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The Pregnancy Whopper, AI Milk, and a Permanent McExit

PLUS: The Most Inconvenient Store
May 18, 2022

Sales are up. Despite inflation and economic concerns, retail sales in the U.S. increased .9% in April — a four-month streak showing a rise in spending. When the numbers are broken down, however, the split of sales between goods and services was somewhat out of balance, with goods higher than usual and services lower than usual — meaning investors may still want to be cautious when deciphering the numbers.

Partners in Returns. Shopify’s Loop and PayPal’s Happy Returns have announced a partnership that allows Loop users to take advantage of box and label-free returns at Happy Returns locations. At a time when fuel costs have some companies changing their online return policies, strategic partnerships like this one are key.

More Sights & Sounds. Spotify is testing out letting artists promote their existing NFTs on their artist profiles. Chase Bliss Audio is changing its business model and moving to direct sales, rather than selling through dealers. Recurate raised $14 million in Series A funding. And Walmart’s Q1 sales were reportedly strong, but inflation on fuel and food took a toll on the company’s profits.

Fashionable Funding. Fashinza, a B2B fashion supply chain marketplace based out of India, has raised $100 million in Series B funding.

If Momma Ain’t Happy. In preparation for Mother’s Day, Burger King surveyed women about their craving combinations during pregnancy. Then in German restaurants, the company offered “The Pregnancy Whopper” for a limited time, with flavor combos such as: ice cream and french fries, pickles and whipped cream, and applesauce with fish sticks. Yum…?

Got Milk?…ahem…Not Milk. Starbucks in Colombia has partnered with Chilean food tech startup, TheNotCompany. One of the main outcomes of this partnership is the introduction of NotCo’s vegan milk to Starbucks cafes. The plant-based substitute utilizes AI technology to emulate the taste and mouthfeel of cow’s milk, by mirroring its composition on a molecular level.

More Palate News. Chick-fil-A filed a trademark to sell virtual food as NFTs. The pizza industry is suffering as the demand for delivery increases, and the availability of delivery drivers decreases. GrubHub offered $15 off orders in NYC on Tuesday from 11am-2pm, but didn’t tell restaurants they were offering this deal. Most establishments were not prepared and couldn’t keep up. Starbucks joined other companies this week in announcing that it would start covering travel costs for employees seeking abortions and gender-affirming procedures. And after 30 years of conducting business in Russia, McDonald’s has decided to permanently leave the country. Initially, the fast food chain just paused operations in response to the war in Ukraine, however now the company says continued business there is no longer “consistent with its values.”

Cliffhanger. The “most inconvenient” convenience store in the world is found in China and sits precariously on the side of a cliff. The small shop serves drinks and snacks to climbers visiting Shiniuzhai National Geological Park. Employees try not to drink much while on the job, because going for a bathroom break is not a simple task.

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