The U.S. Agriculture Department trimmed its food inflation forecast for 2010, projecting prices at grocery stores and restaurants will rise at the same rate.

The USDA lowered the consumer price index for all food to gain 2.5% to 3.5% from its December forecast of 3% to 4%. The outlook changed because government forecasters don't expect food prices at restaurants to advance as much as expected.

The USDA also pared its price inflation outlook for fish, oils and fats at grocery stores.

To read the entire story, go to The Wall Street Journal's Web site.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Mountaire Farms converts largest U.S. poultry plant to more environmentally friendly packaging

Global Green USA, Mountaire Farms, and Interstate Container announced completion of the conversion of the largest poultry plant in the US to recyclable, wax-alternative boxes, thereby reducing costs and environmental impact, and assisting its customers in cost-effectively meeting their environmental goals.

At the International Poultry Expo, Global Green USA applauded Mountaire Farms and Interstate Container for their pioneering roles in reducing the environmental impact of wholesale transfer packaging as this innovation has the potential to influence the design of transfer packaging for all types of poultry, meat, produce and seafood delivered to grocers and restaurants throughout the world. Global Green also called on the food packaging industry to convert to this newly achievable green standard.

In March 2009, Interstate and Mountaire Farms announced its plans to conduct trials of recyclable modified atmosphere packaging through Hunt’s Point, the world’s largest food distribution center, as part of Global Green’s Coalition for Resource Recovery’s initiative to achieve 100% recyclable wholesale transfer packaging through the facility. Trials began pallet by pallet through Hunt’s Point’s harsh conditions and progressed to the truck load, and finally a two week test where Mountaire product shipped solely in the Fibre Box Association (FBA)-Certified recyclable boxes. Upon successful completion of the pilot in September 2009, Mountaire announced its plan to not only convert its existing modified atmosphere packaging to recyclable boxes but also to convert its ice packed product to modified atmosphere packaging to allow for a full transition of its entire product line to recyclable boxes. The full conversion of Mountaire’s first facility and the largest poultry plant in the US, located in Lumber Bridge, NC, was completed in January.

According to Interstate Container’s National Account Manager, Pete Bugas, “This is a first truly significant step towards replacing high-performance wax boxes throughout the difficult fresh food distribution channels. These boxes must withstand an extremely wet and challenging environment. Meeting the protocol criteria set forth by the FBA is a crucial step, and satisfying the rigors of the distribution channel in New York City is equally as tough. Ultimately, this fiber can now be recaptured instead of heading to a landfill where wax boxes are discarded. Interstate’s continuous environmental stewardship efforts remain a key part of our corporation’s DNA.”

The switch to FBA-certified recyclable packaging is only one component of the sustainable packaging transition. The switch in packaging methods from ice packed poultry to modified atmosphere packaging will result in significant water and energy savings. The box size was reduced, all wax was eliminated from the box, reducing the use of corrugated and petroleum products. If all of the newly designed boxes were recycled, the greenhouse gas benefit from source reduction and recycling the boxes would be 100,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually.[i] In addition, the switch from ice-packed poultry to modified atmosphere packaging is estimated to save millions of gallons of water annually. Combined these innovations also improve efficiency, streamline operations, and provide a safer work environment.

According to Larry Saywell, Mountaire Farms’ VP of Marketing and Sales, “Mountaire Farms is an agricultural company, and we are heavily dependent upon the earth’s natural resources for the continued success of our business. This project maintains and conserves these natural resources and is consistent with our company’s ‘way of being’. We fully recognize the positive impact of this project’s success on the futures of our people, our farmers, our suppliers, our community and our business.”

It is estimated that 1.5 million tons of un-recyclable wax-coated corrugated boxes are discarded in the U.S. each year. If coated corrugated boxes were designed for recycling and recycled, a greenhouse gas savings of 5 million mtCO2e, equivalent to removing from one million passenger vehicles from the road, would be realized, and U.S. grocers and restaurateurs could save $63M annually in avoided disposal fees.[ii]

"To be competitive in today's world economy, our goal must be the sustainable use of materials," said Matt Hale, director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery. "Producing materials that can be recovered and reused at end of life helps us achieve this goal."

According to Annie White, Director of Global Green USA’s Coalition for Resource Recovery, “Converting to transfer packaging certified as recyclable by the Fibre Box Association, is a readily achievable step that industry and businesses can take to improve their environmental performance, enhance their service to customers, and improve their bottom line. Through dedication and perseverance, Interstate Container and Mountaire developed a cost-effective, high-performing offering that enhances service to its customers. Global Green calls on others in the poultry, meat, produce, and seafood industries, to develop solutions for all food and packaging types, rapidly accelerating their use.”

Global Green USA’s sentiments were echoed in a statement provided by Chris Moyer, manager of the National Restaurant Association's Conserve program, “The delivery of poultry, seafood, and produce in recyclable boxes helps divert potentially reusable materials from landfills. High performing, cost-competitive recyclable boxes also provide another way restaurateurs can improve their bottom line and meet environmental goals, which is what we advocate through our Conserve initiative. We encourage the use of packaging made of recycled materials and similar innovations that assist restaurants in greening their operations.”

Global Green USA’s Coalition for Resource Recovery is an industry working dedicated to generating business value through transforming waste into assets. Founded in 1993 by activist and philanthropist Diane Meyer Simon, Global Green is the American Arm of Green Cross International (GCI), created by President Mikhail S. Gorbachev to foster a global value shift toward a sustainable and secure future by reconnecting humanity with the environment.

For more information, please contact: Annie White, Director, Coalition for Resource Recovery at or 347-271-0243.

End Notes: 1)Greenhouse gas savings calculated using EPA’s WARM tool. Saving assumes 100% of the boxes generated are recycled. 2) According to the U.S. EPA 2007 MSW Facts and Figures, 31 million tons of OCC is discarded each year. The Fibre Box Association estimates that 5% of OCC is wax coated. EPA WARM Tool and Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator were used to calculate potential greenhouse gas savings. National restaurateur and grocers savings are based on a national average tipping fee of $42.08 based on the 2006 data in BioCycle’s State of Garbage report.

Source: Global Green USA

Burger King files lawsuits over failed cash-register upgrades

Burger King Holdings Inc. (BKC) has filed a volley of lawsuits this month saying at least seven franchisees breached their contracts by not upgrading their cash-register systems in time.

The lawsuits are further straining an already acrimonious relationship between Burger King and some of its franchisees, a factor analysts have cited as having the potential to hurt sales and restrain stock growth. Some franchisees facing the suits have been outspoken critics of Burger King's recent controversial measures, like its current $1 double cheeseburger promotion, a fact not lost on the operators.

"This is about getting even because we did not roll over on the dollar double cheeseburger," said one franchisee named in a suit who declined to be named for fear of further retaliation. "This is about showing who the big boss is."

In an email Tuesday, Burger King said it does not comment on active litigation. The company added the new point of sale, or POS, systems are a " critical piece of restaurant equipment," and franchisees need to meet the company's requirements for keeping pace with upgrades.

To read the full story, click here to go to CNN Money's Web site.

Source: CNN Money