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European Business News – Week ending December 10, 2010

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European Business News – Week ending December 10, 2010

December 10
14:07 2010

Food processors are continuing to face confusion and difficulties regarding the health claims which can be made for specific functional food products. Last week, Danone called upon the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which regulates this area, to amend the way in which it evaluates the scientific evidence upon which health claims are based. About 80% of health claims were rejected by EFSA during 2010.

According to some probiotic food manufacturers, EFSA is demanding that processors are clear and precise about the claims that they are making but yet the regulator’s own guidelines are far from clear and precise.

As the lines between the food and pharmaceutical industries become increasingly blurred and with ‘health and wellness’ two of the most important consumer concerns, it is essential that this matter is resolved quickly.

Indeed, a report, just published by the European Commission and the OECD, has revealed that over half of the population in the EU is now overweight or obese, which has serious implications for health and the health systems in Member States. Some would argue that the food industry has contributed to the obesity problem. Entitled ‘Health at a Glance: Europe 2010’, the report serves to highlight the fundamental link between nutrition and health.

Spirits & Wine

Consolidation within the international spirits and wine industry is expected to accelerate following the decision by Fortune Brands to spin off its Home & Security and Golf businesses to concentrate on premium spirits. A streamlined Fortune Brands will be focused on its Beam Global Spirits & Wine unit, which has annual sales of $2.5 billion and is the largest US-based spirits company. It is the world leader in the growing bourbon category, with its Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark and Knob Creek brands. Other global brands include Courvoisier cognac, Canadian Club whisky, Laphroaig and Teacher’s Scotch whisky, and Sauza tequila.

Although the fourth largest premium spirits business in the world, Beam Global is a long way behind leaders Diageo and Pernod Ricard, and is likely to become an acquisition or merger target.

Turnaround

A couple of weeks after the death of its founder, Bernard Matthews, Britain’s largest turkey processor, Bernard Matthews Farms, was again in the news by winning the Institute for Turnaround Europe’s Top Turnaround Award 2010 for a private company. The group is mid-way through a four year rehabilitation programme as it seeks to recover from the adverse financial impact of an outbreak of avian flu in early 2007.


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