This week saw just-food publish the second part of our in-depth interview with Stephen Hughes, CEO of US gluten-free-to-dairy firm Boulder Brands. We also caught up with Pieter Totté, chairman of The Real Good Food Co., at the UK group’s investor day in London. Danone faced fresh controversy in the Chinese infant formula category, General Mills outlined its plans to get business moving in the right direction and a row over snacks at the checkouts broke out in the UK. Here is just-food’s week in words.
“Quite honestly, we are approaching US$500m in revenue [and] I hate to say this, you wouldn’t want the whole business growing at 40%… You’d like to have a business that’s pretty stable, generating profits, so you can focus on managing a line like Udi’s and Glutino of which we offer 150 items in two languages… I would hope to be able in a year from now to be talking about Smart Balance in the black, holding profitability or growin profitability in the low single digits.” – Boulder Brands CEO Stephen Hughes on his priorities for the group’s struggling Smart Balance unit.
“We focus very hard on what we’ve got and we develop our five factories extremely strongly as being a local producer, an efficient producer and a modern producer with the best equipment and the best people. That is half the game. Next we have our NPD resource, a centre of excellence to look at what the trends are, where they are going, so we can be trend setters in our sectors with certain products that offer a longer life and a better margin” – The Real Good Food Co. chairman Pieter Totté on how the UK company remains competitive.
“Cerberus has been interested in not just making deals but actively running and improving the companies. This does make them a bit different than other PE firms but the end goal remains the same. How do you create value from the assets that you have? Investing is as viable an option as cost cutting at times” – Neil Stern, senior partner with McMillan Doolittle on the Albertson’s LLC acqusition of United Supermarkets.
“Dumex Baby Food Co Ltd. strictly adheres to Chinese laws and regulations, including Administrative Measures for Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes. We have set up strict management system, including severe punitive measures against all violation activities” – a spokesperson for Danone responds to corruption allegations in China.
“Unplanned calories from foods high in fat and sugar purchased at checkouts contribute towards poor diet and poor health, including obesity, heart disease and diabetes, which may lead to premature death. Far too many retailers are unwilling to stop pushing unhealthy food at the checkout and queuing areas. It may be lucrative for them but, as our survey found, it is deeply unpopular with customers and nudges purchasing behaviour in the wrong direction.” – Obesity specialist Linda Hindle on the British Dietetic Association’s campaign against snacks at the checkout.
“A customer is likely to have wheeled their trolley around the whole store possibly buying their groceries for the week ahead before they reach the tills, so what they do in that time is likely to have a much bigger impact on their diet than products in the queue for the check-out.” – The British Retail Consortium insists checkout snacks are not the “biggest issue” impacting obesity.
“The company has become aware of an accumulation of a significant amount of the common stock of the company… he board believes that the rights plan will help ensure that the company can continue to implement its strategic plan and maximise the long-term value of the company for all shareholders” – Safeway Inc’s board of directors on “poison pill” to pre-empt a hostile takeover
“Our plans include core brand renovation that is relevant to consumers. We’re launching a strong slate of differential new product innovation and we’re investing to develop innovative marketing ideas that bring increased consumer excitement to cereal. It’s really a simple formula, but it works. Where we are bringing relevant product news and innovation to market, we are seeing the sales growth” – General Mills’ Jim Murphy, president of Big G cereals, on the company’s plans to revitalise sales in the sector.
“Setting up in Kizad will also allow Brasil Foods to produce local goods and processed foods customised to fit the local and regional demand, and expanding our food portfolio… Our strategic agreement with Kizad will facilitate the access to global markets faster and more efficiently, giving us the competitive advantage and enhancing our brand penetration, distribution and sales” – Patricio Rohner, general director of BRF’s operations in the Middle East, on the company’s move to set up a manufacturing plant in the UAE.
“Having taken into consideration the quite high level of risk and also the valuation in terms of the money [LBR] were expecting, Parmalat management decided not to go ahead with any offer for Lacteos” – industry source says Parmalat has ruled out an acquisition of Lacteos do Brasil.