January 7, 2020

The holiday season is the most important time of the year by far for the nation’s retailers, with many earning as much as 40 percent of their annual sales during that period. Fortunately for them, 2019’s holiday sales increased by 3.4 percent compared to the previous year. Retailers are especially relieved since Thanksgiving arrived six days later than it did in 2018, which took away crucial time that companies could have used to drive sales. 

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December 6, 2019

This week, multiple news outlets reported about a poor potato crop in Canada and the U.S. that could potentially affect the nation’s French fry supply. With winter weather arriving early throughout North America, potato growers lost thousands of acres of crops due to freezing temperatures. As a result, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that American spud production will drop by six percent this year. And since potatoes used for French fries tend to be harvested later in the season, Continue reading

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November 1, 2019

With Halloween done and the pet costumes put into storage, retailers across the country are now preparing for a surge of holiday sales that will arrive at the end of the month. During this vital sales period, companies can see their online orders grow tenfold as consumers grab all sorts of items for the holidays. As a result, many retailers and logistics firms bring on seasonal workers to provide additional assistance for this busy period. 

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September 6, 2019

So far this year nearly 50,000 fires have been detected in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest, the most recorded in almost a decade. According to international experts, the majority of these fires are not simply natural occurrences. In fact, a 2016 report from the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization found that cattle farmers were responsible for 80 percent of deforestation in Brazil. These enormous agricultural operations often burn rainforest in order to clear land for cattle grazing. Experts believe that Continue reading

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June 25, 2019

For decades, the New Jersey-based party supply retailer Party City has relied on balloon sales to keep it afloat. Doing so requires a plentiful supply of helium, the second-most abundant element in the universe that is nevertheless increasingly difficult to find on Earth. Due to both supply chain and production problems, companies are currently using up helium at a quicker rate than it can be produced. As a result, the skyrocketing price of helium has begun to spoil the fun Continue reading

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October 23, 2018

Earlier this year, Toys ‘R’ Us announced that it would be closing most of its U.S. stores after filing for bankruptcy in 2017. And while this was certainly bad news for anyone who loved the store “where a kid can be a kid,” it was especially unpleasant for toy manufacturers like Hasbro and Mattel. These companies depended on large holiday orders from Toys ‘R’ Us to fund operations throughout the entire year. Without a big retailer to sell to, though, Continue reading

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October 18, 2018

Every day, thousands of huge cargo ships criss-cross oceans delivering products to markets all over the globe. But that’s not the only thing these vessels bring to port: they also emit sulfuric gases and fine particles that settle over cities as smog. In order to combat all this toxicity, a couple of years ago the United Nations passed a resolution to reduce the amount of sulfur content in maritime fuels. According to the guidelines, by 2020 shippers must switch to Continue reading

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September 6, 2018

About a century ago, American manufacturers started stacking their goods on wooden pallets that could then be carried off by forklifts. Taking advantage of these two recent inventions allowed factories to transport products in bulk without making a lot of trips. Not much has changed since then: today more than 2 billion pallets circulate around the U.S. carrying everything from car parts to candy.

Despite its staying power, though, the classic wooden pallet certainly comes with its share of disadvantages. Continue reading

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August 31, 2018

Although many American advertisements suggest that Florida remains the orange juice capital of the world, the video below shows how that’s not quite the case. Due to the state’s extreme weather and a number of other factors, the South American nation of Brazil has long stood as the globe’s top producer of OJ.

Questions:

  1. Why has the size of Florida’s orange crop fallen so much in recent years?
  2. What are the benefits and drawbacks of Brazil’s dominance of the orange industry?
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March 13, 2018

Last week McDonald’s scored a major marketing hit when the company flipped its famous Golden Arches into a “W” in honor of International Women’s Day. But the logo is far from the only thing the burger chain plans to turn upside down in 2018. In an effort to appeal to environmentally conscious consumers, McDonald’s recently announced some big changes that will make it more sustainable. Along with getting rid of styrofoam cups, the chain is also switching to fresh beef Continue reading

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