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Drought in India curtails chickpea crop, leads to spike in hummus prices

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LONDON—British shoppers began noticing in recent weeks that hummus prices were up significantly. The cause: a drought thousands of miles away.

Insufficient rains in India have resulted in several years of poor harvests of chickpeas, the main ingredient in hummus. The country, by far the world’s largest producer of chickpeas, grows the legume mostly for domestic consumption. But worse-than-expected harvests mean that it has had to buy more chickpeas from growers elsewhere, putting pressure on supplies worldwide and driving up prices.

Those limited supplies of chickpeas have combined with rising demand for hummus in Britain to send prices higher. Average prices for the dish at supermarket are 12 per cent higher than a year ago, according to the trade magazine The Grocer and the research consultancy Brand View. That is significantly more than grocery price inflation of 3.6 per cent, and overall inflation of 2.7 per cent.

It is the latest example of weather leading to poor harvests in one part of the world, and resulting in shortfalls and price rises at supermarkets far away. And it serves as a reminder of the complexity and fragility of the vast global system putting food on the plates of consumers around the world.

Last year, a cyclone that devastated Madagascar sent prices for vanilla pods surging. The east African island nation accounts for 80 per cent of the world’s vanilla supply, and the storm meant the country’s annual crop was cut by around 15 per cent.

That set off a supply crunch, at one point pushing prices for vanilla pods, which were about $30 (U.S.) a kilogram in 2012, to more than $700 a kilogram in 2017. Those prices, coupled with poor crops, were too high for some retailers. Oddono’s, an ice cream chain in London, stopped selling vanilla ice cream for several months.

A drought in California drove almond prices sharply higher in 2014 and 2015. That came just as demand for a broad range of nuts was surging, pushed in particular by increased consumption in China.

In 2015, the combination of rising demand for chocolate in Asian countries, unusual weather in major cocoa-producing countries of West Africa, and attacks of fungus resulted in higher prices for chocolate. The factors just happened to coincide with Valentine’s Day.

Britain is particularly vulnerable to shifts in the international food system. It imports almost a third of its food, so a weaker currency, driven in part by uncertainty over the country’s exit from the European Union next year, could make groceries even more expensive.

The unexpectedly severe drought in India of the past few years has affected hundreds of millions of people in the country. It has also had consequences for global markets, including for chickpeas, as India typically produces 10 times the amount of the legume as the next-biggest producer, according to data from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

In Britain, hummus has quickly gone from being a niche snack, introduced to supermarkets in the 1990s, to being a staple. The dish, a specialty of the Middle East and the Mediterranean, was voted one of the products most likely to be found in Britons’ fridges in a 2013 survey of European food habits. Annual sales of hummus in the country total more than ₤100 million ($140 million), up about 50 per cent from four years ago, according to the research firm Kantar Worldpanel.

Indeed, worldwide demand for hummus has driven up interest in chickpea production, and analysts expect a shift toward healthier eating will continue to bolster the dish’s popularity. Farmers in the United States, for example, were forecast to drastically raise their chickpea harvests last year, according to official data, after what was already a record year in 2016. And scientists from Scotland and Ethiopia are jointly exploring the development of drought-resistant chickpeas.

For now, some manufacturers in Britain are trying to absorb the higher costs.

Ramona Hazan’s London-based business, Ramona’s Kitchen, makes about 75 tons of hummus a month, both for supermarkets and for sale directly to customers. Each 250-gram tub costs about ₤1.60, but tighter margins resulting from higher chickpea prices mean she is now looking at diversifying.

“We might look at pea and mint dips, extend our range to things not as chickpea-based,” Hazan said.

Others have taken to searching for options elsewhere. AGT Poortman, which supplies chickpeas to companies that make hummus for British supermarkets, said its prices had increased around 40 per cent from 2015 to 2017. To supply clients, it has asked them to allow it to buy chickpeas from a wider variety of places.

 

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Republicans And Democrats Are Wedded To Capitalism. Americans Deserve Better.

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When college student Trevor Hill stood up at a CNN town hall in 2017 and asked House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) if her party might move further left to mark a starker break with right-wing economics, her answer was clear: “I thank you for your question but I have to say we’re capitalist. And that’s just the way it is.”

No major Republican has felt a similar need to affirm loyalty to capitalism; everyone quite rightly assumes it. Yet the two major U.S. political parties’ shared celebration of capitalism raises basic questions about U.S. society that deserve more attention than they get.

Capitalism’s fundamental political problem is its class division between a small number of people who are employers and the majority who are employees.

Capitalism’s cycles between good and bad times, as well as the inequality it produces through vast gaps in income and wealth, cause conflict and division. And these tensions threaten the whole system, as the recent “yellow jackets” mass movement in France demonstrates. There, a fuel tax rise sparked weeks of protest across the country as those who live beyond France’s wealthy urban centers rejected ― occasionally violently ― yet another rise in their cost of living and demanded growing concessions from French capitalism.

In response, employers have built political alliances with some parts of the employee class. For example, inside the Republican Party, they worked long-standing deals with evangelicals to, for example, oppose abortion and coalesce around Supreme Court nominees, while inside the Democratic Party, they made alliances with large groups of religious and ethnic minorities.

They have had to make these and many more such political alliances because they are simply too vulnerable to go it alone. Their alliances’ goals always included making sure that the capitalist system itself survived, partly by preventing the majority from voting for tax and regulation policies that would undo the inequalities and instabilities of capitalism.

Whichever party wins, it’s capitalism that prevails.

Despite its socially destabilizing business cycles and income inequality, U.S. capitalism has been able to reproduce itself. This was achieved through the employer alliances constructed within both major political parties.

The aim of the Republicans is to identify and appeal directly to segments of the majority that feel aggrieved or threatened by certain social trends. In the U.S., this has meant appealing to, for example, white people facing the decline of white supremacist and racist practices; men seeing their dominance lessen over women at work and at home; and religious people facing the rise of secularism or disinterest in religion.

It’s a gathering together of conservatives fearing the changes that are undermining old social positions and privileges. Its appeal is simple and clear. Vote for the GOP to have the government slow, stop or reverse those trends. The party always links that appeal to a rigid commitment to preserving and strengthening “the economy.” By this they mean private property, markets and businesses where a dominant class of employers rules over employees.

The Democrats’ mode of alliance is to appeal to the entire class of employees by endorsing state programs of mass economic, social and cultural support. For example through subsidized higher education, unemployment insurance, Social Security increases and so on. The Democrats’ plan is to pay such programs’ costs by means of taxes imposed partly on employers and partly on employees.

These state programs are pitched to employers as relatively inexpensive ways of preserving and strengthening a social solidarity that includes and so supports capitalism. The programs are pitched to employees as benefits flowing from the capitalist economy if and when they have voted to put the government in Democratic Party hands.

The Democrats have generally built alliances with those segments of the employee class who most need government support (those paid below median wage and salary levels) and with those who welcome those social trends such as secularism, urbanism, diverse sexuality and immigration that upset the people who the Republicans target for alliances. The so-called culture wars in the U.S. both reflect and reinforce the class alliances constructed inside the two parties.

Both parties push “partnership” between employers and employees as an essential goal, while accusing the other party of threatening or undermining that partnership. Both also get the bulk of their funding for pursuing these political goals from capitalist employers. Donations from employees make up a much smaller proportion of their funding.

Whichever party wins, it’s capitalism that prevails. The statements and activities of the party in opposition serve to funnel disaffection with the party in power into votes for regime change. Capitalism is kept out of the debates, gets a critical pass and remains secure.

It also blocks possibilities for more than two parties. The GOP and Democratic Party have together produced and sustained the rules that make third parties difficult to start or maintain.

In many other capitalist countries, it was not possible to limit political parties to two. In France, Germany and beyond, while there are center-left and center-right parties similar to the Democratic and Republican parties in the U.S., there are also politically significant parties further to the right and left. In France, for example, the National Front is a powerful rightist party led by Marine Le Pen, while the La France Insoumise (“France unsubdued”) is a powerful leftist formation led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

António Costa is Portugal's socialist prime minister. In many countries other than the U.S., green and anti-capitalist

ARIS OIKONOMOU via Getty Images
António Costa is Portugal’s socialist prime minister. In many countries other than the U.S., green and anti-capitalist socialist parties are components of government coalitions.

In several European countries, green parties are also important. In Portugal and Luxembourg, green and anti-capitalist socialist parties are components of government coalitions. Democracy in all such countries reflects people’s demands for freedom to choose among parties with divergent attitudes toward capitalism. In contrast, the U.S. ― the nation that most loudly and routinely proclaims its commitment to democracy ― rigidly restricts its political parties to two that both celebrate capitalism.

Modern party politics has its contradictions. By its growing dependence on major donations from corporations, it risks exposing its class nature. Failures of major parties to solve key social problems increasingly provoke people to turn against the party system. Contemporary movements for social change are increasingly skeptical of allying with any existing political parties.

France’s “yellow jackets” movement ― successful in defeating President Emmanuel Macron’s attempts to introduce taxes that disproportionately hit those least able to afford them ― illustrates that skepticism perfectly.

Similarly, the entry of Elizabeth Warren into the 2020 presidential primaries ― like Bernie Sanders’ effort in 2016 ― moves in the direction of politically mobilizing the increasingly broad social disaffection with capitalism. Time will tell whether U.S. conditions make that direction sustainable within a changed Democratic Party or only outside it.

There is an emerging sense that new and very different parties are needed, parties that gather many segments of the employee class for a confrontation with all those who explicitly or implicitly accept and support capitalism.

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What does Digital Marketing in South Africa look like today?

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Digital Marketing around the world is at different stages of advancement, from the highly competitive online world in the UK and the US to the less established but rapidly growing scene in countries like South Africa.
In this article, we’re going to pick the brains of James Williams, the Head of Digital Marketing at online loan provider Wonga South Africa, to see what the world of Digital Marketing looks like today, and how it compares to some of the world’s most developed online markets.

Having worked in Digital Marketing in London for a number of years before returning to his native South Africa to take the reigns at Wonga, James is perfectly positioned to compare the two. These are his thoughts…

The importance of culture

One of the key lessons James learned when moving from the UK to the South African market was the importance of culture, and how this affects just about everything you do online. Businesses often talk about ‘localising’ their online assets when expanding into foreign markets and this same process needs to be used to adapt their digital marketing efforts.

When talking about localising assets, it means adapting a product, service or piece of content to meet the needs of a particular language, culture or desired population’s ‘look-and-feel’. The same needs to be done to a business’s Digital Marketing strategy.

In South Africa, there are 11 different languages, each tied to a very different culture. That makes the outreach process much more challenging than in a single language market like the UK. James found that the strategies that were working well in London were producing mediocre engagement rates in South Africa. Instead, James had to almost forget the techniques that had worked before and try new strategies, explore new territory and collect fresh data to help him decide the best approaches to take.

Choosing the right language

Another important consideration for businesses operating online in South Africa is what language to use to attract the greatest level of engagement. The vast majority of South Africans can speak English, but the use of Afrikaans online is currently growing rapidly. That means companies with the resources to do so would be wise to produce all their online assets in both English and Afrikaans.

The primary language used online can also change significantly from location to location. For example, the Western Cape area is largely Afrikaans speaking, while the province of KwaZulu Natal is predominantly Zulu. Digital Marketing campaigns need to reflect this if they are to be successful.

The burgeoning digital scene

One of the biggest benefits of the South African digital scene is the fact that it’s still very much in its infancy when compared to the US and UK. That’s actually a good thing because it means the consumer hasn’t yet been exposed to the huge amount of low-quality content marketing that is all over the internet in the UK. So, when you do create a quality campaign in South Africa, you tend to get the rewards it deserves. In the UK or the US, it is much easier for the quality campaigns to be lost among the bad digital practices that can be found all over the web.

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Easy Instagram Marketing Tips For Gaining Real-Time Results

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With time, Instagram is turning out to be an engaging and quite popular social media application. With more than 8 billion registered accounts, it is one of the best social media platforms, proven for brand building and marketing. Around 80 million photos are uploaded in this platform on a daily basis making it a huge active user base. So, if you are planning to run your business with Instagram by your side, you have make way for the right decision. But first, you need to know about easy Instagram marketing tips for gaining real results.

Switch to Instagram business profile:

Before embarking in Instagram marketing journey, you have to be in business account. There are some obvious benefits to switch into business profile.

  • Apart from visiting your website, followers can click on contact button to get in direct touch with your business team.
  • You will get an easy access to the analytics tool straight from Instagram called Insights. Here, you get to see some stats like content reach, impressions and more.
  • You can also create and even publish some Instagram ads without quite depending on advertising tools.

Leveraging some sponsored ads:

Those companies using Instagram advertisement are always on rise. Even the numbers of advertisers is surpassing some of the popular social media platforms like that of Twitter previous year. These points give you reason to actually head for ways to gain more instagram followers these days.Apart from the fact that Instagram has strong 700 million base users, there are some other reasons to head towards this plan.

  • As Facebook and Instagram are connected, you can easily use FB advertising experience for targeting Instagram audience better.
  • Straight from budgeting to creating ads, you get the chance to manage everything about Instagram ads in FB ad manager.
  • These advertisements are non-intrusive and engaging, which will help gaining better conversion rate at lower cost.
  • You will have the creative freedom to use videos and images both for promoting service or product. These ads are quite hard to miss as they occupy the entire mobile device screen.

Partnering with targeted influencers:

If you are planning to reach out to potential customers on Instagram, you can try leveraging influencers already worked on ways to build an audience. With so many people and their being depended on Instagram based feed, it will always vital to get into a partnership with right influencers. It will definitely help your brand to be at the front of the list.

Instagram influencers are known to be power users, with loyal and large follower base that trusts recommendations. If you are planning on ways to make your influencer marketing campaign a successful notion on Instagram, you have to partner with influencers with great and highly relevant audience to product.

Once you know the best ways to use Instagram for marketing strategies, there is no need to look for other names in the market. You can easily use the Instagram skills to improve marketing strategies, resulting in a proper business growth. Just follow the marketing tips with utmost concentration.

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