Foodservice Equipment Reports Fortnightly
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Welcome to FER Fortnightly Online Newsletter
July 31, 2007








Economic Report:
Sponsored by:
Manitowoc Foodservice Group
Missing FER's President's Preview Forecast Meeting Aug. 1? Another Chance
Finally, Good News On Nickel, Stainless Steel Prices
Another Bit of Good News: Consumer Sentiment Is Up
How Big Is Equipment Market In Europe?

Industry Report:
Sponsored by:
Server Products
Sweeney Leaves AARP To Head NRA
NAFEM Debuts Online Scheduling Tool For Show
Ronald McDonald Turns Green With Solar House
IH/M&RS Adds Green To Editor's Choice Awards



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In This Section:
Illinois Legislature OKs Electric Rate Relief
California Produce Handlers Start Using Service Mark
Chicago, Sarasota Won't Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
Food Companies Go On Junk Food Ad Diet

This issue's Economic ReportSponsor: Manitowoc Foodservice Group 
Industry Report Sponsor: Server Products
Regulatory Report Enodis

Illinois Legislature OKs Electric Rate Relief
After months of wrangling with electric companies, the Illinois House and Senate last week approved a $1 billion rate-relief package even while the proposal was being criticized as grossly inadequate. The plan effectively trades relief now for possibly higher-yet rates later.

Electric customers will be receiving rebate checks or credits in the next month or two and partial, temporary rollbacks in utility rates going forward. Rollbacks will phase out gradually over the next 23 months, however, and by June 2009 effective rates will return to the levels that lead to the demand for rate relief. Some reports allude to further rate increases over the following two years.

In January, electric rates in Illinois rose by as little as 20% in some areas and more than doubled in many others after a 10-year rate freeze expired. The new rates were costing Illinois ratepayers an additional $2 billion annually.

Fighting on the topic has been intense. Electric utilities Ameren, the major downstate provider, and Commonwealth Edison, primary in Chicago and surrounding areas, have stated the steep price increases are necessary and said they'd be forced to file bankruptcy if the state disallowed the hikes.

Terms of the $1 billion plan also preclude the state from filing a new freeze for several years and requires that Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office drop pending lawsuits alleging the electric companies have been guilty of fraud and collusion.

The bill now goes to Governor Rod Blagojevich for signature.

 

Section sponsored by Enodis

California Produce Handlers Start Using Service Mark
Produce growers and handlers who signed the California Leafy Green Products Handler Marketing Agreement have started using the new service mark set up by the accord. The state's agriculture department inspectors began inspecting facilities July 23 after receiving training on the tightened Good Agricultural Practices now being used.

The service mark, applied to bills of lading, certifies that the shipper—grower or processor—has signed the agreement and has committed to the new food safety standards. About 99% of the produce handlers in the state have signed up, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

To see the new seal, go to www.cdfa.ca.gov/exec/pa/clghmb.htm. For more information on the marketing agreement, the marketing board has set up a website at www.caleafygreens.ca.gov.


Section sponsored by Enodis

Chicago, Sarasota Won't Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
Some thought—hoped?—an ordinance proposed last summer in Chicago to allow dogs on outdoor restaurant patios had died. But Chicago city council license committee chair Eugene Schulter decided not to let that particular sleeping dog lie. With newly elected alderman Brendan Reilly as co-signer, he proposed a revised ordinance that would permit doggie diners as long as their owners kept them leashed and in control at all times.

This year, the revised ordinance just might have a chance to override any complaints from perennial "quality-of-life" antagonist Ald. Burt Natarus, who helped kill last year's proposal. This time around, the ordinance has the backing of the state's General Assembly, which recently amended the state health code to allow canine patrons in outdoor dining areas.

Similar state approval in Florida last year has led to ordinances in a number of communities there. Most recently, Sarasota County commissioners voted to allow dogs in outdoor dining areas at restaurants in unincorporated parts of the county. Permits cost $150. The city of Sarasota hasn't yet decided whether to permit dogs to dine or not. Neighboring Manatee County recently approved a three-year pilot program.


Section sponsored by Enodis

Food Companies Go On Junk Food Ad Diet
Okay, so this isn't a story about a regulation—it's a story about preempting one. A group of 11 food companies, including foodservice giant McDonald's, is going on the equivalent of a crash diet. No, the companies are not giving up "junk" food, but they are giving up junk food ads—at least some of them. In an effort to hold off Federal Trade Commission efforts to further regulate the industry, the companies have self-imposed new rules on what they can advertise to kids.

Back in May, we told you about the FTC's move to gather advertising info from major food companies, giving rise to thoughts it might recommend a junk food ad ban to Congress similar to that enacted recently in the U.K. To counter, the group comprising companies like Cadbury, General Mills, Kraft, PepsiCo and others, came up with a pledge not to use characters to advertise to children under age 12 and to limit advertising to children to only those products with less fat, sugar and sodium than many of their product offerings.

McDonald's, for example, has pledged it will advertise only two of its Happy Meals to children. Both contain less than 600 calories, with no more than 35% of those from fat. PepsiCo says only Baked Cheetos and Gatorade will be advertised to kids from now on.



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