FoodScan Dec. 9, 2013
Editor’s Note: With the holiday season upon us and New York State government in a slowdown mode, look for the next issue of FoodScan and the first issue of 2014 on January 6th. From the FIA staff to the membership — Happy Holidays!
SIX NYS FOOD STORES SOUGHT FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PILOT — PRIORITY IN SUPERSTORM SANDY AREAS. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), in cooperation with the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute (P2I), is seeking six stores to conduct a Sustainable Grocer Program Pilot Project. The six stores selected will receive an environmental assessment to prioritize opportunities for cost reductions and environmental impacts. The assessment will identify opportunities for environmental improvements and savings to the grocer’s bottom line. The assessments will focus on cost effective solutions to (1) conserve water, (2) reduce toxic and hazardous materials such as cleaning products, and (3) manage organic and food wastes. According to P2I, annually the average NYS grocer — uses 1.5 million gallons of water at a cost of $8,000-$16,000; uses 660 pounds of cleaning products containing more than 150 pounds of hazardous chemicals; and generates more than half a million pounds of food waste, but only 15% is diverted from the landfill. Independent and chain stores are eligible to participate. Priority will be given to stores located in areas affected by Superstorm Sandy. Opportunities for environmental improvements will be identified, including those within the supply chain. Assistance to help manage organic and food wastes to reduce the environmental impact and operating costs will be provided. Economic analysis will be performed to determine the cost-benefit of environmental improvements to further aid with decision-making. Interestingly, P2I noted that a 2012 FMI study found a store’s sustainability practices are an important factor for 50% of customers when they consider where to shop. Importantly, assessments are provided free of charge for the six New York State stores selected. For more details on the process that P2I and the selected grocers will follow, click here. Interested stores should contact Kate Winnebeck at Kate.Winnebeck@rit.edu or (585) 475-5390.
FIA Members and Staff Testify at Albany County Executive’s Hearing on Polystyrene Ban Legislation. On December 2nd, FIA members Hannaford, Price Chopper, ShopRite and FIA staff testified before a well-attended Albany County Executive’s hearing on a bill approved by the legislature to ban the use of polystyrene foam containers for prepared foods and to require the use of compostable or biodegradable containers for disposable food service. While FIA members and staff did not voice opposition to the bill after the meat case was exempt, they suggested an environmentally-sound amendment to add “recyclable” to the existing language of “compostable or biodegradable product” to allow the continued use of such containers in the deli and bakery operations of food stores.
NYS Reaches Record Private Sector Job Count yet Unemployment Inches Up to 7.7%. Despite a 0.1% uptick in NYS’s jobless rate to 7.7%, the Empire State added 33,800 jobs in September and October to attain an all-time high of 7,490,100 private sector jobs, according to the State Department of Labor. DOL’s Division of Research & Statistics noted “Since the state’s economic recovery began in late 2009, we have added more than 500,000 private sector jobs.” New York City similarly experienced a 0.1% increase in joblessness to 8.7%, while the nation’s unemployment rate also nudged 0.1% higher to 7.3%. Outside of NYC, unemployment was unchanged at 6.9%. Over the past year, private sector jobs grew most rapidly in New York City (+2.5%). Yearly sector job gains were the highest for Education & Health Services (+48,000) as Government registered the largest decline (-14,400). Regional year-to-year private sector job gains/losses and unemployment percentages (not seasonally adjusted) follow in that order: NYC +2.5% jobs/8.9% unemployment; Long Island +2.4/5.9; Kingston +2.0/7.2; Putnam-Rockland-Westchester +0.5/5.9; Poughkeepsie-Newburgh -1.4/6.8; Utica-Rome +2.0/7.2; Albany +0.7/6.0; Syracuse +1.0/7.0; Buffalo +1.4/7.0; Ithaca +0.7/4.8; Rochester +0.6/6.7; Binghamton +0.1 /7.3, and Glens Falls +2.2/6.3. To view DOL’s press release/jobs data, click here and for further information on area unemployment rates, click here.
For Third Straight Month, Consumer Confidence Index® Weakens — Mid-Atlantic (NY, NJ, PA) Lowest of Nine Regions. The Conference Board’s national Consumer Confidence Index® dipped 2 points to 70.4 (1985=100) in November and continued its three-month downward trend. The Middle Atlantic Region (NY, NJ, PA) fell to its lowest reading in over a year — plunging 10.4 points to 46.7 — ranking it last in the nine regions. Five of the nine regions advanced, led by the West North Central that jumped 26.7 points to 94.7. The Conference Board’s Lynn Franco explained, “Sentiment regarding current conditions was mixed, with consumers saying the job market had strengthened, while economic conditions had slowed. However, these sentiments did not carry over into the short-term outlook. All in all, with such uncertainty prevailing, this could be a challenging holiday season for retailers.” Among the nine major states, NY also struggled retreating nearly 18 points since October to 45.8 — an eighth place finish. Texas continued to outpace all others at 108.3. Pennsylvania (35.2) remained last. For The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index® news release, click here.