business news in context, analysis with attitude

•  The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index was 102.9 in February, down from the revised figure of 106.0 in January, while the Present Situation Index - based on consumers' assessment of current business and labor market conditions - increased to 152.8 from 151.1 last month.

The decrease reflected large drops in confidence for households aged 35 to 54 and for households earning $35,000 or more," said Ataman Ozyildirim, Senior Director, Economics at The Conference Board. "While consumers' view of current business conditions worsened in February, the Present Situation Index still ticked up slightly based on a more favorable view of the availability of jobs. In fact, the proportion of consumers saying jobs are 'plentiful' climbed to 52.0 percent - back to levels seen in the spring of last year. However, the outlook appears considerably more pessimistic when looking ahead. Expectations for where jobs, incomes, and business conditions are headed over the next six months all fell sharply in February."

•  As Commissioner Robert Califf of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released new details of overhaul the agency's organizational structure to make it more effective, Consumer Reports is arguing that the moves do not address the fundamental problems at FDA.

According to a statement by the consumer advocacy group, "an external review by the Reagan-Udall Foundation … concluded that the agency’s culture, organizational structure and governance model have undermined its effectiveness.

"The Foundation recommended that FDA Commissioner Robert Califf appoint a fully empowered, expert deputy commissioner with direct line authority over all key units of the foods program. Consumer Reports and an unprecedented coalition of organizations representing consumers, food industry leaders, and state regulators have been calling on the FDA to adopt such an approach for the past year. Despite broad support for the report’s central recommendation, Commissioner Califf’s plan fails to unify the entire food program under a single leader."

“It’s very disappointing that Commissioner Califf has rejected one of the key recommendations of the Reagan-Udall report,” said Brian Ronholm, director of food policy for Consumer Reports.  “The FDA’s matrix management plan will simply perpetuate the dysfunctional structure at the agency that has failed miserably in the past and led to its botched response to the infant formula crisis and other food safety issues.” 

•  C-store chain Yesway announced that it has acquired five existing Ranglers stores in the cities of Clifton, Hamilton, and Hico, Texas.  With this latest expansion, plus the opening of its newest Allsup's stores in Ruidoso, New Mexico, and Abilene, Springtown, Snyder, and Whitney, Texas, Yesway now has 435 stores across nine states, with plans to open 28 new stores throughout 2023.

Terms of the Ranglers acquisition were not disclosed.

•  From CNBC:

"McDonald’s will sell Krispy Kreme doughnuts at approximately 160 Kentucky locations starting next month, for a limited time.

"It’s an expansion of the fast-food giant’s initial test with the sweet treats. In October, nine McDonald’s restaurants in Louisville started selling Krispy Kreme doughnuts. The larger test is meant to assess customer demand and to understand how a larger-scale launch would affect restaurant operations.

"Starting March 21, McDonald’s customers at select locations in the Louisville and Lexington areas will be able to purchase Krispy Kreme’s glazed, chocolate iced with sprinkles and chocolate cream-filled doughnuts. The treats will be available all day and can be ordered in the drive-thru lane, in the restaurant, through the McDonald’s app and for delivery."