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Thursday, 16 September 2021

Covid has been bad for coffee and good to video games

Covid has been bad for coffee drinkers: The covid-19 lockdown in Vietnam is reducing the global supply of coffee, according to a Fitch Solutions report picked up by CNBC. Vietnam is the world’s second-largest coffee exporter and the pandemic has affected its overseas shipments of coffee and other goods. Coffee exports fell 8.7% m-o-m in August compared to July. Meanwhile, Brazil — the world’s biggest coffee exporter — is experiencing slightly lower production due to crop damage from cold weather.

Coffee prices are expected to remain “relatively high” through 2022, with benchmark arabica coffee futures rising around 45.8% YtD and robusta coffee futures surging 52.2% YTD to 2021, according to Refinitiv data. This comes as demand is expected to rise as economies open up and people go back to their local coffee shops.

But the pandemic has been a good time for the gaming industry: Consumer spending on video games reached a record high of USD 4.4 bn last month, a 7% y-o-y increase, according to data (paywall) from NPD Group picked up by Bloomberg. So far, USD 37.9 bn have been spent this year on video game hardware, content and accessories, up 13% y-o-y. The industry saw big gains last year during lockdown, but apparently this year still did better on the release of Xbox Series X and Playstation 5.

Alexa, where is the anesthesia? Amazon’s voice assistant could soon be an integral part of health facilities as the company plans to dominate the market by introducing a myriad of healthcare applications to the AI’s roster.

So what will Amazon bring to the table other than Alexa? The company could launch a healthcare service of its own, with its existing infrastructure, vast empire of warehouses and delivery services, to do for healthcare what it did for online shopping, the Financial Times says in a speculative oped piece.

Potty-training cows could save the planet. Scientists — not farmers — are enrolling cows in a toilet-training program to offset any environmental damage of their waste, in a study published this week. Cow urine produces nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide. In contact with soil, it leads to land contamination and pollution if not managed properly. Combined with feces, the mixture creates ammonia, another toxic contributor. A basic reward-punishment system could work, with 75% of calves learning the skill after 15 days of training, which is faster than what it takes for an average toddler to pick up the habit. Bloomberg and BBC have the story.

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