Top 7 from 7: The key global food industry news of the past 7 days (July 31-Aug 6)

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Top 7 from 7: The key global food industry news of the past 7 days (July 31-Aug 6)
From PepsiCo’s change at the top to the success Artificial Intelligence in the food industry and Nestlé selling off its confectionery business in New Zealand, here’s a round-up of the top seven global food and beverage news items from the past seven days.


The big news of the week was the announcement that Indra Nooyi will leave of PepsiCo after 12 years as CEO​, with Ramon Laguarta elected to succeed her.

Nooyi has been with PepsiCo for 24 years, and remain as chairman until early 2019 to ensure a smooth transition.

Under her leadership, PepsiCo has seen net revenue growth from $35bn in 2006 to $63.5bn in 2017: a compound annual growth rate of 5.5%. She also led the acquisition of Tropicana and merger with Quaker Oats, bringing the Quaker and Gatorade businesses to PepsiCo, as well as the acquisition of Wimm-Bill-Dann, the largest international acquisition in PepsiCo’s history.

Nooyi, 62, said: “Growing up in India, I never imagined I'd have the opportunity to lead such an extraordinary company. Guided by our philosophy of Performance with Purpose — delivering sustained performance while making more nutritious products, limiting our environmental footprint and lifting up all the communities we serve — we've made a more meaningful impact in people's lives than I ever dreamed possible.

“PepsiCo today is in a strong position for continued growth with its brightest days still ahead.”

Also in the news this week was Kraft Heinz​, which announced it is expanding its environmental goals to reduce carbon emissions and packaging waste.

“If we don’t make some drastic changes in the way we are emitting carbon,” ​our planet could exceed the global warming threshold of an increase of 2 degrees Celsius or less during the century set by the Paris Agreement in 2015, Caroline Krajewski, head of global corporate reputation at Kraft Heinz, told FoodNavigator-USA.

“Our current goal to reduce carbon emissions is associated just with our factories and our offices. But by signing on with the Science Based Targets initiative we are extending our effort to our supply chain,”​ she explained. “Any carbon that is emanated associated with our products … will be included in this reduction goal.”

Our last pick from the US for this week is the news that maple syrup, honey, and other sugars sold as single ingredients will not have be listed as ‘added sugar’ on the Nutrition facts panel. This is due to an 11th hour amendment from Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) to the appropriations bill​ that would, “prohibit the use of funds to enforce certain requirements with respect to added sugars in the rules issued by the FDA on nutrition labels”​.

Collins - who has come under pressure to address added sugar labeling from maple syrup producers in her state - said listing single ingredient items such as pure maple syrup as 'added sugar' under the new-look Nutrition Facts panel (as required under Feb 2018 draft guidance, albeit with caveats) would have "misled consumers into believing that pure maple syrup includes [added] high fructose corn syrup or cane sugar."


In the UK, the potential of Britain leaving the EU (Brexit) with no deal is casting a long shadow over the UK food sector.​ Results of a survey by the UK’s Food and Drink Federation (FDF) found that over 75% of manufacturers expect input prices to increase further still this year. Already in 2018, 62% of those polled reported higher ingredient prices, while 61% said packaging costs were rising and 51% flagged increased energy costs.

The threat of a no-deal scenario have been increasing in recent weeks, and leaving the EU without transition arrangements in place would put strain on the food industry’s ‘just-in-time’ supply chains, with some warning that this could lead to food shortages. The British government is reportedly putting plans in place to ensure an adequate food supply, while British food and beverage businesses are also making contingency plans. The FDF revealed around 45% of businesses said that they had developed back-up plans due to a lack of certainty around trade arrangements from March 2019. However, over 70% of SMEs said they hadn’t.

“The shadow of a ‘no deal’ Brexit looms large over business confidence amongst the UK's food and drink manufacturing industry. This should come as no surprise – there are so many crucial questions to which businesses need answers,”​ explained FDF chief executive Ian Wright. "Government must start providing the clarity needed to navigate unchartered waters as we look to prepare for our future outside the EU.”

Also coming out of our European publication this week was news that Food AI start-up DishQ has secured a €343,000 investment​ from Techstars and Arts Alliance.

DishQ has developed what it calls a ‘food brain’ that can predict both an individual food preferences and broader industry trends. DishQ already has customers across six markets for their first product, a B2B personalization engine, which is currently powering more than 30m recommendations each month.

Kishan Vasani, co-Founder and CEO, said the company has ambitious plans to expand. “We want personalization to penetrate the entire food industry in one way or another. We're not even at 1% yet. We have established relationships with some of the world's top food brands from both CPG/FMCG and foodservice. Over the next 12 months we'll be deploying our technology to help these businesses get real-time predictive actionable insights on taste trends.”


Moving to Asia and Nestlé’s announcement that is selling off its sugar confectionery in New Zealand​. RJ’s in New Zealand will purchase the Mackintosh’s, Heards, Oddfellows, Black Knight and Fabulicious Red Licorice brands from Nestlé.

“While the sale regretfully means job losses at our Wiri factory, we are working with RJ’s to identify opportunities for people leaving our workforce to join RJ’s factory in Levin,” ​said Martin Brown, Nestlé confectionery general manager.

The food giant will continue to manufacture culinary products at its Wiri factory, including Maggi soups, recipe mixes and a wide range of products for professional food service.

Finally, market research firm Euromonitor International reported this week that four of the top five global vegetarian markets are in Asia​, with the top Asian markets in terms of the percentage of the population: India (29.8%), Indonesia (25.4%), Pakistan (16.8%) and China (3.8%).

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