business news in context, analysis with attitude

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

• Beef Products Inc. (BPI), which earlier this week said that it would have to permanently shutter three factories and lay off 650 factory workers because of the controversy over lean finely textured beef - an ammonia-washed filler now known popularly as "pink slime" that retailers are running away from, in part because consumers were upset because its existence was never acknowledged on packaging - now says that it may also have to lay off corporate staff because of business challenges.

"Regrettably, this evolving situation has also forced us to begin to evaluate the impact these changes in production may have on our corporate personnel," the company said in a statement Tuesday.

It a lot of ways, it seems to me, this speaks volumes about BPI's corporate culture. The attitude seems to be that they have to fire the front line employees, but hold onto the corporate staff as long as possible ... which tells you where they think the real value is created.

I'm not saying that the factory layoffs weren't necessary ... just that the tone of the statement runs contrary to what I think needs to be a core value in every business, that leaders should never, ever think they are bigger than the front line.

• The Associated Press reports that Kraft Foods has paid a $37,000 fine to the state of Wisconsin to settle allegations that 24 of its packages there were significantly below their stated weight. Kraft did not admit any wrongdoing in coming to the settlement.

• The Financial Times reports that MasterCard has "unveiled new digital wallet services designed to enable banks and retailers to take advantage of anticipated growth in electronic payments." Under the name PayPass, MasterCard says that it "is creating a unified network that will enable merchants to accept digital payments made by consumers either electronically in stores or online using a smartphone, computer or tablet ... The services will be rolled out in the third quarter first in the US, Canada, the UK and Australia, and then in other countries."

Slate reports that a new study from Duke university suggests that by 2030, 11 percent of US population may be severely obese, or 100 pounds or more overweight -double the number today.
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