Press Clips: Albertsons Explores Whole Foods Bid; Demi Lovato Tea Backlash

ALBERTSONS FLIRTING WITH WHOLE FOODS BID?

The Financial Times is reporting that supermarket operator Albertsons is deliberating whether to purchase high-end grocery chain Whole Foods Market.

Citing two people briefed on the matter, the story says that preliminary discussions over a bid by Albertsons, which is controlled by private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, have already begun. A formal offer has not yet been tabled.

This news comes two weeks after activist investor group Jana Partners indicated it had built a 9 percent stake in Whole Foods and could potentially explore a sale of the company.

The Times reports that Albertsons has been open in its desire to expand its supermarket business, and could look to Whole Foods, valued at $11.4 billion, after seeing discussions with organic retailer Sprouts Farmers Market over a purchase stall last month.

In the meantime, Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods has hired investment banking advisory firm Evercore to advise it on a strategic review of business operations, including a possible sale. The effort was proposed to company management by Jana, which stated its desire for a “review of strategic alternatives, particularly in light of [Whole Foods’] apparent unwillingness to engage in discussions with third parties regarding such alternatives,” according to The Times.

A deal between Albertsons, which acquired Safeway for $9 billion in 2015, and Whole Foods would represent one of the largest take-privates in recent years, according to the people briefed on the initial talks.

DEMI LOVATO FACES BACKLASH FOR PLUGGING DETOX TEA

With over 57 million followers on Instagram, it’s inevitable that singer Demi Lovato can’t please everyone.

According to an article in Yahoo Beauty, the 24-year-old Grammy-nominated singer and actress is facing the backlash of some fans who voiced their displeasure after the former Disney Channel star posted a picture on the photo sharing network in which she endorsed Teami Blends, a company that markets a variety of tea blends that claim to offer specific functional benefits, such as detoxification or weight loss.

In a picture posted three days ago, Lovato stands in a swimsuit holding a Teami-branded tumbler filled with tea. The image is captioned, “This year is all about #selflove. Truly taking care of myself and exercising has changed everything for me. @Teamiblends has #sponsored my 30 day detox challenge to help get rid of toxins and my bloating for summer. I’m on Day 7 right now & it’s so easy!” Lovato goes on to encourage readers to join the challenge with her and includes a discount code for 20 percent off Teami’s detox program.

Soon after the post, Lovato’s account was hit by a wave of disgruntled fans who objected to the singer’s endorsement, which some viewed as a hypocritical in light of her openness regarding her past struggles with bulimia and bipolar disorder. Because they are labeled as dietary supplements, certain Teami products, which include a SKU promising quick weight loss, may contain ingredients that are not generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.

“WOW, joining the Bandwagon to help sell products that AREN’T good for you… Way to be a role model, because like it or not you are..NOT COOL,” wrote one user.

“Wow and you claim to be someone who [is] an advocate against eating disorders and someone who promotes body acceptance? This is disgusting,” wrote another.

Another comment likened the endorsement to a drug addict promoting pain killers. “If you have had bulimia you need to steer clear of any temptation including colon stimulators!”

The reference is likely directed to a Teami product called Teami Colon, which contains senna leaf, a laxative that has been cited by health officials for its potential to irritate the colon.

STUDY LINKS SUGARY DRINKS TO BRAIN AGING

A new study published in medical journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia suggests a connection between sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and early signs of Alzheimer’s disease, according to an article in The New York Times.

Researchers analyzed the brains of over 4,000 individuals with M.R.I. and psychological tests for measuring memory retention.

The study found that, on average, an increase in consumption of sugary drinks was associated with a decrease in total brain volume, which is tied to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and in scores on memory tests.

Individuals who consumed one to two sugary drinks per day, including sodas and fruit juices, showed a reduced brain volume equivalent to 1.6 years of normal aging, along with lower memory test scores equivalent to 5.8 years of aging. Drinking more than two per day showed further decreases in brain volume and memory test scores, equivalent to two and 11 years respectively.

Matthew P. Pase, a senior research fellow at Boston University and the study’s lead author, said the data suggested consumers should exercise caution in drinking sugary beverages. “They’re empty calories that contribute to weight gain and metabolic disease,” he said.

STUMPTOWN AND SLINGSHOT COLLABORATE ON CASCARA COLD BREW

A story in Daily Coffee News details the origins of Long Distance Relationship, a canned 50/50 combination of cold brew coffee and cascara tea launched as a collaboration from Slingshot Coffee Company and Stumptown Coffee Roasters.

The bi-coastal connection — Slingshot is based in Raleigh, N.C., while Stumptown claims Portland, Ore. — began when Slingshot founder Jenny Bonchak met Diane Aylsworth, Stumptown’s VP of Cold Brew, at the Specialty Coffee Association conference last year in Atlanta.

Fueled by “a mutual fondness and respect” between the two companies, the pair spent a year discussing ideas before their respective teams met last month in Stumptown’s Portland brewery to finalize the recipe and brew the components fresh on-site. Along with cascara tea from Slingshot, Long Distance Relationship features a Stumptown cold brew variety — Rwanda Huye Mountain — which has never before been packaged for RTD retail.

“Our teams meshed really well, and we have a delicious beverage and great friendships to show for it,” Stumptown Head Brewer Brent Wolcyznski told Daily Coffee News.

Long Distance Relationship is currently rolling out in limited release in 12 oz. cans priced at $4.99 and available at New Seasons Market in Portland, Whole Foods Markets in the Southeast, and at Stumptown cafe locations nationwide.