Blog: Dean BestAll the ingredients for a hectic Wednesday

Dean Best | 18 November 2009

And I thought it was busy here in Frankfurt.

Earlier this afternoon, in a brief break between meetings, I nipped into the press room for a quick look at our news pages. And it seemed things have been just as hectic back in the UK.

Confirmation of Ferrero and Hershey's interest in Cadbury and the surprise announcement that Morrisons boss Marc Bolland is set to take the top job at upmarket rival Marks and Spencer grabbed the headlines.

Both stories throw up numerous questions. What will Cadbury's reaction be to the prospect of a second bid for the business? How will Kraft Foods, which has an offer on the table, respond?

And what now for Morrisons, the star of the UK high street in the last 12 months? Its shares tumbled by more than 5% today after the news that Bolland - who in September declared his "love" for the company - is to move to M&S. Shares in M&S, meanwhile, jumped by almost 6%, a sign, perhaps, that the market hopes Bolland will improve the company's performance in a similar fashion to his work at Morrisons.

Meanwhile, back here in Frankfurt for day two of this year's Food Ingredients Europe show and the crowds have grown from yesterday with the main hall housing the likes of Barry Callebaut, Cargill, DSM and Glanbia, packed out. Will the likes of Arla Foods and Danisco rue their decision not to exhibit at the event this year?

The show has been a pleasant surprise. Some of the events attended by just-food this year have had a downbeat air but this exhibition has felt pretty buoyant.

The number of visitors at the show suggests that, while not everyone is optimistic about the business and economic climate, they are determined to remain active in looking for the latest products that could help their business save money - or gain vital market share.

Cost has ranked alongside health as two of the most-mentioned themes among food ingredient suppliers. In the last year, their manufacturing customers have placed greater emphasis on cost in a bid to protect their own margins. And all the while, health remains the key trend determining investment in NPD, with ingredient suppliers facing demands to develop products to improve memory and manage weight - to name just two key trends.

However, for all the talk of recession and recovery, the industry's ingredients suppliers remain concerned about the impact that EU regulations on the health claims brand-owners can make will have on their businesses.

Speaking to exhibitors, I get the impression that, while ingredients suppliers recognise the benefits of having robust, science-backed regulations in place, they still have concerns that the guidelines will be too strict and stifle innovation.

And, as Rabobank argued on our pages yesterday, cause a hike in costs, too.


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