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Amazon's 2Q 2017 Profit Drops 77 Percent; Blames Expansion Costs

Online retailer Inc. reported profit fell 77 percent to $197 million in the second quarter of 2017, compared with the same quarter in the previous year. Sales grew 25 percent to $38 billion; however, the high cost of expansion efforts, which include new warehouses and delivery capacity for its retail business and datacenters for its cloud services business, caused the drop in quarterly profit. Amazon is expanding its brick-and-mortar business, highlighted by its acquisition of Whole Foods Market Inc. in June 2017.

"Amazon’s Expansion Costs Take a Toll as Profit Falls 77%", Wall Street Journal, July 27, 2017

Consumer Shopping: Speed Is Of The Essence

Now that consumers have the technological capability to shop at the speed of light, they expect instant gratification at online stores. Retailers have put in place a wide array of technologies and practices that speed transactions and fulfillment, from one-day delivery to in-store beacons (left) that communicate with shoppers via smartphones. Other advancements created to satisfy the new “I want what I want when I want it” shopping culture are: experimental delivery drones, same-day doctor appointments,, virtual doctor consultations, one-hour delivery of food and groceries, in-store restaurants and bars, and the “see-now, shop-now” trend that lets consumers order new fashion items seen on Instagram almost immediately. [Image credit: © ...  More

"Faster Shopping: A Top Consumer Trend for 2017", Blog entry, Euromonitor, July 26, 2017

Growth Of In-House Brands Squeezes Big Food

Supermarket private label brands in the U.S. historically have not been as important as in European countries. Private label accounted for 17 percent of U.S. sales last year, less than half their share in the U.K. and Germany. But supermarket shoppers are increasingly switching to generic brands, and big food companies are beginning to feel the pinch. Retailers like Walmart are already seeing a rise in sales of their own brands. As retailers allot greater shelf space for their own items, traditional manufacturer brands will see sales volumes decline. And retailers in a fierce competitive environment can point to the growth of their in-house brands to coerce suppliers to cut prices. [ Image credit: © Walmart  ]

"Big Food’s Next Big Problem: Supermarket Brands", The Wall Street Journal, July 19, 2017

Bakery Adapts Old Portuguese Pastry Recipe To Make “Bagel Doughnuts”

The recipe for a popular Hawaiian pastry with roots in Portugal is the inspiration for a Leesburg, Va., bakery’s unusual “bagel doughnuts.” The founders decided to bypass traditional custard and jelly doughnut fillings, and model their treats on the malasada –  a yeast-leavened doughnut made with real fruits, premium heavy cream, and custards made from eggs. They are filled with pastry and chantilly cremes, as well as cream cheese. The bagel doughnuts are dipped in ”everything bagel” seasoning, filled with whipped cream cheese, infused with chives or smoked bacon, and can be topped with smoked salmon.  [ Image credit: © B. Doughnuts   ]

"Malasadas-Inspired 'bagel Doughnuts' Come to D.C. Pop-Up Bakery", United Press International, July 19, 2017

U.K. Relaxes Overly Cautious “Use By” Dates On Food Packaging

Calling current rules overly cautious, the U.K.’s Food Standards Agency has issued draft guidelines urging supermarkets to scrap “use by” dates on packages of food that wouldn’t cause poisoning in favor of “Best Before” dates. The proposed rules also state that packaging should tell customers how to store food, and should display the snowflake logo to indicate that a product can be frozen. The goal is to reduce the 7.3 million tons of food a year, two million tons of which is due to it “not being used in time.” The guidance is “under consultation” until August. [ Image credit: © NHS (UK) ]

"Supermarkets are Told to Stop Telling Shoppers to Throw Away 7.3m Tons of Good Food Every Year by Scrapping 'Use By' Dates", Mail Online, July 17, 2017

Iowa Bakery Known The World Over For One Special Pastry

A small-town Iowa bakery sells the usual fare: doughnuts, fritters, cinnamon rolls, etc. But what makes 89-year-old Tiffany’s Tipton Bakery unique is its crescent rolls, crafted from a Dutch recipe. Twenty-three dozen of the treats, filled with homemade cream and topped with powdered sugar, are baked every Saturday. Many are shipped fresh out-of-town and all over the world, including such exotic destinations as Siberia and central China. Nevertheless, the shop maintains a hometown feel, as one employee notes: “We a lot of times know our customers by their order first, and then we learn their name later." [ Image credit: © Tiffany's Tipton Bakery  ]

"Our Town Tipton: Bakery Ships Pastries Around the World", KCRG-TV9 (Tipton, Iowa), July 14, 2017

U.K. Supermarket Chain Experiments With Smart Food Label

British supermarket chain Sainsbury’s is testing an advanced labeling technology to help customers avoid tossing edible food in the waste bin before its time. The company sticks a color changing label to packets of its own brand sliced ham. The smart label changes from yellow to purple the longer the packet has been open. It is sensitive to temperature as well, because an open pack of ham has a relatively long fridge life when kept below 5º C (41º F). The new label is being used on ham packages in all 601 stores and will be expanded to other foods if consumers like it. [ Image credit: © Sainsbury's  ]

"Sainsbury’s Launch Colour Changing LABEL on Ham Packets to Reveal When Meat is OFF", Sunday Express, July 04, 2017

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