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2019 Halloween By the Numbers (NRF)

The National Retail Federation (NRF) does a yearly survey to measure consumers’ Halloween shopping behavior. They suggest that over 172 million Americans participate in the holiday and contribute to a $8.8 billion dollar industry. This unique holiday inspires some neat and quick statistics that we will explore again this year.                                     

Halloween by Numbers 2019

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Food Waste Reduction Alliance

The Food Waste Reduction Alliance (FWRA) has revealed a formal agreement  with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to reduce food loss and waste through industry and agency-specific actions.

FWRA was founded in 2011 by the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and the National Restaurant Association to reduce the amount of food waste generated; increase the amount of safe, nutritious food donated to those in need; and divert unavoidable food waste from landfills. According to FWRA, it's estimated that 25% to 40% of food grown, processed and transported in the United States will never be consumed.

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Popular Apples Recalled in Texas

Apples distributed to wholesalers and retailers in Texas have been recalled this season. The apples, which are from Michigan, are possibly contaminated with Listeria.

The recalled apples include McIntosh, Honeycrisp, Jonathan, Fuji, Jonamac and Red Delicious apples.

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New beer, wine and tobacco laws

This past legislative session, the Texas Legislature passed several laws which impact Texas retailers who sell beer and wine, as well as tobacco. These new laws went into effect Sunday, September 1st. Although we understand the Texas Alcoholic and Beverage Commission (TABC), as well as the Texas Comptroller’s office have communicated with our state’s retailers about these new laws and their impacts or changes, we wanted to make sure all TRA members had the most updated information. 

Below for your reference are an industry notice from TABC, which includes a detailed document reflecting all of the changes impacting TABC enacted last session, as well as this link from the Comptroller’s office regarding the new Over 21 Tobacco law. The link contains helpful information along the right hand side. However, we understand that there is still ambiguity regarding what constitutes acceptable ID’s for the military exemptions for tobacco purchases. TRA is in contact with the Comptroller’s office on this issue and we have asked them to issue clarifying guidance to retailers ASAP. Here is a link to more information about including the "Texas Retailer Tobacco Packet." We will continue to monitor this and report back as we learn more details.

Paid Sick Leave Update

Dallas:

On July 29th, several plaintiffs aligned with TRA filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court in Collin County, in the northwest suburbs of Dallas, seeking to block the Dallas PSL ordinance. An initial hearing on this lawsuit is expected in the coming days. Although the court could rule to temporarily invalidate the Dallas PSL ordinance (while the full case is litigated), it is unfortunate that this outcome will not be known until possibly several days or even weeks into August. TRA and our business allies are confident this will be the result, however with it now being August 1st, the Dallas PSL ordinance is technically in effect at this time, although the city has stated that fines will not be levied until April 1, 2020. As a result TRA is strongly suggesting member companies who have employees working within the City Limits of Dallas do two things as of August 1st:

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Food Council: Raw Seafood Policy Change

The TRA and it’s Food Council Members were successful in making a revision to this ordinance in Fort Worth.  Previously the City of Fort Worth required a temperature reading of 34 degrees in fresh seafood cases.  The national guideline is 41 degrees.  Below is the ruling. 

Message from Wyndie Turpen, RS
Consumer Health Superintendent/Code Compliance for the City of Fort Worth

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Texas HHSC comments on SNAP eligibility rule

During a recent call with Texas Health and Human Services Commission, TRA referenced a study noted in the link here.  This study indicated a new eligibility  rule which would impact the number of families eligible for SNAP in Texas.  TRA will continue to monitor the issue and give guidance to food retailers regarding potential SNAP sales impact in 2020. "HHSC is currently reviewing the proposed rules, but has not made available any information on the impact to Texas distribution", says Duane Pietsch, Lone Star Business Services/ EBT. "It is my understanding that because the rules are only proposed at this time, HHSC cannot speak to impacts, and not likely do so until the rules are finalized by FNS."

US and Mexico Sign Tomato Suspension Agreement

On 9/19, the U.S. Department of Commerce and Mexican tomato growers signed a new suspension agreement to prevent the dumping of tomatoes into the U.S. market. The two countries have been in a major tiff over the dumping of tomatoes, which caused the Commerce Department to pull out of the previous long-standing tomato suspension agreement. To reach last week’s agreement, the U.S. agreed to suspend the current Administration’s anti-dumping investigation on Mexican tomatoes. The new agreement terminates a 17.56 percent tariff placed on importers of Mexican tomatoes. 

Source: National Grocer's Association

IRI Survey: Younger Millennials Outspending Older Cohorts in Food/Bev

Consumer confidence has been up and down in 2019. Despite a strong start to the year, confidence dimmed at the end of Q1 2019. It currently is surging again due to a strong labor market, but trade issues could easily cloud this outlook. This mixed bag is impacting consumer spending on food and beverages, according to the latest IRI Consumer Connect survey findings that recently were released. Food inflation softened in Q1 2019 to 1.7 percent compared to 2.2 percent in 2018, but not everyone is freely opening their wallets. Younger Millennials (born 1990+) are outspending older generations in food dollars, while older cohorts are more likely to be using a number of money-saving tactics to keep food bills manageable. To get a closer look at the most recent food and beverage trends for the beginning of the year, IRI also released “Early View 2019.”

Hemp Vs. Marijuana: CBD Continues to confuse

The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp by removing the crop and its derivatives from the definition of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act. That not only set into motion a race to get more hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) products to consumers nationwide but also rampant confusion about their legality. Click here to read more.

Source: The Shelby Report

Texas food banks ready to help families impacted by government shutdown

More than 3.5 million Texans will get their February SNAP benefits early because of the partial government shutdown.

The Texas Health and Human Services on Sunday announced that the February SNAP benefits will be issued early. The state said current SNAP recipients will get February benefits automatically loaded onto their Lone Star Cards by Jan. 20.

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Information regarding the Government Shutdown and WIC/SNAP Benefits

The State of Texas announced that February food benefits will be provided early to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) recipients. This gives recipients more time to manage their resources during the government shutdown due to the uncertainty about future federal program funding.

SNAP Recipients will see funds on their Lone Star cards by January 20th. While SNAP recipients are encouraged to not make mass purchases and try to space their food purchases throughout the whole month of February, retailers should prepare for both cases. Roughly three and a half million people will be receiving their benefits early and retailers need to be prepared to accommodate mass crowds.

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