July 16, 2018  



Today's News Summary:

Leading the news today is a focus on how Prime Day is about more than discounts on Amazon's Fire tablets and Alexa voice assistants. Now it's about food. With Amazon now firmly in charge of the Whole Foods Market chain, which it bought last year for $13.7 billion, it can throw food deals into its Prime Day promotions that had previously been pretty much about electronics and merchandise. The big sale includes savings on organic strawberries, boneless chicken breast and Icelandic cod fillets at the company's U.S. Whole Foods Market stores.

Meanwhile, Amazon workers in Spain went on strike Monday to protest working conditions at the e-commerce giant's warehouses, just as its massive Prime Day sales kick off. A group called Amazon En Lucha organized the walk out at the company's fulfillment center just outside the Spanish capital of Madrid. The strike will last until July 18 and the employees also called for Amazon workers around Europe to go on strike.

In other news, Montana officials are hoping that a blockbuster deal with Chinese retail giant JD.com to export local beef will be possible despite the U.S. Government's escalating trade war with China. In an exclusive interview with Xinhua on Tuesday, Jay Bodner, executive vice president of the Montana Stockgrowers Association, said the win-win deal inked last November in Beijing is not dead in the water, despite a 25-percent tariff on 34 billion U.S. dollars of imports from China imposed by the Trump administration last Friday.

Elsewhere, China has granted the first beef import permits to two French slaughterhouses and two storage sites, ending a 17-year embargo, the French Foreign Ministry said on Friday. France signed a health and safety agreement last month with Beijing, opening the way for effective access to Chinaís beef market.

Even before the specter of a trade war with China and other countries threatened to cost them billions of dollars, American farmers were feeling the squeeze from fluctuating crop prices and other factors that have halved their overall income in recent years. The threat of counter-tariffs on U.S. farm goods and the impact of President Donald Trumpís other policies on immigration and biofuels, though, have some farmers more worried than ever about their ability to continue eking out an existence in agriculture.

McDonald's has stopped selling its salads in 3,000 fast-food restaurants in 14 states in response to an outbreak that sickened people in Iowa and Illinois. McDonald's has also been working together with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in an ongoing investigation aimed at finally pinning down the actual cause of the multistate clyclospora outbreak.

After two years of slight quarterly declines in food prices, the most recent Kentucky Farm Bureau (KFB) Marketbasket Survey indicates a food-cost increase for a second straight quarter. The survey, taken four times each year, price-checks 40 basic food items throughout the state in an effort to gauge current food-price trends. Since the end of 2016, surveyed food items had dropped by a total of $3.79 or just over three percent.


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By Linda Lindner

llindner@foodmarket.com


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