Business Briefs

Kelly Knowles has been named director of government & political affairs, for the American Bakers Association (ABA) effective January 1. In her new role, Knowles will serve as the primary staff liaison for the ABA Human Resources and Fleet & Distribution Committees as well as the Commodity Task Force. Knowles also will serve as a lead lobbyist for ABA and will continue to advise association members on critical international, federal and state level issues of both legislative and regulatory nature. Her primary focus will be on human resources, health care reform, transportation, trade and commodity issues. Knowles will maintain her primary liaison duties from the ABA Executive Leadership Development Committee (ELDC) and the American Bakers Political Action Committee.
Howard Gruenspecht, deputy administrator of the Energy Information Agency, told the American Bakers Association’s Fleet & Distribution Committee members in November that natural gas prices are likely to remain high throughout the winter, but the price of gasoline and diesel should settle at $2.25 a gallon. The committee also heard of a new hybrid delivery truck technology being tested by FEDEX from Mark Stark, who is part of the FEDEX Hybrid Delivery Truck Development Team. While FEDEX currently has 18 hybrid trucks in operation, it anticipates placing another 30 in service in 2006. Initial data indicate significant savings on fuel economy ranging from 30-40% over conventional engines with an increased cost for the vehicles, given limited production. Finally, Jay Sandler and Loren Luke of Workhorse Custom Chassis gave an overview of a hybrid truck project the company is currently working on headed by its new parent company, International Truck and Engine Co. The committee will be able to observe these vehicles at a future meeting.
Capway Systems BV recently purchased the Rijkaart’s bakery operations. The resulting combination of Rijkaart’s innovative force and the Capway’s flexibility is a solid and reliable enterprise, according to Capway. New product development and exceptional customer service have always been trademarks of both companies, and these points will only be reinforced as they move forward, Capway added. Together with their partners, the companies can now offer complete turnkey production lines for croissants, pizzas, and more.
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia-based Ocean Nutrition Canada Ltd., supplier of MEG-3 brand omega-3 EPA/DHA food and dietary supplement ingredients, announced the launch of the first Canadian tortillas made with its MEG-3 food ingredient made from fish oil. Cali-Wraps with MEG-3 will be sold in major grocery stores throughout Canada. This is the first Canadian product to feature the consumer-branded ingredient MEG-3 prominently on packaging as a source of differentiation for consumers.
Jim Keyes, president and CEO for 7-Eleven Inc., and Ann Rhoades, former executive vice president of people at JetBlue Airways, join a gangbuster lineup of speakers at the American Bakers Association annual convention, which runs from March 22-25 at the Phoenician in Scottsdale, Ariz.  For more information, contact the ABA at 202-789-0300.
PepsiCo Inc., plans to cut costs in some of its operations and take a restructuring charge of up to $85 million. The plan also includes the elimination of 200 to 250 jobs, which is 0.5% of its 46,000-strong work force. Plano, Texas-based Frito-Lay said it will notify affected employees in early December. Rising costs of polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, which is used in packaging, and higher energy costs were contributing to cost pressures for the snack food giant. PepsiCo expects the cost-cutting measures and planned innovations for next year to lead to low double-digit earnings per share growth in 2006.
Loders Croklaan recently opened an oil processing factory in Channahon, Ill. An expansion of the company’s existing Channahon facility, the new factory doubles throughput, increases storage capacity and further enhances the unparalleled quality of palm-based products the company is known for worldwide. The new factory expands the existing plant by 10,000 sq. ft., which increases storage capability by 200%.  The new facility also incorporates a bleaching line that boosts capacity by 400 %.  In addition, a new oil in-line blending capability increases bulk capacity by 100%.
The employees at Portland, Ore.-based Franz Family Bakeries throughout the Northwest decided to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina and found it easy to open their hearts and pocketbooks when the company announced it would double-match all employee donations to five selected national non-profit charities. The company and its employees raised $54,019 for the survivors. The cash donation is the largest in the history of the company.
Blendex Co., a leading food processor d.b.a. Blendex Custom Blending, received the Associated Industries of Kentucky Manufacturers of the Year Award (mid-size category) for showcasing entrepreneurial spirit, community leadership, and policy contributions made by Kentucky Manufacturers. Locally, Blendex was the recipient of the Greater Louisville Manufacturing Awards of Excellence Vision Award for demonstration of superior performance. The Jeffersontown Chamber honored Blendex with the Business of the Year Award for its overall commitment to excellence.