Friday Latte: The Panama Canal’s Third Lane, Unilever Goes Green, Supermarket Personal Pricing

Shifting trade patterns...
Panama Canal third lane will change dynamics of world trade -- The nature of global trade is about to change. The Panama Canal will soon have a third lane that can accommodate megaships nearly three times larger than any vessel that has ever transited the isthmus. It might not seem like earthshaking news. But the impact will ripple around the world, from shipyards in South Korea to highways in Texas to coalfields in Colombia and soy plantations in Brazil's northeast. Nations will see trade patterns shift.

"Design once, deploy everywhere."
Unilever links up with DHL in joint business development plan -- Unilever has signed a joint business development plan with its vendor DHL Supply Chain to deliver efficiencies and work more closely to remove emissions and waste from the supply chain. As part of the consumer goods manufacturer's Sustainable Living Plan, the company has vowed to halve its environmental impact while doubling the size of its business, and a key tenet of this strategy is working more closely with its main suppliers. The two companies signed an agreement yesterday that outlines a range of areas and initiatives they will collaborate on to deliver mutual benefits. These include developing new technology solutions and sharing best practice.

Not sure how I feel about this one...
Shopper Alert: Price May Drop for You Alone -- At a Safeway in Denver, a 24-pack of Refreshe bottled water costs $2.71 for Jennie Sanford, a project manager. For Emily Vanek, a blogger, the price is $3.69. The difference? The vast shopping data Safeway maintains on both women through its loyalty card program. Ms. Sanford has a history of buying Refreshe brand products, but not its bottled water, while Ms. Vanek, a Smartwater partisan, said she was unlikely to try Refreshe. So Ms. Sanford gets the nudge to put another Refreshe product into her grocery cart, with the hope that she will keep buying it, and increase the company's sales of bottled water. A Safeway Web site shows her the lower price, which is applied when she swipes her loyalty card at checkout.

"The murky and often illogical world of drug pricing."
Soaring Ointment Prices Are a Dermatologic Mystery -- Take betamethasone dipropionate, a cream used to relieve itchy skin. In 2008, a tube cost $18.17. The medicine now costs $71.28, according to Red Book, which tracks wholesale drug prices. Permethrin cream, which kills scabies mites, cost $29.25 in 2008 but has jumped to $71.08 today. The hefty price increases have stumped doctors and their patients. "It seems to me that something is going on, but I don't have quantitative details," said Dr. Steven R. Feldman, a professor of dermatology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C. "I wouldn't have thought that these old-timey, generic drugs would be very costly."

- Sheena Moore

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