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Fair trade certified groceries snatching up retail dollars

BY Jenna Duncan

OAKLAND, Calif. Across the United States, more and more grocery and drug stores are setting aside Fair Trade Certified products, reports have said, because the certification is a popular selling point lately.

More than 284 Fair Trade Certified products ranging from coffees and teas to chocolate, sugar, herbs and spices and fresh fruit have been launched in the United States this year, according to data from Chicago-based research company, Mintel.

Particular brands and especially premium products, such as Starbuck’s Fair Trade label and Hershey’s Dagoba chocolate candies, are distinctly known for the designation. Reports have said that sales of Fair Trade coffee in the United States grew to $730 million in 2006.

The demand for Fair Trade products has become so hot that big box retail chains such as Target, Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart have taken note and announced their soon-to-launch lines. October has been designated at Fair Trade Month.

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General Mills plans expansion of its international business

BY Jenna Duncan

MILWAUKEE General Mills has said that it plans to keep building its international business in order to avoid negative effects of the slow economy. Its international segment is its fastest-growing business at present, the company has said.

General Mills’ chief executive officer, Ken Powell, explained to the company’s shareholders that it will continue to grow brands such as its Haagen-Dazs ice cream business, Old El Paso brand Mexican foods and cereals and other staples such as Cheerios. He said that General Mills also plans to launch 300 new products in 2009.

Figures for the company’s international sales have doubled from $1.3 billion in 2003 to $2.6 billion in fiscal 2008, the company reported. That reflects growth of 21 percent over last year’s sales.

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Mars promises to maintain high quality in chocolate production

BY Jenna Duncan

HACKETTSTOWN, N.J. Mars Snackfood U.S. has stated that it will continue to use 100 percent cocoa butter in its production of chocolate candies, maintaining its standards of quality and purity.

The company made the statement in order to differentiate its chocolate products from other companies that use coca butter substitutes in production, yet also label their candies “chocolate.” The company explained that cocoa butter is a key ingredient for making chocolate which assures its texture and creaminess.

Todd R. Lachman, president of Mars Snackfood U.S. told the press, “Mars chocolate products are pure, authentic chocolate and they’re going to stay that way. We simply won’t compromise the purity and authenticity of our chocolate by diluting it with a cocoa butter substitute.  This company was built on quality—it’s one of our core principles—and we will not lower the bar on chocolate quality.”

Mars has reported U.S. annual sales of $7 billion for combined sales of food, snack and pet care products. Additionally, the company has spent more than $70 million to expand a manufacturing plant in Elizabethtown, Penn. Mars has been producing chocolate candies for more than 100 years.

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