September 21, 2017

marketIn malls across the country, food courts act as hubs where shoppers can eat, drink, and take breaks from comparing price tags. Along with sharing a common purpose, these corrals of restaurants and drink stands often serve similar fare, too. After all, walk into any food court and you’re likely to find mainstay chains like Sbarro, Subway and Panda Express alongside a couple of local options.

This dependable if slightly boring structure served retail centers well for decades as shoppers Continue reading

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September 12, 2017

avocadosOne hundred years ago hardly any Americans outside of California had ever seen an avocado, let alone ate one. Then during the 1920s a Los Angeles postal worker named Rudolph Hass planted an avocado seed in his backyard that eventually grew into a highly productive tree. His children raved about how their father’s flavorful fruit beat out any competitors at the local market, eventually convincing him to patent the Hass Avocado in 1935. Soon growers across the region began to Continue reading

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August 25, 2017

lyzadanger-diliffFor decades millions of Americans kept their pantries stocked with plenty of established names like Campbell’s soup and Hamburger Helper. Consumers trusted these brands to provide their families with reliably tasty meals in a short amount of time. But Big Food’s dominance could be coming to a close as America’s eating habits change. After all, many modern consumers are eliminating processed foods from their diets while others don’t seem to care about buying name brand items.

Just visit your local Continue reading

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August 24, 2017

roger-h-gounLast year beverage companies sold $16 billion worth of bottled water, a 10 percent increase from 2016. The drink is even more popular than soda, but it certainly isn’t a hit with everyone. Along with being a frequent target for environmentalists, critics have also accused companies of lying about the origin of the water in their bottles. In fact, that’s the basis of a class action lawsuit recently filed against Nestle’s Poland Spring brand.

According to the complaint, “Not Continue reading

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August 10, 2017

restaurantThe U.S. economy has managed to add thousands of jobs so far this year thanks to big gains in industries like construction and health care. But even these substantial sectors can’t compare to the robust growth of the restaurant industry, which has gained nearly 200,000 new jobs in 2017 alone. And unlike manufacturing or construction work, these jobs aren’t localized to a few lucky cities scattered across the nation. Instead, nearly every American metropolis has seen a boom in restaurant Continue reading

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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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