A.G. BARR acquires tropical drinks brand Rio

A.G. BARR has acquired the Rio soft drinks brand through the purchase of Rio Tropical Limited. Acquired from Hall and Woodhouse Limited, the independent brewer and pub company, for a total cash consideration of £12.3m, tropical fruit brand Rio has been marketed, sold and distributed on an exclusive licence basis by A.G. BARR’s recently acquired Boost Drinks division since 2021. Roger White, CEO of AG BARR, said: “As brand builders we are delighted to acquire the Rio brand and secure its long-term position in our wider portfolio. This allows us to realise the benefits of full brand ownership and support Rio’s continued growth. This acquisition is a further positive indication of our strategic ambitions.” A.G. BARR is a branded multi-beverage business with a portfolio of market-leading UK brands, including IRN-BRU, Rubicon, FUNKIN and Boost.

Louis Dreyfus Company to construct soybean processing plant in Ohio

Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC) is to construct a soybean processing plant in Upper Sandusky (OH), US, with integrated crushing, vegetable oil refining and lecithin production and packaging capabilities. “This strategic development will further strengthen LDC’s core merchandizing capabilities with additional capacity to originate and process US soy into value-added products – in this case edible oils and lecithin, reinforcing our position as a partner to our customers as we grow our Food & Feed Solutions business established in January,” said Michael Gelchie, LDC’s Chief Executive Officer. The new plant also provides an option to participate in renewable energy feedstock markets and help meet growing demand for biofuels. “Reflecting our long-term commitment to North America as a key market for LDC, both in terms of origination and distribution, this new facility will leverage LDC’s existing regional logistics network and synergies with our other integrated oilseed processing facilities in the region: our recently-expanded crushing, biodiesel refining, and glycerin and lecithin production complex in Claypool (IN), US, and our canola processing plant in Yorkton (SK), Canada, which we are also expanding,” said Gordon Russell, LDC’s US Head of Grains & Oilseeds. With construction expected to begin in early 2024, the new facility will employ over 100 people and have annual soy crushing capacity of 1,500,000 MT, annual edible (RBD) soybean oil production capacity of 320,000 MT and annual lecithin production capacity of 7,500 MT.

Minus acquires Future Waste to fight food waste across Canada

Minus Global Holdings Inc. (Minus) has acquired Future Waste, a food and liquid waste management company based in Southwestern Ontario, Canada. This acquisition follows the previous purchase by Minus of Planet Earth Recycling in 2022. Together, these companies are uniting to become one of the largest and most impactful organic recyclers in Southern Ontario, enhancing service standards, coverage, offerings, and processing capacity to customers. These companies alongside Minus’s on-site food waste solutions provider ORCA Digesters are devoted to offering comprehensive, efficient, and responsible food and liquid waste management solutions to fit commercial customers across Canada and worldwide. For the past 21 years, Future Waste has provided organic waste and recycling solutions with a strong emphasis on sustainability, cost-effectiveness, and tailored solutions for clients with various waste products and production practices. Alongside food waste, Future Waste offers bulk liquid waste pumping, collection and disposal services and is licensed to handle off-spec alcohol. Future Waste boasts an extensive customer portfolio containing some of North America’s largest food and beverage producers and retailers. Furthermore, Future Waste comes with a prestigious network of service partners that enables them to offer services across Canada. With this acquisition, Minus will provide a larger and more bespoke level of service to all of its customers, through extended geographic reach, they will be able to further tailor their services to specific client needs. Louis Anagnostakos, CEO of Minus, said: “We are very excited to welcome Future Waste to the Minus portfolio. Expanding our food waste collection and recovery network will enable us to assist more businesses in responsibly and transparently managing their unavoidable waste. “With a focus on ‘LESS,’ the ever-growing Minus team is dedicated to supporting our customers in producing less waste, transporting it as minimally as possible, and maximizing the remaining resources within the waste.”

Kite Packaging crowned Packaging Company of the Year

Kite Packaging, a leading online supplier of innovative and sustainable packaging solutions, has won the title of Packaging Company of the Year at the highly acclaimed 2023 UK Packaging Awards. Following a commendation for the same award last year, this prestigious accolade recognising excellence in packaging design, production and innovation reflects Kite’s continued endeavours and successes as a trailblazer in the industry. The awarding body praised Kite Packaging on their ability to deliver packaging products and services aligning functionality with environmental consciousness, whilst actively reducing their environmental impact and demonstrating a strong sense of social responsibility. Kite’s sustained investment in its employees, exemplified through initiatives like the company’s apprenticeship scheme, graduate management programme, and sales academy, showcases their dedication to cultivating a skilled and dynamic workforce which injects fresh ideas and perspectives into the industry with every cohort. Further to this, Kite’s share incentive scheme fosters employee engagement and aligns the team’s goals with the long term success of the company, enabling them to deliver exceptional customer service. Driven by this core value, Kite consistently meets and exceeds customer expectations whilst achieving financial success. This remarkable achievement is a testament to Kite Packaging’s unwavering commitment to excellence across all aspects of its operations. To find out more about Kite Packaging and their products and services, please visit www.kitepackaging.co.uk.

National triumph for gummy specialist at 10th National Entrepreneurs’ Awards

A vitamin gummy manufacturer has received major recognition after triumphing at the National Entrepreneur Awards. UK Gummy Company, based in Swansea (with state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities in Spain) was announced as the winner of the ‘Most Impressive Business Growth’ award in front of a packed audience of hundreds of fellow entrepreneurs at the awards ceremony. The event, held at the ICC in Birmingham, is the highlight of the annual ‘Getting and Keeping Customers Convention’ run by the business growth specialists Entrepreneurs Circle and attracts over 1,000 visitors every year. Set up in 2019, UK Gummy Company supplies gummies for the Health, Sports, Beauty, Senior Citizens and Childrens’ sectors for a range of major customers across the globe, with standard and bespoke formulations available. Working to the highest standards, their facilities and systems are regularly audited to ensure compliance and the company holds BRC and IFS certificates. Founder Tom Walsh, who prior to starting the business enjoyed a successful career in supply chain management, working for blue-chip organisations such as Revlon, Gillette, Alberto Culver, The Body Shop and LF Beauty said: “Having worked on ‘both sides’ of being a buyer and seller I understand the importance and significance of building solid business relationships to have mutual success and that philosophy has served us well as we have continued to expand our offering and with it, our market share. “We offer a fully finished product development service, from concept of product to the customer’s market launch, are transparent and competitive with our pricing and offer a rapid lead time – some 50% quicker than China – which has been a major factor in our growth. “This award is testimony to the high standards that we set ourselves as a company from day one. The growth of the business comes down to a continuous investment both in terms of time and financial resources put back into the business but with one key thing at the core…the customer.” UK Gummy Company’s triumph came alongside recognition for entrepreneurs in seven other categories, as business owners from across the UK came together to celebrate their achievements and to be recognised for their hard work and dedication. Nigel Botterill, founder of Entrepreneurs Circle and the creator of 10 different £1m+ businesses himself, said: “As entrepreneurs we are always focused on ‘what’s next’. We are notoriously bad at recognising and celebrating what we have achieved and how far we have come, and I am delighted for Tom and all the winners and finalists here with us tonight. “The great work they do often goes unnoticed, which is why, ten years ago, we created the National Entrepreneur Awards. We are on a mission to recognise and reward business owners and businesses like UK Gummy Company that have achieved great things over this last year. “We want to shine a spotlight on the amazing things entrepreneurs all over the UK are doing to build their businesses, put something back into their local communities and give the country’s economy a much-needed shot in the arm.”

Standing out in the digital marketplace: best ways to craft a memorable food and drink brand

Food and drink brands face immense competition online. With countless businesses vying for attention, creating a memorable brand presence is crucial. It’s not just about having delicious products or enticing offers, but about building a brand identity that resonates, tells a story, and stays in the minds of consumers. Whether you’re a startup entering the marketplace or an established name aiming to up your digital game, a robust online strategy is the key. This article sheds light on the best practices to ensure your food and drink brand stands out in the ecommerce world and makes an indelible mark on new and existing customers alike. Embrace Authentic Storytelling Today’s consumers crave authenticity and honesty. They want to know the story behind the brands they support, especially when it comes to food and drink. Embracing authentic storytelling means delving deep into the origins of your products, sharing the journey from farm to table, and highlighting the passion and values that drive your brand. Whether it’s a video series about the craft of brewing your artisanal beverages, or blog posts detailing the rich history of a family-owned vineyard, stories create a personal connection with your audience. Create An Engaging And Interactive Website To effectively stand out, your website should be more than just a catalogue of products. Create an immersive experience for visitors, one that draws them into the world of your brand. Consider incorporating interactive features like virtual tours, tasting sessions, or recipe suggestion engines. And, to ensure you’re delivering a top-tier online experience, consider partnering with experts such as a Shopify Plus Agency in London, Charle. Their team provides insights and tools to elevate e-commerce platforms, making sure your brand doesn’t just exist online but thrives there. Through high-quality visuals, user-friendly design, and interactive features, your website can become a destination, not just a stopover. Encourage User-Generated Content User-generated content (UGC) is a powerful tool in the digital marketplace, especially for the food and drink sector. By encouraging your customers to share their experiences with your products, whether through photos or recipes, you engage with your community and gain authentic endorsements. UGC acts as social proof, showing potential customers the real-world enjoyment of your offerings. Host photo contests, invite recipe submissions, or simply create a unique hashtag for users to share their moments. Such content enriches your brand’s online presence and fosters a community of loyal and engaged followers. Offer Exclusive Online Experiences Offering something exclusive can be another great way to set your brand apart. Consider hosting online wine tastings, virtual brewery tours, or live cooking demonstrations with chefs using your products. Providing these unique experiences makes customers feel valued and special, deepening their connection to your brand. Additionally, such exclusives can drive traffic to your site, increase sales, and encourage word-of-mouth marketing. It’s a win-win, as customers get exclusive access and insights, and your brand strengthens its online presence. Invest In SEO And Digital Marketing Digital visibility is crucial in the bustling online food and drink sector. By investing in search engine optimisation (SEO) and other digital marketing techniques, you ensure your brand reaches its target audience effectively. From keyword optimisation and link building to pay-per-click campaigns and social media advertising, there’s a variety of strategies to enhance your online footprint. Remember, it’s not just about being online. It’s about being easily found and recognised by customers no matter where they are in the world. With a sound SEO and digital marketing strategy, you can position your brand at the forefront of consumers’ minds, driving traffic and conversions. Showcase Customer Reviews And Testimonials Before making a purchase, especially in the food and drink sector, consumers often seek validation from their peers. Showcasing customer reviews and testimonials prominently on your website can bolster your brand’s credibility exponentially. These authentic endorsements act as potent trust signals, assuring potential customers of the quality and satisfaction your products deliver. Make it simple for customers to leave their feedback, and celebrate positive reviews by featuring them across your digital platforms. In doing so, you’re not just promoting your products. You’re also building a community of loyal advocates who vouch for your brand. Focus On Sustainability And Ethics Modern consumers are increasingly conscious of their environmental impact and the ethical implications of their purchases. In the food and drink sector, showcasing your brand’s commitment to sustainability and ethical practices can significantly enhance your appeal. Whether it’s sourcing ingredients ethically, using sustainable packaging, or supporting local communities, these initiatives resonate deeply with today’s consumer. Detail your brand’s sustainability efforts on your website, and regularly update your audience about new initiatives through blogs or social media posts. By positioning your brand as environmentally responsible and ethically conscious, you not only align with consumer values but also carve a distinctive niche in the digital marketplace.

Nestlé to end infant formula manufacturing and R&D operations in Ireland

Nestlé has announced a proposal to cease operations in its Wyeth Nutrition infant formula factory in Askeaton, Co Limerick, Ireland by Q1 2026, and is proposing to close the co-located R&D centre by Q1 2025. Nestlé will now consult with all employees and their representative unions. The announcement means approximately 542 colleagues will be placed at risk of redundancy. The facilities were part of Nestlé’s acquisition of Pfizer Nutrition in 2012. Operating as Wyeth Nutritionals Ireland Ltd (WNIL), the factory manufactures infant formula products exclusively for export to markets in Greater China and Asia. The factory currently employs 491 people. The R&D facility employs 51 people. External trends have significantly impacted demand for infant nutrition products in the Greater China region. The number of new-born babies in China has declined sharply from some 18 million per year in 2016 to fewer than 9 million projected in 2023. The market, which had previously been reliant on imported infant formula products, is also seeing rapid growth in locally-produced products. To adapt to those changes Nestlé is proposing to transfer the production from Askeaton to two existing factories – Suzhou, Mainland China and Konolfingen, Switzerland. Konolfingen is also home to Wyeth and Nestlé Nutrition’s global R&D centre of excellence for infant and maternal products. It is proposed that R&D work at Askeaton would be absorbed into Konolfingen, where 365 colleagues work on research and product development across several disciplines, and a satellite R&D centre in Shanghai would be strengthened. A statement from Nestlé says: “These proposals have been carefully considered and are no reflection on the excellent contribution made by our employees in Askeaton over many years. “To date, we have not been able to find a buyer. Therefore, we will commence a meaningful consultation process with our employees on a proposed closure. In parallel, during this consultation we remain open to approaches from a credible buyer. “We regret the uncertainty this announcement will cause our colleagues and their families, and we will make sure they are supported fully throughout this process.”

Ferrara Candy Company to acquire Jelly Belly


Ferrara Candy Company has agreed to acquire Jelly Belly Candy Company through CTH Invest, the lead holding company of Ferrara. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

The proposed acquisition would combine Jelly Belly Candy Company’s more than 100 flavors of Jelly Belly® jelly beans and gourmet specialty confections with Ferrara’s broad portfolio of sugar candies.

Once the acquisition closes, nearly 800 global Jelly Belly employees and its facilities in California, Illinois, and Thailand will join the Ferrara organization. Jeff Brown, who is currently the Executive Vice President of Global Operations and Distribution of Jelly Belly, will become its Chief Executive Officer.

Jelly Belly Candy Company’s roots date back to its founding in Illinois in 1869 and it has continued to be family-owned and operated by the fourth, fifth, and sixth generations of the Rowland candy-making family.

Its signature brand of Jelly Belly® jelly beans has been one of the most loved and recognizable candy products in the world since its introduction in 1976. Its extensive portfolio includes more than 100 flavors of its well-known jelly beans and a wide variety of other candies.

The company is also well-known for its specialty retail confections, including jelly bean lines such as BeanBoozled® jelly beans and Sport Beans® Energizing jelly beans®. Today, Jelly Belly distributes its products in more than 60 countries across five continents and has a strong track record of sustained and profitable growth.

Headquartered in Chicago for more than 115 years and privately owned, Ferrara is the leading U.S. sugar confections company and the manufacturer of 20 beloved brands such as Black Forest®, NERDS®, SweeTARTS®, and Trolli®. Ferrara is a Ferrero related company.

“As we considered the future of Jelly Belly Candy Company, we have been steadfast in our commitment to create a win-win situation for our employees, consumers, and products,” said Herman Rowland, Sr., Chairman of the Board of Directors of Jelly Belly.

“When I met with the Ferrara team, I recognized a like-minded group that shares our knowledge and passion for the candy business and has the talent and resources to grow our products and the careers of our people around the world. I am confident of the continued success of Jelly Belly as part of the Ferrara portfolio.”

“Since our inception almost a century and a half ago, Jelly Belly Candy Company has been focused on providing exciting new flavors and continuous innovation, and we are extremely proud of the deep affinity we’ve built with our fans around the world,” said Lisa Brasher, President and Chief Executive Officer of Jelly Belly.

“Ferrara’s interest reflects the substantial value of our storied brand, built on our team’s many successes, and the opportunity to drive continued growth. We look forward to being a part of this impressive company.”

“We are excited to bring Jelly Belly’s imaginative products and talented team into the Ferrara community,” said Marco Capurso, Chief Executive Officer of Ferrara. “Our dedication to creating high-quality, innovative sugar confections for the world and our deep relationships with retailers aligns perfectly with the Jelly Belly track record and passion for quality, reliability, and customer service. We look forward to working together to build on the success of all our brands.”

The transaction is expected to close by the end of 2023 and is subject to certain closing conditions.

Ocean Spray launches new Pink Cranberry juice drink with a purpose

Ocean Spray®, the cranberry juice brand, is bringing innovation to the juice category with the launch of a different, sweeter type of cranberry juice drink, Ocean Spray® Pink Cranberry, with vitamin C and no added sugar, artificial colours or flavourings. New Pink Cranberry is also filled with purpose as Ocean Spray has pledged to donate five pence from every carton sold to breast cancer trust The Pink Ribbon Foundation. Launching into the ambient aisle in Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and independent stores from the end of October (RRP £1.85), Ocean Spray® Pink Cranberry is different because it contains a unique blend of pink, red and white cranberries, giving it a smooth, sweet and refreshing taste compared to the crisp tangy flavour of red cranberry juice. Not only does the sweeter taste appeal to a wider audience, it makes it a more versatile, healthier alternative drink outside the traditional breakfast occasion, such as at lunchtime, early evening or as an afternoon pick me up. Jo Dickinson, senior UK marketing manager Ocean Spray, said: “We wanted to create a different type of cranberry juice filled with passion and purpose that appeals to the younger, non-cranberry drinker who is often put off by the tartness of traditional cranberry juice. It also needed to have wider appeal outside of the breakfast occasion. “Research shows nearly three-quarters of non-cranberry juice consumers would be more likely to drink cranberry if it had a sweeter taste profile. The majority of these consumers consider cranberry juice to be inherently healthy but two-thirds don’t consider it due to its tartness. We knew we had to find a solution that was different, unexpected even, yet consistent with Ocean Spray’s brand values and emotionally connected with consumers.” Ocean Spray is launching both ambient and chilled varieties of its new Pink Cranberry, with the ambient juice drink launching first into retailers in October, and the chilled variant containing higher levels of vitamin C launching in spring 2024. Currently, cranberry juice makes up just 2.5% of all UK juice sales but Ocean Spray believes its new, highly versatile Pink Cranberry juice drink will help to drive this figure much higher and lead to a new generation of cranberry juice lovers. Ocean Spray’s latest innovation aims to build on the 90 years-plus cooperative’s UK market-leading position. Latest figures show the brand’s volume sales are up 20% against total juice category decline of -9%. Its chilled take home juice is showing the strongest growth of 36%, in sharp contrast to overall chilled juice decline of -15%. Ocean Spray ambient take home juice is also experiencing significant growth, up 17% versus the category which is growing at 4%. Kickstarting the launch of Pink will be a nationwide sampling campaign allowing consumers to taste its unique sweetness versus the tanginess of red cranberry. It will be further supported with TV and display advertising, instore and online activation, social media and PR.

The Coca‑Cola Company and Pernod Ricard to debut Absolut Vodka & Sprite ready-to-drink cocktail

The Coca‑Cola Company and Pernod Ricard have announced a global relationship to debut Absolut Vodka & Sprite as a ready-to-drink pre-mixed cocktail in 2024.
Absolut & Sprite will be made with Absolut, the international premium vodka, and Sprite, the lemon-lime sparkling soft drink. The pre-mixed cocktail will be available in versions with Sprite and Sprite Zero Sugar, with the initial launch planned for select European countries in early 2024, including the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Spain and Germany. “We keep consumers at the center of everything we do as we continue to develop our portfolio as a total beverage company,” said James Quincey, Chairman and CEO of The Coca‑Cola Company. “We are expanding in the alcohol ready-to-drink space, including products that use select brands from our core portfolio. We are excited about our new relationship with Pernod Ricard and look forward to the introduction of Absolut & Sprite.” “This very promising and pioneering project brings together two leading companies who are committed to offering their consumers new experiences around premium products,” said Alexandre Ricard, CEO of Pernod Ricard, a worldwide leader in the spirits and wine industry. Vodka is one of the most popular bases for alcohol ready-to-drink products, and lemon-lime soft drinks are one of the most popular mixers in pre-mixed cocktails. “Sprite is a wonderful pairing for Absolut, and I’m convinced that our joining forces will bring the whole alcohol RTD category to the next level,” Ricard said.