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Unilever may be considering full purchase of Bertolli

BY Jenna Duncan

LONDON Unilever is looking at sales and licensing options for Bertolli Italian, a line of olive oils and balsamic vinegars, sources said Wednesday.

According to reports, Unilever is interested in holding on to the Bertolli brand because of successful sales of Bertolli sauces, spreads and snacks. However, the Anglo-Dutch mega-company would most likely parcel off the olive oil refining part of the Bertolli, but maintain the brand name’s license for its own use. Unilever is currently reviewing Bertolli’s business for possible sale of its holdings. However, sources say the company will not rule out keeping Bertolli, if no suitable offers are made.

“We are exploring some strategic partnership opportunities for Bertolli olive oil and vinegar,” one Unilever spokesperson said.

Unilever said last summer it planned to sell slow-growing businesses with more than $3 billion of annual turnover. This plan included selling Boursin French cheese, Lawry’s marinades and spices business, its North American laundry unit and other lesser-growing companies.

Bertolli’s annual sales have been reported at around $465 million. Sources said that Unilever could receive around $310 million from a sale of for its work on the group’s restructuring program. Unilever will announce results of its first-quarter fiscal 2008 today.

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PowerAde pushes zero-calorie sports drink, challenges Gatorade

BY Jenna Duncan

NEW YORK PowerAde, the sports drink produced by Coca-Cola, is boosting its sports beverage line by challenging competitor Gatorade with a lower-calorie product.

Earlier this month, Gatorade launched G2, a sports drink with fewer calories than original Gatorade. To challenge Gatorade, and in keeping in line with Coke’s other zero-calorie beverages—Coke Zero and Sprite Zero—PowerAde has launched PowerAde Zero with a print ad campaign starring tennis player Venus Williams next week. PowerAde Zero has no calories, versus G2’s 25 calories per bottle.

“PowerAde offers carbohydrates for those with intense workouts,” says Matt Kahn, vice president of marketing. “But there’s a whole group of calorie-conscious gym-goers. This is the first major brand to give hydration and electrolytes with zero calories.”

PowerAde said that the launch of PowerAde Zero is an attempt to stimulate growth in its segment. Its new Zero variety is available in strawberry, grape and mixed berry and is flavored with artificial sweeteners acesulfame potassium and sucralose.

G2 has only been on the market four months, but it has already claimed 8 percent of sports-drink sales. PowerAde hopes Zero will soak up a large portion of the segment.

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Pepsi designs lighter, more eco-friendly bottle for non-carbonated drinks

BY Jenna Duncan

PURCHASE, N.Y. Pepsi proclaimed yesterday it will begin bottling some flavored drinks in a new 500-mL beverage bottle made with 20 percent less plastic. Pepsi said the bottles will arrive in stores starting this month.

Pepsi will sell Aquafina Alive, Aquafina FlavorSplash, Lipton iced tea and Tropicana juice drinks in the lighter bottles. These selections will be available in 12- and 24-packs. Pepsi said about 20 million pounds of waste will be eliminated from entering the environment by the introduction of the bottles.

“As a company, we’ve challenged ourselves to consistently identify ways to lessen our impact on the environment and in this case we’re doing a little ‘plastic surgery,’” PepsiCo vice president of worldwide beverage packaging and equipment development, Robert Lewis, said. “We’re constantly striving to make our packaging an even smaller part of the waste stream and this new bottle is just one of many examples.”

Not only will the amount of plastic used in each bottle be reduced, Pepsi said, label sizes will also be reduced by 10 percent and shrink wrap film used to cover multi-packs will be lessened by 5 percent.

Pepsi said that a special team of experts from inside and outside the company were behind the project. After trying out more than 30 designs with consumer testing, a team worked to streamline the lightweight package that is now coming to the market.

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