The announced merger will bring Hillshire’s well-known meat offerings—such as Jimmy Dean sausages and Hillshire Farm luncheon meats—under the same corporate roof with Pinnacle’s leading frozen and packaged food brands—such as Duncan Hines cake mixes, Birds Eye frozen vegetables, Vlasic pickles, Wish-Bone salad dressings and Hungry-Man TV dinners.
Industry analysts say the deal will increase Hillshire’s marketing clout with grocery chains, in an era of intense competition with private-label (store) brands, and smaller niche brands that promote themselves as more healthy, natural, authentic, and/or local than big legacy brands.
“It’s really one big junk food company buying another big junk food company,” says food-industry critic Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “Although Birds Eye does make some very healthful frozen vegetables.”
Health-conscious consumers these days are shopping more around the outskirts of the grocery store—for the fruits and vegetables, the fresh-prepared salads and other ready-to-eat fare. “The grocery aisles are getting flooded with a wealth of new products—either all-natural, organic, whole-grain,” says Hester Jeon, a food-industry analyst at IBISWorld. “So these household brand names are facing intense competition right now.”
Companies like Hillshire will continue trying to lure people back into the center aisles, says Paul Weitzel at retail consultancy Willard Bishop. Weitzel calls the center aisles the “economic engine” of the store--where the packaged, processed, and more profitable items are shelved.
“Convenience is one trend that everyone continues to chase—re-sealable, portion control,” says Weitzel. He adds that post-merger, Hillshire will have more clout to promote its center-aisle brands: by doing more in-store promotions and end-of-aisle displays, and by trying to muscle in on premium shelf space.
Hillshire Brands of Chicago:
Jimmy Dean sausages
Ball Park franks
Hillshire Farm luncheon meats
Sara Lee baked goods
Golden Island Premium Jerky
Pinnacle Foods of Parsippany, NJ:
Duncan Hines baked goods mixes
Birds Eye frozen foods
Van de Kamp’s
Log Cabin syrup
Wish-Bone salad dressings
Celeste frozen pizza
Hungry-Man TV dinners
The debate over net neutrality rages on. Last month, the FCC unveiled new rules for regulating internet traffic. Opponents of the new rules believe they don’t do enough to ensure equal access to digital content. FCC chairman Tom Wheeler took those concerns seriously, and is set to finesse last month’s rules with some new language.
At the heart of this debate is a question: How should we regulate the internet, like a private service or a public utility?
Kevin Werbach served as counsel for new technology policy at the FCC in the '90s. He says on one hand, the internet has become essential infrastructure for life and business, much like other public utilities. But he added, “in telecommunications regulation, calling something a utility has a particular legal meaning.”
The legal framework in this case revolves around Title II, the law that gives the FCC the authority to regulate the telecom industry. “If broadband access is under Title II ,” says Werbach, “then it’s subject to much broader authority of the FCC to prohibit what’s called unjust and unreasonable discrimination.”
Proponents of net neutrality argue that the FCC could use Title II to stop cable companies from creating fast lanes, like when Netflix agreed to pay Comcast extra for faster streaming. Christopher Yoo, a law professor who specializes in internet regulation doesn’t expect that to happen. “When the Supreme Court and Federal Communications Commission have looked at whether the internet is properly regulated as a public utility, they have consistently said no,” says Yoo.
Under the FCC’s revised proposal, internet providers are still allowed to make deals and create fast lanes. But, the new proposal suggests that the FCC will use its authority to make sure those deals are fair.
Any efforts to regulate those deals however, will likely be challenged in court. “So there are substantial legal obstacles to regulating the internet like a public utility,” Yoo says.
In the end it may not be the FCC, but the courts that decide how the internet should be regulated.
A peek inside our wallets by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
They did a study on how we spend money. Not on what do we spend money, but literally how does it get spent: Cash? Credit?
Here's how it breaks down:
By absolute number of transactions: Cash is king at 40 percent.
But once you take the value of transactions into account, it's a whole different ballgame.
The average value of a cash transaction is only $21, compared with $168 for checks and $44 bucks for debit cards.
A new study examined 40 years of data collected by ground, air and satellite stations and found that sea level could rise by more than 10 feet in coming centuries.
Harvard's president called a school club's plan to hold a black mass "abhorrent." The Catholic Church called it "repugnant." The club said it was "entirely educational."
A treatment that is appropriate for one patient can be unnecessary or even counterproductive for another. But Harvard researchers found a way to estimate truly wasteful Medicare spending.
For this week's Sandwich Monday, we try a new dish from Domino's. It's essentially pizza with crust made out of chicken.
The obelisk has recovered from damage sustained during an earthquake that hit Washington, D.C., in 2011.
Two regions of eastern Ukraine, Donetsk and Luhansk, voted Sunday on referendums for self-rule. Separatists in Donetsk announced overwhelming support for independence.