Editor's choice: highlights on just-food this week

By Dean Best | 13 January 2012

The performance of the UK food retail sector over Christmas came under scrutiny this week and there were some clear winners and losers. Elsewhere, the M&A rumour mill continued to turn, with German yoghurt giant Müller in talks to buy UK milk supplier Robert Wiseman Dairies. In the US, baker Hostess Brands applied for Chapter 11 protection for a second time, Cargill reported its worst quarter in a decade and Archer Daniels Midland announced a swathe of job cuts. On just-food's insight pages, we looked at Bi-Lo's plan to buy fellow UK retailer Winn-Dixie and at the importance of price optimisation.

UK food retailers ring up Christmas sales
A number of the UK's largest grocers this week reported how they fared over the Christmas period. Morrisons' sales growth slowed, Sainsbury's claimed to have outperformed its rivals and Tesco's UK woes continued, leading to a profit warning.

UPDATE: US: No decision yet on baby food unit, says Pfizer
US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has said it has yet to decide on whether it will sell its infant nutrition business following claims that HJ Heinz, Nestle and Danone have made bids for the unit.

UPDATE: US: "Business-as-usual", claims ailing US baker Hostess
Foundering US snack producer Hostess Brands today (11 January) announced it would continue to operate, despite filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

UK: Muller in talks to buy Robert Wiseman Dairies
Yoghurt maker Müller is in talks to buy UK milk supplier Robert Wiseman Dairies, it emerged today (13 January).

UK: Premier tight-lipped on Hartley's and Hayward's sale talk
Premier Foods plc has refused to comment on rumours that it is selling its Hartley's jams and Haywards pickles businesses as part of its bid to bring its debts under control.

US: ADM cost-cutting drive leads to job losses
Archer Daniels Midland has followed its fellow US agribusiness giant Cargill and announced a swathe of job cuts to drive down costs.

US: Cargill posts worst quarter since 2001
US agribusiness giant Cargill has reported a second-quarter year-on-year profits slide of 88%, its worst quarterly performance in a decade.

Talking tech: IBM's DemandTec buy shows value in price optimisation
With shoppers looking for value and commodity costs volatile, margins are under pressure, meaning pricing decisions have never been more important. Manufacturers and retailers are looking for technologies to help them optimise prices and suppliers of that technology are in demand - as shown by IBM's deal to buy US analytics firm DemandTec. Glynn Davis reports.

Talking shop: An uncertain future for Bi-Lo and Winn-Dixie
Just before Christmas, US retailers Bi-Lo announced a deal to buy local peer Winn-Dixie Stores, creating an organisation of almost 700 grocery stores in eight states throughout the south-east of the country. Sam Webb speaks to industry watchers about the move, and what it will mean for the new company.

Sectors: Commodities & ingredients, Condiments, dressings & sauces, Dairy, Financials, Mergers & acquisitions, Retail

Companies: Cargill, Pfizer, Robert Wiseman Dairies, Hostess Brands, Müller, Archer Daniels Midland, Winn-Dixie, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, HJ Heinz, Nestle, Danone, Premier Foods plc

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