Friday, October 29, 2010


Halloween – what a wonderful time of year! Adults and kids alike have every reason to love this holiday. From dressing up like your favorite superhero (without getting weird looks) to an abundance of candy on store shelves and door-to-door, everyone can get into the Halloween spirit. This year, you might notice some new candy options at your local supermarket or in your treat bag with an update from your favorite sweet companies.

If you're a fan of marshmallow Peeps at Easter, you have another reason to love them at Halloween. This year, the Just Born candy company added new, individually wrapped, milk chocolate covered pumpkins to its line-up.

This time of year, Willy Wonka brings out his "Spooky Nerds." The orange and fruit punch flavored sugar bits are packaged in boxes adorned with devil and ghost dressed Nerds. Cute and delicious!

The Hershey Company also gets into the Halloween mood with limited-time Hershey's Kisses in flavors like Candy Corn and Pumpkin Spice.

If you're more of a salty snack eater, you're in luck! This year, Frito-Lay rolled out Cheetos Mighty Zingers in crazy cheddar and wicked picante flavor.

Last year, Frito-Lay's parent company offered special Pepsi Halloween cans to recognize this scary time of year.

As the highest-grossing holiday of the year for the candy industry, you can bet that new sweets will be added to grocery shelves year after year. What new Halloween treats have you noticed this season?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Play Ball!

Tomorrow night, the World Series will begin. This year, the Texas Rangers take on the San Francisco Giants to battle it out in Major League Baseball's championship series. While baseball is associated with ballpark food like hot dogs, nachos, and Cracker Jacks, the game would not be possible without a home in which the teams can play ball. For that, many baseball franchises can thank food and beverage consumer packaged goods companies for sponsoring the sports fields and stadiums that bring us America's pastime.

It all started in 1926, when Wrigley became the first company to buy naming rights to a baseball stadium. Gum magnate William Wrigley, owner of the Chicago Cubs, named his team's stadium Wrigley Field. The trend caught on and continued.

The Colorado Rockies call Coors Field home. Since 1995 Coors Brewing Company in nearby Golden, Colorado, has owned the naming rights to the Denver stadium. The beer company is not alone, however, when it comes to naming baseball venues. Miller Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, owes its name to Miller Brewing Company. Miller's $40 million contract as the title sponsor for the home of the Milwaukee Brewers runs through 2020. Another beer company, Anheuser-Busch, is behind Busch Stadium, where the St. Louis Cardinals play. The ballpark opened on April 4, 2006, and the brewer's naming rights deal, which will last through the 2025 season, helped to offset the stadium's original construction costs.

While beer and baseball go hand in hand, not too many fans would associate the sport with orange juice, but they should! Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, has been home to the Tampa Bay Rays since 1990. The domed stadium seats 36,973. Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas, opened in 2000, and houses the Astros.

Retailers are into the naming act, too. Pet supplier PETCO owns the rights to PETCO Park, home of the San Diego Padres. Thanks to Target, the Minnesota Twins have their own venue and no longer have to share space with local college and pro football teams with the opening of Target Field this year in Minneapolis.

Food and beverage CPG companies aren't only involved in naming baseball stadiums. Since 2001, Heinz Field in Pittsburgh has been the home of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Pitt Panthers. Within the football arena, the Coca-Cola Great Hall spans approximately 40,000 square feet and displays a collection of Steelers and Panthers memorabilia. Finally, hockey and basketball fans in Denver unite at the Pepsi Center for sporting events and concerts.

If you've attended a sporting event at one of these ballparks or sports venues, tell me about your experience! What other CPG companies or retailers would you like to see in lights as a stadium sponsor?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Sugar Rush

Halloween is just around the corner, and candy is on the minds of children and adults alike. According to the Census Bureau, Americans eat an average of 25 pounds of candy each year. While major and minor manufacturers introduce hundreds of new candies every year, only a handful become successful to fill a void and stay on the market. With so many options available to candy lovers, what are the best selling sweet treats across the country? Take a look at the results, based on sales data from the Symphony IRI Group.
  1. M&M's
  2. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
  3. Hershey's Chocolate Bar
  4. Snickers
  5. Orbit
  6. Trident (The world's first sugar-free gum!)
  7. 5 React
  8. Stride
  9. Kit-Kat
  10. Extra
  11. Eclipse
  12. Twix
  13. Twizzlers
  14. Skittles
  15. Dove Bar
  16. 3 Musketeers
  17. Starburst
  18. Milky Way
  19. Butterfinger
  20. Trident White
  21. Hershey's Kisses
  22. Tic Tacs
  23. Dentyne
  24. Orbit White
  25. Ice Breakers
The rest of the world likes candy as well. Industry experts break up confectionery goods into three segments: chocolate, non-chocolate, and chewing gum. Chocolate is the largest category, making up 55 percent of all candy sold. Gum has a 14 percent stake in the industry, and is the fastest growing candy segment.

Is your favorite candy on this list? Leave a message and tell me more about the sugary goodness you crave at Halloween and all year long!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Worthy of Admiration

Earlier this year, Fortune Magazine named its 2010 list of the World's Most Admired Companies. Lately, I have noticed many of the food and beverage consumer packaged goods companies that made the list have been in the news for unveiling new products, sponsoring new causes, and earning awards for their outstanding treatment of employees. For this, it is worthwhile to point out which companies were a part of the list as we await the 2011 list early next year.

To rank the companies, Fortune surveyed businesspeople, asking them to vote for the companies that they admired most from any industry. Among the food and beverage CPG companies that landed on the overall top 50 list: Coca-Cola at number 10, PepsiCo at number 25, Nestlé at number 34, and General Mills at number 47.

Within the consumer food products industry, the survey recognized the following companies:
  1. Nestlé
  2. PepsiCo
  3. General Mills
  4. Unilever
  5. Kellogg's
  6. Danone
  7. Kraft Foods
  8. H.J. Heinz
  9. Cadbury (On February 2, 2010, Cadbury became part of Kraft Foods.)
  10. ConAgra Foods
  11. Sara Lee
  12. Dean Foods
  13. Seasoning and sauce maker Ajinomoto
The survey acknowledged the following beverage companies as the World's Most Admired:
  1. Coca-Cola
  2. Anheuser-Busch InBev
  3. Brewer SABMiller
  4. Pepsi Bottling Group (Now part of PepsiCo.)
  5. Coca-Cola Enterprises
  6. Diageo
  7. FEMSA, the world's largest Coca-Cola bottler
  8. Heineken
  9. Kirin Brewery
  10. (Tie) Japan's Asahi Breweries and Danish brewing company Carlsberg A/S
Finally, survey results proved these food production manufacturers to be the best of the best:
  1. Archer Daniels Midland
  2. Corn Products International
  3. Agribusiness and food company Bunge
  4. Asia's leading agribusiness group Wilmar International
  5. Chiquita Brands International
  6. Smithfield Foods
  7. Tyson Foods
  8. Seaboard, maker of grain and agriculturally derived products
  9. Sanderson Farms 100 percent natural chicken
  10. Pilgrim's Pride
With innovation in products and manufacturing techniques, as well as exceptional corporate social responsibility practices and the support of employees through excellent benefits, these food and beverage companies deserve the title of one of the "World' Most Admired Companies."

How do you feel about the companies on this list? If you've worked for a business that made the list, leave a message and tell me more! If you feel that an important company was left off the 2010 list, let me know why. With so many industry changes, it will be interesting to see how the 2011 list will transpire.

Friday, October 15, 2010

How Sweet

Have you heard about Sweetest Day? Each year, it's celebrated on the third Saturday of October, which would make tomorrow the big day. Sweetest Day was founded in 1922 by Herbert Birch Kingston, a Cleveland, Ohio, candy company employee. Birch wanted to bring happiness to those less fortunate by sending them candy and small gifts to brighten their day. Today, the holiday has evolved to a time where friends and loved ones can show their appreciation, and I want to share some sweet recipes with you to make for the special people in your family, using the CPG products in your kitchen cabinet.

For breakfast, try your hand at Honey Vanilla Crème Stuffed French Toast featuring Coffee-mate, or Southwest Benedict Fritos Pie.

If dinner is your specialty, test one of these appetizing ideas:If you're short on time, perhaps you can prepare a pitcher of Smucker's Heat Wave Punch or a side dish like Apple Coleslaw featuring Nestlé Juicy Juice.

What would Sweetest Day be without dessert? Attempt an after-dinner treat like Big Red Heinz Ketchup Cake, Hershey's Hugs & Kisses Crescents, or Mini No-Bake Twinkie Cheesecakes.

Bon appétit!

Be sweet to your loved ones and whip up one of these recipes this weekend! Please, share your tasty recipes that use common CPG products for unique dishes in the comments section.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

That's Amore

October is National Pizza Month. Can you think of a better way to honor the Italian pie than with a post all about pizza? Let's take a look at how this staple of the American diet has evolved throughout the years and the many different options you can find today in your grocer's freezer.

In the 1960s, business owners Rose and Jim Totino branched out from their local pizza shop in Minneapolis to try their hand at frozen pizza. Their idea was to turn flavorless, hard frozen pizza crusts into flaky, delicious meals people could cook at home. Today, the Totino's line of pizza is owned by General Mills and is best known for its pizza rolls.

Tombstone Pizza came along in 1962. The pizza's odd name comes from its days in "The Tombstone Tap," a bar located across from a graveyard in Medford, Wisconsin. Nestlé USA now distributes the frozen pizza, which is available in 12 flavors and unique options like cheese stuffed and garlic bread crusts.

Along with these brands, Stouffer's dominated the frozen pizza category with its French Bread Pizza varieties for a long time. The market changed greatly, however, in 1995 when Kraft introduced its DiGiorno line of pizzas, designed to rise in your oven and taste more like delivery pizza. (Nestlé acquired Kraft Foods' frozen pizza business earlier this year for $3.7 billion.) The Schwan Food Company followed suit with its line of naturally rising pizza, Freschetta, shortly thereafter.

Today, consumers can find everything from thin to focaccia crust frozen pizzas to pre-made Boboli pizza crusts and refrigerated Pillsbury pizza dough. A number of restaurants now also sell their pies at the grocery store, including the signature deep dish of Uno Chicago Grill and the fresh, sophisticated tastes of California Pizza Kitchen.

Revenues from the frozen pizza industry increased from $3.1 billion in 2000 to $4.4 billion in 2009. This segment is growing faster than the overall food market and is expected to continue climbing as pizza remains the "go to" meal of busy Americans.

What are your thoughts about frozen pizza? Is there a certain brand or taste sensation you prefer? Leave a message and tell me about your favorite pizza from the grocery store.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Sports: More Than Beer and Nachos

While football season is just heating up, baseball season is coming to an end. What do athletes do in their spare time when sports wind down or when they decide the time has come to retire? Many sports pros have dabbled in the food and beverage consumer packaged goods industry, manufacturing everything from wine to donuts.

Take, for example, hockey legend Wayne Gretzky. After hanging up his skates, "The Great One" started his own winery with wife Janet in 2007, No. 99 Estates Winery. A portion of each wine sold benefits the Wayne Gretzky Foundation, dedicated to providing less fortunate youth with the opportunity to experience the sport of hockey. Hear all about Wayne's foray into vino on Wine Library TV.

Many football players have also taken the path into the wine business, including Drew Bledsoe and Mike Ditka, as have NASCAR drivers Mario Andretti and Jeff Gordon.

After Pro Football Hall of Famer Franco Harris left the game, he settled in Pittsburgh where he started Super Bakery in 1990. Harris' goal was to make junk foods more nutritious, and sold his goods, like donuts and pastries, to schools, hospitals, and airlines. In 2006, the football legend most known for "The Immaculate Reception," renamed his company RSuper Foods. Today, Harris' Super Donut and Super Bun products are sold publicly at Giant Eagle grocery stores in Pennsylvania. In the future, Harris hopes to expand the product line to include muffins, wraps, and other bread and pastry products.

Have you noticed other athletes lending their names to a food or beverage line on store shelves? Drop me a line and tell me more!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Breaking the Glass Ceiling

Throughout the years, businesses have done a better job of fostering a supportive environment for women. So far this year, two organizations have released lists honoring the companies that are the best for working mothers and the top companies for executive women. Numerous food and beverage consumer packaged goods companies and retailers have landed on these prestigious lists.

Last month, Working Mother announced its 25th annual list of its 100 Best Companies. The companies on the list offered family-friendly benefits and programs that help keep the careers of working moms on track.

This year, Working Mother named General Mills among the top ten companies for working moms. At General Mills, 41 percent of managers, senior managers, and corporate executives are women, and women make up 36 percent of the company's board of directors. According to Working Mother, "Moms head five of the seven U.S. retail divisions of this food manufacturing company, with Yoplait president Becky O'Grady added in 2009."

Kellogg's also landed among manufacturers making this year's list. Working Mother reports that "parents who need to take their kids on a business trip for Kellogg's will have their child-care costs fully reimbursed by the company." What's more, 33 percent of women are among top earners at the cereal and snack giant.

As for consumer products, Diageo North America earned a spot on the list. At the spirits, wine, and beer company, parents can take advantage of an internal resource and referral service to locate childcare, and are able to use up to 15 days of subsidized backup childcare every year. More than 70 percent of the women promoted last year benefited from the company's established flexible work arrangement program.

Finally, Kraft Foods secured a place on the list. According to Working Mother, Kraft rewards high-potential leaders with an executive coach to help employees sharpen their skills and connect with company leaders.

Also last month, the National Association for Female Executives (NAFE) released its 2010 list of the Top 50 Companies for Women Executives. General Mills once again took top honors for its hiring, mentoring, developing, and training practices for female employees. In addition, the company offers flex schedules for work-life balance and stretch assignments to give women an opportunity to work in areas they otherwise would not be exposed to in their everyday responsibilities.

Food and beverage CPG companies Diageo North America, Kellogg's, Kraft, and PepsiCo, along with retailers Macy's and Walmart rounded out NAFE's current list.

As per NAFE, list honorees are compiled from a comprehensive application by companies with a minimum of two women on its board of directors. The questionnaire focused on the number of women in senior ranks, including questions about the programs and policies that support the advancement of women.

If you work for one of the companies on these lists, congratulations! Leave me a note to tell me more. If you feel that your company should be added to one (or both) of these lists, write a comment explaining why.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Breast Cancer Awareness Month Has Companies Thinking Pink

October kicks off National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, dedicated to increasing awareness of the importance of early breast cancer detection. To aid in this cause, numerous food and beverage consumer packaged goods companies have pledged to sponsor this worthy initiative through donations and limited edition pink products that have a portion of the proceeds benefiting breast cancer awareness foundations.

This year, a new partner is joining the fight against breast cancer, and doing it in a unique and rewarding way. During the month of October, specially marked packages of Kerrygold Dubliner Cheese will be sold in retail stores nationwide to benefit Komen for the Cure. Irish Dairy Board, Inc., makers of Kerrygold, will donate $55,000 to Komen regardless of the amount of cheese sales during the month. Kerrygold has dedicated a web page to their pink program where consumers can find ideas on how to raise funds for Komen, and will be giving away a trip to Ireland, home of Kerrygold Cheese.

Grocery stores throughout the month will be lined with pink products as companies offer a variety of specially packaged items to support breast cancer awareness, including Dove Chocolate Promises of Hope to support Susan G. Komen. Each piece of the dark chocolate candy is individually wrapped with a special inspirational promise written by a breast cancer survivor. In the past, Mars also issued pink M&M's to raise awareness. Since partnering with Komen in 2007, the company has raised more than $4 million for the Foundation.

Other candy makers have also followed suit, creating pink-packaged sweets. The Ghirardelli Chocolate Company is promoting specially marked pink ribbon packs of Luxe Milk bars with a sweepstakes, awarding $200 gift cards to 400 winners to use toward Cole Haan handbags, apparel, and accessories. Through December 31, consumers can submit the on-pack codes on the company's website to enter the sweepstakes. Ghirardelli will donate $50,000 to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, plus $1 for each code, up to an additional donation of $50,000, for a maximum contribution of $100,000.

One of the more recognizable programs throughout the years has been Yoplait's Lids to Save Lives. Now in its twelfth year, the program benefits Susan G. Komen for the Cure. For every pink lid consumers send through the end of the year, Yoplait donates 10 cents to the cause, up to $1.6 million, with a guaranteed donation of at least $500,000. Since 1998, the company has raised $25 million. Brand owner General Mills has recognized National Breast Cancer Awareness Month for the past four years with its Pink Together campaign, dedicated to spreading hope to those touched by breast cancer and raising greater awareness of the disease. This month, shoppers will be able to find products such as Cheerios, Nature Valley Granola Bars, and Progresso Soup in pink packages on store shelves.

Earlier this year, PepsiCo division Frito-Lay donated $1 million to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. SunChips multigrain snacks, Rold Gold pretzels and the Baked! line of products provided funding for educational materials and research to find cures for breast cancer. As a member of the Susan G. Komen Million Dollar Council Elite, the company has committed to invest a financial contribution of $1 million annually in the fight to end breast cancer.

Even Mike's Hard Lemonade has gotten in on the act, offering Mike's Hard Pink Lemonade to support the Breast Cancer Research Foundation in memory of a company employee who lost her battle to the disease.

In addition to the CPG companies that have lent their hand to raise awareness, grocery chains are also involved with breast cancer awareness initiatives. The Kroger Company recently announced a partnership with key suppliers to donate $3 million this year. The campaign includes a store-wide sales promotion of popular items, many of which will feature exclusive, specially marked pink packaging. This year, 1,800 items, including Kroger's own products and items from partners like Kellogg's and Kraft will be marked with special pink shelf tags to highlight their participation, and will feature the stories of more than 50 breast cancer survivors.

Grocer Harris Teeter is also devoting the month of October to Breast Cancer Awareness Month. All stores will be raising funds for a variety of non-profit organizations that support the fight against breast cancer, including the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Customers can purchase pink ribbon pastry items with five percent of the retail price going to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Participating products will display a pink ribbon sticker.

Are you more likely to purchase products that support Breast Cancer Awareness Month? Leave a message and tell me why you are more or less inclined to purchase an item that supports this cause, and be sure to educate yourself and the women in your life about the importance of early detection.