Top 7 from 7: The key global food industry news of the past week

By Stephen Daniells contact

- Last updated on GMT

Top 7 from 7: The key global food industry news of the past week
From Danone’s plan to bring exotic fermented foods to the yogurt aisle to the implications of ConAgra’s acquisition of Pinnacle Foods, here’s a round-up of the top seven global food and beverage news items from the past seven days.

USA

The biggest news in North America was the announcement that ConAgra will acquire frozen food player Pinnacle Foods for a whopping $10.9 bn​.

Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA, Euromonitor research analyst Dewey Warner said: “There has been a ton of attention lately on the renaissance happening in the frozen food aisle, and understandably so. Most of this has to do with frozen food companies finally coming around to some self-reflection and altering the products they have relied on for so long in order to better meet consumers where they currently are.

“Pinnacle has a huge presence, primarily through its Birds Eye brand, in frozen vegetables, which has increasingly included innovative and on-trend items such as riced vegetables and cauliflower items with bold flavors – all items that are helping to fuel growth.”

Conagra CEO Sean Connolly commented: “After three years of transformative work to create a pure-play, branded food company, we are well-positioned to accelerate the next wave of change.

"The addition of Pinnacle Foods' leading brands in the attractive frozen foods and snacks categories will create a tremendous opportunity for us to further leverage our proven innovation approach, brand-building capabilities, and deep customer relationships.”

Plant-based meat pioneer Beyond Meat announced it was tripling its manufacturing footprint​. The California-based company announced the opening of a second production facility in Columbia, Missouri, that increases it manufacturing footprint from 30,000 to 100,000sq ft.

“This expansion in our production capacity will help us to meet the considerable increase in market demand we have seen for our new and innovative product offerings,”​ said COO and CFO Mark Nelson.

The company recently announced it would expand globally​, with plans to enter Chile, Mexico, and more countries throughout Latin America.

From meatless meat to fishless fish: Start-up Finless Foods announced it had raised $3.5m in financing​ to help bring it to the end of its initial R&D phase.

“The ‘what if it works’ for Finless is enormous: on the health front, they’re creating a cleaner fish product without the growing plastic and mercury content; on the access front, that fish’s availability won’t be restricted to coastal areas; and on the environment front, they have the potential to reduce or eliminate the worldwide problem of overfishing,” ​said Bill Draper, general partner, Draper Associates , which led the funding round.

Europe

Danone of the World

Dairy giant Danone was the subject of two of the key news items from Europe this week. Firstly, the company announced it would launch a new range of exotic dairy products​ including Icelandic skyr, Turkish ayran, Indian lassi, Greek straggisto and Lebanese laban.

The products are the result of four years of R&D, and were launched first in France and Italy. The products will soon be available in the UK.

The company said the “Danone of the World” products are “generators of exchange, sharing and opening [with] each recipe an invitation to travel”.

Danone also announced that it has partnered with UNITAR​ (United Nations Institute for Training and Research) to build a core set of knowledge to help promote conservation, restoration and safeguarding of the planet.

Goals of the multi-year partnership include:
1. The launch of a “One Planet. One Health” learning platform for Danone employees using UNITAR e-learning resources
2. Introductory courses for Danone employees on climate change and green economy
3. Co-building of an e-learning module tailored to fit Danone's "One Planet. One Health" vision
4. Live training experiences delivered by UNITAR to Danone teams
5. Danone joining the UN CC:Learn Steering Committee in 2019

In other new, Swiss flavor giant Firmenich launched a “Natural and Clean Label platform”.​ Clean label is an important growth engine for the company.

This is a “global, cross-functional team focused on a particular area of our business,”​ said Stephanie Salord, he leader of the clean label platform, told our European sister site. “It is about having end-to-end ownership and drive. Our Citrus and Taste platforms are already examples of such an approach in our company.”

Asia

Palm oil © Getty Images slpu9945
© Getty Images / slpu9945

Our final key news item of the week is Nestlé’s suspension from the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)​ for failing to report its efforts in promoting the sustainable use of palm oil for two consecutive years.

The food giant has been granted 30 days before its Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) certifications, trade and trademark license cease to be valid. 

The "one-off action”​ by RSPO in suspending Nestlé “cannot be taken too seriously”​, said Robin Averbeck, the palm oil campaign director for the Rainforest Action Network.

He claimed that this is because RSPO has allowed another firm, Indofood, to “continue selling certified 'sustainable' palm oil produced by children, unpaid women, and exploited workers".

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