July 2011/Prepared Foods-- According to a U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) lawyer, POM Wonderful LLC does not have the scientific backing to make advertising claims indicating its pomegranate juice and supplements prevent or treat prostate cancer, erectile dysfunction and heart disease.

The case continues the FTC’s aggressive efforts to compel food companies to support their advertising with more scientific findings. It follows a 2010 effort which saw the FTC pressure Nestle NA and the Dannon Co. Inc. to alter ads promoting their probiotic products.

In the POM Wonderful case, FTC attorney Heather Hippsley argues the company cites studies which lack comparisons to control groups, fails to show statistically significant changes in medical conditions and is measuring the wrong indicators of improvement. She further contends company documents indicate company executives were aware of the studies’ shortcomings and “repeatedly ignored warning signs that the marketing didn’t match the science.”

A brief filed by POM Wonderful and Roll Global argues the FTC is “aggressively seeking to obtain new legal ground against advertisers,” while also attempting to “apply a pharmaceutical ‘drug’ standard to food products.”

Pyramid Tumbles

July 2011/Prepared Foods -- The Obama administration has decided to make the pyramid a thing of the past; the food pyramid, that is. The symbol for healthy eating advice for nearly two decades has been dropped in favor of a plate-shaped symbol, sliced into wedges for the basic food groups. Half of those wedges are filled with fruits and vegetables.

The plate is touted as a “fast, easily grasped reminder of the basics of a healthy diet.” Its four colored sections allot space for fruits, vegetables, grains and protein, with a smaller circle outside the plate designated for dairy.

The old food pyramid had been around since 1992, but, according to critics, was too confusing and deeply flawed by not clearly distinguishing healthy foods from less-healthy options. Speaking to the New York Times, Walter C. Willett, chairman of the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health, noted, “It’s g

“We need to get consumers’ attention,” said Robert C. Post, deputy director of the Department of Agriculture’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. He said it was meant to be a “visual cue” that would prompt “consumers to say, ‘I need to be a little more concerned about what I choose to build a healthy day’s diet.’”

Post said the USDA had spent about $2 million to develop and promote the logo, including conducting research and focus groups and creating a website. Some of that money will also be used for the first year of a campaign to publicize the image.

According to the USDA, the new design incorporates seven key dietary messages:
1. Enjoy food, but eat less.
2. Avoid oversized portions.
3. Make half the plate fruits and vegetables.
4. Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
5. Make at least half of grains whole grains.
6. Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
7. Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread and frozen meals—and choose the foods with lower numbers.

Survey Says Marginal Improvements Ahead

A KPMG International survey of senior financial executives of global food and beverage companies finds a positive, though tempered, forecast for the industry. The survey finds the respondents expect to achieve improved financial performance in 2011, but they also foresee difficulty in sustaining profit margins and increasing market share.

KPMG surveyed 138 food and beverage executives and found 20% expect “significant increases” in financial performance this year vs. last, with 58% expecting “some increase.” Only 11% expect a decline in performance. 

Per KPMG, this optimistic view is a result of a noteworthy increase in consumer demand. In fact, 30% said they have already seen a sustained increase in demand for their company’s products and services since the economic slowdown, with 44% expecting the increase in 2011, and 20% in 2012 or later. <br><br>

Not all of the forecasts are positive, however; 49% of those surveyed by KPMG indicate that they will have difficulty sustaining profit margins. In addition, 45% say they will have difficulty increasing market share.

While the economic downturn has had a significant impact on profits and growth over the past three years, company execs feel their firms have been strengthened in many ways. For example, 48% of global consumer finance execs said their cost structures have improved, compared to 14% who say they are in a worse position, and 43% express they are in a better position today with suppliers, compared to 8% saying worse

To improve supply chain efficiency and costs over the next two years, the food and beverage executives see investing in production or distribution technology, enhancing distribution structure, decreasing inventory levels and consolidating suppliers as the greatest priorities. pf



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* Bob Klima has been named business development manager, Food and Beverage for Caravan Ingredients.
* J & J Snack Foods Corp.  purchased the frozen handheld business from ConAgra Foods. 
* A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, supports the role of two Danisco probiotic strains in the management of functional bowel disorders.
* InterHealth Nutraceuticals appointed James Lugo and Zainulabedin Saiyed to InterHealth’s R&D department, Lugo as director of business development and research, and Saiyed as R&D manager.
* D.D. Williamson added Jennifer L. Brown to its Science and Innovation team, as application scientist.
* In Sargento’s consumer products division, Shelly Blythe was hired as customer research manager; Michael Vaszily was promoted to alternative channels director; Erin Price was promoted to core marketing director of Refrigerated Snacks and Natural Slices; Nicole Pavlica was promoted to marketing manager of Refrigerated Snacks; and Bill Jacob was hired as associate marketing manager for Natural Slices. In the company’s foodservice division, Jane McClellan was hired as market research manager, and Dan Riste was promoted to director of sales. At its food ingredients division, Bill Schaeffer was promoted to senior director of sales.
* Takasago Americas announced several new appointments: Dr. Belayet (Bill) Choudhury is senior flavor chemist; Dr. Zareena Valappi is part of Takasago’s Citrus team; and Hitesh Patel has advanced to certified flavor chemist.
* Ocean Spray’s Ingredient Technology Group and Artemis International announced details of their strategic partnership. Artemis will provide sales and marketing support to Ocean Spray’s sale of cranberry powder and extract to nutraceutical manufacturers.
* AdvancePierre Foods acquired Barber Foods.
* RFI Ingredients LLC opened a sales office in Staffordshire, UK, headed by Andrew Wainwright.
* Anlit Advanced Nutrition Supplements, Israel, won a top VitaFoods 2011 Tasting Bar award at the Finished Products Expo show in Geneva, for the “Tastiest Finished Product” on exhibit. Anlit, in collaboration with Ingredia Nutritional, France, developed “Sweet Dreams,” an advanced supplement format designed to help children aged 1-14 sleep better through the night.
* The Center for the Advancement of Foodservice Education (CAFÉ) has awarded its Endorsement Program seal to a series of lesson plans designed for foodservice education provided by the Irvine, Calif.-based Hass Avocado Board.
* Solbar, Israel, named Todd R. Watson president of Solbar USA.
* Martin Bauer Inc. appointed Petra Tanos to a dual role in extract sales and in promoting the company’s sustainability and CSR programs. 
* Vitiva opened a new sales office in southern Germany. Norbert Huber has taken the position of area sales manager and will lead Vitiva’s operation in Germany, Austria and part of Switzerland.
Press releases about personnel and company news may be sent to the Prepared Foods staff at: pfeditors@bnpmedia.com.