business news in context, analysis with attitude

In our story yesterday about Safeway and Dominick’s, we raised the possibility that Safeway might end up keeping the division, and we asked what would be the right kind of person to run it. MNB user Dan Raftery, of Prime Consulting Group,

“Currently topical visionaries not withstanding, the right person to save Dominick's will be a strong team-builder who knows a lot of people that he/she can immediately trust and who really know the business. The right person will be an entrepreneur, a risk-taker and a questioner of all things traditional. The right person will empower his/her strong team to build and be the best.”

Might be fun to come up with some names to go with that description…anybody have any ideas?

Responding to yesterday's piece detailing the Food Marketing Institute's take on proposed Country-Of-origin labeling, MNB user Bob Thomas wrote:

"The FMI would have me eat something in the US that I would refuse to eat in the country of origin. The FMI states 'Ever since the North American Free Trade Agreement was ratified in 1993, cattle and produce have moved freely among Canada, Mexico and the U.S.' This is not the case. Tomato and citrus growers in Mexico have been restricted and US meat exports are continually restricted in Mexico. And the paperwork involved in exporting meat or produce to Mexico has denuded several forests. Though I agree that the location of birth of an animal may not be important to the consumer where it is raised and processed is important. If a Mexican herd were found with BSE I would want the proper information to protect myself. The record keeping might even reduce the cost of recalls thus reducing heavy costs portrayed by FMI. But assuming there are NO savings, the costs cited by FMI come to a little over $7.00 per capita. To a family of four it would be $29.00 per year. Compared to the cost benefit of putting those weird plugs on hairdryers these costs are peanuts (raised and processed in the US). Consumers need to know where their food is coming from."

MNB user Dennis Barthuly chimed in:

"Look at everything you buy, from clothing to the phone setting on your Polo/RL shirts were made in Indonesia and the AT&T phone was made in Thermos coffee mug was actually made in the good ole USA...if you just look, most every durable or soft goods product has the originating country listed. In this time of worldwide terrorism, why should something so critical as the food we eat be less attentive to its "roots", at any cost. As for useless consumer information, I'm sure Mr. Hammond, if honest, would like to know that the chicken in his kid's sandwich started it's trek in a middle eastern country, was slaughtered there and shipped somewhere in Europe where it was packaged for export to the US as 'Imported, Gourmet.'"

MNB user Ginny Kemerer added another perspective:

“After attending an AMI seminar in New Orleans about Country of Origin Labeling, you'd think I would understand the benefits of these guidelines. So much of the wording being used by AMS/USDA speaker about the guidelines was spun to sound like a benefit. An item is ALLOWED to be labeled with country of origin if it meets the guidelines. Retailers CAN do this or that instead of what it really is: Follow the soon-to-be-mandatory guidelines or pay $10,000 bucks a boo-boo. But for what purpose?

“I listened carefully for the benefit to the consumer. There wasn't one. Meat safety isn't even being stated as a possible benefit. The consumer is going to get more confusing labels with a higher price tag. The retailer is going to get dizzy. The producer is going to get it in the shorts.”

And another MNB user sounded what we think would be a common reaction to country-of-origin labeling:

“I still want to know if the product came from Yemen.”

We wrote yesterday about possible problems that Target may be having in communicating the value of its “cheap chic” strategy to its core consumer audience. One MNB user responded:

“Here is a way to differentiate themselves......How about having ad items in stock? Or offering rain checks? Special purchase is a way to dodge the responsibility of having an item in stock. Or how
about know what is on a truck being delivered to a store. Usually the answer is: "We have a truck coming in but we don't know what is on it. You will have to keep checking and coming back in" Don't they have computers at Target? Someone must know what is on the truck.”

On the subject of organic usage in the US, which was the subject of a story on the site yesterday, MNB user Bill Duncan wrote:

“You are right about grocers having a great opportunity to educate and promote organics. I'm thinking that many of the people who are in that 48% you mentioned are positive about organics because they feel it is logically safer to eat something that is organically grown. Is it? Who knows? Problem is, if grocers educate shoppers about the benefits of organics what happens to sales of their non-organic products when the truth becomes known about the harmful chemicals used in their production or cultivation. Never mind that these chemicals are not be in the products on the shelves. That doesn't matter, it is the implication that can scare customers away. Much like the unfounded fear about irradiation.

“How much of this is hype? How much is real. Frankly, I'm skeptical of someone saying that by eating organic food you will prolong your life, however, that being said, I think the reason we should eat organic food whenever possible is that it is the way our ancestors did it and we have a lot to learn from them.”

And finally, on the subject of increased prices for cookies and snacks being charged by Kellogg, which we noted yesterday was not increasing prices on cereal, we got the following email from a member of the MNB community:

“As a working mom, with teenagers and a tall, dark and handsome husband, I can tell you cereal takes up an entire shelf in our household. If you haven't noticed, the cereal coupons are far and few between and the cereal makers have slowly but surely eked their prices back up to a hefty amount once again. Don't think bagels can sustain a daily ritual to replace cereal and the cereal makers know it. And now even Nutri-grain bars (which are already over-priced, so an increase makes me wonder if they're laced with gold) aren't the answer. The breakfast and snack makers are gouging the public at every turn; raising prices, or making containers smaller and smaller for the same price-which eventually goes up's a joke...”

It won’t be a joke if a majority of consumers begin to perceive it that way…
KC's View: