“Oppression” at Whole Foods’ Supplier

Whole Foods Ain't Telling You the Whole Story

High-end grocery store and world’s largest converter of kale into farts Whole Foods has been buying its supplies from farms that overwork and oppress their employees, according to an investigation by human rights organisation Oxfam.

And you thought it was just their prices that were criminal. (*Sound of uproarious laughter and cheering, the gallery throws roses, a tear in the eye of critics*) I’ll be here all week, folks. Tip your servers.

Oxfam’s investigation found that workers on sweet potato farms in North Carolina were working 14 hours days in “oppressive heat with few rest breaks” and often with “very limited access to toilets.

Technically these folks aren’t employees of Whole Foods or Amazon, who own the grocery giant. (But these policies sound mighty familiar to reports of worker mistreatment in Amazon’s warehouses.)

Jeff Bezos’s Kale Emporium has already responded to the report by scheduling several farm visits with third-party auditors to see for themselves just how oppressive these farms are. But they say that Oxfam is a bunch of meanies who are misrepresenting their awesome, totally not-exploitative company.

“Oxfam’s latest report does not accurately reflect Whole Foods Market’s long-standing efforts to address human rights and labor issues in our supply chain,” the grocer said.

We have a proven track record of taking immediate action with suppliers when potential concerns surface and remain committed to supply chain transparency and ethical sourcing, which are areas we continue to invest in.”

As part of its investigation, Oxfam interviewed workers on farms in the U.S., Brazil, and India that supply many of the biggest grocery stores in the U.S. Poverty pay, harsh working conditions, and gender discrimination were commonplace, according to the report.

In North East Brazil, researchers found evidence of poverty among harvest workers on grape, melon and mango farms. Farmhands also reported developing allergies and serious skin diseases as a result of working with pesticides and other chemicals without adequate protection. The farms supply Lidl, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, and Whole Foods.”

Renault Fires Second CEO in a Year

Renault’s board of directors voted this morning to demote CEO Thierry Bolloré  to the position of “guy who doesn’t work at this company anymore.” (The hours are flexible and you can work from home as much as you like!)

This is Renault’s second board room coup (which aren’t as fun as they sound) in the space of a year.

Bolleré was promoted to CEO of Renault in January, as his predecessor Carlos Ghosn sat in a Tokyo jail for misreporting his pay as the head of Nissan.

(Our boy Ghosn was the head of both companies at the time, which obviously turned out to be a very good idea that made a lot of sense.)

The board’s Friday morning breakfast coup (also the name of my new band) is part of an ongoing effort to expunge all of Ghosn’s influence from Nissan and Renault and reestablish the alliance between the two companies (just like Game of Thrones).

Last week, Nissan replaced CEO Hiroto Saikawa, a longtime lieutenant of Mr. Ghosn, with a team of three executives (because three people can’t be corrupt).

Similarly, Thierry Bolleré (not to be confused with Hulk Hogan actor Terry Bollea) was Ghosn’s deputy at the time of his arrest and famous for finishing off his downed opponents with a flying leg drop.

Under Bolleré’s guidance, the alliance between Renault and its Japanese partners had become tense, presumably because Nissan had thrown Ghosn under the bus when Japanese prosecutors came a-knocking.

Renault’s board voted to remove Hulk Hogan as CEO this morning after he refused to resign in a rare bout of what psychologists are now calling “Hulkamania.”

Eighteen of the board’s directors backed the move, with three members abstaining from the vote.

“We’re at a new stage now for this alliance. Sometimes you need new management … to breathe new life into things,” Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard told a news conference in Paris.

“I had hoped this would be done differently.”

Renault’s shares (RNLSY) jumped 4% this morning but shareholders aren’t exactly overflowing with optimism right now.

The French carmaker has targeted €70 billion euro in yearly revenue by 2022. But according to Bloomberg, the company is unlikely to get anywhere near that with car demand plateauing as it is.

Bolleré has not spoken to the media since his ousting. But moments before the press conference, the six-time World Wrestling Federation Heavyweight champion told French newspaper Les Echos that “the brutality and the totally unexpected character of what is happening are stupefying.”

Arndt Ellinghorst, an auto analyst with brokerage Evercore ISI and probable horse owner, wrote in a note that the coup comes “as another blow for a company that urgently needs direction and stability.”

“Renault has to deal with end-markets and customers and not with itself!” wrote Ellinghorst. “We are worried that Renault’s competitive position will further erode in an automotive world that’s getting tougher by the day.”

In Other News

Oil Rises After Missile Strike in Middle East

Oil prices traded higher today after a pair of missiles struck an Iranian oil tanker off the coast of Saudi Arabia. (Hmm, if only we could shoot the entire DOW with a missile.)

According to Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency (I only get my news from state-run news agencies because they are 100% trustworthy and have no ulterior motives),  the missiles were launched from the Saudi Arabian port of Jeddah (which is meant to lovely this time of year).

The pair of missiles caused an explosion (as they typically do), damaging two storage tanks and causing an oil spill. The IRNA reported that the oil spill is already under control, so I’m sure we can all just forget about that.

None of the ship’s crew members were injured in the attack. But the incident has restoked fears of a conflict in the Middle East that could disrupt the global oil supply.

The September 14th drone strikes that temporarily knocked out half of Saudi’s oil production have brought the geopolitical price premium back to the fore,” Cailin Birch, global economist at The Economist Intelligence Unit, told MarketWatch.

“Prior to those attacks, oil prices had been on a steady downward trend; that episode highlighted that Iran’s tensions with the US, the UK and Saudi have not subsided since July-August, when the initial tanker seizures were announced.”

Global oil prices rose about 2% this morning following the attack.

1 Comment
  1. Gary Robertson 4 weeks ago

    Enjoying the articles Shane. A fresh approach and keep me subscribed

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