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Del Monte considers selling StarKist overseas

BY Jenna Duncan

SAN FRANCISCO Friday, June 20, Del Monte Foods Co. announced that it is in negotiations with Dongwon Group, the biggest canned tuna producer in South Korea, for ownership of the StarKist seafood business. The sale would cost Dongwon Group $300 million, according to published reports.

Del Monte has said previously that it is exploring “strategic alternatives” for the future of its seafood business, and the discussion over the future of StarKist is part of that plan.

StarKist comprises around 10 percent of Del Monte’s revenue. However, the business currently faces rising costs in seafood production.

As of yet, Dongwon Enterprise Co., the company that holds the Dongwon Group, has made no announcement on a decision. The two publicly traded companies have released separate statements to the Korean stock exchange. Also, Korean media source Maeil Business Newspaper last week reported Dongwon Group might join forces with a South Korean equity fund to front the $300 million.

Del Monte originally acquired StarKist, among other divisions and manufacturing operations, from H.J. Heinz Co. in 2002 for $2.5 billion. Several divisions, including pet food and baby food businesses, were relocated from Pittsburgh, Pa., to Del Monte’s corporate headquarters.

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Heinz Ketchup receives top marks in brand equity, says Harris study

BY Jenna Duncan

ROCHESTER, N.Y. Harris Interactive today released the 2008 results of EquiTrend—a 28-year study of brand equity covering more than 1,000 brands and spanning 39 categories The study named Heinz Ketchup as No. 1 in brand equity.

The study said that Heinz Ketchup beat out other contenders like M&Ms, Hershey, Cheerios and Duracell in six base categories: brand expectations, distinctiveness, familiarity, purchase consideration, quality and trust.

The EquiTrend report also examined each category’s word of mouth marketing and identified certain demographic sub-groups that were most likely to participate in word of-mouth-marketing. For example, the restaurant category reportedly had high levels of word-of-mouth marketing.

“While there are many ways to strengthen the bonds between brands and their stakeholders, it is becoming increasingly important to understand the social networks to which stakeholders belong and how they operate, in order to proactively influence the spread of positive brand experiences and minimize the damage of negative experiences,” senior vice president of brands and communications consulting at Harris Interactive, Carol Gstalder, said. “This word-of-mouth marketing, combined with the historical brand equity tracking data in EquiTrend, provides a new way of looking at brands and their management in the context of a highly dynamic marketplace.”

Harris Interactive provides more EquiTrend information on brands and strategizing at its Web site, www.harrisinteractive.com/brand.

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Kellogg touts benefits of high-fiber diets

BY Jenna Duncan

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. According to Kellogg Co., the remedy for feeling “lighter” and more comfortable for many people is a high-fiber diet. Kellogg cited survey data coming from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey that claims that as few as one-in-10 Americans get the right amount of fiber daily—25 to 30 grams.

To encourage more people to try diets high in fiber, Kellogg is giving its All-Bran Fiber Drink Mix and All-Bran Fiber Bars a boost.

“While new All-Bran Fiber Bars and Drink Mixes certainly taste great, we’re excited because they offer a substantial amount of fiber per serving fiber that many consumers aren’t getting enough of,” Dr. Jennifer Garrett, Kellogg’s director of nutrition marketing, said.

All-Bran Fiber Bars and Fiber Drink mixes 10 grams of fiber per serving. The fiber bars come in two flavors; apple cinnamon streusel and strawberry drizzle; drink mixes are available in iced tea and pink lemonade flavors and contain 20 calories per serving mixed with 16.9-ounce to 20-ounces of water. The fiber bars are made from wheat bran and whole grain rolled oats and contain 120-130 calories. All-Bran fiber products contain about three times the amount of fiber as leading fiber supplements [10 grams], according to Kellogg.

All-Bran high fiber bars and drink mixes are available in the diet and nutrition aisle at grocery stores across the United States.

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