retail news in context, analysis with attitude

...with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

• The Los Angeles Times reports that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has lifted its order that a Foster Farms poultry farm in Livingston, California, be closed because of a cockroach infestation, saying that the company's corrective actions have addressed it concerns, though it will continue to monitor the facility.

However, even though the USDA lifted its suspension order, Foster Farms "shut down its largest poultry plant in Central California on Sunday, two days after federal inspectors lifted a suspension for cockroach infestation," saying it was doing so "to expand safety procedures."

The factory involved is the same one that previously had been linked to a salmonella outbreak created by unsanitary conditions.

Suddenly, "tastes like chicken" doesn't exactly have the same meaning it used to.

• The Chicago Sun Times reports that PepsiCo launched its new premium bottled water brand, Qua, by passing it out to attendees at last night's Golden Globes award ceremony.

According to the story, "a PepsiCo spokeswoman noted that the company is still working out the kinks and that the name and design for Qua may change before it’s rolled out more broadly." The story also notes that "aside from their higher prices, what exactly sets a premium water brand apart varies. But the superficial factor is high: they usually come in stylish bottles. The water’s sourcing or filtering may also be touted on labels." And, "as with Coca-Cola’s Smartwater, Qua is made with tap water. The brand, which PepsiCo says is 'micro-filtered' and free of sodium, is slated to be tested regionally in California this summer before expanding to other markets."

I used to make fun of such products. But since I'm sitting here with a glass of my favorite, Pellegrino, next to the laptop, I can't really do that anymore. And the reality seems to be that as the market for soft drinks continues to soften, soda companies are going to have to find new ways to compete.

• The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reports that Supervalu plans to "open more of its low-price Save-A-Lot stores in 2014," with the likelihood that the majority of them will be corporate rather than franchised because corporate stores can be opened more quickly and efficiently.

As of October, the story notes, "Supervalu owned 377 Save-A-Lots, with another 957 owned by franchisees. The chain has a heavy presence in the Midwest, along the East Coast and in Texas."

• The Los Angeles Times reports on the creation of a new coalition in California: "The California Food Policy Council, a network of 19 groups around the state, wants to persuade legislators to pass laws that would support sustainable agriculture and safeguard soil and water quality for large and small farmers. The idea, organizers say, is to make healthful, affordable food options available for low-income urban dwellers, schoolchildren and others … The council, in a report, already is touting some successes, including the passage last year of bills that expanded access to fresh produce for food-stamp recipients, gave property owners a tax break for urban farms and gardens and cleared the way for driver's licenses for immigrant farmworkers."
KC's View: