March 29, 2010
just-food.com editor's weekly highlights
Looking at the major markets' adoption of online grocery retail a new report provides a complete global analysis. It also profiles the major food retail groups' online strategies. This report will allow you to understand the overall market and predict future opportunities.
Speak to most food manufacturers - or Conservative Party officials for that matter - and the UK's Food Standards Agency (FSA) gets a bit of a bashing.
The FSA's critics believe the agency has strayed too far from what they see as its core remit - overseeing food safety in the UK - and some in the industry have no doubt been pleased at noises from the Tories that, should they win at the polls in May, they will reduce the agency's powers.
Some see the FSA as being far too prescriptive in the area of health and wellness and far too keen to push through its own agenda at the expense of manufacturers and retailers, particularly on the issue of nutrition labelling (although one would hope this month's recommendation of a "hybrid" labelling model will go some way to appeasing opponents).
However, Friday's (26 March) publication of guidelines on cuts in saturated fat and added sugar in chocolate, cakes and the like demonstrates the willingness of the FSA to engage with industry and listen to its concerns.
While the FSA has recommended that food businesses cut saturated fat in certain lines and make it easier for consumers to buy smaller products, the agency has also recognised the hard work firms have already put in to reformulate their products - and realised how tough it will be to change products to meet the new guidelines.
Health campaigners no doubt want the FSA to urge industry to go faster and deeper in its cuts but the agency is fully aware it needs the manufacturers and retailers onside in pushing through what remain voluntary guidelines.
And the industry seems satisfied with the conciliatory approach.
"We are pleased that the Food Standards Agency has recognised the successful work undertaken by food companies and the complexities involved with further reformulation efforts," the Food and Drink Federation admitted.
Changing the recipe of a product is indeed complex. The FSA's detractors should realise the agency's work is just as complicated.
PepsiCo, meanwhile, has become the latest food giant to announce that it is embarking on reformulation, with its own plans to reduce the amount of salt, saturated fat and added sugar in its products.
Last month, PepsiCo boss Indra Nooyi said the company was aiming to triple its US$10bn revenues from the healthy drink and food market with the launch of several products.
While some announcements on health and wellness suggest a knee-jerk reaction to the threat of regulation or the demands from First Lady Michelle Obama for action
Nooyi has said the success of PepsiCo's Quaker and Tropicana brands has created an “unbelievable” brand platform for the strategy, and this, coupled with enhanced R&D capabilities, will allow the company to grow the healthier products business range from its $10bn base.
However, while consumer advocates have welcomed PepsiCo's moves (the Center for Science in the Public Interest called the company's voluntary reductions "significant"), the company has, up to now, been light on details of where and on what the brands the cuts will be made.
PepsiCo would only disclose that the cuts will be made on "key global food brands" and in "key markets" and, until further light is shed on its plans, industry stakeholders cannot judge just how effective the company's plans will be.
Until next time...
Dean Best, Managing Editor
Quofore white paper download: Retail Execution for BRIC & Beyond
China - A Growing Global Power in Food Supply
The world of infant formula attracted the attention of M&A commentators this week with the proposed sale of own-label group PBM to healthcare giant Perrigo Co. The downturn has made private label more popular but, as Dean Best finds, infant formula is dominated by big brands - and their power is unlikely dented too much by the sale of PBM.
“India can emerge as a leader in the global food processing industry,” said Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in December 2009 while addressing a conference of food processing ministers of different Indian states in New Delhi. With 4.1% food consumption growth (2009), the country continues to offer a growing opportunity for international food processing companies. This latest briefing reviews the food processing industry by sector in the country.
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