"The RPI's solid gain in September was the result of broad-based improvements among both the current situation and forward-looking indicators," said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the National Restaurant Association. "Restaurant operators reported positive same-store sales and customer traffic levels for the first time in six months, which propelled the RPI's Current Situation Index to its highest level in nearly three years.
"In addition, restaurant operators are more optimistic about sales growth in the months ahead, while their outlook for the economy rose to its strongest level in five months," Riehle added.
The Current Situation Index, which measures current trends in four industry indicators (same-store sales, traffic, labor and capital expenditures), stood at 99.4 in September – up 0.5 percent from August and its strongest level since October 2007. However, the Current Situation Index remained below 100 for the 37th consecutive month, as the softness in the labor and capital expenditure indicators outweighed the gains in same-store sales and customer traffic.
Restaurant operators reported a net increase in same-store sales for the first time in six months in September. Forty-four percent of restaurant operators reported a same-store sales gain between September 2009 and September 2010, up from 38 percent of operators who reported higher sales in August. Meanwhile, 38 percent of operators reported a same-store sales decline in September, down from 43 percent of operators who reported negative sales in August.
Restaurant operators also reported a slight uptick in customer traffic levels in September. Thirty-eight percent of restaurant operators reported an increase in customer traffic between September 2009 and September 2010, while 37 percent of operators reported a traffic decline. In August, 35 percent of operators reported an increase in customer traffic levels, while 42 percent reported a traffic decline.
Despite the improvements in sales and traffic levels, restaurant operators reported a slight drop-off in capital spending levels in recent months. Forty-two percent of operators said they made a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling during the last three months, down from 44 percent of operators who reported similarly last month.
The Expectations Index, which measures restaurant operators' six-month outlook for four industry indicators (same-store sales, employees, capital expenditures and business conditions), stood at 101.1 in September – up 1.0 percent from August and its strongest level in five months.
Restaurant operators are more optimistic about an improving sales environment in the months ahead. Forty-three percent of restaurant operators expect to have higher sales in six months (compared with the same period in the previous year), up from 38 percent who reported similarly last month. In comparison, 14 percent of restaurant operators expect their sales volume in six months to be lower than it was during the same period in the previous year, compared with 17 percent who reported similarly last month.
Restaurant operators are also more bullish about the direction of the overall economy. Thirty-eight percent of restaurant operators said they expect economic conditions to improve in six months, up from 25 percent last month and the strongest level of optimism in five months. In comparison, just 16 percent of operators said they expect economic conditions to worsen in the next six months, down from 21 who reported similarly last month.
Along with an improving outlook for sales and the economy, restaurant operators' plans for capital expenditures also grew. Forty-seven percent of restaurant operators plan to make a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling in the next six months, up from 42 percent who reported similarly last month and the strongest level in five months.
The RPI is based on the responses to the National Restaurant Association's Restaurant Industry Tracking Survey, which is fielded monthly among restaurant operators nationwide on a variety of indicators including sales, traffic, labor, and capital expenditures. The full report is available online at www.restaurant.org/pdfs/research/index/201009.pdf.
Public health alert issued for uninspected meat and poultry productsThe U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is issuing a public health alert for an undetermined amount of various meat and poultry products produced without the benefit of Federal inspection by N.Y. Gourmet Salads Inc., a Brooklyn, N.Y. establishment.
This public health alert is initiated based on evidence collected during an ongoing investigation being conducted by FSIS on this establishment. The evidence showed that the establishment has been producing products without federal inspection and distributing them into commerce. Federal inspection services at N.Y. Gourmet Salads Inc. were suspended in November 2009. The establishment previously conducted a recall of products produced without the benefit of federal inspection on March 11, 2010.
Products subject to this alert include, but are not limited to, 5-pound trays of chicken salad, meatballs & sauce, meatballs, Swedish meatballs and sausage & pepper. The implicated products were produced between March 11, 2010, and October 29, 2010, and were distributed to retail establishments in New York. Labeling information on the above products is currently unknown, though the chicken salad was observed in commerce to bear the N.Y. Gourmet Salads Inc. label. The products subject to this public health alert may or may not bear the N.Y. Gourmet Salads Inc. label with the establishment number “P-34440” inside the USDA mark of inspection.
Claim Jumper chain acquired by Landry's: reportClaim Jumper Restaurants, a 45-location chain that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month, may have been acquired by Landry’s Restaurants Inc. The Oregonian blog referenced a Bloomberg report that Landry’s acquired the company at auction. While the company has not made an official announcement, Landry’s website lists Claim Jumper among its brands, which also include Rainforest Café, Saltgrass Steakhouse and Chart House.
In filing bankruptcy, Claim Jumper listed assets of as much as $100 million and debt totaling as much as $500 million. Landry’s is reported to have outbid offers of as much as $27 million.
Source: The Oregonian, Oregon Live
Public meeting to review positions of codex committee on food hygieneThe U.S. Department of Agriculture's Office of Food Safety announced a public meeting. This meeting will provide information and solicit public comments on the draft U.S. positions that the U.S. delegation proposes to use at the 42nd session of the Codex Committee on Food Hygiene (CCFH) of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex). The meeting will be held in Kampala, Uganda from Nov. 29 through Dec. 3, 2010. Codex Committee public meetings are intended to ensure a consistent approach to U.S. and international food safety systems on policies and procedures through input from subject matter experts. This ultimately benefits the safety of imported product for consumers.
The public meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the USDA, Whitten Building, Room 107-A, 1400 Independence Ave, Washington, DC. To participate through teleconference, dial (866) 692-3158, passcode: 5986642. A complete agenda and documents relating to the 42nd session of the CCFH will be available on the Codex Alimentarius Web site at: www.codexalimentarius.net/web/current.jsp.
The CCFH is mandated by Codex to draft basic provisions on food hygiene applicable to all foods and to consider, amend if necessary, or endorse provisions on hygiene prepared by Codex commodity committees. CCFH is also mandated to suggest and prioritize areas where there is need for microbiological risk assessment at the international level as well as management matters in relation to food hygiene such as food irradiation. Among the agenda items for the session are matters arising from the work of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Health Organization (WHO), and other International Intergovernmental Organizations, proposed draft guidelines for the control of Campylobacter and Salmonella in chicken meat. Additional topics include discussion of general principles of food hygiene to the control of viruses in food, international code of hygenic practice for collecting, processing, and marketing of natural mineral waters, and revision of the principles for the establishment and application of microbiological criteria for foods.
Codex was created in 1963 by two United Nations entities: the FAO and the WHO. Codex develops food standards, guidelines and codes of practice in order to protect the health of consumers, ensure fair food trade practices and promote coordination of food standards undertaken by international governmental and non-governmental organizations.
For further information concerning the 42nd session of the Codex Committee on Food Hygiene, contact Barbara McNiff by phone at (202) 690-4719 or by e-mail at Barbara.McNiff@fsis.usda.gov. Individuals are invited to submit written comments electronically to Jenny Scott at Jenny.Scott@fda.hhs.gov. For further information about the public meeting contact Jasmine Matthews, Program Analyst, at (202) 690-1124 or by e-mail at Jasmine.Matthews@fsis.usda.gov.