The prospect of the UK’s largest food retailers having to deal with an ombudsman in disputes with suppliers moved a step nearer this week when the country’s competition watchdog urged the Government to create an independent arbiter. Elsewhere, a series of food manufacturing giants – Dean Foods, Unilever and Premier Foods among them – shed light on their recent performance. For Unilever and Premier, investing in brands seems vital to withstanding the downturn.

UPDATE: UK: Watchdog urges creation of ombudsman
The UK’s Competition Commission has asked the Government to set up an ombudsman to oversee the relationship between suppliers and retailers.

INSIGHT: Innovation drove volume rebound – Unilever
Unilever’s leading executives today (6 August) pointed to the food giant’s innovation programme – and increased advertising spending – for the recovery in its sales volumes.

INSIGHT: Premier ad spend to rise to boost share
Premier Foods plc said today (5 August) it plans to increase its advertising spending by 12% to boost its share across a number of categories.

In The Spotlight – Dean Foods
Dean Foods booked strong second-quarter earnings this week and said that it is on track to deliver cost savings of US$300m over the next three years. However, the US dairy giant’s management sounded a note of caution on the likelihood of higher input costs and competitive pressures.

US: Healthy-eating Smart Choices logo makes debut
Labels designed to help US shoppers to eat more healthily were today (5 August) officially rolled out across hundreds of products.

INSIGHT: Kraft to focus on snacking innovation
US food giant Kraft Foods plans to focus on snacking in the near-term, with an emphasis on health and wellness.

INSIGHT: Whole Foods plans “foodie to foodist” move
US organic food retailer Whole Foods Market is planning a fresh push into healthy eating in a bid to appeal again to consumers looking for natural and organic products.

US: Gen Mills worker dead after shooting at plant
US police are investigating a fatal shooting of a General Mills employee at one of the company’s sites in the state of Indiana.

CANADA: Maple Leaf recalls wieners
Canadian food group Maple Leaf Foods has recalled nine wiener products produced under the Hygrade, Shopsy’s and Maple Leaf brands.

S AFRICA: Bidvest expands in CEE with Nowaco buy
South African conglomerate Bidvest intends to expand its business in Eastern Europe through the acquisition of NOWACO in the Czech Republic and Farutex in Poland.