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McDonald's loses EU Big Mac trademark; Nestlé reveals plan to eliminate plastic

TOP NEWS

* The European Union Intellectual Property Office, or EUIPO, revoked McDonald's Corp. trademark for its Big Mac burger in the EU after it found that the U.S. fast-food giant was not using the trademark according to EU law. On April 11, 2017, Irish fast food chain Supermac's Holdings Ltd filed an appeal to the EUIPO to cancel McDonald's use of the Big Mac trademark, saying the name "was not put to genuine use within the European Union" during the five-year period prior to the filing of the appeal. The Chicago-based chain added that it will appeal the decision.

* Nestlé SA announced measures it will take to meet its commitment to phase out all plastics that are not recyclable or are hard to recycle for all its products worldwide by 2025. Starting in February 2019, the Swiss food giant will eliminate all plastic straws from its goods and replace them with straws made from paper and other materials and will begin rolling out paper packaging for its Nesquik products and Smarties candy in 2019. The company also plans to increase the recycled polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, content in its bottles to 35% by 2025 at the global level and 50% in the U.S., with a specific focus on its popular brand Poland Spring.

FOOD RETAIL & DISTRIBUTION

* E-commerce giant Amazon.com Inc.'s U.K. unit launched its pet food brand Lifelong, which sells dry and wet food for cats and dogs, without any added colors, flavors or preservatives. The brand's dry food products are made of fresh and deboned meat, while its wet food comes in gravy or jelly forms. Lifelong offers pet food made from salmon, chicken, duck, lamb and turkey.

* Tesco PLC is increasing fiber in its own label foods starting with pies, pasties, sausage rolls and chilled breads in a bid to help customers increase their dietary fiber. According to the release, the retailer's move is in line with government guidelines, which recommended doubling average daily intake of fiber for a healthier lifestyle.

BEVERAGES

* As expected French alcoholic beverage company Pernod Ricard SA met with Elliott Management Corp. on Jan. 15, Reuters reported, citing sources familiar with the situation. The two companies plan to continue discussions on governance and margin improvement, following the meeting, the report said. The news comes about a month after Elliott acquired over 2.5% stake in Pernod Ricard to push for change.

* Coca-Cola FEMSA SAB de CV appointed John Murphy to its board of directors, effective Jan. 15. Murphy, who will replace Charles Brent Hastie in the role, is also slated to succeed Coca-Cola Co. CFO Kathy Waller, effective March 16.

* British pub operator Greene King PLC appointed Nick Mackenzie to its board as CEO, effective May. 1. Mackenzie will succeed Rooney Anand in the position, the company said.

PACKAGED FOODS

* The Kraft Heinz Co. is opening a grocery store pop-up in Washington, D.C., to support federal government workers during a shutdown through its "Kraft Now Pay Later" program. The pop-up store will be open Jan. 16 to Jan. 20, 2019, at 1287 4th St. NE, two blocks from Union Market. Current federal government workers holding their government ID can shop and in return, the company will ask workers, if they can, to pay for the products by donating to their charity of choice or to someone in need.

* French food products company Danone injected 1.82 billion Indian rupees into India's yogurt maker Epigamia, in a bid to retain a presence in the local market, The Economic Times (India) reported. Laurent Marcel, MD of Danone's venture investment arm, confirmed the deal, calling it a "minority investment." Marcel added that Epigamia will continue to operate independently, the report added.

* Tyson Foods Inc. joined forces with Environmental Defense Fund Inc. to develop and apply initiatives that will boost consumer demand for more sustainably grown food. According to the release, the partnership's first project focuses on land stewardship and aims to test agriculture practices, using cloud-based agricultural technologies from MyFarms and Farmers Business Network, on 500,000 acres of corn. This will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve water quality and maximize farmer profitability.

* Chicago Bar Co. LLC, a subsidiary of Kellogg Co. doing business as RXBAR, issued a voluntary recall of 15 flavors of its signature protein bars due to potential undeclared peanut allergen. In December 2018, the company identified potential peanut contaminant and initiated a recall of two varieties — chocolate sea salt and coconut chocolate. The bars, which were sold individually and as part of assortment packs, contain "best by" dates ranging between Jan. 14 and Oct. 19. Consumers are advised to either discard the product or return for a full refund.

RESTAURANTS

* A Delaware judge ordered Papa John's International Inc. to hand over internal documents and text messages related to the exit of its founder John Schnatter, CNBC reported. This move came after Schnatter argued that the company has documents that prove it was mishandled and that Schnatter had been improperly ousted. The order covers some messages between the directors and their lawyers, the ruling said. Neither Schnatter's nor Papa John's representatives immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* China's pig farmers need to double efforts to restock their herds to curb the expected rise in pork prices following African swine flu outbreaks, Reuters reported, citing a government official. According to the director of the market and information department at the agriculture ministry, Tang Ke, the country also plans to buy more hogs for its reserves. According to a Bloomberg report, China's neighboring countries also need to redouble control efforts following a flu outbreak in Mongolia, just five months after the first breakout in China.

* International milk prices rose again, marking a constant two-month increase at the Global Dairy Trade auction, after falling through most of 2018, Reuters reported. The GDT Price Index climbed 4.2%, with an average selling price of $3,057 per ton. The index, which was up 2.8% at the previous sale, has now gained for four consecutive auctions, after declining for months last year as higher-than-expected supply in New Zealand led to low prices.

The day ahead

Early morning futures indicators pointed to a higher opening for the U.S. market.

In Asia, the Hang Seng increased 0.27% to 26,902.10, while the Nikkei 225 decreased 0.55% to 20,442.75.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 decreased 0.51% to 6,859.68, and the Euronext 100 was up 0.03% to 934.88.

On the macro front

The MBA Mortgage applications report, the Housing market index report, the EIA petroleum status report and the Beige book report are due out today.

Click here to read about today's financial markets, setting out the factors driving stocks, bonds and currencies around the world ahead of the New York open.

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