retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Yesterday, describing it as "a point of personal privilege," I used the Eye-Opener piece to talk about the recent events in Charleston, South Carolina, and how the community's reaction to a hate crime that clearly is an act of domestic terrorism demonstrates an amazing level of faith, hope and love.

The first email I got from a reader contained the following three words:

Stick to business!

I take your point. But the answer is no.

Sure, MNB is about doing business ... but over the years it has been about a lot more, and sometimes I'm just going to write about whatever the hell I want to write about, whatever moves me.

Sometimes it will be baseball, movies, wine, or beer. Sometimes, other stuff.

I just hope that most folks will be patient with me.

Luckily, some are.

MNB reader Mark Heckman wrote:

Well said, my friend.  We can all be encouraged and learn a great deal about the goodness of humanity by how the people of Charleston have rallied around faith and love.  Evil exists, but has no chance against good people who truly love their neighbor as themselves.

MNB reader Tom Robbins wrote:

Very well expressed and I can only pray that ALL of your readers feel the same.

And, from MNB reader Jeff Totten:

Your comments are right on the mark. Love conquers all. We must pray for the sanity and civility of our nation and leave the judging to God. Hate loses. Amen!

As I said yesterday, I'm not that big a person. I'm perfectly willing to do a little judging right now.

MNB took note yesterday of National Public Radio's The Salt story about how California-based Raley's is "taking a swing at the food waste problem by trying to get customers to embrace the differences" between "cosmetically perfect fruits and vegetables" and variations that are less pleasing to the eye but may taste just as good. The goal is to use product that might otherwise be thrown out anywhere in the supply chain.

One MNB user wrote:

Hi Kevin. Been a fan of yours since Retail Insights...I'm currently retired and live in a small town in Virginia. We have a small Food Lion, where the policy is not to give "day old" produce to humans or animals.


We live in a rural area. Lots of animals could eat day old. Or we could even put it on our compost piles. Or better yet we might even be able to give some to the food bank. Or soup kitchens!

I am informed it is "policy." Well, hello. This is 2015... Might be time to rethink policy.

Might be. Attention, MNB readers at Food Lion.

MNB reader Julia Nufer wrote:

The quality of the produce department is a key factor driving consumers’ overall ratings of grocery stores, and loyalty to them.  If consumers see Raley’s as selling inferior produce, it could erode brand equity substantially.  This underscores the importance of a successful campaign to get consumers to “embrace the ugly”.  I’ll be curious to see the messaging Raley’s uses in its education campaign.  Seems to me it will be crucial to not only communicate that the blemished produce is good to eat, but to successfully link buying blemished produce to feeling good about yourself, being responsible, doing your bit to save the world.

From another reader:

Typical of such a left wing progressive organization; making assumptions that make no practical sense what so ever. Where does one start with such an initiative. OK, let’s see, I’m a supermarket chain working to prove to consumers that the produce my chain offers is better than what my competitor offers right across the street. What to do? Oh I know…I’ll offer ugly produce! Produce that typically does not grade high enough to make it to retail shelf! Hmm, how am I going to price this ugly produce compared to the premium offerings in stock today? Will it justify a higher retail? Hmm…no, probably not. How low will retails have to be to get folks to choose it over my premium offerings? I mean there has to be enough of a difference to justify the premium but fair prices I’ve been charging all these years. Will it be price that drives customers to buy this offering or will it be an altruistic motive to pay a fair price for produce that farmers typically can’t afford to pack because the return is too low? How much will I have to sell to maintain my average sales per customer and gross profit dollars?

The reality is that the majority of fresh produce sales by grade, reputation (as in brand equity), inventory, and demand. Whether a box of apples grades Washington Extra Fancy Premium, or U.S. Fancy, the agricultural costs, harvest, transportation, and packing costs are the same, and if FOB prices aren’t high enough to cover those costs, the grower loses money and at the end of the day, they make decisions based on these returns to determine what crops to grow….But wait, I know, why don’t we just lobby congress to set a national minimum FOB by commodity, regardless of supply, demand or quality? Just like the national minimum wage?

Wait a minute. Raley's is a left wing progressive organization? Or are you referring to the venture called Imperfect Produce that is trying to change people's perceptions and eliminate waste? Or MNB, for writing about it? Or all of the above?

Finally, we had a piece yesterday about how Neil Young has released a new album attacking Monsanto, Starbucks and Walmart, among other corporations.

Which led MNB user Daniel Harriton McQuade to write:

And the 80 Million millennials said "Neil Who?"

You're right. Poor kids probably never heart of 'Heart of Gold" or "Rockin' in the Free World."
KC's View: