If you watch ABC’s Shark Tank you may have noticed that a lot of the start-up companies on the show make food products. I have a theory about that. See if you can guess what it is.
More clues can be found in this pro-NAFTA propaganda piece: “Middle-class Mexicans snap up more products ‘Made in USA’”
What are the Mexicans snapping up? I have made bold the products in these quotes from the story:
“…marbled slabs of steak from Greeley, cans of pinto beans from Holyoke and sacks of russet potatoes out of Monte Vista.”
“In a Costco store in the suburbs at the edge of Mexico City, shoppers browse shelves loaded with pallets of Kirkland vitamins, value packs of Nature Valley granola bars and sacks of Cape Cod kettle-cooked potato chips.”
“The biggest growth came in modern retail chains, filled with U.S. products, that are challenging, for better or worse, the traditional mom-and-pop stores doling out soda, eggs and tortillas.”
“At Costco, even the walls in the butcher aisle boast the USDA Premium and USDA Choice labels, in English.”
“In Mexico’s Costco stores, staples such as tortilla chips and chipotle salsa are trucked in from factories in California and Texas that produce for both sides of the border.”
“The Mexican consumer is less focused on price and more focused on freshness,” said Sonia Denham, a senior sales manager for California organic produce giant Earthbound Farms, which supplies Costco stores in Mexico and the United States.”
“Jim Walstrom, chief executive of Motely, Minn.-based Morey’s Seafood International, said his company’s relationship with Costco has opened doors to a vast market of 114 million Mexicans who will increasingly serve items such as Pacific salmon and mahi-mahi to their families.”
Almost every product mentioned was a food product. And what do we buy from Mexico?
“…televisions, cellphones, computers and passenger vehicles.”
Well sell Mexico potato chips, and they sell us electronics and cars! Can you imagine?
Perhaps one day Mitt Romney will figure out how to import cupcakes from his sweatshops in China and put American bakers out of business. But until then, food products are one of the last refuges from globalization for American entrepreneurs.
But that is little solace as we revert back to being an agricultural nation. And it is ironic that that is exactly what the British Empire had planned for their American colonies 250 years ago. Here’s Adam Smith trying to talk the colonists into remaining country bumpkins (Wealth of Nations, page 299):
“Were the Americans, either by combination, or by any other sort of violence, to stop the importation of European manufactures, and, by thus giving a monopoly to such of their own countrymen as could manufacture the like goods, divert any considerable part of their capital into this employment, they would retard, instead of accelerating, the further increase in the value of their annual produce, and would obstruct, instead of promoting, the progress of their country towards real wealth and greatness.”
Either Smith was a buffoon, or an intelligence agent acting on behalf of the British Empire trying to keep America down. Luckily, our forefathers didn’t listen. They threw up tariffs, and launched an industrial revolution of their own. Today, that is all being undone, as we race down the path to being the Cupcake Superpower.