business news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  Associated Wholesale Grocers has reported record consolidated company sales of $10.6 billion, an increase of 13.3 percent on a comparable basis over 2019, and said that it "distributed $254.4 million in year-end patronage, an increase of $40.59 million over 2019."

According to the announcement, "AWG’s cooperative sales were $9.2 billion. The total distribution of cooperative benefits returned to shareholders, including interest, allowances, and patronage, was $615 million. Total members’ equity ended the year valued at $538.1 million."

The past year also included "a record investment by AWG, an increase of $40 million over 2019, into promotional allowances and discounts on numerous center store and fresh products."

“AWG set new records in every financial metric category and in patronage paid to our member stores while overcoming substantial challenges facing our business and the industry this past year,” said David Smith, president-CEO of AWG. “While keeping our teammates safe and maintaining supply to our members were top priorities, we also made significant progress on our strategic initiatives of Value Proposition, Health, Technology, and AWG Brands.”

Full disclosure:  AWG is a longtime and valued sponsor of MorningNewsBeat.  But I would've reported this even if it weren't … 

•  From the Wall Street Journal:

"Facing higher logistics expenses from distribution operations roiled by the Covid-19 pandemic and severe winter weather, Dollar General Corp. plans to expand its private trucking fleet to bring more of its transportation in-house, the company’s chief operating officer said.

"Jeff Owen, COO at the discount retail chain, says the move will help reduce shipping costs at a time when tight capacity in U.S. domestic supply chains is sending prices for trucking services soaring. Dollar General’s profit and gross margin expanded year over year in the latest quarter but higher shipping rates weighed on the bottom line, the company said.

"The expansion comes as Dollar General is increasing its store network in the U.S. and building up its DG Fresh program."

•  From the Wall Street Journal:

"After years of false starts, New York state lawmakers said Wednesday that they had reached an agreement to legalize the sale of marijuana for recreational use by adults starting next year.

"State Sen. Liz Krueger said lawmakers were finalizing a bill that would create a new state regulator for cannabis products and decriminalize the possession of up to three ounces of marijuana. New Yorkers will be allowed to cultivate marijuana for personal use and the state will study a new system for determining whether drivers are inebriated because of marijuana use, she said.

"The bill is set to be taken up next week by the state Assembly and Senate, lawmakers said."

Such a bill would almost certainly would be signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has stated his support for recreational marijuana legalization.

Cuomo also may be hoping that all his various scandals will vanish - or at least become imperceptible - through a haze of marijuana smoke.

•  The New York Times has a story about an enormous changed in the fish farming industry - the fact that "farmed fish like salmon and trout had become mostly vegetarians."

This is seen as an environmental advance, since two decades ago an alarm was sounded about how much wild fish stock was being gobbled up by fish farms, which both spread disease and caused pollution.  But both problems have been reduced as farmed fish are fed more plants, such as soy.

This is important, the Times writes, because "aquaculture is a source of income for millions of small-scale fishers and revenue for fish-exporting countries. It is also vital if the world’s 7.75 billion people want to keep eating fish and shellfish without draining the ocean of wild fish stocks and marine biodiversity."