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Wrigley releases details of merger with Mars

BY Jenna Duncan

CHICAGO Wrigley Jr. Co. has revealed some of the details of a possible merger with Mars in preliminary paperwork filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

A proxy filed last week said that if Wrigley backs out of the $23 biillion deal, it now would have to pay Mars $690 million. On the other hand, if Mars pulls out it must pay $1 billion to Wrigley.

Mars raised its per share bid after Wrigley said the initial offer of $76 per share was too low. On April 17, Mars raised the bid to $77 per share, but later made a final offer of $80 per share. Wrigley accepted and a merger agreement was announced April 28.

Reports said that a recent meeting between Wrigley chairman, William Wrigley Jr., Mars president, Paul S. Michaels, and Mars chief financial officer, Olivier C. Goudet, went smoothly.

“Michaels and Goudet also said that this was a friendly proposal to be discussed on an exclusive basis and that Mars would withdraw its proposal if the board of directors of the company was not interested in pursuing the combination or if the company wanted to conduct any type of auction process,” the statement said.

Other details of the change include Mars’ plans to transfer Skittles and Starburst brands to Wrigley. The company has said that it believes Skittles and Starburst would benefit from the confectioner’s “sugar” line, rather than staying in Mars’ chocolate-heavy lineup.

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FDA adds isomaltulose to list of tooth-safe sweeteners

BY Jenna Duncan

ROCKVILLE, Md. Isomaltulose, an artificial sweetener, is getting a boost from the Food and Drug Administration after being added to a list of non-cariogenic carbohydrate sweeteners. The ruling is effective immediately and proponents and marketers of the sweetener now may promote its non-association with dental caries.

“FDA is taking this action to complete the rulemaking initiated with the interim final rule,” the FDA said in an article released in the Federal Register May 27.

Manufacturers using isomaltulose in products like gum will now be permitted to make claims like “does not promote tooth decay” and “may reduce the risk of tooth decay.” Items with the sweetener must be completely sugar-free and must not bring the user’s plaque pH to a level lower than below 5.7 for up to 30 minutes after use.

In 2006, Cargill petitioned to have isomaltulose added to the FDA’s list alongside other sweeteners like D-tagatose and sucralose. Isomaltulose is marketed as a sweetener by such companies as Beneo-Palatinat (Palatinose) and Cargill (Xtend).

The FDA approved the entry of isomaltulose to the non-cariogenic list because it proved not to be “fermented by oral bacteria to an extent sufficient to lower dental plaque pH to levels that would contribute to the erosion of dental enamel.”

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Spam sales spike in cash-poor economy

BY Jenna Duncan

AUSTIN, Minn. Hormel Foods Corp., maker of Spam, last week reported that sales of the canned meat product have risen in the second quarter, bringing a 14-percent profit increase.

The Nielsen Co. released sales information for Hormel reporting that Spam sales were up 10.6 percent from last year in the quarter ended May 3. In the last 6 months, sales were up nearly 9 percent.

“We have significantly increased our household penetration,” Hormel’s group product manager, Swen Neufeldt, said. “I think it’s a lot of folks that are coming into the brand perhaps for the first time and coming back to the brand.”

The Agriculture Department has reported that food prices, in general, are soaring faster than at any other time in the last 18 years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has said that inflation is rising by 6.1 percent per year and there is no sign of a slowdown.

The price of Spam is currently at $2.62, up 17 cents, or about 7 percent, from last year.

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