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These are stories Report on Business is following Tuesday, May 27, 2014.

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An Americano in Canada
Notice that almost wherever you look, there's a Starbucks on the corner?

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That's because Canada leads the world, eclipsing even the United States, on a café-per-person basis, according to a new study.

The news website Quartz today takes a fascinating look at Starbucks Corp. around the world, analyzing its store location data.

What it shows is that, in the land of Tim Hortons, the Americano is doing well.

"There are nearly 40 Starbucks locations for every 1 million Canadians," writes Quartz's David Yanofsky.

"Noticeably absent from the list of countries with the most Starbucks per person are some of the Asian nations accounting for much of the company's growth. China, with 1.37 billion people, has less than one store per million people."

Among the findings from Quartz:

  • The United States leads the world in the total number of outlets, at more than 11,500.
  • Canada is No. 2, though far behind, at almost 1,400.
  • But on a per-capita basis, Canada is at the top, with 39.54 stores per million people, followed by the United States at 36.25, Kuwait at 22.13, Singapore at 18.01 and Hong Kong at 13.34.
  • By city, Seoul has the most outlets, at 284, followed by New York at 277, Shanghai at 256, London at 202, Chicago at 164 and Toronto at 160.

A spokeswoman for Starbucks Coffee Canada said the chain does not disclose regional store counts, but did suggest the overall picture painted by Quartz was "directionally" accurate.

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"Canada has always been an important market for Starbucks," she said, noting that the first Canadian outlet to open was in Vancouver's SeaBus Station almost three decades ago.

"We are just coming off a record-breaking year for Starbucks Canada," she added.

"In [fiscal 2013], we became a $1-billion company and opened a record number of new stores – more than 150 – both company-owned and licensed, many with Target. We have a long history of serving Canadians and we continue to grow here.

(Kudos to whoever came up with 'mappuccino' for the global graphic.)

Scotiabank gains
Bank of Nova Scotia today posted record core earnings for the second time in a year, extending a strong run of profits from Canadian banks that continues to defy expectations, The Globe and Mail's Tim Kiladze reports.

Much like its rival banks that have already reported this earnings season, Canada's third-largest lender mostly benefited from solid domestic banking operations and a hot wealth management arm. The bank also reported strong securities gains and better capital markets earnings, meaning its profit was widespread.

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Scotiabank earned $1.8-billion last quarter, or $1.39 per share, up 14 per cent from the same period in 2013. After adjusting for one-time items, the bank earned $1.40 per share, beating analyst estimates of $1.31 per share.

Pilgrim's bids for Hillshire
Pilgrim's Pride Corp. is trying to break up a proposed merger of Hillshire Brands Co. and Pinnacle Foods Inc. launching its own multibillion-dollar bid for the former.

Pilgrim's Pride, a chicken company, today unveiled a $45-a-share cash offer for Hillshire, describing the bid as a "substantially superior alternative" to Hillshire's deal with Pinnacle.

"We are coming forward now because the opportunity for your shareholders to obtain the compelling value represented by our proposal will no longer exist if the proposed acquisition of Pinnacle is consummated," Pilgrim's chief executive officer William Lovette said in a letter to his Hillshire counterpart, Sean Connolly.

"Our offer is therefore conditioned on the termination of this transaction (and our proposed purchase price is not subject to reduction for any related termination fees)," he added in the letter released publicly.

Obesity on rise
The financial crisis helped drive up obesity rates in many of the world's richest countries, says a new study with troubling, if tempered, findings for Canada.

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The study by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development says "most people" in OECD countries are overweight or obese. This threatens severe "social and economic consequences," the group said today, as more people risk chronic ailments such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

"In 2008, the world economy entered one of the most severe crises ever," the study said.

"Many families, especially in the hardest hit countries, have been forced to cut their food expenditures, and tighter food budgets have provided incentives for consumers to switch to lower-priced and less healthy foods. "

Over the past five years, the OECD said, obesity has been on the rise in most countries, though at a slower pace.

One particularly troubling average statistic is that one in five children is overweight, and far higher in nations such as Greece, Italy, Slovenia and the United States.

Also troubling is that obesity is "an inequality issue, especially in women," according to the group of rich countries.

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"The economic crisis has made families spend less on food, but poor households have also switched to junk foods with high calories," the OECD said.

"But in countries with very high levels of obesity, such as Mexico and the U.S., people with more education are now as likely to be obese as those with less education," according to a statement released with the study, which will be presented tomorrow at the European Congress on Obesity in Sofia, Bulgaria.

The OECD found that rates of obesity are "high" in Canada compared to most OECD nations, though there has been no substantial increase in the past 15 years and, importantly, the pace of increase has been among the slowest in the group.

"Two out of three men are overweight and one in four people are obese in Canada, but the rate of increase has been one of the slowest in the OECD," it said.

"Overweight and obesity are more common in men, but larger social disparities exist in women (vis-à-vis socioeconomic status)," it added in its section on Canada.

"Women with less education are almost 1.6 times as likely as more educated women to be obese. Similarly, men with less education are almost 1.5 times as likely as the more educated to be obese."

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The group released its report today with a warning to national governments that they must fight the epidemic.

"The economic crisis may have contributed to a further growth in obesity, but most governments need to do more to stop this rising tide" said OECD health expert Michele Cecchini.

Take that, Turks and Caicos
Canada ranks among the world's top destinations for expat professionals, and Vancouver among the top cities.

In a new survey released today by the global recruiting firm Hydrogen, Canada again held the No. 5 spot for relocation countries, behind the United States, Britain, Australia and Switzerland.

(Where else can you find the world's best-known mayor, a 92-cent dollar, and house prices deemed to be among the most inflated globally? And where Merriam-Webster just learned the word poutine?)

Rounding out the top 15 behind Canada were Germany, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, France, Spain, Honk Kong, China, Norway, Belgium and Netherlands.

(So if we actually ever do annex the Turks and Caicos Islands, they could be ahead of Germany, too.)

Where cities are concerned, Vancouver was No. 8, behind London, New York, Sydney, San Francisco, Singapore, Zurich and Paris, and ahead of Hong Kong and Melbourne.

(Where else can you find a house that you really can't afford, but with such a great view?)

Hydrogen's report, based on the findings of ESCP Europe from survey answers among more than 2,400 professionals in almost 100 countries, found that Britain is "fast closing the gap" with the top-ranked United States.

(You've got to remember here, of course, that they stole the world's sexiest central banker from us.)

The Hydrogen report shows a rapidly changing world in the post-crisis era, as many countries still struggle for footing. Far more people are willing to work abroad, it said, and they find "no barriers" to that.

"The current economic climate has proved less of an obstacle and more of an opportunity to gaining international experience," Alev Kilic of ESCP Europe, who supervised the research, said in the report.

"As companies speed up expansion into new geographies and markets, the demand for qualified and experienced professions is intensifying. Companies are increasingly taking a global outlook and they need people with international experience to spearhead market expansion."

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