Nestlé Butterfinger Peanut Butter Cups is the single most successful new product launch in the history of Nestlé USA’s confections business, and comes during a year of other successful innovations. The company is also focused on nutrition and sustainability, with ambitious goals in both areas for the next two years.
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A key part of A.G. Lafley’s strategy for Procter & Gamble is entering new channels and categories where it can create value for consumers, the category, P&G and its shareholders. At the same time, the company has exited businesses representing $6 billion in sales, including pet food, coffee and snacks, in an effort to spur innovation and combat commoditization.
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Indra Nooyi has stepped up PepsiCo’s focus on differentiated innovation. Last year was one of PepsiCo’s best years for innovation. Nine of the top 50 new food and beverage product introductions across all measured channels in the United States were PepsiCo products. PepsiCo’s annual R&D investment is up more than 25% since 2011. In the first quarter of 2014, products launched over the past three years made up 8% of the company’s total net revenues.
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After selling off iconic brands like Skippy, Wish-Bone, Ragu, Bertolli, P.F. Chang’s, and SlimFast, Unilever North America president Kees Kruythoff is confident that its leaner food portfolio is poised for sustainable growth. Take, for instance, the modernization of the 125-year-old Lipton brand with K-cups and liquid concentrate tea that consumers add to water. Unilever’s personal care business, which ranges from Suave, the No. 1 daily hair care brand in the U.S., to premium offerings like Nexxus, is likewise gaining share through new introductions.
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Twenty-nine percent of coffee drinkers made their previous day’s java with a single-cup brewer. Will they be compelled to do the same with soft drinks? Coca-Cola chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent intends to find out. The soft drink giant has agreed to provide Coke, Sprite, Powerade and Fanta in single-pod form for the soon-to-be released Keurig Gold cold beverage machine. With a 16% stake in Keurig, Coca-Cola is its largest shareholder.
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Major coffee players are waking up to the smell of a proposed joint-venture that will combine Mondelez International’s coffee business with that of D.E. Master Blenders to create the world’s leading pure-play coffee business. Industry observers are optimistic about the combined coffee portfolios of No. 2 shareholder Mondelez with the No. 3 coffee shareholder. In a similar move, Mondelez is creating a separate business for its cheese and grocery units in Europe, with the new business having $1.4 billion in sales, according to reports.
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Donnie Smith has a full plate as he prepares to lead Tyson Foods in acquiring Hillshire Brands, a move that will bolster Tyson’s prepared foods division and create a $40 billion company. Once the acquisition is complete, likely by the end of September, Smith said revenue from prepared foods would double from 9% to 18%, while operating income would grow from 5% to 20%. A combined company would also make Tyson the country’s No. 2 seller of frozen foods.
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CEO Tony Vernon wants to make Kraft Foods Group the best-of-class leader in the industry, and he’s on his way to doing that. Part of Vernon’s plan is spurring consumers to buy more of what they already like. That involves “turbocharging” favorites such as Kraft American Singles and Philadelphia Cream Cheese. Launching all-natural Kraft Singles with no artificial preservatives and redesigned packaging for its Philadelphia Cream Cheese are examples.
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If you’re a Millennial, older consumer, multicultural American or member of the middle-class in an emerging market, Kendall Powell is especially interested in the foods you like, where you shop and how you cook. In fact, Powell considers catering to these demographics as the best way to drive sustainable, incremental growth.
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John Bryant made a major commitment last year with the launch of Project K. The four-year initiative is the largest efficiency and effectiveness program in Kellogg history. The cost-cutting plan includes the creation of global category teams and regional hubs; a strengthened global supply chain; and a global business services model.
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Under Gary Rodkin’s leadership, ConAgra has been transformed from a holding company into a unified operating company with a mix of national brands like Healthy Choice, Slim Jim and Chef Boyardee, and 30 categories of private labels ranging from cereal to snacks to refrigerated and in-store bakery products, contributing 24% of net sales.
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Recently, Campbell Soup’s president and CEO commissioned Campbell’s consumer insight group to “go to school” on Millennials to find out more about what they want, what they eat, when and where. But that’s not to say she has forgotten about Baby Boomers and other food shoppers.
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As president and CEO of The Hershey Co., John P. Bilbrey continues to drive the growth of some of the world’s best-known brands. Last week, in a preliminary report, the company said it expected net sales to increase 4.5% in the second quarter. Hershey also announced it would be raising wholesale prices 8% in response to growing production costs and high commodity prices for cocoa, dairy and nuts.
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Robert Hill broadened Acosta Sales & Marketing’s reach in the club channel this year with the acquisition of Anderson Daymon Worldwide, the sales and marketing agency that serves Costco Wholesale. The deal meant an additional 200 employees and a network of 11 offices serving 14 regions globally.
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Some suppliers on this year’s Power 50 have streamlined their operations to focus on core brands and categories, while others are betting on new ventures and products.
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