Two key themes were once again in evidence on our pages this week: the importance of securing the supply chain in a world where commodities are becoming more hotly contested and the task of leveraging areas of growth in developed and developing markets.

Following rumours that chocolate giant Ferrero had made further strides in its endeavour to sure-up hazelnut supply, just-food was able to confirm that the group is “in discussions” over the potential acquisition of Turkish firm Oltan Gida.

The difficulties of expanding in mature markets were highlighted by our in-depth look at the challenges online retailing presents to food manufacturers and an analysis of Unilever‘s sale of Slim Fast – a big fish in the shrinking pond that is diet foods.

While expanding in mature markets is a demanding task, this is not to say growing in emerging market is a cake-walk – as recent developments in Russia and India highlight. Nevertheless, food majors continued to push on in growth markets – from Fonterra’s tie up with Abbott in China to a detailed evaluation of why food giants are lining up to invest in Egypt. Here are the highlights on just-food:

BRICs and beyond: Eyeing Egypt: Why firms are queueing up to invest
A new president and a revised investor law for Egypt appears to be restoring business confidence. Last month three food and beverage giants announced plans to invest in expanding operations in the country. But with a growing population and high levels of unemployment, plus a cut in fuel subsidies that could put pressure on the average citizen’s pocket, is now really the right time to be eyeing Egypt? Hannah Abdulla explores.

CHINA: Fonterra teams up with Abbott for latest “dairy farm hub”
Fonterra is to join forces with US-based infant formula group Abbott on the New Zealand dairy giant’s latest “dairy farm hub” in China.

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Comment: Trade restrictions hitting Russian outlook
In a period of escalating international tensions, Russia is turning to the use of trade restrictions as a political weapon. This adds a layer of risk to food manufacturers exporting goods to the previously promising BRIC market and potentially has some profound consequences for the consumer outlook in the country, Katy Askew suggests.

BRICs and beyond: Malaysia, Thailand eye growing global halal market
The global market for halal food is expected to grow from US$698bn in 2012 to reach US$830bn in 2016, according to Malaysia’s department of Islamic development, and manufacturers in its country and neighbouring Thailand are competing to service this demand. Jens Kastner reports.

BRICs and beyond: Carrefour exit highlights continued challenges in India
Carrefour‘s move to exit India underlines the ongoing challenges international retailers and food manufacturers face in the market where restrictions on foreign direct investment and a lack of infrastructure are curbing the development of modern retail. Katy Askew reports.

Focus: Manufacturers must adapt offering for online
Food manufacturers have been confronted with the meteoric rise of the e-commerce channel in the UK. A rude awakening awaits those that tackle the online challenge with a bricks-and-mortar mentality, Andrew Don suggests.

TURKEY: Ferrero “in discussions” over Oltan Gida buy
Italian chocolate maker Ferrero is “in discussions” over a potential acquisition of Turkish hazelnut group Oltan Gida, just-food understands.

Comment: Unilever’s Slim Fast sale evidence of declining diet category
Unilever announced late yesterday (10 July) that it has sold its Slim Fast diet foods business as it trims the fat from its food portfolio. The news comes as further evidence of the overall decline in the weight management foods sector in markets like the US and UK, Katy Askew suggests.

Interview: PepsiCo chief scientific officer Dr Mehmood Khan
Dr Mehmood Khan, chief scientific officer at PepsiCo, discusses research and development with Olly Wehring, the editor of just-food sister site just-drinks. Khan discusses the changing role of research and development in recent years, and where R&D sits in the company’s armoury for growth.

CANADA: Agropur in plants-and-supply deal with Sobeys
Canadian dairy co-op Agropur has struck deals to buy four plants from – and supply a range of products to – Sobeys, one of the country’s largest retailers.

HUNGARY: Government to drive food sector development
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has unveiled plans to invest HUF300bn (US$1.3bn) to support the development of the country’s food sector over the “next few years”.