retail news in context, analysis with attitude

...with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

• The Associated Press reports that climate change is having an impact on maple syrup production in New Hampshire, "as winters become warmer and frigid nights so critical to their business become fewer ... Some producers talked of seeing a steep drop in the amounts of sap they are getting, while others are dealing with another trend attributed to warmer temperatures in which the sap goes up to the top of the trees rather than down to taps. Others complained about a drop in the sugar content of their sap."

The story says that "the ideal temperatures for sap production are in the 20s at night and 30s and 40s during the day. When the climate is in the 50s and 60s during the day and the nights stay warm, sap runs not to the taps, but to the tops of the trees, causing the tree to bloom. That can lead to a cloudy and off-tasting product."

US Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-New Hampshire) says that climate change is having a dramatic impact on natural resources that ‘‘define us as a state and are critical to our economy, our environment, and our way of life in New Hampshire ... Unfortunately, we are already seeing the real impacts of climate change on our economy — including on our maple syrup and ski industries."

• The Associated Press reports on how "lovers of Italian olive oil are in for some sticker shock this year, with prices due to jump by as much as 20 percent," owing to a combination of bad weather and pests that "hit the harvest in Southern Europe, most of all in Italy, where production is halved from last fall. That’s pushing up Italian wholesale prices by 64 percent as of mid-February compared with a year earlier, which translates to shelf price increases of 15 to 20 percent in Italy."

Experts say that "Italian olive oil is more vulnerable than that of other major producers to climate shifts and pests due to its varied topography, from hills in the north to larger groves in the south. This also lends great variety to Italian olive oil, where unique flavors are derived from a combination of the terrain, topography and the more than 400 olive varieties."

The irony is that even as the Italian harvest has been negatively affected by a variety of factors, the global market for olive oil is up - beyond continental Europe, where it is a staple, sales have doubled in the US, are up seven times in the UK and are up 14 times in Japan.

Reuters reports that Restaurant Brands International, owner of Burger King and Tim Hortons, plans to acquire Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen for $1.8 billion in cash. The story says that "the deal is a bet by Oakville, Ontario-based Restaurant Brands that it can use its international reach to introduce Popeyes' Louisiana-style fried chicken and buttermilk biscuits to more diners globally."

In the early days of our relationship, Mrs. Content Guy's idea of Cajun food was Popeye's. Remarkably, our marriage has survived ... not least because she learned to enjoy actual red beans and rice.
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