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Is Not Making Enough Money Driving Our Future?

Touch the Soil News #1074 (Feature photo – Groceries – CCA SA 4.0 International) It is estimated that the investment universe in the U.S. is about $100 trillion – $70 trillion in loans/debt bonds and $30 trillion in stock companies. A large share of the debt bonds and stocks are held by large institutional investors. To make the point, United Natural Foods (a food distributor) announced that it was buying Supervalu (a grocery store chain). Interestingly United Natural foods is the already the largest supplier of natural foods to Whole Foods. So now it seems United Natural Foods needs their own grocery store chain to move product to make it…

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Multi-Billion Dollar Mustard

Touch the Soil News #767 (Feature Photo – Aeae-commonswiki – CC SA 3.0) We’ve all had French’s Mustard and many are familiar with Frank’s RedHot hot sauce. These two Iconic brands are owned by a British company called Rekitt Benkiser – not a name we associate with the mustard. However, Rekitt Benkiser wants to sell its garnishment brands that include French’s Mustard and Frank’s RedHot. Two of the world’s largest food companies – Unilever and Hormel Foods – were in there competing to buy the brands. At the time, talk was around $2.9 billion for the brands. However, neither got the mustard. McCormick Company – the company that makes the…

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Plenty – Can it Be So?

Touch the Soil News #710 (photo courtesy of Plenty) The information is sketchy, but unusual. Vertical hydroponic farming has been around for a few years and attracted a considerable amount of Wall Street money. There are claims that vertical hydroponics can produce more than 125 times that of field crops in the same space and use only 5 percent of the water. Recently, a new upstart called “Plenty” has garnered the attention of the Wall Street Journal and Fast Company. You can visit Plenty’s website at http://www.plenty.ag/ and read the articles. Different from rows of hydroponic plants with LED lights above them, Plenty uses 20 foot vertical towers with LED…

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Duking it Out

Touch the Soil News #703 Grocery stores are the realm of big capital. Unlike the small neighborhood grocers of 50 years ago, billions of dollars of investments have muscled into the backrooms of every grocery chain. Big investors have always warred against each other, but more aggressive incarnations are erupting in the grocery industry. As we speak, Canadian grocery stores continue to take a walloping from U.S. grocery giants that moved in. A recent story by the Canadian Press revealed that between 2004 and 2015, Canadian grocers lost over 11 percent of their market share to the likes of Costco and Wal-Mart. In the United States, American grocery stores are…

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Is Demand for Food Creating a Financial Frenzy over Farmland?

Touch the Soil News #484 (feature photo cc-by-sa-2.0) In 2008, while the focus was on the unfolding real estate crisis, another crisis was simultaneously unfolding. Through price shocks on basic grains, about 100 million people (bringing the total to over 900 million) were relegated to the ranks of the hungry almost overnight. Today, with the multitude of global trade agreements in place, one thing about the future cost of food is certain – food will go to the highest bidder in the world. There were shortages of wheat in 2008 in the U.S., as higher international bidders cleaned out the nation’s stocks. The volume of investor dollars looking for farmland,…

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The Food Chain – A Landscape of Power Struggles (Part 1 of 2)

Touch the Soil News #364 We perceive the 2016 Presidential Election to be important – because we believe whoever is President will have great power over our future. However, is it possible there are powers as strong as political power? Powers that – in addition to control over food – exert influence on the political system. Is there evidence of this power? Consider what happens when consumers want something better out of the food chain. To get change, people must employ protests, boycotts, letters and smoozing politicians – which can take years even decades to get action. The opposition to positive change is tremendously powerful. Consider how long folks have…

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