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Nestle outlines “extreme nutrition” build-up plan

BY Tara Smith

LAUSANNE, Switzerland Nestle on Tuesday laid out its plan to become the world’s largest provider of “extreme nutrition,” building up its high-tech health foods, with recent takeovers of Gerber baby foods and Novartis Medical Nutrition helping catapult the company into the No. 2 food spot for babies, hospitals and “pro-active health seekers.”

The world’s largest food company now is providing healthy nutrition products for patients leaving the operating room, cancer patients and is addressing the rising incidence of diabetes and obesity. Nestle also is targeting consumers seeking healthy foods that prevent other maladies or can enhance athletic performance.

“We deal with consumers at the extreme: extremely old, extremely young, extremely frail, or extremely fit,” said Richard Laube, head of Nestle Nutrition.

But integrating the recent takeovers into the group has its challenges that will keep the division busy if it aims to reach its profitability goal in two to three years, according to Laube. Changing formulas in medical foods, such as probiotics or protein levels for example, is more complicated than changed recipes for Nestle’s name-brand foods.

The Nutrition division aims to lift its operating profit margin to 20 percent in the medium term from the 16.9 percent reported at end 2006. “We’ll probably have two or three years in the 16 to 17 (percent) range as we integrate our acquisitions,” Laube said. “We’re on a nice glide path to 20 percent.”

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Barry Callebaut launches probiotic chocolate

BY Tara Smith

LONDON Barry Callebaut this week launched a new probiotic chocolate bar at the Food Ingredients Europe show in London, claiming chocolate is a better carrier of “good” intestinal bacteria than dairy products.

Hans Vries, chief innovation officer at Barry Callebaut, claims the company’s method of producing probiotic chocolate is so effective, that chocolate-embedded probiotics had significantly higher survival rates than those in dairy-based carriers when tested on simulations of the human stomach and small intestine. The tests also suggested that the probiotics in chocolate are four times less likely to perish on digestion.

Probiotics are bacteria commonly added to food products that manufacturers claim help improve both gut and immune health and restore the pH balance of the intestines.

Other additions to Barry Callebaut’s healthy chocolate portfolio include Acticoa, an antioxidant-rich cocoa.

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Winn-Dixie introduces its own vitamin water

BY Drew Buono

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Winn-Dixie recently introduced V-H2O, its private label vitamin-enhanced water.

“We are always looking for new ways to surpass our customers’ expectations, and we believe that the addition of affordable, enhanced bottled water will be very popular,” said Don Breen, vice president of corporate brands at Winn-Dixie. “Adding new products like these to our Winn-Dixie line is just one more way for us to continue getting better all the time.”

Winn-Dixie’s V-H2O comes in four flavors: Vitality Fruit Punch contains vitamins C, B12 and B6 complex; Endurance Kiwi-Strawberry combines vitamins C and B with vitamin A and lutein; Energy Tropical Citrus offers a mix of vitamin C and vitamin B complex with guarana; and Strength Dragonfruit contains taurine, zinc and vitamin B5.

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