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What are Employees and a Vision Worth?

Touch the Soil News #669 (Feature photo CCA SA 3.0) Back in 1978, John Mackey (co-founder of Whole Foods) borrowed $45,000 from family and friends to open a small natural foods store called SaferWay in Austin Texas. When Mackey was evicted from his apartment for storing food products in it, he moved into the store, using a water hose attached to the dishwasher to take a shower. In 1980, SaferWay merged with Clarksville Natural Grocery to create the first Whole Foods Market with a staff of 19. The next year (Memorial Day 1981) a major flood devastated the new Whole Foods Market. The loss was estimated to be $400,000. The…

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When Big Capital Speculates

Touch the Soil News #654 (Feature photo – CC SA 3.0) While we call it the food chain, make no mistake the primary focus of food-chain giants is not food. It’s about how much money we can take out of the food businesses. After many years of consolidating, the stores of Albertson’s, Safeway, SuperValu, Acme, Jewel-Osco, Lucky, Shaw’s, Skaggs, Seeessel’s, Bruno’s, Smitty’s, Buttrey Food and Drug and Star Market have all been acquired into one company now called Albertsons Companies, Inc. Albertsons Companies Inc. is owned by a capital management firm called Cerberus. News leaked out recently that Albertsons Companies Inc. is looking at buying Sprouts Farmers Market, Inc. (Sprouts)…

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Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen Gets Swallowed

Touch the Soil News #631 (feature photo CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain) Consolidations in the food chain are not new – just getting bigger. Restaurant Brands International (Burger King in the U.S. and Tim Hortons in Canada) just agreed to buy Popeyes Loiusiana Kitchen for a cool $1.8 billion in cash. Announced on February 21, 2017, the deal is set to close in early April. So how do you come up with $1.8 billion cash in less than 2 months? No problem. Restaurant Brands International has $1.4 billion in its checking account of which it will use some of it. The rest will come from borrowing from J.P Morgan Bank…

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The Stakes in Berry Farms Are Getting Higher

Touch the Soil News #461 Many of our parents and grandparents were used to going out in the country and picking berries right off the farm – it was called u-pick. Today, many home gardeners still plant berries and enjoy them off the vine. As an industrial agricultural crop, berries represent a huge capital investment in terms of land, labor, chemicals, fertilizers, harvest and cold storage. The highly perishable nature of berries represents a costly undertaking in terms of transport, extending shelf life and risk of spoilage. The point of this discussion is that berry production requires large amounts of capital – and that’s where Wall Street comes in. While…

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