business news in context, analysis with attitude

We got a number of emails about our reporting on the Supreme Court decision striking down state laws that prohibited out-of-state direct wine shipments when in-state shipments are allowed.

Not all of these emails were complimentary.

MNB user Richard Sokolnicki wrote:

You have to give up this wine elitism. You fail to even mention the impact that the Supreme Court ruling could have on similar lawsuits by Costco regarding beer.

Whereas the wine ruling would have a fairly small impact on the retail industry as a whole, a similar ruling on beer would have a potentially huge impact in the marketplace. It could eliminate wholesalers for large chains and therefore lower prices for the consumer.

I'm also sure that there are many small breweries that would love to ship their goods out-of-state in order to "educate our palates in ways never before possible."

Fair point.

In our commentary, we responded to concerns that minors could take advantage of the ruling to buy alcohol illegally by saying that “we suspect this won't be a big deal, at least not in the wine category. After all, how many kids look to get a buzz on with a nice pinot noir?"

MNB user Joseph Coley responded:

I am glad that the Supreme Court ruled on the direct shipment of out of state wine. However, your comment above isn't appropriate. Alcoholism among teens is a huge problem in this country, and to make light of it doesn't fit in well with what you do everyday....provide great information and commentary about the food business. I am not normally a letter writer, but this comment just bothered me enough to have to say something.

Perhaps we were, as we often are, too glib for our own good. As the parent of teenagers, we certainly take this problem seriously, and didn’t mean to suggest that we did not.

But MNB user Liz Schlegel seemed to like our coverage:

I can't WAIT to be able to buy wine directly! As a Vermonter, it's the one thing that is imperfect about my state (okay, maybe there are a couple). I am happy to pay a fair price for good wine to whomever -- local wine store, Costco, grocery store -- but I hate the fact that the state controls distribution and all wine buyers (except restaurants, I think) have to buy off the state's list. It means you rarely find something special and different --because everyone has the same stuff. Now I can branch out a little... aaah, wine of the month club, here I come!

Thanks for your great wine recommendations, by the way. Much

Our pleasure.

On the subject of Pepsi’s decision to stop selling Pepsi Edge, MNB user Ted File wrote:

Many persons who are on insulin have found that Edge was one if not the only soft drink that would not affect their health situation.

Wonder if the Pepsi folks ever considered that or marketed to this huge market?

We also got a number of emails about the negative comments made by MNB users this week about high fructose corn syrup.

One MNB user wrote:

After reading some of the email responses you posted regarding the NYT article on low-sugar products, I have to take a stand for high fructose corn syrup.

As a product developer for a national food brand, I can attest to the fact that there are real, tangible reasons that HFCS is used instead of granulated sugar, stevia, or sucralose in many products. All sugar products and sugar substitutes have different properties - you cannot simply replace one with the other. Sugar, for example, will grain over time unless used in the right proportions. Sometimes you want that, and sometimes you don't, and that's when you look to other ingredients to balance things out. HFCS will prevent granulated sugar from graining, and helps keep your soda pourable, your truffle smooth and your granola bar chewy. And HFCS is not any more or less safe than regular old sugar or any of the other sugar substitutes that haven't been around long enough for us to truly understand their effect over a human lifetime.

As food manufacturers it is our responsibility to meet consumer demand. As consumers it is our responsibility to understand that no one food is responsible for poor health, to decide what form of diet and exercise is right for us and understand that it may not be right for everyone else, to not believe everything we read and use common sense, and to make smart choices.

I have sugar, Splenda and stevia at home by the way. They all serve their purpose at some point... just like pizza and beer.

And another MNB user wrote:

While the conversion of "corn" to High Fructose Corn Syrup may involve the use of enzymes, chemicals and bacteria I am sure that these are not present in the end product. Natural cheese is also made (as it has for centuries) via a complex process involving enzymes and bacteria and I suppose beer and wine is made via similar processes as well.

Fructose is fruit sugar. I doubt that there is any credible scientific evidence that HFCS is any more of a health risk than other carbohydrate sweeteners. As for the economics, that is a result of the domestic sugar industry throwing huge sums of money at our Congress to preserve the artificially high prices that result from the government sugar loan program.

Responding to our story about Tesco getting into the residential real estate business in the UK, MNB user Jerry Sheldon wrote:

Wait till Wal-Mart starts doing this .... the National Board of Realtors will really get upset then.

“Companies Upset By Wal-Mart.” Sounds like a big club.

Finally, MNB user and industry wise man Glen Terbeek sent us the following email:

When (if) the soon to combine UCC/Transora and the newly combined WWRE/GNX merge, we will finally have a true exchange.

After all, the definition of an exchange is to efficiently (frictionlessly) connect retailers and manufacturers with information, products, and funds. It was just unbelievable to me that competing exchanges formed along the traditional battle lines in the first place, especially after all the time spent on ECR and supply chain efficiency rhetoric. Hopefully we will shortly get to where we should have been ten years ago.

Better late than never.
KC's View: