M&S-Ocado UK partnership touted transformational, Impossible Foods expands US reach


04 Sep 2020 — This week in industry news, a “transformational partnership” between iconic British brands M&S and Ocado was launched and Impossible Foods rolled out its flagship product at selected Sprouts stores in the US. Meanwhile, Califia Farms named Dave Ritterbush as its new CEO and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) made moves to ensure children have access to nutritious food as the country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In brief: Business news
In the UK, Ocado Retail has been working closely with M&S to bring a new range and service to customers’ homes. Thanks to this collaboration, customers of Ocado Retail will find equivalent or higher quality products of their old favorites at the same or better value alongside the full M&S Food range of 6,000 products. With over 750 new products added to its existing range, M&S Food enhances Ocado Retail’s range of over 50,000 products. Together, both businesses are focused on delivering quality and value with an unbeatable range spanning from the M&S Remarksable Value everyday products such as sustainably sourced Scottish salmon, RSPCA assured milk and free-range eggs through to famous ranges including the plant-based Plant Kitchen range and GastroPub meals.

Impossible Foods is rolling out its flagship product, the award-winning Impossible Burger, starting at more than 350 Sprouts Farmers Market stores in 23 states in the US. Sprouts shoppers can find Impossible Burger in the frozen meat section in convenient, versatile 12-ounce packages. With the addition of Sprouts locations, Impossible Burger will be available in an expanded footprint across the Southwest region and Mountain states – a total of more than 10,000 stores nationwide.

Click to EnlargeAvailable in three varieties, Justin’s bars are made with 10 g of plant-based protein.Justin’s, maker of nut butters, nut butter snacks and organic nut butter cups, has announced the expansion of its snacking portfolio and entry into the refrigerated bar category with new Almond Butter Protein Bars. Available in three varieties – Almond Butter, Honey Almond Butter and Dark Chocolate Chip Almond Butter – the bars are made with 10 g of plant-based protein, including Justin’s almond butter, giving consumers a protein-packed offering to snack on. Justin’s Refrigerated Almond Butter Protein Bars are marketed as Non-GMO Project Verified, gluten-free, soy-free and dairy-free while containing 40 percent less sugar than the leading refrigerated bars. The Almond Butter Protein Bar variety is made with organic maple syrup, while the Dark Chocolate Chip and Honey varieties are made with organic honey for a subtly sweet taste. This month, the protein bars will be rolling out on shelves at Whole Foods and Target in the US.

In brief: Appointments & retirements
Califia Farms has announced that Dave Ritterbush has been named as the company’s new CEO. Greg Steltenpohl, plant-based pioneer and the company’s founder, will retire and remain on the board as an Executive Director. Ritterbush, a CPG industry veteran, has a proven track record of successfully leading F&B brands and elevating them to new heights, most recently as president and CEO of Quest Nutrition. He guided the company to a US$1 billion acquisition last year by The Simply Good Foods Co. He has also served as CEO of the better-for-you snack company Popchips, and helmed Premier Nutrition Corp., maker of Premier Protein and Power Bar. Additionally, 

In brief: Other highlights
Walmart is launching a new membership program that brings together in-store and online benefits. Walmart+ has the reach of more than 4,700 stores, including 2,700 stores that offer delivery as fast as the same day. Members will receive unlimited free delivery from stores, fuel discounts and access to tools that make shopping faster for families. Membership will be available to all customers on September 15. 

At the beginning of July, Mars paused paid advertising globally across news feed-based social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Snap and Twitter) to urge these platforms to make specific, meaningful progress in stopping the spread of hate speech and misinformation and in allowing brands like ours the tools they need to control where their content appears. This includes: auditing transparency and reporting on the effectiveness of brand safety measures that are already in place; giving consumers a safer experience by monitoring content and enforcing community standards that address hate speech and misinformation; controlling the placement of advertising content next to sensitive and/or inappropriate content and improving reporting and data to enable marketers like Mars to better manage where advertising is placed online. Mars has shared that each of these platforms has made significant progress on its key demands to merit its return to paid advertising across these platforms on September 1.

US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has revealed that the USDA will allow summer meal program operators to continue serving free meals to all children through December 31. This move will help ensure children have access to nutritious food as the country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. Click to EnlargeHeston Blumenthal launches a new gin at Waitrose.

HelloFresh revealed the leasing of new US distribution centers in Newnan, Georgia and Irving, Texas, providing increased capacity through expanded supply chain capabilities to support growing demand in key southeastern- and central-Texas locations. The 210,000 square foot facility in Georgia will begin operating in the third quarter of 2020, scaling throughout the remainder of the year. This new distribution center will support shorter delivery distances throughout the region and provide job opportunities to more than 750 workers across operations, meal distribution and management roles. Additionally, HelloFresh announced a new, state-of-the-art Irving, Texas facility that will increase overall meal kit production and distribution capacity by more than 30 percent. The 375,000-square-foot distribution center – HelloFresh’s largest facility to date – will include office space, cold storage, packing and shipping areas, and could provide as many as 1,200 new jobs for the area. 

Heston Blumenthal is introducing a new gin to the Heston from Waitrose range and it has an unusual serving suggestion – olive oil. The gin is infused with Mediterranean sweet basil, rosemary, thyme and lavender botanicals on top of a robust and fragrant Italian juniper, citrus, and botanical spice base. Heston’s top tip for serving the gin is to enjoy it with Mediterranean Tonic, ice, a Nocellara olive and a drizzle of olive oil. 

By Elizabeth Green

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