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Economy

Why Danone, Nestlé And Other Foreign Food Giants Are Struggling In China

The French and Swiss firms have a longstanding presence in China, but are still outstripped by local competitors. Add to that rising land and labor costs, and foreign food giants must recalibrate their strategies in the world's No. 2 economy.

Nestlé, the world's largest food company, is going to stop making ice cream in eastern China (upton)
Nestlé, the world's largest food company, is going to stop making ice cream in eastern China (upton)
Li Juan

SHANGHAI - Danone has just closed its Shanghai yogurt plant, Nestlé says it's going to shut down its local ice cream factory and Pepsico has sold off 24 bottling plants in China. What is shaking up foreign food and beverage giants inside the world's No. 2 economy?

Danone, the French dairy giant, says it wants to concentrate on developing its Bio brand, where margins are high. But after the failure of its Chinese joint ventures, the company is operating alone, and its sales and marketing channels are far behind the competition. In the Guangzhou yogurt market, for example, Danone has a 12% share, but is forced to ship in products from faraway factories in Shanghai or Beijing. To arrive from the factory to the supermarket can take nearly one week, which is already half of processed yogurt's typical shelf-life.

Just two days after Danone ceased production in Shanghai, Nestlé, an even larger food industry rival, confirmed that it would stop selling ice cream in eastern China, and shut down its Shanghai factory. The company didn't give a specific reason for the closure, but industry analyst Liang Mingxuan of CI Consulting said the Swiss firm was struggling to compete with local peers.

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Geopolitics

The Days After: What Would Happen If Putin Opts For A Tactical Nuclear Strike

The risk of the Kremlin launching a tactical nuclear weapon on Ukraine is small but not impossible. The Western response would itself set off a counter-response, which might contain or spiral to the worst-case scenario.

An anti-nuclear activist impersonates Vladimir Putin at a rally in Berlin.

Yves Bourdillon

-Analysis-

PARISVladimir Putin could “go nuclear” in Ukraine. Yes, this expression, which metaphorically means “taking the extreme, drastic action,” is now literally considered a possibility as well. Cornered and humiliated by a now plausible military defeat, experts say the Kremlin could launch a tactical nuclear bomb on a Ukrainian site in a desperate attempt to turn the tables.

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In any case, this is what Putin — who put Russia's nuclear forces on alert just after the start of the invasion in late February — is aiming to achieve: to terrorize populations in Western countries to push their leaders to let go of Ukraine.

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