retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• The National Retail Federation (NRF) has released its official 2015 forecast, "projecting retail industry sales (which exclude automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) will increase 4.1 percent, up from the 3.5 percent growth seen in 2014. NRF also announced ... it expects non-store sales in 2015 to grow between 7 and 10 percent. The 4.1 percent increase would mark the biggest annual growth since 2011 when retail sales for the year increased 5.1 percent."

• The New York Times reports that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has "approved the commercial planting of genetically engineered apples that are resistant to turning brown when sliced or bruised. The developer, Okanagan Specialty Fruits, says it believes the nonbrowning feature will be popular with both consumers and food service companies because it will make sliced apples more appealing. The feature could also reduce the number of apples discarded because of bruising."

However, there are elements within the apple industry who fear that a GMO apple will hurt the industry as a whole by creating concerns about biotech's influence; there also are fears that the new apple could hurt overall exports to countries that have banned or take a dim view of GMOs.

• The Chicago Tribune reports that Mondelez International has announced its acquisition of Enjoy Life Foods, a private snack company that is known for its allergen- and gluten-free snacks. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
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