April 06, 2012



Operator News

Ruby Tuesday Inc. agreed to acquire the fast-casual Lime Fresh Mexican Grill chain for $24 million. Ruby Tuesday also plans to close up to 27 underperforming locations of its namesake brand in coming months, reported Nation's Restaurant News. Full Story (Free Registration Required)

Wendy's Co. reached a deal with The Wissol Group to open 25 restaurants in the country of Georgia and the Republic of Azerbaijan over the next 10 years. Wissol is expected to open its first Wendy's location in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi next year, reported Bloomberg Businessweek. Full Story

Red Mango is launching a line of traditional sweet yogurt. The sweet yogurt flavors are available across the U.S. and are all-natural, kosher, gluten-free and fortified with probiotics, reported Dallas Business Journal. Full Story (Free Registration Required)

The Humane Society of the U.S. is pressuring Domino's Pizza Inc. to stop buying pepperoni and ham from pork producers that keep their pigs in gestation crates. A shareholder resolution from the organization will be voted on at the Apr. 25 annual meeting, reported MLive.com. Full Story (Free Registration Required)

Restaurant Roundup: Investor Sardar Biglari acquired 50,100 more shares of Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc., bringing his stake in the chain to more than 16.3%, reported Nation's Restaurant News. Full Story (Free Registration Required) ... Red Mango introduced a classics line with sweet flavors including cake batter and milk chocolate. Full Story ... Jersey Mike's plans to open 12 to 15 locations in the Jacksonville, FL-area over the next five years, reported Jacksonville Business Journal. Full Story (Free Registration Required)

Retail News

Seven & I Holdings plans to expand its 7-Eleven chain in the U.S. and may seek acquisitions, reported Reuters. Full Story

Third-party gift card providers Blackhawk Network and InComm will stop doing business in New Jersey in June to avoid compling with changes in the state's unclaimed property law. Blackhawk supplies 175 gift card brands to 1,300 New Jersey retailers, primarily groceries. InComm supplies 2,500 retail locations with gift cards for brands including Visa, MasterCard and Subway, reported The Star-Ledger. Full Story (Free Registration Required)

Merchandisers who emphasize convenience in value-added offerings will have an advantage in the marketplace, according to a webinar from Nielsen and Nielsen Perishables. Total fresh food retail sales in the U.S. are estimated by Nielsen at $216 billion, while the share for the fresh segment is up 2% since 2006 to nearly 30% of the store, reported The Packer Online. Full Story

New Store News: Aldi opened its second Long Island, NY store and plans to add a Lindenhurst store early next year, reported Newsday. Full Story (Subscription Required) ... A C Town supermarket opened in Staten Island, NY, reported SiLive.com. Full Story (Free Registration Required)

Industry News

Alcoa Inc. plans to cut alumina production by about 2% this year, seeking to match output with plans to reduce smelter capacity amid global overcapacity and slumping prices for the metal. The producer will reduce its output of the key aluminum ingredient by about 390,000 metric tons a year, reported The Wall Street Journal. Full Story (WSJ Subscription Required)

The majority of Mel-O-Cream Donuts International's business is wholesale with products sold to supermarket chains. In-store bakeries account for most of the wholesale grocery-store market; the frozen dough is shipped to stores, where it is thawed and baked. However, the market is changing with supermarkets moving more toward thaw-and-sell, reported State Journal-Register. Full Story

Latest sales & earnings for food related companies (Updated Daily - FI Membership Required)

Kraft Foods will roll out a campaign to try and boost year-round sales of stuffing. The majority of Stove Top sales take place between October and December, reported Chicago Sun-Times. Full Story

Health News

Allergy labels in common use may be confusing consumers, claims a study published in Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Researchers found that some labels are less effective than others. About 44% of households with at least one member with a food allergy would buy a product which warned it "may contain (peanut/tree nut/sesame)," reported Reuters. Full Story

A French study suggests that there is a correlation between shopping at discount supermarkets and being overweight. The study, published in Public Library of Science ONE, claimed that discount shopping was associated with higher body mass index and waist circumference even after adjusting for social background and distance from the store. However, the link was stronger among shoppers with a poorer education, reported The Press Association. Full Story

Washington News

Country of origin labeling (COOL) regulations will remain in force, according to a letter from USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service. The agency strongly supports the U.S. Trade Representative's appeal in the World Trade Organization to defend its existing COOL regulations. Full Story

The most commonly adulterated food ingredients are olive oil, milk, honey, saffron, orange juice, coffee and apple juice, according to research published in the Journal of Food Science. The report, commissioned by the Department of Homeland Defense and carried out by the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention, also found that 95% of the 1,305 records identifying food fraud involved replacement by another, less expensive substitute. Full Story

Fresh Del Monte and Del Monte Foods have been engaged in legal arguments for years over whether some fruit sold in refrigerated plastic containers is fresh or processed. Under the terms of two licensing agreements between the two companies, Fresh Del Monte has the right to sell "fresh fruit, fresh vegetables and fresh produce" under the Del Monte name, while Del Monte Foods has the right to sell canned and preserved fruits, vegetables and produce, reported The New York Times on the Web. In the current lawsuit, Fresh Del Monte charges that Del Monte Foods breached the contracts between them by selling various cut and prepared fruit products under the names Orchard Select, Fruit Naturals and SunFresh. Full Story (NYT Subscription Required)

Thirty of 144 shipments of orange juice or orange juice concentrate collected by FDA tested positive for carbendazim. Twelve were shipments from Canada, 14 were from Brazil, two from Costa Rica and one each from the Dominican Republic and Poland. Full Story

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) sent a letter to FDA asking for an investigation into energy drinks which contain high levels of caffeine and other ingredients that are marketed to young people. Full Story

Market News

Asparagus prices appear to be on the rise after a surge in Mexican volumes that dragged down prices in February and March. Peru is returning to the market just in time to compete with local stalks cropping up on schedule in Washington and California, reported The Packer Online. Full Story

Meanwhile, Delaware is harvesting its asparagus crop three weeks ahead of schedule due to the warm spring. Strawberries from the area are also expected soon, reported Cape Gazette. Full Story

Fluoroquinolones were reportedly found in eight of 12 samples of feather meal from different states, according to research published in Environmental Science & Technology. The presence of the antibiotics suggests that the poultry received them before they were slaughtered. The class of antibiotics was banned for use in poultry in 2005, reported HealthDay. Full Story, National Chicken Council Statement

Wild swings in the pecan market in the early fall were caused by an error by the Census Bureau that overstated the volume of pecans going to Hong Kong, the UK, Mexico and other countries between August 2010 and September 2011, according to brokers. Prices jumped as high as $3.70/lb. in early fall but then dropped sharply, benefiting farmers in the eastern U.S. who harvest early and negatively impacting farmers further west, reported The Wall Street Journal. Full Story (WSJ Subscription Required)



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