Can Biofuels Make Your White Castle Slider More Expensive?

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
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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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