Labelling was back in the spotlight in the UK last week, as the country's Department of Health unveiled plans for a new hybrid labelling system. The GM debate also returned in full-force as UK Environment Secretary Owen Paterson threw his weight behind the use of GMOs in farming. Meanwhile, we saw a busy week in international M&A as Campbell extended its reach in key markets such as China through its acquisition of Kelsen Group, while dairy giant Mengniu kicked off what could be a process of consolidation in Chinese dairy when it made a move to acquire local infant formula maker Yashili. 

"We've been voluntarily declaring GDA information on the front of pack for many years. However, the difference between manufacturer and retailer labelling schemes has been potentially confusing for consumers. Whilst no labelling scheme is perfect, I believe the Government's new hybrid scheme provides the best opportunity to move towards one consistent approach in the UK. We wanted to make a quick decision on this so that we can plan label changes in the most cost effective way. - Premier Foods plc chief executive Gavin Darby backs DoH labelling scheme

"Any new approach to front-of-pack labelling must help people to make the right food choices for them and their families. We welcome the Government's backing for guideline daily amounts (GDAs) as part of the solution announced today. GDAs are the best way to ensure people understand what's in their food. Kellogg's will take proper time to review the details of today's proposal and the likely impact on our shoppers - before deciding our next steps." - Kellogg UK says it is reviewing the new labelling guidelines 

"We are currently engaged in discussions about the potential sale of our cocoa business. These discussions are ongoing, and there can be no assurance that they will result in the signing of a transaction or definitive agreement." ADM spokesperson reveals the agri-giant is in talks to sell cocoa unit 

"The problems we face in feeding ourselves in 40 years' time are very real and something we have to prepare for right now. We should all keep one fact at the front of our minds. At this very moment there are one billion people on this planet who are chronically hungry. Are we really going to look them in the eye and say 'We have the proven technology to help, but the issue's just too difficult to deal with, it's just too controversial'?" UK Environment Secretary Owen Paterson enters the fray over the use of GMOs

"Owen Paterson's GM dream will make it harder to feed the world. The British Government constantly claim that GM crops are just one tool in the toolbox for the future of farming. In fact GM is the cuckoo in the nest. It drives out and destroys the systems  that international scientists agree we need to feed the world. We need farming that helps poorer African and Asian farmers produce food, not farming that helps Bayer, Syngenta and Monsanto produce profits." Soil Association policy director Peter Melchett hits back

"With the huge room for growth in China's paediatric milk formula market, the partnership with Yashili, one of the most successful milk powder brands in China, will greatly strengthen both companies' business platform... It will generate important synergies for the development of the two companies, thereby capture the rapid growth of pediatric milk formula market in China." - Mengniu CEO Sun Yiping on the group's move to acquire Yashili

"Kelsen will give Campbell a solid platform for growth in baked snacks in China and for the expansion of our international footprint. The acquisition of this successful business is another important step in Campbell's quest to delight new consumers through expansion into higher-growth spaces, including fast-growing emerging markets." - Campbell Soup Co CEO Denise Morrison on international growth 

"We question whether the board gave sufficient consideration to a sale of the divisions in separate transactions, or whether it focused primarily on an all-cash transaction for the company as a whole, which we believe would entail a much more limited universe of potential buyers." - Smithfield Foods investor Starboard questions value of Shanghui takeover offe


"[2 Sisters] are already manufacturing in Poland and Holland but they don't really have a branded asset with high brand equity to add innovation and operate at a higher margin. So they are probably on the look-out for a brand which is currently strong, fits into what they are doing anyway and which is marketable in international markets. That is why they might be going after Bernard Matthews." Euromonitor senior food analyst Ildiko Szalai speculates on who could be interested in acquiring Bernard Mattnews 

"The more-than-likely increase in VAT will heavily penalise Italian families. We consider unacceptable the idea that you can think of containing public spending simply by raising taxes and raising another percentage point of VAT. The revival of the economy and consumption requires, first of all, to make public spending more rational and efficient. At EUR800bn, it is worth 50% of the national GDP and diverts resources from private economic activity." - Conad general manager Francesco Pugliese comments on Italian austerity measures