Sophie Tranchell, CEO, Divine Chocolate

Sophie Tranchell, CEO, Divine Chocolate

This week, Nestle said it was withdrawing its Maggi noodle brand in India after a food safety scare that has seen local authorities insist the product has elevated levels of lead. Elsewhere, Abbott Laboratories was tied up in a class action lawsuit over its Similac product with allegations it is misleading consumers since the product contains non-organic ingredients. Elsewhere Nomad Holdings confirmed it is in acquisition talks with Findus Group. just-food visited the Free-From Expo in Barcelona this week and spoke to Warburtons among others. We also interviewed the CEO at Divine Chocolate. Here is the week in quotes

"If there is a real crisis in cocoa then it’s going to be problematic for everybody... The emphasis that we have been making is that it is incumbent on the chocolate industry to make cocoa farming worthwhile. Cocoa farmers need to earn a better income so that the next generation takes it up... The rest of the chocolate industry has been very concerned about there not being enough cocoa going forward and their focus has been increasing yield – but this is not necessarily increasing farmer income" - Sophie Tranchell, CEO at Divine Chocolate, discusses how Divine's farmer ownership strategy allows for a more "secure supply chain".

"I think there's a frustrated demand in Europe. Also I've picked up, not just last year but this year, a frustration from European retailers that they want to embrace this opportunity and provide a range of products" - Chris Hook, Warburtons' free-from director, tells just-food at this year's Free-From Expo Warburtons is weighing up taking its free-from brand Newburn Bakehouse into Europe.

The trust of our consumers and the safety of our products is our first priority. Unfortunately, recent developments and unfounded concerns about the product have led to an environment of confusion for the consumer, to such an extent that we have decided to withdraw the product off the shelves, despite the product being safe" - Nestle withdraws its Maggi noodle brand in India over a scare that has seen local food safety bodies insist the product has elevated levels of lead.

"The ... investors and companies recognise that protecting forests and upholding human rights are essential for long-term business models and, consequently, investments that depend on a resilient, sustainable natural capital base" - Food makers including Kellogg, PepsiCo and Mars call on the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil to "strengthen transparency, auditing and enforcement" among its members.

"The total exports to Russia should not be affected due to the embargo and will continue to be performed by five other units in the Marfrig Beef in Brazil and four units in Uruguay, therefore there will be no impact in terms of volume and profitability" - Marfrig responds after Russia blocks meat imports from one of its plants along with three other Brazilian companies.

"Obesity is a complex problem which cannot be reduced to the demonisation of one ingredient, nor can it be right that an everyday ingredient such as sugar is characterised as a poison" - Ian Wright, the UK Food and Drink Federation's director general, responds to comments made by the National Health Service chief, Simon Stevens, that the food industry should "stop marketing junk food at children" and step up its efforts to remove sugar from processed foods.

"We feel relieved that there are no casualties amongst our employees. However, this day will remain a dark page in the history of Lotus Bakeries" - Jan Boone, CEO of Lotus Bakeries, on news a fire has "completely destroyed" its production facility in Meise.

"Abbott deceptively and misleadingly claimed that the infant formula is 'organic' and charged a premium price for the 'organic' infant formula. Abbott was also motivated to mislead consumers to take away market share from competing products, thereby increasing its own sales and profits"- A class action lawsuit has been filed against Abbott Laboratories over its Similac infant formula that alleges the US group is "misleading" consumers since the product contains non-organic ingredients.

"While frozen food is regarded as a cash generator, it is also characterised by low margins. Due to storage concerns, frozen food is primarily sold in big chained retailers and discounters which typically own their own private label, exerting significant pressure on the margins of branded products. The high cost, low margin nature of the category lends itself well to private equity, where aggressive cost cutting measures can rapidly improve profitability"- Euromonitor analyst Pinar Hosafci says the frozen category is well-suited to the cost-cutting nature of private equity investors as news breaks that Nomad Holdings is in talks to acquire Findus Group.

"By enhancing the product line up with the addition of Japanese-style ramen and other new frozen noodles, Ajinomoto intends to rapidly expand its entire frozen foods business" - Ajinomoto says it is looking at accelerated expansion of its frozen food business in North America and is building a frozen noodle plant in the US.