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Nestlé Acquires 60 Percent Stake In Chinese Food Company Yinlu Foods

April 18, 2011: 08:36 AM EST
Nestlé has acquired a 60 percent stake in Chinese food company Yinlu Foods Group for an undisclosed sum. Yinlu Chairman Chen Qingyuan will continue as the top executive under the new ownership arrangement, termed a “partnership” by Nestlé. The acquisition must be approved by Chinese regulators before it is finalized. A well-established household brand in China, Yinlu markets ready-to-drink peanut milk and canned rice porridge, and is a co-manufacturer of ready-to-drink Nescafé coffee in China. Yinlu’s 2010 sales were CHF 750 million (US$843 million). Nestlé has operated in China for more than twenty years, with 23 factories, two R&D centers and 14,000 employees.
"Nestlé to enter partnership with Chinese food company Yinlu", Press release, Nestlé, April 18, 2011, © Nestlé
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Women, Older People Are The Most Eco-Conscious, Global Market Study Finds

April 7, 2011: 04:23 AM EST
Women and older consumers across the world are generally more environmentally conscious overall, a new study from market researcher Synovate has found, while young people are the least eco-conscious. The study, which looked at “green” behavior globally, also found that the way people feel about the future, their family, and their country aren’t very important factors in determining green habits. Synovate asked 22,000 people in around the worldt about their recycling habits, purchase of ecological products, purchase of organic foods, etc. Women ranked higher than men across all green behavior categories, and people aged 56-65 years old ranked highest in recycling and buying ecological products. People 46-55 years old were more likely to buy organic food. Lowest green scores among age groups? Young people aged 16-25 years old. Data from the study were also broken down by country.
"Synovate survey reveals latest green habits and consumption across the world", Press release, Synovate, April 07, 2011, © Synovate
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Strawberries Inhibit Growth Of Precancerous Lesions In Esophagus – Study

April 6, 2011: 06:42 PM EST
A six-month phase 1b clinical study conducted in China by Ohio State University researchers has found that eating freeze-dried strawberries has a beneficial effect on patients with esophageal precancerous lesions who are at high risk for developing the cancer. The researchers found that ingestion of strawberry as a treatment is not only safe and easy, the strawberries “decreased histological grade of precancerous lesions and reduced cancer-related molecular events.” The 36 participants ate about two ounces of freeze-dried strawberries daily over six months, after which biopsies were taken and analyzed. Twenty-nine of the 36 participants showed a decrease in the precancerous lesions, suggesting that strawberries might someday be used instead of or in addition to chemotherapy drugs for prevention of esophageal cancer.
"Strawberries May Slow Precancerous Growth in Esophagus", Press Release, Ohio State University, April 06, 2011, © Ohio State University
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MSG Consumption Associated With Weight Gain

April 6, 2011: 04:30 AM EST
Researchers in China, Canada and the U.S. who studied the impact of monosodium glutamate (MSG) on metabolism found a positive association, regardless of calorie intake, between the flavor enhancer widely used in Asian cuisine and weight gain. The study analyzed health data collected on more than 10,000 healthy Chinese adults from 1991 to 2006. They found that a daily intake of .6 g to 3.8 g was positively associated with being overweight, defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or higher. The researchers urged further studies be undertaken to determine how MSG acts in the body, but they guessed that the compound influences energy balance through the disruption of the hypothalamic signaling cascade of leptin action.
K. He, et al. , "Consumption of monosodium glutamate in relation to incidence of overweight in Chinese adults: China Health and Nutrition Survey (CHNS)", American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, April 06, 2011, © American Society for Nutrition
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Taurine Found To Hinder Production Of Carcinogen Acrylamide In Baked, Fried Foods

March 28, 2011: 09:59 AM EST
Chinese researchers have found that the energy drink ingredient taurine inhibits the production of  the carcinogen acrylamide during the baking and frying process. Acrylamide is produced when sugar and the amino acid asparagines react during the baking, frying or toasting process. That reaction causes the brown color and flavor of baked or fried foods. Taurine, derived from the amino acid cysteine, is found naturally in seafood and meat and is believed to boost energy. When taurine is introduced in what is called the Maillard reaction, it reacts with the glucose and with any acrylamide, inhibiting its production by as much as 72 percent.
R. Hao, X. Leng, H. Jing , "Acrylamide–taurine adducts formation as a key mechanism for taurine’s inhibitory effect on acrylamide formation", International Journal of Food Science & Technology, March 28, 2011, © The Authors
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China Cracks Down On Dairy Producers Who Lack Modern Product Testing Equipment

March 28, 2011: 11:21 AM EST
Ongoing government inspections of China’s 800 fresh milk and infant formula producers could lead to the revocation of production licenses of 20 percent of the companies because of inadequate product testing equipment. So far, dairies in Fujian, Guangdong, Shaanxi, Sichuan and Ningxia have been inspected. At least 30 percent of the dairies in four of those provinces are likely to have their production licenses revoked, but fewer than 20 percent of those in Sichuan province. The inspections were expected to be completed by the end of March. The government requires that testing equipment must be able to analyze for 64 additives, including melamine. But upgrading equipment is prohibitively expensive for all but the largest producers, industry analysts say.
Yang Lina, "Dairy products crackdown", China Daily, March 28, 2011, © Xinhua News Agency
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Newly Discovered Herbal Ingredients Could Provide Safer, More Effective Skin Whitening Cream

March 28, 2011: 12:00 AM EST
Scientists in Taiwan report that two active compounds derived from an evergreen herb used as a “cure all” in traditional Chinese medicine will make a safer and more effective skin-whitening agent. They will be testing the ingredients in clinical trials, and have applied for patents in the U.S. and other countries. The ingredients, from the evergreen bush Cinnamomum subavenium, can block tyrosinase, an enzyme that controls the synthesis of melanin, the dark pigment responsible for coloring skin, hair and eyes. Inhibiting tyrosinase is one of the major strategies for skin-whitening, the researchers said. Skin lightening products are especially popular among Asian men and women, but often cause unwanted side effects, such as itching, redness and inflammation. The researchers hope to market a cream based on the herbal ingredients within a year.
Hui-Min Wang, Ph.D., et al., "Safer, More Effective Skin-Whitening Creams from Ancient Chinese Herbal Medicine", Presentation,National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, March 28, 2011, © American Chemical Society
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Pterostilbene Found To Be More Effective At Preventing Colon Cancer Than Resveratrol

March 23, 2011: 12:50 PM EST
A Taiwan study in mice comparing the health benefits of reveratrol, a compound found in red grapes and red wine, and pterostilbene found pterostilbene to be more potent in protecting against colon cancer. Pterostilbene, extracted from the heartwood of the Indian kino tree, has been shown in earlier studies to have anti-diabetes effects as well. The polyphenol resveratrol has been known for some time to have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory effects. “These findings strongly suggest the chemopreventive potential of dietary administration of pterostilbene against colonic tumorigenesis,” the researchers concluded.
Y-S. Chiou, et al. , "Pterostilbene Is More Potent than Resveratrol in Preventing Azoxymethane (AOM)-Induced Colon Tumorigenesis via Activation of the NF-E2-Related Factor 2 (Nrf2)-Mediated Antioxidant Signaling Pathway", Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, March 23, 2011, © American Chemical Society
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Researchers Find Some Indications That Tofu May Help Control Blood Sugar

March 18, 2011: 07:59 AM EST
Despite some evidence from earlier observational studies, an analysis by Chinese scientists of 24 clinical trials involving 1,518 people has found that generally soy intake did not improve the level of blood sugar (glycemic control) in diabetics. Nine clinical studies, however, evaluated the impact of whole soy foods, such as tofu, compared to soy supplements, and found “a favorable change in fasting glucose concentrations,” according to the researchers. The researchers nevertheless said it would be premature to conclude that eating tofu helps diabetics control their blood sugar levels, and more research is needed.
Zhao-min Liu, et al., "Effects of soy intake on glycemic control: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials", The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, March 18, 2011, © American Society for Nutrition
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Biothera Ingredient Approved For Use In China

March 7, 2011: 10:39 AM EST
China’s Ministry of Health has approved Biothera’s Wellmune WGP as a novel food ingredient, allowing its use in foods and beverages throughout the country. Wellmune WGP, derived from the cell walls of a proprietary strain of baker’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae), is clinically proven to safely prime the immune system to keep the body healthy, the company says. The ingredient mobilizes billions of innate immune cells that are part of the body’s natural defenses without over stimulating the immune system. An ingredient in food, beverage and supplement products in more than 30 countries, Wellmune WGP has been designated as GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) in the U.S. Biothera specializes  in immune-enhancing ingredients derived from a complex carbohydrate called beta 1,3/1,6 gluco polysaccharide.
"Biothera’s Wellmune WGP Approved for Food Use in China", News release, Wellmune WGP, March 07, 2011, © Biothera, The Immune Health Company
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Cadbury Introduces India To The Oreo Cookie

March 3, 2011: 11:56 AM EST
Kraft Foods unit Cadbury India has begun selling the Oreo cookie brand in India in an effort to crack a strong and growing Indian cookie market. An AC Nielsen study says the category grew 17 percent in 2010, led by creams and biscuits (cookies). Cadbury says testing among Indian consumers found an enthusiastic reception for the classic dark chocolate varierty with vanilla crème flavor. Kraft is investing heavily in promotion of Oreos in India, according to Cadbury, which notes that the company has tripled sales of Oreos in the Asia Pacific market in three years, and has done especially well in China.
"Cadbury India Introduces Iconic Oreo Biscuit Brand In India", Cadbury India press release, March 03, 2011, © Cadbury India Limited
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Heinz Acquires 80-Percent Stake In Brazil's Coniexpress, Reports Third Quarter Results

March 3, 2011: 09:39 AM EST
H.J. Heinz Company agreed to purchase an 80-percent stake in Coniexpress S.A. Industrias Alimenticias, manufacturer of the Quero brand of tomato sauces, paste, ketchup, condiments, and vegetables in Brazil. Aside from greatly expanding Heinz's operations in Latin America, the acquisition of the Quero business, which has annual sales of about $325 million, gives the company its first significant presence in Brazil. Heinz reported 1.5 percent growth in sales for its third quarter ended January 26, 2011, and a 20 percent increase in total net income. Earnings per share rose from continuing operations rose 1.2%, fueled by 14 percent sales growth in emerging markets led by China, India, Indonesia, and Russia, 3.8-percent organic growth in the top 15 brands, as well as sales and volume growth in the North America Consumer Products segment. Heinz has increased its full-year reported EPS guidance and now expects to sales growth of 2-3 percent for the year, revised down to reflect the labor stoppage in Venezuela and slow recovery in the U.S. foodservice industry.
Heinz, "Heinz Agrees to Acquire 80% Stake in a Leading Brazilian Food Company", Heinz press release, March 03, 2011, © H. J. Heinz Company
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Fonterra Expands Outside New Zealand, Builds Dairy Farms in China

February 22, 2011: 10:48 AM EST
Fonterra Co-Operative Group Ltd. CEO Andrew Ferrier has said his company plans to expand outside New Zealand, particularly in China. Fonterra, which has sales near $13 billion and produces about a third of the internationally traded dairy products globally, is building dairy farms in China; this follows the 2008 contaminated milk scandal involving Shijiazhuang Sanlu Group Co., which was 43-percent owned by Fonterra and prompted it to take control of all aspects of its operations in China. Ferrier sees growing wealth and population growth increasing demand, even as climate change and increasing costs of production push up milk prices worldwide. He added that Fonterra will not sell genetically modified milk products in countries where consumers do not want them, and is instead focusing on selective breeding of cows to improve milk quality and production.
REBECCA HOWARD, "Dairy Producer Eyes Expansion in China", The Wall Street Journal, February 22, 2011, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Japan Drops To No. 3 World Economy, Thanks To Dismal 4th Quarter Performance

February 14, 2011: 03:09 AM EST

China is now the world’s second biggest economy after the U.S., as fourth-quarter economic and political problems took their toll on former No. 2 Japan's year-long performance: a strong yen dampened exports; real gross domestic product slid by 1.1 percent; car purchases dropped with the end of government subsidies; and cigarette sales were bashed by a new tax on tobacco. Adding to the pressure on the Japanese government were a huge public debt, protracted deflation and low approval ratings. China’s economy has overtaken Japan’s several times during individual quarters, but this is the first time it has jumped ahead based on full-year performance. Despite the poor showing in the fourth quarter, Japan’s real GDP actually expanded by 3.9 percent for the year.

Andrew Monahan, "China Overtakes Japan as World's No. 2 Economy", Wall Street Journal, February 14, 2011, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc
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Apple Polyphenols Found To Extend Lifespan Of Laboratory Insects

February 14, 2011: 09:42 AM EST
Research by Chinese scientists has found evidence that apple polyphenols acting on harmful free radicals extended the lifespan of fruit flies and also helped maintain their ability to walk, climb and move about. According to the researchers, the beneficial effects, including anti-aging activity, of the apple polyphenols were  “at least in part, mediated by their interaction with genes SOD, CAT, MTH, and Rpn11.” The interaction led to a 10 percent extension of the lifespan of the test insects and reversed the levels of various biochemical substances used as markers for age-related decline and impending death in older fruit flies.
Cheng Peng, et al., "Apple Polyphenols Extend the Mean Lifespan of Drosophila melanogaster", Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, February 14, 2011, © American Chemical Society
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Soy Isoflavone Supplementation Lowers Blood Pressure Of Hypertensive Patients

February 9, 2011: 12:33 AM EST

Soy isoflavone supplements apparently improve the endothelial function of blood vessels of hypertensive patients, leading to a drop in blood pressure, according to a new meta-study by Chinese researchers. The review of findings from eleven clinical trials showed that a daily intake of 65 to 153 mg of soy isoflavones with soy protein for at least a month and up to a year significantly lowered blood pressure in people with  high blood pressure. According to the researchers, the average decrease in blood pressure (5.9 mmHg) compares favorably to decreases induced by antihypertensive agents, such as beta-blockers. The researchers said it is still not clear how soy isoflavones work in hypertensive individuals, but evidence suggests that “oral isoflavone supplementation leads to a significant improvement in endothelial function.”

X.X. Liu, et al., "Effect of soy isoflavones on blood pressure: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials", Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases, February 09, 2011, © Elsevier B.V.
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ONE Bio Hopes Distribution Agreement Will Boost Sales In The U.S.

February 2, 2011: 08:59 AM EST

Green process herbal extracts and natural supplement manufacturer ONE Bio, Corp. announced that subsidiary Green Planet Bioengineering Co., Ltd., has contracted with botanical products distributor P&G Ingredient to distribute Green Planet products in the U.S. Included in the distribution agreement are raw extracts such as resveratrol, stevia leaf powder, 5-HTP, polygonum extract and spirulina powder. P&G produces botanical and chemical extracts, besides distributing raw botanicals and chemical ingredients. ONE Bio said the distribution agreement is a key element of a plan to expand sales of nutraceuticals, health-related products and organic food products beyond China and Japan to the U.S.

"ONE Bio Signs U.S. Distribution Agreement", News release, ONE Bio, February 02, 2011, © ONE Bio Corp
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China's Fast-Paced Market Puzzles, Rewards Both Local And Multinational Competitors

January 26, 2011: 10:55 AM EST

Following a three-year gap working in the US , PepsiCo chief marketing officer for Greater China, returned to the country to find it greatly changed, and with change accelerating. In addition to spreading urbanization Lee sees a greatly expanded digital footprint with activity extending far beyond tier 1 cities, creating anomalies with people without basic plumbing knowing English soccer stars. In this fast changing environment Lee sees local competitors as more effective than multinationals that rely on approaches that are outdated and not relevant for China; local competitors, he says, are fresher, faster moving and more innovative in their marketing.

Normandy Madden and Abbey Klaassen, "At Pepsi, Old Rules of Marketing Don't Apply", AdAgeChina.com, January 26, 2011, © Crain Communications
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Campbell Soup, Swire Pacific Form Chinese Soup Joint Venture

January 12, 2011: 03:57 AM EST

Campbell Soup Company has entered into a joint venture deal with Swire Pacific Ltd., forming Campbell Swire, to help develop its soup business in China. Campbell will take a 60 percent stake in the joint venture, which will start operating in early 2011 from Campbell's existing offices in, and will take charge of manufacturing and distribution in China, now the second largest economy and with one of the highest per capita levels of soup consumption worldwide, although most is homemade. 

Press Release, Campbell Soup, "Campbell Soup Company and Swire Pacific Form Joint Venture in China", Campbell Soup Company, January 12, 2011, © Campbell Soup Company
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Seventy Percent Of Chinese Do Not Feel Confident About Food Safety According To Survey

January 4, 2011: 09:40 AM EST

Seventy percent of Chinese worry about food safety and think government should improve management and surveillance to protect people, says a survey by Insight China magazine and Tsinghua Media Survey Lab. Consumers are concerned about incidents like the 2008 baby formula contamination, which killed six children and made over 300,000 ill. They worry most about the health impact of puffed and fried foods popular with children, but they are also concerned about many other types of produce, processed and instant food. Other perceived threats include excessive pesticide residue and abuse of food additives. The central government is trying to improve food safety by investing in quality inspection centers and proper food hygiene, and by ensuring accurate public information.

Shan Juan , "Govt plans to improve fading public confidence in food safety", China Daily, January 04, 2011, © China Daily Information Co (CDIC)
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Chinese Joint Venture Begins Production Of Beverages Sweetened With GLG’s Stevia Extract

December 28, 2010: 08:42 PM EST

Canadian stevia extract producer GLG Life Tech Corporation says that its joint venture partner China and Healthy Foods Company Limited (CAHFC) has begun production of four all natural stevia-sweetened beverages under the ANOC brand name in China. The production line is capable of producing 108 million 500 ml servings a year, and is starting with green tea, black tea, peach juice and orange juice products. Key Chinese government objectives in participating in the joint venture are to show that a rural farming region such as Xioagang can support a strong farming economy and that industrial development will increase economic prosperity in a rural region. According to GLG, China’s food and beverage industry has grown 20 percent a year from 2002 to 2009, when it was valued at $693 billion.

"GLG Announces Commencement of ANOC Beverage Production Line in China", News release, GLG Life Tech, December 28, 2010, © GLG Life Tech Corp
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Latin America’s “Multilatinas” Expand Global Presence, Compete With New And Established Rivals

December 28, 2010: 03:35 AM EST

There are a number of larger Latin American companies, known as “Multilatinas,” that are competing globally with corporations from the developed markets as well as those from other rapidly developing economies, such as China and India. A 2009 report from the Boston Consulting Group lists 100 “new global challengers” from Latin America, including Mexico's Grupo Bimbo and Embraer from Brazil. This push is supported by improved socio-economic conditions in the region, including economic reform and stability, better education, and technological advance, reinforced by vast a natural resource base. The region’s GDP equals that of China, and is expected to have grown some 4 percent this year. Some Latin American companies are investing abroad, including acquisition deals, and activities overseas have been helped by a series of bilateral free trade agreements with Asian countries and a general trend towards a Free Trade Area for the Asia Pacific that could include some Latin American countries. 

Harold L. Sirkin, "Enter the 'Multilatinas'", Business Week, December 28, 2010, © Bloomberg L.P.
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Cooking Oil Fortified With Omega-3 Fatty Acids Launched In China

December 16, 2010: 08:35 AM EST

Omega-3 EPA/DHA supplier Ocean Nutrition Canada (ONC) announced that a collaboration with Singapore-based agribusiness Wilmar International has resulted in the launch of Wilmar’s Arawana 3A+ premium cooking oil containing ONC’s MEG-3 fish oil. A major market for the oil is China, whose government determined through a national survey that the average daily intake of EPA/DHA is only 37.6 mg, less than 25 percent of the level accepted by the U.S. Institute of Medicine. According to ONC, the oil is now widely distributed in China and available at supermarkets and traditional markets. Arawana 3A+ premium cooking oil is a blended vegetable oil product that “contains sufficient Omega-3 to help Chinese consumers meet IOM Omega-3 intake recommendations,” according to ONC.

"Ocean Nutrition Canada Limited Announces Strategic Alliance with Wilmar International Limited – the World’s Largest Omega-3 EPA/DHA Food Company", News release, Ocean Nutrition Canada, December 16, 2010, © Ocean Nutrition Canada Ltd
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Functional Food Companies See Big Opportunities In Increasingly Health Conscious China

December 14, 2010: 04:47 AM EST

Beset by a rise in chronic illnesses such as diabetes and cancer, Chinese consumers, especially women and the elderly, have turned to wellness foods and beverages, whose sales in 2009 were $1.5 billion, up 28 percent from five years ago. Multinational food giants Nestlé SA and PepsiCo and other companies have begun to mine the health food market opportunities in China. A new Quaker oatmeal product, for example, contains the traditional Chinese folk medicines wolfberry and tremella, a fungus thought to benefit the skin. Nestlé is clinically testing five new functional food products, including a mulberry yogurt for diabetics that regulates blood sugar. And, according to Euromonitor, Chinese consumers spent $9 billion on meal replacements, vitamin pills, sports nutrition products and other dietary supplements.

Laurie Burkitt, "Selling Health Food to China", The Wall Street Journal, December 14, 2010, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Experts Offer A List Of Products And Ingredients To Be Shunned By Consumers

December 9, 2010: 09:03 AM EST

Besides vitamin D and calcium supplements – which an Institute of Medicine committee said were unnecessary and perhaps even dangerous – experts interviewed by Wallet Pop listed seven other products that should be avoided consumers. At the top of the list is the calorie-packed sweetener high fructose corn syrup, which has been blamed for the rise in obesity and diabetes. HFCS is being gradually replaced in food products by other types of sweeteners. Also on the list is bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical widely used to make plastic bottles and line food cans. BPA can leak into baby formula, water, food and cosmetics and harm the brain. Other blacklisted substances include bovine growth hormones; genetically modified foods; parabens that prevent growth of mold, fungus and bacteria in cosmetics and food; trans fat; and anything “Made in China.”

Lan N. Nguyen, "Seven Products on Consumers' Blacklist", Wallet Pop, December 09, 2010, © AOL Inc.
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China’s Global Investment Ambitions Highlighted By Bright Food’s Bid To Acquire GNC

December 7, 2010: 12:31 PM EST

In an example of China’s growing ambitions in the global mergers and acquisitions market, reports indicate that one of the country’s largest food and beverage companies, state-owned Bright Food, is set to acquire US vitamin and supplement retail chain GNC Holdings for US$2-3 billion dollars. Bright Food operates 3,300 grocery outlets in China, specializing in novelty food, and had recently been in talks to acquire United Biscuits. GNC has some 7,100 stores. If it goes ahead, the acquisition is part of a wider pattern of government-backed Chinese corporations aggressively pursuing international investment opportunities. 

ANUPREETA DAS, GINA CHON and DANA CIMILLUCA, "China's Bright Food Nears Purchase of GNC", The Wall Street Journal, December 07, 2010, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Review Of Previous Studies Reveals Ginseng Not As Potent As Believed

December 1, 2010: 11:45 PM EST

A review conducted in China of several trials that studied the effects of ginseng on cognitive function has revealed that it has no beneficial effects on study subjects’ cognition. It is currently a best-seller in the global herbal market but, although it does appear to have some benefits for cognition and quality of life, the study concluded that there was a lack of credible evidence showing that Panax ginseng enhances cognitive capability in healthy participants, and little in the way of quality evidence that it benefits patients with dementia. The review also recommended the need for more thoroughly designed studies that would look deeper into the herb’s supposed health benefits.

Geng JinSong, Dong JianCheng, Ni Hengjian, Lee Myeong Soo, Wu Taixiang, Jiang Kui, Wang GuoHua, Zhou Ai Ling, Malouf Reem, "Ginseng for cognition", Cochrane Database Review, December 01, 2010, © The Cochrane Collaboration
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Japanese And South Korean Retailers In The Mood For Expansion In Vietnam

November 25, 2010: 01:59 AM EST

Japanese and South Korean retailers are opening shopping centers and convenience stores in Vietnam. Targeting mostly young consumers and middle-income families, these retail outlets are a new business concept in the country. With four convenience stores operating in Ho Chi Minh City, FamilyMart Co. of Japan plans to open about 300 more in the city and is looking at Hanoi too. Meanwhile, South Korean retail giant Lotte has opened two supermarkets, with one branch large enough to include a six-screen cinema complex. Lotte plans to build more than 30 supermarkets in the country by 2018, and build a department store in Hanoi. After joining the World Trade Organization in 2007, Vietnam has allowed foreign companies to enter its retail business, which grew to 1,200 trillion dong (about US$61 million) in 2009, a threefold increase from 2004 figures, according to government data. The South Korean and Japanese companies are hoping to gain a foothold before global giants like Wal-Mart and Carrefour arrive in the country.

Kiyohide Inada and Hisashi Naito, "Japan, South Korean retailers expanding to Vietnam", Asahi.com, November 25, 2010, © The Asahi Shimbun Company
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McCormick Plans Major Expansion In India's Seasoning Market

November 23, 2010: 10:43 AM EST

McCormick chairman, president and CEO, Alan D. Wilson, said in an interview that his company is charting large-scale expansion in India. Wilson added that the recession had no significant impact on the U.S. seasoning market, which doubled in the past 20 years. Asian markets account for 7% of the company’s business and McCormick hopes to increase this to 15% in the next five years. China, where McCormick has located its biggest operations in Asia, and India, where branded seasonings account for just 10% of a market valued at $5 billion, present the biggest expansion opportunities for the company. Wilson sees his company benefitting from the growing popularity of various types of cuisine worldwide. Meanwhile, McCormick plans to implement its recipe-driven sales strategy in India, from which the company sources some 40 spices including pepper.

S Sanandakumar & PK Krishnakumar , "McCormick bullish on $5-bn Indian market", The Economic Times, November 23, 2010, © Times Internet Limited
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Despite Safety Concerns, China Is Turning To Genetic Modification To Boost Crop Yields

November 22, 2010: 10:02 AM EST

The debate in China over the safety of genetically-modified food heated up recently when the Ministry of Agriculture awarded bio-safety certificates to a corn variety and two rice varieties that were genetically modified to resist pest damage. The move makes China the first country to approve GM food staples for field testing. But there remains significant disagreement among government officials and scientists over the question of commercializing GM food, despite the lack of scientific evidence that it is dangerous to humans. There is agreement, however, that ongoing research into human and environmental safety issues, as well as economic security issues, is needed. With food security a high priority, the government is looking closely at gene modification technologies as a way to ensure food supplies keep up with the ever-growing population.

"Debate rages on over production of GM products", China Daily, November 22, 2010, © China Daily Information Co (CDIC)
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Starbucks Focuses On China, Doubles Rate Of Opening Stores As Global Economy Recovers

November 12, 2010: 06:40 AM EST

Seeing an improving global economy, Starbucks Corp. CEO Howard Schultz said his company plans to more than double the rate at which it opens stores. For fiscal year beginning October 2010 Starbucks plans to open 500 stores, which will be the biggest number since the 1,669 stores opened in fiscal 2008. 400 stores will be located outside the U.S., most of them in China where Schultz sees great potential. Starbucks has nearly 70% of the market in the country and Boston Consulting Group estimates that middle-income and affluent consumers will nearly triple over the coming decade. Starbucks plans to set up a farm and processing facilities in Yunnan, China.

"Starbucks to Double Store Openings on Economic Recovery", Bloomberg News, November 12, 2010, © Bloomberg LP
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The Global Economy Will Benefit From Chinese Investment Abroad

November 11, 2010: 12:34 AM EST

Chinese companies, many of which are state-run, accounted for 10 percent of the value of cross-border acquisitions this year. Cross-border deals often generate concerns, and the growth in the global influence of what people see as communist-controlled enterprises is regarded as unacceptable in some quarters, partly because many are worried that politics will influence decisions more than profits. Some countries, including Australia and Canada, are creating obstacles to Chinese investment, especially in primary industry. But there are good reasons why the trend should be allowed to continue. First, the current economic malaise in the world has been partly attributed to economic liberalism, giving a boost to those advocating more state capitalism. Second, Chinese companies are relatively new to the scene and far from being able to influence supply conditions significantly. Third, many state-run companies in China have to compete at home too, and competition in foreign markets should ensure that Chinese investments are profit-oriented. Fourth, some of the Chinese investment is coming from the private sector, such as Geely, the new owner of Volvo.  Finally, the global economy needs the capital and energy that Chinese investment should bring.

"China buys up the world", The Economist, November 11, 2010, © The Economist Newspaper Limited
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China’s Organic Foods Business Is Growing Steadily

November 4, 2010: 10:25 AM EST

The USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service reports that global organic food sales more than doubled in the five years ending in 2008 to $7.2 billion from $3 billion. One of the world’s hotspots is China, where analysts forecast sales to surpass $8 billion over the next five years. Launched in 1990 with the export of organic tea, the Chinese organic foods industry now exports minimally processed or raw foods such as honey, soy powder, beans, sesame, fruit, vegetables and poultry to North America, Europe and Japan. Annual growth rate in Chinese organic exports was 30 percent from 1995 to 2006. Demand for organic food among domestic consumers in China was sparked by a spate of food safety issues. More affluent consumers are the primary buyers of organic products in the country.

"Growth in organic foods expands into China", Drovers news source, November 04, 2010, © Vance Publishing Corp.
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China's Biggest Internet Companies Set To Collide As Wal-Mart Enter $65 Bn Chinese Ecommerce Market

November 4, 2010: 12:42 AM EST

China’s largest Internet companies, Alibaba, which controls 75% of the country’s ecommerce through business-to-consumer site Taobao, and Baidu, which accounts for 80% of online search traffic in the country, are set to become fierce competitors with their plans to launch ventures competing directly with each other’s core businesses. Baidu, in partnership with Rakuten, Japan’s leading ecommerce company, launched the Lekutian online shopping site. Meanwhile, Alibaba revived its ecommerce platform Taobao Mall and launched its Etao search engine. The companies also face a new competitor in the world’s biggest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores, which plans to start an ecommerce site for the Chinese market, forecast to reach $65.9 billion in value in 2010. Online sales will account for 7.2% of the retail market by 2013, according to Deutsche Bank.

Normandy Madden , "Chinese Internet Giants Baidu and Alibaba Become Fierce Rivals", Advertising Age, November 04, 2010, © Crain Communications
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Growth Slows In Global Vitamin, Supplement Market, But There Are Bright Spots

November 1, 2010: 06:09 AM EST

The $68 billion global market for vitamins and dietary supplements is growing more slowly these days, though certain product categories and countries report strong sales. The enduring recession, regulatory problems and product saturation in older markets have all contributed to slower overall growth, according to Euromonitor. Nevertheless, certain supplement categories – fish oils, lutein and zeaxanthin, glucosamine and probiotics – report double-digit growth. Buoying the success of these products is strong awareness among aging Baby Boom consumers of the scientific evidence supporting their health benefits. A notable trend is the popularity of combination supplements, such as fish oil blended with CoQ10 or tocotrienols. The $20 billion U.S. market and $8.2 billion Chinese market are posting healthy growth trends, while the No. 2 market, Japan at 15.3 billion, is showing flat growth, due in part to a regulatory clampdown on health claims.

Peter Zambetti , "The International Market: Most Regions Sail Steadily Forward", Nutraceuticals World, November 01, 2010, © Rodman Publishing
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Multinational Companies Must Expand To Cover China's Smaller Cities Or Risk Losing Market Share

November 1, 2010: 12:41 AM EST

International companies operating in China must expand their sales, marketing, and distribution efforts to cover the country’s smaller cities or risk losing market share to domestic and foreign rivals. Demand for consumer goods is increasing in these secondary cities, which are territories not familiar to many multinational consumer goods vendors but often serve as launching pads for regional Chinese vendors before they grow and expand into the country’s larger cities. Realizing this trend, international consumer goods vendors, such as Procter & Gamble Co. and KFC Corp., expanded their operations to include provincial cities. P&G products are now available in Tier 5 markets. In order to expand to new territories, companies must realise that there are regional variations between the smaller cities, with different cuisines, dialects and cultures, as well as climates. The companies will also need to be able to work not only with modern trade channels, but also the traditional channels in the country, which are likely to exist for some years to come. Local merchandizing is often weak, and so the companies might also need to build and run a large sales force of their own.

James A C. Sinclair, "Reaching China's Next 600 Cities", The China Business Review, November 01, 2010, © US-China Business Council
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Toast Still A Breakfast Staple Among Young, Single Office Workers In Asia, Australia

October 27, 2010: 12:35 AM EST

An informal study of single, “twenty-something”  office workers in 12 Asian and Australian cities, found that toast remains the dominant breakfast whether at home, during the commute, or at the office. The McCann study involved workers who were asked to take photos of their breakfasts and lunches for two weeks and upload them to the publication’s Facebook page. Though toast dominated the breakfasts, there was a comeback of traditional foods with some innovations: instant noodles and rice dishes in “convenient takeaway forms.” Cereals still struggle as a breakfast choice everywhere but in Australia. Favorite brands included Nutella, Smuckers, Nescafe, Coffeemate and Minute Maid, and Danone, Meiji and Nestle yogurts. For lunch AdWeek found a relative lack of brand names, but a rise in popularity of pasta.

Dave McCaughan, "What Do Young Asian Office Workers Eat for Breakfast and Lunch?", Advertising Age, October 27, 2010, © Crain Communications
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Beverage Marketers See Persistent Growth In Natural, Sugar-Free Juices

October 19, 2010: 12:44 AM EST

Thanks to consumers’ ongoing demand for healthy, low-calorie beverages, producers and industry experts expect continued strong sales growth for natural, sugar-free juices as well as new fruit and vegetable offerings. While Europe led in consumption of natural fruit and vegetable juices at 11 billion liters last year, North Americans drank about 9.5 billion liters and Asians about 8 billion. A leading U.K. beverage consultant expects a 1.2 percent sales increase in Europe in 2011, though a global juice packager sees Asian and South American markets showing the strongest growth. Selling well in produce aisles are Bolthouse, Odwalla, Naked, Acai and pomegranate juices, while new products like coconut water are gathering steam. Meanwhile, Coca Cola is fortifying its traditional beverages with vitamins and nutrients and low- and no-calorie options.

Elvina Simpson, "Juices Flood Market as Demand for Health Drinks Surge", CNBC.com, October 19, 2010, © CNBC.com
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Ministry Of Health Experts To Test The Level Of Estrogen In Many Diary Products

September 26, 2010: 10:14 PM EST

To further examine the level of estrogen in diary products, the Ministry of Health will be conducting another examination in Beijing and Shanghai using not only manufactured diary products but breast milk as well. The Chinese CDC also formed a team of experts from the area of food safety, pediatric, and women’s health to discuss results from a previous examination in Wuhan, which they say was performed meticulously. The experts are not yet sure if the dairy powder caused an elevated estrogen level in the children who participated in the Wuhan examination. Ministry of Health resources say that the results of the recent test can be obtained in about two or three days, but they are not sure how they will be announced to the public. 

"卫生部专家称将检测多个品牌乳品雌激素水平", Zhong Jin Online, September 26, 2010
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Hain Celestial Expands Presence In China With Organic Infant Formula

September 20, 2010: 08:06 PM EST

U.S. natural and organic products supplier Hain Celestial Group continues to expand its business beyond North America and Europe with the introduction of a co-branded organic infant formula in China through its Hutchison Hain Organic joint venture. Produced in Switzerland, Earth's Best (U.S. and Canada) and Zhi Ling Tong (Chi-Med, China) have received organic certification from the China Organic Food Certification Centre. Hutchison Hain Organic began marketing and distributing selected Hain Celestial products earlier this year through A.S. Watson and PARKnSHOP stores in Asia. Chinese pharmaceutical holding company Chi-Med estimates that sales of infant formula in 2009 in China were about $3.4 billion. By the beginning of 2010, Zhi Ling Tong was being sold through 13 sales offices across China covering more than 130 cities.

"Hutchison Hain Organic Launches Earth's Best and Zhi Ling Tong Co-Branded Infant Formula in China", News release, Hain Organic, September 20, 2010, © Hain Organic
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100 Tons More Of Poisonous Milk Powder Found, 41 Prosecuted

August 21, 2010: 10:17 PM EST

The case of melanine tainted milk powder in Qinghai and Hebei offically wrapped up today with the investigation and persecution of 41 people who were involved. The case orginated from a secret stash of leftover problematic milk powder that the CEO of Hebei’s Luyuan diary company kept after a previous attempt by the food safety commission to get rid of it. He then sold it to various other manufacturers in different parts of China. Authorities are still trying to recover the rest of the product. About 104 tons of milk powder was recalled and seized by the food safety commission. Various departments are still conducting inspections on diary manufacturers, attempting to prevent substandard milk from entering the market, at the same time cracking down on offenders. 

"多地再查出百吨毒奶粉 涉案41人被追究刑事责任", Tencent News, August 21, 2010
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Report Shows Cosmetics And Powdered Milk Lead Chinese Online Purchases Of Overseas Goods

August 9, 2010: 10:30 PM EST

According to an online survey  released by China Electronic Commerce Research Center, a third party non-profit organization, foreign market online transactions reached 78.2 billion yuan by the end of June 2010 and are expected to reach 110.3 billion yuan by the end of the year. The report, the “2010 Chinese e-commerce market data monitoring report", says that the most popular products are cosmetics and powdered milk, followed by bags, hats, clothing, electronics, high-end watches jewelry, food, personal sports equipment and overseas specialties.

Feng Yuan, "调查显示:消费者最爱从海外代购化妆品和奶粉", Xinghua newspaper network, August 09, 2010
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Draft Chinese Ministry of Health Ruling Looks Set To Boost Demand For Non-Flavored Infant Milk

August 4, 2010: 02:10 PM EST

The Ministry of Health in China recently published a draft ruling that would ban the use of food flavoring and fragrance in more than 20 of infant formula and food products leading to widespread concern in the industry, which is heavily dependent on the practice. Excess intake of certain fragrances has been found to be harmful, especially in the development of infant organs; parents also argue that the use of flavors affects children’s sense of taste and causes them to become dependent upon them. In contrast, consumers view natural milk products as the products most reliably beneficial for their baby’s growth. Currently, only five companies in China do not add any fragrance to their milk products. This includes Yili, the leading diary product company that has firmly established its image as natural and pure. With the anticipated passing of the draft ruling, the market for non-fragrant baby milk product is looking promising again. 

"卫生部"禁香令"引热议 伊利奶粉等少数厂商未加香", People’s Food Channel, August 04, 2010
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Food Price Increases Help Drive China Consumer Price Inflation To 3.3%

August 3, 2010: 10:08 PM EST

The CPI in China hit a new high this year at 3.3%, with floods and other factors contributing to the increase. Among the eight categories of CPI, food prices had a profound impact. Prices for agricultural products such as pork, garlic, leaf vegetables and grains increased the most. Discussion on increased interest rate has been ruled out by government officials as absurd and reports indicate that there may be hope for the CPI to decrease in later months since the increase in food price is short term. Still, authorities advise that people should stay vigilant in case of an increase.

"猪肉大蒜等产品涨价 多家机构预测7月CPI破3%", Economic Reference, August 03, 2010
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Some Organic Food Producers In Shanghai Succeed By Adhering To International Standards

July 28, 2010: 07:25 AM EST

The organic food movement is beginning to catch on in China, though people are still uncertain whether products touted as organic are properly certified and labeled and of high quality. But some reputable local firms are working hard to meet international organic certification standards and are delivering organic choices to Shanghai shoppers, sometimes straight to the buyer’s door for free. BIOfarm, for example, offers many organic foods derived from its 120 annually rotating crops. The farm delivers weekly “Farmer’s Baskets” of fresh, high quality produce, including a “singles” basket of five to seven types of fruits and vegetables. Other Chinese organic food producers include Shanghai Organic Agriculture Co., Ltd., Fields, Organic Kitchen and My Local Store. Several of these have online stores.

Sarah Zheng, "Green talk: Organic Made Easy", Shanghai Talk Magazine, July 28, 2010, © Ismay Publications Ltd.
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Venture Capitalists Pour Money Into Chinese E-Commerce

July 28, 2010: 04:35 AM EST

Chinese shoppers are turning away from catalogs and are buying more online, providing a strong growth platform for e-commerce sites in the country backed by venture capital. In the first six months of 2010, six such e-commerce companies raised over $180 million. The sites attracting venture capital include retailers and wholesalers. One of the largest deals involved Beijing-based VANCL Co., a clothing retailer, which received $50 million of financing from a number of backers. The e-commerce trend is supported by the growth in credit card ownership and usage. Online transactions increased more than 100 percent between 2008 and 2009; most were customer-to-customer transactions. The country’s top retailers are just starting to take advantage of the trend: only 3 percent of the top 1000 retailers have launched online.

Jonathan Shieber , "SOMETHING VENTURED: Chinese Consumers Tossing The Catalog", Dow Jones News Service, July 28, 2010, © Dow Jones News Service
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Global Personal Care Leaders Seek To Duplicate China Success In India

July 22, 2010: 03:08 AM EST

After their success in China, global skincare brands now have their eyes focused on India’s skincare market, which grows 20-25% yearly. High-end vendor L’Occitane’s 51:49 joint venture deal with Kolkata-based Beauty Concepts illustrates this point. L’Occitane, however, is not alone, as Germany-based Beiersdorf, owner of the Nivea brand, aims to make China and India, along with Brazil and Russia, primary drivers of its planned sales expansion, while L’Oreal, which acquired British brand The Body Shop, is also working hard to expand its business in India. Hindustan Unilever Ltd. (HUL) controls the skincare market in India, where a fast growing middle class is flexing its purchasing strength and a growing mall culture has raised brand awareness. Local players including Dabur and Piramal Healthcare, however, are also doing their best to protect their shares of the market.

Anumeha Chaturvedi , "A Passage to Chindia ", Business Today, July 22, 2010, © India Today Group
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Abnormal Weather Led To A 50% Cut In Honey Production, 30% Rise In Price

July 16, 2010: 10:02 PM EST

Abnormal weather is being blamed for a fall in honey production in Beijing of  50% compared with last year. The cut in honey supply has also led to a surge in the purchasing price in the country, with roughly an 80% price increase for rape flower honey, and an 100% increase for locust flower honey. Most supermarkets have not yet received price adjustment notices,  but honey manufacturers have estimated the price inflation will be around 30-40%.

"异常气候导致蜂蜜企业减产达50% 行业酝酿涨价三成", Beijing Commercial News, July 16, 2010
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Chinese Government Seizes 76 Tons Of Dairy Products Contaminated With Toxic Melamine

July 9, 2010: 05:53 AM EST

The Chinese government, embarrassed by food-safety violations in the 2007 and 2008 melamine cases and determined to prevent them in the future, has implemented comprehensive changes in food inspection procedures that includes new rules and a streamlined food regulation bureaucracy. The new program seems to be working. Food inspectors in Qinghai Province in Western China recently impounded 76 tons of milk powder and other raw dairy products and finished goods tainted with as much as 559 times the legal levels of the toxic industrial chemical melamine. The confiscated products had somehow avoided a national recall of dairy foods after the 2008 debacle. Melamine is added to food products because it mimics protein in food quality tests, making foods then seem more nutritious.

MICHAEL WINES, "Tainted Dairy Products Seized in Western China", The New York Times, July 09, 2010, © The New York Times
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General Mills Targets International Markets To Drive Growth Through 2015

July 1, 2010: 03:04 AM EST

At its recent earnings call, General Mills said it expects international expansion will drive sales to $18 billion by 2015, from $14.8 billion for the fiscal ended May 2010. Its international unit has been growing faster than the rest of the business for the past five years and should post sales of over $3.7 billion in five years time, from $2.7 billion in 2010. It expects China to generate $900 million of sales by 2015, from $350 million in 2010. General Mills has ring-fenced $10 million in this fiscal year to help it gain a stronger presence overseas and is “actively working” to identify expansion opportunities in emerging markets, and especially the BRIC countries. It aims to grow scale and category scope through acquisitions in the growth markets to help offset the expected continued weakness in Western Europe.

Niveditha Ravi , "General Mills Profit Falls 41%, Trailing Analysts' Estimates", Bloomberg, July 01, 2010, © BLOOMBERG L.P.
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