Friday, June 20, 2008

Sorry, Charlie! StarKist on the auction block

Charlie the Tuna, StarKist mascot
Today's news story from Korea? Mammoth food group Dongwon F&B has put in a USD 300 million bid for StarKist, presently a subsidiary of San Francisco-based DelMonte. StarKist, meanwhile, is largely based in American Samoa, where it owns the world's largest tuna processing facility; the tuna industry (StarKist and Chicken of the Sea) employs one-third of Samoan workers.

Dongwon is the largest player in Korea's meat, fish and poultry market, followed by Lotte and Cheil Jedang. Lotte was the only one I had heard of before I read this story. Dongwon Food & Beverage already controls 75% of the domestic canned tuna market, so it looks like they want to make a move overseas, and capture a chunk of the American tuna habit.

The story has a weird political twist, I guess you'd call it, going back to an appropriations bill last year. In an article located at Newsbusters: Exposing and Combating Liberal Media Bias, I found this, by Tim Graham:

Over at The Corner [an online feature of 'National Review'], Kathryn Jean Lopez reported GOP Reps. Eric Cantor and Patrick McHenry have found there's a loophole in the new minimum-wage increase: no hike for American Samoa. Why? Star-Kist Tuna is a major employer there, with its headquarters in Speaker Nancy Pelosi's district.

The article goes on to point out Pelosi's hypocrisy regarding the treatment of Tom DeLay's Abramoff-influenced entanglements in the Northern Mariana Islands. Wow, I thought, I wonder if this relates to DelMonte's decision to shed the subsidiary? Well, first, I went and checked out the wording of the law in question, and found it under Title VIII "Fair Minimum Wage and Tax Relief", Section 8103; the law specfically directs that both territories will raise their minimum wage by $0.50 an hour each year until they catch up to the national version. Huh.

I still don't know why StarKist is up for sale, but the claim of "no hike for American Samoa" is blatantly false. I guess Newsbusters doesn't feel inclined to combat inaccuracy so much if it's at National Review.

Tonight for dinner was BBQ chicken thighs, Ruth's mustard potato salad, and green salad with creamy poppy seed dressing. Tomorrow, I'm thinking tuna casserole ... So, cheer up, Charlie!

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