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July 31, 2015

Food industry news of the week – Nestle India, ConAgra, Mondelez

Nestle this week a change of leadership at its embattled unit India, which has been under the spotlight in recent weeks over the nationwide Maggi recall. Elsewhere, ConAgra Foods was reported to have started talks to sell its own-label unit, with Post Holdings and TreeHouse Foods said to be interested. Our interview pages included chats with the founder of US organic baby food firm - and Danone subsidiary - Happy Family, Chinese bakery business Dongguan Kam Tai Foods and UK gluten-free company Mrs Crimble's.

By Dean Best

Nestle this week a change of leadership at its embattled unit India, which has been under the spotlight in recent weeks over the nationwide Maggi recall. Elsewhere, ConAgra Foods was reported to have started talks to sell its own-label unit, with Post Holdings and TreeHouse Foods said to be interested. Our interview pages included chats with the founder of US organic baby food firm – and Danone subsidiary – Happy Family, Chinese bakery business Dongguan Kam Tai Foods and UK gluten-free company Mrs Crimble's.

Nestle replaces India MD after Maggi scandal Nestle, reeling from the controversy over its Maggi noodle recall in India, has named Suresh Narayanan as its new managing director in the country.

Post, TreeHouse "in talks over ConAgra own-label unit" Post Holdings and TreeHouse Foods are reportedly among the potential suitors for ConAgra Foods' private-label arm.

French milk prices – no full deal reached yet A deal to increase French milk prices remains some way off despite reports over the weekend, the dairy processing industry trade body, the Fédération Nationale de l’Industrie Laitière, has said.

Mead Johnson settles SEC probe of China promotions Mead Johnson is to pay over US$12m in a settlement of an investigation from the US Securities and Exchange Commission into the infant formula group's promotions in China.

Mondelez Mexican investment to hit 600 US jobs Mondelez International is pumping US$130m into a factory in Mexico in a bid to "modernise" its North America supply chain but the move will impact 600 jobs in the US.

M&A Watch – Campbell Soup Co. should be more acquisitive – but avoid fresh Campbell Soup Co. has looked to inject growth into its business through acquisitions in recent years and the indications are this is likely to continue. But where should the US giant look to do deals? Stefan Kirk, just-food M&A columnist and advisor at M&A consultants Glenboden, weighs up the group's options.

Analysis: Unilever's plan to grow global ice cream sales, margins Unilever is the world's largest ice cream maker but the FMCG giant is not resting on its laurels. Kevin Havelock, president of refreshments, plans to grow Unilever's ice cream sales and margins ahead of the group average – while also gaining share of the global ice cream market. This will be achieved through a focus premiumisation, innovation and expanding out-of-home consumption across the world. Katy Askew reports.

BRICs and beyond: Kam Tai's quality, health focus brings success in China Last year, more than 400 local companies in Dongguan, a major manufacturing city in China's southerly Guangdong province, went bankrupt as China's economy slowed. In stark contrast, one local bakery company – Dongguan Kam Tai Foods – earned CNY1.1bn (US$177.1m) in revenue and it is expecting to see sales grow 20% in 2015. Wang Fangqing investigates Kam Tai's recipe for success.

just the answer: Happy Family CEO Shazi Visram on baby and beyond Happy Family, the US organic baby food maker acquired by Danone in 2013, has enjoyed rapid growth. In 2006 the company reported turnover of US$115,000. This year it forecasts turnover of $130m. And its quest for further expansion has seen the firm move into adult snacking with the launch of Shine Organics pouches. Hannah Abdulla catches up with CEO and founder Shazi Visram to talk about how the company has evolved and how it has benefited from the tie-up with Danone.

Briefing: Interview: Gluten-free early-mover Mrs Crimble's plots future growth Mrs Crimble's was one of the clutch of brands Tesco listed when it set up a dedicated free-from fixture in the UK a decade go, a move seen as key to the early development of the category in the country. With gluten free now a crowded market, how can Mrs Crimble's continue to grow? Dean Best met with Gareth Toms, the company's international commercial director, to discuss its plans.

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