Poppy not puppy


July 9, 2019

Today, China’s pig population drops and the World Cup ratings deserve some props, but first…
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With opium prices down, Mexican poppy planters are packing their bags

Until recently, rural farmers in southwestern Mexico powered the American market for opioids by planting poppies that were processed into heroin.

But the price of opium has recently plummeted and, according to The New York Times, Mexican poppy farmers are moving on to more productive pastures.

So… what happened to demand for poppies?

The American opioid landscape is shifting: Fentanyl (derived from chemicals) is becoming more popular than heroin (made from poppies). 

This change in drug preference has sent an economic shockwave down the opioid supply chain. Fewer heroin buyers reduced the number of heroin dealers, smugglers, synthesizers, opium brokers, and — finally — poppy farmers.

In the last 18 months, poppy prices plummeted 90%…

And poppy producers — many of whom don’t know or care that their poppies were processed into opium resin and later heroin — have started peacing out to escape poverty.

In San Miguel Amoltepec Viejo, a small village in Mexico’s southwestern La Montaña region where poppy production put food on the table, 40% of residents have left to pursue more productive work elsewhere.

Now, no one is sure if poppy production will rebound

Some former poppy farmers have already migrated north and found new work on farms in the US, and many have found agricultural jobs in other Mexican states.

Other optimistic farmers have stockpiled opium in the hopes that prices will one day pop again. But until they do — or rural Mexican communities get the government assistance they have long been promised — the mass migration is expected to continue.

Poppy problems
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Can the world’s oldest wellness product survive the age of Instagram?

Next time your friend Sean tells you he “discovered” essential oils, set the record straight…

Frankincense — the fragrant resin extracted from the boswellia tree of the Arabian peninsula — was a favorite among history’s original wellness influencers: Egyptian pharaohs flaunted it as eyeliner, Jesus got in gift baskets, and the Prophet Muhammad gave it rave reviews.

But the world’s oldest essential oil is in trouble

According to new research, booming demand could wipe out half of the world’s frankincense supply within 20 years.

Although members of the religious community have been buying frankincense for more than 6k years, demand for the ancient oil has recently skyrocketed thanks to the growing popularity of essential oils as a cure-all for everything from arthritis to anxiety.

Now, wellness junkies can sniff out the stuff at ritzy retailers like Sephora and Chanel or online, in tiny pinkie finger-sized 15 ml vials, for $99.95.

But the ’cense harvest doesn’t make sense

Demand, fueled by trendy wellness accounts on Instagram, has caused overharvesting in the poorly-regulated industry. 

Since boswellia trees take 40 years to mature and only grow in high-altitude outcroppings around the Arabian peninsula, the sumptuous sap is being harvested faster than it can be replenished.

But, although boswellia populations could collapse without intervention, they could still rebound with the help of sap-tapping regulations and better trade guidelines.

» It’s common ’cense
This one’s for all the people out there who prefer absorbing stories through your ear-holes instead of your eyeballs. Click on a podcast episode below to start listening.

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Against the Rules with Michael Lewis
Episode: The Neutral
Against the Rules takes the attack on the “American referee” as its main subject. In this episode, Lewis breaks down what it takes to be an effective neutral observer when it comes to the American legal system increasingly overcome with social politics and opinions.

The Joe Rogan Experience
Episode: With Bob Lazar
In this episode from another planet, Rogan sits down with the infamous Bob Lazar, a physicist who worked on reverse engineering extraterrestrial technology at a site called S-4 near Area 51 — is the truth actually out there? Listen and decide for yourself.

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Culpable
Episode: Trust the Process
Hosted by Dennis Cooper, this true-crime podcast follows the Andreacchio family 4 years after the tragic and mysterious loss of 21-year-old Christian. The authorities believe his death was a suicide. But the family isn’t quite convinced.

China’s pig pain is the agricultural trading industry’s gain

For months, the crème de la crème of the world’s ag-commodity traders have celebrated the African swine fever currently rattling China’s pig export industry — which is expected to wipe out ⅓ of China’s pig pen this year. 

The big pig sick — which has forced China to seek more protein than ever from overseas — will definitely benefit some ag-traders around the globe. But the question is, who will win and who will lose? 

It all depends on location, location, location

Pigs gotta eat — and success will ultimately depend on whether the nations where meat-export demand is set to rise have the soybeans required to feed the hungry swine.

The US would normally be one of the most competitive meat suppliers, but the current trade war has left China to look on as American pork desperately waves its hands in the air.

According to animal protein economist Will Sawyer, South American soybean-crushers are most likely to benefit from increased demand for Brazilian meat that has been caused by Beijing and Washington’s (figurative and literal) beef.

But China can’t ignore the US forever

Asia consumes half the world’s pork — a meat-thirst South America won’t be able to satiate alone. And that leaves companies like Minneapolis-based Cargill well-positioned to benefit. 

According to Bloomberg, the company has 5 plants in China, and accounts for almost 20% of its total soybean processing.

» The pig sick

Nike is the real winner of the world cup

According to Quartz, Nike has long recognized its attempt to sell more gear to women as a top priority. 

So, naturally, as the final seconds of the 2019 World Cup ran down, and team USA claimed its victory, Nike wasted no time in seizing its grand marketing opportunity.

Moments after the match ended, the company released a commercial celebrating the US women’s national team’s 4th cup victory and released jerseys commemorating the win.

The final was a bigger draw than the 2018 men’s final…

And it’s only 3rd all-time for Women’s World Cup games, behind the 2015 final and the final match in 1999 — yes, the Mia Hamm episode (which had 18m viewers).

But The World Cup as a whole absolutely eviscerated ratings records, bringing in an approximate global audience of 1B viewers across all platforms.

Yesterday, Nike’s ads had more than 5m views on the Nike Women Instagram account, more than 4m views on YouTube, and more than 93k retweets on Twitter… and climbing.

MVP of brand awareness

Although Adidas was an official sponsor of the tournament, the swoosh sponsored all but 10 of the 24 teams, including the US and the Netherlands.

On top of that, the commemorative jerseys sold out online — and Nike jersey sales of other women’s apparel related to the tournament were up 150% compared to 2015.

» Nutmeg
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