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AMA declares high fructose syrup just as safe as other sweeteners

BY Jenna Duncan

CHICAGO The American Medical Association yesterday announced its conclusion that high fructose syrup does not seem to contribute any more to obesity rates or other ill health effects than other calorie-containing sweeteners. However, the AMA asked for further investigations into the effects of high fructose syrup and other sweetening products on individuals’ health. The AMA reported its findings at its annual policy meeting in Chicago this week.

“At this time there is insufficient evidence to restrict the use of high fructose syrup or label products that contain it with a warning,” William Dolan, M.D., an AMA board member yesterday told the media. “We do recommend consumers limit the amount of all added caloric sweeteners to no more than 32 grams of sugar daily based on a 2,000 calorie diet in accordance with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.”

Sweeteners in the high fructose group are those items made from starches that come from staples like rice and wheat. High fructose syrups are commonly used as additives in foods like breakfast cereal, bread, desserts and soft drinks.

So far, only short term effects of high fructose use have been studied. The AMA has suggested that people should maintain a minimal use of items like high-caloric sweeteners, in order to control obesity and avoid some types of diabetes.

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Hershey tuning its ears to customer comments, sets plan for long-term net sales boost

BY Jenna Duncan

HERSHEY, Pa. The Hershey Co. said it will announce its plan for meeting long-term for net sales goals and increasing earnings per share growth today. The company said that a new plan was developed after Hershey completed a market structure/category segmentation review. The company will also realign its plans to focus on the interests of key consumer segments to help drive growth.

Hershey said it is readjusting its resources and plans to beef up its advertising by about 20 percent in 2008 and 2009. A focus will be directed on core brands currently generating around 60 percent of the company’s U.S. net sales.

“Our extensive consumer research validates our strategy of increasing advertising and consumer investment behind the core U.S. brands that offer the greatest potential for growth,” David J. West, president and chief executive officer said. “We will combine this focused approach with consumer-centric innovation and continued international expansion to achieve our long-term net sales growth rate of 3 to 5 percent. Longer term, as marketplace trends improve and targeted consumer initiatives are executed, the Company expects to generate earnings per share growth of 6 to 8 percent.”

Hershey has said that it estimates its total net growth for 2008 to be at around 3 to 4 percent. Earnings per share were expected to be around $1.85 to $1.90. Hershey’s management planned to discuss the new strategy and long-term goals at a meeting with investors earlier this morning.

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Nestle says it will keep its prices steady

BY Jenna Duncan

VEVEY, Switzerland Due to a price ceiling hit by rising costs of commodities, Swiss food maker Nestle will most likely not raise prices of its products any higher in the near term, the company’s chairman said Sunday.

“You are now seeing the impact of price increases which were done some months ago,” Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, Nestle S.A. chairman, said to Dow Jones Newswires. “I would expect [the rising costs of foods] to flatten out over the next several months and not increase anymore as our costs have come down.”

Brabeck-Letmathe was in Malaysia attending the World Economic Forum on East Asia. He said “the worst is probably past” for surges in the costs of raw ingredients such as milk, coffee, salt and cocoa.

Brabeck-Letmathe also said that his company will probably not make any acquisitions any time soon because there aren’t many attractive deals in the horizon. He also reported that Nestle doesn’t have a firm decision to sell its 29 percent hold in L’Oreal, however, it may review the idea some time next year.

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