Consumer Confidential: Pricier foods, Blockbuster sale, renaming corn syrup
Here's your forget-me-not Friday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:
--As if times weren't tough enough, the price of Oreos might be going up. Kraft Foods says the price of many of its products will rise because of higher costs for ingredients. According to the Associated Press, the company says earlier price hikes are not going to be enough to sustain its profitability, and additional price increases will come this year. All food companies have been feeling the pinch from higher costs for wheat, corn, sugar and other commodities. Kraft already raised prices on most of its products in Europe and more than half in North America. Similar increases have been announced by Kellogg, Sara Lee and J.M. Smucker Co.
--Interested in a slightly used video-rental chain? Blockbuster appears to be on the verge of putting itself up for sale. According to the Wall Street Journal, the company could be sold off after creditors disagreed on plans to give it more cash to help exit bankruptcy protection. It's unclear how Blockbuster plans to compete against the likes of Netflix in a world of digital downloads. The company now plans to seek buyers instead of reorganizing in bankruptcy court and could ask a judge to approve bidding procedures as soon as next week. The price tag could be as much as $300 million, plus assumption of various liabilities, including certain store leases.
--A bad-for-you sweetener by any other name would be just as bad for you. At least that's what some consumer groups say in response to plans by the food industry to rename high-fructose corn syrup as "corn sugar." The National Consumers League says this is merely a ploy by food makers to circumvent efforts to educate the public about the potential dangers of high-fructose corn syrup, which has been linked to the obesity epidemic that's dangerously fattening Americans. "Regardless of where you stand on the debate over high-fructose corn syrup and its effects on our waistlines and our health, changing the name after decades of use is unfair to consumers," says Sally Greenberg, the organization's executive director.
-- David Lazarus