Associated Prater Companies on January 1 moved its corporate offices, Prater Industries, and Airlock divisions from Cicero, Ill., to Bolingbrook, Ill. A total of 51 employees will move to the 55,000-sq-ft facility, which will provide employees with an upgraded workplace environment and state-of-the-art technology resources and more room for its expanding sales force. Associated Prater develops and manufactures equipment for the food processing, chemical, agriculture, minerals, and pharmaceuticals industries.

Brach’s Confections, Inc., in December 2003, shut down its plant in Chicago. Then, in another setback to the city’s confectionery industry, Archibald Candy Corp. in January closed its nearly 70-year-old plant and office complex located on Chicago’s West Side, stating that the aging facility is no longer a cost-effective location to produce candy. It also plans on closing all 228 of its Fannie May and Fanny Farmer retail stores across the country by mid-February despite the fact that the candymaker on January 14 signed a tentative sales agreement with Utah–based Alpine Confections Inc. for these two candy brands. After everything is finalized, it is expected that about 3,500 people will lose their jobs. Alpine said it might reopen some of the retail stores but it plans on producing the candy in its own factories. Archibald said it expects to retain its Laura Secord brand. American candy manufacturers say they have had a tough time staying competitive and blame the high cost of domestic sugar and U.S. sugar industry subsidies and federal tariffs.

Bunge Alimentos S.A., a subsidiary of White Plains, N.Y.–based Bunge Ltd., will sell its wheat-based consumer products businesses, including household flour, cake mixes, desserts, and pastas and its Sol and Boa Sorte flour brands, to J. Macêdo. It will purchase J. Macêdo’s wheat-based industrial, foodservice, and bakery products businesses, including flour, bakery flour, and bakery pre-mix. The sale excludes fixed assets except facilities associated with Bunges Alimentos’ pasta and cake mixes businesses. The companies will finalize the sale in the first quarter of 2004.

Minneapolis, Minn.–based Cargill Inc. recently acquired OCG Cacao SA, a rapidly growing supplier of chocolate to the European food industry. OCG will continue to operate its chocolate processing plants in Belgium, France, and the UK and its sales offices in Germany and the United States. OCG was formed in 1997 with the opening of its first manufacturing plant in Rouen, France.

In response to the growing demand for reduced-calorie foods, Cargill Inc., and Mitsui, Toyko, Japan, on January 6 announced that they will distribute Cargillmade erythritol to food suppliers in Japan. Currently, Cargill Food & Pharma Specialties manufacturers erythritol in Blair, Neb., and Cerestar, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cargill, exports the product to Japan. Mitsui-owned Nikken Fine Chemicals will manage inventory of erythritol, and Mitsui will coordinate logistics of the product from the manufacturing site in Nebraska to storage locations in Japan. Cargill’s plant in Nebraska is the only erythritol production facility in the Western Hemisphere and one of only two in the world. Erythritol, a white crystalline powder with a taste similar to that of sucrose, is used in a variety of products, including diet drinks, chocolates, confectionery, and bakery.

Dawn Food Products, Inc. on December 31, 2003, purchased Bunge North America’s U.S. bakery business for approximately $82 million in cash proceeds to help strengthen its presence in the bakery mix and frozen bakery products markets. Jackson, Mich.–based Dawn Food, a full-service baking industry supplier, will operate 14 manufacturing facilities in North America and add 600 new employees to its workforce as a result of the sale. Currently, the company has 19 distribution centers in North America and 45 manufacturing plants and distribution centers around the world. Bunge North America, based in St. Louis, Mo., is a subsidiary of Bunge Ltd., the world’s top oilseed processing company and seller of bottled vegetable oils to consumers.

New Products
Apple & Eve, one of the largest independently owned juice companies in the United States, has introduced a newly designed, 64-oz, easy-grip rectangular bottle for its Naturally Lights line of reduced-calorie cranberry juice blends. The new bottle design will make it easier for consumers to store the bottles in the side-door storage shelves of their refrigerators. More important, the company expects the new design to help retailers better stack the juice bottles on store shelves, increasing retail space by 20% in their juice aisles. The company, based in Port Washington, N.Y., plans to package and distribute its other juice lines in the new bottle to retailers around the country.

Chicago–based Penn Valley Farms, Ltd. introduced Hans’ Wrap™, a ready-to-eat, fully cooked wrap sandwich that combines the different flavors of the company’s cooked chicken sausage, Hans’ All Natural® Gourmet Chicken Sausages. The three varieties are Sonoma, a sun-dried tomato and fresh basil chicken sausage wrapped in tomato and basil bagel dough; Hell’s Kitchen, a spicy fresh cilantro and roasted garlic chicken sausage wrapped in pepper bagel dough; and Santorini, a roasted artichoke and kalamata olive chicken sausage wrapped in asiago cheese baguette dough. The chicken sausage does not contain nitrates, nitrites, or monosodium glutamate, and the chicken used in the sausage is antibiotic free and raised on a vegetarian diet; the wrap dough contains certified organic wheat flour and no artificial ingredients. Hans’ Wrap products come frozen one per 5.5-oz package.

For children who love French toast—and their parents who do not have much time to make it—Kellogg Co. has introduced its new Eggo® French Toaster Sticks. The product, which takes only a few minutes to prepare, is available in original and cinnamon flavors. It contains 30% less fat than competitive products, provides 220 kcal/serving, and contains several vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, folic acid, calcium, and iron. Located next to other Eggo products in the frozen foods section, each package contains 32 sticks. Kellogg is based in Battle Creek, Mich.

Tropicana Products, Inc. launched Pure Premium Essentials ®, a new sub-line of fortified orange juice and juice beverage products. The new products, formulated to meet the nutritional needs of the individual consumer without compromising taste, are available in five varieties, including Light’n Healthy, which contains one-third less sugar than orange juice; Healthy Heart, which contains six vitamins and minerals to help decrease risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease; Immunity Defense, which contains vitamins C and E and selenium; Low Acid; and Healthy Kids, which contains calcium and immunity-supporting vitamins and has a specially developed flavor children are said to enjoy. The products are available in 64-oz cartons and cost the same as other Pure Premium 64-oz products. Tropicana is based in Bradenton, Fla.