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Coca-Cola, Nielsen team up to analyze soft drink trends worldwide

BY Jenna Duncan

PHOENIX The Nielsen Company yesterday announced it will join forces with Coca-Cola to provide integrated marketing services to the beverage maker in more than 70 markets around the globe.

Nielsen will provide Coca-Cola with services and information on trends and consumer spending patterns, as well as use of Nielsen Answers, a technology-based business intelligence program developed by the marketing research giant. The companies said that extending the partnership will help Coca-Cola chart its brands relative to competition, and synthesize consumer opinions and data.

“This is truly a win-win,” Mark Greatrex, senior vice president of Still Beverages [Coca-Cola] told the media. “At Coca-Cola, we benefit from increased productivity, improved market insights and cost savings as we continue to grow our business. With our Nielsen partners, we’ve forged an impactful and collaborative relationship that will only help us continue our success—across the globe.”

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Smucker to acquire Folger’s coffees

BY Jenna Duncan

NEW YORK Following a recent acquisition of rival spreads maker Knott’s Berry Farm a few weeks ago, J.M. Smucker Co. today announced plans to buy Procter & Gamble’s Folgers coffee business for about $3 billion.

In addition to the buyout, the companies said that Smucker will take on Folgers debt, a sum of around $350 million.

“Coffee is the perfect complement to breakfast or dessert—two areas we know a lot about,” president and co-chief executive Richard Smucker said in a statement released earlier.

Smucker said it will also issue special dividend of $5 per share to existing shareholders.

Smucker shares climbed 2.1 percent in late-morning trading and Proctor & Gamble shares went up 1 percent.

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General Mills ups prices after profit drop

BY Jenna Duncan

MINNEAPOLIS General Mills announced this week that is has raised cereal prices and ay raise prices of other products, as well. This announcement comes in response to mounting production costs for the company, namely in commodity items, such as wheat and sugar, and a drop in reported profits.

The breakfast cereal giant reported that its profit has dropped 17 percent, compared to reporting from the same quarter last year. However, profit still met expectations and the company appears to still be on the right track for the full year’s projections.

To fight the mounting financial pressures of rising commodity prices, the company has cut back on operations. Ken Powell, General Mills’ chairman and chief executive officer told the media that his company has also cut transportation costs from warehouse to warehouse by amending delivery routes to go straight to retailers. The company also devised a plan to save $1 million a year by lowering the number of pretzel varieties in Chex Mix to three, down from 14.

For the fiscal quarter ended May 25, the General Mill reported that its net income dropped to $185.2 million, or 53 cents per share, from $224.1 million, or 62 cents, during the same period the previous year. General Mills said that it faced a loss on commodity hedges of $111 million due to the surging costs of commodities—especially wheat.

General Mills said it expects to see its supply chain expenses rise another 9 percent in the fiscal year ending May 2009.

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