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SABMiller, Molson Coors to combine U.S. Operations

BY Tara Smith

NEW YORK Molson Coors Brewing Co. and SABMiller PLC announced plans today to combine their U.S. operations, creating a formidable presence in the American beer industry. The deal is expected to close in 2008, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The joint venture will have annual revenue of $6.6 billion and yield $500 million in annual cost saving. The combination, to be called MillerCoors, brings together the second-largest U.S. Brewer, SABMiller, with the No. 3 player Coors. Anheuser-Busch, the companies’ largest competitor, takes in nearly half the market.

The move comes as mass-market brewers deal with slowing growth and shifting consumer tastes, losing market share to wine and spirit companies, as well as to smaller, craft brewers. The two companies will share control of the venture, but because of the economic value of their respective units SABMiller will have a 58 percent economic interest to Molson Coors’ 42 percent. Pete Coors, vice chairman of Molson Coors, will serve as chairman of the venture, while Molson Coors Chief Executive Leo Kiely will be chief executive officer.

“As a result of this combination, Miller and Coors will be able to provide more focused support for our flagship brands, while taking full advantage of consumers’ demand for imported and craft brands and innovative products,” said Kiely.

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Just Born introduces PEEPS Spooky Friends marshmallow candies

BY Allison Cerra

BETHLEHEM, Pa. Just Born is brewing a variety of treats for this Halloween, the company said.

Just Born announced plans to unveil individually wrapped Peeps, the confectioner’s most noted candy, in a new line called Spooky Friends. The marshmallow candies will be available in assorted Halloween shapes, including bats, ghosts and spiders. Traditional Halloween Peeps will also be available this year. Suggested retail prices for both size assortments are $1.99 and $5.99.

Additionally, three of Just Born’s other brands, Mike and Ike’s, Hot Tamales and Peanut Chews, will be available in miniature sized for trick-or-treaters. Miniature half-ounce boxes of Mike and Ike’s and Hot Tamales are available in 10.5-oz bags at an SRP of $1.99. Also, 31.5-oz variety bags containing both brands will be available with an SRP of $5.99.

Peanut Chews will be available in both original dark chocolate and milk chocolate flavors, and will be offered in three assortments sizes, of 8 oz., 14 oz. and 3 lb. bags, ranging from $1.99 to $5.99 in price.

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Health trend: Going bananas over “superfruits”

BY Allison Cerra

CHICAGO While health food fads may come and go, “superfruit” consumables have become all the rage, according to Brand Week.

Superfruits, appreciated as being rich in antioxidants and other nutrients such as phytonutrients, can be found in several food items and beverages. In 2006, 8,000 food and beverage products containing such fruits were launched globally, according to Chicago’s Mintel Global Solutions. In 2007, introductions of new superfruit products could hit 10,000.

The category includes cranberries, blueberries, pomegranates and tart cherries, acai berries, black currants, lingonberries, mangosteen and gogi berries. Experts say consumers who are seeking healthy options are driving their popularity.

So far, Coca-Cola’s Minute Maid, Pepsi’s Tropicana, Apple & Eve, Blue Bunny and POM have released products based on the fruits. Even beverage conglomerate Anheuser-Busch developed superfruit beverages called 180 Red and 180 Blue energy drinks with acai and gogi berry flavoring. Last month it introduced Bacardi Silver Pomegranate Mojito.

Minute Maid, added Pomegranate Blueberry Flavored 100% fruit juice blend to its Enhanced Juices line just last month. Minute Maid is supporting the launch with print in People, Cooking Light and Fitness, according to the The Marketing Store.

Coke units Odwalla and Bossa Nova also have superfruit beverages. “We [wanted] to expand the line beyond breakfast and a pomegranate blueberry juice blend was the perfect way to do it,” said Ray Crockett, a Coca-Cola rep in Atlanta. “It’s a departure from orange juice.”

Tropicana has superfruit products in its Tropicana Pure and Fruit Smoothie lines. “Superfruits are the essence of our business,” said Jim McGinnis, vice president of marketing at Tropicana. “Superfruits are here to stay.”

Apple & Eve, a Roslyn, N.Y.-based company with numerous superfruit-enhanced juices, is launching Fizz Ed, a carbonated beverage with 70% juice, which will soon hit supermarket and club store shelves. “We introduced Fizz Ed in the school food service arena because schools are [looking for] healthier options,” Brad Angevine, vice president of marketing, told Brand Week.

Though superfruits have primarily been involved in the food and drink category only, experts say the trend may branch out to others. “We’re seeing superfruits, particularly pomegranates and acai, moving into nonfood categories such as skincare, haircare and cosmetics,” said Lynn Dornblaser, director, Mintel Custom Solutions. “It shows consumers are aware of superfruits and their benefits.” Research has shown that these fruits can aid several ailments, from cancer to acne.

“[Researchers are] now investigating pomegranates as an anti-cavity ingredient,” said Suzy Badaracco, president at food trends forecaster Culinary Tides in Tualatin, Ore. “[They want to see if] they can be incorporated into oral care products such as toothpaste, mouthwash and chewing gums.”

“The success of superfruit products depends on the stamina manufacturers have and how well they can brand the products,” said Ken Harris, managing director at Cannondale Associates in Evanston, Ill. “That’s the trick.”

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