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

By Katy Askew | 14 January 2013

A swathe of results released by UK retail powerhouses dominated the headlines on just-food this week. Morrisons continued to struggle, with the growing importance of online and convenience proving the group's Achilles heel. The early leek of Marks and Spencer's results caused quite a storm, as the bastion of the UK high street highlighted problems in the general merchandise arm. The company was quick, however, to highlight that its smaller food business continues to tick along nicely. In contrast, Saisbury's and Tesco were in upbeat mood as both retailers hailed strong Christmas trading. Over the pond, troubled retailer Supervalu unveiled the long-awaited sale of a number of its banners to PE investors led by Ceberus Capital Management. Nevertheless, as just-food commentators suggested, it is unlikely that this deal will spell an end to Supervalu's troubles.

On the money: Morrisons hints at online launch
Morrisons today (7 January) hinted that an announcement regarding its long-awaited launch into online retail could be nearing.

UPDATE: US: Food industry welcomes FDA food safety requirements
The US food industry has welcomed the publishing of two major requirements by the US Food and Drug Administration aimed at helping prevent foodborne illnesses and improve food safety.

UPDATE: SWITZERLAND: Emmi says no plans to buy rest of AVH Dairy Trade
Emmi has told just-food that it is not currently planning to take full ownership of AVH Dairy Trade, following news that it has acquired a 70% stake in the Netherlands-based dairy firm.

On the money: Sainsbury's sees evolving shopping habits
More frugal consumers are evolving the way they shop in response to the austere economic environment, Sainsbury's CEO Justin King has suggested.

COMMENT: KKR places bets on Vietnam with Masan investment
While multinationals and private equity firms scramble to grab a slice of the dynamic emerging markets of China and India, buyout firm KKR appears to have its eye firmly on the smaller Southeast Asian country of Vietnam. What does it know?

On the money: Marks & Spencer upbeat on food performance
Marks & Spencer has remained upbeat about the performance of its food division despite a slowdown in like-for-like sales.

On the money: Tesco sees consumers turning to own label
UK retailer Tesco benefited from an increased uptake of own label products in the UK, where it has relaunched various products in its own brand line-up as part of its turnaround strategy.

COMMENT: Supervalu CEO, business cull still leaves key challenges
The news that Supervalu has agreed to sell five of its supermarket chains, including Albertsons, in a deal worth US$3.3bn will come as little surprise to those in the industry. The rest of Supervalu could follow suit, but key challenges will remain for whoever holds the reins.

Interview: HKScan CEO Kottonen on restructuring moves
In a bid to boost profitability, HKScan has embarked on a journey to streamline and simplify its operations. However, this is just one plank of the group's four-prong strategy to improve its performance, HKScan CEO Hannu Kottonen tells just-food.

COMMENT: Don't scoff too loudly at legal limits on fat in food
Calls for limits on salt, sugar and fat in foods marketed to children in the UK do not seem so far-fetched when one considers the scale of the challenge posed by poor diet.

Sectors: Advertising & labelling, Baby food, Bakery, Canned food, Cereal, Chilled foods, Commodities & ingredients, Condiments, dressings & sauces, Confectionery, Dairy, Dried foods, Emerging markets, Financials, Food safety, Fresh produce, Frozen, Health & wellness, Ice cream, Meat & poultry, Mergers & acquisitions, Multichannel, Natural & organic, NPD & innovation, Private label, Retail, Seafood, Snacks, Sustainability & the environment, World foods

Companies: Morrisons, Emmi, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Marks and Spencer, HKScan

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Quote, unquote: just-food's week in words

Last week saw just-food following China's investigation into the alleged fixing of infant formula prices, which has involved Danone, Nestle and Mead Johnson. We also spoke with a number of company executives about their growth plans including the MD of Australia-based Freedom Foods Group, Rory McLeod, who outlined the company's plans and explained why gluten-free needs to focus more on taste. We also spoke with Finsbury Foods CEO John Duffy about the potential the company sees in bread. Elsewhere, Ocado released its first-half results and FMCG giant PZ Cuzzons struck a surprise deal to buy Australian baby food business Rafferty's Garden.

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