iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- How real is the reported threat to Nutella hazelnut spread?
According to the Financial Times, there was poor weather in Turkey, where approximately 70 percent of the world's hazelnuts originate. But Somerset, New Jersey-based Ferrero USA, the company that makes and distributes the sweet stuff for its Italian parent company, says fans have no need to worry.
"Inclement weather last spring in Turkey has impacted this year’s hazelnut harvest," a spokesperson for Ferrero USA said in a statement to ABC News. "We are tracking this issue closely and there’s no foreseeable impact on the availability of Nutella. As always, we will maintain the high quality of the Nutella product that consumers know and love."
The price of hazelnuts has spiked more than 60 percent this year, according to the Washington Post. Ferrero buys as much as a quarter of the world's hazelnuts, according to the Post.
Jenny McCoy, chef instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education, said she doubts any shortage may actually happen.
"Ferraro has been in the hazelnut product business for quite some time and I feel certain they've secured crops for their annual production needs. Being the consumer of 25 percent of the world's hazelnuts, they've been aware of this issue for many months sooner than the rest of us," she said.
Either way, any hazelnut shortage may be good news for small farmers, such as those in Oregon. McCoy said they grow "far more delicious hazelnuts" than those of Turkey, and are enjoying the increase in hazelnut market prices.
"In the meantime, regular consumers, chefs and small food producers looking to purchase hazelnuts may see some difficulty if harvests are as low as predicted -- mostly because the costs will be too high for most budgets. I'll be curious to see if restaurant menus change and chef's consider other nuts instead. Perhaps it is time for a revitalization of the walnut," she said.
Every day, businesses like Ferrero, which are dependent on food commodities, like hazelnuts, are closely watching the prices of their ingredients.
Earlier this year, the price of limes more than doubled due to shortages from the produce's main exporter, Mexico. Rain and a bacterium affected harvests there, analysts noted.
As concerns continued into the spring, restaurants turned to other citrus fruits to take its place, but not necessarily because they couldn't buy the fruit. Many businesses chose to pay higher prices to continue serving dishes with the fruit, or limited them on an as-needed basis.
Last year, it wasn't weather, but strong demand that led to "fears" of a chicken shortage before a heavy chicken-wing weekend: the Super Bowl. The National Chicken Council says about one billion chicken wings can be consumed during the Super Bowl. Fortunately, the wing scare ended up as hype.
Rising almond prices also scared health nuts last year, due to a shortage of honey bees that influenced lower almond production levels in California.
When there was mild hysteria over the price of avocados in January, a spokesman for the restaurant chain Chipotle told ABC News that prices had increased, but the company didn't stop serving guacamole then, nor in 2011, when there was a similar price hike.
"The sky is not falling," Chris Arnold, a spokesman for Chipotle, told ABC News at the time.
iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Fashion Institute of Technology graduate who is suing her alma mater and Barnes & Noble for selling a backpack she designed without, she argues, giving her any profits says it is “confusing” to see her backpack on the streets.
“It is a very confusing feeling knowing that my backpack is my design and I see people on the street wearing it all the time and I have not received any monetary value for it at all,” Diana Rubio told ABC News.
Rubio, 33, from Carlstadt, New Jersey, was a Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) student in 2010 when she designed “The Everything Backpack” for a class project.
In a copyright-infringement lawsuit filed Monday in Manhattan Federal Court, Rubio claims the New York City school entered her design in Barnes & Noble’s “Back to Campus” contest and she won.
The bookstore then began selling her bag for $39.95 and identifying Rubio as the backpack’s designer both on its website and on a tag inside the bag.
Rubio’s lawsuit claims that she “has received no payment…nor has she authorized the manufacture, marketing and sale of such backpacks.”
“I did receive the formal paperwork that goes with if someone is going to produce your bag -- the sign-your-rights-away waiver -- but I did not sign it,” Rubio told ABC News. “I feel a little bit betrayed,” she said.
Barnes & Noble responded to the lawsuit by saying the issue is between Rubio and her alma mater.
“We pay royalty fees to FIT for student designs…this matter is between FIT and Ms. Rubio,” the bookstore chain said in a statement to ABC News.
FIT officials told ABC News they are aware of the lawsuit and looking into it.
“Although we have not been formally served with the lawsuit, we are aware of it and we have begun our fact finding to learn the circumstances and, if appropriate, do right by Ms. Rubio,” the school said in a statement.
Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The owners of Vevo have ended the sales process of the popular video-streaming site because of expected continued growth, the New York Post reports.
Universal Music, Sony Music Entertainment, Google and the Abu Dhabi Media Group have ended all sales talks with big-name companies such as Liberty Media and Guggenheim Digital Media, among many others.
Vevo, launched in 2009 by Universal Music, is expected to reach 227 million viewers worldwide as of Dec. 31, which the Post reports is just one reason the current owners have decided to keep the site.
ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The Chulews -- Mike, Rebecca and 2-year-old Veronica -- recently went on a summer vacation for practically free. Their gas, flight, hotel and even their meals were about 80 percent off. That’s because the Chulews of Texas are mystery shoppers.
“If I wasn’t a mystery shopper,” Rebecca Chulew said, “I don’t even know how I would pay full price for these things.”
The Chulews said being a mystery shopper was like going on a secret spy mission.
Mystery shopping companies hire people to grade everything, from free newspapers for guests and towels laid out for the beach to whether the hair dryer in the bathroom works.
Shoppers then document their findings and opinions on a score sheet.
“We’re always looking for mystery shoppers,” said David Lipton, president of the mystery shopping company Sensors Quality Management. “The most successful mystery shoppers are those who are reliable, responsible. They have a keen eye for detail. They can follow the instructions that we provide.”
When the Chulews recently stayed at a hotel in Corpus Christi, Texas, they noted that the pillows in the lobby were messy and that there was sand on the carpeted steps.
At the end of their stay, though, the Chulews gave the hotel a thumbs-up.
The hotel declined to comment to ABC News.
The Chulews said they’d performed about 150 mystery shops this year, saving them about $5,000 in expenses they would have bought anyway.
“My haircut was a mystery shop,” Mike Chulew said. “My clothes. My shoes. My socks.”
“Once you know you can get a half-priced pair of shoes for doing 20 minutes of paperwork, why not?” Rebecca Chulew said.
“[Mystery shoppers] will save a significant amount off of their airfare, their stay at a hotel, a night out at a restaurant,” Lipton said.
But there are scams out there, he added. Be wary of companies that ask you to pay them money upfront.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Who says millennials are turning their backs on car ownership?
Although they may not be as infatuated with the compact cars from their early years, this generation seems to be increasingly enamored with crossover SUVs, according to Maritz Research, which interviewed 122,000 people for its survey.
For instance, 13.2 percent of millennials in 2008 said they were in the market for a compact car like the Toyota Corolla or Hyundai Elantra. However, that figure fell to just under 10 percent in 2013.
Meanwhile, interest in crossover SUVs such as the Ford Escape and Honda CR-V are catching the eye of millennials, with those considering buying larger vehicles jumping from 6.4 percent to 7.5 percent during the same five-year span.
The reason isn’t hard to figure out. Compared to 2008, many millennials are more settled in jobs and are earning more money.
Automakers should be taking notice as well since this age group now makes up 26 percent of new vehicle sales, surpassing the generation of car buyers preceding it.
iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Samsung Electronics America has agreed to pay $2.3 million to "resolve allegations" against the company.
According to the Department of Justice, Samsung had been accused of causing the submission of false claims for products sold on General Service Administration Multiple Award Schedule contracts. The electronics distributor allegedly provided resellers with false information about where products had been manufactured. That misinformation, the DOJ says, caused those resellers to provide inaccurate information to federal agencies, claiming that products made in countries not covered under the Trade Agreements Act (TAA) of 1979 were made elsewhere.
The Acting Inspector for the General Services Administration, Gen. Robert C. Erickson, said in a statement that it is, "unacceptable to sell unauthorized foreign electronics to the United States." According to the DOJ, resellers believed they were offering electronics made in TAA-designated countries, such as South Korea or Mexico, when many of the products were manufactured in China.
The Trade Agreements Act of 1979 generally requires the U.S. to purchase products made either in the U.S. or in designated countries with which the U.S. has a trade agreement.
iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) announced new consequences on Tuesday related to Standard Chartered Bank's failure to resolve anti-money laundering compliance problems in connection with a 2012 settlement.
According to an independent compliance monitor, SCB, "failed to detect a large number of potentially high-risk transactions for further review." Many of those transactions originated from the bank's Hong Kong subsidiary or branches within the United Arab Emirates.
SCB had, the NYDFS says, created a rulebook to help its branches and subsidiaries to detect high-risk transactions, which was later determined to have errors and other problems. As such, SCB failed to identify high-risk transactions that required further review.
Under the new NYDFS order, SCB will suspend dollar clearing operations for high-risk retail business clients at SCB Hong Kong and will exit high-risk transactions for small and medium business clients at SCB UAE. The company will also pay a $300 million penalty, cease opening new U.S. Dollar demand deposit accounts, provide a new comprehensive remediation plan, and implement other activities to prevent similar issues from continuing in the future.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As if the world didn’t have enough problems, now it has to deal with a hazelnut shortage.
For fans of Nutella, the popular hazelnut chocolate spread, the news could be dire.
Since Nutella maker Ferro Group uses about 25 percent of the world’s supply of hazelnuts, a deficit of these nuts, largely due to a killer frost in Turkey earlier this year, could send the price of Nutella skyrocketing.
It comes at an inopportune time for the company, which has seen sales of the spread jump in the U.S. as well as globally. Last year, 2.46 billion dollars' worth of Nutella was sold.
The hazelnut shortage has driven up prices by as much as 60 percent, and naturally, when that happens, manufacturers often pass along the increases to consumers.
McDonald's(NEW YORK) -- McDonald's and Kraft Foods Group plan to bring McCafe coffee to retail outlets next year, offering consumers a chance to enjoy Mickey D's coffee at home.
According to a press release, customers will find ground, whole bean and on-demand single cup versions of the McCafe coffees in retail stores in "early 2015." Greg Watson, senior vice president of Menu Innovation for McDonald's U.S. said that the decision was made due to, "huge demand for at home options."
Eight varieties of the McCafe coffee will be made available in roast and ground form, including the premium roast, breakfast blend and French roast, Colombian, and premium roast decaf. Single-cup varieties will include the premium roast, premium roast decaf, and French roast.
iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Stocks climbed again on Tuesday, following up Monday's gains with slightly smaller leaps on Tuesday, propelled by strong residential construction figures released by the U.S. Department of Commerce.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed at 16919.59, up 80.85 from Monday's close.
The Nasdaq climbed 19.2, up to 4527.51, while the S&P 500 ended the day at 1981.60, up 9.86.
The Commerce Department's report from July indicated that residential construction was up 15.7 percent from June. Housing permits were awarded at a rate of 7.7 percent higher than July 2013 and 8.1 percent higher than the adjusted rate for June.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Fantasy football-playing employees may cost businesses more than $13 billion in workplace productivity this year, but a competitive fantasy player who has earned hundreds of thousands of dollars from his hobby says people aren't as distracted as they used to be.
Jupinka Jupinka, 49, made it to the championship rounds of the four competitive fantasy football competitions in 2012, loosely winning more than $40,000 through tournaments like the Fantasy Football World Championships.
But the Wall Street trader's strength is in fantasy baseball. He ranks third in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship's (NFBC) career earnings list with $203,900. Jupinka was inducted into the NFBC Hall of Fame in 2011.
As for football, a report released this month estimates that the more than 18.3 million people playing fantasy football during the workday spend at least two hours per week managing teams or reading about fantasy sports while on the job, according to outplacement company Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Over the typical 15-week fantasy football schedule, that can amount to $13.4 billion in lost productivity, using nonfarm average hourly earnings of $24.45.
Jupinka said he isn't surprised by the report's estimate.
"Everybody is working on the computer and you got your browser up and the temptation to read the latest news is just a click away," he said.
But with the proliferation of fantasy sports apps, distractions at the office actually may have decreased, thanks to improved computing mobility.
"You have all this at your fingertips while you’re commuting, whereas only five or six years only you had to have a computer," he said.
Jupinka, for example, can focus on fantasy sports during his one-hour commute each way between New Jersey and Manhattan.
"What’s incredible is that the daily contest for baseball is very advanced technologically: to add your lineup, modify your lineup, check lineups on the fly. They made it very easy for the person on the go," he said, adding that the ease of fantasy football has also improved.
"What’s great is when you were at the tailgate party at the stadium in the old days, you had your laptop. Now, you have it all on your phone to make guys active and inactive. Thank goodness for all this technology," he said.
During the NFL season, fantasy fans primarily focus on the Sunday contests, then Thursday games, whereas baseball teams compete nearly every day.
"It's almost impossible if you have a full-time job," Jupinka said, referring to the grind of daily-contest fantasy baseball.
Fantasy football rules, on the other hand, have become more accommodating and easier for the average person who works during the day, he said. Certain fantasy football deadlines before Thursday games are at 10 p.m. on Wednesday, "so you have plenty of time," Jupinka said.
"The key are the active-inactive lists that come out about 45 minutes or hour prior to the start of the game. That’s your deterrent and determinant for whether to start a game," he said. "By then you’re already at home."
Jupinka said fantasy players should be shrewd about being sucked into fantasy sports at the office.
"The people who play these high stakes contests have to have the disposable income, and if you need that you have to work for it. You have to be smart. You can’t be on the computer looking at this stuff all day long," he said.
One investment manager in Los Angeles says he checks fantasy football at least twice a day at work.
"It's important to check the free-agent pool and what transactions your opponents are making to adjust one's strategy," said Mac, who declined to use his full name.
Mac said fantasy football doesn't typically affect his productivity, as he checks during his office downtime, but it can be a major distraction for other co-workers who actively research teams and try to find "sleepers," or value players.
"We don't hide it from our superiors as we talk about it in the open from time to time, but we are definitely discouraged from concentrating on things for long periods of time that are not business related," he said, adding that it's a form of team building.
Tom Gimbel, president and CEO of LaSalle Network, a Chicago-based staffing and recruiting firm, said fantasy football can teach offices about management (by building teams based on strengths), and it opens up dialogue between two employees who may not have connected otherwise.
"Managers, of course, need to be aware if staff is slacking as a result,” Gimbel said. “If it’s causing employees to miss deadlines, then enforce some boundaries, but switching water-cooler talk from office gossip to fantasy football doesn’t seem like a bad thing.”
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(REDMOND, Wash.) -- The Microsoft Board of Directors just got a lot quieter.
Former CEO Steve Ballmer, known for his excitable screaming, stepped down from the company's board on Tuesday to focus on other endeavors -- like being a billionaire basketball team owner.
"I think it would be impractical for me to continue to serve on the board, and it is best for me to move off. The fall will be hectic between teaching a new class and the start of the NBA season so my departure from the board is effective immediately," Ballmer wrote in a letter to Satya Nadella, who succeeded him as CEO of the tech giant earlier this year.
It wasn't until his final day as CEO that Ballmer said he began to think about life after Microsoft.
In May, Ballmer snagged the Los Angeles Clippers in a deal that was finalized for $2 billion.
Ballmer made his debut on Monday as the team's owner at the Staples Center, where he high-fived fans, clapped and -- yes -- shouted until he was nearly hoarse.
Even though Ballmer will no longer have a voice on Microsoft's board, he noted in his letter that he is still the largest individual shareholder in the company.
"I expect to continue holding that position for the foreseeable future," he told Nadella.
His successor thanked him for his service and wished him well in his next chapter.
"I am sure that you will bring the same boldness, passion and impact to your new endeavors that you brought to Microsoft," Nadella said.
iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When Grandpa's last will and testament is read, it may include his digital assets -- if he lived in Delaware.
A new law allows Delaware residents to bequeath their digital accounts to their heirs, just as they would their financial and physical assets.
That means everything from digital photos, emails and social networking accounts.
Delaware is the first state to pass the law, which has also been championed by the Uniform Law Commission, a nonprofit organization that provides states with non-partisan legislation. Group officials said they hope other states will also adopt the legislation to make dealing with digital remains a much more seamless process.
"In the modern world, digital assets have largely replaced tangible ones. Documents are stored in electronic files rather than in file cabinets. Photographs are uploaded to websites rather than printed on paper. However, the laws governing fiduciary access to these digital assets are in need of an update," the group said in a statement.
Though many tech companies, including Facebook and Twitter, are incorporated in Delaware, the law will apply only to the accounts of residents who live in the state, according to ARS Technica.
Twitter currently allows family members to request that a loved one's account be deactivated, however the company does not hand over the password to the account.
Facebook allows users to request that a decedent's account be turned into a memorial or removed, however for privacy reasons, the social network said it cannot provide anyone with login information.