business news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

• CNBC reports that "in 2022, U.S. consumers spent nearly $1 billion buying air fryers, up 51% from 2019, according to market research firm The NPD Group. Sales of the cooking appliance have been soaring since 2017, and they received an extra boost during the early days of the pandemic as people cooked more at home.

"And now with more workers returning to the office and spending less time in the kitchen, consumers are increasingly turning to the portable convection ovens. Joe Derochowski, home industry advisor at the NPD Group, said the main draw is the ease and speed of using the appliance, plus achieving a crispy texture without deep-frying. And food manufacturers want to capitalize on the trend."

CNBC writes that a wide range of manufacturers - Campbell Soup,  Gorton’s Seafood, Nestle and Tyson among them - are bringing out items that cater to a compelling statistic - "60% of U.S. households have an air fryer at this point."  Not exactly ubiquitous, but getting closer.

Are there any retailers out there consolidating all these products in "air fryer sections" that also will appeal to these consumers?  I haven't seen any, but wonder if it might be a good idea.

• In California, The Sun reports that "the winter storms that have battered the San Bernardino Mountains have done serious damage" to Goodwin and Sons Market, described as Crestline, California's only supermarket.

Crestline is about 80 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.

The heavy snows caused the roof of the 43,000 square foot store to cave in, just a day after the retailer "braved the storm and pulled a semi-truck up Highway 138 using a work truck and tractor to restock the grocery store."

The cave-in took place while the store was closed.  No injuries were reported.  It could take as long as a year to rebuild the store.

Goodwin and Sons opened in 1946 and is still owned and run by the founding family.  

•  From Bloomberg:

"One of the biggest questions for investors over the past year has been when Americans will pull back on spending and trigger a recession. In the fourth quarter, that didn’t happen as retailers and brands exceeded expectations.

"But their results and forecasts raised a bunch of red flags for the year ahead.

"After the highest inflation in a generation, an increasing group of shoppers — including wealthy ones — are bargain hunting. Savings are dwindling. Consumer debt is piling up. The spending splurge after the height of Covid-19 is over.

"As a result, several big retailers tried to pump the brakes during earnings season by issuing sales guidance for this year that disappointed Wall Street. Lowe’s Cos., Best Buy Co. and Target Corp. all see the potential for revenue to decline this year.

"'There is a sense among retailers that the consumer has been defying gravity for quite some time, and they are expecting the music to stop,' Neil Saunders, managing director at GlobalData Plc, said in an email. But 'no one really knows when this will happen or the extent to which it will occur'."

•  First there was avian flu.  Then super pigs.  And now, there's African swine fever (ASF).

Reuters reports that "Another case of African swine fever (ASF) has been confirmed in farm pigs in east Germany … It was reported on a small farm with 11 animals in the eastern state of Brandenburg, the state's health ministry said. All 11 animals were slaughtered as a precaution, it said.

"China and a series of other pork buyers banned imports of German pigmeat in September 2020 after the first case was confirmed in wild animals.

"Discoveries on farms will make it harder for Germany to get the export bans lifted, analysts say.

"The disease is not dangerous to humans but is fatal for pigs. Many countries impose bans on pork from regions suffering from the disease, distorting world food trade.  Wild boar coming into Germany from Poland were believed to have spread the disease to Germany, especially in the eastern states of Brandenburg and Saxony."