business news in context, analysis with attitude

• Kroger-owned Ralphs Grocery Co. will formally change its plea to guilty this week as part of its settlement of charges that it rehired hundreds of employees during the 2003 lockout/strike and then paid them under false names. As reported on MNB earlier this month, Ralphs has agreed to pay $70 million in restitution and fines.

• The Kansas City Business Journal reports that a federal grand jury has issued a 31-count indictment against four former employees of Associated Wholesale Grocers who are charged with issuing fake invoices for products and services never received. The indictments include charges of wire fraud, money laundering, witness tampering and obstructing a criminal investigation.

• The Chicago Tribune reports on the meal assembly business, which seems to be getting a lot of attention in the media lately. The business is projected – at least by its trade association, the Easy Meal Prep Association – to be in some 1,100 outlets by the end of the year, generating $270 million in sales and is projected to quadruple by the end of the decade.

• Kroger announced yesterday that it has signed a deal with SmartCare Family Medical Centers to open health clinics inside the company’s supermarkets in Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee, beginning this fall.

• Walgreen announced that it will begin opening in-store health clinics inside stores located in Atlanta, Chicago and Las Vegas. The clinics will be operated by InterFit Health (RediClinic) in Atlanta, Take Care Health in Chicago and Pinnacle EasyCare in Las Vegas.

• The Wall Street Journal reiterates this morning previous reports that “a panel of the American Medical Association is calling for a public awareness campaign about lowering salt in the American diet. They want food companies and restaurants to voluntarily lower sodium levels in foods by 50% over the next decade. They also have asked the Food and Drug Administration to review food-labeling rules related to sodium, and have suggested that food labels start to carry warnings about high-sodium foods.
KC's View: