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One of the world’s favorite beverages and a major source of caffeine for many students and employees, coffee continues to be an integral factor in society’s daily routine.  According to Business Insider, coffee is the second most sought-after commodity in the entire world, with an industry that is worth over $100 billion across the globe.  In terms of exporting alone, the industry is valued at $20 billion and continues to be on the rise—on average, 500 billion cups of coffee are consumed on Earth every year.

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Artificial limbs, manufacturing machines, and transportation drones all share one common trait: the implementation of robotics.  One of the fastest growing sectors in the world, robotics and its applications are revolutionizing the way society conducts our lives.  The recent data boom has produced a newfound excitement around all technology, using the benefits of mass statistics to carefully craft new innovative products.  Robotics has been one of the largest, if not the largest, benefactors from this trend, using systems like cloud storage, artificial intelligence, and responsive programming to evolve into a highly intelligent and efficient tool.  Currently, technology stocks are growing tremendously compared to past years and robotics seem to be on the cutting edge of a new era.

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This is the third post in a five-part blog series focused on future trends in business.

Technology is an ever-increasing field, especially in today’s world.  The advancements we are currently experiencing are greater than the entirety of society’s past.  By 2020, the amount of information available via digital gateways will grow from the current five zettabytes to 50 zettabytes (in perspective, one zettabyte is equal to 10^12th gigabytes, or over 15 billion flash drives).  Subsequently, for almost all global actions, there are digital footprints left behind—every Google search in China, use of a Nest home system in the United States, or activation of a trending smartphone app in South Africa leaves behind data and information.  Enter, big data.

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Around the globe, playing your favorite music, making phone calls, and listening to lectures or podcasts has been made more convenient with the help of one of the world’s most popular products—headphones/earbuds.  Strolling through college campuses, it’s a common sight for students bustling to and from classes to don a pair of earbuds or headphones.  In global workplaces, many employees play music through headphones to increase their focus and achieve better results.  Taking private calls has been greatly aided with the use of earbuds that work much like Bluetooth earpieces but offer much better quality—the noise canceling functionality that many of these products feature to make it simple to tune out background information and allows calls to be made without having to step out of a room.  This coveted usefulness has people around the world buying into the headphone and earbud market.

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Microwavable TV dinner trays, notebooks, tissues, packages, and newspapers are all derived from one of the world’s most used products—paper.  According to Green America, “40 percent of the world’s industrial logging goes into making paper, and is expected to reach 50 percent in the near future.”  Furthermore, the global consumption of paper has skyrocketed 400 percent in the last four decades, and in the last 20 years alone, the use of paper products has gone up from 92 million tons to 407 million tons in 2014.  The worldwide paper industry is the fifth largest consumer of energy and is credited for four percent of the entire population’s energy use.

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Chewing-gum—from the baseball diamond to office workplaces, over 100,000 tons of gum is chewed per year around the world.  Dating back to ancient times, different versions of gum have been used as a means of trade in Africa, stress relievers in Greece, and a construction material in Central America.  To this day, chewing-gum continuous to hold its position as a popular commodity on our planet.

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This is the third post in a five-part blog series focused on the energy industry.

As our world’s supply of nonrenewable resources slowly dwindles, society is being forced to consider new methods of generating energy in a continuously growing world.  A major focus has been put on turning earth’s natural products like wind, sun, and water, and additionally nuclear power, into devices of energy production.  Fifty countries agreed at the Climate Vulnerable Forum to make 100% of their energy renewable by 2050.  The construction of wind turbines, solar panels, and nuclear reactors is spearheading this dive into renewable energy while having a definite impact on business.

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Ice cream—the frozen dessert has become somewhat a staple of society’s diet, with countries across the globe indulging on and/or producing the dairy treat.  Ice cream is available for purchase at a wide variety of retailers—spanning from grocery stores to restaurants to street carts—and the variety is expanding each year with the additions of new flavors and consistencies like gelato.  Overall, the market is expected to be worth $97.3 billion by 2023.

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This winter, Australia gave life to business extraordinaire Elon Musk’s mega-battery, changing the scope of energy production as we know it.  The battery is the size of an American football field and powers 30,000 homes in Southern Australia and was built in the Tesla founder’s guaranteed 100-day time frame. On the heels of his accomplishment, Musk has announced another mega-battery to be built, putting on full display the growing market of batteries as the future of society’s power source.

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Flipping on the television, powering up a gaming device, and relaxing on the couch has become a routine for millions of people around the globe—in fact, it’s estimated that more than 1.8 billion people are playing video games worldwide on a range of devices from smartphones, to game consoles and computers.  In the US alone, there are 2,858 video game companies and 65,678 workers within those companies based on Forbes estimates.  According to Newzoo, these people along with the billions of players will help the market value grow 7.8 percent to $108.9 billion in 2017.  The major leader in the market is the mobile games sector, which accounts for 42 percent of revenue—$46.1 billion—and the profound interest from the Asia-Pacific market.  With the current growth expected to continue, the video game market is expected to reach $128.5 billion by the year 2020.

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A collaboration between Supreme, a top-tier streetwear brand, and Louis Vuitton, a high-end fashion company, has produced a hoodie that costs upwards of $7 thousand.  Another collaboration between Supreme and The North Face, a winter outerwear company, gave way to a $600 backpack.  So what’s causing this uptick in prices for everyday items?  Streetwear—the casual clothing of a style worn especially by members of various urban youth subcultures—is one of the world’s fastest growing industries, with an estimated value of $309 billion.

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Each day, millions of people fill up reusable water bottles during school, sports, and work, continuing to grow the trend of ditching clear plastic bottles for their refillable—and more environment-friendly—counterparts.  Fueled by an increase in online shopping, reduction in overall price, and easy accessibility, the consumption of reusable water bottles across the globe is estimated to reach 3,902,642 thousand units in 2017 alone.  The implementation of these types of bottles into sports and travel shows the most opportunity for the market to grow, finding more efficient and practical ways for users to store and drink water without negative health and environmental impacts.

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This is the final post in a five-part blog series focused on International Education Week.

International Education Week wouldn’t be complete without the central force that drives international education—international students.  With a record 1.08 million foreign students enrolled in approximately 2,100 US institutions, education in America is as enticing as ever.  Students from China account for nearly a third of foreign enrollees, with 350,000 students coming to the US in 2016—a seven percent increase from 2015.  Indian students are the second most enrolled at 53,000 students, and Brazilian students come in at third with 13,000 students.  Times Higher Education states that schools like our own Michigan State University have become “international powerhouses” regarding global education.  According to Alyson L. Grunder, a deputy assistant secretary of state for policy, “The US higher education sector remains the global leader in welcoming students from around the world, and at the same time, we are committed to increasing opportunities to study abroad for Americans.”

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As Halloween week winds down, consumers across the nation will begin the process of slowly making a dent in a pile of over 600 million pounds of one of the world’s most coveted treats—candy.  Candy—also called confectionery and comprised of chocolate, sugar, and gum products—has been one of the most popular goods on the globe since 1894, with worldwide confectionery sales anticipated to increase 3.2 percent by 2022 and valued at 85.5 billion dollars in 2016.

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This is part four of a five-part blog series on the evolution of the textile industry over time.

The textile industry is one of the largest economic markets in the world, generating $450 billion and employing over 25 million people across the globe.   It’s estimated that over 120 billion pounds of textiles are made each year, a number that is ever-increasing because of constant high consumer demand.  Specifically, cotton consumption rates feature all-time highs, with an annual demand of over 120 million tons.

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The sneaker industry is becoming a new fad in today’s society, and led by sportswear behemoths Nike and Adidas, is transforming the market into one of the world’s most profitable and demanding sectors.  Propelled by the resurgence of Adidas footwear in popular models like the “Ultra boost,” “NMD,” and rapper Kanye West’s coveted creation, the “Yeezy,” and the continued success of Nike in models such as the “Air Jordan” and “Air Max,” consumers are lining up to purchase sneakers more than ever.  One way producers are ensuring the continued success of their products is by making purposely small amounts of their sneakers in order to create an atmosphere of excitement and exclusiveness that buyers aim to obtain.  This then allows the producers to release the same shoe in larger quantities at a later date—a restock—and gain high sales rates, making their profit margins even larger.  Transparency Market Research expects the world sneaker market to be worth $220.2 billion by 2020.

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In the last part of this week's series on cash crops, we explore the top two African cash crops.

Africa has long been rich in natural resources, consistently providing other nations with opportunities to obtain its plentiful supply of cotton and cocoa—two of the world’s most important cash crops.  According to Merriam-Webster, a cash crop is “a readily salable crop (such as cotton or tobacco) produced or gathered primarily for market.”  These crops aim to provide a sustainable way of life for farmers across the continent and are a major reason much of the world’s nations were and still are interested in exploring and investing in Africa.