK’s First Food-Waste Supermarket Opens near Leeds", Eco-Business, November 23, 2016, © Eco-Business
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Sourdough Bread Maker Finds National Audience

November 23, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
A California bread bakery that began as a restaurant sideline has become so popular, among locals and nonlocals, it is shipping its product around the country. Manresa Bread of Los Gatos makes only sourdough breads that are highly hydrated and highly fermented. They therefore have a longer shelf life and can withstand shipping times. With each shipment the company sends detailed instructions for warming and storing the bread for maximum freshness, along with recipes. The company bakes the loaves, packs them (in plastic bags) and ships four-loaf orders every Tuesday via two-day or faster shipping.
Jody Meacham, "This Los Gatos Bakery's Bread is so Good that it's Now Shipping Nationally", Business Journals, November 23, 2016, © American City Business Journals
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Start-Up Hopes To Open Up Market Possibilities For Oats As A Grain, Not A Flake

November 22, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
A start-up company is basing its future on the idea that oats needn’t be only a flaky breakfast cereal. Grainful’s innovative concept is that oats are a grain – not a Quaker-processed flake – and can be prepared and eaten in place of rice for lunch and dinner. The company says the benefits of oats dovetail neatly with prevailing market trends, such as gluten-free, non-GMO, and whole grain. They are high in fiber, a plant-based protein, heart-healthy, low-glycemic index, etc. Grainful is ramping up commercialization after time spent market testing, scaling up and market validation. Products will be available in more than 1,600 U.S. stores by the end of 2016.
Douglas Yu, "Oats Market is Ripe for Disruption, Claimed Grainful’s President", BakeryAndSnacks.com, November 22, 2016, © William Reed Business Media SAS
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Pie Or Cake For Dessert? How About Both, In One Pastry?

November 22, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Thanksgiving is over for 2016, but a peculiar leftover remains. The holiday dessert category now includes a mashup, or hybrid, known as the piecaken, a name that conjures up another Thanksgiving oddity, the turducken. The piecaken comprises a layer of pecan pie, a layer of pumpkin pie and a layer of apple upside-down cake, topped with cinnamon buttercream. Other incarnations feature fudge cake, peanut butter or cheesecake. The idea seems novel, but a baker in Minnesota has been turning out something similar for a while, but dubbed the "piesplosion." One version of it (the Black Forest) consists of cherry pie baked inside chocolate and red velvet cake.
Aimee Blanchette, "Thanksgiving's most bizarre mashup bakes pie into cake — behold, the 'piecaken'", StarTribune, November 22, 2016, © StarTribune
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Dr Pepper Snapple Takes Strategic Step Away From Soft Drinks

November 22, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
In a move that signals a strategic decision to diversify its product line away from sugary soft drinks and toward healthful beverages, Dr Pepper Snapple Group (DPS) said it will acquire Princeton, N.J.-based Bai Brands, LLC. Bai’s better-for-you product lineup includes high-growth premium antioxidant infused beverages such as Bai Bubbles, Antiwater, and Cocofusions. The cash price of $1.7 billion includes a tax benefit of about $400 million financed through new unsecured notes and short-term commercial paper. DPS invested in Bai in 2015 and has been a distribution partner since 2013. DPS CEO Larry Young said the relationship with Bai “contributed greatly” to its allied brand portfolio in the last six years.
"Dr Pepper Snapple Group To Acquire Bai Brands, LLC", News release, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, November 22, 2016, © Dr Pepper Snapple Group
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After Reports Of Food Waste, Meal Delivery Firm Fires Co-Founder

November 22, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
The co-founder of a San Francisco-based meal delivery start-up was replaced as CEO after news reports that the company wastes money on marketing and makes more food than customers use – as much as 16 percent wasted. Munchery denied it wasted food, noting that it was proud of the fact that any unsold food is donated to charities for redistribution to the poor. Nevertheless, the company replaced co-founder Tri Tran with new CEO James Beriker, a former chief executive of Simply Hired.
Riley McDermid, "Munchery CEO Replaced as it Grapples with Reports it Wastes 16% of Food Made", Business Journals, November 22, 2016, © American City Business Journals
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Dunnes Now Dominates Ireland’s Retail Grocery Market

November 22, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Industry researcher Kantar Worldpanel’s latest data show that Dunnes Stores is now the largest grocery retailer in Ireland, based on 12-week supermarket share: now 22.6 percent, up from 22 percent a year ago. A Kantar analyst says Dunnes achieved strong performance by implementing a strategy of encouraging larger shopping trips via its “Shop & Save” promotional campaign. The company encourages shoppers to add one extra item to every basket – worth €3.20 on average – adding to an additional €2.8 million each week. The retailer experienced growth – an overall sales increase of 6.7 percent year on year – thanks especially to toiletries, alcohol, frozen food and confectionery.
"Dunnes becomes Ireland’s largest supermarket", News release, Kantar Worldpanel, November 22, 2016, © Kantar Worldpanel
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Restaurant Goers Want Natural, Local, Sustainable, And Delicious

November 21, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
A market research survey has found that 60 percent of restaurant diners who choose meat or poultry say the “all natural” claim is important to them. All natural covers a lot of ground, but for the most part it includes concerns about animal welfare and sustainability, and whether the animal is fed a grass or vegetarian diet. In this respect the concern is linked to the impact of the animal’s diet on the quality, taste and healthfulness of the dish. Local sourcing is very important these days as well. The researcher says the percentage of consumers who make an extra effort to buy local should crack 50 percent in a couple of years, in the face of widening concerns about where food comes from. Locally grown meat and poultry, for example, are at the top of consumer priority lists.
"Food Transparency and Knowledge: 2 Trends Shaping Meat & Poultry Market", News release, Packaged Facts, November 21, 2016, © Packaged Facts
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Unilever Africa Replaces Four Directors Who Resigned Recently

November 21, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Four board members in Unilever’s East & West Africa unit resigned within a month of each other this fall and were replaced almost immediately. Moses B. Amao (customer development director), Joseph Nee-Amahtey Hyde, Franklyn Manu, and Charles Alexander Cofie all resigned effective in October and November. Unilever did not specify the reason for the resignations in a letter to shareholders. The four were replaced by Edward Effah (Fidelity Group), Edith Dankwa (Business Times Africa Magazine), Philip Sowah (Afriwave Telecom Ghana) and Joseph Z. Amuna, supply chain director, Unilever Ghana.
Vivian Kai Lokko, "Unilever appoints new board members after four resign", Citifmonline, November 21, 2016, © citifmonline.com
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Juice From “Wonky” Fruits Is Good For Consumers And The Environment

November 21, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Ugly, misshapen fruit – deemed unsaleable by producers and grocers – is being diverted away from British landfills and into recyclable bag-in-box containers by a new company known as Wonky Fruit. The short-term goal of the British company is to save 300 tons of malformed fruit by April 2017 and turn it into “the most sustainable juice brand in Europe.” If successful, the initiative would reduce fruit waste by 70 percent. According to the company, its low carbon footprint juice boxes do not require refrigeration, and are compact and easy to transport and store. The juice itself is all natural, free of “nasties” such as powders, oils, infusions, or acids.
"Cardiff, United Kingdom: Wonky – Drinks that Give Wonky Fruit a Chance! Help us to Save 300 ", News release, Wonky Fruit, November 21, 2016, © Wonky Fruit
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Food For All App Eases Access To Surplus Restaurant Meals

November 20, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
The Food for All project, funded by a Kickstarter campaign, has developed an app that eases the purchase of surplus restaurant food, helps reduce food waste, and saves consumers money. Food for All is based on a simple premise: people should be able to buy cheaply the unsold food prepared by restaurants, cafeterias, fast food eateries, and caterers – which together toss out more than 43 billion pounds of food annually. The app allows people to search for the closest restaurants that have available food; reports the price set by the restaurant (usually 50 to 80 percent cheaper); and tells the time when the food can be picked up (usually at closing or shift-end).
"An app that allows you to buy food restaurants did not sell by the end of the day, up to 80% cheaper.", News release, Food for All, November 20, 2016, © Food for All
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Whole Foods Looks At Options For Getting The Word Out On Pricing Strategy

November 18, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Sonya Gafsi Oblisk, formerly with Walmart, is the new head of global marketing for Whole Foods Market, and she may have her eye on revamping the company’s ad strategy to make it more aggressive. Whole Foods has launched a media agency review, just two years after hiring Texas-based GSD&M to handle its national ads. There is some question as to whether the agency is in or out with the company, which is battling worrisome declines in same-store sales. The strategy is to get the word out more effectively on the new affordability of many Whole Foods products.
Steve McClellan, "Whole Foods' $65 Million Media Assignment Is In Review", MediaPost, November 18, 2016, © MediaPost Communications
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Walmart Posts Solid 3rd Quarter

November 17, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Walmart posted a $0.98 EPS on total revenue of $118.2 billion, an increase of 0.7 percent, for its fiscal 2017 third quarter. Net sales at Walmart International were $28.4 billion, a decline of 4.8 percent. Globally, on a constant currency basis, e-commerce sales and GMV increased 20.6 percent and 16.8 percent, respectively, representing continued acceleration. U.S. comp sales were up 1.2 percent, thanks to a traffic increase of 0.7 percent. Consolidated operating income dropped 10.4 percent, mainly because of ongoing investments in people and technology, as well as currency exchange rate fluctuations. CEO Doug McMillon said the third quarter was solid and the company was positioned well for the fourth quarter and the holiday season.
"Walmart reports Q3 FY17 EPS of $0.98", Earnings release, Walmart, November 17, 2016, © Walmart Stores, Inc.
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Cadbury Commits To Fairtrade’s Sustainable Cocoa Farming Initiative

November 17, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
British confectioner Cadbury and sustainable farming advocate Fairtrade announced expansion of a partnership whose goal is to help more cocoa farmers and their communities globally through the Cocoa Life program. Cocoa Life is a $400 million sustainable cocoa farming program that will launch in the U.K. and Ireland in 2017. It will target 200,000 cocoa farmers and one million people in Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Indonesia, the Dominican Republic, India and Brazil. Mondelēz International, parent company of Cadbury, will invest $400 million over ten years to 2022. Cadbury products will carry the Cocoa Life logo on the front of pack beginning next year.
"Cocoa Life Sustainability Programme Expands to Cover Cadbury Chocolate through New Partnership with Fairtrade", News release, NASDAQ, November 17, 2016, © NASDAQ, Inc.
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British Grocery Chain To Use Special Packaging To Improve Potato Shelf-life

November 17, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Sainburys will soon be using special packaging that keeps potatoes from turning green and bitter. The fully opaque and breathable bags prevent exposure to light, the main cause of greening. Too much light triggers the release and buildup of a chemical known as solanine. Potatoes are the most commonly wasted vegetable in the U.K., where 730,000 tons are trashed by households annually. Sainsburys is certain the new packaging will improve the shelf-life of spuds. The new packaging is one of the food waste solutions under the company’s “Waste less, Save more” initiative.
Tony Corbin, "New Sainsbury’s Packaging Tackles Potato Discolouration", Packaging News, November 17, 2016, © Packaging News
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Majority Of Food Retailers Are Working To Reduce Food Waste

November 16, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Nearly three-fourths (71 percent) of food retailers who responded to an industry survey indicated that they were “aggressively investing” in ways to improve food donations to charities that feed the hungry. Retailers are also investing in areas related to food waste recycling (67 percent), food waste reduction (63 percent), and food waste disposal (58 percent). Within these areas, companies are devoting capital and employee time on improving food waste measurement and tracking. The survey was sponsored by the Food Waste Reduction Alliance, which includes the Food Marketing Institute. The FWRA analyzed food waste among U.S. food manufacturers, retailers, and restaurants.
"Food Waste Initiative Suggests Food Retail Industry Making Significant Reduction Efforts", Food Marketing Institute, November 16, 2016, © Food Marketing Institute
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Hain Celestial In Hot Water With NASDAQ Over Unfiled Report

November 16, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Organic and natural foods company Hain Celestial Group announced that its audit committee had found no evidence of intentional wrongdoing in connection with its financial statements, especially regarding the finding that certain “concessions” had been granted to some distributors. The company has delayed releasing financial statements until the audit is completed. The delay spurred NASDAQ to send a letter to Hain Celestial notifying it that as of November 11 the company was not in compliance with listing rules requiring timely submission of the quarterly Form 10-Q report. Hain was granted an extension until February 2017. Meanwhile, the company will put in place a plan to make internal controls and organization stronger.
"Hain Celestial Announces Completion of Independent Audit Committee Review", News release, Hain Celestial, November 16, 2016, © The Hain Celestial Group, Inc.
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KFC Still Slow To Board The Antibiotics-Free Chicken Bandwagon

November 15, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Following calls by the World Health Organization and the U.N. General Assembly to reduce globally the overuse and misuse of antibiotics in medicine and agriculture, the Natural Resources Defense Council has strongly urged one American food company in particular to support the urgent cause.  The nation’s largest chicken restaurant chain, KFC, has been largely silent about the use of antibiotics among its suppliers. Forty percent of America’s chicken is produced by companies with antibiotics stewardship commitments or programs. KFC could easily tip that past the 50 percent mark if it pledged to use only antibiotics-free chicken by a certain deadline. But KFC “hedges and stalls” as competitors, including Chick-fil-A, commit to antibiotics-free chicken.
Lena Brook, "A Great Week for KFC to Kick Its Antibiotics Addiction", Expert blog entry, NRDC, November 15, 2016, © Natural Resources Defense Council
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Traditional Organic Farmers Say Hydroponic Farming Can’t Be Organic

November 15, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Can fruits and vegetables grown in soil-free systems – hydroponically or aquaponically – be certified as organic? The question is far from settled as an increasing number of big and small produce growers are turning to liquid-based farming. These growers say their methods are no different from soil farmers, and are actually more sustainable because they use less water. Traditional organic farmers, however, say organic means caring for the soil so that it contains proper nutrients and produces environmental benefits beyond growing plants. Both sides will present their arguments at a meeting of the National Organic Standards Board, which advises the USDA.
Stephanie Strom, "What’s Organic? A Debate Over Dirt May Boil Down to Turf", The New York Times, November 15, 2016, © The New York Times Company
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Will Trump Wreak Havoc On Obama’s Food, Nutrition Initiatives?

November 15, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
A former White House nutrition advisor says food advocates are already worrying about what fast-food fan Donald Trump might do to the Obama administration’s many food-related policy tweaks. These include: healthier school meals, a tougher food safety law, food labeling regulations, a phase-out of trans fats, calorie labels on restaurant menus, and sodium content limits. Republican legislators and others say a Trump administration could target school meals and food safety rules (that create “food police”). Food stamp rules might be overhauled. But it’s unlikely that other initiatives – new "nutrition facts" panels on food packages, a labeling law for GMO foods, and menu calorie labeling – will stay. "Most of them have been implemented and industry has moved on," advisor Sam Kass said.
"Fast-Food Fan Trump Could Remake Healthy School Lunches", The New York Times, November 15, 2016, © The New York Times Company
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Consumers Are Not To Blame For The Bulk Of U.K. Food Waste

November 15, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Environmental author and Feedback founder Tristram Stuart told a British legislative panel that blaming consumers for most of the country’s food waste – more than 50 percent – is “bogus.” Stuart, testifying with other activists before the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, said that data from higher up the food chain is either nonexistent, or “self-generated” and unaudited. There has been no reliable measurement of food waste in manufacturing, in supermarkets or on farms. No one has thought to monitor fish wasted at sea or edible offal in slaughterhouses. Stuart and colleagues called for mandatory reporting of corporate food waste data, similar to the information volunteered by grocery retailers Tesco and Sainsbury's.
Megan Tatum, "Figures Blaming Shoppers for Food Waste are Bogus, MPs Told", The Grocer, November 15, 2016, © William Reed Business Media Ltd
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Pie-Sharing Program Benefits The Community, And The Pie Baker

November 15, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
An innovative pie-baking entrepreneur with a soft spot in her heart for her fellow man has launched a program that encourages customers to share pie with strangers. The “Pie-It-Forward” initiative is also clever marketing, of course, because customers not only buy pie for themselves, they buy one-slice coupons that are displayed in the Detroit, Mich., bakery (Sister Pie, left)and can be grabbed by anyone. "It's a way to provide pie for a variety of people, people who are hungry, or people who have never been to our pie shop before," said Sister Pie owner Lisa Ludwinski. ]
"Giving Chains: Holiday Customers Enjoy Paying It Forward", The New York Times, November 15, 2016, © The New York Times Company
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Room For Growth For Pasta Manufacturers Globally

November 14, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Though the global market for pasta is saturated – volume sales growth has averaged one percent over five years – there is room for expansion, according to Euromonitor. Europe is especially closed to volume sales growth, but opportunities exist in the Middle East and Africa, some areas of the Asia Pacific region, as well as Turkey, Iran and Egypt – dubbed “particularly appealing markets” by Euromonitor. The researcher advises manufacturers to seek “value growth” in saturated countries such as Italy, and “volume growth” in unsaturated markets such as Iran, Turkey, Egypt and Brazil.
Jack Skelly, "Growth Opportunities in Pasta: Hot Air or Legitimate Prospect?", Blog post, Euromonitor International, November 14, 2016, © Euromonitor
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More California Counties Create GMO-Free Zones

November 14, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Counties in California that have enacted “GMO-free” growing zones now total nearly 14,000 square miles out of about 67,000 square miles devoted to farming in the state. The bans on GMO farming in the zones, which are appearing across the U.S. on a county by county basis, are backed by organic dairies, natural food co-ops and heirloom seed companies. The latest ban, opposed by the local farm bureau, came in a ballot measure in the November election in Sonoma County, Calif. The bureau said the measure was vaguely worded and would bar farmers from using any appropriate technology to fight pests and disease.
Anna-Lisa Laca, "Calif. Ballot Measure Creates Largest GMO-Free Zone in U.S.", AG Web, November 14, 2016, © Farm Journal, Inc.
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New Las Vegas Location Signifies Taco Bell’s Aggressive Expansion Plans

November 14, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Calling it the “ultimate expression of the Taco Bell brand and lifestyle,” Taco Bell has opened restaurant 7,000, this one on the Las Vegas strip. Accompanying th new restaurant is a new logo, the first revision in 25 years. The company said the new eatery and logo signify a growth plan goal of becoming a $15 billion brand within six years. The company hopes to add 2,000 more restaurants and 100,000 new jobs in the time frame. The Las Vegas location becomes the fourth Taco Bell Cantina facility to open, following Wicker Park Chicago, SOMA San Francisco and Austin, Texas, and the first of its kind to offer 24-hour service.
"Taco Bell Goes All-In on its Brand Evolution", News release, Taco Bell, November 14, 2016, © Taco Bell
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Bakery Waste Is A Major Problem In The U.K.

November 11, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
One of the biggest sources of food waste in the U.K. is the baking industry. Waste is not only costly, it generates a lot of negative publicity. The country’s Waste and Resources Action Program (WRAP) estimates the bakery, cake and cereals manufacturing sector generated 90,000 tons of avoidable waste in 2014 and 2015. That's about 10 percent of food manufacturing's total avoidable waste. Baked goods manufacturers are developing ways to cut waste. For example, foodservice and own-label supplier Fosters Bakery reworks a percentage of leftover dough back into the next batch, sells unsold bread loaves as breadcrumbs, and turns food waste into animal feed at £40 a ton. Nevertheless, the bakery still generates about £100,000 a year of food waste.
"A waste of dough", British Baker, November 11, 2016, © William Reed Business Media Ltd.
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Bai Brands Launches Low-Cal Sodas

November 10, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Beverage company Bai Brands, partly owned by Dr Pepper Snapple Group, has launched five carbonated drinks sweetened with low-calorie stevia and erythnitol. The new five-calorie beverages gibe nicely with the beverage industry trend – pushed by health advocates – of no- or low-calorie products. The Bai Black line includes traditional soda flavors like cola, root beer and citrus. Bai also makes teas, flavored and enhanced waters and fruit-flavored carbonated drinks. Carbonated soft drink consumption in the U.S. fell to a three-decade low in 2015 on a per-capita basis, as health-conscious consumers reject sugary beverages. It’s really a case of running away – not from sodas – but from sugar.
"Dr Pepper-Backed Bai Brands to Introduce Sugar-Free Sodas", Advertising Age, November 10, 2016, © Crain Communications
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Unilever China Wins Sustainability Award From British Chamber Of Commerce Shanghai

November 10, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Unilever China won the Sustainable Business Award of British Business Awards 2016. Created by the British Chamber of Commerce Shanghai in 2008, the Awards highlight and promote “excellence in innovation, enterprise, and endeavor in the British and Chinese business communities.” Among the criteria of the award are the presence of “identified vision and set of values” and integration of sustainability in business strategy and practices in the country.
"Unilever Wins Sustainable Business Award of British Business Awards 2016", PR Newswire, November 10, 2016, © PR Newswire
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New Bakery Technology Produces “Fun Cakes” And Sandwich Pancakes

November 8, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
A Dutch bakery machine manufacturer has adapted a Japanese cake concept to American tastes, hoping to create a niche market in the U.S. baking industry. Cake Concepts says the idea is to veer away from stale cake traditions, like layer cakes and Swiss rolls. The company has developed a technology, along with the appropriate machinery, to create Fun Cakes and sandwich pancakes. The machines make Fun Cake characters with a filling inside using closed molds. Unlike the original Japanese versions filled with bean paste, the Cake Concepts sponge-type shells contain chocolate, fruit, and savory products like cheese.
Jenny Eagle, "Cake Concepts Takes Japanese Idea to Develop Fun Cakes and Sponge Pancakes", BakeryAndSnacks.com, November 08, 2016, © William Reed Business Media SAS
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Fans Of Toblerone Chocolate Bar React Bitterly To Change In Shape And Weight

November 8, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
British customers of candy and snack maker Mondelez International reacted bitterly on social media when the company responded to rising ingredient prices – cocoa, for example – by changing the shape of the Toblerone chocolate bar. It didn’t take long for fans to notice the change: the distinguishing gaps between the peaks had been widened. The alteration meant a reduction in weight from 170 grams to 150 grams, without a corresponding reduction in price. One customer wondered how the maker of a chocolate bar “very well known for its distinctive shape” would try to save money by changing that shape?
Saabira Chaudhuri, "Mind the Gap: Toblerone Customers Feel Short-Changed by Shape Change", The Wall Street Journal, November 08, 2016, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Which Ingredients In Popular Drink Soylent Are Making People Sick?

November 7, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Although the supplier of an algae-based ingredient insists it is safe, the makers of protein drink Soylent say they’re pretty sure that TerraVia’s algal flour is the component that has made a bunch of its customers sick. Manufacturer Roas Foods has decided to remove the suspect ingredient from Soylent, an instant powdered meal cherished by techies in Silicon Valley and beyond. The drink was riding a wave of popularity in the summer when reports of illness began to pop up. Rosa Foods recalled protein bars and drink mixes containing the algal flour. TerraVia, meanwhile, blamed the illnesses on other ingredients in Soylent, including “known irritants” soy protein isolate and glycerin.
Olivia Zaleski, "Soylent Thinks It Found What Was Making People Sick: Algae", Bloomberg Technology, November 07, 2016, © BLOOMBERG L.P.
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Bimbo Bakeries Closes Two U.S. Baking Plants

November 7, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Bimbo Bakeries USA, the American arm of Mexico’s Grupo Bimbo, announced it will close baking plants Lubbock, Texas, and Sunbury, Pa. Production will be shifted to other facilities in Texas and Pennsylvania. The Lubbock plant, acquired in 1998, has 75 employees who make bread and buns. The Sunbury plant, acquired by BBU as part of its acquisition of Sara Lee’s North American Fresh Bakery business in 2011, has 67 employees who make bread and buns.
Eric Schroeder, "B.B.U. to Close Two Baking Plants by End of January 2017", BakingBusiness.com, November 07, 2016, © SOSLAND PUBLISHING CO.
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Fluid Ads Wins Top Honors In Competition For “Next Big Thing” In Ad Technology

November 7, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Unilever and marketing/advertising expo Ad:tech conducted a contest during the early November event to determine “The Next Big Thing” in advertising technology. The winner among 15 finalists was Fluid Ads, which demonstrated a technology that allows brands and agencies to create HTML5 multi-shape, multi-device ads in a matter of seconds. The technology was able to deliver in real-time 480 dynamic ads in five minutes – more than one a second. Product Director Dan Cohen created a dynamic campaign for Unilever food spread Marmite by shifting the messages and images to target different days of the week and times of the day.
"Fluid Ads – Winners of ad:tech and Unilever's Next Big Thing 2016", News release, Fluid Ads, November 07, 2016, © Fluid Ads
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Brexit, Pound Value, Put Pressure On Retail Grocery Prices

November 7, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Food retailers in the U.K. may be using Brexit and the drop in the pound to justify price hikes. Data collected by Mysupermarket.com show that U.K. supermarkets are charging a lot more for Unilever products than a year ago, and the trend is not slowing. Stores whose prices have risen include Asda, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, and Tesco. But there is less evidence that Asda’s prices on Unilever products have risen very much, mainly because Asda, owned by Walmart, benefits from the U.S. retailer’s massive buying power. For its part, Unilever, which has consistently warned that Brexit would lead to price increases, said raising prices for retailers is “never done lightly” and it is absorbing most cost pressures itself.
Sean Poulter , "After Marmitegate, More Price Rises from Unilever: Firm Blames Impact of the Brexit Vote as Price of Products Including PG Tips and Persil Surges", Daily Mail, November 07, 2016, © Associated Newspapers Ltd.
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New Food Dyes Are Natural, But Tricky To Use

November 4, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Even after decades of FDA endorsement of artificial food dyes as safe, consumers in recent years have grown increasingly skeptical. Food companies have been listening. Many – including big firms like General Mills, Taco Bell, Kraft Heinz, and Mars – have begun using substitute dyes that are more natural, derived from fruits, vegetables, and spices. The FDA recently approved a request from Mars to use spirulina (blue-green algae) to create blue tones. Food technologists, however, are wrestling with the fact that natural colorings – from turmeric, beets, paprika, annatto seeds (from the achiote tree), etc. – are very heat- and acidity-sensitive, more expensive, and have to be used in larger quantities.
Maia Welbel, "Food Corporations Phase Out Artificial Colors", The Student Life, November 04, 2016, © The Student Life
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Company Says Its Clinical Trial Shows Its Product Reduces Fatigue

November 4, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
A clinical study conducted by the maker of a nutraceutical ingredient shows that it is “effective against both physical and mental fatigue.” According to AstaReal (Burlington, NJ), the double-blind, placebo-controlled study of its product astaxanthin, published in a Japanese scientific journal, involved activities designed to mimic everyday mental fatigue and physical stress. Participants performed various timed calculations that evaluate concentration and mental clarity. They also pedaled a bicycle ergometer. Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) analysis showed that AstaReal astaxanthin significantly reduced symptoms of mental and physical fatigue compared to the placebo, the company claims.
"Clinical Study Shows AstaReal® Astaxanthin Effective in Reducing both Physical and Mental Fatigue", News release, AstaReal, November 04, 2016, © AstaReal Holdings Co., Ltd.
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Australian Community Group Hopes To Reduce Fruit Tree Waste

November 4, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
An organization in the Australian state of Tasmania says it is launching a regional harvest cooperative next fall to link fruit tree growers with volunteer pickers. The goal is to reduce waste associated with unpicked fruit. A representative of the Meander Valley Local Food for Local People said excess produce would be shared with harvesters and with charities. Workshops might also be held to process unsold fruit into jams, chutneys, juice, vinegar and dried fruit.
"Group aims to reduce wastage", The Examiner Newspaper, November 04, 2016, © Fairfax Media
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Sprouted Grain Bakery Acquired By Specialty Food Company

November 3, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Lancaster Colony will acquire Cudahy, Ohio-based wholesale bakery Angelic Bakehouse, which specializes in non-GMO sprouted grain baked goods. The company’s owners, who bought the 40-year-old Cybros bakery in 2009, will continue in their current roles at Angelic, and hope to participate in strong growth and expansion. A representative of specialty foods maker Lancaster Colony said the company is very happy with the purchase because of Angelic’s “terrific lineup of on-trend bakery products.”
Lori Fredrich, "Angelic Bakehouse Acquired by Ohio-Based Lancaster Colony", OnMilwaukee, November 03, 2016, © OnMilwaukee.com
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Whole Foods Market Posts Strong Sales Growth In FY 4Q 2016

November 2, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Whole Foods Market, Inc., reported total sales grew to a record $3.5 billion for the fourth quarter ending September 25, 2016. During the period, comparable store sales declined 2.6 percent, with net income at $88 million, or 2.5 percent of sales for the quarter. According to the retailer, earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization were $276 million, or 7.9 percent of sales, with return on invested capital at 13 percent. Cash flow from operations were at $352 million, with the company investing $195 million in capital expenditures. Also, the company returned $44 million in quarterly dividends to shareholders and repurchased $15 million, or 0.5 million shares, of common stock.
"Whole Foods Market Reports Fourth Quarter and Fiscal Year 2016 Results", Whole Foods, November 02, 2016, © Whole Foods Market
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