Happy New Year and good riddance to the dumpster fire that was 2020. Normally on January 1, I am trying to recover as we have an annual party with >50 people. I may be the first person ever to miss a hangover. While I wasn’t partying, I was reading about John Kellogg, degradable bottles, caterers and their plight, bucatini and storing onions. Enjoy and best wishes on the New Year!
- The main indexes of the financial markets will finish the year at or near all-time highs. One explanation is people saving money while staying home.
- BUT unemployment is chronically high as is food insecurity.
- Unemployment won’t be fixed until COVID is under control and while the variety and production of vaccines is increasing, the distribution and execution is a mess: 3.7 million doses as a opposed to the 20 million vaccinated (2 shot process) as promised by year’s end.
- The $15 minimum wage gains momentum.
- One year ago today:
RETAIL AND CONSUMER
- A very brief biography of John Harvey Kellogg, inventor of the corn flake and all around loon.
- There is pressure to get the FDA to loosen or eliminate definitions. At one level, I don’t care about how they define French Dressing which is trash but what stops someone from putting orange color in hydrogenated oil and calling it such?
- Supermarkets chafe under the fees charged by Instacart – continue to explore building out their own infrastructure. I struggle with the concept of sustainable advantage for Instacart: the workers, vehicles and technology are the same for a grocery chain of any real size wanting to go direct. What are the advantages to scale?
- Heinen’s is a great grocery chain in Northern Ohio and always on top of trends. Their latest: a robot that makes bespoke salads on-site. Supermarket salad bars have been struggling recently and one wonders whether the overall hygiene of the concept is no longer acceptable to many shoppers. This may change the equation.
RESTAURANTS AND FOODSERVICE
- Lack of Holiday parties crushed caterers. It is a difficult sector to measure but the anecdotes are sad.
- Famous restaurants shuttered in 2020 but a lot of traditional diners and joints were lost as well.
- Of course the rules of COVID don’t really apply to restaurants in Beverly Hills.
- The Biden Administration has a lot of work to do to save restaurants.
- National Restaurant Association will always take the most short-sighted position and always at the cost of stakeholders like diners and employees.
FOOD SUPPLY CHAIN
- New plant based bottles that degrade within a year. Could help reduce mountains of plastic. Carlsberg Beer first to jump on board.
- As always there is a lot of year-end list compilation going on. Though you may not have thought it possible, there were positive developments in 2020. One is the acceleration of lab-grown meat technology.
- Girls sell Girl Scout cookies. Girls harvest palm oil. One thing is quaint and charming, the other is a modern horror.
- The agriculture industry depends on H-2A visas for migrant labor. Agricultural workers are exploited and abused and COVID hasn’t made things any easier.
- In following a story on the great Bucatini shortage – weird, less interesting than I hoped – and clicked my way to a recipe for Sugo Amatriciana, and now I am hungry.
- Dalgona – or whipped coffee – is something I am going to have to try.
- In another edition of you are doing it all wrong, you aren’t storing onions the properly.
- An explainer video on the huge and complicated farmer strikes in India: