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Kraft's incubation program adds 5 start-ups; Olam reports strong Q1 results

TOP NEWS

* Kraft Heinz Co.'s Springboard, an arm focused on developing brand growth, is set to partner with five food start-ups as it looks for a strategy to cope with stagnating sales, CNBC reported. With this partnership, the company aims to learn how start-ups look at innovation and target newest generation of food shoppers. Ayoba-Yo meat snacks, Cleveland Kraut fermented food, Kumana avocado-based sauces, Poppilu antioxidant lemonade and Quevos egg-white snacks are the companies selected for this collaboration.

* Singaporean agriculture conglomerate Olam International Ltd reported strong financial performance as profit after tax and minority interest, or PATMI, in the quarter grew 9.8% year-over-year to S$157.9 million, up from S$143.9 million a year ago. The company's revenues jumped to S$6,295.4 million compared to S$5,804.2 million a year ago, marking an 8.5% increase.

FOOD RETAIL AND DISTRIBUTION

* Coles Supermarkets Australia Pty. Ltd. restricted access to baby formula after 1-kilogram tins worth between A$25 and A$35 were bought in bulk and sold in China for a profit of A$100 per tin, Inside FMCG reported. The supermarket chain made this move after the Australian mothers lashed out on social media after being unable to get the formula for their babies, some having special dietary needs, the report added.

BEVERAGES

* IMG Arts & Entertainment-owned Taste Festivals Ltd. joined forces with alcoholic beverage maker Diageo PLC to form a global partnership. With this partnership, the organizer of culinary festivals will add drinks from the stable of the alcoholic beverage maker to its food festivals. As a part of the alliance, the companies will jointly launch Taste Tuesdays — a monthly international in-restaurant event series — and Taste Residences, offering exclusive chef's table experiences.

* Suntory Holdings Ltd's unit Suntory Spirits plans to suspend sales of its main Hakushu 12 Years and Hibiki 17 Years whisky brands starting in June, the Nikkei Asian Review reported. The company, which distills these drinks in Japan, could not meet the current customer demand due to low inventory, the Nikkei added.

AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS

* Singaporean agriculture conglomerates Olam International Ltd and Wilmar International Ltd will import Soybean from South America, after China threatened to impose higher taxes on imports from the U.S., the Nikkei Asian Review reported. Wilmar also plans to source more alternative oil seed products including canola, a substitute for soybean, the Nikkei added.

PACKAGED FOODS

* U.K.-based Premier Foods reported a 3.6% growth in full-year sales, which was driven majorly by its international business and strategic partnerships with Nissin and Mondelez. The adjusted earnings per share came at 7.6 pence for the 52 weeks ended March 31, a 6.4% increase compared to the year-ago period. Premier's grocery revenues increased 4.6% during the year whereas nonbranded groceries sales grew 12.1%. The company's full-year international sales also jumped 25%.

TOBACCO AND SMOKING PRODUCTS

* Aurora Cannabis Inc. agreed to buy medical cannabis company MedReleaf Corp. in an all-share deal valued at about C$3.2 billion that combines two of Canada's leading producers. The deal will create a platform for accelerated growth, the two companies said in a statement. Aurora has been investing in and acquiring stakes in fellow cannabis companies, including CanniMed Therapeutics Inc., which it agreed to buy for C$1.1 billion.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* The World Health Organization, or WHO, urged all countries to eliminate the use of trans fatty in their food supply, citing its correlation with cardiovascular diseases. WHO issued draft guidelines to cut intake of saturated fatty acids which are found in foods from animal and plant sources, and trans fatty acids, which are industrially produced and can cause noncommunicable diseases, or NCDs, that may give rise to a life-threatening condition.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng fell 1.23% to 31,152.03, while the Nikkei 225 dropped 0.21% to 22,818.02.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 climbed 0.28% to 7,732.60, and the Euronext 100 shed 0.04% to 1,070.77.

On the macro front

The retail sales report, the Empire State Manufacturing Survey, the Redbook Index, the business inventories report, the Housing Market Index and the Treasury International Capital report are due out today.

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