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Luigi Di Maio, Leader of 5-Star Movement (M5S) leaves the parliament after a new day of meetings for the formation of the new government on April 26, 2018 in Rome, Italy.

Antonio Masiello | Getty Images

Luigi Di Maio, Leader of 5-Star Movement (M5S) leaves the parliament after a new day of meetings for the formation of the new government on April 26, 2018 in Rome, Italy.

Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio, told CNBC his country will not change course despite fears of ballooning debt and struggling growth.

Last week, Italy’s anti-austerity government cut its 2019 growth forecast to 0.2% from a previous forecast of 1%.

The country also raised its 2019 deficit to 2.4%, breaking a commitment given to the European Commission last year to stick to just over 2%. The government also predicted public debt would hit a fresh record high of 132.6% of gross domestic product (GDP).

After the announcement, the European Commissioner for Economic and Financial affairs, Pierre Moscovici, said “We could again have problems with Italy.”

Speaking to CNBC’s Dan Murphy in Dubai on Monday, Di Maio said he still had faith in his government’s plan to reject austerity measures preferred by lawmakers in Brussels.

“We are not going to change path.We are on this path for growth and we want to further improve Italian production compared to the the past,” he said.

The 32-year-old said Italy’s attempts to improve its economy had to be looked at in the context of the ongoing trade dispute between the United States and China as well as Britain’s drawn out exit from the European Union.

“When we forecasted 1% GDP growth, Germany forecasted to grow by 1.9%, now Germany is fighting to achieve 0.5% growth. So our targets are positive, compared to other European nations. We are not resigned to zero percent growth and we are passing a series of laws to boost growth in Italy,” he said.

The deputy prime minister added that while there had been some losses in value to Italian banks at the end of 2018, the volatility in markets had passed and he didn’t think there was a risk for Italian lenders at the moment.

“We are a country of savers, we have a lot of private savings and this is very important for our economy. So, in general, I don’t see any risk for the Italian banks, for the euro zone, and for Europe.”

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US says Iran drone shot down but Iran says Trump is wrong

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American assault war ship USS Boxer.

SEBASTIAN D’SOUZA | AFP | Getty Images

Iran rejected claims that one of its drones has been shot down by a U.S. warship in the Strait of Hormuz.

On Thursday, President Donald Trump said that USS Boxer, an amphibious assault ship, took down the drone after it came within 1,000 yards of the ship.

“The drone was immediately destroyed,” Trump said at a White House event, adding that the drone was “the latest of many provocative and hostile actions by Iran against vessels operating in international waters.”

However, Iran’s deputy foreign minister took to Twitter to deny that the drone belonged to Iran, even suggesting that it could have been a case of friendly fire.

Abbas Araghchi tweeted: “We have not lost any drone in the Strait of Hormuz nor anywhere else. I am worried that USS Boxer has shot down their own UAS (unmanned aerial system) by mistake!”

Iran’s semi-official Tasnim News Agency, quoted a top Iranian general who also said there were no missing drones or any reports of action by the USS Boxer.

“Contrary to the false claim rooted in Trump’s illusions, all Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz … have returned safely to their bases after completing their scheduled reconnaissance and patrol missions,” Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi said in a statement on Friday.

An Iranian version of the American MQ-1 Predator drone is seen in Iran.

Tasnim News Agency/Handout via Reuters

Shekarchi reportedly added that Trump’s drone shooting claim was part of an effort to raise insecurity in the Persian Gulf.

In a further rebuttal, Iranian news agencies carried a statement from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on Friday that claimed they will soon prove Trump is wrong.

“Soon, images captured by the Guards drones from the U.S. warship Boxer will be published to expose to world public opinion as lies and groundless the claim… of shooting down an Iranian drone over the Strait of Hormuz,” it read.

Tensions between the U.S. and Iran have escalated in recent weeks. Trump accused Tehran of being behind two attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf region, which Iran denied. Then on June 20, an Iranian missile shot down an unmanned American drone over the Strait of Hormuz that it claimed was above its territory.

The channel between the borders of Iran and Oman accounts for approximately 30% of the world’s seaborne oil traffic.

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How Dannon dairy failed to win over Indians

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India is the world’s top producer and consumer of dairy — in 2018 alone, the country’s 75 million dairy farmers produced 410 billion pounds of milk, about 22% of global production. With this and its dairy-heavy diet of curries and yogurt drinks, the giant French dairy company Danone hoped to find success in the country, opening its own production line in 2011.

But this division failed to account for more than 10% of its sales in India, the vast majority instead coming from its “specialized nutrition” segment. Analysts say that India’s highly localized, fractured dairy industry confounded Danone, a company accustomed to the relatively more consolidated dairy industries of the U.S., where it goes by the name “Dannon,” and its native France.

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Stroopwafels finally find an American audience – here’s how

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Stroopwafels

Takeaway | WikipediaCC

John Sanders, a 22-year-old from Massachusetts, first tasted a stroopwafel when he was 5 or 6 years old, thanks to Dutch relatives. For years, he was only able to eat them when family members returned from trips to Holland.

But a couple of years ago, that started changing. Americans like Sanders who want to buy the caramel waffles stateside can now find them more easily. Once relegated to European specialty stores, the treat has made the jump from elusive obsession to mainstream purchase.

In June, McDonald’s introduced the Dutch treat to the masses when it included a Stroopwafel McFlurry as one of four limited-time international menu items. United Airlines said earlier this month that stroopwafels would join pretzels as a permanent inflight snack option.

Food trend expert Kara Nielsen attributed the growing popularity of the wafers to an interest in global “authentic” foods — particularly from millennials, who travel more than any previous generation — and a flavor that’s comfortable for Americans despite its Dutch name.

“It is very approachable. This cookie fits into what Americans like to eat: It’s crunchy, crispy biscuit and then that caramel,” said Nielsen, vice president of trends and marketing at CCD Innovation.

Salted caramel’s popularity a decade ago set the stage for a generation of people looking for a more balanced version of caramel, Nielsen said.

The companies that make stroopwafels are mostly private and declined to share sales data. Stroopwafels are a part of the filled biscuit category, which Euromonitor expects will reach $4.3 billion in sales in 2019. That represents a 1.8% jump from last year’s sales, although growth in the category has slowed moderately.

Stroopwafels’ rise follows a familiar trajectory for trendy foods that emerge from obscurity to appear in grocery stores and fast-food restaurants.

According to Innovation’s Nielsen, American food trends materialize in five stages, starting at fine dining establishments, then specialty food magazines and stores. Next comes landing at recreational cooking stores like Williams-Sonoma, then women’s magazines. The final step is grocery store shelves and fast-food restaurant menus.

The Dutch invented stroopwafels in the late 1700s or early 1800s, sandwiching a thin layer of caramel syrup between two slim crispy wafers.

Americans started making stroopwafels during the recession as part of the general resurgence of artisan goods in the U.S., Nielsen said.

Shortly after, American-based start-ups that made stroopwafels began appearing, such as Rip Van Wafels and Belgian Boys. They introduced new takes on the stroopwafel, making them available in chocolate and other flavors. Rip Van Wafels developed a protein-packed version with fewer carbs and sugar.

Even when adapted for modern consumers, the two companies stuck to one tradition: manufacturing their stroopwafels in the Netherlands.

Stroopwafels’ big break came when United added them to its rotation of complimentary snacks for economy passengers. Beginning in December 2015, when the airline announced stroopwafels as part of its free snack lineup, Google searches for stroopwafels began trending upward.

United Airlines’ three complimentary snacks

Source: United Airlines

The distribution deal went to Daelmans, the worldwide leader in stroopwafels.

Despite its global popularity, Daelmans had previously tried but failed to get U.S. consumers hooked on its stroopwafels. For its most recent attempt, the family-owned business enlisted The Brand Passport, a New-York based company that helps overseas food brands enter the U.S.

Brand Passport CEO Tom Daly previously served in marketing and strategy roles at Pepperidge Farm and Godiva.

When Daly and his team started pitching stroopwafels to buyers, they had to try different strategies. They chose to call the snack by its Dutch name instead of “caramel waffles” to appeal to customers through Daelmans’ history and authenticity.

“We didn’t know quite what to do with it,” he said.

At least until they started telling buyers about a Dutch trick: Put a stroopwafel on top of hot coffee or tea. The caramel softens and becomes gooey as the waffle exterior warms.

United shared that technique through a 2015 social media video, building anticipation for stroopwafels’ February 2016 launch as part of a broader effort to improve customer satisfaction. By offering the snack on domestic morning flights, the airline introduced the snack to Americans who may never travel to Holland.

By then, passengers eager to eat more stroopwafels could find them at retailers like Target, Barnes & Noble and Starbucks. Dollar General and Walgreens soon followed.

When the airline removed the Dutch treat from its rotation in mid-2018 to introduce new snack options, customers let the airline know just how displeased they were about the decision on social media. The airline brought the snack back at the beginning of this year before extending its availability to all day in July.

Now McDonald’s is helping to introduce even more Americans to stroopwafels through its Stroopwafel McFlurry. The frozen dessert is the same one found at Dutch McDonald’s, down to the crushed-up Daelmans stroopwafels.

Google Trends data shows that searches for “stroopwafel” skyrocketed the week of June 9 to June 15 — the week of the launch of McDonald’s Worldwide Favorites.

“As broadly distributed as we have become in the last seven or eight years, most of America still doesn’t know what a stroopwafel is,” Daly said.

But the fast-food giant might face the same backlash from consumers as United when its U.S. stores stop selling the limited-time McFlurry flavor.

For his part, Sanders said he hopes that McDonald’s keeps the McFlurry flavor permanently.

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