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NYC mayor: Progress in initiative to reduce salt

BY Jason Owen

NEW YORK — New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg announced on Monday 21 companies have hit their targets in a city-led effort to curb salt. Restaurants, as well as food manufacturers, were named as some of the companies to achieve their goals.

Amaericans, on average, eat about twice as much salt as the suggested daily allowance. Too much salt can cause high blood pressure and lead to other health-related problems.

The improved products range from Butterball cold cuts to Heinz ketchup to some Starbucks breakfast sandwiches. Other participants included FreshDirect, the online-order grocery and prepared food maker, and Kraft Foods, maker of Oscar Mayer hot dogs, Planters peanuts and Velveeta cheese.

"These companies have demonstrated their commitment to removing excess sodium from their products and to working with public health authorities toward a shared goal — helping their customers lead longer, healthier lives," Bloomberg said.

The reductions included cutting salt in breakfast cereals and flavored snack chips by 40%, and trimming 25% of the salt in cold cuts, processed cheese and salsa. The goal was to cut salt levels in food by a quarter overall by 2014.

"Consumers can always add salt to food, but they can’t take it out," added New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley.


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Mountain Dew launches Kickstart breakfast drink with real fruit juice

BY Jason Owen

PURCHASE, N.Y. — Mountain Dew, a product of PepsiCo, announced today the release of Kickstart, a breakfast drink combining Mountain Dew with real fruit juice.

"Our consumers told us they are looking for an alternative to traditional morning beverages — one that tastes great, includes real fruit juice and has just the right amount of kick to help them start their days," said Greg Lyons, VP marketing for Mountain Dew. "We heard them loud and clear and created a completely new offering with Kickstart to give them exactly what they asked for."

Available in two flavors, Orange Citrus and Fruit Punch, and with only 80 calories per 16-oz. can, Kickstart presents a fresh alternative to the age-old morning question of "coffee or juice." It combines the taste of Mountain Dew with 5% real fruit juice and a lower amount of caffeine than a cup of coffee.

Kickstart by Mountain Dew will be available in retail stores nationwide beginning Feb. 25. But to be one of the first to taste Kickstart before it hits shelves, consumers can visit KickStartfirstTaste.com to request a can. With the can in hand, fans are encouraged to submit a photo of themselves getting into their morning groove with Kickstart for a chance to be included in a "Chasing Sunrise" anthem video.

 


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Majority of Valentine’s Day shoppers wait until last minute to purchase gifts

BY Jason Owen

CHICAGO — Most Valentine’s Day celebrants plan to shop a week or less before the holiday, and many wait until Feb. 13 or 14 to make their final purchases, according to research by the NPD Group, a leading global information company.

The "SnackTrack Holidays Valentine’s Day Profile" found 78% of those who celebrate Valentine’s Day plan to shop a week or less before the holiday. Women do not begin their Valentine’s Day shopping much earlier than men; 1-in-3 female buyers (32%) wraps up her shopping Feb. 13 or 14, while 47% of men made their final Valentine’s Day purchase on those days.

An estimated 185 million individuals — including 70 million women and 59 million men — celebrate Valentine’s Day. While a nearly universal 92% of celebrating adults indicated plans to get someone a Valentine’s Day gift, 80% actually followed through and gave one, NPD’s snacking research reported. Outpacing greeting cards, the most common gift was candy, given by 38% of adults and 47% of teen gifters. By a wide margin, the leading candy was boxed chocolates, given by 55% of adult candy buyers and 45% of teens. Supermarkets and discount stores are the primary channels for Valentine’s Day purchases. Consumers say that they choose these channels for convenience purposes.

“With the shopping cycle more compressed for Valentine’s Day than for Christmas, there is a heightened need for a simplified shopping experience,” said Darren Seifer, food and beverage industry analyst. “Having Valentine’s Day items all in one spot and offering all-in-one bundles of cards and gifts will help these last-minute shoppers.”


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