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    Published on: November 10, 2014

    by Kevin Coupe

    There are reports circulating that Pepsi has been testing a new soft drink - Doritos-flavored Mountain Dew.

    Dubbed "Dewitos" by some who have tasted it, the existence of the test has been confirmed by Pepsi, which told Quartz in an email, "We are always testing out new flavors of Mountain Dew, and giving our fans a voice in helping decide on the next new product has always been important to us. We opened up the DEW flavor vault and gave students a chance to try this Doritos-inspired flavor as part of a small program at colleges and universities."

    Colleges and universities? I'm surprised they're not testing it in places like Colorado, Washington and Oregon, where recreational use of marijuana has been legalized; one would think that those would be perfect markets for this particular product.

    Steve Barnes, a freshman at Kent State University who tasted the drink, tells Reddit that it "honestly wasn’t that disgusting … It tasted like orange with a Doritos after taste. It tasted like straight Doritos afterwards though. Weirdest thing I’ve ever drunken.”

    Which leads me to believe that Barnes ought to spend less time snacking and more time studying sentence construction and proper English. ("Drunken" is an adjective, just FYI.)

    Either way, it's an Eye-Opener.
    KC's View:

    Published on: November 10, 2014

    ShopRunner, the e-commerce platform that offers unlimited two-day shipping from a wide array of retailers as well as a way for bricks-and-mortar businesses to compete with pure plays such as Amazon, said over the weekend that it has added a number of retailers to its roster, including Eddie Bauer, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, and The Limited.

    At the same time, ShopRunner said, it announced a new partnership with Alipay which it says "will pave the way for Chinese online shoppers to buy directly from U.S. retailers’ e-commerce sites." The deal, it said, "combines ShopRunner’s marketing expertise and proprietary checkout capabilities on retailers’ e-commerce sites with Alipay’s ePass payment and logistics solutions to connect high-value Chinese consumers to U.S. retailers. Alipay is China's leading e-payments provider and is widely used by hundreds of millions of Chinese online shoppers."

    The announcement says that the strategic partnership "solves historic pain points for both Chinese consumers and U.S. retailers. It enables highly-motivated Chinese consumers to shop and buy the same assortment available to U.S. consumers through the retailer’s e-commerce sites and have it reliably shipped to them. The partnership provides retailers a channel to serve Chinese consumers using their existing infrastructure and leveraging ShopRunner’s knowledge of both markets."
    KC's View:
    This is yet another example of why retailers need to ramp up their research and development efforts when it comes to online marketing and sales. As e-commerce becomes more and more mainstream, and the first choice of the next generation of consumers (not to mention the current generation), this increasingly will be the first option chosen by young people who have little fealty to traditional shopping alternatives.

    Published on: November 10, 2014

    The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reports that a nonprofit organization called the Cancer Nutrition Consortium is teaming with Hormel for a new line of foods designed for the fatigue and nausea often experienced by cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy treatments. According to the story, they have worked with chefs and nutritionists to create "a line of nutritionally balanced, high-calorie comfort foods like mac 'n cheese" that will be "sealed in a vacuum pack that stays on throughout the cooking process to cut down on food odors. Funkier foods like fish will be masked with odors like apple or pumpkin, which patient focus groups found pleasant."

    Bruce Moskowitz, a physician and chairman of the Consortium, tells the Journal that "they're still in the process of selecting a name and pricing for the line. Hormel will produce the meals, which will be available to the public in late 2015. Patients will be able to order online and have the products delivered for free."
    KC's View:
    I just think this is great. I hope it gets real traction among the many families that are dealing with this terrible disease, and that it is a big success for everybody.

    Published on: November 10, 2014

    TheStreet reports that both Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts plan to ramp up their dinnertime offerings in 2015, hoping that new products will bring people into their stores during later day-parts, not to mention allow them to compete more effectively with fast food chains ranging from McDonald's to Chipotle.

    In the case of Dunkin' Donuts, the move already has begun with the addition of steak to its menu.

    "Though breakfast remains our core, today people are seeking all-day dining, and they want to eat what they want, when they want it and where they want it -- that's why we are so committed to menu innovation and giving our guests even more options that they can enjoy any time of day," says John Costello, Dunkin Donuts president, global marketing and innovation.
    KC's View:
    I'm a little skeptical, but I have to be careful not to let my own tastes color my judgement about whether such initiatives will work. Mostly, I think they may be biting off more than they can chew, and diluting the brand images that have made them successful. But I easily could be wrong on this one.

    Published on: November 10, 2014

    The Financial Times reports that "US law firms are lining up investors willing to sue Tesco, following the discovery of significant accounting irregularities at the UK supermarket.

    "US law firm Scott & Scott says it is in talks with several European institutional investors about filing legal claims against Tesco after it emerged in September that the retailer had misstated its profits by £263m."

    The story notes that "investors that bought Tesco’s US depository shares can join an existing lawsuit filed in the country at the end of October on behalf of the Texas-based Irving Firemen’s Relief and Retirement Fund. At least five US law firms published notices online last week highlighting the class action suit and encouraging other investors to consider filing similar claims.

    "The lawsuit accuses Tesco, its former chief executive Philip Clarke and ex-chief financial officer Laurie McIlwee of making false and misleading statements and failing to 'disclose the truth regarding the company’s financial condition'."
    KC's View:
    My first reaction is that we should cue the ambulance sirens, because clearly we have attorneys ready to chase them.

    On the other hand … if the former Tesco leaders can be proven to have cooked the books to make themselves look better, then maybe it is heads-on-pikes time, and they deserve to spend a lot of time in courtrooms defending themselves.

    Published on: November 10, 2014

    The New York Times reports that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved for commercial planting "a potato genetically engineered to reduce the amounts of a potentially harmful ingredient in French fries and potato chips … The potato’s DNA has been altered so that less of a chemical called acrylamide, which is suspected of causing cancer in people, is produced when the potato is fried.

    "The new potato also resists bruising, a characteristic long sought by potato growers and processors for financial reasons. Potatoes bruised during harvesting, shipping or storage can lose value or become unusable."

    The J. R. Simplot Company, which engineered the potato, "hopes the way the potato was engineered will also help assuage consumer fears," the Times writes. "The company calls its product the Innate potato because it does not contain genes from other species like bacteria, as do many biotech crops.

    "Rather, it contains fragments of potato DNA that act to silence four of the potatoes’ own genes involved in the production of certain enzymes. Future crops — the company has already applied for approval of a potato resistant to late blight, the cause of the Irish potato famine — will also have genes from wild potatoes."
    KC's View:
    This is where I get into trouble with MNB readers who are assiduously anti-GMOs. Because I read about this potato engineering, and it is hard for me to identify negatives. I'm sure there are some, and I'm just not scientifically savvy enough to find them.

    But generally, this doesn't seem like such a bad idea.

    Published on: November 10, 2014

    Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said yesterday on NBC's "Meet The Press" that Washington, DC, politicians need to "stop the polarization and dysfunction," saying that "Washington has let the country down,"

    According to CNN, Schultz said that if Congress and the White House can't achieve some level of "civility and conversation and cooperation" in the next 30 days, "the business community is going to do what they've done for the last 10 years: dismiss Washington … But we can't have that."

    It isn't the first time Schultz has weighed in on the nation's political fractiousness; during the 2012 presidential campaign, he called on corporate CEOs to stop donating to political campaigns until politicians could get past partisan gridlock.
    KC's View:
    Wouldn't it be pretty to think that a statement like this will change the culture of Washington?

    Not bloody likely.

    Published on: November 10, 2014

    • The Associated Press reports that there is "a new breed of shopping apps" - such as SavingStar, Snap, Checkout 51, and others - that "let users earn money back if they buy certain products. Recent offers include getting $5 back for buying a Jennie-O frozen turkey, 25 cents back on a jar of Peter Pan peanut butter and $1 back on Dole pineapple juice.

    "Shoppers first have to open the apps and scroll though the different offers available. New deals are added weekly and the apps work in most large retailers, including Stop & Shop, Target, Wal-Mart and others … To verify purchases, users take a picture of the receipt with their smartphone camera."


    • The Associated Press reports that Sears Holdings is considering the sale of between 200 and 300 of its stores, and then leasing them back, as a way to "boost its liquidity." The move - which was warmly received by investors and analysts - is part of the company's broader efforts to slash costs and raise cash to keep itself afloat in an era when it is facing increased competition and diminishing relevance.
    KC's View:

    Published on: November 10, 2014

    • The Global Market Development Center (GMDC) has announced that Patrick Spear, a longtime CGC industry executive with companies ranging from BIC to Mammoth Office Products, as the new president of the trade association.

    Dave McConnell will remain as CEO of GMDC for the "near future," helping Spear with the transition for the next six months.
    KC's View:

    Published on: November 10, 2014

    • John V. Shields Jr., who was handpicked by Trader Joe's founder Joseph H. Coulombe to succeed him as CEO in 1989, and who grew the chain from 27 stores with $132 million in annual sales to 158 stores with $2 billion in sales by the time he retired in 2001, has passed away. He was 82.
    KC's View:

    Published on: November 10, 2014

    On Friday, MNB took note of a New York Times report that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is reversing policy and "will allow Chinese poultry processing companies to ship fully cooked, frozen and refrigerated chicken to the United States.

    The move has been criticized by some food safety activists, who say that China's questionable record in this area makes it dangerous to accept their products.

    The Times wrote that "China has wanted its chicken to be accepted as a quid pro quo for lifting a ban it imposed on United States beef products in 2003 after a cow in Washington state was found to have mad cow disease."

    My comment:

    If the chicken said "imported from China," would you buy it? Because I'm pretty sure I wouldn't …

    One MNB user wrote:

    I’m saddened that people immediately jump to the same old food safety argument whenever we converse about food imports from China.  Have we already forgotten our own spinach disaster or the peanut cluster (pun intended)?

    But why do we need Chinese chicken?  We think we need it because we’re on a constant hunt to create cheaper and cheaper ingredients.  We’re not willing to pay American farmers and food producers well.  We’re even importing organic dairy while we watch American organic dairy farmers get off-the-farm jobs to support the farm or face bankruptcy.  I don’t even think the consumer will get to vote on the Chinese-sourced chicken – I think we’ll be served this chicken in its prepared state, and be none the wiser.

    We want transparency but don’t insist upon it (all pretty much for an invented fear of extra expense).  We’re making it easier for retailers who create transparency and trust to thrive,  while the rest of our industry defends the right to keep facts secret – and fights flat sales by trying to go even cheaper.

    Currently, we’re food-reliant on China.  At what point will we begin to worry about it?  Will we wait until we’re not even farming our own and we become food-dependent?   What a mess we are creating for Generations Y and Z.

    From another reader:

    Unless some regulation has been changed …. I hate to break this to you and the rest of your readers, but once that "Chinese chicken" is cooked, that changes the rules of the COOL regulations and the Country of origin does NOT need to be declared!

    We simply will not know where that chicken came from?………SCARY!!!!!


    And another:

    THAT move will drive Country of Origin labeling on meats AND in ingredient statements of other processed foods whereas now if it is assembled and substantively changed in the states, the product does not require Country of Origin declaration of ingredients.   They just handed food activists a great big pile of manure to cultivate a great case for new disclosures, new packaging, over a broad spectrum of products.  And can likely reduce sales of US chickens, ANY chickens for that matter.  I would drop this from our diets in a heartbeat even though a beloved food if I could not be certain it was from China.

    Just how stupid are we?


    And still another:

    Not much to say here. Just another good reason for COOL..

    KC's View:

    Published on: November 10, 2014

    In Week Ten of the National Football League…

    Tennessee 7
    Baltimore 21

    Kansas City 17
    Buffalo 13

    Miami 16
    Detroit 20

    Dallas 31
    Jacksonville 17

    San Francisco 27
    New Orleans 24

    Pittsburgh 13
    NY Jets 20

    Atlanta 27
    Tampa Bay 17

    Denver 41
    Oakland 17

    St. Louis 14
    Arizona 31

    NY Giants 17
    Seattle 38

    Chicago 14
    Green Bay 55
    KC's View: