M&A in the UK food sector was again a hot topic this week as news emerged that private equity investors could be preparing to merge Premier Foods’ unwanted brands with fellow UK food group Symington ‘s. Meanwhile, confirmation that food inflation looks set to be an ongoing issue for food manufacturers, retailers and consumers came when the latest UK figures were released. We also looked at what the future has in store for the struggling hypermarket format, the outlook for Kraft Foods ‘ North American grocery business after it is spun off later this year and how Barry Callebaut is preparing its business for growth despite falling first-half profits. 

UK: PE “mulls merger” of Premier brands, Symington’s
Competing private-equity investors are reportedly vying to acquire the non-core brands of Premier Foods plc and UK food manufacturer Symington’s, with an eye to merging the groups into one entity.

UK: Food inflation accelerates in March – BRC
The price of food in UK retail stores increased at a faster rate in March than a month earlier, according to data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC ) and industry analysts Nielsen.

Talking shop: Does the hypermarket format have a future?
“Soulless sheds”, “beached whales” and “blips in the history of retail” are descriptions that have recently been assigned to hypermarkets, a format that seems to have taken on the persona of a dinosaur whose days are numbered. Glynn Davis takes a look at whether this once high-flying format can be rejuvenated. 

US: Kraft provides details of North American grocery unit
Kraft Foods has released details of the financial performance of its North American grocery business ahead of plans to spin off the unit later this year. 

On the money: Barry Callebaut defends investment after profits fall
Barry Callebaut has insisted the investments it made during the first six months of its financial year have provided it with a “good base” for future growth after it reported a fall in half-year profits.

US: FDA rejects call to remove BPA from food packaging
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has rejected a petition by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC ) calling for the elimination of bisphenol A (BPA) in food packaging in the US.

UK: Usdaw, Unite accept Unilever pension deal
Two of the three unions representing the Unilever workers who launched a series of strikes in protest against plans to change the company’s pension scheme have approved a revised deal, just-food has learned. 

UK: 2 Sisters takes Fox’s into savoury category
UK food manufacturer 2 Sisters Food Group is expanding its Fox ‘s biscuits brand into savoury snacking.

US: Wal-Mart to invest US$1bn in price cuts
Retail giant Wal-Mart Stores has said it will reduce its grocery prices by US$1bn across the US in 2013.

UK: Tesco replaces Value grocery range
UK retailer Tesco has launched a low-price grocery range to replace its Value own-label line.