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    Published on: December 6, 2006

    As expected, the New York City Board of Health approved regulations that require all of the city’s restaurants – from four-star bistros to corner hot dog stands – to virtually eliminate all artery-clogging trans fats from their menu items.

    By July 2007, all restaurants have to switch to frying oil that leaves food with less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving, and the rest of their food will have to meet that same standard by July 2008.

    In addition, the Board of Health voted to require at least some restaurants – those with standardized menu items - to list their items’ calorie content on their menus.

    The New York Times writes that “some foods will fall under the later deadline, including doughnuts, fritters, biscuits and deep fried items that the board said were particularly hard to prepare with a trans fat substitute.”

    It is expected that other cities and communities could follow suit now that New York has taken the first step. “New York City has set a national standard,” Harold Goldstein, executive director of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, tells the Times.

    Some major fast food chains - such as Burger King, Wendy’s, and KFC – have already started the process of cutting trans fats out of their diets, though the nation’s largest chain, McDonald’s, continues to drag its heels.

    There were published reports yesterday saying that McDonald’s intends to comply with the new regulations, though there recently were reports saying that the chain was lining up legal representation to fight the rules. And there still could be other challenges to the regulations. Some could from politicians who could pass laws that would override the health department regulations, and others could come from the restaurant industry.

    "We don't think that a municipal health agency has any business banning a product the Food and Drug Administration has already approved," Dan Fleshler, a spokesman for the National Restaurant Association, said yesterday.
    KC's View:
    The time for fighting about this issue is past. It is simply time for everybody to get with the program and do what ultimately is right for the consumer…and, by the way, helping the consumer to live longer and healthier is in the industry’s best interests.

    Published on: December 6, 2006

    The new owners of Marsh Supermarkets has charged that David Marsh, the company’s former president and a member of the family that founded the company 75 years ago but eventually had to sell it, spent about a half-million dollars of company money for personal use.

    Marsh reportedly spent the money on family trips to New Zealand and Africa – despite the fact that he was making an annual salary of $440,000 a year. The charges by the new owners were made after Marsh sued them, saying that they owed him $34,000 in severance pay. Marsh’s employment agreement called for annual severance payments of $738,000 for three years, according to the Indianapolis Star.

    According to the legal filings by the new owners, MSH Supermarkets Holding Corp., an affiliate of Sun Capital Partners, Marsh would have been fired “for cause” had it known of his behavior. The company is asking that he pay damages of $1.5 million, or three times the money he is alleged to have spent.

    This new turn of events is just the latest wrinkle in the company’s history. The family sold the company for $88 million last May for $88 million after the stores ran into trouble because of increased competition. In addition, analysts said that Marsh exacerbated its troubles when it went public and created a level of debt – more than $200 million by some reports - that some suggested would cripple the company's operations in the long term. And company management was subject to considerable criticism for questionable business practices, including the creation of exorbitant pay and benefit packages for members of the family who worked for the chain.

    Back in March, the company’s board of directors decided to close nine stores and fire four family members - David Marsh, the company’s president, as well as Arthur Marsh, Don Marsh Jr., and Joseph Heerens. And David Marsh’s personal life was the subject of much speculation owing to his separation and pending divorce from Jodi Marsh – who was the company’s vice president of community relations until last January.

    In addition to suing her husband for divorce, Jodi Marsh also is suing the company, for $2.16 million, claiming she received no severance.
    KC's View:
    From everything we hear from some well-connected sources, perhaps it shouldn’t have been such a surprise to the folks at MSH Supermarkets…since reportedly David Marsh wasn’t the only member of the family who liked to use the company’s assets and resources for personal reasons, acting like the company was a kind of fiefdom – even after the company went public.

    That’s the thing about this story that doesn’t make sense – that suddenly David Marsh’s behavior came into question. Because the allegations being made against him don’t come as an enormous surprise to us…and we live almost 800 miles from Indianapolis.

    Just to speculate, maybe David Marsh simply pushed the new management too far, got too greedy…and that the $34,000 he was looking for is going to end up costing him a lot more than that.

    Shame on him. And shame on all of those at Marsh Supermarkets who looked out for themselves and not the company, the employees and the customers.

    We trust that the new folks in charge - and we know some of them, and believe they are fine and principled people – will behave more honorably.

    They could hardly behave less so.

    Published on: December 6, 2006

    Wal-Mart announced yesterday that Julie Roehm, SVP, marketing communications at Wal-Mart, and Sean Womack, VP, communications architecture, have left the company.

    Roehm, who reported to EVP/CMO John Fleming, and who joined the company just last February after a successful career in the automobile industry, had been in charge of broadening the company’s marketing approach and attracting new customers…a strategy that now has been the subject of some criticism as the retailer struggles to increase its same-store sales numbers. She also engineered the company’s switch to new advertising agencies.

    In an email, Roehm said: “"I was hired by Wal-Mart as a change agent a little less than a year ago. One of my first orders of business was to help spearhead a comprehensive agency review. Now that I have established the marketing communications organization and completed the agency review, it's time to tackle my next challenge. I have enjoyed my time at Wal-Mart and I wish my many friends and colleagues there much future success.”

    She would say whether her departure was forced. The company has not named replacements for either Roehm or Womack.
    KC's View:
    We wonder if they’re selling planks at Wal-Mart these days.

    Because it certainly sounds like Roehm was forced to walk one.

    It was just a week or so that analyst/pundit Jim Cramer was calling for executive changes in Bentonville…though he was aiming a little higher than Roehm.

    Wonder if the folks above her – and there weren’t many of them – had a choice: Put the point of the sword at her back as she walked the plank….or be at the wrong end of the sword themselves.

    Stay tuned. There is a sense at Wal-Mart that this is not the end.

    Published on: December 6, 2006

    Published reports say that the nine Taco Bell restaurants in New York and New Jersey that were closed after they were all linked to an E. coli outbreak all used the same food distributor – though the company continues to maintain that it has not yet been determined that its restaurants are responsible for the outbreak.

    More than 30 people have been stricken to this point.

    The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that Pennsylvania health officials also are investigating possible cases of E. coli linked to dining at Taco Bell restaurants, and that nine restaurants there have been closed as a precautionary measure. The nine NY-NJ Taco Bells implicated in the outbreak reportedly have been reopened after the facilities were sanitized and the food all was replaced.
    KC's View:

    Published on: December 6, 2006

    Reuters reports that an analysis of eight studies conducted in Italy and Switzerland suggests that people who consume lots of garlic and onions have a reduced likelihood of contracting cancers of the throat, colon and ovaries, among others.

    However, the results aren’t quite enough to suggest that the best way to prevent cancer is to attend a series of Italian street festivals. It may just people who eat a lot of garlic and onions also eat a lot of other healthy foods, all of which combine to help fight cancer. But, there is at least some evidence that some of the compounds in these foods are cancer-fighting, and the research is slated to continue.
    KC's View:
    Actually, we sort of like the Italian street festivals approach to good health. Especially when you consider that if you add in tomatoes, which contain lycopene, which also is said to fight cancer, and you’ve got one heckuva meal.

    Mangia!

    Published on: December 6, 2006

    The Wall Street Journal reports that there is a kind of backlash taking place against what is called the “Alice Waters School of Cooking,” which emphasizes farm-fresh, local and organic ingredients.

    “Chefs are increasingly using ordinary, low-cost -- you might even call them lowbrow -- ingredients available in any supermarket, stuff that the humblest home cook would hesitate to serve at a dinner party,” the Journal writes, noting that “the culinary world has long treated these short cuts as state secrets. After all, the prices in high-end restaurants are partially justified by the use of rare, hand-crafted and farm-fresh ingredients. But today, thanks in part to the influence of molecular gastronomy, a culinary movement that has made experimenting with industrial ingredients and techniques acceptable, more chefs are willing to share their tricks. Some are going so far as to highlight their junk-food additions on their menus.”

    From Heinz ketchup to cheap white bread to Kraft Singles American cheese, chefs “justify the use of convenience products because the industry is putting a greater premium on satisfying customers than impressing peers with their mastery of tradition, he says -- in the end, taste trumps all.”
    KC's View:
    Trends being trends, one could also say that the Alice Waters School of Cooking probably was a kind of backlash against what was thought of as mainstream, traditional cooking.

    Maybe we’re being silly about this, but when we go to a good restaurant, we sort of want the food to be made from stuff we can’t get at home.

    Published on: December 6, 2006

    • In Canada, the Globe and Mail reports that the Quebec Court of Appeal has refused to hear Wal-Mart’s appeal of the certification of one United Food and Commercial Workers local there. Wal-Mart wanted the court to order a secret ballot, but the court refused to do so.

    Wal-Mart reportedly is considering yet another appeal, this one to Canada’s Supreme Court.
    KC's View:

    Published on: December 6, 2006

    • In the UK, a new study of consumer loyalty by market research consultancy Millward Brown suggests that Tesco has fallen to the sixth position, a precipitous drop considering it was number one in 2004. Waitrose now is ranked as first for consumer loyalty, followed by Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury, Aldi, Lidl, Tesco and then Wal-Mart’s Asda Group.

    • Supervalu said yesterday that it has appointed Daymon Worldwide as the sales and marketing partner for the company's newly combined Own Brands organization.
    KC's View:

    Published on: December 6, 2006

    • The Kroger Co. reported that its third quarter total sales increased 4.8 percent to $14.7 billion, with same-store sales up 4.9 percent. Net earnings in the third quarter totaled $214.7 million, up from Q3 net earnings last year of $185.4 million.
    KC's View:

    Published on: December 6, 2006

    • Associated Grocers, Incorporated (AG) announced that Steve Numata has been named to the position of Chief Financial Officer, reporting to John Runyan, President and CEO. Numata most recently was EVP/CFO at SECOR International. He succeeds Ned Dunn who served as CFO since August 2006., and who will continue in his role as an AG board member and Chairman of the Audit Committee.
    KC's View:

    Published on: December 6, 2006

    Writing about all the food scares that seem to be in the news these days, ranging from salmonella in chicken to E. coli at Taco Bell, one MNB user wrote:

    I wholeheartedly agree that we need to try and get past all the scares and live our lives, and I try to, but I must admit that I was a little gun-shy about spinach for a few weeks after the E. coli outbreak. I have managed to move past it, however. I would never even consider eating at Taco Hell, so that's a non-issue for me.

    I love to grill chicken, and will continue to do so, but I guarantee that I'll be even more cautious then I already am to ensure that it is cooked thoroughly and doesn't cross-contaminate anything in my kitchen. I suffered through a very severe, week-long bout of campylobacteriosis earlier this year – turns out I picked it up on a trip to Mexico. I wouldn't wish that experience on my worst enemy. The campyl, that is - Mexico was pretty fun. And thankfully the agony didn't kick in until I returned home. And I had a great tan when I went to the hospital ...

    Seriously, though - I cannot stress the importance of cooking the meat to the appropriate temperature, using cutting boards/utensils only for the chicken and washing all surfaces and utensils thoroughly to avoid any potential cross-contamination.





    On the subject of Tesco coming to the US and opening stores in urban markets that are underserved, MNB user David Livingston wrote:

    Keep in mind that Tesco is from the UK where customers in urban areas are not armed to the teeth. Don't be surprised if some of these "urban" stores are short lived.

    The Tesco folks we’ve met are pretty tough. We wouldn’t bet against them in a fight.



    Commenting on a story yesterday about the high use of Starbucks pre-paid cards, we wrote that “we have one in our wallet all the time, and we try to make sure there’s always at least $20 loaded onto it. Sort of like a security blanket. If caught in a strange city without cash, the odds are pretty good we’ll be able to find a latte.”

    To which MNB user Brad Morris responded:

    I don’t get this, but I know you are a reasonable person, so help me understand.

    I carry as few cards as is humanly possible: One AMEX for everything, one VISA for backup (where AMEX isn’t accepted), one ATM card, and my ID. Why would you choose to carry another card in your wallet that adds no value to you? Assuming you are short of cash, wouldn’t it be easier to just charge your latte to a credit card: no cash needed, no extra card to bulk-up the wallet, no worries? Right? Plus, assuming you always pay off your balances as I do, with a credit card you get to work off of someone else’s money for a month, and get points or miles or cash-back, etc as an additional bonus. What am I missing?


    We wish we’d figured out how to carry so few cards…but the fact is, we’re a little idiosyncratic.

    We carry a bunch of cards (Amex, Visa, MasterCard, two ATM cards, insurance cards, etc…) but try only to use our Amex card for work and our ATM card for other stuff. We try to use credit cards as little as possible (except for online purchases)…

    Is this smart cash management? Maybe not. Probably not. But we like the warm feeling the Starbucks card gives us.




    On the subject of companies providing extensive and preventive health services to employees, one MNB user wrote:

    General Mills has focused on employee health and wellness for many years. It pays off in loyalty, healthier overall employees and less time away from work.

    In our corporate office we have a fitness center, two physical therapists on staff, doctors, access to eye exams and prescription medicine and more I'm probably not mentioning. We also continually have information available to employees on the latest health issues, prevention, etc.

    I have used these services first hand. When I had a vertebra in my next fused, I was out for over 10 weeks. Upon my return the physical therapist visited me in the satellite office. He set my chair settings to what I needed and reviewed my office. The next day I had different furniture in my office that would help with my recovery. Then I did all my physical therapy with them (no co-pay) and I missed much less work as I did not have to drive across town and continue to take afternoons off. I was one healthier and dedicated employee.

    When my neck flared up again last year. I went to my regular physician and then used the GMI services yet again when they recommended traction. I actually had meeting notices on my calendar and would walk downstairs and be back at my desk in 45 minutes. If I had to use outside services each trip would have taken me at least two hours each time.


    Sounds enlightened to me.

    MNB user Bob Anderson wrote:

    As a retired military officer, I remember my distress on entering the civilian workforce to find that employers did not promote "wellness" (it was preventive medicine in my military career) with their Health Insurance programs. The military as for decades promoted the total wellness of the military members and their families because they always believed that was not only mandatory for the military mission but much less costly than training (investing) in replacements.

    I remember when my current employer (Kraft Foods) announced it was changing its health benefits program to include company paid "wellness" benefits. My reaction was "finally, a recognition that well people are more productive contributors." It may save the company money but it also should result in improved performance generally.





    Regarding the call by pediatricians for greater regulation of marketing to children, and our comment that while parents need to be the final arbiters of what kids are able to see, networks have to be more responsible about what they show, MNB user Chris Connolly wrote:

    Bravo!

    As the father of two children aged 9 and 12, it is increasingly difficult to justify watching network television at almost any time. You make an excellent point when you describe watching an age-appropriate show with your kids…..and yet the commercials are embarrassing to watch. We can’t even watch network news shows in the 5:30 pm time slot without being bombarded with erectile dysfunction drug commercials. I don’t think of my wife and myself as being prudish…..but at the same time, our kids are not allowed to watch TV without us around, we make use of the parental controls on our satellite system, and they don’t have televisions in their bedrooms. More than that, we try to watch shows with them so that we can offer our feedback on the shows’ content.

    The saddest part of all of this is the fact that our kids will let slip to their classmates that they’ve never seen a reality television show, among other things…..and they become the target of ridicule by the other students.

    We’ve never been afraid to let advertisers know how we feel about these issues----but sometimes it feels like we are the only ones who do.


    We sometimes wonder if some network and advertising executives stop being parents when they leave home in the morning.




    We had an email the other day from a female MNB user who (to put it charitably) mocked us for saying that husband “parking zones” can be a good idea for women who take their mates to the store with them…and then a follow-up email yesterday from another female MNB user who found her comments to be “offensive” and said that “a negative remark like this really doesn't belong in your otherwise fine newsletter.”

    Yet another MNB user wrote:

    I don't think your posting of a response from the "unnamed female correspondent" was at all offensive or "PC". What makes your venue a "fine newsletter" is your continued commitment to respect and consider many viewpoints. Because we all walk in our own shoes and no one possesses all the answers. Thank you for an intelligent, informative, and thought provoking exchange.

    We’re blushing.
    KC's View:

    Published on: December 6, 2006

    In addition to doing MNB, one of the things I do is produce business videos for a number of clients and venues…and I’m in the middle of doing one for the 2007 CIES Global Food Safety Conference. It is, in essence, a sequel to one that I did for the 2006 edition of that conference…and I’m really excited about it.

    (If you’re interested in getting more information about this conference by the way, go to: http://www.ciesfoodsafety.com/ . CIES runs wonderful conferences, and this one – scheduled for Munich from January 31 through February 2, 2007 – is among the best…having nothing to do with the fact that I’m doing the closing keynote.)

    What this means, however, is that between now and Christmas I’m going to be taking some pretty interesting trips. This evening, I leave for Singapore…and I’ll be back on Sunday. I’ll be home for about a week, and then will leave for London, and then Japan – I’ll be circumnavigating the globe in about six days, getting back just in time for Christmas Eve.

    Now, very little of this travel should interfere with MNB getting done each day…though the timing may be a little weird because of time zone differences; I just thought you should know about the trips in case something bizarre happens that prevents MNB from being posted one morning.

    I hope you’ll bear with me and show your customary patience and good nature…and as always, I thank you for your support.

    I’ll toast all of you this weekend while at the Long Bar and the Writers Bar at Raffles…
    KC's View:

    Published on: December 6, 2006

    To hear Kevin Coupe’s weekly radio commentary, click on the “MNB Radio” icon on the left hand side of the home page, or just go to:

    http://www.morningnewsbeat.com/Radio/Radio_Listen_S.las

    Or, to simply read the commentary in text form, continue below…

    MNB Radio Commentary – Text Version - 12/07/2006

    Hi, I’m Kevin Coupe…and this is MorningNewsBeat Radio, brought to you by Webstop…practitioners of the art of retail website design.

    The Seattle Times had a story the other day about how kitchenware shops are experiencing a booming business – driven in part by consumer enthusiasm that has been stoked by the success of the Food Network and the celebrity chefs who have created a small industry. It is an interesting development, especially because the statistics continue to suggest that people are cooking less than ever…and yet they’re spending more and more money on this gizmo and that gadget.

    The fact that these trends seem to conflict may account for why so few supermarkets seem to have really first-class kitchenware departments. Most have some stuff, but it generally tends to be cheap, throwaway products that are there as a matter of convenience, not to generate consumer enthusiasm and imagination.

    Which is precisely what cookware should do.

    If they are to survive, supermarkets need to get people excited about eating at home, and even doing some level of food preparation at home. One of the ways you can do this is with kitchenware that has some to connection to the food being sold, and that is merchandised in a way that captures people’s imaginations.

    Now, I have to admit to a bias in this matter – I am a person who will spend an ungodly amount of time looking for a better garlic press, or a cooler coffee maker, or just the right knife. It’s not that I love shopping, but because I do virtually all the cooking when I’m at home, I always want to make sure that I have the right tool…and I often am reminded of the tool I need when I’m shopping for food, but the supermarket rarely has the tool I need.

    This is a sales opportunity, I think. And a high-margin opportunity, if done right.

    And here’s another idea. Supermarkets that want to attract customers ought to offer free knife sharpening every quarter or so…and then engage those customers in a conversation about their cooking and shopping likes and dislikes. It is yet another way to connect to the shopper…and build both relationships and sales.

    For MorningNewsBeat Radio, I’m Kevin Coupe.
    KC's View:

    Published on: December 6, 2006

    The Washington Post reports that Taco Bell, linked to a new E. coli outbreak in the eastern US, has ordered the removal of all green onions and scallions from each of its almost six thousand restaurants around the country.

    Company president Greg Creed called the move the result of “an abundance of caution,” and did not say as of this posting whether testing had conclusively proven that the onions were responsible for the more than 30 people who have been stricken with E. coli poisoning.

    Nine Taco Bell restaurants in New York and New Jersey were closed earlier this week after they were all linked to an E. coli outbreak; all used the same food distributor.

    The Wall Street Journal reports that Pennsylvania health officials also are investigating possible cases of E. coli linked to dining at Taco Bell restaurants, and that nine restaurants there have been closed as a precautionary measure. The nine NY-NJ Taco Bells implicated in the outbreak reportedly have been reopened after the facilities were sanitized and the food all was replaced.
    KC's View:
    No wonder people get confused. Yesterday, we were quoting a story that said onions are one of the foods that can help to fight cancer. Today, they’re being blamed at least on a preliminary basis for causing the spread of E. coli.

    It’s a perfect example of why many retailers need to be in the food information business in addition to all their normal duties. It’s the world we live in.

    By the way, since this comes just months after the spinach-related E. coli scare, we think that we’re going to get into a new business – creating toupees for supermarket produce managers.

    Because they’ve got to be tearing their hair out.

    Published on: December 6, 2006

    The Pioneer Press reports that while legislators in Minnesota are not considering New York City-type legislation that could ban the use of trans fats by restaurants, attention to the issue does seem to be gathering some momentum.

    Several local restaurants and schools have taken the lead,” the Pioneer Press reports. “ Menus at Leeann Chin and its sibling Chin's Asia Fresh are trans-fat-free. In March, Willie's Wine Bar in Minneapolis debuted with a trans-fat-free menu.”

    In addition, some local school districts “are reducing the amount of trans fat on their menus. For the past year, St. Paul Public Schools has been modifying its recipes. So far, the pizza is trans-fat-free. The district hopes to roll out a healthier version of French bread by the end of the year.”
    KC's View:
    Let’s face it. A grass-roots approach to getting rid of trans fats is far better than government mandating such moves. Ultimately, even the likes of McDonald’s will get moving on this issue if it sees that consumers demand a change.

    Which they should.

    Published on: December 6, 2006

    The Dallas Morning News reports that Whole Foods and HE Butt each opened what they are calling “next generation stores” this week.

    The new Whole Foods store, in Dallas, features a spa on a second floor, the only one operated by the company. "This is our only spa, and no other spa has someone doing your grocery shopping for you while you're getting a spa treatment," Nona Evans, Whole Foods' marketing director, tells the paper. If it works, the concept could be rolled out to appropriate markets.

    HEB, on the other hand, is testing a new central Market format that it hopes will help management “decide if it's landed on the right suburban concept to make the leap outside of Texas.” The format features, among other things, a “Central Market Café that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner with outdoor seating for 200, a stage for entertainment and a playground with a castle and a friendly dragon,” according to the paper.

    In each case, according to the Morning News the chain is trying to raise its game to the next level, to see how far it can push into new directions.
    KC's View:
    Oh, to be a laboratory for companies as advanced and sophisticated as HEB and Whole Foods.

    Lucky Dallas.

    Published on: December 6, 2006

    Forbes reports that representatives of the food industry are urging the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “to allow broader health claims on energy drinks, power bars and other so-called functional foods amid criticisms from consumer groups that those claims can be misleading.”

    According to Forbes, the FDA seemed skeptical of the proposal…especially when consumer advocacy groups are calling for greater control, not less.
    KC's View:
    This is a serious play by the industry, since functional foods have grown into a $27 billion annual business, and the upside is probably significant if those pesky consumer protections could be eliminated.

    Published on: December 6, 2006

    MSNBC reports that in San Francisco, an ad campaign by the California Milk Processor Board that featured bus stops smelling like baked cookies has been shut down.

    The reason – some passengers were concerned that the aroma might not be safe, and they complained to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which had not been informed of the campaign in advance.
    KC's View:
    This comes less than a month after Kraft Foods sponsored a special holiday issue of People magazine in which five of its ads smelled like the products being promoted…an idea that numerous MNB users questioned because they were worried about people with allergies to certain smells.

    There’s no evidence that the folks in San Francisco were allergic to the small of cookies. But in the modern world, this shows you how sensitive companies have to be to sensibilities that are tighter than a drum.

    Published on: December 6, 2006

    Interesting little piece in the San Jose Mercury News about a start-up company in San Francisco called LicketyShip that is partnering with retailers in the city to provide four-hour delivery to online shoppers within the city limits. The usual fee is a flat $19.99 for packages under 150 pounds, though the company is doing virtually all its deliveries for $9.99 until Christmas.

    “Every business plan competition we entered, there was always one person in the room who said `Stop, stop -- I've seen this movie before, I know how it ends. It ends $300 million later, and it's not a good ending’,” says Robert Pazornik, co-founder and CEO of the company, tells the paper.

    The goal of the company is to avoid the pitfalls of dot-com busts like Kozmo and UrbanFetch by not getting into retailing itself – it just wants to be in the fulfillment biz, and believes there is enough demand in urban areas to justify the service’s existence.
    KC's View:

    Published on: December 6, 2006

    Forbes reports that the Center for Science in the Public Interest is threatening “to sue Coca-Cola and Nestle over a new drink Enviga that they are jointly marketing.” The concerns seems to be that the companies are making health claims that have not been substantiated and that federal regulations say cannot be made in advertising.

    “An Enviga Web site claims that the drink's blend of green tea and caffeine burns more calories than it contains and can help drinkers maintain an ideal weight,” Forbes writes. “According to a Nestle study, young people who drank three of the beverages a day burned an average of 106 calories.”

    Coke denies that the product is intended to help people lose weight. A spokesman called the threat a "meritless publicity stunt."
    KC's View:

    Published on: December 6, 2006

    In what almost certainly will be the first of many end-of-year “top ten” lists that will either analyze the best of the past or prognosticate what the future might look like, market research company Datamonitor has forecast what it believes the top food trends for next year will be:

    • Calorie-burning beverages such as Enviga, due to come out shortly from Coke and Nestle.

    • Foods and drinks that make you feel fuller than you are, known as Satiety-enhancing products.

    • Mobile food that is easier to eat when on the go.

    • Local sourcing of ingredients. Not always natural and/or organic, but certainly an offshoot of that movement. Datamonitor believes that this trend will even affect CPG companies, who will be looking to reduce the number of “food miles” that products have to go before ending up in the shopper’s kitchen.

    • Healthier kids’ food.

    • Antioxidants, which will be included in a wide range of products.

    • Immunity-boosting foods and drinks, such as probiotics.

    • “Just for one” packaging, reflecting new research suggesting that the average number of persons per household is barely more than two.

    • “Smart” products and packaging that can actually detect certain conditions and respond to them.

    • “Better for you” beers that contain vitamins, minerals and supplements…for when hops and malt simply aren’t enough.
    KC's View:
    Okay, so we added in the “hops and malt” line ourselves. But you get the point.

    Published on: December 6, 2006

    Advertising Age reports that “Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia is planning its first line of food products, according to Susan Lyne, CEO of the company.”

    Details of the product line are not yet available, but they come as the doyenne of style expands her brand name into new areas such as housing communities.
    KC's View:
    Oy.

    Y’know what, though? It’ll probably be a huge hit.

    Published on: December 6, 2006

    …will return.
    KC's View:

    Published on: December 6, 2006

    I’m filing this edition of MNB late Wednesday night as I board a plane for an 18-hour flight to Singapore…where I’m producing a video piece that will be part of a presentation I’m doing for the 2007 CIES Global Food Safety Conference. Because of the timing, I won’t be able to update this in the early morning hours as usual; I think I’ll be somewhere over the North Pole.

    But assuming everything works the way it is supposed to, I’ll be filing Friday morning’s MNB from Singapore, and it should get to you at approximately the usual time with plenty of updated news and commentary. (I wonder if the Writers Bar at Raffles has WiFi…?)

    Thanks for your patience…and I’ll see you Friday.

    (If you’re interested in getting more information about the CIES Food Safety Conference, go to: http://www.ciesfoodsafety.com/ . CIES runs wonderful conferences, and this one – scheduled for Munich from January 31 through February 2, 2007 – is among the best…having nothing to do with the fact that I’m doing the closing keynote.)
    KC's View: