Lantmännen Unibake acquires Hungarian bakery

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Lantmännen Unibake, a global bread and baked foods supplier, has continued its global expansion by acquiring a fast-food bakery from Hungarian milling and baking group Elso Pesti. Financial terms of the transaction, which is expected to boost Lantmännen Unibake’s presence in Central Europe, were not disclosed.

“We believe that building on existing knowledge is essential for our future growth,” said Bent Pultz Larsen, chief executive officer of Lantmännen Unibake. “Therefore, we are proud to announce the acquisition of a new bakery in Hungary, a very important step in our expansion in the Central European region. We want to follow our international customers into the Central and Eastern European market and with production in Russia, Poland and now Hungary we have the best possible setup for matching our customers’ needs and demands for the future.”

The addition of the Hungarian bakery marks Lantmännen Unibake’s fifth major investment in the past two years. Earlier, the company acquired bakeries in Finland, the United States and the United Kingdom.

Owned by Swedish farmers through the Lantmännen group, Lantmännen Unibake operates 86 bakery lines in 26 bakeries in Hungary, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Poland, Belgium, Germany, Russia, United Kingdom and the United States. The company’s US site is in Lisle, Illinois.

The company’s brand portfolio consists of: Hatting, Schulstad, Schulstad Bake Off, Schulstad Royal Danish Pastry, Pastridor, Korvbrödsbagarn, Paaskebrod and Skoga.


Grupo Bimbo accepting submissions for nutrition award

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Grupo Bimbo SAB de CV is accepting submissions for its bi-annual Grupo Bimbo Pan-American Nutrition Award 2010. The award, which includes US$56,000 to be distributed among named winners, recognizes the best research papers of the year in the fields of human nutrition and food science and technology.

Grupo Bimbo said the award is presented to two winners — a professional and a young scientist — in each of the four zones the company serves: the United States, Mexico, Central America and South America.

To qualify as a professional, individuals must have carried out unique, valuable research projects alone or as part of a team with at least five peer-reviewed publications in the past three years and have supervised postgraduates. They also must have taught and participated in activities promoting science.

Young scientists must have concluded a master’s degree a maximum of two years before publication date of the invitation for the award and must actively participate in scientific and/or technical research projects. They also must have at least one publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

The professional award carries a cash prize of US$5,000 for each zone, while the young scientist award has a cash prize of US$2,000.

An independent scientific jury from each geographical zone, composed of researchers and experts in human nutrition, food science and technology, will rate the submitted projects on several criteria, including:

• The quality, content, and congruence of the proposal in relation to the disciplines set forth by this invitation,

• Scientific quality (i.e. adequate methodology, congruence between results, scientific questions studied and interpretation), originality and innovation in the studied area,

• The impact on and benefits to human nutrition of the corresponding region,

• The impact on and benefits to the industrialization processes of food products, according to the resources and needs of the corresponding region, and

• Relevance and satisfactory extent of the objectives set.

Award submissions should be registered by 15 Oct. at the award web site


Spanish Senegal Ventura

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A group of Spanish investors hope to revolutionize the Senegal fresh bread market by setting up a bakery business in the African country.

Francisco Borrull, 36, from Alzira in Valencia, and his partners, Ramón García and Juan Iñigo aim to establish a network of 150 Baobab Foods outlets, after being attracted by a programme run by the Senegalese government and its youth employment agency to promote foreign investment in what are regarded as priority sectors, writes David Ing.

The trio plants to open a third of the shops (named after the country’s best known tree) in the capital Dakar, where around a quarter of the country’s 12 million population live, the next 50 in nearby cities and towns, and then spread out the rest of the west African country. It has been estimated the business will bring around 3,800 jobs to Senegal.

Borrull visited Senegal in October 2009 where he said he witnessed a demand for bakery goods not being satisfied, and even where bread was available it was often “lacking in quality”.

He added: “We found out about people not being able to eat bread every day, or sometimes spending up three hours in going to look for it.”

TV coverage

Interest in their project has already led the group to have a personal audience with the country’s prime minister and they have been feature on a Senegal prime time national TV news programme.

Since the French colonized the country in the late 19th century, the Senegalese have long been accustomed to the traditional baguette loaves but production quality suffers from the use of too many old ovens and frequent electricity cuts which mean much of the bread that comes out of them is not fully baked. Transport and hygiene are also major issues.

Borrull comented: “It is not uncommon to see bread wrapped up in a piece of paper picked up from the floor, or distribution carried out from horse-drawn carts.”

Alongside the development of the bakery chain, the company has plans to buy up land and grow its own wheat in line with an agricultural development initiative introduced by the country’s president, Abdoulaye Wade, two years ago to help the country become self-sufficient in food production.

Baobab Foods hopes to help illegal immigrants who have travelled to Spain from Senegal to return to the country by offering one in three of the jobs they create to workers being repatriated from Spain. The plan has already been discussed with the Senegalese consul in Valencia, who is supporting the move as many migrants are struggling to find work due to the tough economic climate in Spain.


Divine launches 85% chocolate bar

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Divine introduces its first 85% dark chocolate bar to its range.

To clash with national Chocolate Week (11th – 17th October), the farmer-owned chocolate company Divine Chocolate has announced a new addition to its 100g bar range.

Divine’s newsest product is a 100g pure chocolate bar made with 85% cocoa solids, using Ghanaian cocoa beans from the Kuapa Kokoo co-operative that co-owns the company.

In autumn 1998, Divine was the first ever Fairtrade chocolate bar launched in the UK that was aimed at the mass market.

The company now sell a range of chocolate bar flavours, coco powder, festive chocolate treats and hampers.

Charlotte Borger from Divine Chocolate says of the launch:

“Divine is delighted to be offering an intense new flavour that plays to the consumer trend towards enjoying darker, purer chocolate products, and also ensures we’re buying more Fairtrade cocoa from the Kuapa Kokoo co-operative.”

The 85% bar delivers an intense taste of pure cocoa due to its high percentage cocoa.

The new bar extends Divine’s dark chocolate product range, which centers around its 70% cocoa bar.

Available exclusively at Tesco stores nationwide – and at Tesco’s online shop – the new bar retails at £1.69.


Lola’s cupcakes launch limited edition wimbledon themed cupcake

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LOLA’s Cupcakes have launched a limited edition Strawberry and Cream cupcake to co-incide with Wimbledon.

The LOLA’s Strawberry and Cream cupcake is available at Selfridges Food Hall and Mayfair stores now.

The Wimbledon 2010 tournament has begun this June and LOLA’s has embraced the traditional Strawberries and Cream food eaten at the tennis with their twist on the quintessentially British, strawberries and cream cupcake.

Each month, the LOLA’s cupcake specialists develop a new and exclusive flavour.

The latest Strawberry and Cream flavour has a light, fluffy vanilla pod cupcake sponge infused with juicy strawberries, finished with a rich swirl of creamy strawberry fudge icing, mixed with mascarpone creating a thick fudgy texture and decorated with a fresh whole strawberry.

The new cupcake is being marketed alongside the Wild Strawberry Wedgwood collection.

The traditionally British floral pattern on the bone china aims to create the perfect modern classic tea break to enjoy with friends.


General Mills launches new cereal

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Food giant General Mills, which is the sixth biggest food manufacturer in the world, has announced it is launching a new cereal.

The manufacturer is bringing out Total Plus Omega-3s Honey Almond Flax cereal, with the aim of helping adults consume enough Omega-3s.

According to the brand, around 50 per cent of adults are looking for ways to boost their intake of the mineral.

General Mills claims the Total Plus cereal contains the daily value of 12 essential minerals and vitamins, as well as 10 per cent of the daily value of Omega-3s in every serving.

“With the new Total Plus Omega-3s cereal, health-conscious Americans who have long trusted Total to deliver superior nutrition can also reap the benefits of Omega-3 ALA from flax,” said Dan Stangler, marketing manager for Total cereal.

Omega-3 fatty acids play a key role in helping maintain a healthy body.

Last week, General Mills was the victim of a hoax press release which claimed Barack Obama had ordered a full investigation into the whole of the General Mills supply chain following product recalls.


Strike called off at Nestle/General Mills cereal factory

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Workers at a UK factory which produces breakfast cereals for Nestle and General Mills have called off their strike action.

The strike at Cereal Partner’s UK factory in Staverton, Wiltshire, was due to start from 5:00BST yesterday (June 24th).

Nestle announced a national pay-freeze earlier this year and the strike was to be the first of three walkouts aimed at showing staff anger over the pay restrictions.

If an agreement has not been reached by July 8th, the next strike will go ahead. The third one is scheduled to take place on August 26th.

“Following the threat of strike action we have managed to secure certain improvements to our members’ terms and conditions.

“Therefore, strike action planned for this week will no longer take place and the new offer will be put forward to the workforce,” said Jim D’Avila, Unite the union’s regional officer.

Unite is the biggest union in the UK. It represents the interests of around two million members in various workforce sectors.


90% of US adults ‘consume too much salt’

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In the US, nine out of every ten adults consume too much salt, a new report has found.

The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report revealed that only 9.6 per cent of adults kept their daily sodium intake below the recommended government guidelines.

They were found to consume too much salt by eating pizza, crisps and other foods with high sodium levels, all of which contribute to a raised heart attack and stroke risk.

If adults were to reduce their salt intake by around half a teaspoon every day, new cases of heart disease could be cut by as many as 120,000 and there could be 66,000 fewer strokes, the report found.

“Sodium has become so pervasive in our food supply that it’s difficult for the vast majority of Americans to stay within recommended limits,” said Janelle Peralez Gunn, leader of the study and a public health analyst with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A UK report from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence released this week claims that up to 40,000 people in the country could be saved each year if food manufacturers reduced the levels of salt and saturated fat in their products.


Big players in final bids for Wedel

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Analysts have placed Nestlé as the frontrunner to secure Polish confectioner E. Wedel from Kraft with final bids due by the third week in June.

Hershey and Nestlé are among the final six bidders for Wedel, along with private equity firms Bridgepoint, Advent International and two unnamed companies.

Wedel is said to be valued at €2-300 million. The 150-year-old confectioner is Poland’s oldest chocolate brand and became part of Cadbury in 1999.

The Polish company, as well as Romanian assets, is being sold off by Kraft as part of the takeover agreement of Cadbury. The disposals were imposed by the EU as a condition for the takeover deal.


Hershey reveals expansion plans and job cuts

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Hershey plans to spend $250-$350 million in capital investments to improve and expand its facilities, while cutting up to 600 jobs as part of its overhaul.

The ‘Next Century’ capital investment includes a $200-$225 million plant expansion of the existing West Hershey facility and approximately $50-$75 million in distribution and administrative facilities located in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

As part of the project, production will transition from the company’s century-old facility to a planned expansion of the West Hershey facility, which was built in 1992. This change is expected to result in the reduction of approximately 500 to 600 jobs as investments in technology and automation result in enhanced efficiency in the new building.

David West, president and CEO, says, “Our investment will create a highly flexible, cost-effective manufacturing facility that will enable us to remain competitive with global players. The old factory is a proud part of the company’s heritage, but the facility is over 100 years old, and simply cannot be modernised to meet the manufacturing needs of a 21st century business. We operate in an ever-changing global marketplace and will continue to make the difficult decisions necessary for our business to succeed over the long term.”

Hershey estimates that the Next Century program will incur pre-tax charges and non-recurring project implementation costs of $140-$170 million over the next three years. This estimate includes $20 million in project implementation and start-up costs. At the conclusion of the program in 2014, ongoing annual savings are expected to be approximately $60-$80 million.

The Company expects 2010 net sales to increase 6-7%, including an approximate one point benefit from foreign currency exchange rates. Operational savings from project Next Century will not begin to be realized until very late 2011 and will be fully achieved in 2014.