A senior U.S. official said Monday that the United States and South Korea "cannot afford to fail" in talks meant to settle differences on a long-stalled free trade deal. The two countries are trying to reach a compromise before a November 11-12 meeting between President Barack Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak at the Group of 20 economic summit in Seoul, according to AP reports.

Part of the delay in finalizing the agreement between the two countries has been demands from the U.S. that American beef has more access to the Korean market. Kurt Campbell, the top U.S. diplomat for Asia, said that both sides want to settle differences before the G-20 meeting.

"Both sides understand the importance of this and the urgency, and I think there's very hard work that's under way," Campbell said in a speech at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. "We cannot afford to fail. It is absolutely essential that we are successful with a Korea free trade agreement."

Source: AP

U.S. won't appeal WTO ruling on Chinese chicken

The United States has decided to not appeal a ruling by the World Trade Organization against a ban on Chinese cooked chicken imports. The U.S. had already discontinued the ban, which was imposed by the U.S. Congress in a spending bill.

The U.S. had banned imports from China and some other Asian countries after outbreaks of bird flu in 2004, but the spending ban -- imposed after a series of food scares in China -- meant that Chinese chicken could not enter the United States in practice even after imports formally were allowed, Reuters reported.

China argued that the reasons for the U.S. measures were unscientific, a claim backed by a WTO panel of experts.

Source: Reuters

Food inflation to continue into 2011, USDA says

The USDA said this week that food inflation will accelerate through the rest of 2010 and into the first half of 2011, particularly for meat, cereal and dairy products. Many food producers have begun raising prices to blunt price spikes for a number of commodities, including corn and wheat, reports MarketWatch.

Pork prices are expected to raise as much as 5.5 percent over 2009, while beef prices are expected to raise 3.5 percent. Both USDA estimates are higher than those made in late August.

“Although inflation has been relatively weak for most of 2009 and 2010, higher food commodity and energy prices are now exerting pressure on wholesale and retail food prices,” USDA food economist Ephraim Leibtag said.

Source: MarketWatch

A&W Restaurants adds first-ever value meal

A&W Restaurants announced the introduction of its all-new $3 Big Taste Meals.  Available at participating locations nationwide, the new value menu is A&W Restaurants first branded, permanent value meal and includes four choices: BBQ Bacon Crunch Burger, Cheddar Onion Crunch Burger, Coney Cheese Dog or Deluxe Cheeseburger, each served with golden crispy French Fries.

"A&W Restaurants has a long history of serving delicious All American Food, and now for the first time, we're combining our signature tastes with unbeatable value meals at just $3," said Barry Westrum, chief marketing officer, A&W Restaurants. "With $3 Big Taste Meals, we want consumers to know that a good deal can also have great taste, and they don't have to settle for unfilling, bland burgers any longer. And only A&W Restaurants can pair our $3 Big Taste Meals with the classic taste of our Original Root Beer Float."

To support the introduction of the new $3 Big Taste Meals, A&W Restaurants is launching a 360 degree marketing effort spanning broadcast, digital, social media, public relations and in-store materials. Complete with a flag, currency and declaration, the campaign centers on the "Big Taste Nation" which encourages value-seekers to join the movement where a good meal deal can have fantastic taste. The declaration states:

"We the people of your neighborhood A&W restaurant promise to give you exactly what you're hungry for: a Great Value & BIG Taste! Introducing our $3 Big Taste Meals. It's a taste revolution with a price that really satisfies. It's our promise to you. Join us at BigTasteNation.com."

Source: A&W Restaurants