Danone will sell 14% of Japanese company Yakult, parting with a $1.9 billion stake in order to provide improved returns to shareholders. The deal will be finalized in March, after which Danone said it would discuss its plans for the proceeds.
The federal budget bill that was signed into law last week includes changes to the dairy section of the current farm bill, namely in the Margin Protection Program, which will help create a more secure safety net for dairy producers. "The enhancements to the Margin Protection Program, coupled with the expansion of additional risk management options, are coming at a crucial time for our producers," said Jim Mulhern, president of the National Milk Producers Federation.
The USDA has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Innovation Center for US Dairy aimed at improving the dairy industry's environmental sustainability. "USDA and the Innovation Center will continue to work together to accelerate the adoption of innovative technologies and increase energy efficiency improvements on US dairy farms," Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said.
With milk production on the rise thanks to strong demand for butter and cheese, the US is seeing a buildup of the whey that results from production of the products. Sara Dorland of Ceres Dairy Risk Management says that it is vital for the country to find a way to stimulate the market for the liquid, either in China, which is the world's largest importer of whey, or for use in livestock feed and infant formula.
Supermarket operator Kroger has launched a Culinary Innovation Center in Cincinnati to focus on prepared food innovation and position itself as part of the restaurant industry. In-store restaurants were on track to grow 3.5% in 2017 and book sales of about $42.3 billion, according to a National Restaurant Association report released last year.
McDonald's is taking cheeseburgers out of its Happy Meals and has pledged to make its children's menu healthier worldwide over the next four years. By 2022, at least half of Happy Meals sold around the world will be 600 calories or less, have no more than 650 milligrams of sodium and limit saturated fat and added sugars to no more than 10% of total calories each.
Chobani's plan to celebrate its 10th year as a national brand by giving everyone in the US a free cup of yogurt was the most-read story by SmartBrief food and beverage readers this week. News of Kraft Heinz's acquisition strategy, Whole Foods' higher fees for shelf space and PepsiCo's new sparkling water line Bubly also caught readers' attention and gained spots on the week's top 10 list.