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February 10, 2014

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

Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, caused a stir when it lowered its full-year forecasts this week due to pressure on US sales. Retail sales in the country have entered an upward trajectory and close competitor Target Corp has been hit by a data breach scandal - but Wal-Mart has apparently failed to capitalise. Likewise, Kellogg missed market expectations when it reported fourth-quarter numbers due to an accelerating decline in North American revenues. Here are the highlights from just-food this week.

Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, caused a stir when it lowered its full-year forecasts this week due to pressure on US sales. Retail sales in the country have entered an upward trajectory and close competitor Target Corp has been hit by a data breach scandal – but Wal-Mart has apparently failed to capitalise. Likewise, Kellogg missed market expectations when it reported fourth-quarter numbers due to an accelerating decline in North American revenues. In contrast, US natural food company Hain Celestial booked a strong domestic performance – but conceded that poor execution hit its results in the UK. Elsewhere, Post Holdings snapped up Nestle’s sports nutrition business. While this is a growing category that has seen an increase in M&A interest, as just-food argued, Post has a challenge on its hands revitalising flagship brand PowerBar. Here are the highlights from just-food this week.

Best bits: Post faces work refuelling Nestle’s PowerBarPost Holdings, the US food group best known for breakfast cereals, has broadened its business in the last 18 months. This week, Post continued its expansion in what it calls “active nutrition” with the acquisition of Nestle’s sports nutrition business. However, Post has a challenge on its hands revitalising flagship brand PowerBar. Dean Best reports.

US: Kellogg sales miss Wall St forecasts on domestic weaknessKellogg today (6 February) posted higher fourth-quarter profits but saw its shares fall in early trading after its top line missed Wall St forecasts.

US: US snacks plant to go as Kellogg continues revampKellogg has announced plans to shut a snacks plant in the US and rejig another as part of its moves to restructure its business worldwide.

Interview: United Biscuits driving UK growth – MDUnited Biscuits has embarked on a strategy it believes will grow UK biscuit sales over the next three years. The company is unifying its offering under two “master brands” – McVitie’s and Jacob’s – as well as stepping up investments in production and marketing. Jon Eggleton, MD for United Biscuits’ UK business, spoke to just-food about the group’s domestic expansion drive.

Comment: Wal-Mart fails to capitalise on Target weaknessNews Wal-Mart has lowered its full-year earnings forecast reflects more than the drag of store closures as it adjusts its international portfolio. The US retail giant is struggling to grow its top-line at home and lower fourth-quarter comparable domestic sales suggest it failed to capitalise on the data breach scandal that hit key competitor Target Corp., Katy Askew suggests.

CANADA: Fresh food, online targets of Wal-Mart investmentUS retail giant Wal-Mart will invest “close to” C$500m (US$452.4m) this year to drive growth in Canada, including moves to enhance its fresh food offering.

In the spotlight: Hain Celestial must be wary of over-extendingHain Celestial has rapidly grown its business by expanding into new categories and markets through a series of acquisitions, notably in the UK. However, such rapid expansion has its challenges. Perhaps execution issues at Hain Daniels, the US group’s UK-focused business, could be viewed as a warning to management that the group should be careful not to over-extend itself, Katy Askew suggests.

Shopper trends: Measuring the real impact of product availabilityRetailers and suppliers often fail to capitalise on what is called the ‘moment of truth’ – that crucial point at which a shopper sees a product on the shelf and decides to buy it.

Consuming issues: Tacon’s role broader than she thinksRepresentatives from UK food manufacturing, retailing and government came to Westminster in considerable numbers on Monday (3 February) to hear the new Groceries Code Adjudicator examine her future work and other issues of integrity, safety and consumer confidence in the food supply chain.

DENMARK: Arla outlines $397m investment plan for 2014Arla Foods will invest DKK2.2bn (US$397m) in ten of its dairy sites this year as it looks to boost production, target emerging markets and become more eco-friendly.

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