In the spotlight

In the spotlight

Which manufacturers, retailers or issues are grabbing the headlines?



Plenty to ponder as Mondelez changes CEO 3 Aug 2017

One of the longest tenures at the top of a major food multinational is set to come to an end, with Irene Rosenfeld, the chairman and CEO of Mondelez International, set to leave the Cadbury and Oreo maker next March. Rosenfeld, who became the CEO of Mondelez forerunner Kraft Foods in 2006, will leave behind a very different business to the one at which she arrived 11 years ago. Dean Best reflects on her time at the helm and outlines what could lie ahead for her successor, the former Coca-Cola, Mars, Danone and McCain Foods executive Dirk Van de Put.


McCormick hot on Reckitt sauces deal despite fiery multiple 21 Jul 2017

McCormick & Co. this week emerged as the buyer of Reckitt Benckiser's food assets, which include French's mustard and Frank's RedHot sauce. The brands look a good fit with McCormick's own basket of sauces and spices but the US group has paid what appears to be a rich multiple for the assets and its shares cooled on Wednesday when the deal was announced. Can McCormick extract value? Dean Best reports.


General Mills' fiscal 2018 investor day - four things to learn 20 Jul 2017

General Mills is one of a clutch of US-centric businesses that have been under sales pressure for some time. In the 12 months to 28 May, the Yoplait maker's annual net sales fell 6% - the third successive year in which its top line contracted. Last week (12 July), the US food giant held its annual investor day to set out its plans for the new financial year, a chance for recently-installed CEO Jeff Harmening to outline how he believes the company can improve its performance. Here are the top takeaways from the event.


How PepsiCo is trying to meet shifting consumer, retail dynamics 13 Jul 2017

Significant changes are taking place in the way food manufacturers interact with their customers and consumers. Retail dynamics are evolving rapidly, with channel shifts, retailer consolidation and the ever growing importance of e-commerce shaking up the sector. Meanwhile, the consumer environment is developing at a faster pace than ever before. just-food looks at how PepsiCo is responding.


Activist grabs headlines but change was already on way at Nestle 29 Jun 2017

Activist investors putting pressure on food companies is not new, especially not in recent years, although Nestle's stature in the industry may have raised eyebrows as US investment fund Third Point made the world's largest food business the latest to feel the heat. However, there were already signs of change at Nestle under new CEO Mark Schneider, Dean Best argues.


How could Amazon's Whole Foods takeover affect suppliers? 23 Jun 2017

It is the deal that has got the industry talking - Amazon's move to buy Whole Foods Market, hailed by some as a "game-changer" for the sector. just-food's US columnist Victor Martino, who six weeks ago floated the idea of Amazon's Jeff Bezos buying Whole Foods, weighs up how the e-commerce giant's move into physical retail and ownership of the US grocer could affect manufacturers.


Amazon's move for Whole Foods will focus minds 16 Jun 2017

"Every so often an event occurs that shakes the industry to its core. Amazon's acquisition of Whole Foods is one of those." So said one US retail analyst today after the e-commerce giant announced a deal to buy the natural and organic grocer for US$13.7bn. The transaction stunned the sector, with analysts hailing it a game-changer. Amazon faces short-term challenges with Whole Foods but the acquisition looks set to give its ambitions in grocery - a sector it entered ten years ago - a boost and rival retailers and manufacturers will be sitting up and taking notice. Dean Best reports.


How Nestle's US confectionery review has divided analysts 16 Jun 2017

Confectionery, particularly chocolate, is one of Nestle's flagship businesses and has often been the subject of speculation among industry watchers and the investment community. For much of the last decade, talk centred on whether Nestle would look to build its position in confectionery through the acquisition of a company like Switzerland's Lindt & Sprungli but, in recent quarters, the chatter has switched to whether the KitKat maker would look to quit the sector. Nestle's announcement yesterday (15 June) of plans to review the future of its US confectionery business has sparked a debate among analysts covering the world's largest food group. Dean Best reports.


UK election result raises food sector hopes of better Brexit - column 9 Jun 2017

The result of the UK's General Election has stunned much of the country and many observers worldwide. The poll produced a hung parliament, with the Conservative Party, led by UK Prime Minister Theresa May, the largest in the House of Commons but without a majority of seats. May has embarked on talks with Democratic Unionist Party in a bid to form a minority government that can function with the working support of the Northern Ireland party. As Ben Cooper reports, the DUP's stance on Brexit, as well as the now improved standing of Labour, could lead to a softer Brexit that many food manufacturers would support.


Food policy almost invisible as UK election nears - analysis 31 May 2017

It's the economy, stupid. So goes the mantra for what drives voting choice and therefore electoral campaigning. But, to some, food policy should have been far higher up in the agenda in recent elections in a number of countries. That argument is being heard loud and clear in the UK as the country nears polling day on 8 June, not least with Brexit the key reason why Prime Minister Theresa May called the election. Ben Cooper analyses the food policy positions of the main competing parties and hears from industry and campaigners on why the issue should have far more prominence as the election nears.


India's new GST tax regime comes in for criticism - analysis 30 May 2017

India's pan-industry business association ASSOCHAM has hailed the central government's new GST regime, a move to standardise goods and services tax rates in the country, as the biggest economic achievement in the three years since Prime Minister Narenda Modi took office. However, as just-food reports, there is some concern about the new framework's potential impact on value-added products.


Yili leads Stonyfield chase but race not yet run - analysis 15 May 2017

Chinese dairy giant Yili has declared its interest in buying Stonyfield but just-food columnist Victor Martino contends there could be more twists and turns in the race for Danone's US organic dairy unit.


Post Holdings discusses rationale for Weetabix - five things to learn 20 Apr 2017

Post Holdings, the US food group, was this week announced as the new owner of Weetabix, the UK-based breakfast cereal business. The GBP1.4bn deal sees Post, one of the major cereal companies in the US, take on one of the leading players in the sector in the UK but one seeing muted growth in a challenging market – and a business seen to have hardly prospered under the ownership of China’s state-backed giant Bright Food. Post discussed its move with Wall Street analysts on Tuesday and Dean Best presents the key takeaways.


Uncertainty reigns but UK exporters facing Brexit pragmatically - column 30 Mar 2017

The UK has triggered Article 50 of the European Union’s Lisbon Treaty, so formally firing the starting gun on its departure from the 28-member bloc. Brexit is the most important political and economic event in the UK for a generation and has divided the country. A majority of the UK’s food sector wanted to stay in the EU and have significant concerns about the post-Brexit future. However, increasingly, businesses are acquiring a pragmatic view about the future – with some real anxieties remaining but a recognition opportunities could be seized – a stance heard last week at the IFE trade show in London. Dean Best reports.


General Mills sales woes continue - analysis 22 Mar 2017

General Mills this week reported another quarter of falling sales, leading industry watchers to wonder if the US food giant will lessen its focus on its margin target but, more critically, whether the company can revitalise its top line. Hannah Abdulla reports.


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