January 15, 2016

Harvey Alpert & Company

Founded in 1977, Harvey Alpert & Company (HACO) has over 38 years experience in bringing airlines and leading brands together. HACO is the exclusive national sales and marketing representative for a portfolio of national recognized food and beverage manufacturers. Oakfield Farms is the industry leader in fully-assembled, shelf-stable snacks and meals for airlines. With a wide array of packaging options, Oakfield Farms allows airlines to tailor the snack size, packaging and components to suit their unique needs.

To learn more about this Food Institute member, please visit: www.haco.us.com, or www.oakfieldfarms.com.

Wholesale food prices wound up in deflationary territory for all of 2015, down 1.3% from 2014 on an annualized basis, according to Food Institute analysis of government data. Declines in pork, poultry and seafood more than offset increases in beef, coffee and the 36.6% jump in shell egg prices for the year. Full Story (FI Membership Required)

Food store sales saw a stronger than expected 2.1% increase during December following a weak 0.8% gain the prior month, according to Food Institute analysis of government data. This helped push overall 2015 sales up 2.7% from 2014 to nearly $681 billion. Meanwhile, December marked the first time in 2015 that grocery store sales (mainly supermarkets) posted a larger increase than all food stores at 2.4%. This helped boost overall 2015 grocery store sales 2.5% above 2014 levels. Eating and drinking place sales during 2015 posted a strong 8.1% increase to nearly $623 billion. Full Story (FI Membership Required)

H-E-B is entering the convenience store space with plans to open its first store in San Antonio, TX. The 7,416-sq. ft. convenience store will feature a fuel station and a Wendy's location. The store will be an extension of the H-E-B Plus! supermarket located just a block away. Construction will cost an estimated $2.7 million, reported San Antonio Business Journal. Full Story

Walmart will close 154 U.S. stores, including its 102 Walmart Express locations. The company will focus on strengthening its Supercenters, optimizing its Neighborhood Markets, growing its e-commerce options and expanding pickup services. The move is part of 269 closures worldwide, including 60 Brazilian stores and 55 stores in Latin American markets. Full Story

Denny's committed to sourcing and serving 100% cage-free eggs in all its U.S. restaurants by 2026. The commitment is in conjunction with the evolution of supplier capabilities and part of a larger shift as Denny's focuses on food quality in 2016, offering customers more premium ingredients and enhanced flavors. Full Story

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

Chipotle will close its stores for one day for a company-wide meeting on food safety. The Feb. 8 shutdown will offer an opportunity to talk about food safety changes and answer employees' questions about the recent outbreaks of E. coli, norovirus and salmonella, reported Chicago Tribune. Full Story

Oberto Brands will improve its operating efficiency by expanding capacity at its Kent, WA, facility through the enhancement of existing lines and installation of new jerky-making equipment. As part of this process, the company will sell its facility in Albany, OR, and will discontinue its manufacturing operations in Nashville, TN, by April 2016. Full Story

GrubHub expanded its delivery service to the Philadelphia market. The food ordering platform is currently available for more than 60 restaurants in Philadelphia, with more expected in the future. Full Story

Cash is still the top form of payment at convenience stores, supermarkets and restaurants, according to a survey by Cardtronics Inc. Sixty-three percent of consumers use cash as the main form of payment at convenience stores, 52% at grocery stores, and 53% at restaurants. Nearly half of Millennials said they're more likely to pay with cash now than a few years ago. Full Story

Columbia Marketing International was the highest-selling apple brand in U.S. supermarkets in the most recent 52-week period, according to Nielsen FreshFacts data. Dollar sales for the company rose 41% during the period, reported The Produce News. Full Story

Cooking with fire and serving more authentic Thai and French cuisine in restaurants will be top food trends for 2016, according to Campbell's Culinary and Baking Institute. Consumers will find bold ice cream flavors, wider use of a variety of fats and more vegetable dishes on menus, while food companies will become more transparent and use more caramel. Full Story

Ahold USA will transfer its warehouse operations out of the Buffalo, NY, area by August. The operations will be transferred to C&S Wholesale Grocers facilities in Bethlehem, PA, and South Hatfield, MA, due to the facilities being better locations to serve its grocery stores, reported Wichita Eagle. Full Story

SpartanNash will close three Omaha-area stores and remodel eight others at a cost of $14 million. The company will remodel four Bag 'N Save and four No Frills stores, rebranding them as Family Fare stores. The company is positioning the remodeled stores as neighborhood supermarkets, featuring Starbucks kiosks and a selection of local, natural and organic foods, reported Omaha World-Herald. Full Story

Jacksons Food Stores acquired Premium Oil Co. in Utah. The purchase includes 15 stores and a commercial real estate portfolio. Jacksons already began to rebrand, remodel and expand the stores, reported Idaho Statesman. Full Story

New Product News: Chick-fil-A will offer Honest Kids' Appley Ever After juice drink on its children's menu. Full Story ... Whole Foods Markets will sell Bulletproof Coffee across the U.S. Full Story

New Store News: Fresh Thyme Farmers Market will open a location in Canton Township, MI, reported MLive.com. Full Story ... Gelson's Markets opened a store in Del Mar, CA and will open stores in San Diego and Carlsbad, CA. Full Story ... Chick-fil-A will open a location in Columbia, SC, reported The State. Full Story ... Blaze Fast-Fire'd Pizza will open locations in Royal Palm Beach and Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Full Story ... Marco's Pizza is looking for franchisees in Chattanooga, TN. Full Story ... Dunkin Donuts opened a store in Roanoke, VA, and will open six more in western Virginia. Full Story ... McAlister's Deli will open five restaurants in the Des Moines, IA, area. Full Story

Executives on the Move: American Farm Bureau Federation elected Vincent Duvall president and Scott VanderWal vice president. Full Story ... Hy-Vee Inc. named Mike Agostino vice president of pharmacy innovation and business development. Full Story

Over 200 class action lawsuits were filed against many major food companies over the past several years. With respect to this current trend, The Food Institute and OFW Law released A Primer about the Ongoing Epidemic of Class Action Lawsuits Challenging Food Claims, to address who the plaintiffs are, how cases arise, what types of labeling/advertising claims have been the focus, and how a company can avoid becoming a target. Get your copy here

Amazon's China subsidiary received a U.S. maritime freight forwarding license. The subsidiary, Beijing Century Joyo Courier Service Co., would not operate ships itself, but instead organize shipping and handle the paperwork, reported Fortune. Full Story

Peru is introducing more of its fruits to China, including mangos, cherries, avocados, and some acidic fruits. Red grapes from Peru also became popular in China in the past two years. Transportation is the main hurdle to overcome, as air transport keeps fruit fresher but can cost more than the original price of the fruit, reported China Daily. Full Story

Starbucks will bring Teavana to India in 2016. Starbucks entered an equal joint venture in India with Tata Global Beverages under the name Tata-Starbucks. Together, the companies operate 75 outlets across seven cities, reported NDTV Food. Full Story

Lobster processors in Canada's Prince Edward Island province want government approval to hire more temporary foreign seasonal workers amid a local labor shortage. The Prince Edward Island Fishermen's Association said that as workers retire and the island's rural communities thin out, there are fewer people to take lobster processing jobs, reported CBC. Full Story

Thai Union will stop hiring temporary workers to peel its shrimp, instead making them permanent employees. The move will give the workers full rights and benefits and put the company in compliance with new rules to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and labor rights, reported The Nation. Full Story

Mexico will invest $166 million in the fisheries and aquaculture sector throughout 2016, according to the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food. The country wants to boost shrimp and tilapia production to 125,000 hectares, reported UndercurrentNews.com. Full Story

Japanese snack maker Calbee Inc. will enter the Australian market in 2016 as part of its plans to triple the contribution of overseas sales to its overall revenue. The company is the market leader in Japan but is seeing more growth in foreign markets such as the U.S., the UK and Singapore, reported Reuters. Full Story

Eating green leafy vegetables daily may decrease the risk of glaucoma, according to a study in JAMA Ophthalmology. Researchers followed multiple groups of participants over the course of 18 to 25 years, finding those who ate the most green leafy vegetables had a 20% to 30% lower chance of developing glaucoma, reported HealthDay. Full Story

USDA did not do enough to prepare for animal disease outbreaks, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found following a review of USDA's handling of recent viruses. The GAO reported that USDA does not have adequate processes in place to ensure its own suggestions on how to respond to an outbreak are followed, reported Des Moines Register. Full Story, Full Report

A lower court finding that Kellogg Co. did not breach a contract by obtaining a trademark on a portable breakfast product submitted through its "Gr-r-reat ideas" internet platform was upheld by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. The court found that the terms and conditions plaintiff Kyle Wilson signed when submitting the idea "governed Wilson's relationship with Kellogg, and thus that, as the District Court held, Wilson's only two claims, for breach of implied contract and unjust enrichment, are unsustainable." Full Opinion

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown introduced a wage plan that would raise the minimum wage to $15.52 in Portland and $13.50 throughout the rest of the state by 2022. If approved, the first increases under the plan would take effect in January 2017, reported The Oregonian. Full Story

USDA proposed amendments to the Select Agent and Toxin List as part of its biennial review of the Select Agent and Toxin Regulations. USDA intends to add provisions to address the inactivation of select agents, biocontainment, biosafety and clarification of regulatory language concerning security, training, incident response and records. Full Notice

Proposed Wisconsin legislation would relax regulations for the state's aquaculture industry to spur growth. The bill addresses digging, dredging and repair work in and around streams and rivers that currently requires owners of fish farms to get approval from the Department of Natural Resources, reported Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Full Story

The National Organic Program released a final guidance on natural resources and biodiversity conservation. The document provides examples of production practices that support conservation principles and demonstrate compliance with existing laws governing organic production. Full Notice

USDA awarded over $1.2 million to support the development of sustainable aquaculture in the U.S. The awards were made through the Aquaculture Research Program and were presented to Auburn University, the University of Arizona, Oregon State University and Rutgers University. Full Story

Turkey eggs in incubators on Jan. 1 totaled 26.9 million, an 8% drop compared to the same date last year but up 5% from December 2015, according to USDA. Poults hatched during December 2015 totaled 22.5 million, down 9% from the year-ago period. Full Report

Beef prices are declining as ranchers add to herds and supplies of cheaper pork and poultry increase. After reaching a record of about $1.73 per lb. in November 2014, futures plunged 16% in late 2015. Prices closed Jan. 13 at about $1.33 per lb., reported The Denver Post. Full Story

A protein likely at the root of the disease ravaging California's grapevines was identified by scientists at UC Davis. Researchers believe that that a protein secreted by a small winged insect called the sharpshooter is responsible for the spread of the disease. The only way currently known to control the disease is killing the sharpshooters, reported Fresno Bee. Full Story

Celery sourced from Arizona and California will likely remain in short supply through January, according to Boskovich Farms. Cold and damp ground is preventing farmers in the region from harvesting enough of the crop to refill the supply line, reported The Packer. Full Story

Water deliveries for farmers and millions of other Californians were temporarily reduced because current water conditions imperil Delta smelt, according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials. Especially muddy water from winter storms is among the factors that risk sweeping Delta smelt off course and to water pumps that draw water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin river deltas, reported Fresno Bee. Full Story

Production of cocoa is diminishing, creating a supply and demand imbalance that sent the price of the commodity surging almost 40% since 2012. The rising costs illustrate supply restraints in West Africa, with dry weather damaging crops in the Ivory Coast and Ghana. The chocolate industry is committing about $1 billion to address the issues, reported CBS News. Full Story

USDA proposed a rule to revise the minimum quality and handling standards for domestic and imported peanuts marketed in the U.S. The rule would also revise outdated language and make other changes to better reflect current industry practices. Public comment is invited through the next 60 days. Full Notice

USDA offered to purchase 54,080 cases of frozen fruit. Full Story

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