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Nestle announces partnership with Pierre Marcolini

BY Tara Smith

VEVEY, Switzerland Swiss-based food giant Nestle on Thursday announced that it is partnering with Belgian company Pierre Marcolini as it aims to move into the growing premium and luxury chocolate market.

According to Nestle, the partnership will allow Pierre Marcolini to expand its network of boutiques while it helps Nestle create more brands of luxury chocolate, adding to such premium chocolates are Perugina, Baci and Nestle Noir. Both parties declined to reveal any financial details of the deal.

Nestle is currenlty the second-largest confectionary company in the world, after Cadbury, according to Euromonitor. For the first nine months of the 2007 tax year the company’s sales rose 5.4 percent, attributed by the company to the growing trend for premium dark chocolate bars, including Perugina Nero. The company also made several successful acquisitions, including Russian chocolate manufacturer Ruzskaya Confectionary Factory last month.

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Miller brews up light craft beers for masses

BY Tara Smith

MILWAUKEE Miller Brewing Co. announced late last week that it would test market the Miller Lite Brewers Collection in Minneapolis, Charlotte, N.C., San Diego, and Baltimore beginning in February.

The three new versions of Miller Lite will be a blonde ale, an amber beer and a wheat beer—each with fewer calories and carbohydrates than a typical beer for that style. The three new beers will target mainstream drinkers and capitalize on trends that favor light beer, greater variety of beer styles and a willingness to pay more for higher-quality beers. They also could help establish a new beer industry category, something Miller chief marketing officer Randy Ransom calls “craft-style light.”

Light beer makes up roughly one-third of U.S. beer sales volume and is the dominant category in the beer industry, but craft beers, such as Samuel Adams Boston Lager, are taking a growing share of sales. That niche accounted for only about 3 percent of sales in 2006 but saw an 11.7 percent sales volume increase over 2005, compared with industry-wide growth of 2 percent.

The three beers will initially be available in six-pack bottles and priced between mainstream light beers and typical craft beers, the company said.

Miller Lite is Miller’s largest brand, accounting for 47 percent of the company’s sales volume in 2006.

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Kellogg to expand research facility

BY Tara Smith

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. Kellogg Co. on Wednesday announced plans to expand its W.K. Kellogg Institute for Food and Nutrition Research facility. The 157,000-square-foot addition will accommodate up to 300 employees, though president and chief executive officer David Mackay said job creation is not necessarily tied to the expansion.

The expanded facility will include food and packaging review rooms, chemistry labs, test kitchens, development labs and a large, flexible production pilot plant where new ideas for products are tested before full-scale production in any of the company’s manufacturing facilities. Construction is to begin in the second quarter of 2008; the facility may be operational in the third quarter of 2009.

The Battle Creek-based maker of cereal and snacks proposed the $54 million expansion plan to the Battle Creek City Commission in October.

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