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September 23, 2013

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

Danone was this week under scrutiny in China amid claims local staff bribed hospitals to promote its baby food products in the country. The allegations are the latest blow to the reputation of Western firms in China following price fixing on formula and the Fonterra botulism saga. The stories will not harm the reputation of China's dairies and, this week, one processor, China Huishan Dairy Holdings Co., launched a successful IPO in Hong Kong.

By Dean Best

Danone was this week under scrutiny in China amid claims local staff bribed hospitals to promote its baby food products in the country. The allegations are the latest blow to the reputation of Western firms in China following price fixing on formula and the Fonterra botulism saga. The stories will not harm the reputation of China’s dairies and, this week, one processor, China Huishan Dairy Holdings Co., launched a successful IPO in Hong Kong.

CHINA: Danone investigating Dumex bribery allegations
Danone has launched an investigation into allegations it bribed hospitals to promote its baby food products in China.

BRICs and beyond: Huishan IPO shows growing appetite for Chinese dairies
The successful IPO of China Huishan Dairy Holdings Co. is fresh evidence of growing investor appetite for the Chinese dairy sector. As the largest dairy to operate a fully integrated supply chain in the country, Huishan is well-placed to benefit from recent developments in the industry, Katy Askew suggests.

On the money: General Mills “very bullish” on cereal prospects
General Mills has expressed its confidence in the prospects for the breakfast cereals sector in the US, where manufacturers have struggled to get sales growing in recent years.

Talking shop: What’s next for a Burkle-led Fresh & Easy?
Ron Burkle, the US billionaire investor who is to take on the bulk of Tesco’s US Fresh & Easy arm, has said he believes the loss-making business gives his Yucaipa fund a base upon which to build. But it is not yet clear what his plans are. Dean Best looks at what could be next.

In the spotlight: Albertson’s LLC hungry for more after United Supermarkets buy
Albertson’s LLC has had a transformative year. The private-equity owned company is investing in elevating its growth trajectory. A significant step in this direction was made when the group acquired the remaining Albertsons stores – and rights to the Albertsons name – from SuperValu Inc, along with the Jewel-Osco, Acme, Shaw’s and Star Market chains. Last week’s acquisition of United Supermarkets builds on that foundation and comes as further evidence the firm, and its financial backers, are committed to driving growth through M&A. Katy Askew reports.

Interview: Boulder Brands CEO part two – Smart Balance
Boulder Brands, the US group, is a company buoyed by its recent expansion into gluten free, a booming sector in its home market. However, 40% of its sales remain in Smart Balance, the acquisition of which started the business in 2007, and which Boulder faces a challenge to revitalise. In part two of an interview with just-food, Boulder CEO Stephen Hughes told Dean Best how the company plans to re-boot growth from Smart Balance.

just the answer – The Real Good Food Co. CEO Pieter Totte

Sugar-to-ingredients group The Real Good Food Co. has successfully navigated rather challenging economic conditions and slow growth in Europe over the last few years to create a recipe for success for the firm, building a solid platform for future growth. Executive chairman Pieter Totté talks to Michelle Russell about his confidence in the business for the future, and the group’s plans for Europe and the US.

CANADA: Chocolate giants settle price-fixing lawsuit
Chocolate giants including Nestle and Mars Inc have moved to settle a class action lawsuit accusing them of price fixing and price maintenance in Canada.

ITALY: Lacteos do Brasil deal too high-risk for Parmalat
Parmalat will not pursue an acquisition of Brazil’s largest private dairy company, Lacteos do Brasil (LBR), due to the “high level of risk” a deal for the business would carry, sources have said.

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