D.C. zoo mourns giant panda cub
WASHINGTON (AP) — As condolences poured in from around the world, National Zoo officials waited Monday for word on why a 6-day-old panda cub died and lamented a heartbreaking setback to their closely watched breeding program.
The cub had liver abnormalities and fluid in its abdomen, but a cause of death will not be known until full necropsy results are available within two weeks. The cub, believed to be female, died Sunday morning, less than a week after its birth surprised and delighted zoo officials and visitors. Zookeepers had all but given up on the panda mother’s chances of conceiving after six years of failed attempts.
“Every loss is hard,” National Zoo director Dennis Kelly said. “This one is especially devastating.”
This much is known: The cub appeared to be in good condition. It had been drinking its mother’s milk. And it wasn’t accidentally crushed to death by its mother, which has happened to other panda cubs in captivity. At birth, the cubs are hairless, their eyes are closed and they’re about the size of a stick of butter. Their mothers weigh about 1,000 times more. Native to China, giant pandas have long been the face of the movement to preserve endangered species. A few thousand are believed to remain in the wild, and there are a few hundred in captivity.
More than 5M iPhone 5s sold
NEW YORK (AP) — Apple Inc. said Monday that it sold more than 5 million iPhone 5s in the three days since its launch, fewer than analysts had expected.
Apple shares fell $9.30, or 1.3 percent, to close at $690.79 on Monday. The shares hit an all-time high of $705.07 Friday as the phone went on sale in the U.S., Germany, France, Japan and five other countries.
The sales tally is a record for any phone, but it beats last year’s iPhone 4S launch only by a small margin. Apple said then that it sold 4 million phones in the first three days.
Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White expected Apple to sell 6 million to 6.5 million iPhone 5s in the first three days. He said the shortfall was largely due to limited supply. White said the phone was sold out at 80 to 85 percent of the U.S. Apple stores he and his team contacted Sunday evening, and the ones that were still available were mostly Sprint models.
Online delivery times have stretched to three to four weeks.
The phone will go on sale in 22 more countries on Friday and in more than 100 countries by the end of the year.
Oil barrel price drops below $92
The price of oil fell below $92 a barrel on Monday, dragged down by concerns about weakening global growth and demand for crude.
By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark crude was down $1.28 at $91.61 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 47 cents on Friday to close at $92.89 in New York.
In London, Brent crude was down $1.40 to $110.02 on the ICE Futures exchange.
New efforts to revive growth from central banks in Europe, Japan and the U.S. have not been enough to overcome pessimism about the global economy’s prospects. When economic growth slows, so does demand for fuel which typically results in lower oil prices. A reduction in energy costs can help boost economic growth further down the track.
Nye: Creationists threaten science
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The man known to a generation of Americans as “The Science Guy” is condemning efforts by some Christian groups to cast doubts on evolution and lawmakers who want to bring the Bible into science classrooms.
Bill Nye, a mechanical engineer and star of the popular 1990s TV show “Bill Nye The Science Guy,” has waded into the evolution debate with an online video that urges parents not to pass their religious-based doubts about evolution on to their children.
Nye has spent a career teaching science to children and teens with good-natured and sometimes silly humor, but has not been known to delve into topics as divisive as evolution.
Christians who view the stories of the Old Testament as historical fact have come to be known as creationists, and many argue that the world was created by God just a few thousand years ago.
Kellogg pushes cereal in China
NEW YORK (AP) — Kellogg is hoping it can finally turn cereal into a breakfast staple in China.
The maker of Frosted Flakes, Pop-Tarts and Eggo waffles says that it formed a joint venture to expand the distribution of its cereals and snacks in the country as early as next year. The breakfast giant says the deal will tap the infrastructure and local expertise of Wilmar International, a Singapore-based agribusiness.
The Battle Creek, Mich.-based company also plans to use the deal to sell Pringles chips, which it acquired earlier this year to grow its international business.
Kellogg Co. currently gets most of its revenue from North America, where growth in the packaged food industry has been relatively weak. But like other companies, Kellogg is increasingly casting its sights on developing markets such as China and India, where the appetite for convenience foods is growing more quickly.
Kellogg notes that China is expected to be the largest food and beverage market within the next five years, as the ranks of middle-class consumers continue to multiply in large cities. As for cereal, the company says consumption is rising as milk becomes a more common part of the diet.
China’s past scandals with tainted milk nevertheless remain a major stumbling block for cereal makers, says Paul French, chief China market strategist for Mintel, a research firm.
“They’ve been having a go at trying to get them to eat (cereal) for some time,” he said.
Another hurdle is that milk in China doesn’t taste the same as in the U.S. because it tends to be watered down and filled with additives, French said.
When middle-class Chinese consumers do eat cereal, French said they typically opt for muesli-like brands rather than cornflakes, because they tend to contain dried fruit and are more akin to local products. He noted that the Chinese food maker Bright Foods earlier this year acquired a majority stake in Weetabix, which makes Alpen muesli.
French said cereal companies are finding greater success selling breakfast bars, which don’t require milk and can be marketed as energy boosters for white-collar workers.
Kellogg nevertheless sees potential for growth. The Chinese market for cereal is expected to reach $225.4 million this year, more than double what it was five years ago, according to Euromonitor International. That’s still just a fraction of the U.S. cereal market, estimated at $9.99 billion.
A representative for Kellogg said the company already sells brands including Frosted Flakes, Rice Krispies and Special K in China.
General Mills Inc., the maker of Cheerios and Wheaties, already has a joint venture with Nestle, called Cereal Partners Worldwide, to sell several of its cereals in China.
With Pringles, which is sold in more than 140 countries, Kellogg is also looking to move beyond the breakfast table. The Pringles deal catapulted Kellogg to the world’s second-biggest salty snack maker, after PepsiCo Inc.’s Frito-Lay.
Although Pringles already has a broad presence in China, Frito-Lay has been much more aggressive in offering flavors that appeal to the Chinese, said the Mintel analyst, French. Those include seafood flavors popular in various regions, as well as foreign flavors such as “Italian Ham” and “Texas Steak” that the Chinese might find exotic, French said.
This isn’t Kellogg’s first attempt to expand in China. The company bought Zhenghang in 2008 but sold the Chinese snack food maker earlier this year after a review of its position in the country.
Kellogg plans to start operating its joint venture with Wilmar in China by Jan. 1, pending regulatory approvals. Wilmar International is a unit of Yihai Kerry Investments Co. Ltd.
For now, Europe remains Kellogg’s largest international market. But the company is seeing weakness in the region, with its international sales in the second quarter down 3.8 percent.
Shares of Kellogg rose 28 cents to close at $51.73 Monday.