SOURCE: Bellwether Report

Bellwether Report

June 18, 2010 08:37 ET

Dietary Concerns in the U.S. Have the Food & Beverage Industry on the Qui-Vive

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA--(Marketwire - June 18, 2010) - - If there is one thing most industries fear nowadays with an economy still lingering with its recovery progression it is to give the government a good reason to set in motion drastic reforms. The Obama administration so far has been able to push one historic healthcare reform to law, has managed to get the Republicans working alongside them on a financial reform, is putting BP's chief executive Tony Hayward through an ordeal that has the oil industry's attention, and now has caught the attention of the food and beverage industry regarding the risk to health their products may have on the public. One of the most challenging health issues weighing on the nation's well-being for years now is obesity and the first lady is already working hard to get the attention and collaboration of the food and beverage industry giants and the support of the general public. 

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In an effort to revamp their image to impress the White House and the American people, large food companies have joined the campaign for less sodium content in food even if in a recent report the FDA stated that it is not planning to regulate the limit of sodium in food. The health-awareness frenzy recently added some drama to its plate with the General Mills Inc. (NYSE: GIS) investigation of the hoax press release incident that stated that President Obama "ordered a full investigation into the General Mills supply chain in most major global markets" following recalls on some of its products. General Mills has seen a number of controversies recently regarding its sugary cereals. The company has, however, been campaigning hard to get sugar levels down in many of its popular brands.

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Acting on goodwill could pay in the long-term for larger players in the industry, as they get to slowly adjust their brand-loyal customers to the new dietary changes expected from the White House at a reasonable pace, and hence avoid sending their profits into salty waters. Whilst most food and beverage manufacturers are looking at a potential profit reduction, some like Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. (NASDAQ: GMCR) in the specialty coffee industry are looking at brighter days ahead.

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