Best Global Green Brands 2014

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Yoplait Turns to Health Labeling to Spark Go-Gurt Induced Comeback

Posted by Dale Buss on September 16, 2013 06:12 PM

Unable to make much headway in the part of the US yogurt market that is growing, Greek-style, Yoplait is making a new move in the segment that it still leads: yogurt for kids.

While rival Dannon has given up on some recent initiatives in the kids-yogurt segment, Yoplait just announced a new, more vibrant packaging design of its Go-Gurt brand which includes a more nutritious formula and new health messaging on the outside of the box. Go-Gurt now boasts 1 gram less of sugar, about 14 percent fewer calories, and packaging that claims "no artificial" colors or flavors, "no high-fructose corn syrup" and "good source of calcium and vitamin D."

"We know that sugar is a concern for parents and that parents desire more natural products," Melissa Haase, a Yoplait R& D executive, said in a news release. "While there were hurdles with the new reformulation, we were also able" to reduce sugar and calories.Continue reading...

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Chipotle Launches Assault on Big Food with Short Film, and There's More to Come

Posted by Dale Buss on September 12, 2013 02:56 PM

Chipotle keeps sticking its neck out for "sustainable," locally produced food—now with an animated-short-film attack on "Big Food" and with the promise of more expansive and aggressive efforts to come.

"The Scarecrow" is a 3-1/2-minute film that Chipotle Mexican Grill released online today that depicts what the brand calls "a dystopian fantasy world" in which "all food production is controlled by fictional industrial giant Crow Foods. Scarecrows have been displaced from their traditional role of protecting food, and are now servants to the crows and their evil plans to dominate the food system."

"Dreaming of something better, a lone scarecrow sets out to provide an alternative to the unsustainable processed food from the factory"—an alternative that looks an awful lot like the Chipotle business model that emphasizes local sourcing and food as natural as possible.Continue reading...

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Four Seasons Hotels Takes Luxury Flavors On the Road with Food Truck Tour

Posted by Sheila Shayon on September 11, 2013 11:06 AM

The Four Seasons luxury hotel chain is taking its high-end cuisine to the street with a novel FS Taste Food Truck.

In a bid to reach a wider audience, the truck will set off on an eight-stop West Coast tour on Sept. 16 from Palo Alto, Calif., covering 1,000 miles through three states. The tour stops coincide with Four Seasons locations, with the adventure ended on Nov. 10 in Santa Fe, NM.

"Food is a passion for us at Four Seasons and we are always seeking to share that in inspiring and exciting ways, whether it’s through a Michelin-star dining experience or the perfect beer and burger pairing at one of our gastropubs,” said Guy Rigby, VP food and beverage in the Americas, in a press release.Continue reading...

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Study Points Finger at QSR Chains Over Kids Ads, but It's Got a Few Problems of Its Own

Posted by Dale Buss on August 30, 2013 07:11 PM

An estimable research organization has charged McDonald's and Burger King with ignoring their own voluntary guidelines about how to market food to kids. But the study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation concluded three years ago—a full two years before McDonald's launched a major Happy Meal ad campaign that directly countered the concerns observed by the researchers.

The study said that fast-food companies in general—especially McDonald's and Burger King, which dominate QSR advertising to kids—tend to emphasize toy giveaways and movie tie-ins when marketing to kids on TV rather than focus on the food, according to Advertising Age. Study authors said that practice goes against industry self-regulation guidelines set by the Children's Advertising Review Unit, an industry group of 17 food and beverage companies including the two brands.

"Fast-food companies use free toys and popular movies to appeal to kids, and their ads are much more focused on promotions, brands and logos—not on the food," said James Sargent, Dartmouth pediatrics professor and lead author of the study, according to the publication.Continue reading...

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With Farmigo, Local Farmers Take a Better Cut of the Food Commerce Trend

Posted by Sheila Shayon on August 30, 2013 05:13 PM

CEO Benzi Ronen calls them “people powered farmers markets,” but his startup, Farmigo, is actually much more.

The online farmers market is a community supported agriculture company that is quietly disrupting food commerce, though on a smaller, but more unique scale than related operations like Amazon Fresh and Fresh Direct. Instead of just allowing customers to order fresh produce through the online system, Farmigo extends a business opportunity to local farmers, allowing them to sell their harvests to an eager online community, set their own price, and earn a supplementary income. 

“We’re trying to find people who have always been passionate about building a better food system, but they could blog about it and they could cheer about it, but there was nothing material that they could do to take action,” Ronen told Forbes. “Now they are able to be part of the solution. They’re able to do something actionable and make money along the way.”Continue reading...

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Where You See Bacon, Hormel, Hillshire See Differentiation and Profit Opportunities

Posted by Dale Buss on August 26, 2013 03:42 PM

Pork is problematic as just a commodity. So leading meat brands such as Hillshire Farms and Hormel are working on value-added ways to tap into Americans' rising interest in protein consumption and the roles that bacon and other forms of "the other white meat" can play in that trend.

Right now, doing anything with bacon is a challenge because pork-belly costs are at historically high levels, in part due to how pork producers reacted to last year's drought. Prices are expected to ease soon, but in any event, Hormel—maker of Spam and many other meat brands—continues to pursue its "value-add" strategy of emphasizing not just the traditional package of bacon but special flavors such as Pecanwood and Applewood bacons, precooked bacons, and foodservice products.

"A pound of raw bacon [is] never a big moneymaker for the manufacturer," Jeff Ettinger, Hormel's CEO, said in a teleconference with analysts, according to Food Business News. But the differentiated products "can be a contributor to the kind of high margins we are looking for."Continue reading...

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Sonic Looks to Cash In on College Sports Fans with Branded Buns

Posted by Mark J. Miller on August 22, 2013 04:50 PM

Are people passionate about their Sonic burgers? Probably not as much as they are about their college sports teams.

The fast-food chain that is known for its nostalgic decor and service is hoping its latest promotion brings its customer's back to their own glory days. However, the Oklahoma City-based chain, which has 3,500 restaurants across 44 states, is keeping the new promo decidedly local.  

Sonic is going to start stamping the logos of popular local college teams on the buns of their burgers. The edible stamp, which will be made of tapioca starch, will feature schools including Oklahoma State, University of Oklahoma, as well as universities in Louisiana and Texas, according to USA Today.Continue reading...

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CEO of Failing Cosi Chain Says Staff is to Blame

Posted by Dale Buss on August 19, 2013 03:29 PM

New CEO Stephen Edwards is attempting radical surgery on the foundering Cosi fast-casual chain, and one of his first moves has been to publicly throw Cosi's employees under the food truck.

"People love our sandwiches, they love our salads," Edwards said on a conference call last week to discuss Cosi's abysmal $2.1 million-loss performance during the second quarter, which came along with an 11 percent decline in revenues. "We hear it time and time again, it's never a complaint—a complaint is because someone was rude to me, my sandwich or salad was incomplete in the ingredients it was supposed to have ... or I got the wrong order or it took me 20 minutes to get my order when there was nobody else in the store."

And the CEO further explained, "We have a culture that's lost engagement with the process of serving food to people in a hospitable way, and we get a number of remarks from customers about how much they love our food and our products but they've just been disappointed time and time again by the service or they experience they've received in the store."Continue reading...

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