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    Published on: March 8, 2006

    A new report published by the International Journal of Pediatric Obesity suggests that the rate of childhood obesity throughout the world will balloon through the rest of the decade. By 2010, according to some estimates, almost half of all the children in North and South America will be overweight, compared to about one-third today; almost 40 percent of European union children will be overweight, compared to about 25 percent today; and childhood obesity rates also are expected to increase in places like China, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

    Dr. Philip James, chairman of the International Obesity Task Force, lays the blame for the rising obesity rates at the feet of western consumer packaged goods companies, which he suggests have spent billions of dollars trying to get people to eat the wrong way. And he says that because obesity generally follows people from childhood to adulthood, the implications for the world’s health care systems are enormous – and almost none of them are positive. Some say that children may end up having a lower life expectancy than their parents, which would be a stunning reversal of current trends.
    KC's View:
    Almost nothing about this story is funny, but we have to admit to being somewhat amused by the obesity expert who told the Associated Press that “it’s like the plague is in town and no one is interested.”

    In fact, everybody seems to be interested – there has been no dearth of coverage of the globesity epidemic. The problem is that as interested and concerned as people seem to be, they seem unable or unwilling to do anything about it. Like eat less and better, and get more exercise.

    You may not like it, but our sense of the situation is that calls for a ban on almost all marketing to kids will grow louder and louder. The reality is that the industry cannot absolve people of their personal responsibility for what they put in their kids’ bodies and how much exercise their kids get…but that doesn’t mean that society won’t insist on a certain level of industry culpability.

    Published on: March 8, 2006

    The New York Times this morning reports that “chances are higher than they were just a few years ago that the chicken you buy will be contaminated with the bacteria salmonella. But the government hasn't been doing much about the situation. It lacks the authority.”

    In fact, according to the Times there has been an 80 percent increase in chickens infected with salmonella since 2000 – and critics say that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) simply hasn’t been up to the task of protecting the American public from salmonella poisoning.

    Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) has introduced five different pieces of legislation designed to give the USDA greater authority over meat and poultry safety issues, but all five have been defeated with USDA saying that it does not need greater authority.
    KC's View:
    We are continually amazed by what seems like utter incompetence at the USDA, which sometimes seems like it is sharing resources with FEMA.

    If these guys cannot figure out how to prevent the growth of incidences of salmonella, how exactly are we supposed to trust them when it comes to avian flu?

    This is the kind of question that consumers are going to be asking, and the food industry better start coming up with answers – because relying on the government seems like a fool’s errand.

    Published on: March 8, 2006

    • The New York Times reports this morning that New York State Democrats and Republicans are proposing separate bills that would force Wal-Mart and other large companies to provide better health insurance benefits for their employees.

    The GOP version “would tax employers with more than 100 workers the equivalent of $3 an hour per worker unless they provide coverage worth that much,” according to the Times, while the Democratic bill has more in common with the law passed in Maryland that requires companies to pay a certain percentage of their payroll costs in benefits.

    While Governor George Pataki, a Republican, has been “cool” to such proposals in the past, the Times suggests that it is far from clear whether Pataki will sign or veto the legislation at this juncture. Pataki is in his final term as New York governor, but he reportedly has designs on the White House – so national politics will no doubt play some role in whatever decision he makes.

    • Wal-Mart said this week that it plans to be the nation’s biggest mass market seller of organic food, with the goal of doubling SKUs in the category in just the next few weeks.

    DeDe Priest, senior vice president of dry grocery for Wal-Mart, told the Reuters Food Summit that while the retailer did not want to become a health food store in the model of Whole Foods, it did want to make organic products more accessible.

    Wal-Mart already is the nation’s top seller of organic milk.

    Priest told the summit that Wal-Mart will not make any more money on organics than on mainstream products, implying that the retailer will keep its margins sharp in the organic category.

    Reuters reports that Wal-Mart is testing a new line of men’s clothing in its store just outside the Chicago city limits that are described as being more ethnic in appeal and more appropriate for the company’s urban consumers.
    KC's View:
    The message here to retailers in every venue is that Wal-Mart is going to go into every category where it sees the potential for growth, and will do what it can and must to broaden its appeal.

    The organic food expansion is particularly interesting, because while Whole Foods has gone on the record that it wants to more than double its annual sales to $12 billion by 2010 by opening between 25 and 30 new stores a year, a major push by Wal-Mart into organics could do a lot more to grow the overall marketplace.

    Yesterday, in our story about Whole Foods’ plans, we noted that while company CEO John Mackey had emphasized that as his company grows it will need to improve its culture, this is hard to accomplish because history teaches us is that the bigger companies get, the harder it is to maintain the original culture created by a company’s founders.

    If Wal-Mart becomes a significant and legitimate competitor in the organic and natural foods business, this will mean that companies like Whole Foods will have to pay even greater attention to the preservation of their cultures because this will be their differential advantage.

    Published on: March 8, 2006

    The New York Times reports this morning on the magic of Trader Joe’s:

    “The stores are small, the selection is uneven and the corporate culture can be described as dorky. But because its products are often not available anywhere else; because they mysteriously appear, disappear, then reappear on the shelves; or perhaps simply because they often taste very, very good, Trader Joe's has become tremendously popular among Americans who like to be entertained and educated by what they eat, as well as nourished by it.”

    One of the points made by the Times article is the obsessive attention that Trader Joe’s pays to testing and tasting new products, making sure that everything it sells meets a certain standard for quality and consumer acceptance.

    And here’s the quote from a Trader Joe’s customer to which other retailers ought to pay attention: “This sounds crazy, but you feel like the company likes food even more than they like money. You don't feel that at the supermarket.”
    KC's View:
    We’ve long said that one of the distinguishing characteristics of Trader Joe’s is that it treats customers as if they are intelligent, and by doing so, makes customers feel intelligent just by walking in TJ’s front door.

    Compare this to other stores and companies – and we all know them – that actually hope to succeed on the backs of consumer ignorance.

    Published on: March 8, 2006

    Newsday reports that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has proposed that “food recall announcements would name the supermarkets where potentially tainted food was sold.” These alerts would add the retailer name to the currently disclosed information, which “includes the name of the company recalling the food, the reason for the recall, a description of the food and any codes used on food packages.”
    KC's View:

    Published on: March 8, 2006

    • Just what the country needs – a new trade association.

    The Specialty Wine Retailers Association (SWRA) has been formed by a consortium of wine merchants, wine auction houses, wine e-tailers, catalogers, and wine clubs to encourage states to allow direct shipments of wine in accordance with last year’s Supreme Court decision saying that if states permit in-state direct shipping, they have to allow out-of-state direct shipping.

    The goal of the organization, according to the press release, is to “encourage states to create a borderless national wine marketplace that offers consumers more choice, lower pricing and more convenience, and offers states increased tax revenues.”

    • The Wall Street Journal this morning reports that Coca-Cola has filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought against it by a number of its bottlers. The bottlers have challenged Coke’s plan to deliver PowerAde to Wal-Mart warehouses as opposed to the direct store delivery (DSD) system traditionally used.

    • Published reports say that the French government has drawn up legislation defining 20 companies as “national treasures” and allowing the government to veto any hostile takeovers of these corporations.

    Among them – retailer Carrefour and dairy company Group Danone.

    The impetus for the legislation was the speculation last year that PepsiCo was interested in acquiring Danone.

    Franck Riboud, Danone CEO, has said that his company does not require any such protection.

    KC's View:

    Published on: March 8, 2006

    • Kroger Co. reported fourth quarter profits of $282 million, compared to a loss of $652 million during the same period a year ago. Revenue for Q4 rose 7.5 percent to $14.72 billion, with same-store sales up 6.2 percent.

    • Albertsons Inc. reported fourth quarter earnings of $164 million, compared to $194 million during the same period last year. Q4 total sales were $10.2 billion versus $11.1 billion in the fourth quarter of last year, with same-store sales down 0.3 percent.

    The company said that its 2005 annual earnings were $462 million, down from $474 million last year, on sales of $40.4 billion, up slightly from $39.8 billion a year ago. Same-store sales were up last year for 0.3 percent.

    KC's View:

    Published on: March 8, 2006

    • Troubled Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. named Daryl G. Brewster, the president of Kraft Foods' North American snacks and cereals unit, to be its new president/CEO, replacing Stephen F. Cooper, who has served as Krispy Kreme's chief executive on an interim basis since January 2005.
    KC's View:

    Published on: March 8, 2006

    …will return.
    KC's View:

    Published on: March 8, 2006

    Now available to your company or organization…

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    An all-new presentation by Kevin Coupe of MorningNewsBeat.com, and based on proprietary qualitative and quantitative research by The Hartman Group, looks at what shoppers really want and really need…both today and tomorrow. You’ll hear from real shoppers about real issues…and their words will help you create and navigate a relevant consumer roadmap.

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    KC's View:

    Published on: March 8, 2006

    Small errors in measuring product dimensions mean big problems in executing planograms. Comprehensive analysis of product dimensions collected by stores, retail headquarters and brokers reveals dimension inaccuracies averaging a minimum of 70%, or the difference of 8.8 linear inches between calculated and executed planograms. To the retail store, this means overcrowded or partially empty shelves.


    Gladson Interactive measures product dimensions to 1/100th of an inch using the most technically advanced methods available. Multiple quality assurance checks ensure Gladson’s dimensions meet the industry standard of excellence as defined by the Product Technical Requirements Group and the Global Data Synchronization Network of the GS1.

    Gladson’s approach assures properly executed planograms not just on paper, but on your shelf too.

    For more information please email: cmetallo@gladson.com
    KC's View:

    Published on: March 8, 2006

    Wahl Clipper Corporation, the world’s largest hair clipper manufacturer, is the market leader in the United States clipper market, a 124 million dollar market and growing each year.

    Wahl Clipper Corporation is proud of its heritage and of its products. Wahl Clipper is backed by the Good Housekeeping Seal to ensure that our products are of the highest quality. With service centers in over 150 countries Wahl Clipper offers unsurpassed customer service.

    Wahl Clipper Corporation is the only consumer clipper company with an extensive advertising program to help build brand recognition and expand your sales.

    The human and pet clipper category is growing all over the world. If you sell anything from human shampoo to dog bones, contact us for more information and a free research report at sales@wahlworld.net .

    Wahl Clipper: The Official Beard Trimmer Of MorningNewsBeat!
    KC's View: