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Chew on this: Hershey vies for Cadbury biz?

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK It seems that Hershey is hungry for one of its competitors, according to published reports.

Earlier this week, rumors began swirling that confectionary giant Hershey is looking to sink its teeth into Cadbury, just one week after U.K.-based company brushed off Kraft’s second bid of $16.7 billion.

The Wall Street Journal reported late Tuesday that Hershey, along with Italian chocolate maker Ferrero, are in talks of submitting a joint bid. Hershey submitted a statement to the London Stock Exchange earlier this week, stating, “at this stage there can be no assurance that any proposal or offer from Hershey will be forthcoming. A further announcement will be made in due course if appropriate.”

“Cadbury is an exceptional standalone business,” said Roger Carr, chairman of Cadbury, said Nov. 9. “Kraft’s offer does not come remotely close to reflecting the true value of our company, and involves the unattractive prospect of the absorption of Cadbury into a low-growth conglomerate business model.”

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Coke goes green with ‘PlantBottle’

BY Allison Cerra

ATLANTA Coca-Cola’s newest green initiative hit store shelves on Monday, the beverage maker announced.

The “PlantBottle” packaging, a recyclable plastic bottle made partially from plants, is now available in 500-mL and 2-liter sizes. For the PlantBottle packaging in the United States and Canada, up to 30% of the content in the PET plastic comes from plants.

Coca-Cola said its goal is to produce 2 billion of the by the end of 2010.

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New flavors, products help drive consumers ‘nuts’

BY Barbara White-Sax

Consumer interest in better-for-you snacks, and a stream of new product introductions from manufacturers, have led to continued growth in the nut category.

While nut category dollar sales overall only grew 2% in the drug channel for the 52 weeks ended Sept. 6, according to Information Resources Inc., the category has seen significant growth from new introductions from Planters NUTrition brand and Frito-Lay’s TrueNorth.

Chris Clark, a spokesman for the Snack Food Association, said new flavors, products and packaging have contributed to growth. “While category growth slowed last year compared to the rapid growth we had been seeing over the past few years, there’s still been a lot of action in the category,” he said. “Premium resealable pack aging, canisters and 100-calorie packs and new flavors—particularly spicy and sweet/savory combinations—also have contributed to category growth.”

TrueNorth has been a big hit in the category. IRI data indicated the brand, which includes nut crisps and nut and fruit clusters, has grown more than 170% since its launch last year. Katherine Ritchey, a spokeswoman for Frito-Lay, said consumers have responded to a healthy, great-tasting snack that’s 100% natural and offers 4 g of protein in each 1-oz. serving. “We’ve raised consumers’ expectations of what a nut snack can be,” she said. TrueNorth recently rolled out three new varieties: apple cinnamon and citrus burst clusters, and almond cranberry crisps.

Blue Diamond’s dollar sales were up nearly 37%, while Planters NUTrition brand surged 16%, according to IRI. Planters’ Daybreak Blend trail mixes, which combine granola clusters with dried fruits and nuts, have been popular. Planters also recently introduced Harvest 100 Percent Natural Nuts and Trail Mixes, mixes that are all-natural and have a lower sodium content than many other trail mixes.

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