17 june 2020

PepsiCo pledges to increase black representation at US giant

PepsiCo has said it will "dramatically rethink our approach to talent" as the US food and drinks group sets out to increase the representation of black staff at the company.

The Quaker cereals and Lay's snacks maker is to spend $400m over five years "to lift up black communities and increase black representation" at the business.

Ramon Laguarta, PepsiCo's chief executive, said: "These initiatives comprise a holistic effort for PepsiCo to walk the talk of a leading corporation and help address the need for systemic change."

The Walkers crisps owner has said it will look to expand its "black managerial population by 30%" by 2025 through a mix of "internal development and recruitment".

PepsiCo has pledged to add more than 250 black staff to managerial roles by 2025. "Whilst 14% of our US workforce is black, we know we need to increase representation in leadership," Laguarta said.

Other measures include "mandating company-wide unconscious bias training", the PepsiCo chief explained, and "requiring diversity on executive candidate slates".

Outside the company, Laguarta said PepsiCo would "leverage our scale and influence across our suppliers, marketing agency partners and customer base to increase representation and strengthen black-owned businesses".

PepsiCo would look to "double" its spending with black-owned suppliers, he said, without disclosing the current level of expenditure.

The $400m in funds will also be used to help "drive long-term change by addressing systemic barriers to economic opportunity", Laguarta said.

PepsiCo will support "social programmes that impact black communities", including, for example, "delivering $6.5m in community impact grants to address systemic issues".

The company said it would also support black-owned restaurants as part of its "Small Businesses Program", which covers "mentoring, management training and help obtaining financing".

Laguarta added: "The bottom line is: this moment calls for big, structural changes, and we're committed to being agents of that progress."


17 june 2020

Bumble Bee Foods expands plant-based offensive with new sustainability fund

US seafood processor Bumble Bee Foods has launched a $40m sustainability fund to improve the health of the world's oceans, including an extension to its efforts to promote plant-based alternatives.

San Diego-based Bumble Bee said it has created the Accelerator Fund to focus on "further closing the gap on some of the biggest industry challenges in the sustainability space".  

The Accelerator will seek to ensure the availability of tuna stocks, remove plastics and waste from the seas, and reduce the impact of fishing on other species. Chief executive Jan Tharp said in a statement the fund will also "pursue new ideas, partners and technologies, while also continuing to advance several current initiatives".

Earlier this year, Bumble Bee formed a partnership with Gathered Foods Corp, a US manufacturer of seafood alternatives, including the Good Catch plant-based brand. 

Tharp continued: "Our sustainability journey started many years ago and we're proud of our past accomplishments, but now is the time to accelerate our actions. It's the right thing to do for our planet, for the billions of people who rely on seafood for sustenance and for the long-term success of our business."

Bumble Bee markets its products in the US and Canada under its namesake brand, and also Brunswick and Clover Leaf. In February, the company completed the sale of its North American assets to FCF, a Taiwan-based seafood firm.

Previously owned by UK-based private equity firm Lion Capital, Bumble Bee filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year in the face of criminal fines and lawsuits related to a price-fixing case.

On the sustainability front, Bumble Bee said it aims to eliminate the plastic shrink wrap on its multipack products and will seek to make all its packaging 95% recyclable this year, increasing to 98% by 2025. 

Tharp added: "Our bold goals for the future are based on our unwavering focus to restore and protect the health of our oceans. Our past efforts are inspiring the path forward, and we're building in flexibility and accountability along the way."


16 june 2020

Bankrupt Borden Dairy 'poised to be snapped up by KKR, Capitol Peak Partners'

The bankrupt Borden Dairy Company is reportedly poised to be snapped up by US investment firms KKR and Capitol Peak Partners.

New Dairy Opco, described in a Bloomberg report covering the development as a "joint effort" between KKR and Capitol Peak, is awaiting the bankruptcy court's approval for the transaction, the price of which has not been disclosed, according to the news agency. Borden filed for Chapter 11 in January.

Quoting a source familiar with the proceedings, who was not authorised to comment publicly, Bloomberg said Capitol Peak Partners is leading the bid, adding the investor is led by Gregg Engles, a former CEO of Dean Foods, another US dairy major.

Dean Foods also filed for Chapter 11 in November last year, citing falling milk consumption and rising competition, and has since been broken up and sold off, mainly to US peer Dairy Farmers of America.

Bloomberg cited court papers as saying New Dairy Opco had won an auction for "substantially all" of Borden's assets. A hearing to approve the sale is scheduled for 18 June. 

KKR is reportedly a former investor in Borden and, according to court papers seen by Bloomberg, is a "high-ranking creditor in the bankruptcy case". 

just-food approached both KKR and Capitol Peak Partners for confirmation. KRR declined to comment, while Capitol Peak has yet to respond.


16 June 2020

Delfi CFO Koo Liang Kwee to step down for health reasons

Delfi, the Singapore-listed chocolate business, has announced its CFO Koo Liang Kwee plans to step down from the role for health reasons later in the year.

The CFO, known as Alan, joined Delfi from Heineken in the autumn of 2018.

In a stock-exchange announcement, Delfi said he would step down with effect from 11 August "due to health reasons and to fulfil his personal goals".

While Delfi looks for a permanent successor, Richard Chung, the company's head of corporate planning, will take on the role of CFO on an acting basis.

Headquartered in Singapore, Delfi markets products sold in countries that also include Indonesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Australia, Thailand, the Philippines and China.

In 2019, Delfi generated revenue of $471.6m, up 10.5% on a year earlier. Profit attributable to equity holders of the company climbed 35.3% to $28.2m.

More than 70% of Delfi's annual revenue was generated in Indonesia.


15 june 2020

Unilever unveils new climate fund, emissions target

Unilever has unveiled a €1bn ($1.12bn) "climate and nature fund" and outlined a new target for its carbon emissions among measures the Magnum ice cream and Hellmann's mayonnaise maker said showed the FMCG giant was "taking even more decisive action" on the environment.

The company said the new funding – to be spent over the next ten years – would be utilised on projects "likely to include" landscape restoration, reforestation, carbon sequestration, wildlife protection and water preservation.

A Unilever spokesperson told just-food Unilever planned to split the expenditure "evenly across the years between now and 2030" and described the fund as "a new allocation of resource specifically to tackle projects that will help to tackle climate change and protect and regenerate nature".

The spokesperson added: "The resource will come from our existing brand marketing investment. Our existing commitments in this area will be maintained."

At present, Unilever is aiming to have no carbon emissions from its operations and to "halve the greenhouse gas footprint of our products across the value chain" by 2030.

The company, pointing to "the scale and urgency of the climate crisis", said it is "additionally committing to net-zero emissions from all our products by 2039 – from the sourcing of the materials we use, up to the point of sale of our products in the store". Any "residual emissions" in Unilever's supply chain would be "balanced through purchased or self-generated offsets", the group said.

Unilever is also introducing a "regenerative agriculture code" for its suppliers, which it said would "include details on farming practices that help rebuild critical resources".

The owner of the Knorr and The Vegetarian Butcher brands also wants to "communicate the carbon footprint of every product we sell". The company plans to set up a system for our suppliers "to declare, on each invoice, the carbon footprint of the goods and services provided".

Since taking the helm at Unilever, CEO Alan Jope has repeatedly spoken of the importance of the company's brands having "purpose", which includes helping to mitigate their impact on their environment.

Announcing the new measures, he said: "While the world is dealing with the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, and grappling with serious issues of inequality, we can't let ourselves forget that the climate crisis is still a threat to all of us. Climate change, nature degradation, biodiversity decline, water scarcity – all these issues are interconnected, and we must address them all simultaneously."


15 june 2020

Pilgrim's Pride CEO Jayson Penn takes leave of absence to fight price-fixing accusation

Jayson Penn, the president and chief executive of US-based poultry giant Pilgrim's Pride, has taken a leave of absence to fight a court indictment related to a conspiracy to fix chicken prices.

The announcement was made 14 June, when Penn's paid leave commenced. Meanwhile, Colorado-based Pilgrim's Pride, which is owned by Brazilian meat processor JBS, has appointed its finance chief Fabio Sandri as interim CEO and president.

"During his leave of absence, Mr. Penn intends to focus on his defence of the recently-disclosed indictment against him, to which he has pleaded not guilty," a statement read.

Penn was indicted earlier this month by the US Department of Justice, along with three others. A grand jury in Denver formally accused Penn, Roger Austin, a former Pilgrim's vice president, Mikell Fries, the president of Georgia-based chicken supplier Claxton Poultry, and Scott Brady, a vice president at Claxton, of conspiring to fix broiler prices from 2012 to 2017.

Gilberto Tomazoni, chairman of Pilgrim's board, said in a statement: "Pilgrim's operates with the highest standards of integrity and is committed to free and open competition that benefits both customers and consumers.

The board takes the recent allegations very seriously and believes it is in the best interests of both Jayson and the company that he is given the opportunity to focus on his legal defence during this time. 

"The board has complete confidence in the ability of Fabio and the team to continue to implement Pilgrim's strategy and successfully run day-to-day operations."


12 june 2020

Japan snacks group Calbee to build new plant

Japan-based snacks firm Calbee has revealed it is to build a new, heavily-automated plant in its Hiroshima birthplace.

Construction will begin in 2023 on the project, which also involves relocating two existing factories operating in the same area and integrating them into the new facility in the future.

This integration involves the existing Hiroshima-Nishi factory which produces potato chips, which opened in 1986 and has 200 employees, and another Hiroshima factory which opened in 2006 and also employs around 200 people.

The company is hopeful the new Saeki-ku plant, which will manufacture crisps, snacks and "products in new food areas" will be up and running by 2024.

It will be Calbee's largest-ever facility with a site area of 100,000sqm.

Calbee said that, with the construction of the new factory, it is seeking to implement new automated processes, improve production efficiency, and reduce the impact on the environment through the "efficient use of energy in order to address the issue of its ageing facilities, as well as to respond to increased product demand and labour shortages".

Such labour shortages in Japan are widely linked to the country's ageing population.

"The new state-of-the-art factory will serve as a 'mother factory' that is responsible for technical development and new product creation through the introduction of cutting-edge technologies such as DX, in addition to the manufacture of existing products," Calbee said in a statement.

"Calbee aims to improve its group's production competitiveness by expanding the successful achievements at the new factory to other production sites."

PepsiCo owns a 20% stake in Calbee, as per shareholder data in the Japanese group's latest annual report.


11 june 2020

Hormel Foods to lose strategy officer Jim Splinter to retirement

Hormel Foods has announced the retirement of Jim Splinter as the US meat group's vice president for corporate strategy.

Splinter joined the Spam canned meat owner in 1984, and has most-recently led the New York-listed firm's strategy in M&A, digital channels and corporate development, including the launch of Hormel's meat-free brand Happy Little Plants last year.

He has also held executive roles at the company's Jennie-O Turkey Store and refrigerated foods divisions.

Jim Snee, Hormel's chairman, president and CEO, said in a statement: "Jim has had an outstanding 36-year career with Hormel Foods. Jim's brand-building expertise, combined with his innovative and strategic mindset, has helped us build a winning portfolio of new and emerging brands and positioning us to capitalise on new growth spaces for years to come."

A company spokesperson confirmed Splinter will retire at the end of the June but was unable to provide any details or plans for his successor.

Hormel has expanded its product offering through a host of M&A over the past few years. Its most-recent transaction was completed in February, when the business acquired local meat firm Sadler's Smokehouse.

But its previous major deal was conducted back in 2017, with the purchase of deli meat and salami producer Columbus Manufacturing. And earlier the same year, Hormel snapped up Brazilian packaged meats firm Cidade do Sol, just weeks after acquiring foodservice business Fontanini Italian Meats and Sausages.