A signed letter from Albert Einstein to an American teacher has sold for £42,700 at auction @ PA Images
A signed letter from Albert Einstein to an American teacher has sold for £42,700 at auction @ PA Images

Mafia-owned restaurants and coffee made from cat poo – the supply chain in numbers

6 April 2017

This week's round-up from the world of supply chain and procurement. 

£900

The cost of a Louis Vuitton handbag that a Taiwanese grandmother used to fill with groceries and fresh fish. Her grandson, who had bought her the Neverfull bag because her previous one was worn out, asked her how she liked her present and she excitedly told him that it was very waterproof but a bit heavy. When she waved it at him, he realised that it was full of food and fresh fish.

5,000

The minimum number of Italian restaurants that are thought to be run by the Mafia, according to consumer group Coldiretti. Italian police have recently seized the bank accounts and 24 properties owned by a Neapolitan family worth £16m. Coldiretti estimates that agricrime – a term which includes the food and restaurant sectors – was worth around £17.6bn in 2016.

£42,700

The price paid, at auction, for a signed letter by Albert Einstein answering an American teacher’s queries about the theory of relativity. The Nobel Prize-winning genius was a prolific letter writer and, on 4 September 1953, replied to Iowa teacher Arthur Converse who enclosed ten questions about relativity. Einstein did not agree with all ten questions, leaving a question mark by one and, scribbling under the final query, “not clear”.

2,200,000 barrels

The amount of oil Nigeria plans to produce this year, under a new economic recovery plan unveiled by president Muhammadu Buhari this week. In 2016, Nigeria’s output stood at 1.4m barrels. Production in the Niger Delta has been hit by illegal refineries and attacks by local militants. Expanding oil production is crucial if the government is to steer Nigeria out of its worst economic crisis for 25 years.

£250

The cost of 125g of Kopi Luwak coffee, the most expensive in the world. The production process is, to say the least, unusual – in Indonesia, the coffee beans are fed to a civet cat and, when digested, the faeces are used to make the drink. The cat’s digestive system changes the enzymes in the beans’ protein structure, removing the acidity and creating a smoother cup of coffee. Drinkers are advised not to ruin the flavour by adding sugar or milk. Also, beware of imitations: about half a tonne is produced each year and industry analysts estimate that up to 40% of the coffee sold as Kopi Luwak isn’t genuine.

90%

The proportion of profits state-owned companies in Romania could have to pay out in dividends, according to new government proposals. Although the country may grow by 4.3% this year, faster than any other country in the EU, it is also on track to record a budget deficit of 3.6% this year, breaching EU guidelines. The new proposal is a bid to balance the books and give prime minister Sorin Grindeanu wriggle room to make a promised tax cut.

$120,000,000

The record price Fifa is asking Russian broadcasters to pay for rights to screen live games at the 2018 World Cup, which Russia is hosting. With 14 months to reach before the tournament, no deal has yet been struck, with Russian networks complaining that this is three times what they paid to show the 2014 World Cup. A deal is still likely but the ball appears to be in Fifa’s court. Petr Makarenko, head of sports marketing agency Telesport, says: “If Fifa is waiting for someone from the government to come out with a big bag of money it will be a while before there’s a deal.”

2020

The year a new self-healing polymer-based material for smartphone screens could become commercially available, according to scientist Chao Wang, a chemist leading research into this development at the University of California. When the material, which can be stretched to 50 times its size, is broken or scratched ions and polar molecules attract each other to repair the damage. 

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