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Hostess to be sold at Big Lots

Big Lots is now the official location for Hostess Brands thrift store snacks.

The Columbus, Ohio-based discount retailer announced the alliance on Monday. Hostess went out of business in late 2012, but its assets were purchased by a pair of investment firms four months later.

Hostess had a thrift store at 1912 Bluffton Road in Fort Wayne. The locations traditionally sell merchandise cheaper. There are Big Lots stores at 6128 Stellhorn Road and 3958 W. Jefferson Blvd.

Big Lots is promoting its new product offering with a pair of wacky videos at youtube.com/biglots.

Kraft Singles to lose artificial preservatives

Kraft is removing artificial preservatives from its most popular individually wrapped cheese slices, in the latest sign that companies are tweaking recipes as food labels come under greater scrutiny.

The change affects the company’s Kraft Singles in the full-fat American and White American varieties, which Kraft says account for the majority of the brand’s sales. Sorbic acid is being replaced by natamycin, which Kraft says is a “natural mold inhibitor.”

Kraft’s decision comes as a growing number of Americans pay closer attention to what they eat and try to stick to foods they feel are natural. That has prompted a number of food makers to change their recipes.

Google passes Exxon to be No. 2 company

Google has passed Exxon to become the second most valuable U.S. company by market capitalization.

According to FactSet data, the Internet company’s market capitalization surpassed that of oil company Exxon Mobil Corp. last week. As of Friday’s market close, it sat at $395.42 billion compared with the oil company’s $392.66 billion.

Shares of Google Inc. have been on a steady climb since the beginning of 2013, gaining 66 percent.

Market capitalization is the number of outstanding shares multiplied by their value.

Meanwhile, Exxon’s have risen just 5 percent. Since the beginning of this year, they’ve lost about 10 percent of their value.

Both companies trail Apple Inc.’s market capitalization of $463.55 billion.

McDonald’s US sales fall for third month

McDonald’s, the world’s largest restaurant chain, said sales at its established U.S. stores fell for the third straight month as severe weather and waning consumer confidence kept diners at home.

Sales at stores open at least 13 months slid 3.3 percent last month in the U.S., Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald’s said in a statement Monday. Analysts estimated a 1.6 percent drop. The January decline follows drops of 3.8 percent in December and 0.8 percent in November.

The Big Mac seller has recently struggled to attract Americans amid fierce restaurant competition and declining consumer sentiment. Last month, McDonald’s posted fourth-quarter profit that was little changed from a year earlier.

“Consumers are trying to pay down Christmas credit card bills and there’s just more cautiousness for the U.S. consumer,” said Jack Russo, an analyst in St. Louis at Edward Jones. “That primary customer of theirs, which is the mid to low-end consumer, has been extra cautious.”

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