Legislation that would gradually phase out government support for corn-based ethanol over five years and encourage the commercial development of second generation biofuels.has been introduced in the House of Representatives.

The bipartisan bill, H.R. 3187, “The Affordable Food and Fuels for America Act,” was introduced by Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.).

AMI, joined by members of the Balanced Food and Fuel Coalition (BF&F), applauded the introduction of the legislation, stating:

“We commend the [Representatives] for introducing legislation that is absolutely critical to both producers and consumers of food by controlling volatile commodity markets and ensuring all users of feed grains compete on a level playing field,” said the nationally released statement. ”If passed, the bill would permit badly needed adjustments in the corn-based ethanol mandates required by law. It represents an important step in weaning ethanol from its reliance on government protections to be commercially viable and compete with other commodities that rely on corn as their major input.”

The BF&F coalition is an alliance of animal agricultural groups concerned about the impact that the corn-based ethanol policy may have on the competitiveness of animal agriculture, exports, the food industry and ultimately the consumer. The coalition supports both legislative and regulatory action that will help relieve the volatility and escalation of feed costs, which have significantly affected the cost of poultry and livestock production and ultimately negatively impacted rural jobs and the cost of raising protein for consumption. For more information, go to: http://www.balancedfoodandfuel.org/, and for a copy of the statement released by the coalition, go to: http://www.balancedfoodandfuel.org/ht/a/GetDocumentAction/i/51623.

Source: American Meat Institute

Burger King, franchisees at odds over $1 double cheeseburger

Burger King Corp. said Tuesday it would distribute coupons for a $1 double cheeseburger after franchisees reportedly rejected proposals to feature the sandwich at that price on their menus.

The franchisor also said it would focus marketing efforts on its $1 Whopper Jr. sandwich in August and September. During that time, the chain said it would distribute direct-mail coupon books, which include the $1 double cheeseburger offer, to 80 million U.S. households.

“Burger King Corp. remains fully focused on its value offerings and delivering value for the money to its guests,” the company said in a statement.

Burger King franchisees last week rejected a plan by the franchisor to sell the double cheeseburger for $1 for four months and a later proposal for a six-week promotion, according to Dow Jones reports. The reports cited franchisees who voiced concerns that a $1 double cheeseburger would hurt margins and potentially lead customers to trade down from higher-priced products.

Rival McDonald's raised the price of its double cheeseburger from $1 to $1.19 late last year amid rising costs and franchisee complaints that a profit could not be made on the item. The double cheeseburger was replaced on the Dollar Menu with a McDouble sandwich, which contains two patties but only one slice of cheese.

Joe Buckley, an analyst with Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, said in a report Tuesday that franchisee tension, stemming from an ongoing soft drink contract dispute, could be a road block for Burger King as it seeks to add value offerings to drive traffic.

"We are concerned that the lack of alignment between Burger King and its franchisees could complicate efforts to turn sales," Buckley said.

Source: Nation’s Restaurant News

Food Lion building its first LEED-certified store

Food Lion, LLC broke ground yesterday on what will be the grocer’s first green grocery store, as well as the first in the state of South Carolina. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified store in northeast Columbia will feature a number of environmentally friendly construction and energy-efficient services, among them an on-site recycling center, skylights for natural lighting, educational kiosks and preferred parking for low-emitting vehicles.

“Food Lion has a long-standing commitment to serving as a caring neighbor and is committed to being a strong corporate citizen in the communities in which we operate,” said Kyle Mitchell, VP of store development at the Delhaize subsidiary. “We are committed to protecting the environment and reducing energy consumption through green building construction.”

Additional environmentally friendly features of the store will include:

  • High-efficiency lighting that dims lights based on natural sunlight in the store or when areas such as offices or restrooms are not in use
  • LED lighting in the frozen food cases
  • Low-flow and sensor-activated water fixtures in restrooms
  • Native plant species that minimize irrigation requirements
  • Enhanced air quality for associates and customers by using low-toxicity materials and implementing proactive management plans throughout construction to ensure optimal indoor air quality
  • Purchasing a significant amount of building materials manufactured within 500 miles of each location to boost local economies and reduce energy expended on transportation
  • Waste management plans to divert construction waste from landfills through recycling

“By building the first LEED grocery store in our company’s history and in South Carolina, we will reduce energy costs by more than 20 percent compared to a typical supermarket, as well as conserve 44 percent more water than other Food Lion stores,” continued Mitchell. “Food Lion, LLC has one of the most advanced retail energy conservation programs in the country. For nearly a decade, Food Lion has been dedicated to numerous sustainability initiatives, such as energy conservation and reducing carbon dioxide emissions throughout its 11-state footprint, reducing its energy consumption by more than 27 percent since 2000, or 2.5 trillion BTUs.”

The store, which is scheduled to open in the fourth quarter of 2009, will employ about 50 associates. Food Lion operates 145 South Carolina stores and employs over 7,600 associates in the state.

Customers can track the progress of the store or read more about Food Lion’s environmental initiatives at www.foodlion.com/greenstore.

In related news, see the Progressive Grocer article about sister chain Hannaford Supermarket’s soon-to-open sustainable store in Augusta, Maine, here.

Salisbury, N.C.-based Food Lion LLC operates more than 1,300 supermarkets, either directly or through affiliated entities, under the names of Food Lion, Bloom, Bottom Dollar Food, Harveys and Reid’s. The chain employs about 74,000 associates in 11 Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states.

Source: Progressive Grocer

Yum! Brands results up, sales outlook down

Yum! Brands Inc., the franchisor to Pizza Hut, KFC, Taco Bell and other quick-service brands, posted late Tuesday a 35-percent jump in second-quarter net income, driven by continued growth overseas and a one-time gain from the company’s purchase of the KFC business in Shanghai.

In the United States, Yum Brands said it continued to suffer against declines in consumer spending. Domestic systemwide same-store sales fell 1 percent. While Yum no longer reports chain-specific results, it said same-store sales fell 8 percent at Pizza Hut, but were positive at Taco Bell and KFC. The recent introduction of Kentucky Grilled Chicken led to a “substantial positive turnaround” at KFC, Yum said.

The company’s U.S. division was able to post an 8-percent increase in operating profit, mainly because of reduced costs, including the reduction of $18 million in general and administrative expenses.

Yum said cost-containment would continue to drive U.S. results as sales suffer. It also noted that Pizza Hut, which competes at a higher price point than typical quick-service chains, would be its biggest challenge.

The company reduced its same-store sales outlook for the year, which it said would hurt the U.S. division’s profit expectations. Because of improved worldwide margins and decreased commodity costs, Yum said it still expected to earn $2.10 per share this year, a 10 percent increase from 2008.

For the quarter ended June 13, Yum’s net income totaled $303 million, or 63 cents per share, versus earnings of $224 million, or 45 cents per share, in the same quarter a year ago. The company’s purchase of KFC operations in Shanghai, as well as other one-time items, led to 13-cents-per-share gain in the latest quarter, Yum said.

Latest-quarter corporate revenue fell 7 percent to $2.45 billion, mainly because of unfavorable currency conversions based on a stronger U.S. dollar.

The global franchisor of more than 32,000 restaurants said that worldwide same-store sales rose 3 percent, prior to currency conversion, and that worldwide operating profit rose 11 percent. Improved profit margins, new unit growth, cost management and improved year-over-year commodity pricing helped drive results, the company said.

Source: Nation's Restaurant News