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Safeway announces its Q3 earnings for 2008

BY Jenna Duncan

PLEASANTON, Calif. Safeway today reported a net income total of $199.7 million, or $0.46 per diluted share, for 2008’s third quarter. This total compares to its net income for the same time 2007, $194.6 million, or $0.44 per diluted share.

Safeway said that its total sales were up by 3.9 percent, totaling $10.2 billion for the third quarter 2008, up from last year’s third quarter total of $9.8 billion. The company said that the rise was caused by profits from Safeway’s Lifestyle stores as well as an increase in fuel prices. Same-store sales were up 2.8 percent with fuel (0.5 percent not considering fuel).

“During the third quarter we took action to provide our customers with better everyday values,” chairman, chief executive officer and presiden, Steve Burd, said in a statement. “As we begin the fourth quarter, our sales momentum is building, with identical-store sales (excluding fuel) currently above 1.5 percent, and we are continuing to reduce costs. We continue to believe our diluted earnings per share for 2008 will be in the range of $2.25 to $2.35 for this 53-week year.”

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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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