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On December 1, 2017, Jonathan commented on Ambitious Sustainability Goals at Coca-Cola :

Great work Kenya, you are an amazing writer!

Having worked on the audit of Coca-Cola in China, I have been wondering how many of these sustainability efforts have reached the world’s most populous nation. While sustainability was not a specific focus of my work over there, I did spent quite a bit of time in their corporate headquarters in China. Within their facilities and in the discussions I had with management, I did not pick up on any indications of a commitment to considering the environment.

One factor that I would want more information on is how receptive bottlers have been to Coke’s push to become more environmentally friendly. In almost all markets, Coca-Cola does not directly bottle its products. Instead, the company sells its concentrates at extremely high margins to bottlers who have contractual bottling arrangements with Coke. Driving change within these bottlers will require buy-in that will need to be financially viable. Overall, I am more hopeful than Mike and Landen. A a key part of the company’s branding of late is focused on shifting public perceptions in a positive direction to be accepted by consumers who are very health conscious and socially conscious.

On December 1, 2017, Jonathan commented on The Doctor will Skype you now — The Digitalization of Medicine :

Wow, great essay!

If my employer were to offer Telehealth services like Sharat’s did, I would definitely utilize the service. I get quite annoyed with how far in advance an appointment needs to be scheduled with a doctor as well as how big of a time commitment it can be for a total of 5 minutes spent with an actual doctor. With Telehealth, I see opportunities for other costs to be reduced as well as less facilities may need to be allocated to certain services in the future. One possible outcome of Telehealth implementation that was not mentioned is the possibility that with easier access to physicians, more people may choose to schedule appointments with doctors as the cost to do so is less. Overall, I do see this as a big opportunity for Partners as it should decrease the cost of providing care and therefore, give the company a competitive advantage.

On December 1, 2017, Jonathan commented on Could a Srirachapocalype be on the Horizon? :

Sriracha is important; this is one spicy crisis! As I reflect on the questions posed, I believe the company’s highest priority should be to not compromise on its commitment to quality. Unlike ‘scolby’ (aka Shelby), I do not believe that there are true substitutes for Sriracha available on the market. As I evaluate the options presented, I gravitate strongly toward the plan of expanding production to areas outside of California. The recipe definitely should not be changed and changing the time between when jalapenos are picked and when they are turned into hot sauce could be disastrous. While there may be some risks in creating Sriracha abroad, I would recommend doing so in an area where they can find a long-term supplier that will be able to grow high quality jalapenos even as our climate continues to change.

On December 1, 2017, Jonathan commented on Monsanto’s Battle for the Future of Farming :

This essay was inspiring and deeply meaningful.

I agree with the pessimism expressed by Darius regarding the Bayer merger. I highly doubt that Bayer’s leadership was evaluating the combined potential of Bayer and Monsanto to combat climate change when they agreed to merge. To the contrary, I expect that the divestitures of both companies will be entirely driven by expectations of financial performance within their various business lines. While the scope of the merged firm will be greater than that of Monsanto on its own, I expect that Bayer’s culture that places less value on the environment will override that of Monsanto. Unfortunately, I have trouble believing that the leadership of any publicly traded company will make business decisions to benefit the environment at the expense of profitability.

On December 1, 2017, Jonathan commented on Ford Motor Company Faces Steel & Aluminum Supply Price Headwinds :

What an amazing essay!

I would agree with Shrkatch that adopting a strategy of hedging steel prices at this time is not a great idea. While Ford is currently feeling the pain of its long-term decision not to hedge, there have been many years prior to now when this policy has been very advantageous to the company’s financial results. At this time, Ford runs the risk of ‘locking in’ at high steel prices that would diminish the company’s ability to capitalize on its no-hedging strategy in the future. While I thought the hedging proposal was awful, I did agree with the idea of shifting production towards aluminum. Carbon-fiber frames are a great idea in the long-term, but it will probably be several years (likely decades even) before carbon-fiber becomes a cost-effective alternative. In the meantime, I do not expect that consumers would be willing to pay extra for carbon-fiber frames. However, the shift to aluminum if financially viable to Ford and offers consumers the immediate benefit of improved gas efficiency as well as the opportunity to keep costs low, continue to meet consumer expectations of having a metal-framed vehicle, and to utilize a metal that is incrementally better for the environment.

On December 1, 2017, Jonathan commented on – Smart Warehousing For The Future :

What a great essay! Thoughtfully written and exciting until the end.

To offer an answer to your second question posed, I suspect that the efficiencies offered by complete automation of warehouses require a certain minimum volume of shipments made. For example, the investment was made in the facility outside Shanghai because management knew that in a market as big as Shanghai, there would be enough orders coming in to utilize the facility’s capability of processing 9,000 parcels per minute. Such an investment will not be made in significantly smaller cities where the volume will be much lower. In smaller cities, the lower wages and lower volume of shipments will lead to a more manual process of processing orders. With regard to big cities like Shanghai that are fully automating automated sorting centers, the items processed still need to be physically delivered – this is a labor-intensive process that will (for the foreseeable future) require people to execute. I believe that this is already self evident in cities like Shanghai as the quantity of people working in delivery services has been exploding over the past few years to meet demand for increased use by consumers of delivery services.