- ASX SPI 200 futures down 0.2% to 7,186.00
- Dow Average down 0.3% to 34,517.73
- Aussie up 0.2% to 0.6453 per US$
- U.S. 10-year yield rose 6.0bps to 4.3627%
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- 10:30: (AU) Aug. Westpac Leading Index MoM, prior -0.03%
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Equity markets in Asia are poised for a muted open after US stocks posted modest losses ahead of the Federal Reserve’s policy decision, with traders betting interest rates will be higher for longer to curb inflation.
Futures for benchmarks in Australia and Hong Kong slipped while contracts in Japan were little changed. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 closed down though off session lows, while both the five- and 10-year Treasury yields hit the highest levels since 2007. In a sign of further headwinds facing Asian markets, US-listed Chinese stocks fell the most in nearly two weeks. Brent oil briefly topped $95 a barrel, adding to inflation concerns.
Oktoberfest is usually all about the beer. This year, it is about chicken.
A decision by the Paulaner festival tent to serve all-organic hens at its marquee venue is stoking a debate between advocates of a sustainable Oktoberfest against traditionalists wary of a “Woke Wiesn” — a play on the short form of the name of the boisterous Bavarian celebration.
“It’s an experiment,” said Arabella Schorghuber, who runs the Paulaner Festzelt. “It’s more expensive, but the quality is higher,” she added. “We want to make sure that the animal has a good life. We’ll see what happens.”
On Saturday, she helped hand out the first beers from the middle of the giant festival tent after thousands of people counted down to the tapping of the first keg. Waiters each toting a dozen glasses with a liter of beer wove through crowds as huge rotisserie ovens cooked hens in a side kitchen, five on each spit.
Andrea Koerner, 56 years old, comes to Oktoberfest each year and usually orders the chicken, the most popular festival food. Not this time. When she saw that an organic half hen cost 20.50 euros, the equivalent of $22, about 50% more than the nonorganic hens, she opted for pretzels and a cheese spread instead.
“We don’t know the taste because it costs too much to try,” Koerner said.
Other guests said the chicken was worth the price. “I don’t care at all,” said Jake Williams, a 32-year-old guest. “I guess it is good if people care about the chickens.”
The price hike is among other inflation-related markups. The cost of a liter — or “mass” — of beer in most big tents increased this year by 6% to 14.50 euros, according to a survey done by the city. That is after prices rose sharply last year following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Oktoberfest was canceled in 2020 and 2021 because of the pandemic.
The menu shift follows a pressure campaign by a coalition, demanding that the Bavarian festival of hearty food and enormous beers should turn into a vehicle promoting organic farming.
The activists held a public exhibition in the city’s central square showing a carousel of imitation bloody chicken heads to denounce industrial slaughtering. The group secured a meeting between activists, officials and Oktoberfest tent owners in the spring.
“There’s already a lot going on. But my perspective is from an organic local farming business, and there’s not enough,” said Susanne Kiehl, of the Munich Food Council.
She and Anja Berger, an Oktoberfest official and a Green Party member, said the changes are important to meet the city’s goal of becoming climate-neutral by 2035.
Berger’s party this year also secured four free water fountains on festival grounds.
During a recent tour there, Mayor Dieter Reiter admired the new taps and joked of what might come next. “A free beer fountain!” he said. “I just haven’t found anyone who will do it yet.”
Activists have sought gastronomic mandates at the festival, but the city has not imposed them. An association of Munich’s innkeepers have pushed back at such rules,saying people should be allowed to live — and eat — as they see fit. “I don’t think anyone really wants a planned economy in which a small group decides what is good for the people and what is not,” said Thomas Geppert, head of theBavarian Hotel and Restaurant Association.
Schorghuber, a vegetarian,said she received mixed reaction to her chicken initiative from the other tents, with some concerned they would be pressured to follow suit.
For many visitors, locals and tourists, Oktoberfest is a freewheeling carnival — a chance to let loose and drink (often to excess) beer served by waitresses clad in revealing Dirndl dresses. Many guests also don the traditional Bavarian outfits and tie the ribbon of their aprons on a different side to indicate whether they are single or taken.
“It must stay a traditional volksfest, because otherwise it wouldn’t be attractive,” said Clemens Baumgartner, a festival official and a member of the conservative CSU. “If you talk about being woke on the other 340 days a year, nobody really listens to that. But if you talk about being woke on the Oktoberfest, you get lots of media attention.”
The first Oktoberfest was celebrated in 1810 to commemorate a royal marriage and build support for the budding Bavarian monarchy. It was so popular it became an annual tradition, adding agricultural displays, vaudeville and eventually thrill rides. Despite its name, the festival now mostly takes place in September. Around seven million people are expected to visit the Theresienwiese grounds in Munich during an 18-day run.
“Wiesn will have to change as it has changed always over the decades,” said Lukas Bulka, who started working at an Oktoberfest tent as a teen and now runs the city’s Beer and Oktoberfest Museum.
The festival already uses electricity generated from renewable sources, Baumgartner said, and single-use dishes and utensils are banned.
An association of the 15 largest festival tents — which have seats for about 100,000 people — committed to becoming climate-neutral by 2028, mostly through projects that offset their energy use. Four tents, including the Paulaner venue, already meet the targets and built systems to recycle some wastewater.
But when it comes to farming practices, it isn’t feasible to rely on only organic hops and barley for the roughly seven million liters of beer that will be consumed, Schorghuber said. Hofbrau, one of the six Oktoberfest breweries, estimated that the production and transportation of festival beer in 2019 created 66 metric tons of carbon dioxide. Munich has an organic brewery, Haderner, but it doesn’t have a coveted slot at the festival.
Schorghuber said she focused on chicken because it is so sought after — the city estimated around 500,000 chickens were consumed at Oktoberfest in 2019 — and a change was feasible. She found a farm in Austria that raised the organic birds and spent a year speaking with her staff about changes needed to grill larger than conventional hens.
Kiehl said while her group was happy with the Paulaner tent’s chicken change, it would be more difficult to convince the public that the brewers should be forced to tweak their recipes.
“That’s not an easy point in Munich,” she said. “That’s almost like religion.”
(Wall Street Journal)