business news in context, analysis with attitude

Responding to our story about the shortage of adult-age employees facing US businesses, one MNB reader wrote:

I started my career in the grocery industry working as a “Box Boy” in 1963 working at a starting wage of$1.65 an hour at a chain store.  This job helped me learn about taking care of the customer, learning how to check, ordering for the  store from a paper order guide, building displays, being responsible for being there when the work schedule was posted, and again taking care of the customer. The ground work was laid for going to college at Portland State College for a whopping $305/term. Today, it costs about $5000/term. I ended up working for Campbell Soup for 2 years and then a 48 year career with a large paper company. What does the above missive have to do with a shortage of workers? In MHO, most young people are not encouraged by parents to go out and get a job. Second, young people are not motivated to make money to accommodate their wants, i.e. a car,  gas for their car, pay for their I-Phones, clothes, help pay for their college tuition, etc. 

Most of the major grocery chains here in Portland, OR are woefully understaffed. Help wanted signs are everywhere, with a starting wage of$15-$16/hour starting wage. 20 hours a week is $300+ per week.  Journeyman starting wages are $25-$26/hour. I am not categorizing young people and their work ethic but where are the parents encouraging their youngsters to go out and get a job and why that is important ? 

The food/grocery industry needs to have young people entering this wonderful industry. 

Reacting to our piece about Walmart investing in vertical farm company Plenty, MNB reader Bob Thomas wrote:

Here in Panama you can find vertical farming leafy greens in all of the super markets.  Panama wants to become the next Latin American food hub.  In 2021 Panama passed a law that aims to create about 50 thousand acres of special economic zones for farming.  In 2019 the International Congress on Controlled Environment Agriculture held its event in Panama City (Panama).  In 2016 The Research Center for Controlled Environment Agricultural Production (CIPAC) in Panama led Panama’s embrace of Controlled Environment Agriculture. Panama is the first Latin American country to understand that climate change is impacting traditional agriculture in Latin America and due to these permanent changes is preparing to completely embrace new technologies such as controlled environment agriculture (which includes vertical farming, greenhouse vegetable production and indoor agriculture.)

On another subject, MNB reader Brian Blank wrote:

Addressing the bandwidth and technology problems would seem to be of critical importance, and I don’t understand why grocers seem to be lagging so far behind.  Not even speaking to behind the scenes operational needs, stores keep pushing digital coupons, but are poorly prepared for customers to utilize them in real-world conditions.

I don’t personally know anyone who sits down with the weekly flyers from local grocery stores and goes through each and every page of each and every store, making sure to go onto each store’s website or app to load all potentially useful digital coupons before heading out for their weekly shop (ditto for sitting down with the web site or app version of the weekly flyer).  In my experience, it seems people mostly find out about the extra savings of digital coupons in store, where they have to stop in their tracks and try to navigate through the app—fingers crossed the store has halfway decent wifi, or at least a strong cell reception—and hope that all that results in the digital coupons actually loading to the “loyalty” card, which chances are maybe 50-50 that it will.

And finally, one MNB reader wrote in about my FaceTime lament about the significant number of people who would skip births, deaths and weddings to attend a Super Bowl game in which their favorite team was playing:

Your readers know that you are not an NFL fan. So what if it were the Mets were in a game 7 of the World Series?

Births and funerals I realize can sometimes be unexpected. But any of my friends or family would not plan a wedding close to the Super Bowl.

Here's the deal.  In the unlikely event that the New York Mets were in the World Series and one of their games conflicted with a birth, wedding or funeral of a family member or close friend, I would take my cue from Sandy Koufax, who in 1965 decided not to pitch the first game of the World Series against the Minnesota Twins because it fell on the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur.

It is all about priorities.  I might not be happy about missing the game, but I hope I'd do the right thing.