Latest food industry comment
The best views and opinions in food industry publishing, all in one place, from food's monthly columnists and in-house experts.
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In the UK branded bakery space, Associated British Foods-owned Kingsmill has youth appeal. The brand, which is operated by ABF's bakery unit Allied Bakeries, over-indexes with consumers under the age of 35. As long as Kingsmill can maintain its relevance, this bodes well for its long-term health, Katy Askew suggests.
Amid the headlines about the UK's plan to set up a food crime unit, Professor Chris Elliott's full report into the UK supply chain has reignited what was a fierce debate - the role of the Food Standards Agency, writes Ben Cooper.
Looking at Danone's share price yesterday, one is left with the impression there is an expectation of changes at the French food group now Frank Riboud is to step down as CEO. However, those expecting wholesale change at Danone should perhaps not be so hasty. The executive moves at the top of the yoghurt maker suggest Riboud will still be central to the company's overall strategy.
Arla Foods is wise to invest in its whey protein production capacity. However, the company is far from alone in pursuing this strategy, with various dairy firms stepping up production to meet growing global demand. As activity increases so too could competition, Katy Askew suggests.
It may seem cruelly ironic the UK faces what is frequently dubbed an "obesity epidemic" while hospital admissions for malnutrition have risen by 19% over the past year. Ironic perhaps, but not surprising. Ben Cooper argues food education and cooking skills would be a simple measure to tackle the issue.
The Institute of Economic Affairs, a UK think tank, raised an important issue yesterday (18 August) when it insisted a decline in physical activity is the "root cause" of the obesity epidemic. The IEA research aims to debunk the widespread belief that our widening girths can largely be attributed to calorie consumption. However, while lifestyle factors are central to the obesity issue, Katy Askew suggests that a holistic approach - in which the food industry plays a central role - is needed to combat the problem.
Raisio, the Finland-based group behind brands including Benecol, Honey Monster cereals and Fox's confectionery, has, in recent years, tried to grow via M&A. However, Stefan Kirk of M&A advisors Glenboden questions the company's strategy and believes it should be sold to a private-equity firm to unlock value.
The UK's Food Standards Agency has issued the results of its first set of quarterly campylobacter tests, part of a year-long study into the prevalence of the bacteria in the UK poultry supply. The results reveal that around three-fifths of chicken sold in UK supermarkets are contaminated with the bacteria and the regulator has conceded that more must be done to win over consumer trust. After a personal brush with the issue, having found offal in pre-packed supermarket chicken, Katy Askew would strongly concur.
Size matters, right? Scale - and the economic benefits that come with it - provide a business with clout smaller competitors find hard to battle. However, could large food companies be losing some of the advantage gained from their size?
Now that the football World Cup has come and gone, Tim Eales, director of strategic insight at IRI, examines whether it provided a much-needed boost to UK retailers and food manufacturers, or if England’s early demise meant they lost out too.
The spotlight will turn on Danone's strategy to grow its sales and profits tomorrow (25 July) when the group reports its second-quarter results. With what looks set to be a disappointing first half in store, questions could well be asked about whether Danone is on the path to long-term sustainable growth, Katy Askew suggests.
The meat supply chain is in the spotlight this week, with allegations in the UK and China of poor and potentially unsafe practices at firms supplying retail and foodservice giants including Tesco and McDonald's. But the entire industry needs to pay attention: consumer interest in what they eat is at its highest-ever level.
ConAgra Foods believes its latest acquisition - Chinese potato group TaiMei - will help further unlock the growth potential in its Lamb Weston unit. However, the move fails to address the issues dogging ConAgra's private-label and branded businesses and will do little to boost results in the near-term, Katy Askew suggests.
Last week, medical professionals, industry representatives, policy advisors and others gathered in London to discuss the health impacts of sugar consumption and what government and food companies can do to mitigate them. Ben Cooper was there.
Unilever announced late yesterday (10 July) that it has sold its Slim-Fast diet foods business as it trims the fat from its food portfolio. The news comes as further evidence of the overall decline in the weight management foods sector in markets like the US and UK, Katy Askew suggests.
In a period of escalating international tensions, Russia is turning to the use of trade restrictions as a political weapon. This adds a layer of risk to food manufacturers exporting goods to the previously promising BRIC market and potentially has some profound consequences for the consumer outlook in the country, Katy Askew suggests.
Strategically, Dairy Crest's deals with fellow UK dairy group Fayrefield Foods and New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra to serve the global infant formula market are astute moves. But the deals could also catch the eye of some of the world's larger dairy processors about Dairy Crest's new capabilities.
US retail giant Kroger, one of the largest traditional supermarket chains in the country, today (2 July) announced a deal that showed it has recognised two key macro trends in the grocery sector - and wants a piece of the action.
Across Europe, the level of promotions in grocery stores continued to increase in 2013 - but without boosting sales volumes. IRI's Tim Eales says the sector needs to review how they promote in order to drive sales.
Oxfam's latest analysis of the food industry's efforts on to tackle climate change demonstrates how the NGO can partner with industry at time but still play a role in handing out stinging criticism where necessary, Ben Cooper believes.
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