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Research firm anticipates grim holiday sales this spring

BY Allison Cerra

LOS ANGELES Peter Cottontail may not have enough eggs in his basket as holiday expenditure is expected to decline 8%, according to an independent research firm.

Total sales from Easter clothing, candy, flowers, decorations, food and greeting cards are expected to fall from $14.8 billion in 2008 to $13.6 in 2009, IBISWorld reported Tuesday. The anticipated decline is indicative of the current financial climate.

Candy sales in particular are estimated to reach only $1.77 billion, down by 10.2% from Easter 2008. Interestingly, the forecast for candy sales could have been much worse had it not been for the holiday’s calendar date.

“Easter falls on April 12, compared to March 23 of last year, so candy producers and marketers have 20 additional days to merchandise their products and entice the public to spend,” said George Van Horn, senior analyst with IBISWorld. “This will cushion some of the inevitable blow on spending.”

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Tropicana wants consumers to ”Rescue the Rainforest”

BY Allison Cerra

CHICAGO Tropicana, a division of PepsiCo, has partnered with Cool Earth, an international trust dedicated to protecting the rainforest to offer consumers the opportunity rescue the rainforest.

Through 2009, specially-marked packages of Tropicana Pure Premium and Trop50 products will carry a code that consumers can enter online at www.tropicanarainforest.com. For each code entered, 100 square feet of rainforest will be saved. Once registered, consumers can enter additional codes with each purchase and increase area of rainforest they have rescued. There is no limit to how many codes a consumer can enter, and Web visitors can register individually or as a group. Through the technology provided by Google Maps, those who register can watch the area of rainforest being saved by Cool Earth grow.

Tropicana packages carrying the code are: 12-ounce, 64-ounce, 89-ounce and 128-ounce Tropicana Pure Premium orange juice, as well as the 59-ounce package of the new Trop50 orange juice beverage. Codes can be entered online through 12/31/09.

“We are proud to support Cool Earth and its mission to save the endangered rainforest and help reduce the impact of climate change,” said Neil Campbell, president of Tropicana. “We believe in doing our part to make the planet better and this campaign makes it easy for our consumers to join us in helping to preserve the natural environment. We hope that this campaign can trigger a movement with an extraordinary impact.”

With Tropicana’s help, Cool Earth will secure threatened rainforest by putting it in a local trust, and work toward protecting it around the clock. Cool Earth employs locals, helps fund community-based livelihood and makes sure the rainforest is managed sustainably, generating a good income for the local economy. Tropicana has already protected 5,000 acres of endangered rainforest in the Amazon.

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FDA warns Peanut Corp. of America products still linger in market

BY Alaric DeArment

ROCKVILLE, Md. Though Peanut Corp. of America has all but ceased to exist, its ghost lingers on in the American food industry.

The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning Monday against eating peanuts and related products sold by Irvington, N.J.-based Westco Fruit and Nuts after they were linked to recalled peanuts from PCA. The FDA has requested that Westco voluntarily recall all products containing peanuts from PCA because they may contain Salmonella bacteria. The agency said that between Nov. 19 and Dec. 30, Westco received three shipments of Oil Roasted Salted Redskin Jumbo Peanuts from PCA’s processing plant in Blakely, Ga.

Lynchburg, Va.-based PCA went out of business last month after widespread Salmonella contamination and unsanitary practices discovered at the Blakely plant and another plant in Texas. The contamination has been linked to nearly 700 illnesses and possibly nine deaths in 46 states.

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