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Economist

Schumpeter: The best since sliced bread

January 17, 2013

GRUPO BIMBO is on the prowl in el Norte again. In 2009 the Mexican baking giant bought part of Weston Foods for $2.3 billion, becoming the biggest baker in the United States. Two years later it bought Sarah Lee?s American baking operations for $960m. In the past month it has been in a battle over the tastiest bits of Hostess Brands? bread business, as that once-iconic and now-bankrupt company winds up its affairs.Bimbo brings more than a shopper?s eye to its expansion. It is a master at bread-related breakthroughs. It helped introduce Spaniards to sliced loaves and pioneered the packaging of bread in clear cellophane. It is also a master of efficiency and logistics: Bimbo lorries with their teddy-bear logo are familiar sights in Mexico and Central America. The combination of savvy dealmaking and relentless cost-squeezing has made Bimbo a behemoth of baked goods, with $10.8 billion of sales in 2011.Together the emerging-market countries now have more than 1,000 firms with annual sales above $1 billion. Many are content to stay at home?after all, their markets are growing at least twice as fast as the rich world?s. But some, like Bimbo...

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