Wal-Mart also wooing millennial parents

Two of the nation's largest mass retailers are duking it out for the attention of millennial parents.

Under CEO Brian Cornell, Target Corp. has identified young moms as its core target audience and has elevated baby and kids products to be one of its "signature categories" that will get the most investment along with areas such as style and wellness. Some of that extra focus has already begun to show up on store shelves in the form of new organic and natural prenatal and baby products.

But Wal-Mart is aggressively courting that demographic, too. It is adding hundreds of new baby products to its lineup from about 20 national brands including Baby Bjorn, Ella's and Plum Organics.

In a conference call with reporters, Wal-Mart executives would not say how big of an increase this is to its previous assortment and whether more space has been added in its stores for baby products. But they said it was a "fairly significant increase."

In addition, Wal-Mart said it has upgraded its baby registry, allowing parents to create and manage it from the retailer's mobile app.

The retailer also highlighted a new car seat it worked with Evenflo to develop that aims to help parents avoid forgetting their child in the car. The infant car seat, which will offered exclusively at Wal-Mart for about a year, uses a series of tones if the car is turned off and the chest clip around the baby is still buckled.

So why are both retailers so enamored by young families? Well, the spend a lot of money for one. And, of course, if they can get them hooked now, retailers hope they will remain customers for life.


Cargill expands aquaculture unit

Cargill Inc. is betting big on the shrimp business in Ecuador with a new $30 million feed facility.

It's part of a continuing drive by the Minnetonka-based agribusiness giant to invest in the burgeoning global aquaculture market.

Cargill said Tuesday it formed a joint venture with Naturisa, Ecuador's second-largest shrimp producer. Cargill will own 75 percent of the partnership, and will operate the feed mill near Guayaquil.

The facility will produce 130,000 metric tons of shrimp feed and employ 260. The feed will be marketed under the Purina brand throughout Latin America.

"This joint venture with Naturisa positions us to become one of the largest producers of shrimp feed in Latin America," said Sarena Lin, president of Cargill's animal feed and nutrition business.

Cargill is a big global player in animal feed. While aquaculture makes up only about 8 percent of the global animal feed business, it's growing faster than markets for poultry and livestock feed.