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We continue to get emails about the value of milk, responding to a story and emails suggesting that the value of milk has been more a matter of aggressive lobbying by the dairy industry than nutrition, with subsidies mentioned as proof of the lobby’s power.

One MNB user wrote:

Studies can tell you a lot. Nearly twice as many American women fracture
hips as low milk consumption countries.
Gee, American women are probably older, and sitting behind a desk or the wheel and working out two days a week, versus a woman in say Africa carrying 10 gallons of water a couple of times a day 24/7/365, I think you could expect stronger muscles would help prevent fractures.

Most agricultural products have subsidies incorporated in them. This assures a stable supply, whether it is milk or cereals or even corn for ethanol production.

Another MNB user referenced some specifics mentioned in an email yesterday:

"Consider the following facts: No other mammal continues to consume milk beyond weaning. In countries with limited dairy consumption, the average incidence of hip fractures in women is only 18% as opposed to the US where the incidence is 35%. More than 70% of the world population is lactose intolerant.

Here’s how my doctor explained it to me: 99% of the body’s calcium is stored in our bones and only 1% is in the blood stream. When we consume milk, it raises the calcium in the blood causing the body to think that it has too much calcium. So the body releases calcium from the bones which is excreted through urine. The calcium in milk is more likely to cause this reaction. If you must consume dairy products, cheese and yogurt are better sources because of the active cultures and that the “raw” calcium has been modified through the process. But your best bet is to eat green leafy vegetables and legumes."

I am not an "expert" on this but I hope someone who is responds. From what I know this is not mainstream opinion. Even including the people who erroneously think they are lactose intolerant, I doubt that the numbers are 70% world wide and 35% in the U.S. I have never heard of cultures that modify the "raw" calcium in dairy products.

"Don’t underestimate “The Milk Lobby,” they are a powerful group. How else do you explain that they have a formal government subsidy program and that most states have a Milk Board that sets minimum retail prices? If all the retailers got together and decided that no one could buy milk for less than $2.99 a gallon, there would be a public uproar as well as indictments."

I do have experience on this issue - there is a federal price support program dating from the depression that sets a floor on the price farmers receive for their milk. In the past few years that has not been much of an issue since the market price has exceeded the government floor. However, only a few states have a Milk Board that sets minimum retail prices. Pennsylvania is one. One state - New York - actually has a maximum price to protect consumers. There are a few states that prohibit the sale of milk below cost - a few more that restrict certain promotional practices such as cents-off coupons.

We quoted a piece in The Economist yesterday about the virtues of Publix…and MNB user Brian List had some thoughts about it:

For me, it’s simple. After working with Winn-Dixie for seven years and watching them switch strategies back and forth to compete with Wal-Mart or Publix, its clear why Publix came out the victor on both ends. Despite the customer service, exceptional private label products, and a hometown “independent” feel when I walk into my neighborhood Publix, the deli/bakery department is what seals the deal.

Not the meat department or produce, which many will disagree with me, but the deli. Publix has done such a good job with their deli operations that no grocer can touch them in Florida, except for a few independents I have been to. Everything I get from that deli is good, from subs to prepared dinners. This concept is what I stress for every grocer, no matter what their size. I drive ten miles in Tampa to eat lunch their three times a week because I’m tired of all the crap restaurants offer.

MNB had a story yesterday about the new issue of Facts, Figures & The Future, and we quoted a story from the newsletter about the continuing high rate of product introductions and the low level of success.

One MNB user wrote:

The food industry is controlled by the mega billion dollar companies that have the distribution network and money to drive new product introductions. The cost to gain national distribution for small companies is prohibited. Most small companies focus their distribution regionally. The up front money (slotting, ad & display) that stores charge has caused small manufactures to rethink traditional distribution practices. We focus on bottom line rather than top line. It seems there is great demand for our dollars by the retailers to subsidize their failing operations. The book "Good to Great" speaks to "Doing what you do best." Grocery stores are in business to sell groceries. Period. Once the retailers refocus their efforts with this strategic thinking they won't need manufacturer dollars to prop up quarterly earnings and we won't have our newspapers and industry magazines talking about so and so going into Chapter 11.

MNB user Scott J. Latta wrote:

I had a completely different thought running through my mind when I saw this article. I’m sure that it’s true that only 2.9% of 49,000 items introduced produced over $1 million in sales. However, in a world of niche market and carving out an identity for yourself, is $1 million dollars a good measure? I haven’t seen the list, but I’m guessing that there are a lot of items that give individually and character to retailers that may never achieve this $1 million dollar number and yet are every bit as important as the heavy hitters.

We also had a piece about Canada’s Tim Hortons looking to make inroads in New England, and MNB user Fred Armstrong responded:

Tim Horton's already tried New England once and then mostly pulled out. I know of a few former TH stores that are now something else. I think there are still a couple in Southern Rhode Island. Krispy Kreme didn't have much luck here either.

We criticized Tim Hortons coffee, which led MNB user Gary M. Zoldos to write:

The coffee is greatly improved. I wouldn't bet against them. They have completely saturated the Buffalo Market and their drive thru is lightning fast.

And we noted that if we still ate doughnuts, we’d feel compelled to do a taste test..and one MNB user responded:

Kevin, come on it's OK to breakdown and eat just one doughnut from Tim's. The Canadian Maple is the best....give it try, really you can eat just one it's OK. Tim's doughnuts are great tasting to be sure, but their reasonably light, quick, affordable and great tasting lunch menu is the real deal for those of us who often have to eat on the run.

Finally, we said yesterday that we liked a quote by independent retailer Joe Nash in which he said, “We write our own music, hum our own tunes, and dance to our own music.”

Which led MNB user Elana Lindquist to write:

I also found this funny since he referenced something I once said about success. This quote is all over the internet and really inspires many entrepreneurs and artist. It seems to fuel the passion of the independent types to risk: “Success means fulfilling your own dreams, singing your own songs, dancing your own dances, creating from your heart,
trusting that whatever happens. It will be ok. Go and dare to create your own adventures.”

Go figure.

Sounds like the back of a Starbucks cup…which is no small compliment.
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