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CNN reports that activist investor Dan Loeb’s firm, Third Point LLC, has acquired a more than $300 million stake in Campbell Soup, and has hired an investment banker to pressure the company to put itself up for sale.

The story notes that “soup sales have slumped lately too. And a push into fresh and organic food hasn't panned out as well as hoped. But if Loeb wants Campbell Soup to put itself on the shopping block, he must convince family ownership that it's a good idea. Three descendants of condensed soup maker John Torrance collectively own about 42% of its shares.

“Those shareholders may be amenable to the idea of a deal though. After all, the packaged food industry has played host to a flurry of mergers recently. Companies are trying to get bigger in an attempt to have more pricing power.”

Both Kraft Heinz and General Mills are said to have some interest in acquiring Campbell.

• The Wall Street Journal reports that it no longer seems to be true that young people “start out favoring mild pilsners and low-calorie beers, then graduate to harder stuff later in life, if at all. Now they are thinking about other things: taste, value, beer bellies … According to the Beer Institute, a trade group, drinkers chose beer just 49.7% of the time last year, down from 60.8% in the mid-’90s.

“Among 21- to 27-year-olds, the decline has been sharper. Anheuser-Busch InBev SA, Budweiser’s owner, found that in 2016, just 43% of alcohol consumed by young drinkers was beer. In 2006, it was 65%.”

In some ways, the story suggests, “big brewers are facing the same seismic shifts in taste as other large consumer-goods and packaged-food giants. Consumers, especially younger ones, are gravitating toward smaller brands marketed as healthier, more natural or made closer to home … Mass-market beer makers are losing drinkers to an explosion of spirits brands, such as Tito’s vodka, owned by Fifth Generation Inc. Craft beer brewers rode that wave, too, but their volumes haven’t come close to making up for declines in mainstream beer. More recently, craft-beer sales also have slowed.”

• The Associated Press reports that “Molson Coors will attempt to sell pot-infused drinks in Canada, where consumable marijuana will become legal next year … The brewer said Wednesday that its Canadian division will partner with the Canadian cannabis producer The Hydropothecary Corp. to develop a non-alcoholic drink containing marijuana … Molson Coors Canada will hold a 57.5 percent controlling stake in the stand-alone joint venture. Hydropothecary will own the remaining ownership interest.”

I was talking to someone the other day in Southern California who grows two crops - avocados and cannabis. I told him that if he could come up with guacamole that gets you high, I want to invest…

USA Today reports that management at IHOP is saying that the marketing ploy that changed its name to IHOB, designed to draw attention to its new hamburger menu, worked.

The company says that it “saw a ‘significant lift’ in both sales and traffic during lunch and dinner hours after the launch of an expanded burger menu on June 11,” the day that promotion kicked in. “According to Dine Brands Global's second-quarter earnings, sales at IHOP's domestic  locations open at least a year – an industry measure that takes a chain’s unit growth into account – increased 0.7 percent,” the story says.

I won’t argue with the fact that the promotion got attention. It got me in the door (with a little urging from an MNB reader) to order a burger. However, I won’t be going back, largely because a) the burger wasn’t very good, and b) it had an unfortunate impact on my digestive system about two hours later. But maybe that’s just me…

• The Associated Press reports that President Trump appears to be unfamiliar with what goes on in supermarkets.

Yesterday, arguing for voter ID cards, he said, “If you go out and you want to buy groceries, you need a picture on a card, you need ID. You go out, you want to buy anything, you need ID, you need your picture.”

The AP notes that this is only true if you want to buy alcohol, cigarettes or (in some places) cold medicine, or in the increasingly unlikely event that you want to write a check (which the National Grocers Association says accounts for about six percent of transaction.

C’mon. He’s a multi-millionaire. I think expecting him to know what happens in supermarkets is a little too much.
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