Governor Addresses CGA Board

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While California is well down the road to economic recovery, Gov. Jerry Brown told a group of retail grocers, it may be another four to five years before it fully recovers.

brown_photoshopped1“Economists are saying some parts of California are doing better,” the Governor told the CGA Board of Directors on Thursday. “California’s economy is growing faster than the nation’s economy.”

Brown, who supports increasing the minimum wage said its essential if California is going to compete in a global economy.

When asked what his priorities will be if elected to a fourth term, the governor said maintaining a balanced budget, decentralizing education from the state level to local school districts, realigning the state’s prison system and addressing climate change will be his top priorities. He added that the state’s water situation must be addressed and he strongly supports a high-speed rail system.

Speaking on a broad range of topics, Brown addressed, among other topics, the unfavorable view most Americans have of Congress.

“Congress is not viewed with any great confidence,” Brown said. “Neither do they of the California Senate,” referring to several recent arrests of state legislators in Sacramento.

“Only 15-18 percent of Americans have a favorable view of Congress,” Brown said. “That should be disquieting because Congress is the mechanism of a representative form of government. If we feel the representatives are so bad, what does that say about representative government.”

He blames government’s dysfunction on the fragmentation and polarization of both political parties, although in California it’s less because one party controls both houses and “you have me as governor,” he added.

kasper_brown_fong3“It’s about balancing interests,” Brown said. “I think the big principles are clear. You want everyone to have a decent chance. You want to make sure your schools are funded. You want to make sure your college costs don’t grow too excessive, and you want to make sure you have an environment. Concerns should be put in their proper context.”

Asked if he believes the State Legislature shares his views regarding focusing on major issues and diverting from the smaller ones, the governor said “no.”

Brown said hundreds of special interest groups lobby legislators on a regular basis.

“That’s why we get 1,200 bills a year,” he said. “Outside of a crisis, it’s hard to get real focus.”

In business, the Governor said, you have competition to keep you focused. Government doesn’t have that same pressure.

Brown briefly discussed SB 270, which would ban single-use plastic carryout bags statewide, saying the 10-cent charge on paper bags does work.

2014 Grocers Day at the Capitol

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More than 70 grocery retailers and suppliers from throughout California descended on the state Capitol to lobby key industry bills during the 2014 CGA Grocers Day at the Capitol on Wednesday, March 26.

Thank You Sponsors

Gold Level
Safeway Inc.
Unified Grocers, Inc.

Silver Level
Anheuser-Busch InBev
C&S Wholesale Grocers
Fresh & Easy
Gelson’s Markets

Bronze Level
Bristol Farms
El Super (Bodega Latina Corp.)
Food 4 Less Stockton/Rancho San Miguel Markets
North State Grocery, Inc.
Nutricion Fundamental
Ralphs Grocery Co./Food 4 Less
Save Mart Supermarkets

Breakfast
Kellogg Company
Command Packaging

Luncheon
Coca-Cola Refreshments

Ice Cream Social
Nestle Dreyer’s Ice Cream

President’s Reception
MillerCoors
Roplast Industries Inc.

The annual one-day event featured more than 60 prescheduled meetings in the State Capitol between grocery representatives and legislators and staff.

“This was one of our most successful Grocers Day events,” said CGA President Ronald Fong. Rain and wind couldn’t keep attendees from visiting with their elected officials in what has become CGA’s marquee advocacy events.

Prior to their Capitol visits, attendees heard from State Sen. Alex Padilla, author of SB 270, the statewide single-use carryout bag ban legislation. Padilla commended those in attendance for engaging in advocating for the grocery industry.

Attendees also heard from political analyst Scott Lay, founder of AroundtheCapitol.com.

Attendees broke up into teams and given specific issues, along with support material, to share during their Capitol visits. Discussion topics included single-use plastic bags, nutritional labeling and WIC.

Following their afternoon visits, Grocer Day attendees returned to CGA headquarters for the Association’s annual President’s Reception, which allowed an additional opportunity to visit with elected officials.

Amens, Arceneaux Inducted Into CGAEF Hall of Achievement

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The Amen Family (Jim, Jeanne, Joanne, and Renee), Super A Foods; and Kevin Arceneaux, Region Vice President, Mondelez International, were inducted into the California Grocers Association Educational Foundation Hall of Achievement on Thursday, March 13, 2014, at the Hilton Costa Mesa.

The Hall of Achievement was created in 1993 to recognize grocery retailers and suppliers who have contributed substantially to the advancement of California’s grocery industry.

“We are very excited to welcome the Amen Family and Kevin Arceneaux into our prestigious Hall of Achievement,” said CGAEF Executive Director Shiloh London. “All have served the grocery industry their entire professional careers, and like their Hall of Achievement peers have given back generously to the communities and industry they’ve served.”

The Amen Family – Super A Foods

Super A Foods, headquartered in Commerce, Calif., was founded by Lou Amen in 1971. Four of Lou’s seven children and a son-in-law are involved in the business. Lou was inducted into the CGAEF Hall of Achievement in 1999.

Lou’s son, Jim, is the president and three daughters – Jeannie, Renee, and Joanne – work for Super A Foods. Super A Foods, Inc. is a privately-held chain of grocery stores with its fare specially catering to Latino and Asian consumers in the Los Angeles area.

Kevin Arceneaux, Mondelez International

Kevin Arceneaux is the Region Vice President for the newly created California Region for Mondelēz International, the parent Company for Nabisco and Cadbury. He now has responsibility for the entire state of California and Hawaii.

Kevin is a product of South Central Los Angeles and has made it a part of his life to give back to the community. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Challengers Boys & Girls Club in South L.A for 10 years. This club serves over 3500 families in the South L.A. area.

Kevin has been married to his wife Annette for 30 years. They have two children, Erica and Adam and one grandchild Isaiah. He resides in Foothill Ranch in Orange County.

Sac Bee Editorial: If Management and Labor Can Agree, Plastic Bag Ban Must Be Good

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Management and labor groups do not fall on the same side of issues very often. Whether it’s at City Hall or the state Capitol, some of the most contentious debates in California have pitted employers against labor organizations.

So when employee unions and employers can come together on a meaningful and paramount policy issue such as single-use bag regulation, lawmakers and Californians alike should take notice.

Sens. Alex Padilla, Kevin de León and Ricardo Lara have crafted Senate Bill 270, a thoughtful solution that is good for California-based business, workers and the environment.

SB 270 would encourage shoppers across California to use reusable bags by following the lead of Los Angeles and banning single-use, plastic carryout bags at checkout stands and requiring a 10-cent charge for recycled paper bags and compostible bags.

SB 270 addresses concerns raised about earlier proposals by protecting and creating home-grown jobs. The bill identifies $2 million for loans and grants to help California-based companies create jobs and spur economic growth by producing new, innovative products.

This bill is designed to achieve a host of important goals, including leading the nation in a shift to a culture of reusable bags, while fostering innovation, entrepreneurship and quality local jobs. SB 270 also achieves the pivotal goal of helping local jurisdictions and California businesses cut through the confusing patchwork of rules on the books and to put in place a cohesive, statewide system for regulation and compliance.

On Jan. 1, Los Angeles joined more than 100 California cities and counties in phasing out the use of those flimsy, one-time-use bags that clog our sewers and recycling plants, litter our neighborhoods and pollute our prized coastlines.

It’s time to stop rehashing stale and unrealized claims about bag bans and find forward-thinking solutions for our economy and environment. We have the chance right now to improve our quality of life, our environment and our health in California while being progressive in transitioning to a cleaner economy. We can create a market for innovation and adopt consistent rules to protect cities, counties, workers, businesses and, ultimately, consumers.

Decisive, statewide action is far overdue. There is no reason that lawmakers cannot pass a statewide single-use plastic bag ban in California this year.

Each time we have gone through this debate, opponents representing plastic bag manufacturers – many of which operate largely outside our state borders rather than supplying jobs for Californians – complain that jobs will be lost. The facts say otherwise. But rather than challenge those who make plastic bags to come up with more dubious claims of lost jobs, we must challenge them to concentrate their efforts on becoming part of building a new, clean economy that has seen growth even in the recent bleak years of recession. Many California companies already are training employees and building facilities to manufacture reusable grocery bags.

Yet it is out-of-state corporations that don’t have California’s best interests at heart who truly are behind opposing single-use bag bans. They know that the nation goes as California goes, and shudder at the potential impact on their profits as other states follow.

Nearly every municipality in California and nationwide that has adopted plastic bag bans also has enacted a charge on paper bags – encouraging consumers to use reusable bags. Labor, government, environmental and business leaders have carefully crafted this proven formula over the years. We know it works. Grocery retailers that have implemented similar ordinances, such as in San Jose and Los Angeles County, have also shown a dramatic reduction in paper bag consumption – as much as 90 percent.

Each year in California, more than 14 billion single-use plastic bags are handed out by retailers, but only 5 percent of those bags are recycled, according to CalRecycle. Californians pay an estimated $25 million annually to collect and bury plastic bag waste. These bags also cause litter, slow sorting and jam machinery at recycling centers and pose a grave risk to sea animals and other wildlife.

Simply put, single-use plastic bags are the problem. Moving our economy and society toward reusable bags is the solution. During a transition, a charge on paper bags can allow consumers an additional choice for convenience that is better than plastic.

It is time to put California jobs first. We must not let a few stubborn, out-of-state companies stymie California’s role as a pioneer in innovation and new market growth. Sens. Padilla, de León and Lara want to put California’s economy, workers and environment first, and we applaud their efforts to usher in a more sustainable economy for our state. Let’s not squander this opportunity.


Ronald K. Fong is president and CEO of the California Grocers Association. Jim Araby is executive director of the United Food and Commercial Workers, Western States Council.

Reprinted from the Sacramento Bee. (3/5/2014)

Consumer Advocacy Group, Inc. Issues Prop 65 Notices to Grocers Alleging Presence of Arsenic in Rice

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In September 2013, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) released information suggesting the presence of arsenic in rice. This week, Consumer Advocacy Group, Inc., a non-profit organization that files numerous Proposition 65 lawsuits every year, issued notices of violation alleging that companies—including grocers—violated California law by selling rice containing arsenic without a Prop 65 warning. Consumer Advocacy issued similar notices in late 2013 and may very well issue more in the near future.

Prop 65 requires businesses to place a warning on products containing chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity. California maintains a list of such chemicals, which numbers over 800 chemicals and includes arsenic. For more information on this list of chemicals, click here.

Unlike other consumer product safety regulations, private individuals and organizations, such as Consumer Advocacy, can enforce Prop 65. Indeed, Consumer Advocacy files multiple lawsuits a year with the intention of extracting settlements from companies in the targeted industry. Nonetheless, below are several defenses available in response to such a lawsuit as follows:

Safe Harbor Exception: Prop 65 provides for allowable levels of listed chemicals to exist in food products. According to the FDA, rice and rice products contained an average of 0.1 to 7.2 micrograms of inorganic arsenic. The Safe Harbor Level set by the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment is 10 micrograms per day. If the FDA’s data is accurate, there may be a Safe Harbor Exception defense.

Naturally Occurring Defense: A chemical is “naturally occurring” if it is “a natural constituent of food, or if it is present in food solely as the result of absorption or accumulation of the chemical which is naturally present in the environment in which the food is raise, or grown, or obtained.” Cal. Code of Regs. Tit. 27 § 25501(a)(1). Arsenic is naturally found in soil and water and is absorbed by plants regardless of the growing practice. As a result, this defense is a feasible and colorable response to a Consumer Advocacy-issued Prop 65 notice.
Grocers may have received Consumer Advocacy-issued Prop 65 notices of violation. In this instance, the targeted product is rice. However, given the list of 800 chemicals on California’s Prop 65 list and over-zealous efforts of organizations like Consumer Advocacy, grocers can expect further Prop 65 notices and should be prepared to respond.

This article was authored by Melissa Thorme and Justin Delacruz, attorneys in Downey Brand LLP’s Food and Agriculture Practice. Melissa is a partner who practice focuses in the areas of water quality, wastewater, agricultural runoff, permitting, enforcement defense and agricultural law, including Prop 65 defense. She may be reached by email at [email protected] Justin focuses his practice in the area of commercial litigation representing and advising food producers, processors and retailers. He may be reached by email at [email protected] Melissa and Justin may be reached by phone at (916) 444-1000.