Monday, April 23, 2012

More Than Just Tofu

Tofu (a.k.a. bean curd) is a popular component utilized in Asian cuisine made from coagulating soy milk. However, China thanks to its robust growth and dietary demand is on the verge of consuming the soybean market.
Read On:
Did you know that China feeds more than 20 percent of the world’s population despite having less than 10 percent of the world’s agricultural capacity and less than 6 percent of its water resources? In spite of, China’s government has clearly indicated that they intend to establish a domestic supply chain to meet its peoples’ food demand. However, soybean production requires a substantial amount of land and water. As a result, it is more efficient for China to import soybeans. Detailed below are the numbers:

• Compared to five years ago, each person in China has been consuming 5 percent more meat, 10 percent more milk and utilizes 8 percent more cooking oil. Note: Soybean meal is an integral component of the feed needed to support China’s booming protein and dairy industries.

• Since 2005, China’s total soybean consumption has risen 64 percent. In 2010 they imported 55 million tons, more than 50 percent of the annual global trade, primarily from the US and Brazil. 

China is the largest importer of US soybeans! They buy a quarter of our crop. The US Department of Agriculture forecasts that our soybean exports will increase 62 percent to over 90 million tons over the next ten years.

Will Iowa eventually have more billionaires than Silicon Valley?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Sushi Lessons

I really savor sushi. Consequently I was excited to see the new film Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Excellent documentary! It leaves you hungry, but also with some key learning for succeeding in today’s business world. Below is a summary of the sushi lessons I personally learned from Jiro Ono.

Read On:
Jiro Ono is the most famous sushi chef in Tokyo. Despite the fact his restaurant only seats ten guests, he is world renown and has won the prestigious 3 star French Michelin review. At 86 he is the oldest Michelin chef alive. Below are some great sushi lessons Jiro has taught me to apply to business:

· Details, Details, Details – Great marketers understand that it is all about the details. At the risk of being too critical, I have lost count of how many times I have witnessed outdated content on company websites (e.g., promotions that have expired, last year’s trade show schedule, etc.)

· Simplicity Reigns – In culinary terms, the expression is Umami – Japanese term for pleasant savory taste. In business terms, simplicity equals balance. Jiro’s son goes to market everyday to purvey fresh fish. They prepare each piece of sushi to perfection, right down to the right touch of wasabi so it should not over power the flavor of the fish. The same holds true when it comes to strategic initiatives in business. Less tactics, combined with simple elements of execution, the better the program versus over processing with multiple steps.

· New Challenges – Everyday Jiro, even after all these years, challenges his team to perform at a higher level than the previous day. A great lesson for every company. Reminds me of a Seth Godin classic titled “Slowly I Turned...Step by Step…Inch by Inch…”

· Teamwork/Loyalty – Every individual in Jiro’s restaurant has a specific job they have been trained for, right down to the individual that makes the rice that Jiro has been buying from the same supplier all these years. The sum of the parts leads to a memorable; twenty piece sushi eating experience that has earned the highest award – 3 Michelin stars.

Some great business lessons from Jiro Ono.

Oh yes! I forgot to mention that sushi at Jiro’s restaurant costs 31,500 yen ($390). That does not include airfare and hotel.

Monday, April 9, 2012


As a consumer marketing geek, I have addressed in previous posts, marketing ploys (a.k.a. hooks) I have received – exclusivity, cool, freebies, etc. The latest one I just received was a bonus offer with credit card payment. Remember*

*Take time to read the fine print.

Read On:
Food & Wine just sent me a special offer, a six-issue subscription for only $6.00 ($23.94 savings discount off the cover price). Their marketing ploy? Bonus 3 extra issues with credit card payment. Now for the fine print: Plus, whichever option you choose, you’ll enjoy automatic renewal of your subscription annually at the then current rate, until you tell us to cancel. See back for details.

Three thoughts:

1.) I was reminded of an old post titled Speed. On Sale. I referenced Dan Ariely’s book Predictably Irrational where he details how companies utilize “special promotions” to entice consumers into ownership. Food & Wine understands that there is a high probability once their offer expires, subscribers will not discontinue their subscriptions. Instead the emotions of ownership will cause people to rationalize subscribing to the magazine. Or maybe Food & Wine understands that people will get too crazy busy to call in and cancel their subscription or even look at the extra charge they are incurring on their credit card bills.

2.) I immediately tossed the Food & Wine offer.

3.) Thank you Food & Wine. You just reminded me that my special six-month Comcast offer is about to expire and that my cable bill is going to jump from $51.85 to $77.39 (a 49.3% increase). Time to reach out to Verizon.


*Take time to read the fine print.