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Kroger CEO “Disappointed” With 4th Quarter Profit

March 2, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Kroger posted a disappointing 4th quarter profit of $506 million (53¢ a share), down from $559 million (57¢ a share) last year. Sales were $27.6 billion, up 5.5 percent ($26.2 billion) from a year ago. Net earnings for fiscal 2016 totaled $1.98 billion, or $2.05 a share. Excluding the restructuring of some multi-employer pension obligations, adjusted net earnings for the year were $2.05 billion, or $2.12 a share (up from 2015’s $2.04 billion, or $2.06 a share. The company said it created 12,000 new supermarket jobs in 2016. CEO Rodney McMullen, noting that the company was “obviously disappointed” with 4th quarter profit, said further cost cutting would allow the company to reach its long-term EPS growth rate target of 8 to 11 percent. [ Image credit: © Kroger Co. ]
"Kroger Reports Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2016 Results", Earnings release, Kroger, March 02, 2017, © The Kroger Company
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New Line Of Prepared Frozen Fruits, Vegetables Helps Reduce Food Waste

March 2, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
British supermarket chain Tesco has launched a range of prepared frozen produce designed to take the "fuss” out of cooking with unusual but antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, including pomegranates, watermelon, coconut and beetroot (beets). Sold in resealable packages are frozen diced beetroot and coconut, chunks of watermelon, and seeded pomegranate. The range will also help reduce food waste because consumers take what is needed and leave the rest in the freezer, Tesco says.  [ Image credit: © Tesco ]
"Tesco Addresses Food Waste with Fuss-Free Frozen Fruit", Food Ingredients 1st, March 02, 2017, © CNS Media BV
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Dunkin’ Donuts Parent Company To Replace Synthetic With Natural Colorings

March 2, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
As part of an ongoing plan to offer cleaner menu labels, the parent company of Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins said it will replace artificial colorings in its foods with naturally-sourced colorings by the end of 2018. Dunkin' Brands Group said its doughnuts unit will remove synthetic colors from donut icings, fillings, toppings, frozen beverages, baked goods, breakfast sandwiches and coffee flavorings. Likewise, Baskin-Robbins will remove synthetic colors from all ice cream, syrups, sauces, sprinkles and beverages. In 2014, Dunkin' Brands revamped its new product development process to focus on reformulating products to simplify ingredient labels, and reduce sodium and sugar content without sacrificing flavor.
"Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin-Robbins Plan to Remove Artificial Colorings from U.S. Menus by End of 2018", News release, Dunkin' Brands Group, March 02, 2017, © Dunkin' Brands Group
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Bottled Water Giants Partner To Speed Biomass-Based Bottle To Market

March 2, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
French food company Danone is partnering with Nestlė Waters and a young technology company to accelerate commercial use of a 100 percent sustainable and renewable bio-based plastic bottle. The two giants in bottled water are working with a Sacramento, Calif.-based startup known as Origin Materials, which developed the technology. Together, the NaturALL Bottle Alliance will develop and launch commercially a PET1 (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic bottle made from biomass feedstocks, such as previously used cardboard and sawdust. A major advantage is that it does not divert resources or land from food production. [ Image credit: © Steven Depolo ]
"Danone and Nestlé Waters Launch NaturALL Bottle Alliance with California Startup to Develop 100% Bio-Based Bottles", News release, Nestlé Waters, March 02, 2017, © Nestlé Waters
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Consumer Goods Forum Draws Closer To Meeting Goals In Latest Health And Wellness Report

March 1, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), a global network of business stakeholders from 70 countries with a mission to help accomplish health and wellness-related Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations by implementing Health and Wellness Resolutions, released its the fourth edition of its Annual Health and Wellness Progress Report. CGF noted progress in the Commitments signed by its members: the first commitment is for greater transparency in nutritional policies and product formulation and the second commitment is to implement better employee health and wellness programs. Of the companies that participated in the CGF survey over the last two years, 38% has met the first commitment and 66% achieved the second the commitment. The CGF notes that larger companies worldwide are demonstrating leadership in meeting their health and wellness goals and are inspiring other members to move forward. The report provides comprehensive information on the progress of health and wellness programs across the world. It reveals that some 2.3 billion people and 30,000 communities have been reached by H&W programs, with 1.3 million employees, 1.4 million H&W professionals and 386,000 schools participating in its implementation. Interestingly, some 180,000 products have been redesigned to align with the H&W resolutions of member companies. [Image credit © The Consumer Goods Forum]
"Health & Wellness Progress Report", The Consumer Goods Forum, March 01, 2017, © Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited
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Cage-Free Eggs Movement Marches On

March 1, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
General Mills has joined other food industry players – food manufacturers, foodservice companies, fast food chains, and retailers – in pledging to eventually source only cage-free eggs globally for use in its products. The company’s commitment will be fully implemented by 2025. The decision was praised by the cage-free campaign Open Wing Alliance initiated by The Humane League earlier this year. In related news, all 99 Cents Only Stores that sell eggs will offer a cage-free option at a competitive price. And Farmer Boys Restaurants said it has completed its transition to cage-free California eggs in all 89 locations. [ Image credit: © Wikimedia ]
Gill Hyslop , "General Mills reiterates cage-free egg commitment", Bakery and Snacks, March 01, 2017, © William Reed Business Media SAS
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Nestle Adds Gluten-Free Production Capacity In New Zealand Factory

March 1, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Nestlé has expanded the production capacity of its factory in New Zealand (South Auckland) to make gluten-free noodles, seasonings, flavor boosters, recipe bases, gravies, sauces, soups and dessert mixtures. The company said the multimillion-dollar facility turns out products under the Maggi and Docello brands. Exports already total more than $60 million. Nestlé expects this total to expand significantly with the addition of gluten-free versions. About 0.7 percent of New Zealanders are diagnosed with celiac disease, for which a strict lifelong gluten-free diet is essential. [ Image credit: © Nestlé S.A. ]
"Nestlé Factory Investment in Gluten Free Production Opens Export Opportunities", News release, Nestlé, March 01, 2017, © Nestlé
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Amazon Anticipates Permission From India To Launch Produce Delivery Venture

March 1, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Amazon Fresh, a growing competitor of supermarkets in the U.S., U.K., and Europe, is waiting for foreign direct investment approval from the Indian government before launching a grocery delivery operation there. The company expects to be delivering produce, lentils, milk, and other staples sourced from local farmers. Amazon already sells fresh produce and dairy products through its Amazon Now venture in four Indian cities, though the food is sourced from local supermarkets.[ Image credit: © SounderBruce ]
Writankar Mukherjee, "Amazon Awaits FDI Approval to Deliver Groceries at Doorstep ", Economic Times, March 01, 2017, © Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd.
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Toronto Festival Showcased Foods, Beverages Made From Landfill-Bound Ingredients

March 1, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A Toronto brewer has launched a food festival whose goal is to raise awareness of, and perhaps help reduce, the $31 billion in food wasted every year in Canada, nine percent of it in restaurants. The goal of the first Trashed & Wasted food festival, held in early March n Toronto, was to get people to rethink how they approach kitchen scraps. A secondary goal was to raise funds for a food collection organization that works with community agencies. At the festival, chefs created dishes from rescued food, while local brewers and distillers concocted beverages using ingredients that would normally be considered garbage. Another local craft brewery, for example, made a special beer for the festival using leftover bread from a Toronto bakery. [ Image credit: ©  Rainhard Brewery ]
Andrea Chiu, "Toronto Food Festival Seeks to Change How People Approach Kitchen Scraps", The (Toronto) Globe and Mail, March 01, 2017, © The Globe and Mail Inc.
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Grupo Bimbo Buys Columbian Frozen Bakery Company

March 1, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
The global frozen bakery market is a high-growth area, thanks to increasing demand for “thaw-and-serve” and “bake-off” products that deliver convenience to consumers, bakeries, supermarkets and quick-serve eateries. Analysts forecast the segment to top $21 billion within three years at a CAGR of 8.5 percent from 2015 to 2020. So it’s no mystery why Mexico’s baked goods giant Grupo Bimbo (Mexico City) just bought Panettiere, a Columbian frozen bakery company. In addition to its frozen products, the company Panattiere sells puff pastry, sandwich rolls, muffins and soft bread. The acquisition allows Bimbo to “participate in the in-store and food service bakery channels” in Latin America, the company said. [ Image credit: © Scoictho, Wikimedia  ]
Douglas Yu, "Bimbo Acquires Frozen Bakery Brand Panattiere", BakeryAndSnacks.com, March 01, 2017, © William Reed Business Media SAS
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Campbell Soup Says Its Four Platforms Will Ensure Future Growth

March 1, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Campbell Soup CEO Denise Morrison told consumer industry analysts recently that she and her company understand that the “future food world” will be complex and challenging, with unpredictable and unrelenting change. There will be both “opportunities and disruptions” caused by advancements in food, health and wellness, and technology. With that in mind, the company has established four platforms for growth: further developing its omnichannel strategy, especially e-commerce; focusing on affordable, high-quality, and even functional snacks; taking advantage of the future biometrics-based personalization of foods; and applying the concept of “limitless local” that embraces smaller and more regional farming and food production models. [ Denise Morrison, iImage credit: © Campbell Soup Company ]
Lynne Cooke, "Campbell Soup Outlines Four Platforms to Drive Growth", CPG Matters, March 01, 2017, © CPG Matters
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It’s Really Not More Expensive To Eat Healthful Foods

March 1, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Are poor diets and obesity the direct result of the unaffordability of healthful food? According to one analyst, the answer is no, though many people believe it. One reason for that is that some studies have looked at food prices on a price-per-calorie basis, which makes many high-calorie foods seem inexpensive. For example, a low-calorie yogurt would appear more expensive than an identical high-calorie yogurt even though their retail prices are the same. Christopher Snowdon says his report compares directly the prices of healthy and less healthy food substitutes and also compares them by “edible weight.” He found almost no difference between the price of regular food products and their healthier substitutes. Analyzing by edible weight, healthier supermarket food tends to be cheaper than less healthy food. [ Image credit: © Peg93, Wikimedia  ]
Christopher Snowdon, "Cheap As Chips", Report, The Institute of Economic Affairs, March 01, 2017, © The Institute of Economic Affairs
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Future Group Eyes Expansion Into Personal Care

February 28, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Future Group CEO Kishore Biyani said the Indian retailer will focus next on the personal care market, following its signing of a joint venture deal with organic products company Hain Celestial. To better focus on its core fashion and food businesses, and to ensure the success of the Hain venture, the company plans to sell its home furnishings unit HomeTown and close sportswear retail unit Planet Sports. [ Image credit: © Future Group ]
Priya Sheth, "Future Group will Target Personal Care Next: Kishore Biyani", Money Control, February 28, 2017, © e-Eighteen.com Ltd.
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Unilever Ghana Names Two New Directors

February 28, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Unilever Ghana Limited said it has appointed Angela Peasah and Gladys Amoah as directors of the company. Peasah, a chartered accountant by profession, was named a non-executive director effective February 9, 2017. Amoah was named a director in charge of customer development in the country effective November 1, 2016.
"Unilever Ghana Appoints New Directors", Ghana News Agency, February 28, 2017, © Ghana News Agency
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Unilever Eyes Changes To Executive Pay System To Encourage Loyalty, Entrepreneurship

February 28, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Unilever announced plans to revise its pay structure for the company's executives and directors that would encourage them to see themselves as owners of the business. Once approved by the shareholders at the company's annual general meetings in April 2017, the proposed revisions would be effective for three years. According to the company, the changes would focus more on “long-term employee share ownership and personal commitment.”
Martinne Geller, "Unilever Seeks Changes to Pay to Give Managers Owner's Mindset", Reuters, February 28, 2017, © Reuters
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Agri-Food Trade Deals Boost EC Economy, Jobs

February 28, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
An EC-sponsored study concludes that trade agreements have not only boosted agricultural exports, they have supported agri-food and other sector jobs. Agreements with Mexico, Switzerland, and South Korea increased exports by more than $1.3 billion and raised value-added in the agri-food sector by $787 million. The three agreements contributed to a record for total EU agri-food exports in 2016. The total reached $172 billion, up $1.8 billion on 2015. The biggest increases in annual exports were to the U.S. and China. “Trade deals, done right, are a force for good for our farmers and food producers,” said Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström. [ Image credit: © U.S. Customs and Border Protection ]
"Trade Agreements Boost EU Agri-Food Sector", Food Ingredients 1st, February 28, 2017, © CNS Media BV
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Company Launches Crisp Ingredient That Is 60 Percent Pea Protein

February 28, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Food ingredients supplier PGP International has launched a snackcrisp that is 60 percent pea protein. The new crisp is targeted at food manufacturers developing snacks and other foods that will meet consumer demand for protein and clean foods. The company says the new chip can be incorporated into cereals, snack bars, energy foods and confectionery. The company uses an advanced extrusion technology that ensures the chips contain high levels of protein but are free from hexane, a neurotoxic petrochemical solvent. The chips are gluten free, vegan, kosher, easily digested, and hypoallergenic for those intolerant to animal-based proteins or soy. [ Image credit: © PGP International  ]
"PGP International Launches New 60% Pea Protein Crisp", News release, PGP International, February 28, 2017, © PGP International
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Hershey To Cut 15 Percent Of Non-U.S. Workforce, Probably In China

February 28, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
In an effort to boost its operating profit to 23 percent within two years, Hershey Co. says it will cut 2,700 non-U.S. hourly workers, or about 15 percent of its global workforce. At the end of 2016, the company had 16,300 full-time and 1,680 part-time employees worldwide. Analysts expect many of the job cuts to occur in China. Overhead costs have climbed since Hershey acquired a candy company there in 2014, just as the country’s economy slowed and competitors began to set up shop. Like other confectioners, Hershey is struggling as the food preferences of U.S. consumers evolve. It has broadened its product line beyond candy in recent years, buying a beef jerky company and developing protein drinks. [ Image credit: © Hershey Co. / BusinessWire ]
Annie Gasparro, "Hershey Plans 2,700 Job Cuts to Boost Profits", The Wall Street Journal, February 28, 2017, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Will TV Actress’s Bake Mix Venture Upset The Bake Mix Market?

February 28, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
TV actress Sarah Michelle Gellar launched the company Foodstirs two years ago to create memorable baking experiences, but also to “disrupt the $4.7 billion baking-mix category.” Gellar’s company is offering USDA-certified organic, full-gluten products that use “biodynamic sugar,” Equal Exchange fair-trade cocoa and identity-preserved heirloom flour. Foodstirs kits start at $14.99, and come with all ingredients and directions to make desserts like Brownie Pops and Celebration Cupcakes. Subscriptions of three-months, six-months and one-year, range from $59 to $215. Coming soon: pancake mix and vanilla icing mix.[ Image credit: © Foodstirs.com ]
Barbara Booth, "How Sarah Michelle Gellar Intends to Slay the $4.7 Billion Baking-Mix Industry", CNBC, February 28, 2017, © CNBC LLC
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Walmart Aims To Close Pricing Gap With Aldi, Other Discount Retailers

February 27, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Walmart is seeking to narrow a pricing gap with discount retailer Aldi, as well as with other U.S.-based retailers, such as Kroger.  According to reports, Walmart launched a price-comparison test in at least 1,200 of its store locations in the country. Also, the retailer is requiring its packaged goods suppliers to lower their product costs. [ Image credit: © Jared C. Benedict, Wikimedia Commons ]
Nandita Bose, "Exclusive: Wal-Mart launches new front in U.S. price war, targets Aldi in grocery aisle", Reuters, February 27, 2017, © Thomson Reuters
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Mead Johnson Acquires Production Capabilities From Australia’s Bega Cheese

February 27, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Pediatric nutrition company Mead Johnson (MJ) will acquire spray-drying and finishing capabilities in Australia from Bega Cheese Limited, a certified ingredient supplier for MJ products since 2009. The acquisition establishes a strategic beachhead that will allow further expansion in China “by creating both additional capacity and the ability to adapt to a changing regulatory environment.” The deal is expected to close in the 2nd quarter of 2017. [ Image credit: © Bega Cheese ]
"Mead Johnson Acquires Strategic Capabilities and Capacity in Australia", News release, Mead Johnson, February 27, 2017, © Mead Johnson Nutrition
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Tesco Adjusts Customer Service Structure In Its C-Stores To Better Compete

February 27, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
British supermarket chain Tesco is expanding the number of customer service personnel in its Express convenience stores to “improve the shopping experience” for customers. The company is creating what it calls shift leaders, at the same time eliminating deputy manager positions. The new structure, successfully tested in several Express stores, is part of a broader program launched two years ago to make sure the company is poised to compete in the rapidly changing retail sector. About 3,300 shift leader positions are being created in the 1,700+ Express stores.
"Tesco announces changes to improve the shopping trip in Express stores", News release, Tesco, February 27, 2017, © Tesco PLC
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Vitamin Start-Ups Pull Industry Into The 21st Century

February 23, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Half of all Americans take a daily vitamin or supplement. But, despite that, the vitamin industry has been slow to adapt to evolving consumer trends. Now, thanks to a blend of lifestyle branding, wellness influence, and retail convenience, the vitamin industry is advancing into the 21st century with numerous changes. Start-up Care/of, for example, last year launched customizable vitamin packs that offer "honest guidance and better ingredients." Users are quizzed about their age and lifestyle, then sign up for a $30/month subscription to a custom vitamin blend. The Ritual brand also offers vitamin blends by subscription, targeting Millennial women. The bright branding is vastly different from traditional supplements. Ritual's products contain few ingredients, and their sources are well-documented.  [ Image credit: © Ritual ]
"Vitamins Get a Makeover", Report, J. Walter Thompson Intelligence, February 23, 2017, © J. Walter Thompson Intelligence
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Report Provides Data For Marketers Targeting Baby Boomers

February 23, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A market research firm that analyzed the Baby Boomer generation (“boomers,” age 50 and older) and their financial profiles found that age alone doesn’t determine their preferences and behaviors, because age is mostly an attitude. Marketers need to know that what’s most important is an understanding of financial situation, including income and net worth. “A one-size-fits-all approach to marketing doesn’t work,” according to the report, which identifies distinct financial segments. For example: high income/high net worth boomers are more likely to spend in the retail and online channels; boomers are more likely to buy from direct mail and catalogs; they use Facebook as much as other generations; they use their own computers; and they use email, e-readers, tablets, smartphones and even smart TVs as well as cable and satellite. [ Image credit: © Pixabay / jcfrog-166820/ ]
"Age is an attitude: marketing to the boomers+ population ", Report, Epsilon , February 23, 2017, © Epsilon Data Management, LLC
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Children, Adolescents Not Getting Enough Grain-Based Nutrients, Study Concludes

February 23, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A new U.S. study based on data from 6,100 U.S. children and adolescents ranging from two to eighteen years old finds that this age group would benefit from grains that provide fiber, dietary folate, iron, B vitamins and vitamin A. Unfortunately, grains account for only 5.18 percent of the total diet in children and adolescents. But these foods account for a quarter of the daily requirement for dietary fiber, 40 percent of dietary folate, 34.8 percent of iron, 16.4 percent of vitamin A and 13.7 percent of magnesium in their diets. “Not meeting nutrient recommendations can stall childhood development, ranging from stunting growth to cognitive delays," one researcher said. [ Image credit: © GirlsHealth.gov  ]
"Researchers Find That Certain Grain Foods Provide Shortfall Nutrients to Children", News release, Grain Foods Foundation, February 23, 2017, © Grain Foods Foundation
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Doughnut Fries Catch On Big In Australia

February 23, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Yet another in the seemingly endless stream of doughnut hybrids – this time the “doughnut fry” – has become a major hit in Australia and on social media. The dessert (or snack or pastry) combines the sweetness of a doughnut with the shape of a French fry, according to an Australian food writer, who adds that it is “sending Australians wild.” The owners of The Doughnut Bar in Brisbane say they came up with the idea independently – similar treats are available in Europe and the U.S. – when they were looking for a bite-size snack that would be more appropriate than doughnuts for summertime munching. Doughnut fries are served with chocolate, caramel or raspberry dipping sauces. [ Image credit: © The Doughnut Bar  ]
Sinead MacLaughlin, "Do You Want Doughnut Fries with That? Mouthwatering Fast Food Hybrid is Now Available in Australia", Daily Mail, February 23, 2017, © Associated Newspapers Ltd
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Tyson Foods Includes Antibiotics-Free Chicken In Its Sustainability Strategy

February 23, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Tyson Foods CEO Tom Hayes, who told analysts recently that his company’s purpose is to “raise the world’s expectations for how much good food can do,” announced it would sell only chicken raised with “no antibiotics ever” (NAE). The NAE commitment is part of the company’s overall, long-term “holistic” sustainability strategy that includes cutting down workplace injuries and illness by 15 percent, and seeking strategic alliances for scientific sustainability. The company also plans to continue auditing third-party chicken farms to ensure humane treatment of chickens. Tyson processes more than 41 million chickens a week on average.
"Tyson Foods Commits to Make Antibiotic-Free Chicken Products", Food and Business Review, February 23, 2017, © FBR
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Study Demonstrates How Fasting-Mimicking Diet Suppresses Diabetes

February 23, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
U.S. researchers have developed a diet food available commercially that imitates the effects of fasting and appears to reverse diabetes. Earlier studies have shown that periodic cycles of fasting reprogram pancreatic cells and restore insulin production. The new study in mice shows that a fasting-like diet (using a food product called L-Nutra) promotes the growth of insulin-producing pancreatic cells. The researchers placed diabetes-model mice on the L-Nutra diet for four days each week. The diet switched on genes that spur production of a protein (neurogenin-3) that, in turn, generated healthy, insulin-producing beta cells. The mice regained healthy insulin production, reduced insulin resistance and demonstrated more stable levels of blood glucose. The researchers look forward to a clinical trial of L-Nutra among diabetics. [ L-Nutra/Prolon diet package, image credit: © Prolon ]
Chia-Wei Cheng et al., "Fasting-Mimicking Diet Promotes Ngn3-Driven b-Cell Regeneration to Reverse Diabetes", Cell, February 23, 2017, © Cheng et al.
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Food Deliverer Thistle Launches Frozen Meal Kits For Infants, Toddlers

February 23, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Food delivery startup Thistle is launching meal kits for busy parents who want to make nutritious baby foods at home. The founders say available baby and toddler foods are not particularly nutritious, and even the healthier options are over-processed, pureed, watery, and don’t taste like real fruits or veggies. The vacuum-sealed, flash-frozen Thistle meal kits are steamed, pureed and spiced at home. The company specializes in organic, gluten-free plant-based ingredients, but also offers omnivore meals. The main competition is baby foods sold in boxes, pouches, and jars by grocery stores. But a few e-commerce companies deliver kid-friendly meals or meal kits to the home. Though 14 percent of consumers are buying food online (Nielsen), it remains to be seen what portion of the $30 billion baby foods and formula market will shift to e-commerce models.
Lora Kolodny, "Thistle Launches Meal Kits to Make Nutritious Baby Food at Home", Tech Crunch, February 23, 2017, © AOL Inc.
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Study Suggests That “All-Natural” Food Label Needs To Be Regulated

February 22, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
U.S. researchers who used virtual reality technology to simulate a taste-test of peanut butter found that participants were not only swayed by the “all-natural” label, they were even more affected by a server emphasizing the label. The findings indicate the persuasive power of the label and the potential for its abuse. Two groups of participants tested two identical products, one of which was labeled “all-natural.” Both groups said the all-natural product was higher quality and more nutritious. But in one group, a server also stressed the all-natural ingredients of one product. An average of eight percent more in this group said they’d pay a higher price for it. The researchers said the findings provide evidence to the FDA that “the term natural be regulated so as to minimize consumer and manufacturer confusion.”
"Study Finds Consumers Willing to Pay More for 'All-Natural' Labeled Foods", News release, Phys.org, February 22, 2017, © Phys.org
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Unilever Launches Strategic Review After Kraft Heinz Drops Takeover Bid

February 22, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
After Kraft Heinz withdrew its two-day-old unsolicited takeover bid for Unilever, CEO Paul Polman launched a strategic review of the company to determine how it can increase its value, deter unwanted buyers, and keep investors loyal. Some observers said the review could lead to a breakup – involving perhaps jettisoning the troubled spreads unit. Or it may lead the company toward more aggressive cost-saving measures. Unilever’s share price leapt 5.7 percent when Kraft Heinz dropped its $143 billion takeover proposal. The strategic review is expected to be completed by early April. [ Flora spread image credit: © Flora.com ]
Thomas Buckley and Ruth David, "Unilever Reviewing Options for Change After Kraft Bid Fails", Bloomberg, February 22, 2017, © Bloomberg L.P.
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Widely Used Food – And Paint – Additive Damages Intestinal Lining

February 22, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Long-term exposure to the common food additive titanium dioxide reduces the small intestine’s ability to absorb nutrients like iron, zinc, and fatty acids. It also harms enzyme functions while increasing inflammation signals. The additive – found in numerous foods, including chewing gum and bread, and used in paints, paper, plastics, and some sunscreens – is inert and not toxic, according to the U.S. researchers who conducted the study using a small intestine cell model. But it reduced the number of absorptive projections (microvilli) that line the small intestine, slowing metabolism. Titanium dioxide is also used in toothpastes, chocolate, donuts, and skimmed milk.
Zhongyuan Guo et al., "Titanium dioxide nanoparticle ingestion alters nutrient absorption in an in vitro model of the small intestine. ", NanoImpact, February 22, 2017, © Elsevier B.V.
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Unilever Eyes Steps To Boost Shareholder Value After Saying No To Kraft's $143-Billion Bid

February 22, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Unilever said it plans to conduct a strategic review aimed at improving shareholder value, after the consumer-goods giant rejected a proposed takeover by Kraft Heinz Co. Unilever shares gained 5.7 percent in London, back to the levels immediately following Kraft's announcement of its $143 billion bid. According to market observers, Unilever's strategic review could bring about a breakup of the company or an increase in its merger-and-acquisition activity.
Thomas Buckley and Ruth David, "Unilever Reviewing Options for Change After Kraft Bid Fails", Bloomberg, February 22, 2017, © Bloomberg L.P.
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Vitamin D Prevents Colds, Flu, Especially Among The Vitamin D Deficient

February 22, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A meta-study led by British scientists finds strong evidence that vitamin D supplementation can actually reduce the occurrence of acute upper respiratory infections. It is well known that the vitamin D is essential for healthy bones and muscle, but there has been doubt about its disease prevention powers. In this study, researchers analyzed pooled data from 25 clinical trials involving 10,993 patients in 14 countries. Vitamin D prevented colds and flu in some trials, but not others. The data showed that vitamin D supplementation worked best in people with the lowest vitamin D levels. Daily or weekly supplementation, rather than more widely spaced doses, also provided the best protection. [ Vitamin D-rich cod liver oil capsules image credit: © Wikipedia ]
Adrian R Martineau et al., "Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory tract infections: systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data. ", BMJ, February 22, 2017, © Martineau et al.
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Canadian Grocery Delivery Service Offers New Ben & Jerry’s Treats Daily

February 21, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Unilever is using a Canadian grocery delivery service to introduce two dairy-free Ben & Jerry’s frozen dessert flavors: P.B. & Cookies and Coffee Caramel Fudge. Toronto-based Urbery began offering the new flavors before their official store release late last month. A pint of the non-dairy dessert sells for $9.99, and regular flavors sell for $8.99. Urbery’s $4.99 delivery fee is waived if customers order three or more pints. The desserts are purchased on a dedicated website that offers daily delivery between 5 and 10 p.m. in downtown Toronto within 30-45 minutes. [ Image credit: © Ben & Jerry's ]
Chris Powell, "Ice Cream, On-Demand", Canadian Grocer, February 21, 2017, © EnsembleIQ
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Supermarket Bakeries Ride The Crest Of The Fresh Breakfast Trend

February 21, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
In-store bakeries in supermarkets have one key advantage over other food channels like c-stores and quick service restaurants: their products are baked fresh each morning. Freshness is what attracts foodies and others looking for a unique breakfast experience. Norwalk, Conn.-based Stew Leonard’s bakers, for example, turn on the ovens at its five stores at 3 a.m. every day to make French butter croissants, apple cider doughnuts, and hand-shaped bagels that are boiled and hearth-baked. Currently trendy is anything mini-sized, including mini-croissants and mini-muffins, but also higher grain products like bran muffins and trail mix muffins. In-store breakfast bakery revenue, including sales of bagels, muffins, doughnuts, cinnamon rolls and coffee cake, were up 2.8 percent during the 52 weeks ending December 31, 2016, according to Nielsen.
Julie Gallagher, "In-Store Bakeries Compete for Morning Share", Supermarket News, February 21, 2017, © Penton
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Food Waste Trends Need To Be Reversed To Ensure Global Food Security

February 21, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A study by British researchers concluded that reducing food waste in production and consumption would improve global food security – i.e., the goal of universal access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food. People should be encouraged to eat fewer animal products because around 1.1 billion tons of harvested crops are used to produce 240 million tons of meat, milk and eggs. People should be encouraged to eat only what they need to have adequate nutrition: currently people eat ten percent more food than needed. Nine percent of food produced is thrown away or left to spoil. Half of food produced is lost to inefficiencies in production and consumption. Unless the trends are reversed, greenhouse gas emissions will increase, water supplies will be depleted, and food security will decline. [ Image credit: © Foerster Wikimedia ]
Peter Alexander et al., "Losses, inefficiencies and waste in the global food system", Agricultural Systems, February 21, 2017, © Alexander et al.
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Mondelez Invests In High-Growth Channels And Products

February 21, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
N.J.-based snack maker Mondelez International's strategy is to boost its presence in high-growth channels like e-commerce, discounters, convenience stores and traditional trade. To build its e-commerce snacks business, it is spending heavily on capabilities, infrastructure and broadening the online product portfolio. The effort is working: net revenues in e-commerce grew more than 35 percent last year. More specifically, the company is investing in what it calls its “power brands” – namely, Oreo, Milka and belVita – which account for 70 percent of global revenues. The effort is paying off: last year those brands grew organic net revenue at twice the rate of the company overall and continue to outpace category growth, according to Chief Growth Officer Tim Cofer.
Jeff Gelski, "Mondelez Sees Opportunity in 'power Brands,' E-Commerce", Food Business News, February 21, 2017, © SOSLAND PUBLISHING CO.
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Campbell Soup Sales, Profit Slide In 2nd Quarter

February 17, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Campbell Soup Co. posted $205 million in profit – $0.33 a share – in its fiscal second quarter, ended January 29, 2016. Profit was down 61 percent ($0.85 a share) from the same period last year. Net sales were $2.171 billion, a decline of one percent from the second quarter last year. Operating income during the first six months of fiscal 2017 of Campbell’s Global Biscuits and Snacks business was $247 million, a drop of three percent from the first half of fiscal 2016. Sales were $1.351 billion, up one percent. CEO Denise Morrison, noting her disappointment in second quarter sales, said she was nevertheless encouraged by the performance of several Campbell businesses, including Pepperidge Farm snacks, mainly Goldfish crackers and Milano cookies. But sandwich bread sales, including Pepperidge Farm brands, were down. [ Image credit: © Pepperidge Farm ]
Josh Sosland, "Sandwich Bread Sales under Pressure at Pepperidge", BakingBusiness.com, February 17, 2017, © Sosland Publishing Co.
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Retail Food Chain Says All House Brands Are Non-GMO

February 17, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Natural and organic food retailer Earth Fare (Asheville, N.C.) announced that none of its 500 house brand foods contain genetically modified organisms (GMO). The decision to sell only non-GMO foods was made after considering numerous customer requests. Earth Fare’s product line is also free of high fructose corn syrup, artificial fats, artificial trans-fats, artificial colors, artificial preservatives, artificial sweeteners, bleached or bromated flour, antibiotics, and growth hormones. The chain also tries to incorporate locally produced fruits and vegetable, meat, beer and wine, dairy products, and specialty items. [ Image credit: © Earth Fare ]
"Earth Fare Unveils New Non-GMO Product Line, Continues Decades-Long Commitment to Healthy Food", News release, Earth Fare, February 17, 2017, © Earth Fare
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Waitrose Supermarket Chain Is In The Avant Garde Of Food Waste Handling

February 17, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
British supermarket chain Waitrose has been a pioneer in preventing and repurposing food waste. Five years ago it stopped sending waste to landfills. Surplus food that can’t be donated to charities is used to generate electricity. And it sells wonky (misshapen or ugly) produce at a discount. The chain has taken the program another step forward: its new fleet of delivery trucks runs on fuel made from food leftovers. The company’s ten eco-friendly trucks can travel 500 miles on the food-waste fuel, which is cheaper than diesel and emits about 70 percent less carbon dioxide. Waitrose chose waste-based gas after researching biodiesel (too expensive) and electricity (batteries too heavy, recharge time too long)
Adele Peters, "These Grocery Delivery Trucks Are Powered By Food Waste", Fast Company, February 17, 2017, © Mansueto Ventures, LLC
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Tough Times Ahead For America’s Agricultural Suppliers?

February 16, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Small-town stores and co-ops that for decades have supplied seed, fertilizer, herbicides and pesticides to farmers, may be in for a rough patch. Farmers are beginning to catch on to the financial benefits of shopping online, even if they have to forego the expert advice of local suppliers. Several trends have contributed to this phenomenon, not the least of which is that broadband is now available to 63 percent of rural residents. Online ag-suppliers like Farmers Business Network have much lower overhead expenses than brick-and-mortar suppliers, so prices are lower. Delivery of supplies, even in huge amounts, is now economically and technically feasible. A surplus of commodities has driven down crop prices and farm incomes, forcing farmers to shop for better deals. And they are finding them online. One Illinois farmer last year spent $26,000 on the Internet on herbicides for his corn and soybean fields, about half of what he usually spends at a local farmers’ co-op. [ Image credit: © Farmers Business Network ]
Jesse Newman et al., "E-Commerce for Farmers: Shopping Online for $26,000 of Herbicides", The Wall Street Journal, February 16, 2017, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Strong Performance For Unilever Indonesia In 2016

February 16, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Unilever Indonesia achieved a 9.8 percent in net revenue growth in 2016 along with a 9.2 percent in net income. Revenue increased from Rp 36.5 trillion in 2015 to Rp 40 trillion last year, with its home and personal care business segment accounting for 69 percent of total sales. Unilever Indonesia chief financial officer Tevilyan Yudhistira Rusli said the company's overall business performance had been “quite outstanding” and is supported by their product innovation, including last year's launch of Molto and Sunsilk brands. Unilever Indonesia has set aside €115 million for factory expansion, mostly for production of home and personal care products. [Image credit © Unilever]
"Unilever Indonesia's Net Income Surges 9.2% in 2016", Jakarta Globe, February 16, 2017, © Jakarta Globe
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Study Shows One Formulation Of Curcumin Has Medicinal Potential

February 16, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Turmeric, the root spice that gives curry its yellow color, has long been used in Chinese and Indian cuisine, and in herbal medicines. Western science has verified that turmeric has antioxidant, anti-cancer, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-diabetic properties. It contains natural polyphenols called curcuminoids, of which curcumin is the main component. Using curcumin as a medicine is problematic, however, because it is not readily absorbed into the intestines, and is quickly metabolized and eliminated from the body as waste. In this clinical study involving 12 people, American and Australian scientists tested four different formulations of curcumin. They found that one – “CW8” – significantly improves absorption of curcumin into the bloodstream, making it a strong candidate for medicinal use.
Martin Purpura et al., "Analysis of Different Innovative Formulations of Curcumin for Improved Relative Oral Bioavailability in Human Subjects", European Journal of Nutrition, February 16, 2017, © Purpura et al.
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Food Manufacturers Simplify Safety And Quality Labels On Grocery Items

February 16, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
The two largest trade groups for America’s grocery industry say they have adopted standardized, simplified, voluntary regulations to make product date labels clearer to the average consumer. The situation contributes to food waste because as many as 91 percent of consumers interpret a "use by" label (or no label at all) as a food safety warning and discard perfectly safe foods. Food manufacturers now use 10 different label phrases: for example, "expires on" and "better if used by." These would be replaced by just two: "use by" and "best if used by." “Use by” indicates when perishable foods are no longer safe to eat. "Best if used by" is a subjective guess regarding the date of optimum food quality: the point of peak flavor according to the manufacturer. Changes won’t be effective until July 2018. [ Image credit: © General Mills ]
Caitlin Dewey, "You’re About to See a Big Change to the Sell-By Dates on Food", The Washington Post, February 16, 2017, © The Washington Post
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Hain Celestial Expands Premium Soup Offerings In U.K. With Acquisition

February 16, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Organic and natural food marketer Hain Celestial is expanding its presence in the premium soup market in the U.K. with the acquisition of Yorkshire Provender Limited. The company’s premium branded soup and other products are sold in retailers, on-the-go food outlets and food service providers. Hain owns the New Covent Garden Soup Co. and Cully & Sully brands in the U.K. In 2016 Yorkshire Provender (North Yorkshire) had approximately £6 million ($7.5 million) in net sales and is expected to be accretive to Hain Celestial's (Lake Success, N.Y.) earnings in fiscal year 2018. [ Image credit: © Yorkshire Provender ]
"Hain Celestial Announces Strategic Acquisition", News release, Hain Celestial, February 16, 2017, © Hain Celestial
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Kroger Recognized For Inclusive Corporate Buying Practices

February 16, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A company that provides an online platform for entrepreneurial B2B networking and education has ranked the Kroger Co. eighth on its top 50 list of corporate buyers who offer multicultural products and services. Omnikal, once known as Diversity Business, says Kroger was chosen by two million minority- and women-owned business owners. Omnikal.com is a division of Computer Consulting Associates, Inc. [ Kroger headquarters, Cincinnati, Ohio; Image credit: © Derek Jensen ]
"Kroger Named a Top 10 American Company for Inclusion", News release, Kroger , February 16, 2017, © The Kroger Company
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“Guilt Free” Maybe, But Are Those PepsiCo Drinks And Snacks Healthful?

February 15, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
After PepsiCo reported that last quarter sales rose three percent for snacks and one percent for beverages, CEO Indra Nooyi told securities analysts that the company is betting that "positive" ingredients such as grains, fruits and vegetables will drive growth. The company calls foods with these ingredients “guilt free,” despite other questionable additives. Salty baked Lay’s potato chips are dubbed guilt free, as are Naked beverages, some of which are packed with sugary, fruit-based calories. Quaker’s 180-calorie "breakfast cookie" is loaded with fat and sugar along with the oats. Nooyi said 45 percent of PepsiCo’s revenues come from products designated “guilt free.” And despite pledges from Coke, Pepsi and Dr Pepper in 2014 to cut the number of calories from drinks by 20 percent by 2024, beverage-based calories declined by only 0.2 percent in 2015 – less than in previous years. [ Breakfast Cookie; image credit: © Quaker Oats Co. ]
Candice Choi, "Pepsico Sees Growth From "Guilt-Free" Items Like Baked Lay's", Associated Press, February 15, 2017, © The Associated Press
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America’s Need To Boost Fruit Consumption Is An Opportunity For Snack Makers

February 15, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
The attitudes of American consumers toward their snacks are constantly evolving. Fading away are the days when snacks needed only to satisfy a sugar, salt or savory craving. A recent survey showed that 52 percent of respondents not only wanted nutritional benefits from snacks, they wanted health benefits beyond nutrition, including antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fruits and vegetables. Seventy-six percent of the U.S. population does not eat the recommended amount of fruits each day, a fact that suggests a market opportunity. Snacks can provide the benefits of fruit consumption: natural sugar, fiber, antioxidants, appealing flavors and attractive visuals. They can take advantage of the trends in unique or exotic fruits – for example heirloom apples and coffee fruit, a nutrient-rich byproduct of coffee production.
Maxine Weber, "Consumers Desire More Than Just Nutrition in Snacks", Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery, February 15, 2017, © BNP Media
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College Student Has Big Plans For Her Family Farm’s Waste Mushrooms

February 13, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A British university student with a passion for profitably managing family-owned farms is pushing forward her idea to turn waste woodland mushrooms into a premium beer. Harriet Livesey, whose family's farm grows the mushrooms, recently won a scholarship she will use to start a business that – in addition to making beer – will train farmers to be “business-minded:” specifically, how to diversify, develop, progress, and make the most of their resources profitably. The scholarship will support her financially as she launches her own enterprise brewing artisan shiitake beer from waste mushrooms. She will need to carry out primary market research, attend brewery courses, research micro-brewing processes, identify market trends, and design and develop her brand. [ Image credit: © Pam Brophy  ]
Fiona Dryden, "Student Hoping Mushroom Beer Idea Takes Off", Leicester Mercury, February 13, 2017, © Local World
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