Foodservice Equipment Reports Fortnightly

Welcome to FER Fortnightly Online Newsletter
June 17, 2008

Economic Report:
Sponsored by:
Manitowoc Foodservice Group
NRA Performance Index Better But Still Below Flat For April
All Regions Show Soft Operator Sales, Traffic; Quick Service, Quick Casual Outperform Others
Wholesale Food Prices Ease; Menu Prices Still Catching Up
Early Bird Discount For FER's President's Preview Forecast Seminar Flies Away Friday; Operators Join Panel

Regulatory Report:
Sponsored by:
Flush With Approval: EPA To Set Specs For High-Efficiency Urinals
California May Preempt Local Calorie Counters With State Bill
Retro Flush: Atlanta Requires Low-Flow Toilets In Older Buildings
Bonita Springs Looking At New Grease Trap Rules

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In This Section:
Tax Stimulus Encourages Equipment Updates
Pizza Hut Celebrates 50 Years
Starbucks Unit Brews Up Self-Vending Espresso Machines
High Fuel Prices Create New Foodservice Position: Fry Crook
McD's Kicks Last Of Trans Fats
Call For Entries!

This issue's Economic ReportSponsor: Manitowoc Foodservice Group
Regulatory ReportSponsor: Enodis

Industry Report FER E&S Market Forecast Meeting

Tax Stimulus Encourages Equipment Updates
Looking for financial Fairy Godmother to help you pay for updating your kitchen equipment packages? The Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 could help.

The stimulus package offers a one-year, 50% bonus depreciation, allowing you to write off half the cost of new foodservice equipment purchased and put into use in 2008.

In addition, the expense-limit has been nearly doubled, so that small businesses such as restaurants can now write off up to $250,000 in new and used equipment purchases in '08. That's nearly double the $128,000 expense level from '07. Also, the cap on how much equipment can be purchased to use the write-off has been increased to $800,000, up from $510,000.

For further information, log onto the Internal Revenue Service site,,,id=179227,00.html


Section sponsored by FER E&S Market Forecast Meeting
Pizza Hut Celebrates 50 Years
Pizza Hut turned 50 at the end of May, celebrating at a special gala during the company's annual franchisee conference in Washington, D.C. The world's largest pizza chain opened the doors of its first store in Wichita, Kan., on May 31, 1958.

Brothers Dan and Frank Carney borrowed $600 from their mother for equipment and rent to open the first store. A year later, the first Pizza Hut franchise opened in Topeka. The chain now has more than 10,000 stores worldwide, with about 6,200 in the United States.

The company went public in '70 and was purchased by PepsiCo in '77. In '97, Pizza Hut was spun off as part of what was then Tricon, which eventually became YUM! Brands Inc., which also includes Taco Bell, KFC, Long John Silver's, and A&W Root Beer. Pizza Hut recently has introduced new menu items like chicken wings and pastas to help boost business.

Section sponsored by FER E&S Market Forecast Meeting

Starbucks Unit Brews Up Self-Vending Espresso Machines
Starbucks CEO Howard Schulz may be putting the smell of coffee and the personal experience back into stores as part of the company's turnaround strategy. But the chain isn't missing a beat when it comes to income-generating opportunities for its other brands.

The company recently announced it is teaming up with Concordia Coffee Co. and Coinstar Inc., both based in Bellevue, Wash., to make self-vending espresso machines for its Seattle's Best Coffee brand. Seattle's Best Coffee will put the machines in grocery store kiosks in eight western states, "where you couldn't or wouldn't put a full-service espresso bar," according to SBC General Manager and V.P. Tom Ehlers.

Concordia, founded as Acorto in 1990, makes a wide range of self-serve espresso machines for primarily institutional accounts like colleges, hospitals, B&I cafeterias, hotels and casinos. Coinstar manufactures coin sorting machines. The SBC self-vend espresso machines will accept debit and credit cards, cash and coins.

Section sponsored by FER E&S Market Forecast Meeting

High Fuel Prices Create New Foodservice Position: Fry Crook
Used to be restaurateurs would stand at the back door doing Henny Youngman imitations, saying, "Take my grease, please!" These days, not only will grease haulers take it for free, you're likely to get hit by grease thieves if you don't keep it under lock and key.

With diesel-fuel prices nearing $5 per gallon in most of the country, thieves are stealing grease from restaurants to make biodiesel. Yellow grease was trading for around 33 cents a pound in mid-May, or more than $2.50 per gallon, compared to about 60 cents per gallon in 2000.

Recent news stories suggest the problem is widespread, with thefts reported from Bangor, Maine, to Seattle. Restaurants aren't the only places being targeted, either. Standard Biodiesel, Arlington, Wash., a company that converts waste grease to biofuel, said thieves from competing companies are stealing anywhere from 15,000 to 30,000 gallons of cooking oil each month. The company put in surveillance cameras that caught thieves in the act, and is now working with police, according to company President John Wick.

Section sponsored by FER E&S Market Forecast Meeting

McD's Kicks Last Of Trans Fats
After seven years of experimentation with more than 50 blends of frying oils, McDonald's has switched to a trans fat-free product for its fries in all its U.S. and Canadian stores.

McDonald's CEO Jim Skinner announced the move at the company's annual meeting in May, saying the chain doesn't plan to advertise the switch, but that "we have followed through on our commitment while keeping the same great taste our customers expect from McDonald's."

The company initially promised to switch to trans fat-free oils in 2002 but wanted to make sure its signature fries still tasted the same. The chain has been cooking most of its other products in trans fat-free oil for several months.

McDonald's plans to eliminate trans fat from the remainder of its baked good items like pies and cookies by the end of the year.

Section sponsored by FER E&S Market Forecast Meeting

Call For Entries!
Attention, suppliers! Our printed-paper sister publication, Foodservice Equipment Reports has announced its 11th Annual Smallwares and Tabletop Competition is coming up soon.

Editors are on the lookout for innovative new products that have debuted no earlier than May 2007. On the Smallwares side, such items would include back-of-house, non-electric tools, implements, vessels, etc., usually hand-held. And for Tabletop, anything that might appear on a well-dressed table or buffet is a good candidate. The entry deadline is June 30. You can find application forms online at, or request one by email from

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