Can Biofuels Make Your White Castle Slider More Expensive?

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White Castle is among the chains that wants Congress to repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard, which it blames for rising food prices.
National Journal
Alex Brown
Nov. 4, 2013, 8:21 a.m.

If you find your­self pay­ing more for a Slider, Thick­bur­ger, or Ba­con­at­or, you might want to blame the re­new­able-fuel stand­ard, says a video put out by Feed Food Fair­ness in op­pos­i­tion to the corn-eth­an­ol man­date.

Re­finers will likely blend around 13 mil­lion gal­lons of corn eth­an­ol next year — a level set by the En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion Agency — which some say is driv­ing up prices across the food in­dustry for oth­er corn-de­pend­ent products. Feed Food Fair­ness is a cam­paign launched this sum­mer by the Na­tion­al Coun­cil of Chain Res­taur­ants to push for re­peal of the stand­ard.

White Castle Pres­id­ent Lisa In­gram says in the video that her com­pany has seen a 47 per­cent spike in beef prices since the start of the re­new­able-fuel stand­ard, with the im­plic­a­tion that much of that jump is due to in­creased feed prices for cattle farm­ers. The in­crease car­ries a $15,000-per-res­taur­ant cost, she said. “When we have fluc­tu­ations in our food costs, that im­pacts our abil­ity to be able to provide value to our cus­tom­ers,” In­gram said.

Hardee’s and Wendy’s fran­chisees also speak out against the stand­ard, say­ing it cuts their profits and, by ex­ten­sion, job cre­ation. 

Last week, 165 House mem­bers signed a let­ter call­ing for re­duc­tions in next year’s corn-eth­an­ol man­date. Sens. Di­anne Fein­stein, D-Cal­if., and Tom Coburn, R-Okla., are ex­pec­ted to un­veil le­gis­la­tion this week that would elim­in­ate the corn-eth­an­ol man­date al­to­geth­er. In­dustry groups such as the Amer­ic­an Pet­ro­leum In­sti­tute have also called for a re­duc­tion in eth­an­ol blends, but bio­fuels makers are push­ing back with ar­gu­ments that cut­backs would hamper a grow­ing in­dustry.

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