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Multi-Billion Dollar Mustard

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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?

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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

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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?

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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)

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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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Synthetic Eggs, Milk & Beef – the “Capital” Tug of War

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Touch the Soil News #231 A theme we’ve identified in the past is the over-capitalization of the financial markets. Said in another way, there are more dollars looking for an investment return than there are investment opportunities. This over-abundance of investment capital is fueled by dollars flowing into pension plans, investment channels and the resurgence of bank growth. When dollars are competing heavily for investments with “profit” potential, we can almost count on economic cannibalism. An investment dollar cares not if its end product or service displaces an existing product or service. The moral of the story is that new investment dollars often look to shove old investment dollars out…

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The $84 trillion Gorilla – How it Jostles Food and Access to Food

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Touch the Soil News #224 Peter Puffin and Freddie Frog team up again with Banker Bob. This time to explore one of the most pervasive influences on modern life and wrestle with questions that may be destined for future public debate. Want More? – Sign up below Special Deals Ahead…Sign up!

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When It Comes to Money – Are Grocery Stores Obliged to Sell Their Souls?

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Touch the Soil News #201 Recently, Whole Foods Market issued a press release announcing a net reduction in jobs of approximately 1,500 employees. Perhaps it is not a big number relative to 91,000 employees, manning 431 stores in 12 regions. The reasons given for the cutbacks include: Keeping prices low for customers Invest in technology upgrades Improving cost structure What does improving cost structure mean? Does it mean store prices, cutting jobs, having money satisfy stockholder demands? Asking these questions is not a criticism of Whole Foods Markets, which has tremendous responsibility to stockholders. Ditto for virtually every other publically owned or privately owned company. (photo courtesy of Raysonho -…

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The Fastest Growing (Small) Food Companies (Part 2 of 2)

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Touch the Soil News #190 Thanks to research from Inc. 5000, we have some insights into the 10 fastest growing food companies and the trends they are setting. These examples, open our minds to lots of opportunities in food and smaller-scale farming. Following are the last 5. Logo courtesy of Deliver Lean Deliver Lean. This company was inspired by the idea that workers are more productive after a fresh, healthy lunch. This Florida meal delivery service grew its revenues 3,000 percent since 2011. http://www.deliverlean.com/googlesummer2014/ Logo courtesy of Kill Cliff Kill Cliff. This company’s vision is to provide functional recovery drinks. The drinks are fortified with B, C, and E vitamins,…

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Will Fossil Fuel Divestment Force Agriculture to Change Dramatically?

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Touch the Soil News # 152 The social pressure, to move civilization beyond fossil fuels is growing by the day. Divestitures of fossil fuel investments are becoming the new way to demonstrate “green.” Fossil fuel divestment is the removal of investment assets including stocks, bonds or other investments in fossil fuel industries. The thought is to reduce carbon emissions and accelerate renewable energy. Driving the popularity of divestments are the physical manifestations of climate change. The fossil fuel divestment movement is no small movement. It is the fastest growing divestment movement in history. HSBC bank – one of the world’s largest – recently reported that international climate change actions could…

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