State Business Round-up: State officials fine Kraft Foods for violations
MADISON - For the third time in two years, Wisconsin officials have fined Kraft Foods for selling meat packages that weigh less than what their labels say.
Consumer protection officials said yesterday that Kraft's Oscar Mayer division will pay 14-thousand dollars, after state inspectors found nine soft packages of ham that were short of the 20 ounces they claimed to weigh. The items were found last summer at Walmarts in Beloit, Dodgeville, Plover, Watertown, Waukesha, and Wisconsin Rapids - and a Racine Piggly Wiggly store. Sandy Chalmers of the state's Consumer Protection agency said some of the packages weighed 12-percent less than advertised - and as a result, consumers paid 50-cents a package for what they didn't get. In 2011, Kraft Foods paid $17,000 for similar short-weight violations in Wisconsin - and a follow-up inspection turned up more short-weighted food items, which resulted in a $37,000. In response to the third penalty, Oscar Mayer said it would install new scales at its processing plant in Iowa. They'll cost around 10-million dollars.
The owner of Wisconsin's largest electric utility had a 13-percent drop in its net income during the final quarter of last year. Wisconsin Energy, the parent firm of We Energies, reported a net income of almost $99-million from October-through-December. That was down from $114-million at the same time a year ago. Earnings dropped from 49-cents a share to 43. Utility sales were down by almost four-percent, to just over a billion dollars. Still, Wisconsin Energy made a profit for the full year - due mainly to hot summer weather and lower operating and maintenance costs. Profits for 2012 jumped by six-and-a-half percent, to $546-million. The net gain for stockholders during the year was 18-cents a share. We Energies froze its electric rates for all of last year. They went up at the start of January.