"Algumas vezes é-me penoso visitar uma empresa. Um outsider consegue abstrair-se da espuma dos dias e, numa atitude racional, olhar para aquela azáfama e perceber que são como perús na antevéspera do Natal. E escrevo isto sem arrogância, até com algum melindre. Basta-me olhar para os produtos que fabricam, para o seu valor acrescentado, para a dependência das quantidades, quando o contexto é de encomendas mais pequenas e de salários mais altos."Hoje, ao olhar para a primeira página do Wall Street Journal sinto que estou a ler um texto dedicado a este blogue, "Grocers Bottle Their Own Milk And Shake Up Dairy Industry.
Um texto sobre a indústria do leite nos Estados Unidos que ilustra tudo o que aqui vamos escrevendo ao longo dos anos sobre um produto comoditizado. Se os clientes não valorizam a diferenciação o que conta é o preço. E o cúmulo da race-to-the-bottom é quando os supermercados começam a montar as suas próprias fábricas. Se colocarmos as regras do jogo num quadro branco e começarmos a fazer combinações com o propósito de maximizar o lucro para os donos das pratleiras de braço dado com as benesses para os consumidores facilmente chegaremos ao que aparece neste artigo e neste blogue:
"Americans’ thirst for cheap milk—and grocers’ rush to provide it—are remaking the centuries-old dairy industry. [Moi ici: Recordar "Milk is the ultimate low-involvement category"] When supermarket shoppers reach for white gallon jugs these days, most of the time they grab a low-priced store brand. To expand those offerings, major grocery retailers, including Kroger Co., Walmart Inc. and Albertsons Cos., have built their own milk bottling plants.
Grocers’ move into the bottling business is threatening some of the biggest operators in the $40 billion U.S. milk industry, the purveyors of national brands.
Dean Foods Co., which until last year was the largest U.S. milk processor by sales, and Borden Dairy Co., another big producer, were sold this year after filing for bankruptcy in November and January. Executives of both had blamed some of their struggles on grocers’ focus on cheap milk, often used as a loss leader.
Adding to the industry’s pressures, milk’s luster has been slowly fading for years in an increasingly crowded beverage market. Many consumers have switched to bottled water and juice, or dairy alternatives made from almonds or oats; breakfast cereal has fallen out of favor. At the farmer level, about 3,300 dairy-cow herds disappeared in 2019, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, following low milk prices, tensions with export customers and processing plant closures across the
country. Wisconsin alone lost about 600 herds over the 12 months up to June 1, the cows typically either sold to another farmer or sent to slaughter.
Although overall dairy demand, factoring in products such as yogurt, butter and cheese, continues to grow, annual per capita U.S. milk consumption has dropped about 40% over four decades.
Bigger farms all the while, the dairy farms and milk cooperatives that supply milk to the processors were getting bigger and more professional. [Moi ici: Recordar a vacaria com mais de 33 mil vacas numa exploração] By 2017, the eight largest dairy cooperatives were marketing 54% of the country’s milk. To Walmart, buying milk directly from them, then processing and bottling the milk itself, started to look like a feasible cost-saving move. Walmart announced in March 2016 it would build a milk-processing plant of its own in Fort Wayne, Ind., to supply more than 600 Walmart and Sam’s Club stores in the eastern Midwest."