Ah, January. The rush of Santa and Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year's preparations are finally gone, and it's time for editors to recap the memorable events of the past year. So, without further ado, here are some of the food industry stories that made 2002 what it was.

ETA, milk and beer. When the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) decided to revisit their “Got Beer” campaign, that oh-so-clever rip on the dairy industry's “Got Milk” phenomenon, they made heads turn. When they launched it at the University of Wisconsin, they made heads spin. Let's see: encourage alcohol consumption at an institution where at least half of the population is under legal drinking age.

Will they? Won't they? Who? The sale of Hershey Foods became the story that wasn't. After lower-than-expected bids arrived at their doorstep, the powers-that-be at Hershey decided that a sale might not be in their best interest. Of course, community outrage and legal action probably played a part as well.

Watered down! Statistics show sales of water have skyrocketed in recent years, and the major beverage makers have rushed to fill shelves with their version of good, old H2O, bringing prices down in the process. Before long, the average consumer may actually be able to afford a bottle of water, but not before notions of water take an interesting turn. Flavored waters have become the rage and now, enhanced versions are entering the aisles. All of this leads to a bigger issue: How much flavor can water have before it becomes punch?

Buy, Buy, Buy. The food industry's acquisition disposition continued, as more mergers dotted the headlines—and not just the processors. Big news came from South African Breweries' acquisition of Miller and Nestle's buy of Chef America. Other deals include: ADM bought Minnesota Corn Processors. Kerry purchased more than a half-dozen firms. Bunge bought Cereol; Stake bought Opta Food Ingredients. Givaudan acquired Nestle's Food Ingredients Specialties, and Cargill got controlling interest in Cerestar.

Branded. A number of brands found new homes. American Italian purchased pasta brands left and right. Unilever sold 19 brands to ACH Food Companies. Jif and Crisco went from Procter & Gamble to Smucker, while Heinz spun off 9 Lives, StarKist and several others to Del Monte. Meanwhile, Novartis shed Ovaltine. Talk about needing a scorecard!

Just the fats. McDonald's and Burger King were among those sued by a man blaming them for his obesity-related health problems. To paraphrase another organization, fat doesn't kill people; being fat kills people.

Internet Information
For more information on this issue's articles, see the Internet sites provided below.

Soup Lines

www.mintel.com— Mintel International Group
www.campbellsoup.com— Campbell Soup
www.generalmills.com— General Mills
www.coventgarden.com— Covent Garden

Middle Eastern Cuisines Gain Ground

www.aleb.org— Agriculture-Led Export Businesses (ALEB) supporting Egyptian food processing companies
www.globalgourmet.com/destinations/— Links to various countries' cuisines and historical background
www.middleeastuk.com/culture/cuisine/— Introduction to Middle East cooking and recipes
www.pbm.com/~lindahl/cariadoc/recipe_toc.html— Table of contents to Islamic recipes
www.ou.org/kosher/kosherqa/food.htm— Kosher laws
www.dscp.dla.mil/subs/rations/meals/halman.pdf— Halal industrial production standards
www.calraisins.org/Consumer/recipes.html— See “Ethnic Foods” under recipes
www.manischewitz.com— Manishewitz food company
Proteins for Lowfat Products
www.cals.ncsu.edu/food_science/sdfrc/sdfrc.html— Southeast Dairy Foods Research Center
www.extraordinarydairy.com/DR_WheyIngredients.asp— Dairy Management Inc.'s general whey page
www.spcouncil.org/contents.htm— Soy Protein Council
www.soyfoods.org/— Soyfoods Association

Osteoporosis, a Man's Issue

www.fda.gov/fdac/fdacindex.html— Website of FDA Consumer magazine
www.nof.org— National Osteoporosis Foundation
www.PreparedFoods.com— Prepared Foods homepage with a keyword search field for six years of archived editorial. Use search words such as osteoporosis, “calcium fortification,” etc.