Food Industry News

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Mars broadens dessert range with Galaxy cake launch

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Confectionery and treats manufacturer Mars aims to broaden its offering in the frozen desserts sector with the launch of its new Galaxy Chocolate Mousse Cake.

Available from March, the cake has a chocolate biscuit base, which is layered with two flavours of chocolate mousse. The cake is then topped with Galaxy milk chocolate drops.

Boost its sales

Mars said it hoped the cake would help boost the company’s frozen desserts sales.

The UK’s total frozen desserts market – excluding ice cream – is currently worth £173.5M annually, up 2.2% year-on-year, with sales of confectionery branded products continuing to perform well, accounting for £3.2M in the category, according to Kantar Worldpanel.

Michelle Frost, general manager at Mars, said: “Our popular frozen desserts range, including Mars Mud Pie, Maltesers Pavlova and Twix Cheesecake, continues to prove popular with consumers. 

“We’re sure this new addition to the range, Galaxy Chocolate Mousse Cake, will continue to draw customers to the freezer, giving Galaxy lovers another way to enjoy their favourite chocolate.”

The Galaxy Mousse Cake will retail at £3.

Meanwhile, strawberry Bellini fudge and retro sweets led our latest photogallery of recent product development​s from food and drink manufacturers.

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DEFRA to launch review of farm inspections

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A comprehensive review of farm inspection is to be launched by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA), as it aimed to scrap the red tape preventing farmers from focusing on issues such as animal welf

Announced by environment secretary Michael Gove yesterday (February 20), the review will look at opportunities for improving regulation and enforcement pre- and post-Brexit to remove bureaucratic burdens placed on farmers.

The review, to be led by former ceo of DEFRA’s Animal Health Agency Dame Glenys Stacey, will seek ways to reduce duplication and allow farmers to concentrate on upholding key environmental and animal welfare standards.

Reforms to the current inspection regime would see a reduction in the number of bodies visiting farms, which often result in farmers having to give out similar information each time.

Common Agriculture Policy rules

Each visit adds to the burden on farmers, claimed DEFRA, as the rigidity of the Common Agriculture Policy rules requires inspections of precise criteria, such as field margin dimensions and the specific placement of trees in fields.

Gove called the rules associated with current subsidy payments unwieldy and counter-productive, requiring farmers to spend long days ensuring conformity with bureaucratic processes, which secure scarcely any environmental benefits.

“The current farming inspection regime, despite several recent attempts at simplification, remains as unwieldy as ever,” ​said Gove. “Every year, farmers are confronted by a barrage of inspections from different agencies, often duplicating costs in both time and money.

“Dame Glenys Stacey will be conducting a thorough and comprehensive review of this regime, seeing how these inspections can be removed, reduced or improved to reduce the burden on farmers, while maintaining and enhancing our animal and plant health standards.”

Regulations after Brexit

The review would also help guide the UK’s future approach to regulations after Brexit, claimed Gove, subject to negotiations with the EU.

Stacey said a review of the farm inspection regime was much needed.

“With farming at the heart of the quality and safety of the food on our plate as well, this is an excellent time to be working with farmers and their representatives – and all those who inspect farms – so as to get to a sensible inspection regime post-Brexit,” ​she added.

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Exempt gene editing from GMO rules

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Gene-edited crop production could be set to become more widespread after a leading EU lawyer claimed the technique should be exempt from genetic modification organism (GMO) rules.

However, he added that, were the rules to change, individual EU Member States could still regulate against them, should they choose.

Organisms obtained by mutagenesis should not be seen as GM unless they contained nucleic acid molecules or other GM organisms inserted through laboratory methods, a preliminary opinion piece published last month by EU advocate general Michal Bobek has argued.

The advice, which isn’t legally binding, came ahead of an EU court ruling expected later this year. If this rules that gene-edited crops should be classified as GM, they would be subject to the same risk assessment, labelling and monitoring as GM crops.

GM crops

However, Bobek said he “did not see any grounds deriving from the general duty to update legislation (in this case enhanced by the precautionary principle), which could affect the validity of the mutagenesis exemption”.

But, environmental campaigners have voiced strong opposition to any exemption in GM rules.

Mute Schimpf, food and farming campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe, said farmers and consumers across the EU expected any new approach to producing food and crops to be fully tested to make sure it was safe for the public and the environment.

“They will be counting on the European Court of Justice to not uphold​ [the] opinion, and instead make sure that all new GM foods and crops are properly regulated,” ​she added.

Corporate Europe Observatory’s agriculture campaigner Nina Holland said the safety of this new generation of GM crops remained “completely untested and must, therefore, not be exempted from existing safety rules”.

Gene editing

However, Professor Robin Lovell-Badge, group leader at The Francis Crick Institute claimed that if gene editing was used to make an alteration in the DNA of a plant or animal that could occur naturally or deliberately by mutagenesis, then it should be exempt from GMO regulations.

“One could argue that the precision of genome editing might be safer than the randomness of mutation (by chemicals or radiation), which has been the standard way to obtain genetic variation within a plant species, from which new varieties are then selected.”

Professor Huw Jones, chair in translational genomics for plant breeding at Aberystwyth University, said he was happy that this proposal excluded simple gene editing from GMO.

“However, allowing Member States to legislate independently will inevitably complicate innovation, commercialisation and trade in gene-edited products,”​ he cautioned.

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Steve Presley Replaces Paul Grimwood as Nestle USA CEO

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Steve Presley, a 20-plus-year Nestle veteran, will be promoted to CEO and market head of Nestlé USA, effective April 1. Currently chief finance and strategic transformation officer for Nestlé USA, he will succeed Paul Grimwood, who will remain non-executive chairman until May 2019.

Presley began his career with Nestlé at the company’s beverage factory in Suffolk, Va. He held various roles within the Beverage Division, including vice president of finance and vice president/general manager of Premium Ready-to-Drink Beverages. In 2009, he was named president of Nestlé Business Services, and in 2013 he was appointed CFO of Nestlé USA.

In 2016, Presley’s role was expanded to include leading Nestlé USA’s strategic transformation, making him responsible for developing, implementing and leading new and innovative strategies that ensure the long-term growth of the company. Presley’s replacement as Nestle USA’s CFO will be announced at a later date.

“Steve has played a critical role in driving the strategic transformation of Nestlé USA alongside Paul,” said Laurent Freixe, Nestlé executive vice president and head of Zone Americas. “His powerful combination of deep commercial and financial expertise provides continuity and makes him ideally suited to lead Nestlé USA in the changing consumer marketplace. Steve’s experience will prove invaluable in continuing to pursue new internal and external models to increase the speed of innovation, capitalize on M&A [mergers & acquisitions] to seed our innovation machine, and create new income streams and capabilities.”

Freixe also thanked Grimwood for his “enormous contributions” to the business, which he led through a critical period in the company’s history. Grimwood has been chairman and CEO of Nestlé USA since 2012.

“Paul’s dedication to Nestlé and his exceptional leadership helped propel Nestlé USA to record service levels, working capital and profitability in 2017,” said Freixe. “He achieved this success while simultaneously orchestrating Nestle USA’s strategic transformation which included the sale of our confections business, moving our headquarters across the country, and leading acquisitions and investments in companies like Freshly, Sweet Earth and Chameleon Cold-Brew.”

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Before Meddling in U.S. Elections, the Russians Picked on Food

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Before the Ruskies started influencing U.S. elections, they cut their digital teeth spreading hoaxes about American food poisoning incidents.

At least that’s the story in today’s (Feb 21) Wall Street Journal, which reported on its front page about a 2015 Thanksgiving incident in which 200 people in New York City went to the hospital with food poisoning from a Koch Turkey Farms bird sold at Walmart. Except it never happened.

The fictitious story began on a cooking website forum, then spread to Twitter, where it was repeated hundreds of times, many apparently by legitimate U.S. citizens who were simply trying to warn others.

It was an early test of how digital misinformation could be spread to wreak havoc and damage the credibility of American government agencies and companies, the Journal and its sources said. And it proved successful enough that it was replicated with stories of contaminated groundwater, terrorist attacks, a chemical plant explosion – all fictitious – and eventually with stories defaming Hillary Clinton and others.

International cyber-crime experts and the Journal’s own staff examined 221,641 tweets from long before the 2016 election tampering, all of them linked to now-blocked Twitter accounts. The investigation identified 2,170 Russian-controlled accounts, some suspected of links to Fancy Bear, the Russian military intelligence group that hacked the emails of Democratic party officials.

“Alice Norton” began the Thanksgiving incident on the cooking forum, saying her family was stricken after eating the turkey. Another suspect site, Proud to be Black, upped the ante by reporting 200 people went to New York City hospitals with turkey food poisoning.

“Russia-linked Twitter accounts kicked in … post[ing] at least 1,151 messages about the nonexistent food poisoning,” the Journal reported. Wikipedia even picked up the story briefly, before deciding it was false.

USDA and New York health officials said they could find no cases of food poisoning from Thanksgiving 2015. Alice Norton has never been found and is believed to be fabricated. A spokesman for Koch Turkey Farms noted his company doesn’t even sell turkeys to Walmart.

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Morrisons buys free-range egg manufacturer

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Supermarket chain Morrisons has acquired Chippindale Foods, a supplier of free-range eggs.

The supermarket chain said the acquisition meant it would make even more of its own fresh food and would enable it to bring forward the date at which all of Morrisons’ eggs come from non-caged hens. It is currently committed to achieving that by 2025.

British farmers

Morrisons claimed it was already the largest supermarket customer for British farmers. It said it made most of its own fresh food in 17 manufacturing sites and 491 stores, including bakery, seafood, meat, fruit and veg, flowers and chilled processed products.

The addition of the North Yorkshire-based Chippindale Foods business would enable the retailer to work closely with egg farmers to support a sustainable supply chain, hen welfare and egg quality, it said.

Md Nick Chippindale will stay with the business and the 54 staff employed at Chippindale Foods’ site at Flaxby, North Yorkshire, will become Morrisons staff.

The amount paid in the deal was not disclosed.

Relationships 

“The addition of Chippindale Foods to our fresh food manufacturing business will give us the opportunity to build on our deep relationships with British farmers and become even more competitive for our supermarket and wholesale customers,” ​said Andrew Thornber, Morrisons’ manufacturing director.

In January, Morrisons posted strong results for the Christmas period, despite rising ingredients costs. Like-for-like sales, excluding fuel, were up 2.8% in the 10 weeks to January 7 this year.

Morrisons appointed Unilever’s refreshment division president Kevin Havelock as executive director in December. This new role was effective from this month (February).

Morrisons has more than 100,000 staff in 491 stores serving over 11M customers every week. Its headquarters are in Bradford.

Meanwhile, Clive Black head of research at stockbroker Shore Capital called it another “cracking deal”​ for the supermarket chain ahead of its preliminary results on March 14.

He said: “The deal is not likely to do more than marginally nudge ahead our future financial expectations for the group, which we shall re-visit with the preliminary results. However, the acquisition further underscores Morrisons’ vertical integration, brings more control into the business, potentially enhances its manufacturing contribution – which can be invested into product and price – and, in this specific case, brings forward the date at which all of the group’s eggs will come from non-caged hens. As such, we see this small deal as a potentially cracking one.”

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About Face: Diet Pepsi May Bring Back Aspartame

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Diet Pepsi Cola may be going back to using aspartame, a report in Ad Age claims. The diet soft drink brand may experience a sweetener reversal since PepsiCo pulled the artificial sweetener in 2015, in a marketing move over safety concerns, and replaced it with sucralose and Ace-K.

The company faced a consumer backlash when it dropped aspartame from Diet Pepsi. So in 2016, it resurrected the aspartame version—only in limited quantities, and marketed it as “classic sweetener blend.” It kept the aspartame-free version as its mainstream variety. Now, Diet Pepsi is said to be going back to the version with the controversial sweetener as the soda’s main variety, reports Ad Age. 

A PepsiCo spokesperson confirmed the switch, but didn’t comment further, Ad Agereports. The move sets up a new chapter in the cola wars with Diet Pepsi’s overhaul going head-to-head with Diet Coke, which has also undergone big changes. Diet Coke recently launched new flavors and packaging, and has stayed with aspartame despite criticism of the sweetener by some health activists. The move has paid off, as sales were said to increase by 10 percent over 2017.

PepsiCo’s strategy this year reportedly calls for boosting marketing behind its established soda brands and promoting its new Bubly sparkling water brand.

On a recent earnings call, PepsiCo’s CEO Indra Nooyi told investors, “Let’s not forget, 2015 and 2016 were very good years for North American Beverages. 2017 was a year that we would have liked to have had better performance. And now we’re going into 2018 with a strong marketing calendar. So, let’s wait for the year to play out.”

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Paul Norman to Retire as Kellogg North America President

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In an SEC filing on Feb. 16, Kellogg Co. announced the retirement – although using the phrase “to pursue other opportunities” – of Paul Norman as a corporate senior vice president and president of Kellogg North America, effective April 1. No immediate successor was named.

“We would like to express our gratitude and appreciation for all that you have contributed across our organization during your 30-plus years at the Kellogg Co.,” read a letter signed by Steven Cahillane, who has been CEO since October 2017. “We wish you and your family only the very best as you transition to the next chapter in your remarkable career.”

Cahillane also will get the chairman’s title when his predecessor, John Bryant, fully retires on March 15.

North America division staff members will report directly to Cahillane until Kellogg names Norman’s successor. The parting agreement prevents Norman from working at a competitor for two years.

Norman joined the company in 1987 as part of the United Kingdom’s sales organization. He was named a corporate senior vice president in 2005 and became president of the North America business in April 2015. He also was chief growth officer, led the U.S. Morning Foods business on an interim basis and held several management roles in Europe, Canada and Mexico.

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Princes reveals business review

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Food and drink company Princes has confirmed it is conducting a review of its manufacturing business.

The company, which processes branded fruit juice and canned food, told FoodManufacture.co.uk​ no further information could be disclosed until the review was completed.

Princes has 11 manufacturing sites in the UK, including Bradford, Belvedere, Cardiff, Chichester, Eden Valley, Erith, Glasgow, Long Sutton, Manchester and Wisbech.

The news was revealed after a source told FoodManufacture.co.uk ​that the Princes juice facility in Newton Heath, Manchester, was to close, with production moving to Cardiff.

Review

However, a Princes spokesman said no decision had yet been made.

He said: “We are conducting a review of our business and operations, and until this process is complete, no further information can be disclosed. No decision has been made regarding the future of the Manchester site.”

Princes owns a portfolio of household brands and produces and distributes others under licence. Its brands include Princes, Crosse & Blackwell, Aqua Pura, Jucee and Napolina.

In its results for the year ended March 31 2017, group turnover at Princes was £1.5bn, slightly up on 2016 figures. However, profit before tax and impairment charges was £28.7M, down from £51.4M in 2016.

Strategic

The company also revealed in the results that it was conducting a strategic review of operational performance of the group’s manufacturing sites, which resulted in an impairment charge of £19.3M.

Group profit for the year ended March 31 2017, after taxation and minority interests, amounted to £519,000 (£43.5M in 2016).

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Distributor Midland Food Group bought by Granarolo

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Distributor Midland Food Group has been bought by Italian firm Granarolo’s UK subsidiary for an undisclosed sum, in a deal designed to boost the latter’s UK chilled food business.

Through the deal, Granarolo has acquired 100% of Midland, which distributes chilled, ambient and frozen food and chalked up £62M in sales in the past full financial year. Midland has focused mainly on serving the foodservice industry, but has a growing retail presence.

However, in a statement, Granarolo said it was significantly interested in the potential offered by its chilled food channel.

“With the acquisition of Midland Food Group, we aim to make an even bigger splash in the British chilled food market, which in 2016 recorded total sales of about ​€100bn and keeps growing.

Made in Italy

“Granarolo UK, which has a current turnover of more than ​€22M with the Made in Italy selection of products (fresh and aged cheeses, pasta and bakery products, balsamic vinegar) will now be able to count on two logistics hubs, with a structured, efficient distribution system.

“It will also have the opportunity to develop direct sales in the large and constantly expanding foodservice sector in the UK. Lastly, we are looking to expand the e-commerce channel already put in place by Midland.”

Granarolo said its manufacturing facility in Saint Omer, in the north of France near the Channel Tunnel would play an increasingly strategic role as a result of the boost to UK distribution capacity.

Willenhall, Basingstoke

Midland has 244 employees and supplies products to thousands of customers from two sites, one in Willenhall, where it also processes and packs a range of fine foods and one in Basingstoke. The latter is a strategically positioned hub, facilitating deliveries to the city and southern areas of the UK.

The dairy sector of Midland’s portfolio already accounts for 30% of sales, according to Granarolo. The company also distributes hams and other cooked meat products, an extensive range of European meats such as chorizos and salamis, and a full range of ambient products for foodservice firms.

The group has a manufacturing arm producing pastry products, sandwich fillings and cooked meats, and an e-commerce portal, IDeli. Distribution across the UK is done though a company-owned fleet of 50 vehicles.

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