NEWS WATCH: PRICE CHOPPER SETTLES 'FARM FRESH' SUIT WITH VT...JUDGE APPROVES WINN-DIXIE LEASE REJECTIONS...FORMER HANNAFORD VP PLEADS GUILTY TO FRAUD

Price Chopper Settles 'Farm Fresh' Suit With Vt.f the Price Chopper supermarket chain, reluctantly agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by the state of Vermont over the retailer's description of "farm fresh" produce. The state brought a suit against Price Chopper, saying the company misled consumers by describing its produce in ads as "farm fresh," which the state contended violated consumer protection

Price Chopper Settles 'Farm Fresh' Suit With Vt.

f the Price Chopper supermarket chain, reluctantly agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by the state of Vermont over the retailer's description of "farm fresh" produce. The state brought a suit against Price Chopper, saying the company misled consumers by describing its produce in ads as "farm fresh," which the state contended violated consumer protection laws dictating that only goods delivered directly from Vermont farms can use that description. Neil Golub, president and chief executive officer of Price Chopper, in a statement said the regulation "makes no sense," but said the company would pay a $10,000 fine rather than incur expenses for a trial. Price Chopper operates 13 stores in Vermont.

Judge Approves Winn-Dixie Lease Rejections

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge late last week approved Winn-Dixie's request to reject four leases of stores it was unable to sell. Leases for the stores, located in Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Pensacola and Largo, Fla., may be rejected as of Sept. 30, according to the order of Judge Jerry Funk. The stores were among seven slated for closure or sale in early August. The status of the other three locations, in West Palm Beach, Pembroke Pines and Deltona, Fla., will be addressed Sept. 14.

Former Hannaford VP Pleads Guilty to Fraud

PORTLAND, Maine - A former lobbyist for Hannaford Bros., Scarborough, Maine, pleaded guilty here to billing the retailer more than $650,000 for services he didn't perform. Martin T. Greeley faces up to 20 years in prison for mail fraud and tax evasion charges, reports said. Hannaford fired Greeley last year after officials discovered charitable organizations set up by Greeley were funneling money to him. Greeley was a 26-year employee of Hannaford and most recently served as vice president of government relations for the retailer, reports said.

Consumer Reports Study Rates Wegmans No. 1

NEW YORK - Consumer Reports here rated Wegmans Food Markets, Rochester, N.Y., as the top supermarket chain in the country in the magazine's October issue, followed closely by Trader Joe's, Monrovia, Calif. The magazine surveyed 24,000 readers about their overall satisfaction with their food-shopping experiences and then rated the chains based on service, perishables, price and cleanliness. The rest of the Top 10, in order, were Publix Super Markets, Raley's, Whole Foods Market, Harris Teeter, Costco, Lowe's Foods, Hy-Vee and Stater Bros.

Southern Family Markets to Sell Headquarters

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - In connection with recently announced plans to close 38 stores, Southern Family Markets intends to sell its corporate headquarters building here and eliminate 66 jobs, according to a report in The Birmingham News. Southern Family was created in 2005 when C&S Wholesale Grocers, Keene, N.H., purchased 104 stores and a warehouse from Bi-Lo/Bruno's and occupied the former Bruno's offices here. The company intends to lease back a part of the building, the report said.

Coles Myer Rejects Takeover Bid From KKR

SYDNEY, Australia - Australia's largest food retailer last week rejected a $13 billion takeover bid led by New York-based private equity giant Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, dismissing the offer as "undervaluing the company and its prospects," according to a tersely worded statement from Coles Myer here. "The board has no intention of handing across billions of dollars of value that belongs to our shareholders to a third party." Coles Myer, which operates 3,000 stores and controls 34% of the Australian market, said KKR would not proceed with its offer without the cooperation of the retailer's board of directors.