business news in context, analysis with attitude

It is extraordinary how the discussion of the Atkins Diet continues to dominate conversation, even when MNB doesn't have a specific story on the subject. Yesterday, for example, we received an email on the subject from MNB user Michael Nugent:

Any basic health research will indicate the disadvantages of the Atkins diet. Loosing weight requires a reduction in calories. This is achieved by eating less calories or by exercising more an burning more calories.

The Atkins diet removes calories through the reduction of carbohydrate intake. However, it replaces these with high fat foods, which are generally known to cause arterial clogging. The concept is good: reduce your carbohydrate intake and reduce calories. But replacing them with artery clogging fats exchanges circulation for waistline.

I still don't get why there is any discussion about this dangerous diet.

That's easy. Americans like easy, fast answers to their problems, and damn the long-term implications.

We did have a story yesterday about Campbell Soup Co. reformulating its Pepperidge Farm Goldfish products to be without trans fats, which prompted one MNB user to write:

For years, I have been a stickler about trans fats in food and have eliminated snack & other prix-fix foods that contain them (I'm a devoted label-reader.) I am very happy to see manufacturers getting on the trans fat issue in advance of the 2006 deadline. I always liked Goldfish when I was ignorant of trans fats & now I can enjoy them again! And with new flavors too! I'm certain I'm a minority in this particular consumer niche of actually seeking trans fat-free foods. A few extra bucks per year won't make or break the Campbell Soup Co., but they will now gain this snack dollar from me.

We had a story the other day about how Kraft Foods plans to invest as much as a half-billion dollars in new marketing and promotional money as a way to build market share for its myriad brands.

The goal is to recapture sales from private label, as well as to put pressure on the company's brand competitors. The big winner, according to analysts, will be consumers - who are likely to see across the board price cuts on a number of SKUs in numerous categories.

The spending is so significant that Kraft CEO Roger Deromedi has said he will eliminate 6,000 jobs and close 20 plants in order to pay for marketing spending.

One MNB user responded:

Kraft messes up, loses market share, and now puts the reinvestment on the backs of its workers. Maybe I'll continue buying the Private Label.

Regarding Kmart's decision to conduct a nationwide store-by-store review that will result in an unspecified number of layoffs, adjusting store staffing levels in what company spokesman Jack Ferry said was a "normal review of our business," MNB user David Livingston wrote:

Don't be surprised to see dozens if not hundreds of Kmarts closing in the next year. I cannot understand how they are able to keep stores with such low sales volumes open. Their sales per sq. ft. is so incredibly low. I think they would have closed more stores if not for the concessions given to the by the REITS in exchange staying open longer. If Kmart would have closed the number of stores they should have in the first place it would have devastated several REITs. Layoffs only mean one thing - that business is bad and expected to get worse.

MNB had a story yesterday about a new report prepared by the Democratic staff of the state's House Education and Workforce Committee, saying that Wal-Mart is guilty of draining government resources "because its low-paid, under-insured or non-insured workers have to rely on public subsidies, such as school lunch programs and Section 8 housing."

MNB user Susan Kempt had a spin on the report that the Bentonville Behemoth might appreciate:

Seems to me that Wal-Mart could use the contents of this report to their advantage. Perhaps they are hiring people who currently use Section 8 housing and the free lunch program as a "hand up".

As Robert DeNiro said to Billy Crystal in Analyze This, "you’re good, you. You’re very, very good." There may be a job waiting for you in Arkansas.

And yet another email about the New York Yankees trading for Alex Rodriguez, as MNB user Bob Gremley wrote:

As a Cubs fan writing to a Red Sox fan, I'm hope you caught the article in Sunday's NY Times regarding how the Yankees over recruited in the early 80's which led to a 12 year decline. They had extra center fielders, shortstops, speed with no on-base %, etc and the same syndrome could grip them again.

…There may be a tie-in to how people shop when they are overwhelmed by choices in the market. George buys players and expects the manager to figure out how they fit (moving A-Rod from short to third will be watched closely).

Let's all hope the same "choice glut" causes the Yanks to implode paving the way to a Cubs - Red Sox series.
KC's View: