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We continue to get reaction to our essay last week about the need for the food industry to develop new formats that cater to a new generation of consumers, as opposed to depending on traditional formats to lure this new demographic target.

One MNB user wrote:

“The problem with the major grocery chains is they can only do one thing at a time. They have gone to central buying in all depts. Central advertising. Central merchandising. Headquarters controls everything & the local store manager can't merchandise to his local customers needs. Can't buy local grown produce.

“How could they be expected to have enough imagination to focus on 20 to 40 year olds without completely doing away with their present format?”

Jeez. And you folks think we’re cynical?

Actually, we sort of agree. Except that you see innovation from a major chain -- like HEB’s Central Market -- and you can’t help but feel that everything is possible in an industry where possibilities are embraced, and exploration is encouraged. (Sort of what we were writing about in our second story this morning about the human genome.)

We had a story last week about how farmers In China, India, and Indonesia -- Asia’s three largest countries -- are getting into the biotech business in a big way, planting millions of acres of genetically modified cotton, and creating an environment in which production of genetically modified food can be a big business. (Embracing the knowledge economy, in the words of Juan Enriquez at MarkeTechnics.) In our commentary, we wrote that while the US is squabbling with the EU over products that contain GMOs, the real battle may be fought and won on the other side of the globe. “We don’t believe in the inherent goodness or evil of GMOs. We simply believe that research must be exhaustive and careful, and that the existence of non-GMO crops and products must be carefully nurtured as well.”

MNB user Westall Parr responded:

“Food is both cultural and political. Are you convinced that the research done in China will be exhaustive and careful?

“I'm not. I think they will take massive risks and in the process put the whole
food chain at risk.

“Human life isn't seen or treated the same way by many of the emerging countries (we will avoid the way Americans seem to have to execute so many of its citizens for the moment) and food is looked upon as strategic as much as it is nourishment.

“This needs very careful consideration and will call for much more from the Food people at the UN.”

At the moment, the UN seems to be having enough trouble on other issues…

But let’s leave that aside for the moment. Essentially, we agree that there are political and cultural issues in play here. But that’s the best reason to not act in a unilateral way, to have open and honest dialogues with other nations, to respect other cultures and opinions, and to embrace the fact that global economy is truly global…not just the US vs. everybody else.

Isn’t it?

We wrote last week about some of the troubles Target seems to be having, and that elicited some email.

MNB user Bob Vereen wrote:

“If you have gone into a Target supercenter, the food section nearly always appears pretty empty. From what I have seen, the prices are high; the presentation not much different, if any, from that of Wal-Mart or Meijer, the other two big supercenter chains.

“Doesn't seem like they have a different, winning formula yet.”

That opinion was echoed by MNB user Richard Lowe:

“I don't see where Target has anything to offer in their Supercenters. Just fancy ads and high prices.”

And, in our ongoing discussion of the obesity epidemic and its impact on the food industry, we continue to get emails. One MNB user wrote:

“You know, my mom was a single working mother who didn't get home until 6:30 or so each night. We kids grew up on Happy Meals from McDonald's. And yep, I was fat as a kid, and have to work hard to keep my weight under control. My brother is a big guy, too. Anyway, what do you think - should I sue my mom for giving me so much greasy fast food as a kid? (just kidding)

“To those parents who filed the lawsuit against McDonald's, I say 'Stop The
Madness!' and take responsibility for your own actions. Admit that common sense told you your kids would get fat by eating fried foods - there's no one to blame but yourself.”

We’ll be back tomorrow with more from FMI’s MarkeTechnics conference…
KC's View: