The Greek economy on the up, record-breaking solar energy usage and 30m chickens culled in South Korea all feature in this week's round-up of procurement and supply chain stories...
The number of Chinese cities, including the capital Beijing, that issued health warnings as smog struck across the country over new year. In Beijing's famous Tiananmen Square, the level of PM2.5 particles, which pose the greatest hazard because they can get lodged in the lungs, reached 475 micrograms per cubic metre - the World Health Organisation recommends that no one should be exposed to more than 25 micrograms in a 24-hour-period. The smog also forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights across northern China. Although the government insists that air quality is improving, with more blue sky days, many citizens took to social media to complain about the "airmageddon".
A heavily annotated German edition of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf (My Struggle) will be reprinted for the sixth time later this month. The two-volume edition, which includes about 3,500 annotations by historians and scholars, spent 35 weeks on Der Spiegel’s bestseller list and sold about 85,000 copies. Hitler’s book had been unavailable, as the German copyright was held by the state of Bavaria. That lapsed in 2015, and research institute IfZ published its 3,200-page edition, initially thinking it would appeal only to academics. Even so, Hitler is not a bestselling author in Germany again: on Amazon Germany’s site, his tract was ranked 79th, below a title on how to get more Twitter followers and just above a guide to web coding.
The percentage growth the Greek economy is expected to have achieved in 2016. For a country often described as an economic basket case, which has had two large bailouts (from the European Union in 2010 and the IMF in 2012) this small increase is some feat. Analysts hope that the new political consensus on the need to reform Greece’s economy will help the country make further progress in 2017. That said, the amount the government is owed in unpaid taxes – heading towards £76bn – is equivalent to 54% of Greece’s GDP.
The number of vinyl records sold in the UK in 2016, 53% up on the figure for 2015, according to figures from the British Phonographic Industry. This is the highest level of vinyl sales since 1991 and represents a spectacular turnaround considering that, in 2007, only 200,000 LP records were bought. David Bowie’s Blackstar was the bestselling vinyl album. In other formats, the news for the music industry was not so good: CD sales fell 11.7% and downloads plummeted by 29.6%.
The year by which, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, solar power could be cheaper to use globally than coal. Last year, countries such as Chile and the United Arab Emirates broke records by using solar to generate electricity at less than three cents a kilowatt hour, half the average global cost of coal. In 2017, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Mexico are all planning to expand their use of solar. The growth is transforming the unit cost of solar energy. Adnan Amin, director general of the International Renewable Energy Agency, says: “Every time you double the capacity, you reduce the price by 20%.”
The number of chickens culled in South Korea as the government tries to contain the country’s worst outbreak of bird flu. Three years ago, 14m birds were culled in another epidemic but this latest crisis is far worse. The culling has cut egg production from 43m to 30m eggs a day, farm prices for eggs have doubled and the shortage is hitting shops and bakeries. The government has now authorized imports to try and meet consumer demand.
The proportion of Australians who said they had received an unwanted Christmas present from their parents-in-law. In all, online marketplace Gumtree estimated that Australia’s unwanted presents were worth £341m and forecast that 2.8m people - out of a population of 24.3m - would try to resell these gifts online.
The fees the British government has paid to KPMG in the past year, 60% of the state’s spend with the big four accountants, as estimated by the procurement analysis start-up Tussell. PwC earned fees of £182m, Deloitte’s, which had expressed some skepticism about Brexit, won £48m and E&Y £40m. KPMG secured some particularly valuable contracts from the Department of International Development.