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USA Today reports this morning that “federal officials say fresh jalapeno and serrano peppers from Mexico pose a salmonella risk, but the peppers are still selling in the U.S. and for much less than their U.S. rivals. Buyers tend to be small Hispanic grocers and mom and pop restaurants, while big supermarkets and restaurants shun the Mexican supply, distributors say.”

• The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is saying that food prices are expected to increase by between five and six percent this year, the biggest rise in two decades and at least a percentage point higher than projected just a month ago. An increase of between four and five percent is expected to occur again next year, according to the USDA.

USA Today writes that high fuel and food prices seem to be “nibbling away at the high growth rates long enjoyed by organic and natural food makers and sellers. Sales growth has slowed but remains strong because of the loyalty of core organic buyers, some industry executives say. They also say new customers are tougher to attract, given that organics can cost 10% to 50% more than non-organic rivals.”

In some cases, executives say, customers are being more specific about their choices – picking organic options in categories that they assign greater importance to, but moving to traditional food items in other grocery, less important grocery segments.

• The New York Times this morning reports that some companies, having spent a lot of time shutting down brands that they saw as being in decline or not part of their core businesses, now are looking to those discarded icons as possible engines for new growth. Why? “It can cost significantly less to bring back a brand — or restore the luster to a faded one — than to develop a new product, because spending huge sums to generate awareness is not necessary,” the Times writes.

Among the names that are seen as re-emerging from obscurity: Hydrox cookies, Eagle snacks, and Postum.

• As expected, Tesco has sold 13 of its UK properties for the equivalent of $1.2 billion (US), and will lease the buildings back to continue operating as stores. The real estate represents 2.4 percent of its UK store portfolio, and was sold to the Universities Superannuation Scheme, PRUPIM, LaSalle Investment Management and Canada Life.

• Winn-Dixie has announced that it has become a member of Topco Associates for procurement of its private label products.

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