business news in context, analysis with attitude

Got the following email from MNB reader Jerome Schindler about the lawsuit challenging Quaker Oats' "100 percent natural" claims:

The Quaker Oats "100 percent" natural lawsuit is absurd yet validates my advice (usually ignored) to clients over the past few years to cease any unqualified claims of all natural or 100 percent natural.  Even Ivory Soap only claims to be 99 and 44/100 percent pure.

Responding to our stories about criticism of Amazon's apparent decisions - now being reversed - not to offer same-day delivery to some poorer neighborhoods in markets that it serves, one MNB reader wrote:

People are growing tired of having their business dictated as to where they are or not allowed to do business. These are business choices based on pure economics but the left continues to draw something other than business into the decision. I have worked for many companies that had set parameters as to where their business would go. Tight streets, home business, parking violations and unconventional deliveries all have an impact on where proper business can be conducted. Every time a business makes a decision, a new “macroaggression” is invented try to tell the world what they did wrong.

I'm not sure there is such a thing as a pure economic decision anymore ... technology-enabled transparency means that companies are being judged not just on quality and price, but on environmental impact, social positions, labor policies, and a bunch of other issues. Some of these issues generate a response from the government, and some of them are amplified by both traditional and non-traditional media.

Is this fair? Not always. Does it result in decisions sometimes being made because of perceptions rather than reality? Sure.

But it doesn't really matter.

One MNB reader has been reading Ace Atkins' Spenser novel, "Slow Burn" this weekend, and email me when lines strike her as resonant of stuff we talk about here. And one of those lines (cleaned up a bit for MNB purposes) is this:

"Those days are long over. Get with the (bleeping) times or they’re gonna get with you."

On the same subject, another MNB user wrote:

Kevin - my 2-cents on the Amazon expansion to South Chicago for Amazon same-day service.

My darling daughter is attending the University of Chicago (coincidentally in the South side of Chicago).  If you know anything about UC, you know it's not a cheap place to attend!

The student population is over the moon for same-day Amazon, and I think they will find it will be a money-producing move for Amazon to move ever-so-slightly south of the loop.

Not everyone in South Side is a hoodlum, folks!  Some are paying ~65K each year to have their children live there!

On another subject, MNB user Larry Ishii wrote:

I cannot agree with your comments more regarding Kroger using Lucky to move into the Minneapolis market.

I have the utmost respect and awe for Kroger. It makes me wonder why other companies cannot be as well run as Kroger.

I only worked for Kroger for one year (after the Fred Meyer Inc. acquisition) but it did not take long for me to see who and what they are.

From another reader, about the same story:

I don’t think Cub fits the Kroger acquisition profile. They generally don’t look at chains that aren’t already performing well.  The Roundy’s deal of course came with Mariano’s which gave them a huge presence in Chicago where they had none.

As for Minneapolis. It’s certainly being discovered by outside retailers. We serve Lucky and we serve most of the  important coops which is a strong category here.

If you look at who’s coming to Minneapolis from without it’s not mainstream grocers but Fresh Thyme, Lucky and even the Hy Vee’s are on a different order than just a regular grocery store.

My guess as far as Kroger goes in the Minneapolis market would be Kowalski’s an iconic brand they could retool into Main & Vine locations or Lucky or divide them up. Main & Vine for instance would be good for downtown Minneapolis…the Hennepin store.

And regarding possible Kroger interest in buying Cub Foods, one MNB user wrote:

In "Amok Time" (an episode of the original "Star Trek"), Spock told T'Pring, "After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing after all as wanting.  It is not logical, but it is often true."

This might better fit Kroger's interest in Cub Foods.

The one thing that I'm pretty sure of is that Kroger will be totally logical in deciding what to acquire ... and perhaps more importantly, what it does not.

I also think that we have to be careful about giving too much credence to speculation fueled by consultants more interested in headlines than facts. Because as Spock also once said, "Insufficient facts always invite danger.”

MNB reader Tom Murphy had a thought about Walgreen seeming to flirt with the cannabis business:

This is a copycat industry.  First mover advantage will be short-lived as everyone hits the bandwagon.  Let me see, cannabis oils in the pharmacy section, joints in the cigarette section, and brownies in the bakery!  A holistic approach is warranted!

We had a story about McDonald's testing garlic fries, called "Gilroy fries" after the California community that grows much of the nation's garlic, in some stores, which led Jan Fialkow to write:

Sure hope McD’s plans to use US garlic! If they end up using Chinese imports, someone will find out and make it public. Aside from the inaccuracy of the name, the safety of Chinese foodstuffs is a problem for many. Maybe not the people who frequently eat at McD’s but attendant publicity would not be positive.

Totally agreed.
KC's View: