just-food spoke with ABF CEO George Weston this week following the release of the firm’s first-half figures. The chief executive spoke about the performance of and prospects for the firm’s food operations. Elsewhere, Ocado dismissed reports of a potential takeover by Morrisons, while Nestle defended a trademark lawsuit it filed against Petra Foods over the Singapore firm’s Delfi Take-It chocolate bar.

“Grocery is absolutely central to ABF. It’s a big chunk of it. We pay as much attention to it as we do to any other part of the portfolio” – Associated British Foods CEO George Weston insists grocery, which accounted for just 17% of profits last year, remains very important to the company. 

“My early impressions are that we still have too many flavours, ingredients, packaging variations and sometimes SKUs” – Premier Foods plc CEO Gavin Darbyoutlines ways the firm will “reduce complexity” within the business.

“Are the consultation periods meaningful? The decision to shut the facility was taken before consultation began and therefore consultation became meaningless” – John Higgins of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union suggests Premier Foods failed to look at whether its Birmingham Hovis bakery could continue to operate on a viable basis during the mandatory 90-day worker consultation process.

“Our discussions do not involve Morrison acquiring either the whole of, or an equity stake in, Ocado” – Ocado issues a statement dismissing reports of a potential takeover.

“The protection of our intellectual property is an important component of our business strategy and we vigorously defend such intellectual property against infringement by third parties” – Nestle defends its trademark lawsuit against Petra Foods over the firm’s Delfi Take-It chocolate bar.

“There is no rush. We have the cash. We want to look at all the opportunities” – Metro Inc CEO Eric La Flèche answers an analyst query on how long it might be before the firm looks to redeploy the proceeds of its divestitures.

“The Netherlands, Germany and a number of select international markets are geographically aligned in such a way that they offer Vion Food significant opportunities to achieve far-reaching operational integration, synergy and a considerably lower cost base” – Vion outlines plans to separate its food and ingredients operations into two units.

“We have no plans to open retail stores in India, as we are continaing to focus on growing our business in the UK” – Sainsbury’s says it has no plans to open stores in India following a claim it was interested in entering the market.

“We need a more sophisticated debate about our relationship with food. Rather than narrowly focusing on one technology that comes with a lot of baggage, we need instead to be more fleet of foot” – Dan Crossley, executive director of the Food Ethics Council, expresses concerns about the long-term sustainability of GM itself.

“Time poor and cost conscious shoppers may be paying more attention to price and promotions but they are still influenced by store layout and assortment” – Symphony IRI’s Laura Volponi believes there is a renewed focus by some of Europe’s retailers on the in-store experience.