As Ireland’s economic crisis dominated the business pages, data on the country’s grocery retail sector suggested it was returning to growth after months in the doldrums. However, will Dublin’s IMF-backed austerity package stall that growth? Elsewhere, management at Del Monte Foods said yes to a US$5.3bn private-equity takeover, Danone snapped up US yoghurt-maker YoCream International and Campbell Soup Co. and Hormel Foods revealed differing fortunes to the market. 

Talking shop: Irish crisis threatens retail recovery
Bright sparks signalling a turnaround in the Irish grocery economy appear to have been short-lived, as the Irish government announced wide-ranging austerity measures due to the country’s massive economic deficit.

UPDATE 2: US: Del Monte Foods sold for $5.3bn
Del Monte Foods has confirmed that it has been sold to consortium of three private-equity groups in a deal worth US$5.3bn. After a day of speculation, the US food group finally announced that an investor group led by funds affiliated with Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Vestar Capital Partners and Centerview Partners would acquire the business.

EUROPE: Tesco plans to double selling space
Tesco has revealed plans to nearly double its selling space in Central and Eastern Europe over the next five years.

Comment: YoCream buy is Danone’s latest move to diversify
Danone’s US$103m acquisition of US frozen-yoghurt maker is another significant sign of the French food giant’s moves to diversify its business.

Sustainability Watch – Karen Hamilton, Unilever
Ben Cooper spoke with Karen Hamilton, Unilever’s vice president for sustainability, about consumer goods giant’s all-new Sustainable Living Plan.

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just the answer – James Averdieck, Gu
Since the sale of Gu to Noble Foods, the dessert maker’s founder James Averdieck has focused on expanding the brand overseas. Petah Marian spoke to Averdieck about the Gu’s international ambitions and how the business is “growing up”.

Comment: Soup maker Campbell faces lukewarm outlook
Those hoping that the tide had turned for Campbell Soup Co. would have been disappointed when the US food maker published its first-quarter results this week.

On the money: Hormel predicts broad-based growth for 2011
Hormel Foods is targeting higher profits from all its five divisions during its new financial year, chief executive Jeff Ettinger said today (23 November) after the US food group booked an almost 17% rise in full-year earnings.

BRICs and beyond: Heinz looks to emerging markets for ‘secret sauce’
With sales in Heinz’s developed markets stagnating, the US food manufacturer has turned its attentions to developing markets to drive growth.

AUS: General Mills sells frozen bakery unit to Kerry
General Mills is selling its Croissant King and van den Bergh’s frozen bakery business in Australia to Ireland-based food and ingredients firm Kerry Group.