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Packaged food giants turn to acquisitions, startups, and research to stay relevant

Renata Sago Feb 8, 2019
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Pre-packaged bananas are shown for sale at a Fresh & Easy grocery as Tesco PLC, the UK's biggest retailer, officially enters the U.S. market, opening its first six stores in southern California on November 8, 2007 in Los Angeles, California. Tesco is importing its own system of grocery store operations, making heavy use of pre-packaged produce, in contrast to U.S.-based grocery chains, to reduce overhead and refrigeration costs. The Fresh & Easy markets, which are significantly smaller than typical U.S. supermarkets, will use its own truck fleet for single deliveries from a centralized distribution center. The chain will operate from a relatively small $10,000 per square foot, producing more than a projected $200,000 a week, twice that per square foot of typical U.S. food stores .
Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

The packaged food industry is expected to bring in $3 trillion dollars worldwide by 2020, according to a report from the firm Allied Market Research. And innovation is key as the industry adapts to consumer tastes. That’s because consumers want healthier food these days — the kind of plant-based proteins and items you can scoop up along the perimeter of the grocery store. The desire for fresh foods has packaged food industry giants hungry to stay relevant, by acquiring other companies or investing in new research and food startups. Conagra acquired the natural foods line Boulder Brands through its purchase of Pinnacle Foods  last year.

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