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•  From the Wall Street Journal this morning:

"U.S. consumers are gorging on snacks, fueling boom times for cookie and candy giants while other packaged-food companies vie for bigger shares of the snack aisle.

"Nearly half of U.S. consumers are eating three or more snacks a day, up 8% in the past two years, according to Circana Group, a market-research firm. U.S. snack sales rose to $181 billion last year, up 11% from the year prior, the firm said.

"That has translated into big business for companies such as Hershey and Mondelez International, which make products from Oreos cookies to Ritz crackers and SkinnyPop popcorn.

"Between fiscal 2019 and 2022, Hershey’s sales grew 30% while Mondelez’s rose 22%, outpacing other major food companies."

The Journal notes that "as food prices soar and consumers increasingly look for cheaper alternatives to name-brand products, snack makers have been insulated because they tend to face less competition from lower-priced store brands … Often consumers will stick with their chosen brands of chocolate and other snack foods even when prices increase."

•  The California Assembly has overwhelmingly passed, by a vote of 54-11, a bill that would ban five harmful chemicals from candy, cereals and other processed food."  The most prominent of these foods is Skittles, which - if the bill becomes law - would be have to be reformulated.

The bill, according to Consumer Reports, would "end the use of brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate, propyl paraben, Red Dye No. 3 and titanium dioxide in popular food products sold in the state. The chemicals are linked to serious health problems, such as a higher risk of cancer, nervous system damage and hyperactivity.

"European regulators have already banned the five substances from use in food, with the narrow exception of Red No. 3 in candied cherries. Given the size of California’s economy, A.B. 418 would set an important precedent for improving the safety of many processed foods."

The bill now moves to the California State Senate.