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Mars releases laundry list of candy, salty snacks, chocolate bar launches

BY Jenna Duncan

CHICAGO Mars Snackfood this week at the National Association of Convenience Stores Show at McCormick Place has announced a lineup of snack products to be launched this fall and winter.

Mars has announced the upcoming launches of spicy jalapeno cheddar tortilla-flavored Combos.  For the candy category, Mars will be releasing Dove Promises Changemakers bite-sized milk chocolate and rich dark chocolate candies. Dove is also extending its line with Dove Chocolate Large Bars in flavors creamy cappuccino and mandarin orange. New Snickers Fun-Size Changemakers, with caramel, milk chocolate nougat and nougat will also hit shelves by the winter season.

In the sugar-candy category, Mars adds Skittles Crazy Cores, Starburst FaveReds flavored like cherry, fruit punch, strawberry and watermelon and Starburst Sour Gummibursts with flavors green apple, watermelon, strawberry and orange tangerine.

To boost sales of its wide variety of chocolates and snack products, Mars has a number of promotions lined up for fall and winter. M&M’s will get special packaging featuring Ms. Green, the alluring, romantic, female M&M character, in time for Valentine’s Day.And for the Super Bowl, Snickers will get special packaging treatment, along with tie-ins to a fantasy sweepstakes game which will award 17 trips to the Super Bowl, as well as chances for several secondary prizes. Mars has also announced that 3 Musketeers candy bars will be the official candy bars of the Times Square New Year’s Eve 2008 celebration and will get special treatment on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Eve celebration show.

Though times are tough in the current cash-poor consumer economy, items such as candy are still seeing strong sales, Mars said. For example, data released by market research firm Information Resources Inc. showed that chocolate sales in convenience sales were up 4.1 percent for the 52-week period ended Aug. 10. Mars Snackfood said that sales of its chocolate candies increased 9.1 percent for the same time in that channel.

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Kraft says it may cut hundreds of jobs at North American operations

BY Jenna Duncan

CHICAGO Kraft Foods will be announcing closings to operations at many of its plants in North America, the company has said. Kraft has said that the move will be undertaken in an attempt to cut overhead, and will result in the termination of several hundred jobs.

Sources said that this will affect about one percent of the company’s work force in  North American. The cuts will happen across the United States and potentially at plants in Canada, too, a spokesman from Kraft told the media.

At the close of last year, Kraft employed 41,000 in the United States and the Canadian press has reported that about 7,000 people are currently employed by Kraft in Canada.

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R.A.B. Food Group adopts monicker ‘The Manischewitz Company’

BY Jenna Duncan

R.A.B. Food Group Monday announced that it would change its name to The Manischewitz Company. The company has come under new ownership and recently spent millions of dollars in upgrading a capital investment program as well as making upgrades to its production facility in Newark.

“We are excited about the name change, as it signals our move forward as a new organization, yet it reinforces our heritage and core strength in Kosher and the power of the iconic Manischewitz brand,” said company president and chief executive officer, Bruce Bossidy.

The company modernization project was led by The Manishewitz Company’s new vice president of operations, Randall Copeland. “We are very excited about the new team at our Newark facility led by [Copeland],” Bossidy said. “This change combined with our investment in the plant infrastructure is yet another testimony of our relentless efforts to continuously improve our quality, efficiencies and service to our customers.”

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