Major food manufacturers began to report their first-quarter results last week. Nestle came under scrutiny for its performance in emerging markets. A cautious Danone saw signs of improvement from its European dairy operations, while its infant formula business was buoyant. Elsewhere, we shone the spotlight on the recent rationing of formula in Western markets amid high demand in China, looked at Marks and Spencer’s latest European venture and analysed Magnit’s move to Russian retail’s top spot.

On the money: Nestle expects Asia, Africa growth to pick up
Nestle today (18 April) insisted it expects its sales growth in Asia and Africa to increase amid concerns among analysts over its performance in some emerging markets.

On the money: Danone’s dairy work bears early fruit
A cautious Danone said today (16 April) the market would have to wait until the second half of 2013 to see a “noticeable” upturn from its dairy business in Europe – but revealed it was seeing some signs of improvement.

In the spotlight: Infant formula prices drive Chinese consumers overseas
Retailers are rationing the amount of infant formula consumers can buy in markets including Hong Kong, Australia and now the UK. The move has been prompted by the huge demand for infant formula in China, with consumers buying products overseas and shipping them home. While you might think that rationing comes in response to supply shortages, in actual fact it is more likely an attempt to protect the power to price the same product differently in different markets. Katy Askew reports.

Click here for Danone’s comments on China’s infant formula market, made it announced its first-quarter sales.

US: Peltz confirms Mondelez, PepsiCo stakes
Trian Fund Management, the investment vehicle of activist shareholder Nelson Peltz, confirmed today (19 April) it has taken up stakes in snack food giants PepsiCo and Mondelez International.

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On the money: Tesco mulling offers for Fresh & Easy unit
UK retail giant Tesco said it has received its first set of offers from prospective buyers for its US Fresh & Easy chain after confirming it will now exit the market.

Talking shop: Is the time right for M&S’s European push?
Despite facing challenges at home, Marks and Spencer is bent on European expansion. In 2011, it re-entered France; yesterday (17 April) the retailer’s new outlet in Amsterdam opened its doors. M&S said the move came as part of the group’s drive to expand in Benelux countries and – more broadly – to become a leading international and multi-channel retailer. Katy Askew reports.

BRICs and beyond: Russian retailer Magnit looks to retain top spot
Russian retail colossus Magnit has overtaken X5 Retail Group to become the country’s largest by sales. While anticipated, speculation is now likely to turn to whether Magnit can extend its lead, or if X5 has what it takes to up its game and claw back the number one position.

On the money: Carrefour sees continued progress
Carrefour has shown signs its turnaround plan has continued to gain traction in the first quarter of this year.

On the money: Casino “encouraged” by domestic pricing results
Casino has insisted it expects to see “encouraging results” in France from the pricing initiative it implemented late last year, even though the move failed to lift the retailer’s domestic revenues in the first quarter.

HORSEMEAT: France tops EU test results
More products were found to contain horsemeat in France than any other EU country, according to results published by The European Commission today (16 April).