business news in context, analysis with attitude

...with brief, italicized and occasionally gratuitous commentary...

• The Orange County Register reports that beginning today, “Kroger-owned Ralphs will reduce prices on more than 13,000 grocery items at 248 Southern California stores, including 48 in Orange County. Prices on everything from eggs to shampoo to produce are being cut as the chain seeks to be a viable player in a region saturated with low-price rivals.

Addressing the new EDLP strategy, Ralphs spokeswoman Kendra Doyel said, "We knew if we wanted to be here for the long term, we needed to make changes. This is absolutely the largest investment we've made."

United Press International reports that a pair of new studies conducted in the US and France suggest that “consumers who see food labeled as organic, locally produced or fair trade often assume the food is low in calories,” and that these claims “ exhibited the same ‘halo’ effect as those of other food claims, such as foods low in fat or cholesterol.”

• The Wall Street Journal reports that “Safeway on Tuesday detailed the state of its pension obligations, moving to address concerns raised recently in the investment community about a potential rise in the supermarket operator's labor costs.

The company said the underfunded liability for its multi-employer pension plans currently stands at roughly $1.88 billion on a pre-tax basis, adding that contribution increases and other actions have all helped to reduce that sum in recent years.

“Safeway also said it expects to further reduce the underfunded liability through collective bargaining and improved market returns, among other actions. The company noted it believes that multi-employer pension plan contributions remain a ‘manageable issue,’ that are being efficiently handled by all parties involved.
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