Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Food and profit

Most NY Times readers have pretty good lives because they live in a world where sellers' interests and buyers' interests can be aligned.  It is a sweet spot that business people spend their lives seeking.  Writing in last Sunday's NY Times Magazine, Michael Moss ("How the processed food industry creates the crave") has another view.  He investigated how food industry people work to find the "bliss point".  He refers to foods that consumers like and that are profitable for producers.

The creation of cheap calories can also be seen as a great success for science and market.  Our ancestors worried about famine and death by starvation.  But Moss and many like him are not happy.

I do not know if there is any science to food "addiction".  I do know that self-control is hard for many.  But I prefer a world where we all live with our own demons.

We get nannyism because many prefer that world (e.g., Michael Bloomberg and many others). When pressed, they trot out externalities arguments. There may be second-hand smoke health hazards but most of us can find ways to steer clear.  Private owners of common area spaces can easily figure out what kind of atmosphere their customers prefer.  The externalities argument from obesity-health problems exists because we are not allowed to live in a world where insurance pools and insured can select and court each other.

Finally, I do not worry about Bloomberg's wealth but Moss and many others surely keep an eye on their 401k balances.  In fact, the mantra is that most of us are too skittish about stocks; too skittish, we trade too much.  I will never know how people can be so dismissive of profit-seeking in general but so keenly interested in the profits they earn.


Speaking of sweet spots, Craig Newark sends news of Lay's Chicken and Waffle chips.

Michelle Obama writes about healthy sweet spots and how "we" can help businesses discover them.