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    Published on: December 8, 2005

    The Boston Globe reports on Planet Health, described as “an obesity-prevention curriculum created in the 1990s by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and currently used by all of Boston's middle schools and about 75 suburban middle schools, (that) has had a welcome effect: In schools with the Planet Health curriculum, boys and girls watched less television, and fewer girls were obese or reported eating disorders, than in other schools.”

    The Planet Health program isn’t so much anti-fat as pro-health. The Globe writes: “Planet Health doesn't use scare tactics, which could lead to kids feeling stigmatized or being bullied, which could lead them to seek an unhealthy fix like purging, fasting, diet pills, or laxatives…Instead, the program gets teachers to interweave messages about exercising more, watching less television, and eating healthier foods throughout the regular curriculum, from social studies to science to math.”

    In fact, the only people who seem unaffected by the Planet Health approach are kids who were on diets or other weight control programs before getting to middle school. Which means, according to experts, that it is critical to bring the pro-health message to people at an earlier age.
    KC's View:
    This is exactly what schools ought to be doing. Education isn’t just about reading, writing and arithmetic. It is about helping young people learn to think, to reason, to make educated choices. It is about helping them be healthy.

    Such programs are winners for everyone, it seems to us. The food industry would do well to be an active participant in these kinds of initiatives, embracing them, because they are shaping tomorrow’s consumers.

    Published on: December 8, 2005

    In the wake of the season’s first snowstorm in the nation’s Mid Atlantic region, the Washington Post offers a humorous look at what people buy as the winter forecasts become more dire.

    “Since time and TV weather forecasts began, milk, bread and toilet paper -- MBTP -- have been the media stars of every snowstorm, cliches wrapped in plastic,” the Post writes. “Milk certainly qualifies. And bread, too. But toilet paper? Toilet paper doesn't really belong in the holy grocerial trinity of every snow panic.” In fact, the Post notes, it isn’t really a snowstorm unless there is a run on milk, bread and toilet paper.

    Except that the evidence this week, as the snow began to fall, suggested that maybe times have changed.

    “Yesterday, after predictions of the season's first good storm, spokesmen for the Safeway and Giant grocery store chains said they saw plenty of evidence of hoarding and panic buying -- but no straight-to-the-top-of-the-sales-chart relationship among milk, bread and toilet paper,” the Post reports.

    “Compared with a snowless Dec. 5 a year ago, milk and bread sales roughly doubled Monday at Safeway's 100 stores throughout the mid Atlantic region, spokesman Greg Ten Eyck said. Those two products were among the chain's best sellers, he said. Then again, so were bacon, scrapple and eggs (‘People are planning big breakfasts after the snow,’ he said), along with fruit, water, soda, infant formula, Kool-Aid and boneless chicken breasts.” Toilet paper wasn't even in the top fifty in terms of products sold.

    The same went for Giant, where spokesman Barry Scher told the Post that “there was nothing special about his company's MBTP index. Everything was moving briskly, he said: bread, eggs, canned goods, luncheon meats, batteries, even -- go figure -- ice cream.”

    The Post concludes that maybe, just maybe, the milk-bread-toilet paper connection is a media invention that has become factual just by being repeated over and over. Toilet paper is hard “to fit into this symbolic survival schema. It possibly represents some kind of talisman of civilization, a minimal luxury and comfort when the normal rhythms of civilization are disrupted.”

    On the other hand, the Post writes, “Scotch, chocolate and a good steak are pretty good minimal luxuries, too, and you don't hear half as much about them when it snows.”
    KC's View:
    Maybe we’re just cynical, but when we heard about the major snowstorm that was supposed to work its way up the coast into New England earlier this week, the only thing we did special was make sure the sports car was in the garage and the snow shovels were out of the shed. The Content Kids started planning on what they would do with a snow day if they didn’t have to go to school, and Mrs. Content Guy started rearranging her schedule.

    Good thing yours truly didn’t go to any trouble. When we got up the next morning at 5 am to start working on MNB, there had been just a dusting of snow and we didn’t need shovels at all.

    One of the things this story makes us think about how the word “necessities” has taken on different meanings in the modern world. Back in the old days (though we’re not exactly sure what “old days” means anymore), maybe milk, bread and toilet paper were what people thought of. But no longer. For some it is ice cream and chicken breasts, for others it is scotch and batteries.

    This is an interesting question that could be posed to shoppers that might offer a fresh look at what makes them tick: “What ten items do you always have in your refrigerator/freezer, and what 10 items do you always have in the larder, that you simply cannot live without?”

    It is an intriguing question to ponder. Might even get consumers thinking about themselves and their needs differently. Which would allow a retailer to think about the shopper differently.

    We’re making our list. Try doing the same thing and see what you come up with. Betcha you’ll surprise yourself with some of your choices.

    Published on: December 8, 2005

    Strong editorial in the Berkshire Eagle about the debate within the organic community about the proposed easing of organic standards – a move that has been endorsed by the Organic Trade Association (OTA) even while being opposed by a number of organic grocers who are in the OTA’s leadership.

    “The new laws regulating organic products make it easier for corporations to get in the game by basically allowing synthetically tainted products to be called organic, which is a case of government-sanctioned false advertising,” the Eagle opines. “Organic is basically a brand name and consumers are being misled.

    “One new rule allows cows raised on conventional farms - fed with genetically-modified food and injected by hormones - to move to an organic farm where their milk can be called organic. The law also lessens the restrictions on conventional farmers who want to change to organic. Also, it allows synthetic ingredients to go into organic products under the claim that no organic alternative was available, which is often a phony argument.”

    The Eagle concludes that the rules of organics should be as strict as kosher labeling, and that “lawmakers should fight for what's right in this case, truth in advertising of organic products.”
    KC's View:
    We agree.

    Organic should mean organic. Nothing less.

    We had a story earlier this week on MNB about how US consumers buy and eat fewer organic products that their counterparts in 37 other countries. Maybe, in some sort of misguided way, some people believe that by lowering standards they can raise the category’s distribution numbers. And maybe they’re right.

    But they’ll also kill the category by making it meaningless. Lowered standards rarely improve anything except people’s delusions.

    As John Mellencamp once sang, “You’ve got to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything.”

    Published on: December 8, 2005

    Advertising Age reports that drugstore chain Walgreen is working with 15 consumer packaged goods companies to create a system that will use radio frequency identification (RFID) tags to track promotional display activity in all of its more than five thousand stores.

    “The system, touted by one retail expert as potentially the biggest advance in store promotion in decades, uses RFID to electronically track when, how long and where displays are placed in stores,” Ad Age writes. “That allows marketers to track results of promotions by store or demographic cluster. It also lets participating manufacturers time local, regional or national advertising according to when displays are in place and send representatives to stores that haven’t put up displays.”

    The system was created by Goliath Solutions. While Walgreens and Goliath are not identifying the participating manufacturers, they are believed to include Procter & Gamble and Kraft Foods.

    While the system is designed to give both the retailer and its vendors immediate feedback on how promotions are working, Ad Age notes that one of the drawbacks is cost – the battery-powered RFID tags being used in the test cost $6 apiece, unlike the “passive” tags that are being used in other tests that cost under a buck. This could increase the cost of promotions, though it us as yet unclear whether the increased sales and profits will compensate for the higher cost.
    KC's View:

    Published on: December 8, 2005

    Dow Jones
    A holiday beer "doesn't necessarily mean a lot for volumes," analyst Mark Swartzberg tells Dow Jones, “but it makes a lot of sense. Around the holidays, consumers are generally prepared to spend a little more money on pretty much anything.”
    KC's View:
    We want to go on record right now. We’re going to do whatever we can to help out the poor brewers this holiday season.

    We feel your pain.

    Published on: December 8, 2005

    The BBC reports that scientists at the Institute of Food Research are working on the creation of a new breed of super broccoli that will have more of a key chemical – sulforaphane – that helps give the vegetable cancer-fighting properties.

    The goal of the research is to help people who genetically cannot absorb normal amounts of sulforaphane into their bodies, though there doesn’t seem to be any reason that normal people also couldn’t eat the super broccoli.

    It is expected to take three years to get the new broccoli on the market.
    KC's View:

    Published on: December 8, 2005

    This morning on NBC’s “Today Show,” Phil Lempert will talk about the “five things consumers need to know about food allergies – an important issue as the food industry faces new regulations governing how allergens are identified on food packaging.

    Part of the segment will focus on the Food Allergy Buddy Card, created by Lempert and provided as a free service by his SupermarketGuru.com website. The site allows people to identify their allergies on a simple ID card that they can hand to people from whom they order food, helping them make sure that products and dishes are prepared with those specific allergies in mind.

    Consumers can download and print out the card at:

    http://www.foodallergybuddy.com/

    More than 100,000 consumers already have done so.

    If you miss the program when it is aired live, the segment should be available for viewing online this afternoon at:

    http://www. today.msnbc.com /
    KC's View:
    First of all, full disclosure: MNB Content Guy Kevin Coupe is a regular contributor to SupermarketGuru.com.

    But we’re telling you all this because we happen to think the Food Allergy Buddy Card is a great idea, and one that can be sponsored by retailers as a way of showing consumers that they care about their needs and concerns.

    This is a big issue for a lot of people, and retailers can make it work to their advantage.

    Published on: December 8, 2005

    • Lund Food Holdings and Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises will team up to open a new “Shanghai Circus – Stir Fry and Steam Show” at the Lunds store in Wayzata, Minnesota, on Dec. 14. This will be the seventh Shanghai Circus eat-in or take-home food concept to open in Lunds or Byerly’s store, both of which are owned by Lunds.


    • Biometrics provider Pay By Touch confirmed that it will acquire a competing company, BioPay, for $82 million in cash and stock.

    The deal is expected to close within a few weeks.


    • Coca-Cola Co. announced yesterday that it will launch a new soda – Coca-Cola Blak – next year. The new product is made up of Coca-Cola Classic infused with coffee extracts, and will have half the sugar, calories and carbohydrates of regular colas.

    Coke said the new product will first be offered in France next month, and then will be rolled out in US and elsewhere during the remained of the year. The company also said that it will adjust the formulation of the soda depending on local tastes.

    Meanwhile, Coke chairman Neville Isdell told an investment conference that the company was making “good progress” in coming out of recent marketing doldrums, and that it would debut a new ad slogan next year: “Welcome to the Coke side of life.”


    • Sears Holding Corp. announced yesterday that it will begin allowing its Kmart stores to sell DieHard batteries, as well as an expanded selection of Kenmore appliances. Both DieHard and Kenmore are brand names associated with Sears, which was acquired by Kmart last March.

    Company chairman Edward Lampert told shareholders in a letter that putting Sears products inside Kmart stores offers “the possibility of achieving increased customer satisfaction and increased profit without the customer education needed to convert to a Sears Essentials format.”


    • Jasper, Indiana-based Buehler Foods is expected to emerge from bankruptcy protection by next spring, according to published reports. The company and its creditors are continuing to work on a debt restructuring plan that will allow Buehler's to reorganize more than $67 million in debt.


    • The Michigan State Legislature has voted overwhelmingly to allow for the direct shipment of wine both in-state and from out-of-state. Governor Jennifer Granholm is expected to sign the bill into law.

    Michigan was one of two states (New York being the other) that went to the US Supreme Court to try and prevent direct shipments from out of state, but the court ruled that it was, in essence, restraint of trade – if in-state direct shipments were allowed, then out-of-state shipments had to be permitted as well. The vote allowing direct shipping actually is a 180-degree turn for the legislature, which had been considering a total ban on such shipments, but came under pressure from Michigan’s wine industry.
    KC's View:

    Published on: December 8, 2005

    Steven Hawks, a health sciences professor at Brigham Young University in Utah, reportedly has come up with a new way to lose weight.

    He calls it the “No-Diet Diet,” and says it requires people to be “intuitive eaters” – eating whatever they want, and whenever they are hungry.

    The catch – at home and in the office, Hawks surrounds himself with unhealthy, unappetizing and unappealing foods. He says that the constant presence of these foods stifles the desire to eat and gorge himself.

    It’s worked for him. He lost 50 pounds and has kept them off for five years.
    KC's View:
    The idea of eating what you want whenever you are hungry certainly sounds appealing.

    But we have a problem with the idea of always having unhealthy, unappetizing and unappealing foods around so that we won’t get hungry.

    One of the things we love about food is having lots of it in the refrigerator and freezer, in the cabinets and in the fruit bowl on the counter. We love the look, love the smells, love the promise of a good meal within reach.

    We love food. We love eating. And we don’t want to feel guilty about it.

    Then again, maybe that’s why we need to lose 20 pounds and he doesn’t.

    Published on: December 8, 2005

    MNB wrote yesterday about the National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine report saying that the marketing of high fat, low nutrition food and beverages to children leads them to consume such foods and run a higher risk of obesity than if they ate healthier products. The report says that if companies do not change their marketing strategies, the federal government should step in and solve the problem legislatively.

    MNB user Bob Trader responded:

    I am tired of hearing the debate over whether or not the government should step in and regulate a manufacturer’s marketing tactics. Manufacturers promote their products and target them to the customer that is willing to listen and through good research, have figured out who that audience is. In my opinion they have done a great job in figuring out that there are a lot of parents that do not pay attention to what their kids eat, read, or watch.

    Most kids under the age of twelve years old are not going out themselves and purchasing their own groceries, their parents are. When I go shopping with my own son he will ask for snack items that do not meet our family’s healthy standards and we do make exceptions but we also limit the amount of these types of products we purchase. Blame should be placed on the parents that cannot teach their children about balanced diets or when to say “no” to their kids.

    I am reminded of a recent lunch conversation with a friend of mine that complained his son spends too much time playing his video games and not enough time on his schoolwork. Should the government step in put marketing restrictions (besides the ratings systems) on video game manufacturers because they have done a great job researching and learning about their customers or should my friend step up to the plate and be a parent? (By the way, I told him to step up to the plate with his son and stop complaining to me because he purchased the video system.)

    Parents should step up and be as diligent as the manufacturers when it comes to understanding what makes their own kids tick.


    And another MNB user wrote:

    I'm one of those that is going to say it's the parents responsibility to purchase and feed their children healthy foods.

    School systems have lesson plans that explain the food groups to children, they study the Food guide pyramid. School districts have taken junk food out of their vending machines and replaced them with healthy food and snacks. Now the government wants to step in and tell manufacturers what kinds of products they can market and to what age group?

    There comes a time when parents have to step up to the plate and raise their own children.


    Here’s a question, though.

    Parents are voters and taxpayers. If enough of us feel that the government should help us by regulating what can be shown to our children on television, isn’t that just one more way of stepping up to the plate?

    Just wondering…




    On the subject of whether the industry should lead or follow when it comes to creating healthier products, one MNB user wrote:

    All I can say about those who think the food industry needs to lead consumers to healthier, more nutritious products is that I doubt they have ever held a marketing job. If they had such responsibility they'd realize that you just can't place such risky bets on changing consumers behavior. And, none of their examples hold water; these businesses all identified a budding demand and filled it.

    Okay, but let’s go back to an example cited by another MNB user earlier this week.

    Was the iPod a response to consumer demand? Or the creation of a visionary company that decided to lead consumers and its own industry in a new direction?




    Joining in the discussion about why moderate drinkers tend to have fewer obesity problems, MNB user Steve Cavender wrote:

    Just maybe people who drink in moderation also eat in moderation. Maybe, just maybe, it's a lifestyle. Could it be that people who live a moderate lifestyle are less likely to be overweight?

    Makes sense to us.

    Another MNB user agreed:

    Could it be that "moderation in all things" leads to healthier living?

    One of my favorite public service ads on the radio is the ad by the educated elite that points out, students that take music and art classes do better over-all in school. Could it be, that students that work harder and take their education seriously do better in school and have the time and inclination to expand their interests into extra education?

    Of course that can't be the reality, because that kind of common sense conclusion won't support the research budget requests or the future employment of the educator.





    Responding to yesterday’s piece about the possibility that Coca-Cola might fall behind PepsiCo in terms of market capitalization, one MNB user wrote:

    I'm not surprised by the news about Coca-Cola, actually. I worked for a couple of years for an independent Coca-Cola bottler, and it was plain to see that Coca-Cola North America is one of those slow-moving behemoths (Coke NA representatives would visit our plants because our little company was more technologically advanced than the parent company...). From what I've heard about PepsiCo, it's a much more dynamic company, both in attitude and action. It might not hurt Coke to have a scare like this to get the company moving, rather than just relying on its size as its competitive advantage.




    We got the following report from MNB user Ted File:

    I walked into a relatively new Target yesterday with my wife. As usual I walked through the store and as might be expected a few out of stocks, but otherwise the physical condition was what I would expect from Target....Well done!

    But, so disappointed that a.) no mention of the Christmas Season and b.) absolutely no atmosphere...ie., Christmas music.

    So, being the guy I am I found the manager and shared my feeling:....His response, well you know that a few people in this area don't "believe" and I commented that the latest survey found that almost 70% attend a church every week. That is a poor excuse, what about music. "Well, we have had a few customers complain that it interfered with their shopping" to which I responded "you have got to be kidding, besides you have no Holiday decor only a large snowflake hanging over 6 or your 20 checkouts." He responded well we are trying to control costs. To which I responded, "May I assume that you are Christian in your beliefs and that most of your employees are as well, and secondly that the reason you are doing the business you are doing is because 2000 years a person was born whose birthday we celebrate each year!”

    So my good manager says, "Thanks and I concur and will try to do something about it."

    Now, not that he was the person who took it to Minneapolis, but this morning Target announced that they would consider their stand and begin to use the word Christmas in their advertising. Gee, maybe we will even have music....who knows?


    Actually, it seems like an appropriate day for a very specific Christmas song…

    …and so happy Christmas
    For black and for white
    For the yellow and red ones
    Let's stop all the fight

    A very Merry Christmas
    And a Happy New Year
    Lets hope it's a good one
    Without any fear…


    Can it really be 25 years?




    Finally, we had a story yesterday about how in the UK, Tesco is testing what it calls a “musical sandwich,” which comes in a small box with a musical chip that plays when the customer opens it. Which prompted MNB user Lisa Everitt to write:

    Unless my sandwich magically caused Elvis Costello to appear next to my desk and sing "My Funny Valentine" to me while I eat, I will pass, thanks.

    Would you settle for the Content Guy singing “Margaritaville”? (Maybe we could start a new career…)
    KC's View:

    Published on: December 8, 2005

    In the wake of the season’s first snowstorm in the nation’s Mid Atlantic region, the Washington Post offers a humorous look at what people buy as the winter forecasts become more dire.

    “Since time and TV weather forecasts began, milk, bread and toilet paper -- MBTP -- have been the media stars of every snowstorm, cliches wrapped in plastic,” the Post writes. “Milk certainly qualifies. And bread, too. But toilet paper? Toilet paper doesn't really belong in the holy grocerial trinity of every snow panic.” In fact, the Post notes, it isn’t really a snowstorm unless there is a run on milk, bread and toilet paper.

    Except that the evidence this week, as the snow began to fall, suggested that maybe times have changed.

    “Yesterday, after predictions of the season's first good storm, spokesmen for the Safeway and Giant grocery store chains said they saw plenty of evidence of hoarding and panic buying -- but no straight-to-the-top-of-the-sales-chart relationship among milk, bread and toilet paper,” the Post reports.

    “Compared with a snowless Dec. 5 a year ago, milk and bread sales roughly doubled Monday at Safeway's 100 stores throughout the mid Atlantic region, spokesman Greg Ten Eyck said. Those two products were among the chain's best sellers, he said. Then again, so were bacon, scrapple and eggs (‘People are planning big breakfasts after the snow,’ he said), along with fruit, water, soda, infant formula, Kool-Aid and boneless chicken breasts.” Toilet paper wasn't even in the top fifty in terms of products sold.

    The same went for Giant, where spokesman Barry Scher told the Post that “there was nothing special about his company's MBTP index. Everything was moving briskly, he said: bread, eggs, canned goods, luncheon meats, batteries, even -- go figure -- ice cream.”

    The Post concludes that maybe, just maybe, the milk-bread-toilet paper connection is a media invention that has become factual just by being repeated over and over. Toilet paper is hard “to fit into this symbolic survival schema. It possibly represents some kind of talisman of civilization, a minimal luxury and comfort when the normal rhythms of civilization are disrupted.”

    On the other hand, the Post writes, “Scotch, chocolate and a good steak are pretty good minimal luxuries, too, and you don't hear half as much about them when it snows.”
    KC's View:
    Maybe we’re just cynical, but when we heard about the major snowstorm that was supposed to work its way up the coast into New England earlier this week, the only thing we did special was make sure the sports car was in the garage and the snow shovels were out of the shed. The Content Kids started planning on what they would do with a snow day if they didn’t have to go to school, and Mrs. Content Guy started rearranging her schedule.

    Good thing yours truly didn’t go to any trouble. When we got up the next morning at 5 am to start working on MNB, there had been just a dusting of snow and we didn’t need shovels at all.

    One of the things this story makes us think about how the word “necessities” has taken on different meanings in the modern world. Back in the old days (though we’re not exactly sure what “old days” means anymore), maybe milk, bread and toilet paper were what people thought of. But no longer. For some it is ice cream and chicken breasts, for others it is scotch and batteries.

    This is an interesting question that could be posed to shoppers that might offer a fresh look at what makes them tick: “What ten items do you always have in your refrigerator/freezer, and what 10 items do you always have in the larder, that you simply cannot live without?”

    It is an intriguing question to ponder. Might even get consumers thinking about themselves and their needs differently. Which would allow a retailer to think about the shopper differently.

    We’re making our list. Try doing the same thing and see what you come up with. Betcha you’ll surprise yourself with some of your choices.

    Published on: December 8, 2005

    Strong editorial in the Berkshire Eagle about the debate within the organic community about the proposed easing of organic standards – a move that has been endorsed by the Organic Trade Association (OTA) even while being opposed by a number of organic grocers who are in the OTA’s leadership.

    “The new laws regulating organic products make it easier for corporations to get in the game by basically allowing synthetically tainted products to be called organic, which is a case of government-sanctioned false advertising,” the Eagle opines. “Organic is basically a brand name and consumers are being misled.

    “One new rule allows cows raised on conventional farms - fed with genetically-modified food and injected by hormones - to move to an organic farm where their milk can be called organic. The law also lessens the restrictions on conventional farmers who want to change to organic. Also, it allows synthetic ingredients to go into organic products under the claim that no organic alternative was available, which is often a phony argument.”

    The Eagle concludes that the rules of organics should be as strict as kosher labeling, and that “lawmakers should fight for what's right in this case, truth in advertising of organic products.”
    KC's View:
    We agree.

    Organic should mean organic. Nothing less.

    We had a story earlier this week on MNB about how US consumers buy and eat fewer organic products that their counterparts in 37 other countries. Maybe, in some sort of misguided way, some people believe that by lowering standards they can raise the category’s distribution numbers. And maybe they’re right.

    But they’ll also kill the category by making it meaningless. Lowered standards rarely improve anything except people’s delusions.

    As John Mellencamp once sang, “You’ve got to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything.”

    Published on: December 8, 2005

    Advertising Age reports that drugstore chain Walgreen is working with 15 consumer packaged goods companies to create a system that will use radio frequency identification (RFID) tags to track promotional display activity in all of its more than five thousand stores.

    “The system, touted by one retail expert as potentially the biggest advance in store promotion in decades, uses RFID to electronically track when, how long and where displays are placed in stores,” Ad Age writes. “That allows marketers to track results of promotions by store or demographic cluster. It also lets participating manufacturers time local, regional or national advertising according to when displays are in place and send representatives to stores that haven’t put up displays.”

    The system was created by Goliath Solutions. While Walgreens and Goliath are not identifying the participating manufacturers, they are believed to include Procter & Gamble and Kraft Foods.

    While the system is designed to give both the retailer and its vendors immediate feedback on how promotions are working, Ad Age notes that one of the drawbacks is cost – the battery-powered RFID tags being used in the test cost $6 apiece, unlike the “passive” tags that are being used in other tests that cost under a buck. This could increase the cost of promotions, though it us as yet unclear whether the increased sales and profits will compensate for the higher cost.
    KC's View:

    Published on: December 8, 2005

    Dow Jones
    A holiday beer "doesn't necessarily mean a lot for volumes," analyst Mark Swartzberg tells Dow Jones, “but it makes a lot of sense. Around the holidays, consumers are generally prepared to spend a little more money on pretty much anything.”
    KC's View:
    We want to go on record right now. We’re going to do whatever we can to help out the poor brewers this holiday season.

    We feel your pain.

    Published on: December 8, 2005

    The BBC reports that scientists at the Institute of Food Research are working on the creation of a new breed of super broccoli that will have more of a key chemical – sulforaphane – that helps give the vegetable cancer-fighting properties.

    The goal of the research is to help people who genetically cannot absorb normal amounts of sulforaphane into their bodies, though there doesn’t seem to be any reason that normal people also couldn’t eat the super broccoli.

    It is expected to take three years to get the new broccoli on the market.
    KC's View:

    Published on: December 8, 2005

    This morning on NBC’s “Today Show,” Phil Lempert will talk about the “five things consumers need to know about food allergies – an important issue as the food industry faces new regulations governing how allergens are identified on food packaging.

    Part of the segment will focus on the Food Allergy Buddy Card, created by Lempert and provided as a free service by his SupermarketGuru.com website. The site allows people to identify their allergies on a simple ID card that they can hand to people from whom they order food, helping them make sure that products and dishes are prepared with those specific allergies in mind.

    Consumers can download and print out the card at:

    http://www.foodallergybuddy.com/

    More than 100,000 consumers already have done so.

    If you miss the program when it is aired live, the segment should be available for viewing online this afternoon at:

    http://www. today.msnbc.com /
    KC's View:
    First of all, full disclosure: MNB Content Guy Kevin Coupe is a regular contributor to SupermarketGuru.com.

    But we’re telling you all this because we happen to think the Food Allergy Buddy Card is a great idea, and one that can be sponsored by retailers as a way of showing consumers that they care about their needs and concerns.

    This is a big issue for a lot of people, and retailers can make it work to their advantage.

    Published on: December 8, 2005

    • Lund Food Holdings and Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises will team up to open a new “Shanghai Circus – Stir Fry and Steam Show” at the Lunds store in Wayzata, Minnesota, on Dec. 14. This will be the seventh Shanghai Circus eat-in or take-home food concept to open in Lunds or Byerly’s store, both of which are owned by Lunds.


    • Biometrics provider Pay By Touch confirmed that it will acquire a competing company, BioPay, for $82 million in cash and stock.

    The deal is expected to close within a few weeks.


    • Coca-Cola Co. announced yesterday that it will launch a new soda – Coca-Cola Blak – next year. The new product is made up of Coca-Cola Classic infused with coffee extracts, and will have half the sugar, calories and carbohydrates of regular colas.

    Coke said the new product will first be offered in France next month, and then will be rolled out in US and elsewhere during the remained of the year. The company also said that it will adjust the formulation of the soda depending on local tastes.

    Meanwhile, Coke chairman Neville Isdell told an investment conference that the company was making “good progress” in coming out of recent marketing doldrums, and that it would debut a new ad slogan next year: “Welcome to the Coke side of life.”


    • Sears Holding Corp. announced yesterday that it will begin allowing its Kmart stores to sell DieHard batteries, as well as an expanded selection of Kenmore appliances. Both DieHard and Kenmore are brand names associated with Sears, which was acquired by Kmart last March.

    Company chairman Edward Lampert told shareholders in a letter that putting Sears products inside Kmart stores offers “the possibility of achieving increased customer satisfaction and increased profit without the customer education needed to convert to a Sears Essentials format.”


    • Jasper, Indiana-based Buehler Foods is expected to emerge from bankruptcy protection by next spring, according to published reports. The company and its creditors are continuing to work on a debt restructuring plan that will allow Buehler's to reorganize more than $67 million in debt.


    • The Michigan State Legislature has voted overwhelmingly to allow for the direct shipment of wine both in-state and from out-of-state. Governor Jennifer Granholm is expected to sign the bill into law.

    Michigan was one of two states (New York being the other) that went to the US Supreme Court to try and prevent direct shipments from out of state, but the court ruled that it was, in essence, restraint of trade – if in-state direct shipments were allowed, then out-of-state shipments had to be permitted as well. The vote allowing direct shipping actually is a 180-degree turn for the legislature, which had been considering a total ban on such shipments, but came under pressure from Michigan’s wine industry.

    KC's View:

    Published on: December 8, 2005

    Steven Hawks, a health sciences professor at Brigham Young University in Utah, reportedly has come up with a new way to lose weight.

    He calls it the “No-Diet Diet,” and says it requires people to be “intuitive eaters” – eating whatever they want, and whenever they are hungry.

    The catch – at home and in the office, Hawks surrounds himself with unhealthy, unappetizing and unappealing foods. He says that the constant presence of these foods stifles the desire to eat and gorge himself.

    It’s worked for him. He lost 50 pounds and has kept them off for five years.
    KC's View:
    The idea of eating what you want whenever you are hungry certainly sounds appealing.

    But we have a problem with the idea of always having unhealthy, unappetizing and unappealing foods around so that we won’t get hungry.

    One of the things we love about food is having lots of it in the refrigerator and freezer, in the cabinets and in the fruit bowl on the counter. We love the look, love the smells, love the promise of a good meal within reach.

    We love food. We love eating. And we don’t want to feel guilty about it.

    Then again, maybe that’s why we need to lose 20 pounds and he doesn’t.

    Published on: December 8, 2005

    MNB wrote yesterday about the National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine report saying that the marketing of high fat, low nutrition food and beverages to children leads them to consume such foods and run a higher risk of obesity than if they ate healthier products. The report says that if companies do not change their marketing strategies, the federal government should step in and solve the problem legislatively.

    MNB user Bob Trader responded:

    I am tired of hearing the debate over whether or not the government should step in and regulate a manufacturer’s marketing tactics. Manufacturers promote their products and target them to the customer that is willing to listen and through good research, have figured out who that audience is. In my opinion they have done a great job in figuring out that there are a lot of parents that do not pay attention to what their kids eat, read, or watch.

    Most kids under the age of twelve years old are not going out themselves and purchasing their own groceries, their parents are. When I go shopping with my own son he will ask for snack items that do not meet our family’s healthy standards and we do make exceptions but we also limit the amount of these types of products we purchase. Blame should be placed on the parents that cannot teach their children about balanced diets or when to say “no” to their kids.

    I am reminded of a recent lunch conversation with a friend of mine that complained his son spends too much time playing his video games and not enough time on his schoolwork. Should the government step in put marketing restrictions (besides the ratings systems) on video game manufacturers because they have done a great job researching and learning about their customers or should my friend step up to the plate and be a parent? (By the way, I told him to step up to the plate with his son and stop complaining to me because he purchased the video system.)

    Parents should step up and be as diligent as the manufacturers when it comes to understanding what makes their own kids tick.


    And another MNB user wrote:

    I'm one of those that is going to say it's the parents responsibility to purchase and feed their children healthy foods.

    School systems have lesson plans that explain the food groups to children, they study the Food guide pyramid. School districts have taken junk food out of their vending machines and replaced them with healthy food and snacks. Now the government wants to step in and tell manufacturers what kinds of products they can market and to what age group?

    There comes a time when parents have to step up to the plate and raise their own children.


    Here’s a question, though.

    Parents are voters and taxpayers. If enough of us feel that the government should help us by regulating what can be shown to our children on television, isn’t that just one more way of stepping up to the plate?

    Just wondering…




    On the subject of whether the industry should lead or follow when it comes to creating healthier products, one MNB user wrote:

    All I can say about those who think the food industry needs to lead consumers to healthier, more nutritious products is that I doubt they have ever held a marketing job. If they had such responsibility they'd realize that you just can't place such risky bets on changing consumers behavior. And, none of their examples hold water; these businesses all identified a budding demand and filled it.

    Okay, but let’s go back to an example cited by another MNB user earlier this week.

    Was the iPod a response to consumer demand? Or the creation of a visionary company that decided to lead consumers and its own industry in a new direction?




    Joining in the discussion about why moderate drinkers tend to have fewer obesity problems, MNB user Steve Cavender wrote:

    Just maybe people who drink in moderation also eat in moderation. Maybe, just maybe, it's a lifestyle. Could it be that people who live a moderate lifestyle are less likely to be overweight?

    Makes sense to us.

    Another MNB user agreed:

    Could it be that "moderation in all things" leads to healthier living?

    One of my favorite public service ads on the radio is the ad by the educated elite that points out, students that take music and art classes do better over-all in school. Could it be, that students that work harder and take their education seriously do better in school and have the time and inclination to expand their interests into extra education?

    Of course that can't be the reality, because that kind of common sense conclusion won't support the research budget requests or the future employment of the educator.





    Responding to yesterday’s piece about the possibility that Coca-Cola might fall behind PepsiCo in terms of market capitalization, one MNB user wrote:

    I'm not surprised by the news about Coca-Cola, actually. I worked for a couple of years for an independent Coca-Cola bottler, and it was plain to see that Coca-Cola North America is one of those slow-moving behemoths (Coke NA representatives would visit our plants because our little company was more technologically advanced than the parent company...). From what I've heard about PepsiCo, it's a much more dynamic company, both in attitude and action. It might not hurt Coke to have a scare like this to get the company moving, rather than just relying on its size as its competitive advantage.




    We got the following report from MNB user Ted File:

    I walked into a relatively new Target yesterday with my wife. As usual I walked through the store and as might be expected a few out of stocks, but otherwise the physical condition was what I would expect from Target....Well done!

    But, so disappointed that a.) no mention of the Christmas Season and b.) absolutely no atmosphere...ie., Christmas music.

    So, being the guy I am I found the manager and shared my feeling:....His response, well you know that a few people in this area don't "believe" and I commented that the latest survey found that almost 70% attend a church every week. That is a poor excuse, what about music. "Well, we have had a few customers complain that it interfered with their shopping" to which I responded "you have got to be kidding, besides you have no Holiday decor only a large snowflake hanging over 6 or your 20 checkouts." He responded well we are trying to control costs. To which I responded, "May I assume that you are Christian in your beliefs and that most of your employees are as well, and secondly that the reason you are doing the business you are doing is because 2000 years a person was born whose birthday we celebrate each year!”

    So my good manager says, "Thanks and I concur and will try to do something about it."

    Now, not that he was the person who took it to Minneapolis, but this morning Target announced that they would consider their stand and begin to use the word Christmas in their advertising. Gee, maybe we will even have music....who knows?


    Actually, it seems like an appropriate day for a very specific Christmas song…

    …and so happy Christmas
    For black and for white
    For the yellow and red ones
    Let's stop all the fight

    A very Merry Christmas
    And a Happy New Year
    Lets hope it's a good one
    Without any fear…


    Can it really be 25 years?




    Finally, we had a story yesterday about how in the UK, Tesco is testing what it calls a “musical sandwich,” which comes in a small box with a musical chip that plays when the customer opens it. Which prompted MNB user Lisa Everitt to write:

    Unless my sandwich magically caused Elvis Costello to appear next to my desk and sing "My Funny Valentine" to me while I eat, I will pass, thanks.

    Would you settle for the Content Guy singing “Margaritaville”? (Maybe we could start a new career…)
    KC's View: