david-mulderFor more than a decade, the growing e-commerce industry has turned the retail world on its head. From books to beds and everything in between, online shopping offers customers convenience and value that many traditional stores can’t compete with. Still, there’s at least one area of retail that e-commerce hasn’t conquered entirely: groceries. While experts estimate that 10 percent of all shopping in the U.S. now occurs on the Internet, overall online food sales are less than half that number. Continue reading

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cowsWhen people think of the organic food movement, their thoughts will often wander to images of upscale urban grocery stores and the fancy clientele that patronize them. But the early days of organic food production certainly wasn’t led by city slickers. In fact, more than 20 years ago a group of Amish farmers developed one of the nation’s first major organic agricultural operations. Centered around the small town of Kalona, Iowa, this collection of primarily dairy farmers has thrived on Continue reading

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June 27, 2017

daniel-orthDuring the 1990s and early 2000s, studies showed that Americans drank an average of more than 50 gallons of soda per person. In the years that followed, however, soda began to lose its appeal as consumers increasingly avoided sugary drinks. American soda consumption has since shrunk to an average of 38.5 gallons per person. In the meantime, many of these former Coke and Pepsi drinkers switched to bottled water, which now exceeds soda in terms of total volume sold.

Last Continue reading

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June 19, 2017

robert-scobleA few months ago we looked at how increased competition has hurt sales at Whole Foods and slowed its growth in recent years. Faced with the possibility of shutting down stores, CEO John Mackey cleared five people from the board of directors, appointed a new chairwoman, and hired a new CFO. Executives even developed plans to cut costs while also improving operations.

Then suddenly everything changed: last week Amazon announced that it would buy Whole Foods for $13.4 billion. This Continue reading

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June 16, 2017

In Japan you can buy almost anything from a vending machine: hot tea, sushi, umbrellas, even bread in a can. This video takes a look at the economic and cultural factors that have contributed to Japan’s vending obsession, such as an excess of coinage and a shortage of unskilled labor.

Questions:

  1. How does Japan’s low birth rate contribute to its vending machine culture?
  2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of relying so heavily on vending machines?
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June 13, 2017

slgckgc-kitkatKitKats first landed in U.K. candy stores in 1935 and the four-fingered bars quickly became a hit. By the 1970s the crunchy chocolate candy had grown from a popular British treat into a worldwide hit. Nestle purchased KitKat in 1988 and solidified the candy bar’s position as a global brand. KitKat has changed little over the course of this long history, retaining its signature four-fingers of chocolate that “break off” with a satisfying snap.

But according to a recent ruling Continue reading

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raniel-diazSince 1967 customers have flocked to Trader Joe’s to stock up on such unusually named items as Quinoa Cowboy Veggie Burgers and Chocolate Dilemma Cheesecake. And while the grocery chain has attracted thousands of loyal patrons over the years, perhaps no other customer has been as dedicated as Mike Hallatt. For years this Vancouver native would drive 3 hours south of his Canadian hometown to Seattle where he would pack his car with as many Trader Joe’s products as he Continue reading

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meal-kitFor those who don’t want to take a trip to the grocery store or dine out, meal-kit startups like Blue Apron and HelloFresh bring dinner right to your doorstep. These companies place all the ingredients you need into a box along with detailed instructions about how to prepare your meal. And thanks to incessant advertising through new media platforms like podcasts, meal-kit startups have seen interest from consumers increase year after year. In fact, Blue Apron has been so successful Continue reading

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eelkeAccording to estimates from the U.N., by 2050 the global food industry will need to produce 455 million tons of meat annually in order to keep up with demand. Today’s meat makers already produce 259 tons per year, leaving behind an enormous environmental impact in the process. More than 70 percent of the world’s water consumption comes from meat and dairy production along with 38 percent of land use and 19 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Environmentalists fear that Continue reading

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restaurants-strugglesWhile retailers have seen sales drop in the years since the Great Recession, restaurants have largely enjoyed a boom time. American eateries benefitted from a shift in consumer spending habits away from products and towards “experiences” like meals and travel. And as demand increased, so did the supply of restaurants. Chipotle, for instance, has added 57 stores so far this year on top of the 240 locations it opened in 2016.

The burrito chain’s aggressive expansion is even more astounding Continue reading

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