retail news in context, analysis with attitude

We've had a lot of discussion and stories about beef over the past week or two, which led MNB user Mark Raddant to write:

As a Kansas City resident, I have read the entire review/expose of the Beef Industry they published last week.  Several of your readers suggest steaks need only be cooked to temperature on the outside.  However, modern robotic tenderizing processes puncture the outside of the steak and inject fluids that make the steak more tender, but which also can drive bacteria from the outside to the inside, where if cooked rare, will not kill the bacteria.  Quite a few people have had severe problems and even a few fatalities as a result.  Even so, the US Food Industry is still among the world’s safest.

On the subject of Walmart and the bribery scandal that is occupying much of its time, one MNB user wrote:

Interesting, while reading the full version online of this very well documented report, I heard on TV, a lawyer who is an expert in bribery law state that in his opinion, "at the max and I’m stretching it, that Walmart will only pay a fine of 150 million dollars”. Seems a small fine for a company that has sales in the billions. If this is the case, I guess the old saying that “crime doesn’t pay” needs to be taken off the books.
What will be interesting no matter what the fine and or jail time, will be how WalMart board and their Chairman deal with past and current leaders who had knowledge of this… and I don’t mean just taking back the bonuses…

From another reader:

I have been in the grocery retail and wholesale business for over 35 years and have watched Walmart go from a fringe grocery player in the late 80’s and early 90’s to the “King of the Grocery hill” in less than 20 years.  Throughout their history here in the states they have been masters at “wearing down” public resistance to new site locations across this country…. while only a small minority of citizens seem to care!  While their tactics in the US may not have been as blatant as in Mexico and other countries, they have found ways to convince even the most cautious city and county elected officials to approve site after site across the US…. while only a small minority of citizens seem to care!  Approvals in spite of clear past examples that many of those sites would drive numerous small “long term” local businesses out of business for good…. while only a small minority of citizens seem to care!.  Their sheer volume dictates that once any mid size or smaller CPG company “gets” the Walmart volume into their veins, they are indeed at the mercy of Walmart from that point forward!
While many will look at these comments and consider them coming from simply an old timer that is too set in his ways, the true sadness is not about Walmart and their historic growth but about what we as citizens of the greatest country on earth settle for these days.  Most of the “values” of our constitution as well as those this country was founded upon have been replaced by how many billions we can generate and how fast we can influence and intimidate on our way to the top no matter what the cost.  While I can only hope the Walmart Bribery news does indeed slow down the ‘King of the Grocery hill” and wake up the masses to the reality of what Walmart has done to the US business society, the sad reality is as has been the case so far…. ONLY A SMALL MINORITY SEEM TO CARE!  I simply am one of those in the small minority.

Another MNB user wrote:

I copied this......It is a quote from Alan Simpson the retired Senator.....Seems appropriate to me.

"If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don't have integrity, nothing else matters."

And, from MNB user Barbara Strickert:

While I agree with you that Wal-Mart any anyone should show integrity by admitting to wrong doing, I think it is unfair for the media to continuously single out Wal-Mart. I would like to see a probe on the Feds, and other major retailers trying to do business in Mexico.

I understand why some people will feel this way, but I disagree. This coverage strikes me as entirely fair.

Walmart is the world's biggest retailer and one of the world's most influential companies. You want to be that big, you have to count on having a target on your back if you misbehave. In this case, the New York Times remains the paper of record (though that mantle means less than it used to). It seems entirely appropriate to me that the New York Times would pursue this story. (That doesn't mean it isn't looking at how other companies do business there.)
KC's View: