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corporate citizenship

Catching On: McDonald's, UK grocer Sainsbury's Embrace Sustainability Push

Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 23, 2013 06:32 PM

Efforts to curb overfishing of the world's most popular species are reaching deeper into supermarkets and fast-food menus.

The UK grocery Sainsbury’s will begin a “Switch the Fish” campaign on Friday, giving away seven tons of such “sustainable fish” as lemon sole, mussels, Cornish sardines and coley fillets, Marketing magazine reports.

To make the campaign ongoing, Sainsbury’s has also trained its fish counter employees at 495 stores about sustainability, TheDrum.com said.Continue reading...


At Retail Summit, Successful CEOs Call for Broader Corporate Citizenship

Posted by Sheila Shayon on January 14, 2013 05:04 PM

The leaders of Whole Foods Market, Starbucks and The Container Store on Monday exhorted fellow retailers to increase transparency, stand on principle and to see themselves as part of a "wider circle of responsibility" to ensure their success.

Speaking sequentially to an audience of 27,000 at the National Retail Federation's BIG Show in New York, the CEOs offered a combined keynote address that advocated lifting up employees and valuing vendors as the major brands assume heightened global leadership in a time of government retrenching.

Kip Tindell, CEO of The Container Store, said retailers should strive to create an environment of "conscious capitalism."

"Charity alone won’t do it," he said. "We need business and capitalism, purpose and profit.”

Tindell said focusing on the well-being of employees "pays off and reflects on customers. It’s not what you sell, it’s what you stand for. Customers and employees become your evangelical supporters. We want our vendors to think of us as their favorite customers, and this causes the universe to conspire to assist you.”

Whole Foods Co-CEO Walter Robb agreed, saying that “business is making a wider wake in the world, not just doing the minimum, but part of a wider circle of responsibility.” The company's approximately 75,000 employees comprise a 40 percent ownership stake in the company, and 86 percent have health insurance.Continue reading...

chew on this

Californians Go to the Polls on Prop 37 GMO Labeling Battle

Posted by Dale Buss on November 6, 2012 05:08 PM

For a while, the notion of regulating genetically modified organisms (better known as GMOs) included in food seemed like a good idea, and anti-Big Food advocates in California attracted a lot of support in a state where residents like to be on the cutting edge of just about everything. Calfornians have never minded serving as a bellwether on new regulatory initiatives that end up sweeping the rest of the country, such as automotive emissions.

But the closer today's vote on Proposition 37 loomed, the more that initial support of the idea waned. And this U.S. Election Day, even backers of the anti-GMO initiative seemed resigned to its defeat, although it's still being closely watched. (Update: Prop 37 was indeed defeated at the polling booth.)

What happened? Well, a combination of huge contributions by moneyed CPG brands battered Prop 37's drive to label GMOs in a massive advertising and PR blitz with a "No on 37" drive. And backers of the added regulation alleged dirty tricks by the competition as they sought to sway voters (despite scientific evidence to the contrary) that GMO-containing products are hardly the stuff of "Frankenfood" that really harms consumers.Continue reading...

private brand

Are Consumer Brands Losing Their Mojo to Store Brands?

Posted by Barry Silverstein on November 2, 2012 11:17 AM

Makers of name brand products beware: Store brands continue to be accepted and embraced by consumers.

Last July, we reported on a study by Accenture indicating that 64 percent of shoppers' grocery carts were at least half full of store brand products -- and 39 percent said they had bought more store brands in recent years.

Now a new study by marketing agency The Integer Group, in association with the market research firm M/A/R/C Research, shows that consumers increasingly believe store brands can match brand names in quality. In fact, in the 2012 study, 64 percent of shoppers said brand names are not better quality products, versus 57 percent in 2010. Only 51 percent of shoppers say they continue to buy brand name products over store-brand alternatives because they trust the brand name, according to the study. Only 20 percent of shoppers agree that they go right for their brand name choice and get what they want.

Just as important, there seems to be a broad change in the perception of store brand or private label products. As store brands have grown in popularity, groceries and retail chains have created their own branded lines. Target, for example, sells its own Archer Farms brand, and Whole Foods pitches its 365 Everyday Value line.

In recent years, such retailers have paid more attention to packaging so their products can be competitive on store shelves. It must be paying off. Only a year ago, 68 percent of shoppers agreed that brand name packaging was more attractive than store brand packaging, according to the study. This year, the percentage dropped to just over half — 52 percent of shoppers.Continue reading...

brand news

In the News: Amazon, Citi, Chanel and more

Posted by Dale Buss on October 26, 2012 09:02 AM

In the News

Amazon swings to loss on aggressive spending on future growth, worries about Apple's iPad mini, while Apple disses Microsoft Surface tablet.

BBC sees dimensions of Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal grow.

Bank of America still dealing with fallout from collapse of Countrywide.

Chanel benefits from buzz created by Brad Pitt campaign.

Cheesecake Factory bucks casual-dining traffic decline.

Chipotle considers once-forbidden veer toward fast-food platform.

Citigroup CEO exit reportedly was planned for months.Continue reading...

chew on this

Organic Brands Caught In Fight Over California's Prop 37 GMO Debate

Posted by Dale Buss on September 17, 2012 01:11 PM

The vast majority of American consumers don't care whether their foods contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Food executives and think tanks will tell you that and cite, for example, how Indiana local bakery Aunt Nellie's bombed when it introduced a specifically labeled "non-GMO" bread a couple of years ago.

But California isn't most of America, with a more health-conscious outlook than most states. That's why mainstream food companies are in a hot and heavy contest against GMO opponents over Proposition 37, The Right to Know Genetically Modified Food Act, a piece of state legislation that, if passed in November, would require GMO-containing products to disclose that on labels, and make California the first state to mandate genetically modified food.

Similar to what happened to automakers after California took an extreme position on cutting emissions, essentially imposing that higher standard on cars sold all over the country, food and beverage companies are concerned that California will serve as a bellwether in GMO labeling regulation as well.

In a particular bind in this fight are the many mainstream food conglomerates that now own organic brands, which by definition don't include GMOs: Kellogg, owner of GMO poster brand Kashi; General Mills, owner of the Cascadian Farm, Muir Glen, Larabar and Food Should Taste Good brands; Coca-Cola, owner of Odwalla and Honest Tea; PepsiCo; and Dean Foods, owner of Horizon Organics.Continue reading...


Kids Heading Back To School, But Parents Aren't Outfitting Them As Expected

Posted by Dale Buss on August 28, 2012 11:28 AM

Back-to-school season may not be what it used to be. Under the "new normal" that is the American consumer economy these days, many children, teenagers and their parents appear to be delaying their school-related purchases this season, according to the New York Times. Thus, the full swing of this year's back-to-school shopping blowout may amount to less than has traditionally been the case.

Some of the delay is because kids and parents are holding back to make sure they buy the stuff that's truly on trend, the newspaper says. And unusually hot weather has left some consumers decidedly not in the mood to shop for pants with legs and shirts with sleeves. Another factor is that households don't have to head into stores as early because they research more of their purchases online beforehand and, aware of retailers' strategies, hold out until later in the season when bargains are better.

The back-to-school season is the second-largest sales period for U.S. retailers, after the Christmas holidays. Continue reading...

divide and conquer

How to Grow a Brand? Spin It Off

Posted by Barry Silverstein on August 16, 2012 11:09 AM

Look at the current M&A (Mergers & Acquisitions) scene in U.S. business and you'll see signals, especially in the food industry, that big conglomerates are falling out of favor: 

  • In June, Sara Lee jettisoned its famous name, splitting the company into two units: Hillshire Brands, focusing on mostly meat products, and D.E. Master Blenders 1753, a European maker of coffees and teas. 
  • Last week, the country's largest dairy company, Dean Foods, said its Whitewave unit, which accounts for about 40 percent of Dean's operating income, would split from the company and file an IPO. Whitewave produces Horizon Organic milk and the Silk brand, which includes soy and almond milk, products that have been growing faster than Dean's regional milk brands.
  • In October, the giant Kraft Foods will split the company in two, separating its U.S. business (Kraft Foods Group) from its international snack foods business (Mondelez International). 

Corporate breakups are on the rise, according to Bloomberg Businessweek, which reports that there were 19 U.S. corporate public company spinoffs in 2011 vs. 16 in 2010. Eleven spinoffs have already been finalized in 2012 and thirteen more have been announced. Continue reading...

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