Food for Thought

Twigs & Feathers, nothing weird...
Twigs & Feathers, nothing weird...

If the recent entries suddenly appear to be skewed towards recommending readings from The Economist, I’ve to admit that this is happening because I’ve got the chance to stick around the computer as much as the previous week and have come to make more use of the stuff I read on my hardcopy of The Economist.

And strangely, the magazine is pretty obsessed with the food industry this couple of days. It could well be a result of the recession, which has made the food industry a little less boring compared to the days when finance was hot and occupying too much coverage on papers (both the times when they were bubbling and when the crisis came). Perhaps more importantly, it was the trend that the food giants were transforming. And these transformations are catching the attention of regulators. The Economist discusses how the line between food and drugs are blurring as manufacturers are slapping health and nutritional claims on what they call ‘functional foods’. A briefing on Nestlé reveals how these food giants are now operating. In many ways these industries’ methods and Research and Development expenditures are fast resembling those of Pharmaceutical industries. For some, it is probably comforting to know that our food is going to do more than keep us full and alive; for me, I think it’s pretty scary to be munching with foods that promises too much (“to improve nature”) and yet claims to contain “no weird stuff”.

Beyond the boring regulatory stuff and operations of the food giant, the big players appears to be engaging in some rather interesting competition and some potential integrations. Hostile bids are somewhat frowned upon in these times of business especially when Cadbury is growing faster than Kraft (that’s if you read the article that is linked) and I’m pretty confident that Kraft will not be able to acquire the British chocolatier without revising their bid.

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