I was at the health club last night and someone asked if I felt the earthquake/aftershock about an hour earlier.  No, I hadn't, and that made me wish I was  more "in tune" with nature rather than my apparently oblivious self. Let me feel an earthquake, just once.

Of course, the Midwest isn't supposed to be ground zero for quakes. It is supposed to be tornado alley, thank you very much. But Oklahoma is getting its fair share of shaking, and the particularly perceptive are feeling it here in Kansas City.

Don't miss the latest report on local food marketing by the USDA ERS. Packer coverage coming as well on this important study.

Lately I've been fascinated with the topic of demographics and created a google news alert for that topic. If demographics are destiny, what do emerging trends tell us? This story talks about China's challenging future, dominated by a shrinking workforce and a male population far outnumbering the females. Already, in 2010, there were 51 million more men than women in China. Time for China to abandon the one-child policy, in my view, though it may not help that country avoid tough realities in the next 30 years.

Can't feel too sorry for China, though. We have enough trouble here. From our own Census Bureau, a sobering reminder of hard times here in the U.S.; we can't get rid of our kids! The Census Bureau reports "More Young Adults are Living in Their Parents' Home."

From the report: 

Between 2005 and 2011, the proportion of young adults living in their parents' home increased, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The percentage of men age 25 to 34 living in the home of their parents rose from 14 percent in 2005 to 19 percent in 2011 and from 8 percent to 10 percent over the period for women.

Some quarterly reports from companies of interest in the last few days:

link to the Sysco quarterly report. 

Red Robin

Burlington Northern

Texas Roadhouse

McDonald's From the report: With about 75% of McDonald’s grocery bill comprised of 10 different commodities, a basket of goods approach is the most comprehensive way to look at the Company’s commodity costs. For the full year 2011, the total basket of goods cost is expected to increase 4.5-5% in the U.S. and Europe

Whole Foods Now with 316 stores, the company looks at plenty of headroom for growth:

Over the long term, the Company considers 1,000 stores to be a reasonable indication of its market opportunity in the United States as the Whole Foods Market brand continues to strengthen, consumer demand for natural and organic products continues to increase, and the Company's flexibility on new store size opens up additional market opportunities. The Company believes Canada and the United Kingdom hold great promise as well.

From The Cheesecake Factory quarterly report, a note about food inflation: 

Cost of sales consists of food, beverage, retail and bakery production supply costs incurred in conjunction with our restaurant and bakery revenues, and excludes depreciation, which is captured separately in depreciation and amortization expenses. As a percentage of revenues, cost of sales increased to 25.4% in the third quarter of fiscal 2011 compared to 24.4% in the comparable period of last year.  This increase was due to continuing cost pressures from certain commodities, primarily dairy, produce and some general grocery items.

Why is Diamond Foods going to buy Pringles?  Diversification, my man! In case these healthful nuts don't perform, we've got a back up in potato chips. Not so fast....a release from Diamond Foods on Nov. 1:

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, November 1, 2011 – Diamond Foods, Inc. (NASDAQ: DMND) today announced that its previously announced acquisition of the Pringles snack business from The Procter & Gamble Company (“P&G”) is now expected to close in the first half of calendar 2012. Diamond and P&G had previously expected the closing to occur in December of 2011.

Diamond and P&G have revised the expected closing date of the acquisition following the receipt by the Chairman of the Audit Committee of Diamond’s Board of Directors of an external communication regarding Diamond’s accounting for certain crop payments to walnut growers. In response to the communication, Diamond’s Audit Committee decided to perform an investigation of this matter. Management is fully committed to supporting the Audit Committee in this process.

Closing of the Pringles transaction remains subject to customary closing conditions and completion of an exchange offer by P&G. Antitrust approvals required for the transaction have already been obtained.