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EPA moves to ban d-CON pesticides

BY Ken Clark

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is moving to ban the sale of 12 d-CON mouse and rat poison products produced by Reckitt Benckiser because these products fail to comply with current EPA safety standards.

The EPA said it has worked cooperatively with companies to ensure products are safe to use around children and effective for consumers. Reckitt Benckiser, maker of d-CON brand products, is the only rodenticide producer that has refused to adopt EPA’s safety standards for all of its consumer use products, the EPA said. 

"Moving forward to ban these products will prevent completely avoidable risks to children," said James Jones, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. "With this action, EPA is ensuring that the products on the market are both safe and effective for consumers."

Approximately 10,000 children a year are accidentally exposed to mouse and rat baits, according to the EPA. 

Reckitt-Benckiser officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 

The EPA requires rodenticide products for consumer use to be contained in protective tamper-resistant bait stations and prohibits pellets and other bait forms that cannot be secured in bait stations. In addition, the EPA prohibits the sale to residential consumers of products containing brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difethialoneand difenacoum because of their toxicity to wildlife.

Among the 12 D-Con products on the list to ban are: d-CON Concentrate Kills Rats & Mice, d-CON Bait Packs III, d-CON Ready Mixed Generation II, and d-CON Bait Pellets III. The complete list can be found here

The products remain on shelves as the manufacturer has 30 days to request a hearing.

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Tractor Supply grows sales in core merchandise

BY Ken Clark

Brentwood, Tenn.-based Tractor Supply Co. posted sales and earnings gains in the fourth quarter and full year ended Dec. 29, riding the strength of its core categories, according to the company.

Fourth-quarter sales at the farm and ranch giant increased 3.7% to $1.29 billion, as comp-store sales increased 4.7%. Adjusted for an extra week in the prior year’s fourth quarter, the company showed a 10.8% sales increase. 

Net income for the quarter ended Dec. 29 was $79.5 million, compared with net income of $70.5 million in the fourth quarter of the prior year.   

The same-store sales increase was driven primarily by continued strong results in key consumable, usable and edible (C.U.E.) products, principally animal- and pet-related merchandise. 

"Our core C.U.E. categories again posted solid increases above last year in both sales and units, and our ability to plan, prepare, execute and react quickly to the trends we are seeing in our business allowed us to deliver our 19th consecutive quarter of year-over-year transaction count increases," said Greg Sandfort, president and CEO. "Our team executed exceptionally well, delivering a strong same-store sales gain of 4.7% on top of last year’s strong 7.6% comp increase, managing through less than ideal weather conditions for sales of cold weather products and despite less benefit from inflation than last year." 

The 1,176-store retailer opened 25 new stores in the fourth quarter of 2012 compared with 31 new store openings in the prior year’s fourth quarter. 

For the full year, net sales increased to $4.66 billion, or 10.2% over the prior year’s 53-week period. Same-store sales increased 5.3%. Net income increased to $276.5 million, up 19.5%.  

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Taxes shake consumer confidence index

BY Ken Clark

The impact of increased payroll taxes is the likely culprit in the decline of consumer optimism, according to the director of The Conference Board, the New York City-based business group.

“Consumer Confidence posted another sharp decline in January, erasing all of the gains made through 2012,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. “Consumers are more pessimistic about the economic outlook and, in particular, their financial situation. The increase in the payroll tax has undoubtedly dampened consumers’ spirits, and it may take awhile for confidence to rebound and consumers to recover from their initial paycheck shock.”

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which had declined in December, fell further in January. The Index now stands at 58.6 (1985=100), down from 66.7 in December, and down from 61.5 a year ago.

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