business news in context, analysis with attitude

...with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary...

• In Iowa, KCRG-TV News reports that Fresh Market plans to open a store in Cedar Rapids, in an old Kmart location. It will be Fresh Market's first Iowa store, and is scheduled to open sometime in 2014.

Fresh Market currently operates 144 stores in 26 states.

Reuters reports that McDonald's will shortly begin offering side salads, fruits or vegetables as part of its Value Meals. French fries will still be available, but there will now be these other options.

According to the story, "McDonald's, which often bears the brunt of criticism over the restaurant industry's penchant for tempting diners with indulgent and often high-calorie food, said it would offer the option in all of its 20 major global markets by 2020. McDonald's also vowed to promote only water, milk and juice as the beverages in its popular Happy Meals for children as part of its announcement at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting in New York on Thursday ... McDonald's said its announcement is part of a plan developed with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, which was founded by the Clinton Foundation and American Heart Association, to increase customers' access to fruit and vegetables and help families and children to make informed eating and lifestyle choices."

Good for McDonald's. (Don't hear me say that much, do you?) Though I think the "by 2020" caveat sounds a little drawn out, I'm happy to concede that Mickey D's is addressing the obesity issue to a greater extent that I thought it would. Like McDonald's or not, doing things like this, and doing things like posting calorie counts on menu boards nationwide, all strike me as responsible moves to address a serious situation. So, good for McDonald's.

• United Natural Foods said yesterday that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Trudeau Foods, described as "the largest Minnesota-based distributor of natural, organic and specialty food products," from a holding company owned by Arbor Investments II. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

• The Associated Press reports that "Starbucks has filed a trademark application for the term "Fizzio" as it continues its test of carbonated drinks. The Seattle-based coffee company says in the filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that the name would be for beverage-making machines, as well as a variety of drinks, including soft drinks."

Think Soda Stream. But probably a lot more expensive.

• The Associated Press reports that 98 percent of voting United Food and Commercial Workers-represented employees of Safeway, Fred Meyer, QFC and Albertson's in the Puget Sound region have authorized a strike, saying that "the companies want to reduce holiday pay, hold wages at current rates, and force part-time workers to get health benefits through the new government health care plan."

The story reports that management "says the strike authorization vote is premature because neither side has put out a best and final offer."

• Delhaize America yesterday announced the creation of the Pierre-Olivier Beckers Award for Excellence in Values, named in honor of the longtime Delhaize CEO who is retiring at the end of the year.

The company said that "the inaugural award will be presented during the first quarter of 2014 to a Delhaize America associate who exemplifies the stellar leadership and values that Beckers has brought to the organization. Delhaize America’s core values include: determination, integrity, courage, humility and humor."
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