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

By Dean Best | 6 February 2012

Unilevers 2011 results led to fresh questions over future of food business

Unilever's 2011 results led to fresh questions over future of food business

Hershey and Unilever were among the major food manufacturers that this week were the first to report their 2011 financial results. Unilever's profits inched up 1% and CEO Paul Polman pointed to the performance of its home and personal care operations - casting some questions over the prospects of its food operations. In the retail sector, this week saw the long-speculated appointment of a new CEO at Carrefour and analysts expressed concern about the outlook for Ocado despite narrowing full-year losses.

In the spotlight - Question marks over Unilever's food unit return
Unilever's food division has been under the microscope in recent months, with a series of disposals and growth in many categories slow, lagging behind its more buoyant non-food businesses As Michelle Russell writes, this week, as Unilever reported its 2011 results, the scrutiny returned.

On the move: Plassat faces Carrefour trial 
As Georges Plassat takes the reins at Carrefour, he will face many of the same issues that confronted predecessor Lars Olofsson when he joined the world's second-largest retailer three years ago, Petah Marian writes.

UK: Unilever agrees to union talks over pension changes
Unilever is set to meet again with union officials to discuss moves to change the company's UK pension scheme, plans that have enraged staff and led to a series of strikes.

EU: MEPs veto nutrition label claims
European politicians have rejected plans that would have allowed food makers to use new nutrition claims, including that a product contains 15% less sugar.

NETHERLANDS: FrieslandCampina to buy Balkans dairies Imlek, Mlekara Subotica
Dairy giant FrieslandCampina has signed a deal to buy Balkans processors Imlek and Mlekara Subotica.

US: Hershey 2012 sales, profit growth to exceed targets
Hershey has forecast that its sales and earnings will grow faster in 2012 than its long-term targets.

On the money: Analysts question Ocado prospects
Analysts retain concerns about the prospects of UK online retailer Ocado even after it posted a reduction in full-year losses earlier today (31 January).


UK: Morrisons acquires meat facility from Vion
UK retailer Morrisons today (1 February) announced an agreement to acquire a meat processing facility from the UK division of Dutch food group Vion.

MEXICO: Kraft inaugurates tech centre
The Mexican arm of Kraft Foods has opened a $50m innovation and development centre in Mexico City.

just the answer - Biscuits Leclerc CEO Denis Leclerc 

Last month, Canadian biscuit firm Groupe Biscuits Leclerc expanded its presence in the US, with the acquisition of snack bar brand Go Pure. In the latest just the answer interview, Katie Smith discusses the acquisition and the biscuit company's plans for the future with CEO Denis Leclerc, including setting up in the UK.

Sectors: Advertising & labelling, Bakery, Canned food, Cereal, Chilled foods, Condiments, dressings & sauces, Confectionery, Dairy, Dried foods, Emerging markets, Financials, Frozen, Ice cream, Meat & poultry, Mergers & acquisitions, Multichannel, Natural & organic, Private label, Retail, Seafood, Snacks, World foods

Companies: Unilever, Carrefour, Hershey, Ocado, FrieslandCampina, Morrisons, Vion, Kraft Foods

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

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Editor's choice: the highlights on just-food last week

Concerns over commodity costs, particularly corn, continued last week, with the US meat sector calling for government help. Meanwhile, the first-half results continued to roll in, with Kellogg claiming it is making good progress in Europe after a challenging few months. Elsewhere, we looked at Fresh Del Monte's plans to diversify its operations and published our latest briefing on how manufacturers and retailers are using social media.

Comment: Unilever continues pruning food business

Unilever's latest disposal of food assets is just another sign the consumer goods giant is focusing more on its faster-growing home and personal care businesses.

Social media: food industry continues to network

Despite concerns over returns or on the ability of social media to reach a mass audience like other forms of communications, the food industry is increasing its use of sites like Facebook and Twitter to market their brands or connect with consumers.

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