business news in context, analysis with attitude

Got this note from MNB reader Patrick Smith:

"The Pacific Northwest is home to the origins of Albertsons/Safeway and regional Kroger Chains, QFC and Fred Meyer. They dominate the traditional supermarket business in the region. As reported, if allowed to go through, store closures and loss of jobs will be casualties of the merger, plus the decline of a competitive environment for the consumer.

It is hard to fathom lower consumer prices when Kroger will have to recover the twenty-five billion dollars they are spending to acquire their competitor. Access to the retailer’s shelf will be much more difficult for startup and regional brands whose distribution at Fred Meyer and QFC have noticeably shrunk since Kroger took complete control of these two chains in about 2011. It seems that the merger will only benefit Albertsons/Safeway stockholders and the Kroger Corporation."

Yesterday we took note of a Bloomberg story about how "Kraft Heinz Co. and Jeff Bezos-backed startup NotCo are following through with their bet on plant-based foods," with products called Not Cheese and an animal-free mayonnaise.

I commented:

Somehow, "Not Cheese" is a phrase that does not titillate my taste buds.  With a name like that, I half expect the slogan to be, "Also Not Tasty."

One MNB reader responded:

Not Cheese from Kraft/Heinz is nothing new, over 30 years ago when dairy costs increased significantly, Kraft Imitation Cheese Slices made using Soybean Oil in place of cheese were introduced and hung around for a while, but were usually sold as economy items to compete with generic quality products.

I am not sure how you can make mayonnaise without eggs as eggs are in the standard of identity for a product to be called mayonnaise.

Plant based looks to be a fancy name to cheapen the product and sell at a premium cost.

Yesterday, commenting on two labor-related stories, I said that I did not understand the unions' positions, saying that Amazon CEO Andy Jassy violated labor law by saying in interviews that his employees would be better off without a union, as well as saying that any benefits offered by Starbucks to non-union employees also had to be offered to employees who have chosen collective bargaining by their union.  I conceded that I'm not a lawyer nor a labor law expert, but that both positions seem illogical.

Prompting one MNB reader to write:

I am totally impressed. Liberal, New England, Kevin coupe siding with management over the unions? There is definitely hope. Baby steps but it’s a start. Congratulations.

First of all, if you'd been paying attention over the past 20+ years, you would know that I've always had a high level of skepticism about the ways in which unions approach management-labor issues.  I've also had a high level of skepticism about the ways in which management approaches management-labor issues.   I think they both focus on the wrong stuff, and I've said that here over and over.

So this is nothing new.

I've also said here on numerous occasions that my politics are complicated … and so while I appreciate you trying to characterize me as one easily-defined thing, because that is so much easier than acknowledging any sort of nuance, you would be wrong.