Unilevers investor day provides food for thought

Unilever's investor day provides food for thought

Some very interesting news came out of Unilever's investor day in London yesterday (4 December). The FMCG giant plans to separate its struggling spreads business into a standalone unit, prompting further speculation that the group could be gearing up for a sale of its spread brands including Flora. Unilever's acquisition earlier in the week of a US gelato maker underlined that the company is, however, willing to invest in growth areas of its food portfolio. Meanwhile, on the emerging market front, the local dairy arms of PepsiCo and Danone faced criticism from Moscow. Elsewhere, a move from Britania Industries made some commentators question how food makers can capitalise on the rapidly developing e-commerce opportunity in India - if they can at all. Here are the highlights from just-food.

Deal or no deal: How restructuring at Unilever could lead to more portfolio adjustments
Unilever is establishing a stand-alone unit for its spreads brands, prompting fresh speculation that the group could be preparing for a sale of the business. At the same time, this week's acquisition of Talenti Gelato & Sorbetto would suggest that the Anglo-Dutch FMCG giant is prepared to invest in growth areas in food. Could these changes spell further portfolio adjustments?

Unilever acquires US gelato maker Talenti
Unilever has acquired Talenti Gelato & Sorbetto, a packaged gelato manufacturer in the US.

Reformulation in focus
just-food's latest management briefing examines the complex issue of reformulation. With public health resources already stretched, dietary health is increasingly under the microscope. To some, reformulation is key. But what role should the food sector, consumers and governments play in forcing the pace of change?

Comment: Russia's Danone, PepsiCo criticism points to more challenges
For US and European companies exporting products to Russia, the operating environment has been challenging to say the least. Recent comments from Moscow would suggest that the going could get tougher for multinationals who operate local subsidiaries in the country as well, Katy Askew suggests

BRICS and beyond: Britannia's e-cookie and why competitors won't follow suit
Britannia Industries last week claimed to be the "first biscuit company" in India to launch an online-exclusive product before it hit retail stores. With India's e-commerce market predicted to be worth US$70bn by 2020, none can fault Britannia for testing the online waters. It's also a great PR-move. But there are some dangers the food industry might want to consider before it jumps online.

Kellogg outbids Abraaj in Bisco Misr takeover race
Kellogg has outbid private equity firm Abraaj in the race to acquire Egyptian snack firm, Bisco Misr.

Hershey acquires Canada's Allan Candy
US confectioner Hershey has acquired Canada's Allan Candy Co. Allan Candy produces brands including Allan, Big Foot, Hot Lips and Laces, as well as producing items for Hershey including Jolly Rancher and Lancaster Caramels.

UPDATE: Arla still eyeing Egyptian M&A ops
Arla Foods is still on the lookout for acquisition opportunities in Egypt, despite its decision to pull out of the race to acquire Arab Dairy Products Co.

Interview: Boomchickapop owner says "transparency" is vital for the future of popcorn
Americans consume 16bn quarts of popcorn annually, with 70% of popcorn eaten at home. Capturing a share of this is all about keeping it simple and being honest with consumers, Angie Bastian, co-founder of popcorn firm Angie's Artisan Treats tells just-food's Hannah Abdulla

Comment: Ferrero's dilemma highlights the problem of red tape in India
Ferrero Group is purportedly re-thinking its investment plan in India due to difficulties with regulators in the country. The Indian market - with its massive population and still growing middle class - is a huge opportunity for FMCG manufacturers. But, as the Ferrero case shows, Indian regulations continue to discourage investment in local production to the detriment of the country's economic outlook.