retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• As expected, Georgia’s commissioner of agriculture said over the weekend that tests of the state’s jalapeno pepper farms have come back negative, with no indication that any of the peppers grown there are contaminated with salmonella. Commission Tommy Irvin said that based on the results, supermarkets should put Georgia-produced jalapenos back on store shelves, despite the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) call to avoid all jalapenos because of salmonella concerns.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Kroger and Publix have both said that they'll continue to follow the federal guidelines.

• The New Jersey Courier-Post reports that “ready-to-eat smoothie sales are up 139 percent since 2002 and could pass $4 billion by 2012, according to a new study from Mintel, a research specialist.” The result is that a wide range of companies – including Starbucks, Taco Bell, Jack in the Box and Dunkin’ Donuts – are in varying stages of rolling out smoothies programs designed to jump on a business that currently generates more than $2 billion in sales a year.”

• The Wall Street Journal this morning reports that Dr Pepper is unveiling a new $35 million ad campaign designed to get people to drink the soda more slowly, building on research saying that “people who drink Dr Pepper slowly enjoy the taste more than people who drink it at regular speed.”

• New competition for the at-home dining business could be coming from The Cheesecake Factory. Nation’s Restaurant News reports that the restaurant chain “plans to expand a six-market test of delivery service to 62 units” while it reconsiders “the value perception of its namesake chain.”

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