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Unilever sells North America frozen meals business to ConAgra Foods

BY Allison Cerra

LONDON — Unilever has put its North America frozen meals business on the sales block.

The company said it has signed a definitive agreement for the sale of its portfolio — which includes multiserve frozen entrees and appetizers under the Bertolli and P.F. Chang’s brands — to ConAgra Foods for a total cash consideration of $265 million. The transaction, subject to regulatory review and expected to close in third quarter 2012, includes a license for the use of the Bertolli brand name and the transfer of Unilever’s existing license with P.F. Chang’s for use of the P.F. Chang’s Home Menu brand name. It does not, however, include Unilever’s facility in Owensboro, Ky., at which the Bertolli and P.F. Chang’s frozen meals currently are produced. Unilever will retain the Bertolli trademark and continue its existing pasta sauce business, with manufacturing operations remaining at its Kentucky facility.

Unilever’s decision to divest the frozen meals business is in line with its global strategy to exit the frozen foods business. The company previously divested its European frozen foods business.

"Bertolli and P.F. Chang’s frozen meals are two attractive businesses with a focus on quality ingredients and differentiated technology," Unilever North America president Kees Kruythoff said. "I am confident they will continue to do well under ConAgra Foods’ management."

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Kessler Foundation, Heldrich Center issue brief on hiring employees with disabilities

BY Michael Johnsen

WEST ORANGE, N.J. — The Kessler Foundation and the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development last week released a research brief on disability employment titled “Strategies to Support Employer-Driven Initiatives to Recruit and Retain Employees with Disabilities” that explores the growing trend among employers in accommodating workers with disabilities.

This new brief, one in a series on disability and employment, examines the successful partnership initiatives that have enabled employers to hire people with disabilities. “These initiatives are resulting in integrated work forces where people with and without disabilities work side by side,” stated report author Elaine Katz of the Kessler Foundation.

The brief profiles the following successful disability employment initiatives:

  • Walgreens Distribution Centers, which exceeded its target of hiring 30% of its Anderson, N.C., center’s work force through a partnership with disability service providers;
  • The National Organization on Disability’s Bridges to Business program, which helped Lowe’s establish a successful and sustainable hiring initiative for its distribution centers;
  • The Connecticut Bureau of Rehabilitation Services’ Industry-Specific Training and Placement Program, which provided grants to five community rehabilitation providers to partner with major employers, including Lowe’s, HomeGoods, Mohegan Sun Casino, CVS and Walgreens;
  • Wal-Mart’s partnership with Project SEARCH, a school-to-work transition program, which provides real-life work experiences to help young adults with disabilities explore careers and sample jobs that suit their skills and interests. Wal-Mart was the first to license Project SEARCH for distribution centers. Project SEARCH’s host employers also include banking, hospitals and government agencies; and
  • Reddwerks, a software company based in Austin, Texas, whose disability-friendly distribution management systems software has enabled employers to expand their pool of job candidates with disabilities.

For a PDF of the full report, click here.

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Clinics likely to see healthcare-related influx, according to LA Times report

BY Antoinette Alexander

NEW YORK — With the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act extending health insurance to some 30 million Americans amid an already fragile primary care network, retail-based health clinics are likely to see an influx of patients turning to them for healthcare services.

This will be especially true in California. According to a Los Angeles Times article published Monday, nearly 3-out-of-4 California counties already lack a sufficient number of family physicians. By 2020, the estimated shortage of primary care doctors within the United States is expected to hit 40,000. Healthcare reform will result in an estimated 4 million Californians receiving health coverage, the article stated.

"People could have long wait times to see a doctor as the federal law gets implemented in 2014, and that will drive more interest in these retail clinics," Ateev Mehrotra, a researcher at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Rand Corp., a nonprofit think tank in Santa Monica, was quoted as saying to the Los Angeles Times.

The article comes as the convenient care industry gathers in Kissimmee, Fla., to attend the 2012 Retail Clinician Education Congress and to celebrate National Convenient Care Clinic Week, which touts the work of retail-based, convenient care clinics around the country and raises awareness of their accessible and cost-effective healthcare options.

The fifth annual RCEC event, hosted by The Drug Store News Group and the Convenient Care Association, is a four-day educational and networking forum designed to meet the needs of the growing field of convenient care practitioners. RCEC brings together retail clinicians from across the country to fine-tune their skills, while earning continuing education credits and learning about the latest products and services the industry has to offer.

There currently are more than 1,350 retail-based health clinics nationwide, and the article noted that the number could top 3,000 by 2016. According to the report, researchers have said that California and many states have enough medical providers to serve the overall population but they are distributed unevenly, which produces shortages in many inner-city and rural areas. The problem is expected to worsen as more primary care doctors retire and medical school graduates continue to choose more lucrative specialties, in part to help pay off their student debt.

California State Sen. Ed Hernandez, chairman of the Senate Health Committee, said that California must take numerous steps to address this issue and that the state is considering legislation that would expand the scope of practice for nurse practitioners so they can treat more patients directly with limited physician oversight, the Los Angeles Times reported.

"We will be requiring everyone to purchase health insurance, but what good is coverage if they can’t see someone for care?" Hernandez said in the article.

To read the full article click here.

 

 


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