Published on: January 2, 2013...with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary...
• United Press International
reports on a survey by Pollock Communications finding that "51 percent of the 200 registered dietitians queried predicted consumers would continue to demand natural and simple foods, minimally processed with few ingredients. Half of the dietitians said low-fat and low-carb diets were out for 2013 -- good news for bread, pasta and rice lovers."
In addition, "Dietitians, social media and smartphone apps were the top three resources used for nutrition advice, the survey found. Consumers would continue to focus on eating high-quality calories -- foods with more nutrition per bite -- 57 percent of the dietitians said."
• The New York Times
this morning reports on continuing skepticism about the efficacy of energy drinks, which continue to grow in popularity.
"The drinks are now under scrutiny by the Food and Drug Administration after reports of deaths and serious injuries that may be linked to their high caffeine levels," the Times
writes. "But however that review ends, one thing is clear, interviews with researchers and a review of scientific studies show: the energy drink industry is based on a brew of ingredients that, apart from caffeine, have little, if any benefit for consumers."
While manufacturers sometimes make extravagant claims, "a dearth of evidence underlies such claims," the Times
writes. " Only a few human studies of energy drinks or the ingredients in them have been performed and they point to a similar conclusion, researchers say — that the beverages are mainly about caffeine.
"Caffeine is called the world’s most widely used drug. A stimulant, it increases alertness, awareness and, if taken at the right time, improves athletic performance, studies show. Energy drink users feel its kick faster because the beverages are typically swallowed quickly or are sold as concentrates."
• The Associated Press
reports that unionized employees at Raley's have ratified a new two-year contract that "includes wage and benefit concessions for about 7,000 workers, including employees working at Raley's stores that operate under the Bel Air and Nob Hill Foods names ... The new contract has employees temporarily giving up bonus pay for Sunday and holiday shifts, and paying more for health care. But workers were able to preserve the core of a health plan that's considered one of the most generous in the grocery business."
• The Williston Herald
reports that Coborn's is acquiring Mike’s Super Valu in Watford City, ND, an independent that has served the market for almost three decades. According to the story, "Coborn’s previously announced plans to build five new grocery stores in western North Dakota, including a Cash Wise in Watford City. The employees of Mike’s Super Valu will transfer to the new Cash Wise when it opens in the summer of 2013."
• The New York Times
this morning reports that Zipcar, the pioneering car-sharing company, will be acquired by Avis Budget Group for about $500 million. The deal is expected to close this spring.I love Zipcar, and I hope that Avis doesn't screw it up. I am skeptical that this move is a good thing for Zipcar, and fear that what Avis really would like to do is kill a business model that threatens it. I hope I'm wrong.
• Concord, Massachusetts, has become the first community in the United States to ban the sale of plastic water bottles that are 16 ounces or smaller.
The ban was approved by town meeting last April, and went into effect on January 1.
There are ways around the ban. One is to simply refill existing bottles. Another is to buy the bottles at nearby towns. Or, you can just buy a plastic water bottle that is larger than 16 ounces, since those are not banned.