Apple iCar, healthy chocolate and the obesity problem: BUSINESS WEEK WRAP

Written By doni icha on Minggu, 22 Februari 2015 | 22.39

First came the iPod. Then, the iPhone. Next, the iPad and iWatch. Could an iCar be that far off? Based on the reaction to one of our most-read stories this week, clearly many people are hoping so.

Word came this week that electric-car battery maker A123 Systems is suing Apple for poaching some of its top engineers. That, coupled with some recent high-profile hires away from Tesla and of the man in charge of R&D at Mercedes-Benz, set off speculation that the company is getting set to dabble in a new industry — electric cars.

It's a tantalizing prospect. And as one automotive expert told the CBC's Dianne Buckner in her report, it's likely to be a huge hit, as long as the company can sort out the technical logistics in an area where they don't have a lot of experience. "It's a lot more complex mechanically, [when] they don't produce any devices that are of that nature," he said.

Still, with Apple's proven track record of making devices that work well and look great, it could be just the thing to spur investment in a sector that's seemed poised for takeoff for a while now. Whatever comes of it, it's likely to come with Apple's other well-deserved reputation: premium prices.

Healthy chocolate bars?

Another industry making headlines for doing things a little differently this week was chocolate, where two of the world's largest candy bar companies promised to do the impossible — make healthy chocolate bars.

NESTLE-CHOCOLATE/

Chocolatier Francois Savary, who works for a branch of Nestle, makes pralines. The food conglomerate says it is getting rid of artificial ingredients in all of its chocolate products. (Denis Balibouse/Reuters)

First, it was Nestlé promising on Monday to do away with all artificial ingredients in its candy bars worldwide, in favour of only natural ingredients. Hershey quickly followed suit, a day later saying it would start using simpler ingredients in its chocolate bars and Kisses brands, including locally produced milk.

It did not say which ingredients it would eliminate in its products, but in December, Hershey began the process of replacing high-fructose corn syrup in its candy with sugar. While making anything healthier for consumers is always a good thing, not everyone is convinced that's what's happening here. Even organic chocolate-makers warn quality doesn't make candy healthy. As one put it to us this week: "Make no mistake, chocolate is not a health product. But it makes you feel good, so that makes you healthy."

Obesity epidemic growing

Regardless of ingredients, we're still a long way from having chocolate as a diet food. According to new data published this week by esteemed medical journal The Lancet, out of 187 countries analyzed, not a single one has made any real progress in reversing the worldwide trend towards obesity.

Today, an estimated 2.8 billion people worldwide are considered obese, and the numbers are actually higher among children, which implies the problem is actually going to get even worse in the coming years. Many people point the fingers at food conglomerates that pump their wares full of salt, sugar and fat to make us want them.

But as researcher Christine Roberto told Amanda Lang this week, "I don't think they want to make people ill. That's not their goal. They're just working within a system that requires them to make profit."

The Lancet paper recommended government initiatives like taxes on junk food, tougher food labelling laws and subsidies for healthy food so that lower income people can afford them. But as with any issue, part of the solution to the obesity epidemic is going to be individual choice.

Manufacturing rebound dead on arrival

Finally, the CBC's Peter Armstrong penned a nice piece this week looking at southwestern Ontario. Cheap oil, conventional wisdom holds, was supposed to be great news for manufacturing towns like London and Guelph that prospered for the last half-century largely by opening factories.

This time around? It's not happening. And it's a function of entrepreneurs being unwilling to ride the cheap loonie lower. Instead these areas have become a hotbed for technology startups, he wrote. If you missed that story on Monday, check it out, it's well worth your time.

Most read

Those were just a few of our most-read stories of the past seven days. Be sure to check out our home page for more, and don't forget to follow us on Twitter here.

In the meantime, here's a day by day list of some of our most popular offerings this week.

Monday

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Wednesday

Thursday:

Friday:


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