business news in context, analysis with attitude

...with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

• In Minnesota, the Star Tribune reports on how, "facing slumping sales and stiff competition from online retailers and meal delivery kits," area supermarkets including Hy-Vee and Coborn's "are ramping up amenities to lure busy shoppers. They’re adding clothing departments, high-end cosmetics, full-service restaurants, and now, vegetable butchers.

"For a fee, plant-based sous chefs armed with cutting boards and sharp knives will slice, dice or julienne whatever needs chopping.
New to Minnesota, the concept is taking hold throughout the country at select high-end supermarkets. A main target is millennials, who are more likely than the average shopper to skip the supermarket and buy groceries online, according to a recent Harris Poll."

• The Wall Street Journal reports that "the U.S. Department of Agriculture suspended imports of fresh beef from Brazil, citing recurring safety concerns. The USDA’s move came after Brazil earlier Thursday suspended beef exports from five slaughterhouses to the U.S., after a foot-and-mouth disease vaccine potentially caused abscesses in some cattle, according to the national meat-exporting group Abiec."

• The Washington Post reports that in the markets where McDonald's is testing the use of fresh rather than frozen beef in its quarter pounders, a move "designed to woo back millions of customers that had left the Golden Arches for other fast-casual dining options," the fast feeder is getting some push back from customers complaining that it takes an extra minute to make the burgers.

"People expect instant gratification,” said Alexander Chernev, a professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. “But there must be a fundamental trade-off. It is difficult to have good products and service infinitely fast. Even at Amazon, we order stuff and don’t expect it five minutes later.”

For the record, I'd be happy to wait an extra minute for a better burger. But it may be that McDonald's is going to have to be patient in educating its consumers about the real value of that minute.

• The National Retail Federation (NRF) is predicting that Americans will spend $7.1 billion on food for cookouts and picnics as they celebrate the Fourth of July this year, up from $6.8 billion in 2016 ... According to the survey, 219 million Americans plan to celebrate the holiday, or 88 percent of those surveyed. A total of 162 million — 66 percent of those surveyed — plan to take part in a cookout or picnic, spending an average $73.42 per person, up from last year’s $71.34.

Me, I'll celebrate it as I have for the past five years - hanging out with the girl of my dreams, listening to music at the Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival in Portland's Tom McCall Waterfront Park, and then watching fireworks exploding over the Willamette River. Can't wait.
KC's View: