Kraft Food's Fight against Obesity

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Case Details:

Case Code : BECG025
Case Length : 15 Pages
Period : 1996-2006
Pub. Date : 2003
Teaching Note :Not Available
Organization : Kraft Foods
Industry : Food and Beverages
Countries : USA

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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Building Blocks of the Story


Kraft Foods Inc., incorporated in 2000, is a leading manufacturer and marketer of packaged food products. Leading global tobacco giant Altria, formerly known as Philip Morris, owns 84% of Kraft Foods. The company in its 21st century form has been formed by the integration of many popular food brands and companies, some of them dating back to the mid-1700s (Refer Exhibit I for a brief history of Kraft Foods). In the early 21st century, Kraft Foods was the second leading food and beverage company in the world (behind the Swiss FMCG major Nestle)...


The term 'Junk food' refers to food products that are high in calories, score high on the taste parameter and are low in nutritional value. They contain high levels of sugar, fats, sodium and chemicals, all of which cause health hazards if consumed in larger volumes. Junk foods include snack foods (cakes, candy, chips, cookies, ice cream and sweets), convenience foods (frozen pizza, hot dogs, meat alternatives, meat snacks, macaroni and cheese dinners) and beverages such as soda and coffee. Many fast foods4 items such as french fries, fried chicken, hamburgers and tacos are also regarded as junk food (the term 'junk food' is hereafter used to refer to junk/snack/fast foods in the case). In all these food products, the amount of calories, fats, sodium and chemicals are disproportionate to their nutritional value...

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The consumption of junk foods has increased constantly in North America since the mid 20th century. Many factors contributed to this trend - a booming economy, an increase in the standard of living and a decrease in the time available for food preparation on account of job pressures. Apart from this, the new food types offered by food companies, backed by cleverly-crafted promotional campaigns, added an element of fun to eating. Gradually, junk foods became a popular option for customers who did not have time for cooking...


The junk food culture soon took its toll on Americans. By the early 21st century, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC, US) more than 60% of adults in America were overweight and 20% of the total Americans were considered obese,5 as compared to 12% in the early 1990s. In urban areas, the number of obese adults was 25%. Health specialists and various other public welfare organizations had long been warning people of the problems of obesity and advising them to take part in moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day. However, not many Americans followed a health regime, due to their packed work schedules...

Excerpts >>

4] Fast food is defined as inexpensive food that is prepared and served quickly. As these fast foods are affordable and can be made quickly, they have become an alternative to home cooking. Fast foods are generally high in calories, fats and sugar.

5] A person is considered obese if he/she has 20% extra body fat for his age/height/gender/bone structure. Obesity is measured by Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI of a person is their weight in kilograms divided by square of their height in meters. As average BMI is between 20 and 30, a person with a BMI of over 30 is generally defined as obese.


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