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• The Appleton Post-Crescent reports that a new Festival Foods store is coming to the Appleton, Wisconsin, region, with a new 73,500 square foot unit owned by the Skogen family set to open this week. According to the paper, the Skogens are opening the store despite the fact that the area is generally agreed to be over-stored – they believe that their emphasis on service will give them a differential advantage.

• Published reports say that HE Butt plans to take a “wait and see” approach to its new Mi Tienda store, which is designed to appeal primarily to Hispanic consumers. There is one Mi Tienda store at the moment, a 63,000 square foot unit in Pasadena, Texas, near Houston; there are no immediate plans for another one, the company says.

• Starbucks defended itself yesterday in a full-page New York Times advertisement against charges that it is blocking the US trademark application of growers from Ethiopia, which some say would give farmers there potential income of more than $90 million. Starbucks said that it works to strengthen the infrastructure of coffee farms in many parts of the world, and denied it was behind the move by the US National Coffee Association to block the trademark bid.

• The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that “dairies and producers in the St. Louis region are preparing to meet retailers' demand for milk made without the use of Posilac, a synthetic bovine growth hormone sold by Creve Coeur-based Monsanto to boost a cow's production.

“They predict that milk labeled or marketed as free of the hormone — and sold at a premium price — will reach local stores by next summer. It is the extension of a trend begun in California and the Northeast, and part of an overall drive by consumers toward food perceived to be natural or more healthy.”

It is not a trend without naysayers, however. The Post-Dispatch notes that “the movement comes despite the opinion of agriculture experts, including those at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, that milk is the same, regardless of whether the cows that produced it received Posilac. There is no test that can detect a difference.”
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