business news in context, analysis with attitude

• Whole Foods announced yesterday that it has extended the deadline for its tender offer to acquire Wild Oats, saying that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) request for “additional information” was the reason for the extension.

• The Washington Post reports this morning that next week in Maryland, “after successful efforts in New York, Philadelphia and other jurisdictions to ban trans fats from restaurant menus, the Montgomery County Council will take up a proposed countywide ban. A similar measure is on hold in the Maryland General Assembly while the bill's sponsor allows the restaurant industry time to propose voluntary measures.

“Neither the county nor the state measure would require restaurants to strike French fries or pie crust from their menus, supporters say, but would instead require them to substitute canola oil or other non-hydrogenated oils in their preparation.”

• The Washington Post reports this morning that “less than a year after the nation's largest beverage companies pledged to remove high-calorie drinks and limit sugary beverages in all schools, districts across the country are finding that they may not be able to afford the switch because of contracts they signed several years ago with bottlers for the companies.”

In fact, the Post writes, “A majority of schools have exclusive marketing agreements with bottling companies -- almost 75 percent of high schools, 65 percent of middle schools, and 30 percent of elementary schools. The contracts, which can last up to 10 years, typically grant the exclusive right to market a company's brands in school vending machines, on scoreboards and on cups at sporting events in exchange for a large upfront payment followed by yearly payments. There are penalties if a school does not meet sales targets or if a school changes the mix of beverages sold.”
KC's View:
One MNB user made an excellent point the other day – that when people start making trade offs for money that can have a negative impact on kids’ health, perhaps it is time to start examining one’s priorities.

The ironic thing, of course, is that the money that comes from the soft drink companies helps to fund the physical fitness-oriented programs that we all say are often lacking in many schools. If the funding stopped, would the programs that exist fade away? But just by considering that question, it suggests that our priorities are screwed up.