business news in context, analysis with attitude

We noted yesterday that Hardee's, the restaurant chain, is introducing a new product - a "Low-Carb Breakfast Bowl" that consists of "two folded eggs, a sausage patty, a slice of Swiss cheese, and a 'Loaded Omelet' made with sausage, crumbled bacon, diced ham, and cheddar cheese and then topped with more crumbled bacon and shredded cheddar cheese, packaged conveniently in a 20-oz. plastic bowl and selling for $2.99. Our arteries hardened just reading the ingredients…and other members of the MNB community seemed to agree.

MNB user Denise Remark wrote:

There's so much fat in that Hardee's breakfast that it's going to be slick jumping on that low-carb bandwagon! Doesn't Hardee's employ at least one nutritionist and/or dietician to encourage some semblance of logic in this product development?

Another MNB user wrote:

Forget hardening of the arteries...what about Gout? My father has been on and off the Atkins diet for the past several years. On Saturday night he woke up with a tremendous pain in his foot. Off he goes to the emergency room where he was immediately diagnosed with Gout. The doctor knew from the symptoms and the description of his diet that he was another in a series of Atkins patients he has seen recently with Gout. The treatment...anti inflamitories and eat some veggies.

Using Atkins for a short time can have dramatic weight loss results...for people like my dad who have adopted it as a permanent lifestyle, beware the health risks. They are serious and painful...especially for my mom who's stuck taking care of him since he can hardly walk!

Yet another MNB user wrote:

There is no junk food. There are, however, junk diets. Too much of anything, even drinking water, is not good for you.

We noted yesterday that we were getting tired of all the low-carb hype, which led MNB user Al Kober to write:

I find this hard to believe. This new eating life style is one of the best things for the meat industry in a long time. Meat, and beef in particular, is being considered in the same breath as eating healthy, and your are getting sick of it? I thought you were a meat man who would supported this and be more excited about this and the additional benefits for the meat industry. I guess I was wrong. Are you getting too old to accept a new way of eating and thinking?

What's your problem? Help me understand why this would prompt you to say something like this. I am getting sick of your closed mind and lack of support for something that has potential to boost the sales of all meat and at the same time help promote new healthy eating, weight loss, better health for millions of overweight people who need a more simple way of losing weight and improving their personal health, while providing a better way of living.

Helping people gain a better self image is not a wasted effort. At least this is what is happening to those who I know who have adjusted their carb intake as part of their new personal improvement agenda.

We're not anti-meat. We're just anti-hype. There have been enough questions raised about people who are perhaps too obsessive about the diet (like the email above from the person whose father is suffering from gout) and we're trying to keep an open mind about everything.

We don't mean to irritate you, and we don't think we have a closed mind. (Though our kids would agree with you on this point.) We're actually just trying to consider all the possibilities.

MNB user Dean Lustig wrote:

While I agree about the Low Carb frenzy, I feel for the Diabetic community who has been looking for products like this for quite some time. Also it is nice to have a choice. Funny thing as I speak to customers (restaurant operators) and their interest level, seems they are very disappointed in the sales. Today I spoke to a major national sandwich chain that said sales were dismal at best, and one of their suppliers on wraps will be discontinuing the product. (Taste like cardboard) While they know that there are many vendors to fill in, they basically wonder is it worth it. I know what it has done to the country looking into obesity, and some chains are really looking into the ingredients in recipes and products they offer. Lastly, I do believe when it is all said and done, the majority of those that went on the diets, which I am sure it was the only one that worked, will not stick to it and gain it all back and then some. Look out for the repeat.

On the subject of loyalty marketing, and our contention that instead of giving out gas discounts or restaurant coupons to best customers, supermarkets ought to be giving away cooking lessons or wine tasting seminars - premiums that might actually more time and money spent in the store, we got several emails.

MNB user David Slavick wrote:

First of all, love your newsletter. Great discourse.

If Winn-Dixie was serious about rewarding their most valued customers with a benefit, in this case a new twist via gasoline rebates, they would make it easy for the customer to actually secure the reward. Check out the program and see the hoops the customer must follow to get the reward. Nice offer, but the percentage of customers actually willing to go through the multi-step process to secure the redemption places this "reward" in the category of offer, with little to no benefit to the loyal customers that shop Winn-Dixie on a regular basis.

Another MNB user wrote:

Now how about lowering prices? That will get customers back!!! Get rid of the club card and use the administration cost in the cost of lower groceries!!!

On the subject of the USDA increasing the number of cows it will test for BSE, MNB user Chris Kuplack wrote:

When is the USDA going to learn that half-hearted measures are not going to cut it? We have 35 million cows slaughtered each year in this country, and we are stepping up our testing now to include almost two-thirds of one percent of them? This is supposed to assuage the fears of foreign governments?

It's clear that most Americans have little or no concern that they may become victims of BSE (I'm not personally worried, either), and beef consumption in this country seems stable. The real problem is that we are not adequately addressing the concerns of our foreign trading partners. Everyone wants to cry about all the jobs going to China, India, Indonesia, etc., and the massive trade imbalances that exist because we import everything from these places and buy it at Wal-Mart. We say that we don't manufacture much anymore in the USA, at least not much that anybody else wants to buy. At the same time, we have this wonderful product that is famous and well-liked the world over: US Beef! Wow, something we can export at a profit, that other countries actually want! Uh-oh, the government won't get more than 1% of the animals tested, and the Japanese, probably our best beef customer, won't buy any until we have total testing, like they do. How many times do we have to shoot ourselves in the foot before we learn our lesson? Let's get all the animals tested and get back to business. After all, raising and selling beef is a business.

Another MNB user noted:

The USDA is working for a Republican Administration. BUT, that Administration comes from Texas, a REALLY BIG cattle state. Who would get hit hardest with new regulations for testing all cattle? The beef industry. Their lobby has big bucks. Get the connection?

On the subject of Jack Brown of Stater Bros., who we described as a leader wearing a cowboy hat instead of a green eyeshade, MNB user George Morrow added:

I believe an even better hat for Jack would be a Boy Scout hat!! I believe Jack was an Eagle Scout growing up in San Bernardino, and he is, in my opinion, the last CLASS ACT in our Industry. He is a one in a billion individual and a total gentleman who continues to be proud of where he grew up and the Company and people he works with. The World could use more "Jacks"!!

However, regarding Stater Bros.' new corporate headquarters, MNB user Dan Jones wrote:

I get very nervous when corporate leaders start talking about new HQ's. They tend to take their eye off the ball on execution, and get distracted by mundane, no-win issues like carpet color, chair designs, etc. Stater Brothers has done a fabulous job of focusing on low priced groceries and customer service, even when it was not fashionable. I hope that they do not lose focus.

Regarding the ongoing argument between Don Imus and Stew Leonard's, one MNB user wrote:

I think Imus is wrong on this one. I am a loyal listener, and have been for many years. Imus and his brother have developed a line of food products that they have been trying to sell at a variety of outlets. Mixed success, I believe.

Stew Leonard's is a good and a socially responsible employer in Yonkers. The current generation of family management has done a lot to do the "right thing". Imus needs to do a little research before painting everything with a wide brush.

And MNB user Mark Boyer wrote:

I caught Imus yesterday. I enjoy his twisted sense of humor, and he rode the Stew Leonard story like a $5 horse.

Do you remember the Oscar Wilde quote? "The only thing worse than being talked about, is not being talked about."

He's doing Stew Leonard a favor.
KC's View: