business news in context, analysis with attitude

Responding to yesterday's story about Ukrop's plans to spend $40 million to open four new stores over the next two years, including a unit that will have a wellness center and a fitness center with a spa, one MNB user wrote:

I see one retailer is finally seeing the light and wooing customers by keeping them well and alive. Just think what this could do to reduce insurance premiums. Wouldn't the food retailer be better off with that money than the doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies?

No argument here.

We had a story yesterday about Albertsons and Toys R Us signing a deal to have the toy retailer put toy sections into all of Albertsons' stores, an arrangement that one estimate suggested could generate $100 million a year in total sales. One MNB user asked:

Why does Albertsons need Toy R Us to do this? For $100,000,000 it certainly seems like it would be worth doing themselves.

Never underestimate the power of expertise. Toys R Us knows the business, knows how to buy, and probably is taking on much of the expense. Albertsons' risk, we suspect, is minimal.

Of course, to another MNB user, it doesn't seem to matter:

Not toys, or anything else, is going to help Albertsons, Kroger, Safeway etc. against Wal-Mart. I still say they can't compete.

On the subject of food companies offering tours to school kids, one MNB user offered the "dark side" of such an experience:

In the dark ages, when I was in 2nd grade, we went on a field trip to visit the Eckrich plant in Ft. Wayne, IN. (The plant was close to Franke Park Zoo, so made an excellent day trip!) The plant made processed lunch meats like bologna and hot dogs. My mom (one of our room mothers) told me years later that I started the day as excited as all the other kids, but that about 15 minutes into the tour (somewhere between grinding and mixing...) it became apparent that the lights had gone on in my little mind. It had registered EXACTLY how hot dogs were made. I refused the free hot dog at the end of the tour, and immediately swore off my beloved pickle loaf.

Now that I'm thirty-whatever and have a family of my own -- I STILL shudder at that memory. I probably haven't eaten three hot dogs a year since, and haven't touched bologna or a bologna-type product. I think there are three hot dogs in the freezer as an occasional treat for the small one, but even he doesn't like them very often.

Regarding the move by fast food chains to get into the sandwich business, one MNB user wrote:

I am all in favor of fast food chains upgrading their offerings, but not everything rings true. The quote from Arby’s...

"People not only want food that tastes great, but food they can feel good about after they've eaten it."

I am making an assumption in this particular case, but I bet the nutritional value of one of these new sandwiches is not much better, if at all, than the standard roast beef sandwich or a typical burger and fries offering from other chains.

That’s one of the reasons that Panera irks me so much. Granted, they don’t actively promote that their food is healthier than McDonald’s or Wendy’s, but they certainly don’t do any full nutritional disclosure either. Instead, they choose to let people think they are a healthy alternative, which in most cases they are not. A grilled chicken sandwich is not a healthy alternative when it comes loaded with pesto or chipotle mayonnaise. Neither is a salad when you put a ton of dressing on it.

So, the question becomes, “How does it feel to have just eaten something you thought was healthy, when in fact, it wasn’t?”

Just to show how far gone we are, when we read the words "grilled chicken" and "chipotle mayonnaise" we immediately got hungry…health implications be damned.

And finally, regarding our commentary yesterday stressing the importance of marketing to men, one MNB user wrote:

You're "right on". I never understood why all the health and wellness issues are targeted to the female audience, and not enough awareness that men are interested in these subjects also.

Actually, now that we think about it, maybe it's because men tend to salivate just at the mention of chipotle mayonnaise…
KC's View: