Blog: Food no longer public enemy number one in UK
Dean Best | 28 July 2008
So, food manufacturers – at least in the UK – are no longer public enemy number one?
Last week, we saw fresh evidence that, after a period firmly in the firing line, the UK food industry has managed to mollify the threat of stringent regulation and strike up a working relationship with the country's government in a bid to tackle rising obesity.
The UK government's Change4Life programme, which will see food manufacturers pledge over GBP200m (US$397m) in a multi-stakeholder scheme to fight obesity, was announced last week and was a further sign of the spirit of co-operation between industry and politicians.
Let's be clear: the spotlight remains on the food industry on a number of issues, not least on obesity, which the UK Health Secretary described last week as the "biggest challenge" the country faces. Obesity rates are rising and the forecasts – should the problem not be tackled effectively – are bleak.
Obesity is a complex issue, we all know that, but, by recognising that it needed to be at the centre of the debate, the food industry is now being seen as key to the solutions drawn up to tackle the problem.
Contrast that with the flak being thrown at the drinks business here in the UK over alcohol abuse and you will appreciate the relative success the food industry has enjoyed in presenting itself as part of the solution to obesity. Nevertheless, the food industry must continue to be seen as the driving force behind seeking a solution. Only that way will it be able to set its own agenda.
Mars, meanwhile, is looking to force the pace in a burgeoning category here in the UK – ethnic cuisine. The launch of PurAsia, Mars Food's first new brand for almost a decade, is designed to tap into what the company sees as the growing trend of consumers who want to replicate restaurant-quality food at home. It is a bold move and last week we caught up with Mars Food marketing director Paul Aikens to find out more. With UK consumers eating out less amid concerns over the economy, could PurAsia be the product they are looking for?
And, elsewhere, despite the economic downturn, food companies remain on the look-out for additions to their portfolios as we saw with the acquisitions of Bertolli olive oil and seafood brand Young's.
The acquisition of Young's again demonstrated the confidence that private equity, which is not currently as flush as it once was, still has in the food sector. Lion Capital's move for Young's and the continental operations of frozen food brand Findus highlights the belief among some in private equity that food can still offer healthy returns.
A year after union officials alleged Fyffes abused workers on plantations in Central America - and called on the produce giant to be kicked out of the Ethical Trading Initiative forum - the company is...
Much of the chatter about where 3G Capital could look next has centred on packaged food - but might the private-equity fund be about to extend its foodservice empire?...
Headlines that Mead Johnson's board has backed Reckitt Benckiser's takeover bid will no doubt overshadow the other news on the group this week – that it is facing a US lawsuit from a “whistle blower” ...
Kantar Worldpanel issued its monthly supermarket share data in the UK this morning - and the numbers showed a change in the identity of the country's top five food retailers....
- Does Kraft Heinz want to swallow Unilever whole?
- Focus: Nestle CEO plan to balance sales, earnings
- Comment: Meal kits in US - don't believe the hype
- Is Mondelez's margin target hurting sales?
- Will Kellogg's DSD exit help it grow in US snacks?
- Nestle plans restructuring as 2016 profit misses
- Kraft Heinz pursuing Unilever in takeover move
- General Mills issues profit warning
- Kraft Heinz returns to organic growth, ups margins
- Kraft Heinz pulls Unilever bid