Business Briefs: Tennessee Walmarts hire 5,700 veterans

Business Briefs: Tennessee Walmarts hire 5,700 veterans

May 26th, 2018 by Dave Flessner in Business Around the Region

PepsiCo to buy veggie snack maker

Continuing to bet that consumers want to crunch on healthier snack items, the food and beverage giant PepsiCo announced Friday that it was acquiring Bare Foods, a maker of baked fruit and vegetable snacks.

For PepsiCo, which did not make public the financial terms of the deal, the purchase of a company that makes products such as salt-and-vinegar beet chips and Granny Smith apple chips is its latest effort to diversify its food and beverage portfolio and move toward the more natural, less-processed foods that are now in favor by an increasingly health- conscious public.

"We have been on a journey of broadening the snack portfolio for many years now," said Vivek Sankaran, president and chief operating officer for PepsiCo's Frito-Lay North America unit, noting the brand's earlier development of Simply Tostitos organic tortilla chips, Simply Organic Doritos and Off the Eaten Path, which makes crispy snacks using vegetables such as black beans and green peas. Since 2006, the percentage of revenues coming from healthier food and beverages at PepsiCo has climbed to 50 percent from 38 percent.

The acquisition was one in a string of purchases of healthy snack-food companies by large conglomerates.

Earlier this year, Campbell Soup, which had already acquired the organic products maker Pacific Foods, closed on its $4.9 billion acquisition of Synder's- Lance, the maker of Snyder's of Hanover pretzels and Cape Cod potato chips. Late last year, Hershey announced plans to buy Amplify Snack Brands, the maker of SkinnyPop Popcorn and Paqui tortilla chips, for $1.6 billion, while ConAgra picked up Angie's Boomchickapop for $250 million and Kellogg's bought Chicago Bar Co., maker of the RXBAR protein bar, for $600 million.

In the past four years, U.S. snack sales have jumped more than 12 percent to $145 billion, according to Nielsen Retail Measurement Services. But millennials and other consumers aren't looking to munch on just any snacks. Consumers are increasingly seeking out healthy snacks or those that are organic or have so-called clean labels — no artificial flavors, colors, preservatives or sweeteners. U.S. sales of nuts, trail mix, and organic savory snacks jumped to nearly $9 billion last year from $7.8 billion in 2012, according to Euromonitor International.

Man who found bone in pot pie sues KFC

A Maine man is suing a local KFC restaurant alleging permanent damage from a piece of bone he said he found in his chicken pot pie.

Auburn resident Willie Blanchette alleges he badly hurt his teeth when he bit down on a large bone contained in his chicken pot pie ordered from the restaurant chain's store in Scarborough in 2015.

The Sun-Journal reported that Blanchette is seeking damages plus attorney fees for "great pain and suffering and mental anguish requiring medical treatment."

Serena Wheeler, a manager at the Scarborough location, directed inquiries to corporate headquarters.

A company spokeswoman said Friday the restaurant tried to work with the customer to resolve the complaint. She said it didn't receive notice of the lawsuit and KFC can't comment further on the pending litigation.

Tennessee Walmarts hire 5,700 veterans

America's biggest private employer has hired more than 200,000 veterans, including 5,700 in Tennessee, toward its gaol of hiring 250,000 vets by the end of 2020.

Walmart, the world's biggest retailer, is celebrating the fifth anniversary of its Veterans Welcome Home Commitment, which guarantees a job offer to any eligible, honorably discharged U.S. veteran.

"Our veterans bring dedication and value to our workforce, and we feel a great sense of duty to ensuring our men and women in uniform can find not just a job, but a fulfilling career, here at Walmart and beyond," said retired Brig. Gen. Gary Profit, senior director of Military Programs for Walmart.

Walmart's Military Family Promise also guarantees a job at a nearby Walmart or Sam's Club for all military personnel and military spouses employed by the company who have to move due to their spouse's being transferred by the U.S. military.

Walmart also participates in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Hiring Our Heroes Program, which recruits veterans and military spouses through career fairs. Walmart also has committed an additional $20 million through 2019 to support job training, education, and innovative public/private community-based initiatives that address challenges many veterans face when returning to civilian life.

Durable goods orders drop by 1.7 percent

Orders for long-lasting manufactured goods fell in April amid weaker demand for aircraft. But a key category that tracks business investment rose after sliding in March — a sign of health for American industry.

The Commerce Department said U.S. orders for durable goods — manufactured items from washing machines to battleships that are meant to last at least three years — fell 1.7 per- cent from March. The figure was pushed down by a 29 percent plunge in orders for civilian aircraft.

But transportation orders are volatile and bounce around from month to month. Without them, durable goods orders rose 0.9 percent. Orders for computers, appliances and other electrical equipment and motor vehicles all rose.

"Business capital spending on key industrial equipment rose back in April to start the second quarter on a positive note," Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at MUFG, wrote in a research note, adding: "The economy is firing on cylinders this quarter with both consumers and business investment adding to the mix on economic growth."

Orders for civilian capital goods excluding aircraft, a number that tracks business investment, rose 1 percent in April after dropping 0.9 percent in March.

U.S. industry is healthy, helped by an expanding world economy and robust spending by American consumers. But the outlook may be cloudier. The dollar has been rising, which should drive up the price of U.S. products in foreign markets. Manufacturers also face uncertainty surrounding the Trump administration's decision to slap tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.