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...

retail watch

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...

brand news

In the News: AT&T, Samsung, Standard Chartered and more

Posted by Dale Buss on August 8, 2012 09:02 AM

In the News

American Airlines faces record safety penalty, tests hotel baggage delivery service.

Amazon sees pay-off from locker service, looks to acquire more patents.

Apple shelves "Genius" TV campaign, puts former designer on the stand against Samsung and plans to beef up security.

AT&T sees 20,000 employees go on strike.

Bank of America brings discounts to bank statements.

Chiquita seeks new CEO as Undercover Boss star exits.

Chrysler’s Dodge pulls out of NASCAR.Continue reading...

chew on this

Happy Family Expands Organic Superfoods Range for Kids

Posted by Dale Buss on July 9, 2012 01:27 PM

It's hard to resist a brand that has the word "happy" in it. And so Happy Family, a leading organic brand of "superfoods," has earned the title of "Rockstar of the New Economy" from Fast Company magazine and B Lab, a nonprofit that promotes social and environmental responsibility by companies.

There was a lot more that earned the designation for Happy Family, which already was named Inc. magazine's fastest-growing packaged-food company of 2011. In five years, the New York-based company has skyrocketed to $35 million in sales from practically nothing, and CEO Shazi Visram is looking at doubling revenues for the second year in a row in 2012.

Happy Family boasts a big range of products aimed right at the worry spot for American moms: how to get their young children to want to eat healthy snacks. The company's product line ranges from pouches of fruit puree for babies to organic grain-snack "puffs" for toddlers to frozen mac-and-cheese balls and Salmon Stix for grade-schoolers. It's planning an additional 10 new products before the end of the year.Continue reading...

response mechanism

Android Tops LGBT-Favored Brands in U.S.

Posted by Sheila Shayon on June 21, 2012 02:02 PM

Google’s Android mobile operating system is #1 on the top 20 brands favored by the LGBT community, according to the researchers at YouGov BrandIndex. Last year, Google's YouTube topped the annual LGBT ranking.

The 2012 LGBT buzz list includes four Apple-related and several other tech and social media brands, and looks quite different from last year’s ranking, with 12 new brands making the top 20: Android, iPad, Target, Samsung, Aleve, Kindle, Advil, PBS, LG, Starbucks, Comedy Central, and Skype. Disneyland and Disney World share fourth spot, reflect the parks' annual LGBT days and outreach to the gay community.

“Gay consumers number 15 million and counting, spending $743 billion annually” in the U.S., according to LGBT marketing agency Prime Access. Falling out of the top 20 this year: Google, Amazon, Whole Foods, Claritin, HBO, Lowe's, Cheerios, Food Network, M&Ms, Nike, Trader Joe's and Bose.Continue reading...

social media watch

Corporate Social Media: #CSMNY Highlights Social Responsiveness

Posted by Amy Edel-Vaughn on June 15, 2012 06:04 PM

"April 10, the ash cloud took over" declared Anna Ketting, head of social media for Air France KLM, at The Corporate Social Media Summit 2012 in New York this week. From the havoc an Icelandic volcano created for airlines in 2010 came the genesis of the brand's social media strategy.

Throughout the panel discussions during #CSMNY, the wide-ranging conversations shared a common theme — responsiveness.  Whether discussing gamification, marketing synergy, impact or big data, it is clear brands are feeling the pressure to prove social can be a successful commercial enterprise. But what also became clear from the summit is that responsiveness in social media creates opportunities for strong return on investment.Continue reading...

chew on this

Annie's Bunny Hops Into Mainstream Grocery Aisles

Posted by Dale Buss on June 5, 2012 04:02 PM

Annie's Homegrown has a new headquarters in Berkeley, Calif., in the old headquarters of another better-for-you food brand, Clif Bar. But fresh off its successful IPO, the organic-foods pioneer is more concerned about another type of real estate: shelf space at mainstream supermarkets.

Although Annie's grew to as $135-million company mainly by plying its trademark all-natural and organic macaroni-and-cheese and fruit Bunny snacks at the likes of Whole Foods Markets and other natural-food stores, CEO John Foraker believes that Annie's can be instrumental in making such fare generally appealing to U.S. consumers.Continue reading...

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