Wednesday. 11/9/2019

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Josh Fehnert

Ripe for a rethink

“Waste not, want not,” proclaim the parents of children who refuse to polish off their scraps. So why has the childish simplicity of this common-sense complaint eluded the food industry itself? The UN believes that a third of all packaged food is lost between the farm and the consumer and never even eaten. Meanwhile, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that food waste accounts for a gobsmacking 8 to 10 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions. The supply chain is a mess.

Recently, however, Finnish supermarket firm S-Market hatched a plan for shifting stock before its cut-off date. The so-called “happy hour” scheme offers shoppers a 60 per cent discount on soon-to-be-binned stock come 21.00 and in its 900-odds shops nationwide. It’s a small bite at a bigger problem – like charging for plastic bags, embracing ugly onions and honouring a keep-cup system – but it’s a worthwhile one given the scale of the issue at hand. The canniness of S-Market’s scheme is that it delivers savings to customers, brand goodwill and an easy-to-swallow conclusion that all well-brought-up CEOs will have chewed over in childhood: namely, waste not, want not.

Election / Tunisia

Congestion ahead

Tunisia heads to the polls on Sunday for the first round of voting that will decide a new president. As the only democracy to emerge from the 2011 Arab Spring, the north African nation’s next move will be watched closely by those in the region and beyond. Despite the ideological tug-of-war and a packed field of 26 candidates, security issues, unemployment and a worsening economy are likely to be the decisive issues. “It’s a tight and unpredictable race – one of the main parties exploded over the past year, so what was a secular, centrist vote has now been split among many candidates,” Tunis-based journalist Layli Foroudi told Monocle 24’s The Globalist. “[This said], unemployment is 15 per cent and before the revolution it was 12 per cent. The issues that people went to the streets about in 2011 haven’t improved.”

Media / Global

Pressing concerns

Yesterday the Committee to Protect Journalists released its annual list of the worst offenders when it comes to freedom of the press. It made for rather familiar reading in most instances: Eritrea came out on top (or should we say bottom?), followed by the likes of North Korea, Turkmenistan, Saudi Arabia, China, Vietnam, Iran, Equatorial Guinea, Belarus and Cuba. But there are troubling trends elsewhere in the world too, according to Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index: the US has recently been dubbed a "problematic" place for journalists to work freely. Just last week US president Donald Trump tweeted: “Our real opponent is not the Democrats… our primary opponent is the Fake News Media”. The US, long a fervent, flag-waving proponent of press freedom, is lowering its standards significantly.

Business / Mexico

Competing standards

Walk around Mexico City at the moment and you’ll find the megalopolis in patriotic overdrive. With the lead-up to independence celebrations on 16 September, every street corner features a hawker selling miniature flags and dolls in the country’s red, white and green tricolour, while the colonial buildings around the Zócalo – the capital’s vast central square – are decked out with festive pomp. Amid all the flag-selling there is one threat: the mass-market incursion of Chinese-made flags that are cheaper to make and sell. Mexico City flag-maker La Principal – a storied firm dating back to 1907 – knows it can’t compete in numbers so is instead betting on quality: rather than printed offerings, its flags are handmade and hand-painted. The biggest surprise? The company is based in Mexico City’s Chinatown.

Defence / Japan

Trying contest

Just as national teams are decamping to Japan for the Rugby World Cup (which starts 20 September), an amateur but no less hard-fought battle is getting underway in the country this week: the International Defence Rugby Competition. In this unusual but thankfully controlled skirmish, which was first held in 2011, 10 armies from around the world compete to see who can claim to be the best armed-forces outfit. The teams include South Korea, New Zealand, Australia, Tonga and Fiji, with the opening matches – including the UK vs Georgia – being held today. The Japanese team (the less-than-scary-sounding Defence Blossoms) make their debut on 15 September, playing the winner of today’s match between France and Papua New Guinea. The final of the competition will take place in Kashiwanoha Stadium, Chiba, on 23 September.

M24 / The Menu: Food Neighbourhoods

São Paulo, Santa Cecília

Lucinda Elliott takes us to Santa Cecília in downtown São Paulo, an area that has seen an influx of restaurants, bars and bricks-and-mortar retail spearheaded by Brazilian entrepreneurs who are eager to improve the neighbourhood.

Film / Lithuania

Property Prospectus: Uzupis

Monocle Films heads to Vilnius to explore Uzupis. This creative and quirky corner of the Lithuanian capital is more than just a neighbourhood – it’s a mini-state.

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