“There is nothing permanent except change.” – Heraclitus (Greek Philosopher)
I am a big fan of Create TV, public television’s lifestyle programs. I especially enjoy their travel shows. Recently I viewed several features on France’s most fabled wine region, Bordeaux. Besides its physical beauty (terroir and chateaus) and yields of fine wine, I am fascinated by the history/tradition of its famous vineyards. Generation, after generation of winemakers. Unfortunately, that is all about to change thanks to a recent influx of Chinese capital.
For the record, Bordeaux has endured foreign invasions over the years; beginning with the English (12th and 13th centuries), then the Dutch (17th century) and the Germans during World War II. Now, because of high French inheritance taxes, owners are opting for retirement, thus taking advantage of Chinese liquidity. Currently the Chinese own approximately 3 percent of roughly 6,000 estates, shipping an estimated 80 percent of the wine they produce back to China. How are the French reacting? The money is good, but they are in uproar with the new owners changing the names of the famous vineyards. To make a stronger link to Chinese consumers they are utilizing names of animals – “Golden Rabbits,” “Tibetan Antelopes,” “Grand Antelopes,” etc.
The Bordeaux wine region is morphing. Heraclitus was a smart philosopher, but so was my grandmother who once told me: “Jimmy, nothing is forever.”
I take pleasure in reviewing innovative projects to save our vulnerable planet. One industry that is rising to the challenge is the fashion industry.
“Business is a combination of human energy and money and to me that equals power. I would go so far as to say that business is the most powerful force in society today, and it is a force that ought to be harnessed to affect social change to improve the quality of life in those societies around the world where the basic needs are not being met.” – Ben Cohen
Detailed below are some leading examples of sustainably focused companies in the fashion industry:
- Patagonia – The company has always been a socially responsible company. Their latest mission statement mandated by Yvon Chouinard, their 80-year-old founder: “Patagonia is in business to save the planet.” Yvon wants to build a sense of urgency inside and outside the company since he believes we are not just witnessing climate change; we are experiencing a climate crisis. Three pillars Patagonia believes are critical to achieve their mission are agriculture, politics and protected lands. More specifically, one major initiative that piques my interest is regenerative agriculture, a long-time priority for their supply chain. Currently, they are working with small cotton farmers in India to create jobs to control pests with traps as opposed to utilizing chemicals, as well as weed and harvest cotton by hand. Note: Studies indicate that regenerative agriculture captures more carbon than we’re emitting. Cotton is a crop that captures carbon.
- Everlane – Noteworthy, the clothing brand founded in 2011 waited six years before introducing its brand of jeans, holding out for a sustainably responsible manufacturer that recycled 98% of the water it utilized. Their line of “clean silk” shirts are made in an energy-efficient factory using chemical-free dyes. Throughout their supply chain they conduct ongoing audits to reduce waste, plus the use of plastics ranging from their employee kitchen (e.g., straws) to buttons from a foreign supplier. Their founder and CEO is concerned how the world is choking on plastics and wants to be a leading advocate for its eradication.
- Synflux – A Japanese start-up research collective has developed machine learning algorithms (a.k.a. AI) enabling fashion clients to customize the shape, fabric and color of their garments. Consequently, their technology will reduce fabric waste by an estimated 15 percent.
Kudos to the fashion industry!
Warning: This is a disruptive blog post!
I know I am not the only individual who believes that the word disruption has become exaggerated. Examples:
- Companies no longer innovate; they implement disruptive innovation.
- There are no longer niche food companies, there are only disruptive food companies.
- The Big 3 consulting firms, McKinsey, BCG and Bain, are no longer retained to change organizations, they are bought in to disrupt organizations.
- Working long hours no longer interferes with your personal life, it disrupts your personal life.
- Your kids no longer exhibit bad behavior, they exhibit disruptive behavior.
In closing, why have I not read the word disruptive applied to climate change? Climate change is ominously disruptive!
Pizza Hut, a NFL sponsor, will be going to their marketing playbook today, implementing a series of promotions, plus leveraging their loyalty program to drive sales on Super Bowl Sunday. They project to sell more than 2 million pizzas. Old adage: Food defines a culture. Pizza, pizza!
You read correctly, over 2 million pizzas in one day. I am not surprised given the bombardment of pizza ads I watched during the Australian Open last month. I rarely eat pizza on this side of the ocean, thus I googled U.S. pizza consumption to learn why all the pizza brands, both Foodservice and Retail, competed for Australian Open air time. By the numbers:
- Unfortunately, I only found stats dating back to 2015 (source: Technomic): U.S. Pizza Market sales were $44.43 billion; the Top 50 Chains accounted for 55.7% of total sales.
- Americans eat approximately 100 acres of pizza per day or 350 slices per second. Bizarre metrics, but it does make you wonder how many slices will be consumed per second during the Super Bowl?
- 94 percent of Americans eat pizza regularly. Annualized it is estimated an American eats 46 slices per year.
How much pizza will you consume today?
Great word! Juxtaposition (noun): the fact of two things being seen or placed together with contrasting effect.
- Government: JFK & LBJ.
- Music: Simon & Garfunkel; Rogers & Hammerstein.
- NBA Basketball in the 80’s: Larry Bird & Magic Johnson.
- Family Entertainment: Walt & Roy Disney.
- Family: Sibling rivalry.
- Past & Future: Estonia.
Can you suggest additional examples of juxtaposition?
Unbelievable what I observed on New Year’s Day. Two men playing boules, a game first popularized in France during the 19th century, talking on their smartphones. I concluded it is time for people to shed their smartphones, thus thoroughly connect with friends, plus the world around them.
It seems every time I venture into public space, people of all ages are surgically attached to their smartphones. U.S. smartphone usage by the numbers:
- Total U.S. smartphone penetration: 69.0% (source: eMarketer August 2018) Note:7% 18-24-year-olds.
- eMarketer projects U.S. adults will spend 3 hours, 35 minutes per day on mobile devices (includes tablets) in 2018. Note: That equates to approximately 1,308 hours or 55 days per year – 15% of an individual’s year.
Ready to observe, listen to the world around you. Shed your smartphone.
Yesterday I was at my local market and noticed they were merchandising whole Serrano hams for a Christmas gift. Validated food gifting is an important cultural custom here in France. Also made me recognize the growing global popularity of Spanish hams.
I learned about Spanish ham, initially Ibèrico hams, when I attended an English language immersion class in Spain. One of the Spaniards attending the course, gave his closing presentation about the difference between Ibèrico ham and the finest Italian prosciutto. There are two major differences: 1.) Black Iberian pigs are free-range and feast on acorns in the last weeks of their lives which yields a unique, sweet, nutty flavor ham; and 2.) The Spanish cure their hams for a longer period of time.
Several years ago, I read an article about the W.H.O., specifically their International Agency for Research on Cancer, publishing an analysis linking colorectal cancer to the consumption of meats (processed or red). Consequently, the Chinese with their insatiable appetite for pork products and rising incomes, began coveting Spanish ham as healthy. No added preservatives or colorings (sometimes metal) in comparison to their homegrown pork products. Thus, the window of opportunity opened for Spanish hams being in demand worldwide. Overnight Ibèrico hams became the most expensive commercially, boneless approximately $400 and bone-in somewhere between $1,200 to $1,400 (over $70 per pound).
Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année!