Category Archives: International

Walmart Adding 500 Direct, 250 Indirect Jobs At New $36M Distribution Center in Mexico

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Walmart’s current distribution centers in Mexico.

Walmart plans to invest $36 M (650 million pesos) on a new distribution center in Yucatan, Mexico. The center will be operated by the company’s Mexico and Central America division and bring total Walmart investment in that area to $171.5 million (3.138 billion pesos) and generate more than 500 direct jobs and 250 indirect ones, the company has announced.

A statement published on July 4 on the website of Yucatan Times said, the new business unit will positively impact [Yucatan’s] production infrastructure, since in addition to the new jobs, it will expand the company supply network into the states of Campecha and Quintana Roo. The activity is also expected to attract more local suppliers.

The Times said that Walmart Mexico and Central America currently has 36 business units in Yucatan; 10 Bodega Aurrera stores, 11 “Mi Bodegas Aurrera”, five “Bodegas Aurrera Express”, three Sam’s Club, one Superama, and six Walmarts. The company has said that Walmart México and Central America has generated 3,457 permanent jobs in 14 municipalities of the state: Mérida, Halacho, Hunucma, Izamal, Motul, Kanasin, Oxkutzcab, Tekax, Tixkokob, Tizimín, Ticul, Uman, Valladolid and Progreso.

AndNowYouKnow, the produce industry blog, noted that the new facility will allow the company to strengthen and expand its logistics network in Mexico.

What neither The Times nor ANYK said was whether the distribution center – with new suppliers on board – might in time facilitate an increased flow of Mexican produce into the United States. This would be a logical secondary use for the center, nopt least because that would enable trucks delivering from Walmart US to Walmart Mexico to avoid making the return trip empty. One has to assume that someone in Bentonville AR, Walmart’s global headquarters, has calculated both the logistics and the practicality of employing that potential.

 

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Ube – an Asian Treat Coming to a Specialty Produce Seller Near You

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Something you don’t see a lot of in produce departments is … the color purple. But that could be about to change, thanks at least in part to a company that has long used purple as the “family” color: Frieda’s Specialty Produce, originally, some 40 years ago, Frieda’s Famous.

Karen Caplan, daughter of Frieda and now the company’s president and CEO, recently did an interview with And Now you Know, the produce newsletter, to discuss purple yams, AKA Ube (pronounced OO-beh). Native to the Phillipines, this tuber’s sweet taste and alluring purple hue is popular with cooks across Asia, Caplan told the newsletter’s Lauren Hillen.

One of Caplan’s missions was to distinguish Ube from the likes of Stokes Purple sweet potatoes and Okinawan purple sweet potatoes. They look similar, she noted, but each has a distinct taste and flavor. Ube’s skin is brown and bark-like, and its flesh ranges from white with purple specks, to lilac. Stokes Purple, a trademarked brand, has purple-tinted skin and violet-purple flesh. Okinawan purple sweet potatoes have beige skin and lavender-purple flesh.

Frieda’s produced a cute little minute-long film to illustrate those differences, and to point out the forms of Ube most likely to be encountered in the US, where the fresh variety is hard to find. The film notes it can be frozen, powered, as a jam, or as an extract – and any of those are mostly likely to show up in stores with highly refined specialty produce sections or those dedicated to Asian customers, who will seek it out.

 

“Smart” KFC in Beijing Is Not Quite Smart Enough

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No one is paying any attention to the “smart” machine at the left of the photo. (Amy Hawkins, The Guardian)

Even in China, where lack of privacy is pretty much taken for granted, KFC is running into some resistance its efforts to employ a machine able to recognize facial characteristics to pre-select food choices for customers before they have a chance to choose for themselves.

The Guardian’s Amy Hawkins “test-drove” the machine at a KFC in Beijing’s financial district. Though the store was busy, she was the only customer interested in ordering through the machine, which was created by Baidu, the search engine company often called “China’s Google.”

Maybe the machine is too closely oriented to Oriental features to be able to make sense of Amy’s Western ones. Maybe that’s why it was a decade off on her age. Maybe that had something to do with why she was offered the same thing – a crispy chicken hamburger – as the 20-something male who demonstrated the machine to her.

If you don’t like the machine’s recommendation, you can click through an assortment of other food options until you find what you want, they pay for your order through your smart phone and pick up your food at the counter.

The device, in what’s being billed as “China’s first smart restaurant,” is going to need to get a good deal smarter if KFC follows through on its plan to install them in the company’s 5,000-plus stores across China.

A press release from Baidu said that “a male customer in his early 20s” would be offered “a set meal of crispy chicken hamburger, roasted chicken wings and [a] coke”, while “a female customer in her 50s” would get a recommendation of “porridge and soybean milk for breakfast.” Fortunately, most Chinese would be too polite to bash the machine’s brain if it offered the “porridge and soybean milk” option to a lady in her 20’s!

‘Bad Eggs’ Caught Smuggling West Bank Hen Fruit into Israel

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(photo credit: Nati Shochat/Flash 90)

A 21-year-old Palestinian was caught earlier this month trying to smuggle some 9,000 uninspected, potentially dangerous eggs into Jerusalem from the West Bank. The Times of Israel reported, quoting Hebrew news sources, that the eggs were confiscated and destroyed by Israel’s Ministry of Health.

The eggs were said to be on their way to be sold in various Israeli retail outlets.

The Times reported last July that charges were “laid against a ring of [14] bad eggs accused of selling, well, bad eggs to the public and passing them off as certified.” Thirteen Israelis and one Palestinian were said to be involved in that ring, which was charged with illegally importing more than 10 million eggs into Israel.

It’s more than likely that, at some point during their court appearance, the Israeli smugglers were told, “That wasn’t kosher.”

EU Coalition Seeking Ban on Junk Food, Alcohol Ads 18 Hours Daily – 6 AM thru 11 PM

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A coalition of EU health organizations is seeking to ban TV advertising of junk food and alcohol between the hours of 6 A.M. and 11 P.M., describing its plan as “a key opportunity to free Europe’s young people from health-harmful marketing.” Given its way, the coalition no doubt would also like to see all billboard, bus and other outdoor advertising of those products covered up during the same hours.

The campaign was officially launched in the European Parliament on December 2.

A BeverageDaily.com report noted that the action would, if successful, effectively see foreign broadcasts censored to the same EU standards.

Led by Romanian MEP (member of the European Parliament) Daciana Octavia Sarbu, the coalition comprises 10 organizations, including the European Heart Network, the Eurocare Alcohol Policy Alliance, and the European Public Health Alliance. Their aim is to alter the existing Audio-Visual Media Services Directive (AVMSD), EU-wide legislation aimed at protesting children and consumers. It says, in effect, “we know what’s good for you and you need to do what we say.”

Their “What about our kids” campaign has three specific objectives – additions to the AVMSD:

  1. TV advertisements for alcohol and foods high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) would be banned on all broadcast platforms, including on-demand services and such video-sharing platforms as YouTube.
  2. Product placements for the same products should be banned as being “effective marketing techniques, and should be prohibited alongside those for tobacco and medicinal products.”
  3. Ensure the above rulesare applied equally to all foreign-based broadcasts.

Fiona Godfrey, Policy Director at the European Association for the Study of the Liver, told BeverageDaily that such other rules as those effecting tobacco advertising and marketing “is effective in reducing consumption.”

I’m all for encouraging kids to eat less junk food and to stay away from alcohol until they’re legally entitled to buy and use it, but this approach has too much of a ‘Big Brother’ feel to me.

Anticipate More Options For Cheese On Sandwiches

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The parent of Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell has entered into a marketing agreement with The National Dairy Checkoff, a mandatory program by which milk producers ‘contribute’ to a fund used to promote greater use of dairy products. Yum! Brands and Dairy Management, Inc. (DMI), the company that manages the checkoff program, see their joint venture as an opportunity to “raise U.S. Dairy’s profile” globally, according to an article on DeliMarketNews.com.

Working to get more cheese on chicken sandwiches is a great opportunity to grow sales,” said Paul Rovey, the Arizona dairy farmer who is chair of DMI. “Beyond cheese, this partnership also can help create products that grow milk and milk-based drink sales, along with ice cream and other dessert-based items.”

In addition to adding U.S.-produced cheese to sandwiches in global markets, the pilot program is also looking to explore innovative new strategies, such as introducing cheese sauces in Latin America and the Caribbean.

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The partnership’s pilot program involves promoting U.S. dairy products through offerings at KFC and Pizza Hut restaurants. Yum! Brands, which boasts nearly 43,000 restaurants in 135 countries and territories, is a global leader in pizza, chicken, and Mexican-style restaurant food categories, and is poised to raise U.S. dairy’s profile..

A pilot program in Asia Pacific is also underway looking to add U.S. dairy products in some 2,500 Pizza Hut restaurants in 15 countries. The program is looking to maximize the profile of U.S. cheese in menu items. Stuffed-crust pizzas, for example, use string cheese sourced entirely from the U.S, according to Enrique Ramirez, Chief Financial and Strategic Officer for Pizza Hut, and innovative menu offerings like this can significantly increase U.S. dairy sales abroad. 

U.S. dairy farmers, importers and DMI have brought us tremendous value in dairy expertise and innovation,” said Greg Creed, CEO of Yum! Brands. “I’m incredibly excited about taking this relationship to international markets.”

The pilot programs’ approach is based on the successful model, employed by the partnership through Pizza Hut and Taco Bell in the U.S, which focused on on-site Checkoff employees working with the food service companies to develop dairy-friendly menu items like Pizza Hut’s Grilled Cheese Stuffed Crust Pizza and Taco Bell’s Quesalupa.

Indian School Kids’ Milk Is Awash with Water

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Indian school kinds awaiting midday meal — and watery milk.

A surprise, sunrise inspection of a food preparation facility servicing 11,000 school children in India’s Uttar Pradesh province found 292 liters (308.5 quarts) of water in just 192 liters (202.8 quarts) of milk.

Radha Krishan Tivari, assistant director in the basic education department who held the surprise inspection, told The Times of India that schoolchildren were drinking milk that was more than 150 per cent water.

“We were simply stunned,” he told the paper last Thursday. “The visit to the kitchen of Nav Prayas, an NGO [non-government organization] we hired to supply milk and midday meals, left one dismayed.” He said the NGO supplies food to 131 schools, including 107 primary and 27 higher primary government schools.

He said that one student, speaking anonymously, said that many kids are unable to eat the food “as the quality is so bad.”

A report on the surprise inspection will be forwarded up the government chain, and the NGO will not be receiving payments for at least two recent months.