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• The Sacramento Bee reports that “Safeway Inc. has launched a broad discounting campaign in Northern California, another sign that the bad economy is driving mainstream grocers to emphasize price in addition to their usual focus on quality, service and style … The Safeway campaign, launched last week, promises long-term price reductions – as opposed to weekly specials – on thousands of items throughout the store. The company wouldn't disclose the exact number of items the promotion covers, or the depth of the average discount.”

• Three industry veterans - John Motley, former senior vice president of government affairs for the Food Marketing Institute and prior to that, the National Retail Federation and the National Federation of Independent Business; Barry Scher, Giant Food's former long-time vice president of public affairs; and Jay Truitt, former vice president of government affairs for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association – announced this week that they have launched a new government and public affairs lobbying firm. The three principals say that Policy Solutions LLC will have “farm to fork” food issues experience, and also will focus on health care, energy, taxes, trade and agriculture.

• Muhtar Kent, CEO of the Coca-Cola Co., said yesterday that any tax of sugary beverages would be a mistake, and that “the consumer in this environment is not ready for a tax on a basic staple like non-alcoholic beverages,” according to a story this morning in the Financial Times. Kent noted that a proposed soda tax had not been written into the House of Representatives health care bill, and he hoped that “the same logic will prevail in the Senate.”

• The Boston Globe reports this morning that “despite racking up nearly $200,000 in state fines over the past two years, BJ’s Wholesale Club Inc. continues to ignore consumer pricing laws, according to state officials.” At issue is the state’s item pricing law, which requires retailers “ to mark prices on individual items in their stores or take alternative steps to let consumers check prices,” the Globe writes, noting that BJ’s responds to the charges by saying that “it takes steps that include posting oversized item-price signs, providing scanners that allow people to check prices, and making store associates available to answer questions.”

Brand Week reports that a new study from design and strategy firm Miller Zell suggests that conventional wisdom saying that high-income shoppers are driving demand for so-called “green” products is actually wrong, and that “low-income shoppers are most willing to pay a premium for products marketed as green. Women are also more likely than men to pay more for such items.”

• The New York Times reports this morning that “General Mills is embarking on a multimillion-dollar effort to put more muscle in the Wheaties brand. On Thursday, the company is announcing that it will introduce a second variety, Wheaties Fuel. All the marketing will be aimed at men — a first, by all accounts, in the cereal aisle … Nutritionally, the cereal will differ from traditional Wheaties by leaving out folic acid, which the company maintains is more important for women than men, while adding vitamin E, thought to be more lacking in men’s diets.”

The new version of Wheaties actually won’t be in cereal aisles until early next year, according to reports; between now and then, it will only be available online.

• Local press reports say that Little Rock, Arkansas-based Affiliated Foods Southwest, once one of the largest food cooperative sin the southwest US, has laid off all its employees, sold all its inventory, and is looking to convert its Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization filing into a Chapter 7 liquidation.
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