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April 30, 2012

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

Allegations of bribery at Wal-Mart Stores' Mexican arm grabbed the headlines at the start of the week, rocking the world's largest retailer. Nestle, the world's largest food manufacturer, made waves of its own with its US$11.9bn deal to buy Pfizer's baby food business. The week also saw a raft of first-quarter results and the announcement of the latest results from Unilever's Sustainable Living Plan, a programme to reduce its impact on the environment. We met Unilever CEO Paul Polman to discuss the company's progress.

By Dean Best

Allegations of bribery at Wal-Mart Stores’ Mexican arm grabbed the headlines at the start of the week, rocking the world’s largest retailer. Nestle, the world’s largest food manufacturer, made waves of its own with its US$11.9bn deal to buy Pfizer’s baby food business. The week also saw a raft of first-quarter results and the announcement of the latest results from Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan, a programme to reduce its impact on the environment. We met Unilever CEO Paul Polman to discuss the company’s progress.

Wal-Mart mired in Mexico bribery claimsThe world’s largest retailer is facing claims that employees in Mexico bribed local officials – and that it knew of the payments and covered them up.

Nestle moves to buy Pfizer’s baby food armThe world’s largest food manufacturer beat off reported interest from Danone with a deal worth US$11.9bn. But has the Swiss food giant paid too much?

The just-food interview – Unilever CEO Paul PolmanFMCG companies the world over talk often and loudly about the ways in which they are alleviating their impact on the environment or trading more ethically. Few, however, set public targets and even fewer report their progress or the challenges they are facing. Unilever is a notable exception. This week, the consumer goods group published the latest results of its Sustainable Living Plan programme. Dean Best met Unilever CEO Paul Polman to discuss the initiative, the successes so far and the problems ahead.

US: Kellogg issues profit warningUS food group Kellogg today (23 April) issued a surprise profit warning amid “significant challenges” in its domestic market and in Europe.

Click here for coverage of Kellogg’s first-quarter results, which were issued later in the week.

On the money: ABF expects improved grocery returnsAssociated British Foods has insisted it expects the performance of its grocery division to improve in the medium term as investments made to reduce its cost base begin to feed through to the bottom line.

On the money: Premier Foods eyes margin improvements in 2012UK food giant Premier Foods plc said it hopes to see margin improvements as it heads through the remainder of the year after booking an increase in first-quarter sales this morning (25 April).

On the money: CSM looks to more cuts to revive profitsDutch ingredients group CSM has confirmed it is looking at cuts above and beyond the disposals it announced in February in order to improve profitability.

In the spotlight: Can discounters maintain UK momentum?Since the onset of the downturn, German discounters Aldi and Lidl have, for the most part, been able to grow sales ahead of the UK’s four largest grocery retailers. Andrew Don investigates whether they can maintain momentum after what is now a double-dip recession.

JAPAN/US: C-store giant Lawson outlines US ambitionsLawson Inc, Japan’s number two convenience store retailer, is to use the opening of up to 50 outlets in Hawaii as a springboard to expand onto the US mainland.

On the money: Hershey ups ad spend, focuses on innovationHershey has said it will increase its full-year advertising spend and focus on innovation during the remainder of the year after booking an increase in first-quarter profits this morning (24 April).

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