retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Got the following email from an MNB reader who took exception to the way I wrote about McDonald's:

I'm in the retail food industry for many years, so I'm always interested in new programs. So many retail formats are on the down side of growth, but one of the best performers in QSR is MickyD, I don't patronize the chain but respect the operation. Obvious you don't respect all good operators.

I'd like to think we can disagree on what makes a good operator. I think it is entirely fair to say that McDonald's has developed an impressive international machine for the making of fast food and delivering it at a cheap price. And that can be a pretty enticing model ... I was stuck at O'Hare the other day for about 10 hours, and it took all my will power to resist the McDonald's in the terminal. (I knew I would like it while eating it, and then would hate myself afterwards.)

But I think that quality of food is at least as important as scale. When I pick on McDonald's, it is from that perspective.

Got a number of emails about the discovery that some grated parmesan cheese includes wood pulp as a filler.

MNB user Liz McMann wrote:

Wow.  Wood pulp in our parmesan. What year is this?

For anyone who is wondering if consumer food co-ops are still relevant in this highly competitive grocery industry, the answer is yes.  The same fraudulent and deceitful food practices that led to the start of the first (successful) consumer food co-op in 1844 are still happening. When the grocery store is owned by the shoppers, you get transparency and trust, along with great food.

MNB user Kevin C. Lavin wrote:

As a Food Broker for the last 35 years, I have seen a number of mislabeled and adulterated products.

Inexpensive pear juice added to apple essence and labeled 100% Apple Juice.  Lemon juice with citric acid and water added making it imitation lemon juice but labeled as 100% reconstituted lemon juice.  Ketchup labeled as fancy grade when in fact the solids indicated standard or extra standard grade.  And the list goes on.

It is difficult to compete when competitors do this and many retailers do not want to hear about it because they like the price.  The government is also very slow to act on any information.

And MNB user Chuck Jolley wrote:

Reminds me of a large end cap display I saw at a major supermarket chain.  Boxes and boxes of “Blueberry muffin mix” and on the back in the prep instructions was “Just add your own blueberries.”

Got a nice note from MNB reader Monte Stowell about Michael Sansolo's column about the unique collegiality between US Supreme Court Associate Justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg:

Perhaps one of the best columns I have read in a long time. I was quite humbled when I had read about how Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg felt about her colleague Antonin Scalia. I have sent Michael’s column to many of my friends and family for a lesson to be learned from how we can all learn and be better people. Listening is probably the best life learned skills we can have as a person. 

In criticizing a new study by the Corn Refiners Association that suggests enormous costs to consumers if Vermont's GMO labeling law takes effect, I suggested that "if manufacturer 'A' changed the formulation of its products to eliminate GMOs and sales dropped, causing the stock price to go down, you can be damned sure that the executive team would figure out a way to bring prices down and revive sales, because their jobs - and high-value benefits packages - would depend on it."

To which one MNB user responded:

It's always been fascinating to marvel at how you've been able to sustain a successful newsletter while continually voicing so much contempt for many of its readers.

I think the real problem is that some people cannot tell the difference between contempt and healthy irreverence and legitimate skepticism. If people want obsequiousness and reverence, there are plenty of other choices.

On the other hand, I'm just glad this fellow considers MNB to be successful...
KC's View: