Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

Feeding America’s six degrees of separation


While the six degrees game is tied to Kevin Bacon, connections to other celebrities are helping a major charity.

Feeding America, formerly known as America’s Second Harvest, has several celebrities on its entertainment council, including chairman David Arquette.

The actor, who volunteers at a Venice, California, food pantry twice a week, and wife Courteney Cox Arquette introduced Feeding America to Ben Silverman, the co-chairman of NBC Entertainment and NBC Universal Television Studio, President and CEO Vicki Escarra said at the Reuters Food and Agriculture Summit.
One large way Feeding America has gotten its name out over the past few months is through its mentions on NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” weight loss television show.
Escarra said Feeding America met last week with Silverman “to see if there’s a way that Feeding America can really be more involved in the properties of NBC.”
She said Silverman is now considering the idea.

Among many campaigns from corporations that highlight Feeding America is one that caught even Escarra by surprise. 
“We now have a really nice piece that I didn’t even know we had. I was watching TV Sunday night and I saw this really beautiful Visa commercial,” she said.
Escarra also spoke about some upcoming campaigns.  The Arquettes will appear in 40 magazines and on signs in U.S. post offices in April and May promoting the Letter Carriers’ food drive. Last year, the drive collected 73 million pounds of food, according to Feeding America.
And for Easter, along with the egg producers, Feeding America is doing an event in Hollywood. For every egg decorated by celebrities and their children, a tractor trailer full of eggs will go to a food bank. 

from DealZone:

Little orphan brandie

FOOD-SUMMIT/B&GB&G Foods Inc wants the small, orphan brands that no one else loves. 

"We have a laundry list and any number companies that we talk to on a regular basis," said B&G Chief Executive David Wenner. "We're buying all these things people don't want to run."

B&G pointed to the success of its acquisition of Cream of Wheat, saying "no one was paying any attention to it. So that's where we come in."

How much for the bag of magic (soy)beans?


The weakening of the U.S. dollar and other currencies has led farmers around the world to value their crops more highly than they do money, said Dan Basse, president of agricultural research firm AgResource Co

“In Argentina, for example, farmers down there are more anxious to hold onto soybeans than pesos. When they need currency they’re willing to take a bag of beans and trade it for whatever they need during that particular day or week.

from Shop Talk:

Let them eat steak

meatTired of paying high prices for everything from soup to cereal? See your butcher.

While food makers like Kellogg and Campbell Soup have yet to take back price hikes on boxes of cereal and cans of soup spurred by last year's spike in commodity costs, beef companies have to move their premium, perishable product in a environment where restaurants aren't buying and consumers are pinching pennies. 

Sleek new look for Wal-Mart’s Great Value


Wal-Mart’s Great Value private brand is getting a makeover just in time for its sweet sixteen. 

Great Value, which first hit stores in 1993, is being relaunched with more than 80 new products and packaging that “pops” according to Andrea Thomas, who helped oversee the relaunch and spoke to the Reuters Food and Agriculture Summit in Chicago.

Recession? Not at Reckitt, really


The recession has hit U.S. consumers, yet Reckitt Benckiser has not felt as much of a pinch.  The maker of Lysol disinfectants and Air Wick air fresheners said shoppers did not shy away from its products even as the overall household products industry felt the impact of pantry destocking, or consumers using up what they had at home rather than buying more products.
Rob De Groot, head of the group’s North America and Australia region, told the Reuters Food and Agriculture Summit in Chicago that he did not see a massive consumer destocking.  Click here to hear his comments

De Groot expects Reckitt’s U.S. market share to rise this year, even as the overall market remains flat.