Catching up on the news

Kraft Foods Inc. is discontinuing its Athenos line of Greek yogurt, exiting the fast-growing U.S. Greek yogurt market, reports the Chicago Tribune/Reuters. "Although we had a loyal following of Athenos Greek yogurt fans, we have decided to refocus our efforts on innovating new products for the Athenos brand," a Kraft spokesman said in a statement. "We know that this is very disappointing to consumers, and it was an extremely difficult decision for us to make." ...

Wal-Mart Stores, which sold $145 billion in groceries last year domestically, said it would lower grocery prices by $1 billion this year to lure customers who might then spend money elsewhere in the store, reports Fox News. The company said it will either cut prices or keep them the same without passing on inflation costs ...

Coca-Cola Co. purchased a majority stake in ZICO Coconut water, consummating a deal that has lingered in the final stages since the early Fall, reports BevNet. Coke's initial investment in 2009, was part of a combined $15 million round that divided a 20 percent stake between Coke's Venturing and Emerging Brands group (VEB) and a group of entrepreneurs, distributors, and celebrities. Founded by entrepreneur and international businessman Mark Rampolla in 2004, ZICO is one of the three original coconut water brands (O.N.E. and Vita Coco). It was the second to receive financing from one of the beverage giants, pulling Coke on board soon after PepsiCo invested in O.N.E. Estimated sales were in the range of $45 million last year; additionally, the company's advertising agency, Ignited, notes that ZICO tripled sales from 2010 to 2011 ...

Captain Birds Eye frozen food brand owner Iglo Group, Europe's largest frozen food company, owned by private equity firm Permira is for sale for £2.5 billion, reports The Telegraph. Permira bought Iglo for £1.4 billion) in 2006 from Unilever and expanded the business by buying Findus Italy for £669 million) in 2010. The Birds Eye brand in the U.S. is owned by Pinnacle Foods ...

Pfizer has collected the bids for its infant nutrition division, which produces the SMA Gold line of products for infants and children, reports Food Business Review. A Pfizer spokesperson said the company is continuing to evaluate alternatives for the business, including a spin-off and sale, but did not comment on the bid deadline, according to the Financial Times. Nestle appears to be strong contender for the acquisition. While it was previously reported that Mead Johnson and Danone partnered to acquire the nutrition division, the partnership has been dissolved, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. Morgan Stanley and Centerview Partners are advising Pfizer on the sale, and the unit may fetch around $10.5 billion ...

Molson Coors Brewing will acquire StarBev, a brewer in Prague and Amsterdam, for about $3.54 billion, pending antitrust approval, reports the Los Angeles Times. "The Central and Eastern European beer market is attractive, with strong historical trends and upside potential as the region returns to its pre-economic-crisis growth rates," said Molson Coors CEO Peter Swinburn ...

The J.M. Smucker Co. acquired a non-controlling minority interest in Guilin Seamild Biologic Technology Development Co. Ltd., a Chinese manufacturer and marketer of oats products, for $35 million, reports Food Business News ...

Food distributor US Foods acquired Sparta Imports Inc., Columbia, S.C. Sparta is an importer and distributor of a variety of Greek-, Italian-, and Middle-Eastern-style products ...

Rich Products of Canada Ltd. acquired Dorgel Ltd. & Elistan Foods, a manufacturer and marketer of frozen desserts and ice cream cakes sold across Canada. The transaction includes all of the business for Dorgel Ltd. & Elistan Foods, including its entire product portfolio, manufacturing operations, research and development capabilities ...

Royal DSM N.V. acquired certain assets, licenses and other agreements in the areas of food enzymes and oilseed processing from Verenium. DSM paid $37 million, which included transaction and related expenses ...

PepsiCo brand Quaker updated the look of the white-haired, black-hatted man on its oatmeal boxes, reports The Wall Street Journal. The revamped logo has a red background, and the man has slightly shorter hair and looks about five years younger and five pounds lighter. Known among insiders as "Larry," the venerable Quaker man on the logo is getting a makeover as part of a wider effort by owner PepsiCo Inc. to reinvigorate the brand globally. It hopes to keep the 134-year-old brand "fresh and innovative," says Justin Lambeth, Quaker's chief marketing officer.

 

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