Reuters blog archive

from Breakingviews:

Life’s like a box of chocolates for Lindt owners

By Quentin Webb

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

For Lindt shareholders, life is like a box of chocolates. They didn’t know they were going to get Russell Stover, the Midwest outfit whose gift box starred in Forrest Gump. They still don’t know what Lindt paid for the third-biggest U.S. candymaker. Or what it will get in terms of profitability.

Published financial details are thin. Lindt did say that family-owned Russell Stover makes $500 million or so in annual sales. It also said that the deal will lift earnings per share – but that is almost a given with any cash deal sealed when interest rates are so low. Meanwhile, pledges to keep factories and a Kansas City HQ open show this is not about cost cuts. Nor will this midmarket brand set pulses racing in emerging Asia.

So this looks more about routes to market in the United States. Lindt, which owns California’s Ghirardelli, is already strong on the east and west coasts. Now Russell Stover plugs it into Republican-voting red states: America’s not-so-gooey centre. The group’s 70,000 wholesale accounts include huge drugstore and supermarket chains.

from Data Dive:

Chicken is about to get more expensive

American chickens are having some trouble reproducing. A key breed of chickens commonly raised for industrial poultry production has a genetic defect that causes low fertility in birds that are overfed, which reduces the supply available and pushes up prices, Reuters reports.

This comes at a time that both pork and beef prices have spiked as well, meaning this is going to be an expensive summer for meat:

from Data Dive:

Beef, consolidated

Do you know where the meat in your hamburger came from? It’s sort of trick question, because even if you don’t know, it’s pretty easy to guess. Roberto Ferdman reported yesterday that the top four meat packers in the United States — Tyson Foods, JBS USA, Cargill, and National Beef — control 75% of the nation’s beef supply. Most of that consolidation happened in the 1980s, but the big four have been slowly adding to their market share in the last decade:


Ferdman explains why this matters:

Consumers are becoming increasingly more concerned with how their meat is produced. Part of that is born from a demand for more humane practices—the meat industry's malpractices are well documented—and part of that stems from a heightened awareness about what people are putting into their bodies—the meat industry has come under fire for both its questionable practices and potential for large-scale contamination. An ever-shrinking pool of options will only make it more difficult for consumers the fair opportunity to appropriately decide whom they do business with.

from Breakingviews:

M&A shows symptoms of overheating

By Robert Cyran and Kevin Allison

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

The merger market is showing symptoms of overheating. Global deal volume is up sharply this year – up 63 percent according to Bernstein research and 71 percent by Thomson Reuters’ tally. Monday’s announcements, meanwhile, hint at toppiness.

from Photographers' Blog:

The bun myth

Cheung Chau, Hong Kong
By Bobby Yip

A baker poses with a bun with the Chinese characters "Ping An", meaning peaceful and safe, inside a bakery at Hong Kong's Cheung Chau island April 30, 2014, six days before the Bun Festival. Each bun is sold for HK$8 (US$1.02). The annual festival celebrates the islanders' deliverance from famine many centuries ago and is meant to placate ghosts and restless spirits.  REUTERS/Bobby Yip

Cheung Chau, or “Long Island”, with a population of around 30,000, is famous not only for its seafood and snacks, and as a small resort for local tourists, but most of all for its buns.

A couple walks along a beach at Hong Kong's Cheung Chau, or "Long Island", where the annual Bun Festival is held, April 28, 2014. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

The Bun Festival is the annual highlight of this former fishing village. Tens of thousands of visitors flock to attend the ritual, jamming the narrow streets of this quiet island.

from Breakingviews:

Wal-Mart puts collar on Cerberus price for Safeway

By Robert Cyran
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Could Cerberus pay more for Safeway? Based on the 2007 A&P-Pathmark merger, synergies could be worth more than half the $9.4 billion that the private equity firm’s Albertsons supermarket is paying for its U.S. rival. In theory that leaves room for a higher offer. But competition from the likes of Wal-Mart means cost savings may need to go to shoppers, not investors.

from Breakingviews:

Cross-border arbitrage is expansive Bimbo’s yeast

By Robert Cyran
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Cross-border arbitrage is the yeast for Grupo Bimbo’s aggressive expansion. In its latest deal north of the border, the acquisitive Mexican breadmaker is shelling out $1.8 billion to buy Canada Bread. Paying 20 times earnings to move into a mature market may seem questionable. But Bimbo’s earnings fetch an even higher multiple at home – and the deal should lower its weighted average cost of capital.

from Photographers' Blog:

A taste for music

Haguenau, France

By Vincent Kessler

I love cooking and I have a passion for music. What then could please me more than an orchestra that plays music with instruments made out of vegetables?

I cannot remember when I first heard about the Vegetable Orchestra. But when I realized that they were planning to hold a concert some 40 kilometers from my home, I got in touch and was given the opportunity to watch them prepare for a performance.

from Data Dive:

Visualizing America’s food waste

Americans waste almost 40% of the food produced here, mostly after it gets into the hands of consumers. A new report by the Natural Resources Defense Council shows how much food is lost in various parts of the food distribution chain:

Dana Gunders, a scientist at the NRDC who wrote the report, comes up with two basic reasons why Americans waste so much food (the equivalent of $165 billion each year): 

from India Insight:

Mumbai’s local delicacies no longer everyone’s cup of tea

Every day, for the past few decades, Dayanand Shenoy has taken an early morning train to Grant Road station in south Mumbai from his home in the suburb of Borivali. Initially, it was for work but now it's just for oven-fresh mava cakes from B Merwan.

The bakery, on the ground floor of a dilapidated four-storey building, has many admirers in India’s financial capital. Hundreds line up daily, some at sunrise, to buy cups of sugary tea and some bun maska (sweet milk bread slathered with butter).