Here's some good news for investors, amid all the (rather justifiable) hand-wringing on Wall Street: Food purveyors have been listening to consumers, and have been responding with healthier fare. Better still, much of it tastes better, too, which gives it a chance of succeeding.
I remember trying a salad at Burger King
But wait -- there's more! Good news from food companies is not just about salads. Look at what else is happening:
(NYSE:GIS)Progresso soups will soon be MSG-free. That's a bold move, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Campbell Soup (NYSE:CPB)follow suit. Already, several dozen of its soups contain none of the additive.
- Pepperidge Farm, a unit of Campbell Soup, is cutting the sodium in eight of its breads by at least 25%. This is good news for us aging baby boomers, but it might be better to see even more sodium cut out.
- Campbell Soup seems to want to polish its image, because it just named a vice president of corporate social responsibility. Investors who look for companies that do right may now be more interested in the company.
- We can expect to see not only healthier fare available from food purveyors, but also some old favorite foods. Kellogg
(NYSE:K), for example, has reintroduced the Hydrox cookie, at least temporarily, to compete with Kraft's (NYSE:KFT)Oreos. And the Eagle Snacks brand has been bought by a company interested in revitalizing it.
It's not all good news in food-land, though. Food costs have been surging lately. According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, a basket of 16 food staples costs 10.5% more this year than last. The basket contains a five-pound bag of potatoes, which is up 33%, while apples are up nearly 17%. Items falling in price included eggs, bread, and bacon.
Don't let yourself dismiss boring-sounding old food companies. Many of them are long-term strong performers. Do a little research and you'll see. Campbell Soup, for example, has gained a little in value over the year so far, while the overall market is down. General Mills is up more than 13%!