Daily Archives: July 21, 2007

Cadbury gives Oompa Loompas a Bad Name

Last month I reported that Cadbury, who was making grandiose efforts to become synonymous with the color purple was down on its luck and was announcing massive job cuts to try and right the ship. But before you go feeling sorry for the sugary giant (which is the world’s largest confectionary company with revenues of about £7.4b in 2006) and it’s self-reported need for a £650m four-year cost reduction plan, which it is partially blaming on its enterprise rollout of SAP (which caused too many chocolate bars to be produced and forced it to take a £12m hit on profits), it seems that it decided to introduce a new testing system for salmonella last year that allowed “safe” levels of salmonella in its products.

Well, when it comes to salmonella, there are no safe levels when consumables are involved, and that’s why the official guidelines say that there is to be no salmonella in ready-to-eat products. Furthermore, they did this knowing perfectly well that outbreaks of salmonella had been associated with very low levels in chocolate. See, salmonella is a bacteria … a gram-negative enterobacteria to be precise … and, like all bacteria, they have this funny habit of multiplying like mad under the right environmental conditions (which, oddly enough, are provided by the human body). And what did they get for it? A slap on the wrist for potentially exposing thousands and thousands of people to a bacteria that is known to kill at least 600 people a year (as per the CDC) and infect over 40,000.

and you’re to blame
Cadbury, you give oompa loompas
a bad name

The Cost of Capitalism

Capitalism, the foundation for a free market, has its cost. It’s called inflation. And when that cost is accompanied by rising raw materials prices, especially in metals, that cost multiplies. We’ve all heard the arguments that we should at least stop using pennies in North America, since the average penny cost 1.25 cents to make in the US in 2006, and maybe even nickels, since they cost 5.73 cents to make in the US in 2006, but it seems that our problems in North America are nothing compared to the problems they have in India.

It seems that their rupee, worth about 2.5 cents in North America, is actually worth about 15 cents to your average resident if they melt it down and make razor blades. It’s as illegal there as it is here, but when your currency is worth at least 600% more as scrap metal, and at least 25% of your population is below the poverty line, it becomes a bigger problem than copper salvage in China. The coin shortage is so bad in some places that some tea gardens have had to resort to using card-board coin slips internally.

It’s a good thing the smugglers and grocers aren’t thinking globally, because razor blades these days cost a heck of a lot more than 2.5 cents! The going price is somewhere in the neighborhood of 2.22 cents for a Gillette Mach 3, or roughly 74 cents here in Canada (as evidenced by a recent Walmart receipt, which is the lowest cost seller in the area). If they ever figure this out, I doubt there’ll be a single rupee left in India!