Thursday, December 31, 2009

The trust that controls Hershey is willing to borrow as much as $10 billion to finance a solo offer for Cadbury,

Rule 31.9 of the Code requires that the board of the offeree company should not, except with the consent of the Panel, announce any material new information after the 39th day following the publication of the initial offer document. Normally, therefore, the last day for the announcement by Cadbury of material new information in the context of the offer by Kraft Foods would be Tuesday, 12 January 2010.

However, the Panel Executive, having received representations from both Cadbury and Kraft Foods, has ruled that, solely in respect of the release of detailed estimated trading results for 2009, this deadline will be extended to 7.00 a.m. on Friday, 15 January.

“Day 46” (the last date for sending a revised offer) and “Day 60” (the date by which an offer must become or be declared unconditional as to acceptances) are unchanged and will be 19 January and 2 February, respectively. The next expiry date of the offer will not be affected by this extension.
Each of the parties has accepted this ruling.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Food safety leads top food stories lists

In a survey conducted by Hunter Public Relations consumers were asked what were the most memorable food stories of 2009 and the past decade and food safety ranked at or near the top of both lists.

For 2009, food safety concerns ranked as the No. 1 issue ahead of the economic recession's impact on food banks and consumer's cutting spending. The public relations firm noted that "From E. coli in ground beef to Salmonella poisoning in nuts, thousands of Americans have been sickened, prompting food recalls of everything from baby food to green onions."

For the decade, the rise in the incidence of childhood obesity captured the No. 1 position, but food safety issues filled the following three slots. The No. 2 story for the decade was the discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in the U.S., according to Hunter Public Relations. Food safety and concerns about foodborne illness was the No. 3 food story of the decade on the list. The survey found that Americans ages 55+ were more likely than other age groups to select food safety as the most significant story of the decade.

Street food will become more popular in 2010

Street food will be in and high prices will be out in 2010, according to Denver-based trade publication Eat In Eat Out.

The publication, a division of the American Forecaster, looks at business and consumer trends in the food, beverage and dining industries.

Supermarkets will continue to push discounts, and restaurants from quick-service establishments to upscale steak houses will expand use of their bargain menus, Eat In Eat Out predicted.

Meanwhile, street food — sold by vendors from food carts — will be the fastest growth area for new cuisine, driven by both the number of chefs leaving conventional restaurants and the number of consumers looking for interesting, low-priced food.

Eat In Eat Out predicted fast 2010 growth for kombucha (a fermented tea), black garlic, lardo, home cooking, upscale burgers and small domestic distilleries, among others.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Americans purchased 2.6% more chocolate this year

In China and the Ukraine—two countries not necessarily recognized for their rampant chocoholic populations — chocolate confectionery sales rose 18% and 12%, respectively, this year. Each country has seen steady sales increases since 2005 and Mintel predicts continued growth through 2013.

Other countries have also seen chocolate bars, bags and boxes flying off the shelves, albeit at lower rates. Brits drove their chocolate market up 5.9% this year, while Americans purchased 2.6% more chocolate than in 2008. Argentinean sales rose 1.8% from 2008, while in Belgium, a country that claims to produce some of the world’s best chocolate, sales increased by 3.2%.

“It’s clear that despite economic trouble this year, the world’s chocolate lovers didn’t deviate from their favorite treat. Chocolate is a small, affordable indulgence for shoppers who are cutting back on spending elsewhere. Even in countries not known for chocolate consumption, sales are on the rise,” comments Marcia Mogelonsky, global food and drink analyst at Mintel.

It’s the Swiss who flash the most cash for chocolate, forking over the equivalent of US $206 per person per year. Brits and Belgians follow, spending US $106 and $90, respectively, to satisfy their chocolate cravings. In the US, individuals spend just $55 each, while Argentineans devote an average of US $35 per year on chocolate confectionery.

Manufacturers are determined to keep consumers melting over new chocolate varieties. Despite worldwide economic troubles, Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD) reports that manufacturers launched nearly the same number of chocolate products this year as in 2008. In Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa, companies have already released more new products than last year.

Systemwide sales for the bakery cafe industry grew by 12% to more than $4.5 billion

Bakery cafes have emerged as high-fliers in the restaurant industry, and are well-positioned to leverage new growth opportunities as the economy continues its slow recovery. Systemwide sales for the bakery cafe industry grew by 12 percent to more than $4.5 billion in 2008. Industry leaders Panera Bread, Einstein Bros. Bagels and Au Bon Pain accounted for the lion’s share of sales, with $2.6 billion, $393 million and $307 million respectively.

“The appeal of moderately priced, high-quality menu offerings served in contemporary ambiance, as well as consumer perception of value for this format, has more than likely strengthened over the past year.”

“The consumer trade-down from full-service to limited-service formats that solidified through 2008 and into 2009 allowed fast-casual bakery cafes to truly shine,” says Darren Tristano, EVP at foodservice industry consultant Technomic. “The appeal of moderately priced, high-quality menu offerings served in contemporary ambiance, as well as consumer perception of value for this format, has more than likely strengthened over the past year.”

* Health and nutrition: Einstein Bros. Bagels’ Lighter Fare Menus
* Expansion of breakfast offerings: Atlanta Bread Company, Corner Bakery Cafe and Panera Bread
* Revamped catering programs: Au Bon Pain’s Hot Lunch line
* Value equation: La Madeleine’s Choose Two Menu, Einstein Bros. Bagels’ Snack-Out menu, Au Bon Pain’s small-bite Portions menu
* Nontraditional sites and urban locations: Corner Bakery Cafe into airports, college campuses and military bases, Einstein Bros. Bagels into medical centers and hotels.
* Social media: use of Facebook and Twitter to promote new and limited-time offerings.

Other interesting findings include:

* The Top 25 bakery cafe chains’ sales reached more than $4.5 billion and grew by 11.8 percent in 2008. Units expanded by 6.6 percent to 3,107 locations.
* Panera Bread represented over half of the Top 25 chains’ sales in 2008. The next closest concept was Einstein Bros. Bagels, with less than 10 percent of the Top 25’s sales. Unit count was more widely spread, with Panera Bread making up 42.6 percent and Einstein Bros. Bagels comprising 16 percent of unit share.
* Paradise Bakery & Cafe had the fastest rate of sales growth at 30.7 percent. Le Pain Quotidien was the leader in store count growth rate at 29.6 percent.

The 2009 Technomic Top 25 Bakery Cafe Chains Restaurant Report was designed to help restaurant operators and suppliers identify top performers, analyze their performance in sales and units, and better understand the industry’s dynamics and current trends. Comprehensive appendices list the Top 25 Bakery Cafe chains alphabetically, rank them by sales and units, and profile individual chains.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Salt, CVD and Cancer

Sodium intake as a whole salt equivalent may not increase the risk of cancer but may increase that of cardiovascular disease (CVD); and in contrast, salted food intake may increase the risk of cancer, according to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2009;DOI:10.3945/ajcn.2009.28587).During 1995 to 1998, a validated food-frequency questionnaire was administered to 77,500 men and women aged 45 to 74 years. During up to 598,763 person-years of follow-up until the end of 2004, 4476 cases of cancer and 2066 cases of CVD were identified.

Higher consumption of sodium was associated with a higher risk of CVD but not with the risk of total cancer: multivariate hazard ratios for the highest compared with lowest quintiles of intake were 1.19 for CVD and 1.04 for total cancer. Higher consumption of salted fish roe was associated with higher risk of total cancer, and higher consumption of cooking and table salt was associated with higher risk of CVD. Similar results were seen for the risk of gastric or colorectal cancer and stroke. Our findings support the notion that sodium and salted foods have differential influences on the development of cancer and CVD.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Food Safety, Kid Obesity Top Stories

Food safety ranked No. 1 on the list of consumers most memorable food stories in 2009, while childhood obesity took the No. 1 spot for top concern of the decade, according to the seventh annual year-end survey commissioned by Hunter Public Relations.

According to the survey, the issue of food safety was the biggest story of the year—from E. coli in ground beef to Salmonella poisoning in nuts, thousands of Americans have been sickened, prompting food recalls of everything from baby food to green onions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 76 million cases of food borne illnesses occur annually in the United States; more than 300,000 persons are hospitalized and 5,000 die.

When Americans were asked to recall the top food stories of the decade, nutritional concerns and food safety garnered the top spots. With more than 9 million children categorized as obese, childhood obesity became a major national concern and garnered the top spot for the decade. The FTC and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) continue to urge food companies to develop products that are more nutritious and to review and revise their marketing practices.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Green Tea Good for the Gut

Consuming five or more cups of green tea a day may reduce the risk of women developing stomach cancer by 20 percent, according to a report published in the journal Gut.

Researchers at the National Cancer Center in Tokyo analyzed original data from six cohort studies that measured green tea consumption using validated questionnaires at baseline. Hazard ratios (HRs) in the individual studies were calculated, with adjustment for a common set of variables, and combined using a random-effects model.

The researchers concluded that green tea’s antioxidants may protect against gastric cancer and may include compounds that fight bacteria that have been linked to stomach cancer. The studies followed more than 219,000 men and women 40 years and older, who were followed between seven and 11 years. Overall, about four in five of the participants reported drinking green tea daily, with about one-third drinking five or more cups per day.

High-end dining in New York City was hit hard by the recession and needs to adapt

High-end dining in New York City has been hard hit by the recession and needs to adapt to changing tastes to keep its allure, experts said. This week's demise of Gourmet, a 68-year-old food magazine, underscored the precarious future of fancy dining.

More than 500 New York restaurants have closed so far this year, including high-end French eateries Chanterelle and Cafe des Artistes as even the city's elite restaurants fall victim to the worst U.S. economic downturn since the 1930s Great Depression.

Although no one expects fine dining in New York to become extinct, it is in a soft patch with Eric Ripert, co-owner of three-Michelin star Le Bernardin saying after a "soft" 2008, "suddenly everything stopped" in January this year.

He predicted 2009 revenues will be 10 percent down on a year ago, but he has managed to avoid firing staff by doubling his spending on communications and marketing and raising his profile by appearing on television reality show "Top Chef."

Some food writers and restaurateurs, who spoke at the New York City Wine & Food Festival this weekend, rued noodle bars and burger joints may be supplanting the top culinary perch once held by top-end restaurants.

Prior to the recession, fancy eateries attempted to outdo each other by offering the most expensive dinner or cocktail in the city.

But the recession only accelerated the trend of casual eating and a revolt against stuffy, rigid nature of fancy dining, some experts said.

Food writer Anya von Bremzen, said a restaurant should offer original and creative dishes at reasonable prices but at some top-end eateries, the atmosphere is "too fuzzy," she said on a panel. She called for the end of "table bureaucracy."

The concept of fine-dining has evolved from the days of starch linens and formal dress code but experts said top-end restaurant operators must be savvy and change with the times.

For example Daniel Boulud, who owns the Michelin three-star Daniel, recently opened DBGB, a casual bar and cafe.

Chef Andrew Carmellini said the hybrid concept will likely emerge, reflecting the "move to casual, comfort food without the trappings of a fancy restaurant."

In the meantime, don't count out fine dining in New York, said one restaurateur.
"Recession, schmecession, we've beat the odds," said Drew Nieporent, whose top-end contemporary restaurant Corton earned two Michelin stars earlier this week.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snack food is for sale at 41% of stores that do not primarily sell food

If you're hungry while shopping for a new sofa, don't despair: 22 percent of U.S. furniture stores now sell sweet or salty snacks, a new report finds.

In fact, the sale of high-calorie snack foods has moved far beyond grocery stores to hit most segments of the retail market, say the authors of the study published online Dec. 17 in the American Journal of Public Health. The easy availability of snack items might be contributing to America's obesity epidemic, the researchers said.

A team from Tulane University School of Public Health in New Orleans examined the availability of candy, salty snacks and sweetened drinks at retail outlets that did not sell food as their primary merchandise.

The researchers found snack food for sale in 41 percent of such stores. Candy was the most frequently sold item (in 33 percent), followed by sugary drinks (20 percent) and salty snacks (17 percent). Most often, high-calories products were found temptingly close to the checkout line, the study added.

Snack foods were found in nearly all pharmacies (96 percent), most gas stations (94 percent), more than a fifth (22 percent) of furniture stores, 16 percent of clothing stores and 29 to 65 percent of other non-food stores.

"The obesity epidemic in the United States is estimated to be responsible for more than 100,000 deaths per year, 20 times the estimated 5,000 deaths from food-borne infectious pathogens," the researchers wrote. "This epidemic should prompt public health experts to evaluate the contribution of the widespread availability of energy-dense snack foods and beverages to weight gain and to consider ways to address this availability."

Monday, December 14, 2009

Menu innovation will play an essential role to entice recession-weary diners in 2010

Challenged with one of the toughest years on record, restaurant operators may be looking ahead to 2010 with an eye towards further cost-cutting measures. Menu innovation, however, also plays an essential role for success over the coming year by enticing recession-weary diners with compelling reasons to eat out.

Technomic sees these five trends as continuing to stand out for restaurant operators in 2010:

1. New Spin on Old Favorites: Comfort Foods

Look for increased menuing of upscale comfort foods, with an explosion of simple foods with a small number of “real-food” ingredients. Expect to see a fresh, premium or high-quality spin on familiar, humble foods, such as artisan cheeses used in macaroni and cheese. Interest in premium burgers and burger concepts will continue, with even greater emphasis on freshness, customization, toppings and condiment bars. Sandwich and other concepts will focus increasingly on hearty melts. Cassoulets, chili and other rustic bean-based dishes may get new respect.

2. Exploring New Corners of Asia (and the world)

Korean foods (including Korean barbecue and Korean-style tacos) will hit the mainstream. Look for new interest in Indonesian and other Southeast Asian fare as well. The fascination with global street foods will also play out in the proliferation of Baja-style fish tacos, now moving beyond Mexican restaurants. Expect to see continued emphasis on regional versions of ethnic cuisines, especially with Mexican and Italian fare.

3. Frontiers of Flavor

It’s time for umami to become a household word, at least among foodies. Expressions of the savory, earthy “fifth taste” will range from burgers and other hearty meat dishes to truffle- or truffle oil-accented pasta, cheese, french fries and pizza. Beverage flavor frontiers of 2010 will include tropical ingredients (hibiscus flower, agave nectar, pure cane sugar). Starring in the American regional flavor pantheon is bourbon, used to sauce or spike everything from burgers to chili to desserts.

4. Back to the Future: Tending Our Gardens and Farms

With the First Lady now tending an official White House garden, look for more chefs to follow suit with proprietary herb or vegetable gardens. The emphasis on local and seasonal ingredients will grow and flower. Fascination with heirloom farm products—from tomatoes to pork—will continue; by the 2010 holiday season, look for a flap of interest in heirloom poultry breeds.

5. Breakfast ’Round the Clock

Look for breakfast to break out of its traditional boundaries, with breakfast-style fare available all day (and night) at both full-service and limited-service eateries. As fast-food restaurants expand and upgrade their menus of budget-priced breakfast sandwiches and wraps, more full-service operators will be offering hearty brunch buffets well into the afternoon on weekends.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Snails Rich in Protein, Iron

Snail pie may be a cheap source of protein and iron for school-age children and young mothers and may contribute in the fight against iron deficiency anemia in Nigeria, according to a new study published in the International Journal of Food Safety, Nutrition and Public Health.

The study examined the moisture, protein, ash and iron composition of beef and fresh indigenous land snail and the sensory properties of their pies. The edible parts of the snail (Archachatina marginata) and beef and their pies were analyzed using standard methods. The beef and beef pies served as controls. The snail and its pie had higher (p < 0.5) values for protein and iron than beef and its pie. The snail pie was preferred (p < 0.5) by the judges (school-age children and young mothers) over meat pie in terms of appearance, texture, taste and flavor.

* International Journal of Food Safety, Nutrition and Public Health: Snail (Archachatina marginata) pie: a nutrient rich snack for school-age children and young mothers

Senate Panel Approves Food Safety Bill

Reuters reported that a U.S. Senate committee approved an overhaul of FDA’s food-safety system. The full Senate likely won’t vote on the bill until 2010, according to Tom Harkin, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

The Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009, passed by the House of Representatives in July, focuses on prevention of foodborne illness outbreaks by giving FDA the power to order food recalls and expanding the agency's access to company records. The bill also requires all facilities to have a food safety plan in place and increases the frequency of food inspections.

* Reuters: U.S. food safety likely to get overhaul in 2010

Related Articles:

* House Passes Food Safety Bill

Monday, December 07, 2009

Consumer food purchases are tied to gasoline prices

Shoppers trim their food budgets when gas prices rise, but they don't always give up the name-brand foods they like.

Store brands have gained ground among consumers in recent years, a new study shows, but their popularity among thrifty shoppers may be overstated, says Kusum Ailawadi, a professor of marketing at the Tuck School at Dartmouth College and one of the study's authors. "It's not as big as conventional wisdom has it," says Ailawadi, who conducted the study with business-school professors Yu Ma of the University at Alberta in Edmonton, Dinesh Gauri of Syracuse University, and Dhruv Grewal of Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

Housing, Transportation, Groceries

The study, An Empirical Investigation of the Impact of Gasoline Prices on Grocery Shopping Behavior, studied the everyday phenomenon of how households adjust their food spending to accommodate rising gas prices. It's a common tradeoff, with food and gas being households' two most common everyday expenses. Groceries take the third-largest chunk out of the average U.S. household's budget, after housing and transportation, the study shows.

Researchers studied data from 1,000 Midwestern households of various sizes and economic circumstances from January 2006 to October 2008. Participants used home scanners to record all the groceries they brought home, their prices, and where they bought them, which the researchers then related back to the price of gas at that time. The period covered by the study saw the average price of gas in the U.S. rise from $2.24 per gallon to $3.48, after peaking at $4.11 in July 2008, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Some of the findings are what you would expect. For every $1 increase in the price of a gallon of gas, households reduced their shopping trips by 7.5%, spent 4.4% less, and bought 11% fewer items. Larger households reduced their shopping trips more with each gas price hike, while households with lower incomes made more trips, which the researchers suggest was due to financial pressures that made them shop around for deals.

Brands v. Private Label

More eye-opening was how shoppers made those cutbacks. As gas prices rose, the study showed, consumers cut back on shopping at grocery stores and bought more food at supercenters and club stores. With every doubling of gas prices, groceries lost 7% of their dollar share of the households' food budget, while supercenters gained 41% and clubs gained 24%. The researchers theorize that shoppers turned to supercenters because they could save trips by getting all their shopping done in one place, while the clubs gained because they sold gas at low prices.

It looks like the warehouse clubs can't win. Chains such as Wal-Mart Stores' (WMT) Sam's Club, Costco Wholesale Corp. (COST) and BJ's Wholesale Clubs (BJ) had been complaining that shoppers are spending more on low-margin necessities like food and health items, and less on more profitable discretionary items like clothes and electronics.

And while lower gas prices may have attracted shoppers when the U.S. average was peaking, that didn't last. As the price of oil dropped, so did their sales during most of the last 12 months. Most warehouse clubs had seen their same-store sales dragged down by gasoline sales until they passed the anniversary of summer 2008's peak gas prices.

Searching for Sales

Once in the store, shoppers more often reached for national brands on sale to save money, instead of switching to private labels at full price. For every doubling in the gas price, the researchers found, households' share of food budget spent on regular-price items prices dropped by 10% for national brands and 4% for private label items, but the share spent on national brands on sale rose by 39%, while spending for private labels on sale rose 30%.

As factored into the overall households' spending, marked-down national brands gained 6.5 percentage points in market share, while private labels gained only 1 percentage point -- not insignificant in a grocery segment where profit margins are single-digit rates, but not a massive move of the needle for store brands, Ailawadi says.

"If you look in the context of the private labels in the mass media, it is surprising," she says. "It certainly puts in question this conventional wisdom that everybody is shifting to private labels."

Looking at the Recession

Ailawadi acknowledges that some of this behavior may have changed as the recession took hold, and households had to cut deeper. Most reports of private labels gaining ground have come in the last year, as unemployment rose and household incomes dropped.

Although the study didn't factor in the recession that hit the economy as the data collection was ending in October 2008, Ailawadi says she may continue the research, analyzing another year of scanner data to see if households stick with the changes they made, and how they reacted as gas prices came back to earth and the recession bore down.

The average U.S. gas price was down to $2.63 a gallon at the end of November -- and unemployment was up to 10.2%. These days, gas prices may be the least of those households' worries.