Three of UK grocery’s largest retailers issued trading updates this week – and all were relaxed about the prospect of public-spending cuts on consumer confidence. Northern Foods, supplier to UK retailers, has launched its latest restructuring plan, as has Maple Leaf Foods, over in Canada. PepsiCo, meanwhile, is to set a dedicated “nutrition unit” and is eyeing fruit and veg, dairy and functional foods.

Comment: UK retailers unruffled by planned austerity measures

With the UK Treasury set to release its planned spending cuts on 20 October, industry watchers have been focused on how the UK’s largest grocery retailers see consumer sentiment in the face of the upcoming “austerity measures”. 

Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Marks and Spencer do not expect the Government’s spending cuts to tip the economy back into recession.

On the money: Incoming Tesco CEO Clarke upbeat about US
Tesco’s CEO-designate Philip Clarke has today (5 October) vowed to push ahead with its expansion in the market and said the UK retailer expected to break even across the Atlantic during 2012/13. 

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In the spotlight – Northern Foods’ latest revamp
Northern Foods, the maker of Goodfella’s pizza and Fox’s biscuits, is shaking up its business structure to breathe fresh life into the company. How successful will it be?

UK: Premier receives bids for Quorn meat-free business
Premier Foods plc, the UK’s largest food maker, has confirmed it has received interest for its meat-free business, which includes the Quorn brand. 

US/FRANCE: Danone CEO Riboud quashes Dean Foods takeover talk
Danone CEO Franck Riboud has poured cold water on speculation that the French dairy giant could be interested in buying Dean Foods, the largest dairy processor in the US.

On the money: PepsiCo to place emphasis on science-based products
PepsiCo is to place more emphasis on producing products “backed by science” under its plans to create a nutrition business unit to develop new products in a series of food categories. 

NZ/INDIA: Fonterra confirms Iffco dairy farm talks
Fonterra, the world’s largest dairy exporter, has confirmed that it is in talks with Indian co-op Iffco over the establishment of a dairy farm in the country.

Comment: McCain sets out stall with Maple Leaf Foods’ revamp
Maple Leaf Foods boss Michael McCain has drawn up plans for the Canadian food group to become more productive and more profitable. What lies ahead for the company?

FRANCE: LBO France in exclusive talks to buy Materne-Mont Blanc
Equity fund LBO France is in exclusive negotiations to acquire French ambient desserts and jams firm Materne-Mont Blanc. 

UPDATE: SWITZ: Kraft sees R&D site driving “momentum” in snacks 
Kraft Foods said today (5 October) that the opening of a new R&D site in Switzerland to develop gum and candy products will “continue the momentum” the company is enjoying in the snacks category in Europe.