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Pepsi Bottling Group signs letter of intent to acquire New York Bottling Co.

BY Tara Smith

SOMERS, N.Y. The Pepsi Bottling Group on Tuesday announced that it has signed a Letter of Intent to acquire Pepsi-Cola Batavia Bottling Corp. and the transaction is expected to close during the first quarter of 2008.

The family-owned and -operated business based in Batavia, N.Y., is a Pepsi-Cola franchised bottler, serving New York’s Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties along with parts of Livingston, Alleghany and Cattaraugus counties. It was founded in 1890 and is currently owned by Thomas and John Houseknecht. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

“We are pleased that Pepsi Batavia will join PBG, the largest Pepsi-Cola bottler in the world,” stated Tom and John Houseknecht. “We are confident that PBG will continue to provide the level of service and support that our employees and customers have come to expect from our company.”

The Houseknecht family will continue to own and operate Loose Ends Vending.

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Coca-Cola Enterprises elects Suzanne Labarge director

BY Adam Kraemer

ATLANTA The Coca-Cola Enterprises board of directors has elected Suzanne Labarge as director, the company announced Wednesday.

“Suzanne is an accomplished leader who brings a wealth of risk management and financial experience and expertise to our board of directors,” said Lowry Kline, non-executive chairman of the board. Labarge is the former vice chairman and chief risk officer of RBC Financial Group, where she served in a variety of roles over her 25-year career there. She also served the Canadian government as an assistant auditor-general and as deputy superintendent of policy for the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions Canada.

She currently serves on the board of governors for McMaster University, and has previously served as director and chair of the audit committee for Novelis and as a member of the board of the Bank of China in Beijing. Her term on the Coca-Cola board will expire in 2010.

“We look forward to working with her and benefiting from her international perspective and understanding of our business opportunities,” Kline stated.

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Kettle Foods joins 100-calorie pack wave

BY Adam Kraemer

SALEM, Ore. Kettle Foods announced that, starting Jan. 1, its Kettle brand Bakes will be available in 100-calorie packs at retailers nationwide.

The chips, which are made with real potato slices and no artificial ingredients, cholesterol, MSG or trans fats, offer 65 percent less fat than regular potato chips. “With Kettle brand Bakes, snackers don’t have to compromise taste or calorie count when it comes to eating on the run,” said Michelle Peterman, vice president of marketing for Oregon-based Kettle Foods.

Demand for healthier, convenient snacking options has increased significantly in the past year as more Americans seek healthier alternatives for snacking on the go, according to a recent study by Report Buyer. Many major food companies have begun offering normally indulgent foods in portion-controlled sizes, including Oreo, Chips Ahoy and Wheat Thins. “Consumers see it as a good-faith attempt on the part of manufacturers and we’ve seen positive responses for a lot of those products,” said David Morris, senior market research analyst at Mintel International Group.

The single-serving Bakes bags offer about 18 chips per bag, and will retail for about $1.09-$1.39.

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