Thursday, March 01, 2007

Flat Apple Juice

Tom Friedman's book, The Earth is Flat, is a marvelous exposition of the shrinking globe, with particular emphasis on the impact of Internet technology, but also with a great description of the increasing flexibility in worldwide production of many goods and services.

Along these lines, I was recently in a meeting reading the label on my bottle of Tropicana apple juice (yes, instead of reading my Blackberry!). Under ingredients, it read: "Contains concentrates from Germany, Austria, Italy, Hungary, Argentina, Chile, Turkey, Brazil, China, and the United States."

Would any of us have imagined this degree of worldwide commerce, just to make apple juice?

7 comments:

Micky Tripathi said...

I agree that the world has "flattened" faster and more widely than most of us could have imagined.

With respect to food production, I highly recommend Michael Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemma" for an eye-opening picture of the industrialization of food production, which is the hand-maiden of globalization....

Anonymous said...

I've read that label myself. I think it's a sad state of affairs when the US has to import apple juice for crying out loud. With all the apple orchards we have here in New England for example.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the world has "flattened" but healthcare seems to be lagging behind. It's a struggle to get hospital managers to learn from outside the walls of their own hospitals if the "skill-mix", "CMI", "geograpic location", "staff seniority", "fill in the blank", etc of the peer facility is not a perfect match. Never mind learning from outside our borders. Yet, healthcare, and hospitals in general, are in need of the kind of innovation that drives change in other industries. Its quite a conundrum.

stomv said...

Apple juice demand is likely pretty constant within the USA. Maybe the school year results in some shift in demand, but for the most part, I'd bet demand is pretty much fixed.


Supply, however, isn't. It turns out that Mother Nature refuses to allow New England (or the entire USA) to grow the same amount of apples each week of the year.

Fortunately, other parts of the world have different growing seasons. Other areas in the Northern Hemisphere might have their growing season shifted by a few weeks, or even more when you account for different kinds of apples. Southern Hemisphere growers have a shift of six months.

So, it doesn't surprise me at all that an annual supply of apples comes from places all over the globe. I would be surprised if any particular bottle of apple juice really did contain apple juice from all of those places. But, it's much easier to cover all the bases and just have one label than to constantly make sure that you've got exactly the right combination of countries' apple juice assigned to the same combination label machine.

steve, UK said...

Dear Paul

I was excited to discover your blog. I saw you talk during a course I attended at Harvard.

Equally I was excited to see you reference the world is flat which I read last year.

By way of proof the world is flatter. Firstly I am accessing this from a visit to Ireland. When I returned to the UK after your talk I ordered the HBS video you made about your first six months at the BID..from my home in England. I have used this in tutorials in Europe.

In addition from your blog I have encourgaed my Medical Director to contact your CIO for help on our theatre scheduling project.

I have also used your story of safety training from your O&G department to encourage debate in our hospital.

The world is getting flatter..

Paul Levy said...

Hmm, there is no substitute for in-person connection, though. Maybe you should invite me to Ireland to teach a class . . . (I hear that Guinness is good for you!)

:))

Best regards!

steve, uk said...

indeed ..but like all things (blackberries, blogs included) only in moderation!!!