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Kroger teams with Special K to emphasize awareness of breast cancer

BY Jenna Duncan

PHOENIX Kroger Co. and Special K have partnered to raise awareness of breast cancer and have placed the photo of a local survivor on specially-marked boxes of Special K cereal, the companies have said.

One of Kroger’s employees, Darlene Werner, who works at a Fry’s Foods store in Gilbert, Ariz., will grace box covers of Special K, as will 46 other women who were selected as representatives. Their stories can be found online at www.sharingcourage.com, along with their cereal box photos.

About 6 million of the survivor Special K boxes were made and can be found in stores in select U.S. markets through November. Kroger has said that it had put $3 million this year into efforts of the Susan G. Komen Foundation to fund breast cancer research and promote awareness.

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Coke announces distribution deal with Monster energy drink

BY Melissa Valliant

ATLANTA The Coca-Cola Company decided Monday to take a bite (or a gulp, rather) out of Hansen Natural Corporation’s Monster Energy drink brand. Though many predicted Coke would take an equity stake in the company, it instead agreed on a long-term distribution deal that includes Canada, six Western European countries and about half of the United States.

It’s no wonder Coke is reaching out for help, considering it’s own energy drink brand—Full Throttle—showed an 11 percent drop in traded shares in the first half of the year. Energy drink sales are higher than that of many beverage types, but consumers are replacing the major energy drink labels for independent ones. Only Red Bull surpasses Monster’s current sales, and Brandweek named Monster Energy one of its 2007 Marketers of the Year. Rockstar, with whom Coke has already made a similar deal, joins the two brands as the most popular in the energy drink segment but has showed a 0.3 percent volume drop.

“We do believe that CCE is better off with having a growing brand [Monster] in 50 percent of the U.S. versus having a declining brand [Rockstar] in 100 percent of the United States. We also believe that down the road the Coke system could potentially pick up the balance of the United States,” said Morgan Stanley analyst William Pecoriello.

Anheuser-Busch will be distributing Monster throughout areas not included in Coke’s deal.

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Makers of artificial sweeteners upgrade textures to better mimic sugar

BY Jenna Duncan

LAKELAND, Fla. Producers of sweetening alternatives have been making greater strides as of late to assure that their products can imitate the melt-in-your-mouth texture of natural sugar, Internet reports said.

One example is Taste Advantage, a company that manufactures flavorings for alcoholic and ready-to-drink beverages. Taste Advantage has told reporters that its goal is to recreate the weight and texture that consumers of artificial sweeteners often have said they miss about sugar.

The company has been working on a closer-to-sugar sugar alternative for about two to three, reports said. Users have also reported that some sweeteners, have bitter or burning-like aftertastes, another dilemma for sweetener development.

Representatives from Taste Advantage have said that within the year they are set to release new, naturally-derived sweeteners that will more closely resemble the taste, texture and weight of real sugar.

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