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• Albertsons announced yesterday that it is “expanding its exclusive Open Nature brand into non-food categories and expects to release more than 240 new Open Nature products in 2018.” The company said it “plans to introduce Open Nature home care products this year, which follows the recent releases of Open Nature goods in both the baby and pet food categories. Open Nature’s pet food offers both grain and grain-free options.”

The Open Nature brand launched in 2011 with approximately 100 products, described as “free from 110 ingredients that consumers of natural products want to avoid, such as antibiotics, MSG-type ingredients, nitrates, and preservatives like sulfites and benzoates. Open Nature meats are free from preservatives and added hormones.”

Fox News reports on a new study from Technomic projecting that “Chick-fil-A is poised to become the third-largest fast-food chain in the nation by 2020 in terms of sales, trailing behind only McDonald’s and Starbucks.” That prediction assumes a lot of growth - Chick-fil-A was ranked 8th last year, with Subway, Wendy’s, Burger King, Taco Bell and Dunkin’ Donuts also larger than it.

• Ahold Delhaize-owned Giant Food of Landover, Maryland, said this week that it is adopting the nutrition navigation program, Guiding Stars, in all of its 166 stores.

Guiding Stars uses one, two, and three stores to identify good, better and best products from a nutritional perspective, using an algorithm to analyze various components of a product’s makeup.

• The Ferrero Group said this week that it has completed its acquisition of Nestle USA's confectionery business, giving it brands that include Butterfinger, BabyRuth, and Nerds.

The deal has been valued at $2.8 billion.

Advertising Age reports that Jim Beam and Budweiser are teaming up “to release a limited-edition brew called Reserve Copper Lager that is aged on Jim Beam bourbon barrel staves. (Staves are wood pieces that makeup bourbon barrels.) Before then, the two brands will begin appearing together at bars. The ‘beer and a bourbon shot’ promotion kicks off this month.”

The move is seen as a way for Budweiser to gain some street cred in a marketplace in which it has been losing market share and craft beers are seen as the more fashionable choice.
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