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This is a great article – I’m really impressed by the defensive investments that ABI has made to date in sustainability initiatives for the producers in its supply chain. Developing drought resistant barely seems to be an incredibly important development that will not just allow them to stabilize supply in coming years, but could also represent a significant growth area for the business should it license these species / sell crops for other purposes.

With all of this investment in R&D, ABInbev is taking the right step to identify the technological solution to some of these big issues. However, implementing these technologies at scale this will represent a significant capital outlay for growers that they may not be able to finance themselves. Will ABInbev have to play a role in investing in these growers facilities to ensure supply? There might be a need for ABInbev to vertically integrate its supply chain, completely transforming the business in coming decades.

On November 28, 2017, bmjetienne commented on Contents May Be Hot: Can Starbucks Navigate A Changing Climate? :

Great read – I could feel the caffeine headaches kicking in as my body imagined a world without coffee. I never internalized the tension that Starbucks faces between their record of protecting and supporting farmers and ensuring a sustainable, stable supply of beans.

You mentioned in your article that Starbucks is making significant investments in research to empower its farmers to implement sustainable practices. I wonder if there is room for the company to take things one step further and begin to take a more proactive approach in farmers’ operations. While I appreciate a hesitation to fully vertically integrate and take over operations of facilities, is there ever a time when it makes sense for Starbucks to make capital investments in farm technology / infrastructure to ensure supply stability?

On November 28, 2017, bmjetienne commented on Major League Baseball: A Leader in Live Content Distribution :

BAM has been a great technological development that has allowed me to keep on top of my Blue Jays down here in the US. A benefit that wasn’t mentioned in the intitial article is the significant additional selection offered to consumers. Canadian viewers were typically restricted to Jays and Mariners games (with the exception of special events, like Sunday Night Baseball for example) depending on their region, but now have access to all of the Rockies, Marlins or Rays games they want. Increased exposure is great for the growth of these teams in non-traditional markets, and begs the question of if MLB will have to revisit its revenue sharing model given teams like the Red Sox and Yankees will no longer monopolize screen time outside their markets.

There is also the question of what impact there will elsewhere in the broadcast value chain. MLBTV still relies on local broadcasters for the physical production – filming, commentary, graphics, etc. In a world where viewers substitute for MLBTV, will there still be economic incentives for local broadcasters to incur these costs? Will MLBTV need to develop 30 broadcast teams to cover all of the different markets? How will that impact the product – will it lose its local flavor?

Lastly, I can’t help but think that it might be time for BAM to cash out. With the R&D might and significant financial resources of Facebook, Twitter (who has shown to have great broadcasting / video streaming capabilities following its Periscope acquisition) and Snapchat bearing down on them (not to mention the interesting advertising / social media synergies that could come with these players) does it make sense for BAM to sell to one of them before losing out?

On November 28, 2017, bmjetienne commented on Economic Isolationism and America’s Biggest Rival: Canada :

First of all, let’s keep all of this “biggest rival” talk where it belongs – Olympic hockey rinks, atop rankings of most livable countries in the world or in debates over who is really responsible for Justin Bieber. The fact of the matter is that these countries are not rivals, but teammates. In fact, despite this issue, Canada is the US’ number one export market for agricultural products, worth $23bn in 2016.

The reality is, this policy is unlikely to change. Supply management is highly popular in Canada (~80% support in a survey conducted by the Globe and Mail), despite consensus among economists that this policy results in higher end prices to consumers. This comes from a combination of nostalgic empathy for the agricultural producers on which the country was founded, and the idea of maintaining national food security in the event of instability of imports resulting from volatile trade relations (though this shouldn’t be an issue…right?).

You raise an excellent question about whether or not Canada should be that big of a priority for Cayuga. As you note, there are many less protected market opportunities available to the company. However, if Canada is in fact that attractive of a market, Cayuga would be able to set up its own production in Canada, accessing the higher price market. If Cayuga felt it had a sustainable competitive advantage in its product, cost structure, marketing, etc this would surely present an opportunity to cash in until the cows come home.

On November 27, 2017, bmjetienne commented on Trade wars for aircraft OEMs: Can Boeing keep cruising? :

Pretty amazing that Boeing, a company that has spent the better part of the last 2-3 decades taking the EU to task over unfair trade practices with Airbus has taken this approach themselves. But I guess if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em?

I agree that Boeing should be looking to 2020/2024 as the horizons for these protectionist policies and investing heavily in an actual sustained advantage, but I’m also wondering if they will need to worry about that by then? Given the long replacement cycles on aircraft, will Bombardier miss out on an entire generation of sales to single aisle aircraft purchasers? Will that have such a substantial financial impact on the business that they may not survive long enough to see a change of administration?

This begs an interesting question about Bombardier’s competitive response. Do they focus on less protectionist, if smaller markets? Or do they invest heavily in dramatically reducing costs to be competitive even with tariffs, which would result in a pretty significant cost advantage if (when?) the tariffs come down.

On November 27, 2017, bmjetienne commented on Ciao Metal Molly, I’ll Have Pizza al Taglio, Per Favore :

Very interesting to see how digital technology is transforming such a traditional product as pizza. I’m sure our friends at Dominoes would be interested in adopting some of this automation in their restaurants!

I really like the idea of Prodal utilizing digital technologies to enhance transparency in its production process as a differentiator in the marketing. One question this raises for me is whether this will end up being a source of competitive advantage in the long run, or if it will add a level of complexity and cost in their supply chain? Creating lots of visibility in the supply chain calls to mind a certain Portlandia sketch (link below to refresh your memory!). If customers demand more and more information and become more and more discerning about where they source their products, how will that affect Prodal’s ability to produce within its current cost structure? If Prodal’s competitors introduce similar visibility and can prove they have a more sustainable supply chain, is Prodal shooting itself in the foot with this strategy?