Food industry jobs on the rise
A new survey shows a strong outlook for employment in the food industry.

Applicants seeking executive, professional, and sales positions in the food industry have some good prospects, according to a hiring survey conducted by Management Recruiters International (MRI). Of food industry executives surveyed, 51% indicated plans to increase staff in the first half of 2001, up from 44% for the second half of 2000. Another 42.2% plan to maintain current staff sizes, while 6.9% plan to decrease current staff size.

An increased focus on quality and consistency by food producers is resulting in higher prices and new job creation, according to MRI.

Weston buys Bestfoods from Unilever
Canadian-based George Weston Ltd. reached a deal to purchase the Bestfoods Baking Co. from Unilever for $1.77 billion.

Unilever expects the transaction, which is subject to regulatory approval, to be complete in the second quarter of this year. The company’s twin-parent entities are based in London and the Netherlands.

Bestfoods is best known for its Entenmann’s line of sweet baked goods, the Thomas’ line of English muffins, bagels, and waffles, and breads sold under the Oroweat, Brownberry, and Arnold names.

Weston, which is known for producing Girl Scout cookies, hopes to use the purchase as a vehicle for a significant entrance into the U.S. food market. The Toronto-based company has 23 bakery plants in the U.S. and Canada and owns a number of Canadian supermarket chains.

Unilever acquired the Bestfoods group last year. It decided to sell Bestfoods Baking Co. in order to focus on its leading brands in other products, including Hellmans, Lipton, Dove, and Slim-Fast.

New cocoa company hits food industry
A new cocoa products producer introduced itself to the world recently.

Carlyle Cocoa Co., LLC celebrated the company’s launch and the opening of a new state-of-the-art plant in New Castle, Del. The company produces quality cocoa powders and specializes in superior grades of black alkalized cocoa powder.

Mike Kostic, who has more than 30 years experience in food ingredient manufacturing and marketing, will head up the company as President and Chief Operating Officer. He was previously President of Chandler (USA) Glendon Cocoa Company. William H. Wurster is Carlyle’s Chairman. He served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Woodward & Dickerson, Inc.

Sensient sells Red Star Yeast
Sensient Technologies Corp. sold Red Star Yeast and Products to Paris-based Lesaffreet Compagnie in a $122 million deal.

Lasaffre produces yeast and yeast extracts. Red Star is the largest North American supplier of yeast to the commercial bakery market.

Alfa Laval opened a new Customer Testing Center at the Alfa Laval Food Center in Newburyport, Mass. The state-of-the-art testing center will allow customers to test and develop food and non-food processing techniques on a small scale before installing equipment in their plants. Alfa Laval is based in Richmond, Va.

Richard Nikola, President and Chief Operating Officer of The Geneva Ingredients Group, Inc., announced the formation of the company. It will serve as the parent company for its recently integrated members: Geneva Flavors of Wisconsin, Gilette Food Flavorings LLC, Gilette Food Ingredients of New Jersey, and FlavTek, Inc. of California.

Hormel Foods Corp. purchased the Diamond Crystal Brands nutritional products business from Imperial Sugar Co. for $65 million. Imperial will retain other Diamond Crystal businesses, such as packets, sugar, dessert, and beverage mixes and savory products. The sale will help Imperial Sugar reduce its debt.

Kraft Foods Inc. acquired the leading producer and marketer of roast and ground coffee in Morocco. Societe des Cafes Ennasr is a privately held company that makes Moroccan coffee brands including Samar and Gaouar.

Leatherhead Food RA acquired the specialist research and consultancy company Seymour-Cooke Ltd. The addition of Seymour-Cooke allows the company to provide reports and databases that span science and technology, legislation, new products, and market intelligence for all major countries. UK-based Leatherhead provides science, technology, and information for the food industry worldwide.

Luigino’s, Inc. purchased the All-American Gourmet Company from Heinz Frozen Food Company. The acquisition includes the Budget Gourmet® brand of frozen entrees. Luigino’s, based in Sanford, Fla., produces the Michelina’s® brand of frozen entrees and snacks.

The New Organics Co. received the American Tasting Institute’s 2000 Award of Excellence for its certified organic pasta sauces. The blind judging was conducted by a panel of professional chefs in San Francisco, Calif. The New Organics Co. is based in Long Beach, Calif., and offers organic products.

NZMP (formerly known as New Zealand Milk Products) is merging its NZMP (North America), Santa Rosa, Calif., and NZMP (USA), Harrisburg, Pa., operations into one entity, called NZMP (USA). It will be based in Harrisburg, Pa., and the California office will close. The current NZMP (USA) leader, Allan Burton, will head up the new company as President and Chief Operating Officer. Mal Beniston, who headed up the California office, will continue in his other role as Global Category Director, Nutrition, for NZMP’s worldwide operations. The company said the merger was necessitated by the changing nature of opportunities in the North American food industry.

Veryfine introduced a new line of flavored spring waters. Fruit 2-0 Plus®, which contains three new vitamin and herb-fortified flavors, was developed in response to the success of the Fruit 2-O® product line of non-caloric flavored spring waters. Fruit 2-O Plus is sold in three 20-ounce varieties: Citrus Energy Boost, Berry Relaxing, and Tropical Immunity, packaged in cobalt blue bottles.

Assistant Editor