By Paul Page
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Amazon.com Inc. is facing more challenges in Europe to its dominant role in e-commerce. The European Union plans to file antitrust charges against the online behemoth over its treatment of third-party sellers, the WSJ's Valentina Pop and Sam Schechner report, extending an investigation into a major piece of the company's business model. The formal charges would be the commission's latest step in a nearly two-year probe into Amazon's alleged mistreatment of sellers that use its platform. The charges stem from Amazon's dual role as a marketplace operator and a seller of its own products. In its pending complaint, the EU accuses Amazon of taking data from third-party sellers and using the information to compete against them, for instance by launching similar products. A congressional panel has looked into similar criticisms of Amazon in the U.S., including a Wall Street Journal report that Amazon workers misused data from third-party merchants.
SUPPLY CHAIN STRATEGIES
One of the world's largest consumer-goods suppliers is trying to get more nimble. Unilever PLC will consolidate its dual British and Dutch corporate structure into a single company based in the U.K., the WSJ's Saabira Chaudhuri reports, as the maker of products including Hellmann's mayonnaise and Dove soap streamlines for the digital age. Unilever's move is the latest in a series of big strategic and structural shifts by companies as they map out the longer-term consequences of the pandemic, including changes in shopping patterns that are roiling consumer-goods suppliers. Hong Kong-based consumer brands supplier Li & Fung went private last month as part of what owners said would be a transformation of the business. Unilever will maintain its operations in Europe as it consolidates its headquarters in the U.K. Supply chain management will be based with procurement in Rotterdam, and manufacturing will remain in the Netherlands.
The roller coaster ride for commodity prices is reaching the dinner table. Rice futures have spiked to their highest level in nearly nine years after the global pandemic boosted shoppers' demand for the grain, the WSJ's Kirk Maltais reports, a jump fueled by surging retail sales to homebound consumers stocking up on essential goods. The push at grocery stores has battered supply-demand equilibrium for the consumer staple. Retail rice sales rose nearly 40% from a year ago in the 13 weeks ending May 30, while rice production in the U.S. fell 17% last year. The pandemic raised tensions in global trade for rice, with Vietnam even banning exports of rice for a time. Strong spring planting in the U.S. and the coming monsoon season in Southeast Asia should boost global stockpiles, but agriculture traders are likely trying to cash in on normally sleepy rice futures until then.
IN OTHER NEWS
A large majority of economists in a survey expect the U.S. economy to be in recovery by the third quarter. (WSJ)
The U.K. economy shrank by a fifth in April. (WSJ)
The ranks of Americans drawing unemployment benefits declined slightly in the week ended May 30 to 20.9 million. (WSJ)
The net worth of U.S. households fell at a record pace in the first three months of this year. (WSJ)
U.S. producer prices rebounded in May, rising 0.4% after a record decline in April. (MarketWatch)
Boeing Inc. told major supplier Spirit AeroSystems Inc. to halt parts production for 737 MAX jets as it tries to avoid creating a glut of new planes. (WSJ)
Mitsui E&S Holdings Co. will begin talks to sell its naval ship business to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (Dow Jones)
A major federal effort to ship protective gear to nursing homes is providing equipment such as plastic gowns that some facilities say is unusable. (WSJ)
Dealers, politicians and regulators in Australia are fighting General Motors Corp.'s decision to scrap much of its business in the country. (WSJ)
Argentina's government is moving to seize agricultural company Vicentin, a top grain exporter. (WSJ)
DoorDash Inc. is close to securing new funding that would value the largest U.S. meal-delivery company at more than $15 billion. (WSJ)
Nestlé SA is exploring a sale of most of its North America waters business. (WSJ)
U.S. officials are worried about growing coronavirus outbreaks among fruit and vegetable packers. (Reuters)
Beauty-products retailer Sephora says it is committed to sourcing at least 15% of its goods from black-owned suppliers. (New York Times)
Amazon is taking over a former Scholastic distribution center in Danbury, Conn. (Danbury News Times)
Frost & Sullivan expects the warehouse automation market to nearly double to $27.2 billion by 2025. (Modern Materials Handling)
Supply-chain software firm Descartes Systems Group bought digital freight platform Kontainers in a deal worth up to $12 million. (The Loadstar)
Berlin-based logistics company Sennder acquired French rival Everoad. (Bloomberg)
Former U.S. Federal Maritime Commissioner William Doyle was named executive director of the Maryland Port Administration. (Journal of Commerce)
Robert Voltmann is leaving the Transportation Intermediaries Association after 23 years as president and chief executive. (DC Velocity)
Paul Page is editor of WSJ Logistics Report. Follow the WSJ Logistics Report team: @PaulPage , @jensmithWSJ and @CostasParis. Follow the WSJ Logistics Report on Twitter at @WSJLogistics.
Write to Paul Page at email@example.com