A shortage of truck drivers and a crumbling transportation infrastructure have contributed to a 14% increase in freight costs for U.S. consumer packaged goods companies since 2012, according to a report by the GMA and The Boston Consulting Group. A survey of more than 40 companies, including Procter & Gamble and Bumble Bee Seafoods, revealed that transportation issues were a top concern. Companies have responded by relocating manufacturing and warehouse facilities and by nurturing relationships with transportation companies, according to BCG principal Elfrun von Koeller.
Des Moines, Iowa, might be the first market to test a standalone grocery store that is a cross between "an ATM and a very large vending machine," using a robotic system called Oasis24Seven, reports Ashlee Kieler of Consumerist. Grocery stores are increasing using technology to monitor shopping as well as tackle in-store theft.
Clean labels that highlight short lists of simple and natural ingredients have become an industry standard, according to Innova Market Insights. The research firm found that use of "clean label ingredients" such as natural sweeteners increased in 2014. Fewer products are using the term "natural" on packaging, which can be confusing to consumers since it is not regulated in the U.S.
Companies are increasingly using neuroscience methods, such as facial coding, skin conductivity and bias removal, to determine how to attract consumers to their products. "People are not governed by the rational side of their brains so the majority of purchase decisions are made irrationally," said Itiel Dror, a Harvard-trained neuroscientist hired by Brand Opus to test a new logo for McCain Foods.
Brazilian meatpacker JBS' U.S. subsidiary Swift Pork has agreed to buy Cargill's U.S. pork business for $1.45 billion, in what JBS President Martin Dooley called a "strategic investment" in the company's global expansion. The deal includes processing plants, feed mills and hog farms in six states.
As part of its "For Healthy Bodies" campaign promoting its bottled water, PepsiCo's Aquafina is sponsoring Daybreaker events in New York City that attract health-minded people who gather early in the morning to engage in activities such as yoga and dancing.
Temple Turmeric is expanding its product portfolio to appeal to mainstream consumers with its new line of Super Lights beverages that focus on delivering refreshment with a low calorie and sugar content.
Iced tea sales continue to grow as consumers turn to the category to satisfy the need for healthier beverages, and established brands such as Arizona are facing increased competition from an influx of new premium brands. The company is fighting to maintain the low price of its canned ready-to-drink teas on which its network of loyal customers is built while making a play for the premium market with new products such as its Oak teas brewed with oak chips.
Mars Ireland plans to move its headquarters to the sixth floor of the Chase Building in the Sandyford suburb of Dublin. The 15-year lease of 13,466 square feet includes a break option at the end of the seventh year and will reportedly cost approximately $25 per square foot.
General Mills will launch a gluten-free version of its Lucky Charms cereal this summer as part of a $712 million investment to boost declining cereal sales that also includes five gluten-free Cheerios styles, the company announced Wednesday. The cereal maker will use a mechanical filter to remove the allergenic wheat, rye and barley grains from the naturally gluten-free oats in its products.