The Hungarian government is allegedly backing out of a draft bill that would ban the use of what it calls “totalitarian symbols” for commercial purposes. It will go to extreme lengths to achieve its goal, which may have consequences for Heineken, because the brand’s iconic red star is a target. Under the bill symbols such as the swastika, the arrow cross, the sickle and hammer and the red star would be banned for commercial use 30 days after it is approved by Parliament. Violating the ban after January 1, 2018 would constitute a criminal offence. Anyone in breach of the proposed law could face a fine of 2bn forint (€6.5m) and two years’ jail.
Last week a team of civil society organisations, included swiss Pro Specie Rara, Swissaid and Public Eye, started a public appeal to politicians and demand that effective prohibitions are put in place to stop the granting of patents on plants and animals derived from conventional breeding. The protest is targeted at patents granted by the European Patent Office (EPO) in 2016 to the brewing companies Carlsberg and Heineken. The patents claim barley derived from conventional breeding, its usage in brewing beer and the beer produced thereof. However, the patents are simply based on random mutations in the plant's genome.
Nestlé Austria has announced plans to close its production facility in Linz by March 2018, as part of an 'ongoing evaluation' of its portfolio. The factory, which has been operating for nearly 140 years with an output of roughly 6,000 tonnes of food products, has been effected by changing consumer trends which have affected demand. The factory in Linz specialised in products for its business to business division. On 7 March, the management informed the plant's 127 employees of the decision, and is collaborating with the Works Council and employee representatives to find 'socially acceptable solutions'.
High-end Swiss chocolatier and confectionery company Lindt & Sprüngli grew at a faster pace than the overall chocolate market last year, according to the company’s latest financial results. Although the group is at the top end of the market, which would give it some margin for manoeuvre on prices, the race to cut costs within the industry still took its toll.
A report released by the Maltese Presidency and the European Commission on Wednesday says that childhood obesity should be tackled at an early stage and that schools can play a positive role in encouraging healthy eating habits. “Considering the amount of time that children spend at school, as well as the fact that in many European countries students consume at least one daily main meal there, schools are an ideal environment for supporting healthy behaviours,” the report states. Childhood obesity in Europe is increasing: in 2010, about one in three European children between the ages of six and nine were overweight or obese, while 2008 estimates were only about one in four.
The statistical office of the European Union has taken a survey of 440 comparable foods across Europe to create an index of food, beverage, and tobacco prices categorized by nation. According to purchasing power, their 2015 data concludes that Switzerland has Europe's most expensive food and drinks. They're followed closely by Norway, Denmark, and Iceland. For fruit and vegetables, including potatoes, Switzerland is the most expensive country in the EU, then Denmark and Ireland.
Fast food chain McDonald’s is selling a majority stake in its China business, valuing the enterprise at up to $2.1 billion. Chinese state-backed conglomerate Citic Ltd., Citic Capital Holdings and U.S. private-equity firm Carlyle Group LP will acquire an 80 percent holding in a deal valuing the business at as much as $2.08 billion, according to a statement Monday. Citic will own 52% of McDonald’s China operations, while Carlyle will own 28%. The new partnership plans to add more than 1,500 locations in China over the next five years. McDonald’s currently has 2,400 locations in China and 240 locations in Hong Kong. Franchising allows it to take a slice of sales while cutting operating costs.
Ogeu, group of mineral waters, has reached an agreement to purchase the source of Quézac, in France, from Nestlé. The two groups have announced today the agreement, which puts an end to negotiations lasted two years. The amount of the sale was not disclosed. There are no cuts in jobs, as stated in the joint statement. With this operation, Ogeu hopes to strengthen the segment of mineral waters in France. The sale of Quézac, with an annual turnover of 20 million euros, reflects according to Nestlé Waters France its "strategic will to concentrate its resources on its national and international flagship brands".
Barry Callebaut has strengthened its partnership with the American company Mondelez through the purchase of equipment for the production of chocolate in Belgium. The news was announced in a statement Saturday in which are still not disclosed details on the amount of the financial transaction. The world number one in the cocoa sector will resume the works of Hal, near Brussels. The agreement should allow the Zurich group better fit into the quality of the chocolate market in Belgium.
The japanese beer group Asahi said Tuesday it has agreed to acquire beer brands SABMiller Plc’s eastern European assets including Pilsner Urquell from Anheuser-Busch InBev NV for 7.3 billion euros ($7.8 billion), The deal gives bigger international heft to Asahi, which is one of the top beer makers in its home market of Japan, but only a small player globally. Asahi said it planned to acquire brands in the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania. AB InBev said it had made commitments to the European Commission to sell the CEE Business under the business combination with SABMiller.
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