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Kraft Foods names vice president of strategy

BY DSN STAFF

NORTHFIELD, Ill. Kraft Foods announced that Michael Osanloo will join the company as evp of strategy in mid-April. Osanloo will oversee Kraft’s portfolio strategy and assisting the business units in identifying strategic opportunities that will drive profitable growth.

Osanloo worked most recently at Harrah’s Entertainment, where he held a variety of senior strategic and marketing roles. Prior to that, he was a partner in the retail and consumer products practice at Bain & Company, where he helped improve the effectiveness of strategic, operational and marketing programs at various multibillion-dollar companies.

“Michael brings a terrific mix of planning and operating experience to this new role,” said Irene Rosenfeld, Kraft chairman and ceo. “As we implement our growth strategy, I’m confident that Michael’s expertise will help accelerate Kraft’s growth.” 

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Sale of Meade Johnson baby formula food has yet to be formally announced

BY Diana Alickaj

LONDON The owner of the Meade Johnson baby formula food business is seeking potential buyers and estimates its worth between $7 billion and $9 billion, according to published reports.

Although Bristol-Myers Squibb has not formally announced its decision to sell the business, many reports claim that it has already approached such companies as PepsiCo, Danone, Nestle, Kraft and HJ Heinz, to create a formal auction for the business.

Selling Meade Johnson would be another effort in the recent actions that have been consolidating the baby food market, but the sales process for the business has yet to begin.

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Snack makers fulfill salty cravings

BY Barbara White-Sax

Consumers want it all from the salty snack category. They want products that satisfy a craving, but they want to feel good about what they are eating. They are looking for products that provide a healthier profile, and they want a steady stream of new flavors to tempt them.

No wonder chip manufacturers have been bringing so many new products to the market. Salty snack dollar sales were ahead more than 11 percent in drug stores for the 52 weeks ended Jan. 27, according to Information Resources Inc. Within that category, potato chip sales were up nearly 4 percent.

Kim Lopez-Walters, consumer strategist for food and beverages at Iconoculture, said that gourmet products made from exotic vegetables, such as Hain Celestial Group’s Terra Chips, are becoming more popular with consumers. Terra Chips has grown beyond its beginnings as a small specialty store brand and is being joined by major manufacturers who see potential in “healthier” chip options.

Last year, Frito-Lay launched Flat Earth, veggie and fruit-based crisps that one PepsiCo executive called the company’s response to “consumer demand for better-for-you options.” The product has been so successful it will be included in Information Resources Inc.’s list of most successful product introductions for 2007. Flat Earth crisps offer consumers a health benefit—each 1-ounce serving of the snack counts as a half serving of fruit or vegetables. That may qualify the chips as a functional food.

Corazonas Foods’ recent launch of Heart Healthy Potato Chips certainly fits under the functional umbrella. Corazonas’ chips, which join the company’s lineup of heart-healthy snack products, have 40 percent less fat than regular potato chips and contain plant sterols that have been shown to lower cholesterol levels. The chips, which also are billed as a good source of fiber, are available in five “world-inspired” flavors.

“World-inspired” new flavors that turn up the heat are giving the chip segment a boost, and the trend toward bolder flavors is expected to continue. “We see a consistent trend in consumers demanding bold tastes,” said Michelle Peterman, vice president of marketing for Kettle Foods.

Shiela McCusker, editor of Information Resources Inc.’s Times and Trends Reports, said the trend toward spicier offerings is being driven by boomers, as well as younger consumers.

Procter & Gamble has had a number of hits with new twists on its Pringles brand. Pringles Select, which McCusker calls one of the most successful snack launches of 2007, is billed as a gourmet snack and is available in such exotic flavors as cinnamon sweet potato, Szechwan barbeque and crunch jalapeño ranch.

Pringles also recently introduced Stix (available in vanilla, pizza, crunchy wheat and honey butter) and Pringles Extreme (in kickin’ cheddar, screamin’ dill pickle and blazin’ buffalo wings).

Involving consumers in marketing is a tactic that has worked well for Kettle Foods, maker of Kettle Chips. For the past four years, the company has turned to consumers for product development by inviting them to help select introductions by voting for their favorite flavor. This year’s winner was Death Valley chipotle.

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