Food Business News - May 11, 2010 - (Page 1)

May 11, 2010 FOODBUSINESS NEWS NEWS, MARKETS AND ANALYSIS FOR THE FOOD PROCESSING INDUSTRY Restaurant operator optimism growing WASHINGTON - The National Restaurant Association's Restaurant Performance Index (R.P.I.) climbed 1.4% in March to 100.5, its strongest level since September 2007. In addition, the restaurant operators who participated in the survey expressed increased optimism about growth in sales and staffing. "The R.P.I.'s solid performance in March was driven by improvements among both the current-situation and forward-looking indicators," said Hudson Riehle, senior vice-president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the N.R.A. "Restaurant operators reported net gains in both same-store sales and customer traffic in March, the first time in 31 months that both Continued on Page 23 Gulf oil spill; perspective on a disaster MCLEAN, VA. - While the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico may crimp U.S. demand for seafood, the accident will not have a measurable effect on the overall supply of U.S. seafood, said Gavin I. Gibbons, director of media relations for the National Fisheries Institute, McLean. In fact, the overall impact on fishing even in the Gulf will be limited, he said. "As of May 5, 6,800 square miles of Gulf waters were closed to fishing," he said. "That's 6,800 out of a total of 600,000 square miles across the entire Gulf. People should know there is still fishing in the Gulf, and the fish that's coming out Continued on Page 16 Story on Page 25 Little relief expected soon for raging onion prices World shortage drives U.S. prices to nearly triple year-ago levels KANSAS CITY - Onion markets typically receive little attention, but a world-wide shortage and prices nearly triple year-ago levels may bring tears to buyers' eyes before prices show some seasonal moderation in the next few weeks. Average point-of-first-sale (paid to growers) dry bulb, or storage, onion prices stood at 7.93c a lb in December, an unusually depressed level, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in its latest Vegetables and Melons Outlook. The preliminary average price in April was 50.7c a lb, up 27% from the March average of 40c and 2¾ times the April 2009 average of 18.4c, according to U.S.D.A. data. Prices averaged 12.2c a lb in 2009 (with a low of 6.99c in March) and 12.5c in 2008 (with a low of 2.53c in March), the U.S.D.A. said. "The simple answer is the reality of supply and demand," said Wayne Mininger, executive vice-president of the National Onion Association. "The last six to eight weeks we have been at a supply deficit." The short supply situation, which sent dry bulb onion prices to "historical highs" from mid-March through April, was the result of adverse weather in several key onion Continued on Page 24

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Food Business News - May 11, 2010