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from Photographers' Blog:

Eating to the extreme

Boston, Massachusetts

By Dominick Reuter

I should probably lead by saying this was NOT my idea.

I was checking in with the Reuters picture desk in Toronto about some of my images when an editor asked if I would be interested in a meal "courtesy of the Baron" (our affectionate term for Reuters).

The non-profit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) had just announced the winners of their 2014 “Xtreme Eating” awards, in which they single out chain restaurant menu items with unbelievably high levels of calories, saturated fats, sugars and salts. The businesses named included the Cheesecake Factory and Red Robin.

Our plan was to photograph these specific dishes, try them, pay and go. More succinctly, I’d shoot, eat, and leave.

Two women walk past The Cheescake Factory restaurant in Braintree, Massachusetts July 30, 2014.    REUTERS/Dominick Reuter

First up was the Cheesecake Factory. There was one nearby in Boston and it was lunchtime, so I invited a colleague who might offer a second opinion during my first foray as an impromptu food critic. The friendly staff accommodated my request to sit close to a window for better light.

from MacroScope:

End game in east Ukraine?

A Ukrainian serviceman sits on a military armoured vehicle near Donetsk

Ukrainian government forces say they are preparing for the final stage of recapturing the city of Donetsk from pro-Russian separatist rebels after shelling its outskirts and making significant gains over the weekend.

The city faces increasing shortages of food, water and electricity. Vladimir Putin must now decide whether to leave the rebels to their fate or step up his support.  Kiev said on Saturday it had headed off an attempt by Russia to send troops into Ukraine under the guise of peacekeepers accompanying a humanitarian convoy sanctioned by the Red Cross. Moscow dismissed the allegation as a "fairy tale".

from Breakingviews:

Ushering Eric Cantor to revolving door

By Rob Cox

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

The following is a fictional letter that could be circulated in the corridors of K Street, the canyons of Wall Street and the hedgerows of the Hamptons this summer:

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.

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:

BEEF

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.

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