SYNOPSIS OF THE WEEK’S NEWS

A number of interesting items caught my attention this week:

1 – Consistent with discussion during his campaign, President Trump and his administration are working on ways to take the U.S. Postal Service off the ‘federal teat,” as it were, and take steps to have the service become a private entity – which is anticipated to cut costs and give the financially burdened agency more flexibility.

2 – If you were a fan of Cheez Balls, Kraft Heinz is bringing those snacks back for an encore, after a 12 year hiatus.

3 – Driverless grocery delivery might be something that hasn’t entered your thinking – I have to admit that it hadn’t mine until I read that Kroeger is betting that driverless car grocery delivery will speed up the adoption of grocery delivery by food customers.  The cars have locking doors, accessible only to those who posses appropriate opening devices.

4 – It’s said that Amazon’s $1 billion deal for the website PillPack will pose a threat to drug chains and retailers such as CVS and Walmart which currently play big roles in the prescription market.  PillPack’s specialty – in case you were wondering – is the packaging of a month’s supply of medication for chronic disease patients.  The acquisition adds to recent Amazon moves into the healthcare industry, such as providing supplies to hospitals and formation of a nonprofit aimed at addressing rising healthcare costs.

5 – Chipotle Mexican Grill – (have any recollection of that name – ?) – is planning combatting its recent decline by: making changes to its menu, marketing those items more cleverly, and installing pick-up shelves in restaurants where customers can collect mobile orders.  Wow – for a company that has almost gone down the tubes for its food contamination, collecting an online order from a pick-up shelf, where the time for food to have been sitting on the shelves would be unknown, is not something that I would find appealing.  But, good luck to the new Chipotle CEO, Brian Niccol, who was formerly in a leadership role at Taco Bell.

6 – And, speaking of online food acquisition – both Amazon and Walmart have invested huge sums in e-commerce.  And, now Kroeger appears to have taken the lead through its efforts to work with the online supermarket Ocado.  Americans currently buy only 2% of their food online – frankly, I’ve tried it and didn’t see the appeal.  But that differs from the reactions of Western Europeans and the Chinese.  For example, in the U.K., 6% of food sales are online.  And, so, the “food fight” among the “biggies” heats up for a chance to convince Americans to follow suit.

7 – And, lastly, another “foods” entry, this one from Conagra which has plans to acquire rival Pinnacle Foods for $8.2 billion – thereby placing a strong bet on the growth of the frozen food business.

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