Playing the blame game over food, fuel prices
Canadian labeling to undergo changes
Health-conscious Americans not walking the walk
Fairtrade sales increase
Frito-Lay crackers in reclosable pouch
Kraft rolls out Mac & Cheese salty snack


Playing the blame game over food, fuel prices

by Pan Demetrakakes
Executive Editor


As prices for both food and fuel climb ever higher, players on the global stage are pointing fingers at each other, arguing over cause and effect.

Biofuels, subsidized for years by the federal government, are coming under increasing criticism for their effect on food prices. In light of recent food riots in Haiti, Egypt and elsewhere, some have charged that using corn to make ethanol and similar fuels is wasteful and cruel.

The situation reached a climax of sorts last week when Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer accused the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) of being behind an “underground” campaign to roll back biofuel subsidies. Schafer and U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), one of ethanol’s leading proponents in Congress, are battling an effort by the GMA to cut back biofuel subsidies to bring down the price of corn. Grassley sent a letter to 13 major food producers, including Hormel Foods, ConAgra Foods and Sara Lee. The letter read in part: “I hope you'll recognize that this smear campaign against biofuels is unfounded, irresponsible and pits traditional allies and partners in food production against one another.”

Some observers put the blame on increased food demand in countries such as China and India, especially an increased demand for meat, which takes more corn per calorie to raise. But Indian officials angrily rejected that assertion after President Bush made remarks to that effect earlier this month. An official in an economic development institute told The New York Times that if Americans didn’t eat so much, “many hungry people in sub-Saharan Africa would find food on their plates.”

Top Developments

Canadian labeling to undergo changes
Talks are in session to divide Canadian grocery store product labels into two categories: “Made in Canada” and “Product of Canada.” The current labeling, which reads “Made in Canada,” is allowed if 51% of the product’s value came from Canada. While farmers welcomed the news, packagers are concerned that the labeling will add extra costs.

Health-conscious Americans not walking the walk
Americans’ healthy eating intentions and how healthy they actually eat are different, according to the Food and Drug Administration’s Health and Diet Survey: Dietary Guidelines Supplement. Though there is increasing concern regarding healthy minded marketing toward today’s generation, of the youngest group of the survey’s respondents (ages 18-34), 52% believed nutrition to be very important. Sixty-four percent of those ages 35-54, 69% of those ages 55-64 and 71% of those ages 65 and older all felt the same way. Consumers’ “reported intake of whole grains, milk products, fruits and vegetables, and avoidance of saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, carbohydrates, sodium and sugar revealed mixed adherence to attitudes and intentions,” the report states.

Fairtrade sales increase
Worldwide Fairtrade sales for 2007 surpassed $4.5 billion, a 47% increase from 2006, according to Fairtrade Labelling Organizations Int’l. Sales value in Fairtrade’s two biggest markets saw significant increase: the U.S. grew by 46%, and the UK grew by 72%. The fastest growing markets, Sweden and Norway, saw increases of 166% and 110% respectively.

New Packages

Frito-Lay crackers in reclosable pouch
New cracker-style snacks from Frito-Lay combine tear-strip opening with an adhesive reclosabale tab. Cheetos Cracker Trax and Lays Cracker Crisps come in bottom-gusset pouches with a resealable feature from Zip-Pak. The consumer tears off a strip from the front to open the pouch, then folds the bag down and applies an adhesive tab on the back over the fold.










Kraft rolls out Mac & Cheese salty snack
Kraft Foods is extending one of its iconic products from pasta into snacks. Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Crackers are baked snacks in the shape of macaroni pieces. The carton uses the distinctive royal-blue-and-orange color scheme and logo typeface of Kraft’s Macaroni & Cheese. Flavors include Cheddar, White Cheddar and Mild Cheddar. The snacks retail for $2.99.