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Thursday, 14 October 2021

Weekend Reading


Reading across disciplines is one of the best ways to improve our investment acumen. Here is a summary of some of the best articles I read this week. If you like this collection, consider forwarding it to someone who you think will appreciate it.

1. After plant-based meat, we now have seaweed based seafood

First Vuna salad was added to the menu, now Vrimp is on there too as the world’s biggest food company capitalises on the growth of vegan and vegetarian diets with a new faux-seafood product.


Nestlé describes Vrimp, made out of seaweed and peas, as an exciting innovation, with the alt-seafood having the “authentic texture and flavour of succulent shrimps”.


The company has even managed to mimic the distinctive shape using special moulds, meaning they can replace the real thing in a salad or poké bowl. The orange sweep of colour on the body has been replicated using paprika and carrot.


Nestlé is keen not to miss out on sales to the growing number of people who are cutting their intake of animal products or giving them up altogether. It has already launched vegan versions of some of its high-profile brands, including its famous KitKat.


Last year Nestlé started experimenting with plant-based fish – it already sells plant-based burgers and sausages – with the launch of its tuna alternative Vuna



2. Even some of the richest people on the planet have awful relationships with money

Davis was so good at compounding money in the stock market that he turned a few thousand dollars into millions of dollars in his children’s trust funds. And when he found out his daughter was marrying someone he didn’t approve of, he tried to use that money as leverage. Listen, money is great and all but when it begins to impact your family, what’s the point? Is it really worth it?


Money can provide many things — comfort, peace of mind and convenience. But it can also provide stress, jealously and resentment. Creating vast sums of wealth often comes at a cost.


It’s fun to daydream about creating enough wealth to become one of the richest people in the world. Just remember there are always trade-offs with these things.



3. Airless tyres are next

Michelin is one of several tiremakers that have been developing airless tires but they seemed as improbable as GM's early vision of self-driving cars. Now, however, the two companies are putting a pin in the calendar to have airless tires on the market by 2024.


The first thing you notice about the airless Michelin Uptis, or Unique Puncture-proof Tire System tires is that you can see through them. Glass fiber reinforced plastic vanes support the tread rather than air pressure.


From there, the benefits tumble forth: Nails become minor annoyances and sidewall cuts that usually render a tire unrepairable are no longer possible. There would be no need to check tire inflation (you've probably ignored my admonitions to do that anyway) and we'd say goodbye to spare tires, jacks and inflation kits that most drivers view as mysterious objects anyway. Blowouts that cause thousands of crashes a year would be impossible.



4. Lessons from Barca to the world of business

Barcelona’s fall from grace offers lessons for companies that lead or aspire to lead their sectors. The club fell into the trap set for every company that’s number one: it got lazy while its rivals copied its best ideas and built on them. It failed to create a sustainable succession plan for its aging players, and it was profligate with its finances. Barcelona failed to understand that greatness is always a moving target, not just on the pitch.


Meanwhile, every rival club was studying Barcelona. They followed the lead of the long-running advertising slogan of rental car firm Avis, which was number two in the market: “We try harder.”


When you’re number one, you also tend to get careless with your spending. While the money pours in, you stop counting every penny.




5. The world's growing concrete coasts

With three tonnes of concrete per year used for every person in the world, there are few parts of the planet that concrete hasn’t reached. The production of concrete is also a huge emitter of CO2. At least 8% of humanity’s carbon footprint comes from the concrete industry, mostly from the production of cement – one of concrete’s principal components. The cement industry generates around 2.8 billion tonnes of CO2 per year – more than any country other than China or the US.


In the oceans, concrete is the main construction material, accounting for more than 70% of coastal and marine infrastructure such as ports, coastal defence structures and waterfronts. In China, for example, around 60% of its coast is effectively concrete. Similarly, more than 14,000 miles of the US’s coastline is covered in concrete.


There are potential solutions, such as bio-cement, which can be particularly useful for coastal hardening. Bio-cement is formed by taking sand, or other forms of aggregate, and then adding bacteria and urea, a component of urine. The urea triggers the bacteria to secrete calcite – a form of calcium carbonate – binding the mixture together into a solid material similar to limestone.


Not to be confused with bio-cement, is another alternative: bio-concrete. This is where bacteria called Bacillus pasteurii is actually encapsulated and added to the concrete, along with a form of starch that serves as its food. The bacteria stay dormant in the concrete until a crack forms and air gets in. This change wakes the bacteria up, and they begin to eat, grow and reproduce. In doing so, they excrete calcite, which bonds to the concrete, fills the crack and seals it up. So in essence, this type of concrete structure is capable of self-repair.



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