“Here’s the first thing you should know: Expiration dates are not expiration dates. Food product dating, as the U.S. Department of Agriculture calls it, is completely voluntary for all products (with the exception of baby food, more on that later). Not only that, but it has nothing to do with safety. It acts solely as the manufacturer’s best guess as to when its product will no longer be at peak quality, whatever that means. Food manufacturers also tend to be rather conservative with those dates, knowing that not all of us keep our pantries dark and open our refrigerators as minimally as necessary. (I, for one, would never leave the fridge door open for minutes at a time as I contemplate what to snack on.)”
Last Saturday in Mirpur Khas, a city in Pakistan’s Sindh province, hundreds of people lined up for hours outside a park to buy subsidized wheat flour, offered for 65 rupees a kilogram instead of the current, inflated rate of about 140 to 160 rupees.
When a few trucks arrived, the crowd surged forward, leaving several injured. One man, Harsingh Kolhi, who was there to bring a five kg bag of flour home for his wife and children, was crushed and killed in the chaos.
In 1906, Alfred Henry Lewis stated, “There are only nine meals between mankind and anarchy.” Since then, his observation has been echoed by people as disparate as Robert Heinlein and Leon Trotsky.
The key here is that, unlike all other commodities, food is the one essential that cannot be postponed. If there were a shortage of, say, shoes, we could make do for months or even years. A shortage of gasoline would be worse, but we could survive it, through mass transport or even walking, if necessary.
But food is different. If there were an interruption in the supply of food, fear would set in immediately. And, if the resumption of the food supply were uncertain, the fear would become pronounced. After only nine missed meals, it’s not unlikely that we’d panic and be prepared to commit a crime to acquire food. If we were to see our neighbour with a loaf of bread, and we owned a gun, we might well say, “I’m sorry, you’re a good neighbour and we’ve been friends for years, but my children haven’t eaten today – I have to have that bread – even if I have to shoot you.”
But surely, there’s no need to speculate on this concern. There’s nothing on the evening news to suggest that such a problem even might be on the horizon. So, let’s have a closer look at the actual food distribution industry, compare it to the present direction of the economy, and see whether there might be reason for concern.
The food industry typically operates on very small margins – often below 2%. Traditionally, wholesalers and retailers have relied on a two-week turnaround of supply and anywhere up to a 30-day payment plan. But an increasing tightening of the economic system for the last eight years has resulted in a turnaround time of just three days for both supply and payment for many in the industry. This a system that’s still fully operative, but with no further wiggle room, should it take a significant further hit.
An Israeli company that specializes in 3D-printed lab-grown meat with non-GMO animal cells is currently building the world’s largest commercial-scale production facility in North Carolina.
Believer Meat, formerly known as Future Meat Technologies, is building its facility with an initial planned investment of $123.35 million located in Wilson County, North Carolina, which covers a site of 200,000-square-foot.
“BELIEVER Meats, a leading pioneer of the cultivated meat industry, officially broke ground today on its first U.S. commercial facility in Wilson, North Carolina,” the company said in a statement Wednesday.
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