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Jobs in the Food Chain – Take a Big Hit

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Touch the Soil News #825 (Feature photo – Andrew Heneen CCA 4.0 International) One of the reasons we follow economic data in the food chain is that it illustrates an underlying weakness in the food chain. There are many things that can topple it. Recently, the Bureau of Labor statistics revealed the impact on the job market by the hurricanes that hit the U.S. Not surprisingly, the hospitality-and-Leisure industry lost 111,000 jobs of which 105,000 were in the food-service category. A 2010 Bureau of Labor Statistics study indicates that 14.8 percent of all employment in the Gulf States is in the hospitality sector (of which food service is the largest…

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Odd, but Interesting

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Touch the Soil News #823 (Feature photo – public domain by Caldorwards4) How much is a typical Albertson’s grocery store building and parking lot worth? On September 25, 2017, the Albertson’s company entered into an agreement to sell the real estate facilities of 71 of its grocery stores and lease them back from the new buyer. A rather unusual transaction, we were able to find the original terms of the deal as registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The purchase price of the real estate associated with the 71 Albertson’s stores is $720,661,534. This equates to an average of $10,150,162 per store location. Unfortunately, the document did not include…

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Executive & Investor Compensation in the Food Chain

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Touch the Soil News #820 (Feature photo – F. Bowen – CCA SA 4.0 International) Recently, Tyson Foods issued a press release that is worthy of noting. Tyson Foods is the world’s second largest meat processor just behind JBS SA. As we have mentioned in earlier stories, JBS SA is selling off assets to pay for its prolific use of bribing public officials. Tyson may soon be #1. Tyson announced that in order to stay “financially fit” it must continue to streamline operations and, among other things, eliminate 450 more jobs. Over the past three years (2014, 2015, 2016), Tyson’s top five executives received total compensation of $105 million dollars…

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Food and Radical Economic Transformation

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Touch the Soil News #701 Far away in South Africa, people are trying to re-invent the economy, much like elsewhere in the world. Called the eThekwini Municipality, this urban region is the gateway to Africa as it is the busiest seaport of the African continent. This municipality of 3.5 million people was formed out of a group of independent local councils and tribal lands back in 2000. In a rather unusual move – compared to other cities around the world – the eThekwini Municipality just made a bid (USD $1.7 million) to buy two chicken farms from a larger chicken company that was going out of business. The city already…

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Food Bank Gets Into Agriculture – Is This a Game Changer?

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Touch the Soil News #693 (photo courtesy of Regina Food Bank) (A news editorial by Benjamin Gisin) Involvement in the economy in direct physical terms (limiting, if not bypassing, the use of money) is simmering around the world for one reason – too many hungry people. The Canadian province of Saskatchewan is very large – about the same size as Texas. Its capital city – Regina – is a modern city of 220,000 people. Regina is known for having one of the most progressive food banks in the world. In a nutshell, they collect an average of 3.5 million lbs. of food a year (almost 90 semi-trailers) and fulfill almost 100,000…

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Over 500 Million People Short of Fresh Produce

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Touch the Soil News #630 In the winter, 80 percent of the European Union’s fresh produce comes from modest farming areas in Italy and Spain. These areas much like California, except that this year unseasonably wet and cold weather has compromised production. Low supplies of things like iceberg lettuce, spinach, broccoli, peppers, zucchini, tomatoes and eggplant have already caused rationing in the U.K’s largest grocery chain. In Southern Italy and France, blizzards are destroying the year’s crops of greens, citrus and grapes. The word is out that supermarkets from the U.K. to Germany are low on pretty much all produce. While the Europeans can import some fresh produce from the…

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Food Chain Insights into the 2017 Economy

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Touch the Soil News #590 (feature photo CC. SA. 3.0) Roughly half of all American food dollars ($780 billion) are spent eating out – mostly in restaurants. The restaurant industry employs 14.5 million people, almost 10 percent of the nation’s workforce. So while economists and government bean counters tell us the economy is going great guns and things have improved, you would think that would show up in the restaurant industry. However it is not and some restaurant economists now question the official consensus that the economy is improving. The Nation’s Restaurant News (www.nrn.com) recently reported that 2017 doesn’t look so hot for the restaurant industry. Following are some of…

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What Will $1 Billion Buy?

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Touch the Soil News #559 For starters, it might buy you a grocery chain of 134 stores with 24,000 employees (The Price Chopper grocery chain in New York). Albertson’s grocery stores (2,205 locations and 164,000 employees) recently said it has been in advanced talks with the owners of Price Chopper to buy the whole chain for about $1 billion. Price Chopper is owned by the Golub Corporation – a family enterprise that got into the grocery business in 1932. Different from other grocery stores, Price Chopper phased out the sale of tobacco products in all of its stores some two years ago. The store has also been trying to become…

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The Big Chefs

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Touch the Soil News #556 Making news recently are the companies Aramark and Compass. Many of us are probably unfamiliar with them – more in a minute. They have both announced changes in how they source chickens from more humane suppliers that offer less crowded conditions with natural light, hay bales and perches for the chickens. It seems these two companies are concerned with how the world perceives them. But what kind of companies are Aramark and Compass? They are food service companies that provide meals in institutions cafeteria-style. You will find them at colleges, hospitals, universities, stadiums and correctional institutions. While they have foreign operations, a large part of…

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Is Competition Really That Wasteful?

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Touch the Soil News #525 In this era of less-than-abundant natural resources, it is not unusual to see vacant lots and perfectly good buildings sitting idle and just going to waste. Unfortunately with the emergence of idle facilities also comes the demise of jobs and companies that were occupying those facilities. As we have always said, the food chain is one of the more interesting places to gain economic insights about our lives and economics. Rather accidental, a handful of statistics about the restaurant sector has come into our hands that weigh in on the vacant buildings in cities. In recent months, 10 companies overseeing 17 restaurant chains have filed…

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