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    Published on: July 10, 2009

    The New York Times reports that a new study of rhesus monkeys suggest that a restricted calorie diet could help people extend their lives for a considerable period of time.

    According to the piece, the moneys have been put on a diet with all the normal ingredients but that had 30 percent fewer calories. A similar study in mice found that the rodents lived, on average, 40 percent longer. While the monkey study is by no means complete – rhesus monkeys live as long as 40 years anyway, so it takes time to gauge the results – “now, 20 years after the experiment began, the monkeys are showing many beneficial signs of caloric resistance, including significantly less diabetes, cancer, and heart and brain disease.”

    The Times notes that since few people could actually cut back their caloric intake by 30 percent, scientists are looking for some sort of compound that might mimic the impact of a calorie-cutting regimen. One of the early candidates: reservatrol.
    KC's View:
    Wait a minute. Isn’t reservatrol the compound that is found in red wine that actually makes it heart-healthy in moderate amounts?


    I mean, it doesn’t get any better than this!

    Now, a number of scientists caution that it is too early to tell whether the long-term experiment is working, and whether the monkeys actually are going to live longer because of the diet. But I say that is a compound in red wine is going to be identified as a potential fountain of youth, I’m happy to serve as a human test subject.

    Where do I sign up?

    Published on: July 10, 2009

    USA Today reports that Earthbound Farm and PepsiCo's Naked Juice division are individually adopting new eco-packaging for their products.

    According to the story, “Earthbound Farm, the nation's largest grower of organic produce, will … use only 100% post-consumer plastic — recycled materials previously used by consumers — for all of its familiar clamshell packages. Naked Juice, the natural juice brand PepsiCo bought in 2007, will … do the same for its bottles.

    The story notes that a recent study by Ipsos Marketing suggested that eco-packaging is the third most important factor for consumers, after freshness and health benefits. And the two companies note that the moves are in synch with their larger brand identifies, which makes the investment worthwhile.
    KC's View:
    At first, it will be these smaller companies…but eventually, I expect, you will see a major company make the move…and that will be the tipping point at which there will be a major shift by manufacturers. Which is a good thing.

    Published on: July 10, 2009

    The Seattle Times reports that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found that “ the strain of E. coli found in a sample of raw cookie dough collected at a Nestle USA manufacturing plant does not match the strain that has been linked to a 30-state outbreak, and they aren't sure how the dough was contaminated.” This could mean that the dough contained multiple strains of E. coli, but investigators have not been able to figure out how.

    Nestlé has voluntarily recalled all of its Toll House refrigerated dough products made at the Virginia plant in question, and said that more than 1,000 tests have been performed to try to ascertain the source of the contamination.
    KC's View:
    Hate to say it, but this isn’t exactly reassuring news … and it chips away just a little bit more at consumer confidence in the food supply.

    Published on: July 10, 2009

    Fast feeder McDonald’s, looking to challenge both Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts in the coffee wars, has announced a plan to offer customers a free hot or iced mocha every Monday from 7 am to 7 pm, beginning July 13 and running through August 4.

    The program – seven ounces of iced mocha and eight ounces of hot mocha, smaller than McDonald’s traditional “small” sized drinks – is described by the company as “one of the largest sampling initiatives” ever undertaken by the company.
    KC's View:
    McDonald’s is playing hardball. Starbucks needs a response…but I hope it isn’t sampling as much as something else that emphasizes its “third place” roots. I keep thinking that they should have evening “happy hours,” with reduced pricing that encourages people to come in and hang out. Maybe they could only serve the reduced price beverages in real mugs instead of paper cups, which would keep people there and be good for its environmental image.

    Published on: July 10, 2009

    The Network of Executive Women (NEW) announced that Jeff Noddle, executive chairman of Supervalu, has been named as the organization’s “Outstanding Champion for 2009,” an award that will be given to Noddle in late August at the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) Executive Conference in Colorado Springs, Colo.

    The award is presented each year to a senior-level consumer products industry leader "who has consistently championed the mission of NEW, created diverse, high-performance work teams, demonstrated the business imperative of diversity and inclusion, and challenged the industry to remain an employer of choice."
    KC's View:

    Published on: July 10, 2009

    In Memphis, the Daily News reports that a battle seems to be brewing on the in-store health clinic front.

    Kroger is opening “The Little Clinic” inside five of its stores there, and Walgreen already has eight “Take Care” clinics inside Memphis area stores.

    In both cases, the clinics are operated by physician assistants and nurse practitioners, and offer basic health care services including vaccinations, treatment for common ailments and physical exams.
    KC's View:

    Published on: July 10, 2009

    The Seattle Times reports that as threatened, Dole Foods has filed a lawsuit against a Swedish documentarian, accusing director Fredrik Gertten of defamation and asking for a permanent injunction that will prevent his film, “Bananas!” from being shown publicly.

    According to the Times, the film “ documents the alleged plight of Nicaraguan workers who say they were made sterile by the pesticide DBCP used at Dole banana plantations in the 1970s. It even accused Dole of causing the deaths of banana workers, something not alleged in lawsuits.” However, the courts have ruled that the accusations against Dole actually were part of an extortion plot against Dole, “a scheme that could have cost Dole $40 billion in damages.”

    In filing suit against the filmmaker, Dole said that “to screen, promote, and profit from this film, despite the fact that its entire premise has been adjudicated a fraud ... is the epitome of reckless and irresponsible conduct.”

    Gertten says that he has not been convinced by the court rulings in favor of Dole, and hopes that his free speech rights will be upheld.
    KC's View:
    I’m as big a free speech advocate as anyone, but this one just strikes me as deliberately ignoring proven facts.

    Published on: July 10, 2009

    The New York Times reports that Dunkin’ Donuts, having beaten back Krispy Kreme’s efforts to challenge its doughnut supremacy in New York City, now faces another challenger – Tim Hortons, the Canadian chain that is the number one purveyor of coffee north of the border.

    According to the story, “Between Friday night and dawn on Monday, the Riese Organization intends to convert 13 Dunkin’ Donuts stores into the city’s first Tim Hortons restaurants, including early-morning, high-traffic shops like the one in Pennsylvania Station and another next to the New York Stock Exchange … The conversion comes after a decade of contention between Riese and Dunkin’ Donuts that peaked after The New York Post published a photo of a mouse munching on a doughnut in a shop operated by Riese on 46th Street at Fifth Avenue. The chain sued Riese, and the sides eventually agreed that the relationship would end this week in what Dunkin’ Donuts called a ‘disenfranchisement’.”
    KC's View:
    Imagine how the mouse feels. Dunkin’ Donuts one day, Canadian doughnuts the next.

    Published on: July 10, 2009

    • The News & Observer reports that in Cary, North Carolina, a new McDonald’s will feature a free electric vehicle charging station that “will allow drivers of electric cars to plug them in and charge them while they eat.”

    According to the story, “the restaurant will feature two charging stations, which will sit at the front of a parking space. If the feature proves popular, McDonald's can expand the system to add more stations.”
    KC's View:

    Published on: July 10, 2009

    • HE Butt Grocery Co. announced its CFO, Martin Otto, will take on additional responsibilities as the company’s chief merchant, effective January 1, 2010. He succeeds Steve Harper, who will transition to a part-time role after 16 years with the company.

    According to CEO Charles Butt, “Martin is a powerful and well-rounded leader with the proven ability to meet our customers' ever-changing needs. His insight as chief merchant will ensure that we continue to be strongly positioned for success now and in the future.”

    Advertising Age reports that Bernhard Glock, 46, VP-global media and communication for Procter & Gamble Co., “is leaving the company, and his duties overseeing the company's roughly $8 billion global media outlay will be split between P&G's former shopper-marketing chief, Dina Howell, and a senior purchasing executive.
    The move appears to give purchasing a bigger role in marketing services, as it expands duties for Stewart Atkinson, manager-global marketing purchases, who assumes part of Mr. Glock's role as manager-global brand-building purchases. Mr. Stewart's duties now include overseeing global media agencies in addition to other marketing-services shops, including creative agencies, design, public relations and market research.”

    • Staples Inc. announced that it has hired Amee Chande, formerly Walmart’s vice president of business development, to be its new senior vice president of strategy.
    KC's View:

    Published on: July 10, 2009

    • BJ’s Wholesale Club said that its June sales were down 4.8 percent to $1 billion, from $1.05 billion a year ago. Same-store sales were off 7.5 percent.

    • Target Corp. reported that its June sales were down 2.6 percent to $5.69 billion, on same-store sales that were down 6.2 percent.

    • Family Dollar reports that its third quarter net profit was up 36 percent to $87.7 million, from $64.7 million during the same period a year ago. Q3 sales were up 8.2 percent to $1.84 billion, on same-store sales that were up 6.2 percent.
    KC's View:

    Published on: July 10, 2009

    …will return.
    KC's View:

    Published on: July 10, 2009

    I played my first round of golf – ever - yesterday, and walked off the course with what I think is a brilliant business idea.

    RFID chips for golf balls.

    Think about it. It seems like more than half the time spent playing golf is spent looking for the damn ball, and if each one had a unique sensor, and the golf carts were equipped with little screens attuned to the proper frequencies, it would save everybody a lot of time.

    Not that I lost that many balls. I think about a half dozen balls went missing during the five hours or so that we played. Not bad, I gather. Never went into a sand trap or into the water. Just into high grass and brush or just so far off the course that I couldn’t find them. Also, I hit four trees … though I gather it is unorthodox to use tree trunks for bank shots like one would in pool. (I’m only marginally better at pool than I am at golf, so to say I was doing it on purpose would be a stretch at the very least.)

    I still have trouble telling the difference between birdies and bogeys, though it didn’t really matter because I didn’t have either. What I did have, however, was a delightful afternoon – the people I was playing with were funny and nurturing, and they didn’t make me drop trou and run down the course half naked when at two points I teed off and couldn’t even get the ball past the women’s tee. (Strange tradition, that…unless, of course, they were pulling my leg.) We were playing something called “best ball scramble,” which I gather is a great way to break in since it takes a lot of the pressure off a newbie like me; the event was a tournament being played at the annual meeting of the Iowa Grocery Industry Association, at Lake Okoboji, Iowa…a fine group of folks who were highly encouraging if a little amazed that anyone could live 54 years without playing golf.

    I got to watch the people I was playing with make some terrific shots, including one in which Michael Sansolo teed off and got the ball about a foot from the hole. Another person we were playing with sank a 36-foot putt. I was- and am – awed.

    Am I going right out to buy a set of clubs? Hard to say … five hours to play a round of golf just seems like an awfully long time, but on the other hand, it was enormously pleasurable. I suspect I will find myself going to the driving range on a semi-regular basis, and maybe taking a lesson. (I did hit the driving range three times before playing the round

    And if I want to practice putting, there’s this great place near me to do that. It even has windmills and waterfalls on the course!

    Whole on vacation last week, without the deadlines of MorningNewsBeat, I actually had some time to read a number of books that I’d like to recommend.

    • “Outliers,” by Malcolm Gladwell. This book has been around for a while, but I finally caught up to it and was extremely glad I did. Gladwell’s unique view of what makes people successful challenges conventional wisdom, and it occurred to me while reading that it puts a lot of responsibility on people to nurture their children, their students and their employees – how we do this, and how we put them in the position to succeed, often is what makes the difference.

    • “Home Game,” by Michael Lewis (“Moneyball”), is a terrific little memoir of fatherhood…and while his kids are a lot younger than mine, I often laughed out loud or nodded with agreement when he described the challenges and pleasures of fatherhood.

    • “10-10-10,” by Suzy Welch. This really isn’t my kind of book – I’m not much into self-help tomes – but I was intrigued after watching the author interviewed on “Morning Joe” and though it was worth a shot. I downloaded it onto my Kindle, and was glad I did. “10-10-10” has at its core the notion that when making virtually every decision, one should consider the impact it will have in 10 minutes, 10 months, and 10 years. Welch applies it to both business and interpersonal situations and offers a ream of real-life examples…and I thought the was written with a generally light touch, which makes it go down easily. And, “10-10-10” has the advantage of a strong core idea…when you think about it, using this criteria as a decision-making tool makes a lot of sense.

    Good stuff, all. I can recommend all of them.

    There were also a couple of must-read magazine articles that I suggest you take a look at, both from the July issue of Fast Company.

    One is the cover story, about what could be an epic battle between Amazon and Apple. The piece takes a look at Amazon’s development of the Kindle, and both the strategy and tactics that are behind a piece of technology that I find to be both revolutionary and one of the most useful things I own. And, it suggests how Apple might decide to go after this market, and how its strategies and tactics would differ from Amazon’s. It is an excellent piece of business writing, and two companies that I admire enormously.

    The second is a great piece about Julie Roehm, who, you might remember, is the marketing genius hired by Walmart and “charged with fighting off Target's aggressive rise by transforming Wal-Mart's image from low-end merch peddler to temple of discount chic.” Roehm was a star, but she ran aground when she challenged an ingrained and change-resistant corporate culture … and she was quickly fired, making lots of headlines and leaving her with a blot on her resume and, among other things, a house in Bentonville, Arkansas, that she can’t sell. It is a fascinating read, and doesn’t pull any punches about Roehm’s culpability.

    Maybe it is just me, but I thought that Jon Meacham, the editor of Newsweek, had it absolutely right when he explained why he decided to leave “What To Read Now,” a feature about books and writers, on the cover last week when a lot of people would have bumped it for Michael Jackson.

    “Jackson was an undeniably important cultural force,” Meacham wrote, “the kind of figure about whom I would like to read a piece or two on his -bizarre life and artistic legacy, but not much more than that. Since we edit the magazine on the assumption that our readers are like us, we moved quickly to produce just those pieces while preserving the books coverage.”

    Precisely. I realize this seems callous, but the media overkill on this story has been truly depressing. There are a few other things happening in the world…and I just think the coverage has been way over the top.

    I didn’t see many movies while off. There was my third viewing of “Star Trek,” which my wife and son wanted to see at the local iMax theater…and which I continue to like very, very much. And there was a movie called “The Proposal,” a romantic comedy with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds, which was okay…though I would suggest that if they’d had the courage of their convictions they could have made a much funnier comedy by resisting the urge to have a message or get touching every 20 minutes or so.

    We also saw “Public Enemy,” which my son the actor worked on as an extra…and loved it. Johnny Depp is terrific as John Dillinger, and director Michael Mann does his customary great job creating a visual milieu that is distinct and helps drive the narrative. My only compliant might be that some of the themes promised in the beginning of the film – that Dillinger’s fall coincides both with the rise of organized crime and the creation of the FBI, which reflects a broader cultural shift in America – weren’t quite delivered on. But it is an excellent piece of moviemaking.

    Thanks, by the way, to MNB user Mike Gantt…who turned me onto a 2006 album by JJ Cale and Eric Clapton called “The Road To Escondido,” which I downloaded to my iPod and have been listening to almost nonstop, except when I’ve been listening to Cale’s 1971 solo album “Naturally.” (Cale wrote and originally performed “After Midnight,” which is on “Naturally”…and the rendition is distinct and just perfect.)

    My wine of the week: the 2008 Mar de Vinas Alabarino from Spain, which is the perfect summer white when served cold and accompanied by seafood or pasta.

    That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you Monday.

    KC's View: