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On November 26, 2017, alisonboreh commented on Siemens’ choice on Brexit Island :

Graham, I completely agree: the difficulty here is that we’re planning not only for the unknown, but for the unprecedented, and so it’s difficult to know exactly which scenario to focus on. Of course, there are analysts out there who can make much more accurate predictions that I can from this side of my laptop; and so, my recommendation would be to try (to the best of their ability) to plan through Brexit, rather than putting business operations on hold until we “see” what happens.

My gut tells me, as Graham suggests, that even in a “hard” Brexit scenario, a deal might still be brokered between the government and Siemens in a way that would protect the business from falling apart – but again, who’s to say. (After what we’ve seen in the last 24-months, I’d believe almost anything is possible). Given that much of Siemens’ business is outside of the UK (as Matt has described above), and armed with Juergen Maier’s formal statement in support of Siemens UK, I’d say it’s best we move forward with business-as-usual (and then prepare mitigation plans in the case that hell freezes over; it’s happened before, after all).

On November 26, 2017, alisonboreh commented on From Canned Tomato Soups To Personalized Nutrition and Transparency :

What an interesting move on the part of CEO, Denise Morrison. I’m not surprised she made such a pivot, given that the soup industry is dying (hello, sodium) and Campbell’s other brands (Pepperidge Farm, Bolthouse Farms) have shown poor performance over the past few years [1].

I understand Campbell’s re-positioning around health and well-being [2]; it’s all the rage these days, after all. And given this new lens, a website like “What’s in My Food” makes a whole lot of sense, as @JessicaSchiffman mentioned above. But what I can’t wrap my head around is how Habit fits with the rest of their product portfolio.

Habit is fundamentally geared toward food that is good for your body, and whether made with organic whole wheat or not, Goldfish simply never will be. Sure, Campbell’s acquired Bolthouse Farms in a last-ditch effort to appeal to the 80% of consumers that are trying to eat more healthfully [3]; the business was spun-off into the Campbell Fresh (C-Fresh) division in the last couple of years. But the division is struggling (in a big way). Can Campbell really DO healthy food? I’m yet to be convinced.

And while Habit may be good for the population (and what cool technology to boot), I’m not sure Campbell is the right parent company for the new-age startup to sit. In the meantime, I’ll be snacking on some Milano cookies while we wait to see what happens.

[1] Nunes, Keith. “Campbell Soup hit by slow soup, beverage sales.” (22 May, 2017). Retrieved from

[2] “Campbell Outlines Key Strategies for Growth.” (20 July, 2016). Retrieved from

[3] Kell, John. “Campbell Soup Shares Drop On Wilted Fresh Food Sales.” Fortune. (14 Feb, 2017). Retrieved from

On November 26, 2017, alisonboreh commented on Guinness and Brexit: What’s it all A-stout? :

First of all, you’re making me thirsty. But more importantly, what an interesting read! I would hate to see such a timeless (and delicious) beer go to waste because of political turmoil in the region. I think @MJ makes an interesting point about pursuing other product lines, though I’d rather not allow such a historic brand to falter under the effects of Brexit (even if the business as a whole could protect its economic health with the growth of its other brands alone).

Now, our ultimate goal is not to manage TO Brexit, but to manage THROUGH Brexit – and of course, easier said than done, given that we’re still not exactly sure how the legislation will end up. That said, there might be a Goldilocks solution here, in the case that legislation does not turn in our favor. I would propose we keep the Belfast, Northern Ireland bottling and canning factory, but reduce the about of production that takes place there, in turn changing the factory to more of a “tourist destination” (and perhaps local brewpub?). In this way, we can still bottle and can in Belfast (so that people can still tour the facility, and provide regions on that side of the border with the product). Moreover, we’d be able to protect some of the workforce (as well as the historical site), while relocating most of the product to the UK, thus avoiding the Brexit-related costs you’ve mentioned above. Sure, it’s not a perfect solution, but at least it might mitigate some of the backlash from fully shutting down the plant (if that’s what it comes down to). I’ll keep my fingers crossed for Belfast and Guinness!

On November 24, 2017, alisonboreh commented on The Beef with Beef :

Well, if I weren’t a vegetarian already, I sure would be after reading your article. But alas, trying to convert the rest of the world seems a lost cause. So instead, I’ll instead consider the final question you’ve posed in your post about how to make the beef industry as environmentally (and economically) sustainable as possible.

Now, it seems to me that JBS is doing all the right things: sustainably managing natural resources, investing in operational efficiencies, and engaging the industry in their best practices. As one of the Big Four meat-packers, JBS is surely sitting in a position of power with enough influence to push for major changes in the beef industry as a whole – but, I have my doubts.

Will JBS be enough to get Tyson, Cargill and National Beef (not to mention, their smaller competitors) on board? I would imagine that this type of R&D investment comes with a pretty substantial price-tag – one that perhaps only the Big Four can stomach. And if, as you’ve said, this is a “commodity industry struggling to maintain its profits,” will competitors find the reward worth the cost?

While I’d like to think the Big Four’s commitment to environmental sustainability is genuine, it seems to me they’d only be making these types of investments for one reason: because it makes good business sense. Perhaps these types of changes constitute the only way to ensure that the cows can survive and thrive under new climate conditions (as your Exhibit B suggests). But until consumers put their collective foot down, I can’t imagine they’d be willing to foot the bill for a more expensive beef patty, simply to cover the cost of JBS’ increased R&D investments. And, as long as a beef patty (whether at McDonald’s or the grocery store) is cheaper than a head of lettuce, I can’t imagine the consumer population making any significant changes to their purchasing behavior.

So, is there enough incentive for the Big Four (JBS included) to make such a change? Not from the consumer, there isn’t. But maybe if the government puts its foot down (and we don’t back out of the Paris Climate Accord after all), there may be enough pressure to make environmental sustainability a universal focus (rather than just a farce) for the industry.

On November 24, 2017, alisonboreh commented on A Perfect Storm: When Hurricanes Hit the Medicine Supply :

Your title – A Perfect Storm – could not be more fitting to the issue at hand – that is, not just the storms themselves, but the supply chain disasters that follow these increasingly common natural disasters. While your recommendations on emergency readiness and inventory stockpiling are (at the very least) absolutely necessary, I do worry (above all else) about gaps in infrastructure that might prevent them from even making a dent in relief efforts in the first place.

As I understand it, stockpiles aside, the biggest issue in Puerto Rico was the lack of infrastructure on the island, and the complete inability to navigate through the ravaged region. Even if we HAD major stockpiles hidden in Puerto Rico, there would’ve been no way to reach them. And so, while we MUST prioritize the development of such stockpiles (at whatever cost), we must also inevitably reinvest in the infrastructure of Puerto Rico – not only for the good of the state, but for the good of the pharmaceutical industry as a whole.

That said, if the only reason we stockpiled pharmaceutical goods in Puerto Rico in the first place was the tax subsidy that ended in 2006 (as you’ve referenced above), it seems to me that this would be a good time to refocus our pharma-related investments elsewhere, and stockpile goods in a place both cheap to hold inventory, and perhaps less susceptible to climate-related disasters.

This goes without saying that as a country (of which Puerto Rico is a part), we must rebuild the roads, the businesses, the infrastructure as a whole of Puerto Rico – but this won’t (and shouldn’t) be the job of the FDA, but rather the federal government at large.

On November 24, 2017, alisonboreh commented on Would your favorite wine still be around in 2050? :

It’s bad enough to tell me we’re burning through the ozone layer; but now, you mean to tell me that I might not have wine to drink while I watch it all happen!? I think you make some great points, @hj2189 – but your post makes me question whether several of the effects of climate change on the wine industry may be hard to curb.

So, different types of grapes require different growing conditions (and in some cases, specific regions, in the case of champagne, for example). And while wineries like Jackson (with enough capital for investments) can push for more water and energy-efficient practices, I wonder whether eventually, changes in climate will limit the number of different wines a single company can even offer in the first place.

I’d imagine that only large producers would be able to stomach the newly sky-high price of growing different grapes for different wines in different regions (thanks to changing climates), not to mention the bloated supply chain costs from producing and distributing around the globe (as you’ve mentioned above). So, perhaps this is less salient for large wineries – but in the future, will we see smaller companies unable to produce more than a single blend (until they’re bought by a larger collection, like Jackson Family Wines, of course).

My fear (yes, selfishly, mainly for the sake of quality) is that only the largest and strongest companies will be able to survive the increased costs associated with climate change that you’ve identified in your post – and what does this mean for the quality of the wine that we as consumers will be able to afford to buy? Sure, it’d be great for large wineries and collections to share their best practices between one another, but does this mean that small businesses falter in the face of their bigger foes?

I’ll agree with you on one point: Uber sure did not have a good year. Between external bad press (e.g., the #DeleteUber movement) and internal woes (cough, Kalanick, cough), finding additional revenue streams through new services like UberEATS and UberRUSH seemed the least of their worries. That said, it would seem to me that it’s demand and not supply that should be top of mind for the tech giant moving forward.

Contractors and driver-less cars aside, let’s think about the competitive forces Uber faces now and in the (near-term) future. You’ve got regional competitors like Lyft, Easy Taxi and Cabify nipping at their tail. On the food (rather than people) delivery front, you have on-demand delivery services like Blue Apron, GrubHub, and (worst of all) Amazon Fresh. I’m sure there’s a (more public) play where Uber could sell its consumer demand data, in addition to traffic and purchasing patterns, though for the sake of publicity, who knows whether they’ll take advantage of this option (read: how much do consumers care about their privacy?).

Now, you raise an interesting point in saying all of these cards could come falling down if there are no contractors to support the services they offer in the first. But at its core, Uber is a technology – and not a transportation – company. As such, their priority should always be on the algorithms and data analytics that has been (and will continue to be) their core differentiator.

I would suggest that Uber provide for their employees what the market demands and no more, as they bide their time before driver-less cars arrive. It seems, as you’ve stated, that they’ve made good strides in that direction – but let’s not get ahead of ourselves in suggesting they make too many sweeping changes to their model or their costs may further curb profitable growth.

On November 24, 2017, alisonboreh commented on Whole Foods Market: Feeling a Bit… Under the Weather? :

Ah, Whole Foods – or should I say, “Whole Foods, Whole Paycheck.” And yet, I’m guilty of being a regular Whole Foods customer (despite the hit my wallet takes after every visit). Having now read your post, I wonder whether prices will continue to skyrocket (as climate change makes products more expensive, due to unavailability), or whether Amazon will be able to drive down distribution costs enough to make the grocery chain affordable once again. In a quick personal anecdote, I just ordered Whole Foods groceries via Amazon Fresh for the first time yesterday, and I must admit, the prices seemed much more reasonable (and they were delivered right to my door at no cost).

But let’s refocus on your proposed solutions. Your recommendation on diversifying sources has me wondering whether or not locally sourced and sustainable products – the food we should all be eating (if we could afford it) – would ever reach a scale large enough to make a significant dent on Whole Foods’ costs or product offerings. Sure, we see local apples in the fall and (when I was in Ohio, at least) corn in the spring – but what about the rest of the produce aisle?

So much of the dilemma, as I see it, tracks back to changes in consumer behavior. We want a mango when we want it, no matter where it’s grown or what season it is. As a result, the demand for out-of-season products leads chains like Whole Foods to fulfill procurement needs from far away (e.g., tropical areas that can grow mangoes and ship them to snow-filled Boston in the dead of winter), leading to much higher prices for consumers – but do we care? Given Whole Foods stock price (and leaps from 2016 to today), I’d guess not.

Even with more reliable food availability, it’d be my guess that without a significant shift in consumer behavior (e.g., accepting that you’ll only get that mango when it’s in season, and perhaps only when it’s locally available), local sourcing won’t be an option for big box grocery chains; they’ll keep providing what the consumer wants, and try to drive down costs through other means (e.g., more efficient supply chains, as you’ve described above). But, that won’t stop me from shopping for seasonal produce at the local farmers markets whenever possible; after all, it’s cheaper, tastier and better for my health – or so I’m told.

On November 24, 2017, alisonboreh commented on Will On-Demand Food Delivery Kill the Chipotle Burrito Line? :

You highlight an interesting dilemma, @JessicaSchiffman. I too have thought a lot about the rise of the on-demand delivery platform (especially now that I’ve almost entirely resorted to ordering my meals online, thanks to the loss of any semblance of free time). What’s interesting about this digitization supply chain dilemma for Chipotle, however, is that it’s twofold: a) how to quickly make the burrito for delivery consumers (while avoiding potentially long customer lines), and b) how to get the burrito to the customer as quickly as possible.

I’ve seen second make-lines in practice (e.g., Sweetgreen), which speeds the process of food production (i.e., avoids Postmates employees waiting in line with other customers); the same would hold true, of course, in the case of the “ghost kitchens” you’ve mentioned above. That said, I think the crux of the issue actually has less to do with kitchens / food production delays, and more to do with technology that could minimize the time between order entry & production, and production & delivery. Enter: UberRUSH API.

UberRUSH API allows developers to integrate the checkout flow directly with the Uber network, enabling delivery services to be triggered automatically with purchase. So, not only do companies (like Chipotle) avoid costly bottlenecks by building deliveries right into their daily operations, but they have the benefit of a huge already-in-existence delivery network – the global fleet of Uber drivers – including real-time supply and demand visualization. Perhaps this could be an outsourced version of the virtual drive-thru concept you mentioned?

To truly combat on-demand delivery services (and stay relevant!), Chipotle would be wise to hop on the Uber API train as soon as possible, and provide their customers with better delivery times and zero delivery fees (like they’re faced with on UberEATS or GrubHub). Otherwise, even their other-worldly guacamole may not be enough to draw customers into the store.