The Lempert Report LIVE

Covid Wine, Sustainable Retailers, Meta Mcdonald's

February 22, 2022 Phil Lempert Episode 22
The Lempert Report LIVE
Covid Wine, Sustainable Retailers, Meta Mcdonald's
Show Notes Transcript

Today we talk school nutrition, the effects of wine on Covid, a new concept store from Lowes, the saga of Trader Joes, what shoppers really feel about sustainability, how McDonalds and GrubHub are looking at the metaverse, a keto friendly new product review, a cool foodservice program, an insightful discussion with Sylvain Perrier on The Modern Shopper and on Bullseye we think we see a hint of the future of retail and we don’t like it. 

Phil:

Welcome to the leper report live. Last week, we reported on an Instacart shopper who produced a TikTok video that showed a customer's unreasonable demands, and she decided to share those demands and actually refused the order. And after we showed her video, I openly questioned if it was a brilliant PR ploy that Instacart put her up to it. Her TikTok video now has almost 165,000 views. And I only hope that customer and every other delivery customer watches and learns from it. I was pleasantly surprised to get a con on our report from that Instacart shopper, Violetta , Le'mone. And here's what you have to say. I appreciate the video Instacart. Definitely. Didn't put me up to this. I love teaching gig workers about not accepting these types of waters, Violetta . Thank you so much. A few years ago, I interviewed a different Instacart shopper for my Forbes column who shared her nightmare stories about the company itself. It appears that little has changed on Friday. I spoke with Al McLean , the CEO of retailwire, and we talked about Violetta's experience. He had one to share as well, fabulous experience during the pandemic. He and his wife have been using Instacart in south Florida and he shared his best experience with his grocery order. Came a handwritten. Thank you note, along with a scratch off lottery ticket as a thank you. Wow. How smart was that Instacart shopper minds ? Me of that bagger at the end of the shopping trip that says, thank you, Al also shared that he wished that Instacart would add the functionality to be able to have that shame shopper again and again, and again much the same way that shipped models, their service. Now here's the sad part. What Al didn't share is just much money. He won on that scratch off. Today. we talk school nutrition, the effects of wine on COVID a new concept store from Lowe's the saga of trader Joe's. What shoppers really feel about sustainability, how McDonalds and GrubHub are looking at the metaverse a keto friendly new product roof view, a cool food service program, an insightful discussion with SIL Perrier on the modern chopper and on bullseye. We think we see a hint to the future of retail and we don't like it. Now before that a programming note next Monday, February 28th, we'll actually be broadcasting live for in the category management association in Orlando, Florida. The broadcast different time will take place at 12 noon. Eastern 9:00 AM Pacific, but also still on Monday. So make sure you get the time, right? Let's get started. Sally, what do your kids think about school lunch?

Sally:

Hi, Phil. My kids take their lunch to school and , sometimes they eat school lunch, but, but usually they take their own and that's because they don't really care for the food that is served there. So, so this is , this is really a topic that's really interesting to me because my kids also go to title one public schools. And what that means is that more than 80% of the kids in their school are economically disadvantaged. So school breakfast and lunch is free. And during virtual time last year, you could even go and pick up your weeks' supply of breakfast and lunch for free and take it home for the kids.

Phil:

So what don't they like about the school lunch?

Sally:

They don't like they, they don't eat very, very high salty foods. They like those, they , they don't like the milk that they serve. It . They say it tastes different to them. And I think that maybe like the, the vegetables and the fruits are just prepared and served in a different way than what they are used to used to at home. Yeah . Now I am . Yeah . And , and I'm a big, you know, I'm a big home cooker and big on fresh fruits and vegetables. But I really wish that the school lunch program worked for them because, you know, we could, we could really one, it would save us a lot of money, but, but also , you know, I think that it promotes equity and good eating habits when all of the kids eating the same thing.

Phil:

Yeah, I think you're right. So here's what we're hearing , out of Washington. And if , and if you recall, a few years ago when the Obama administration took place, Michelle Obama created the let's move campaign. We were part of it at supermarket guru and she said help standards for schools. It was doing really, really well until the next administration came in. And , the U S D A secretary, Sonny Purdue relaxed those regulations. But hopefully , there's gonna be some changes. So on milk , the schools and childcare providers , who are serving kids age six and older may now offer flavored low fat 1% milk. In addition to nonfat flavored milk and nonfat or low fat unflavored milk, whole grains are back. At least 80% of the grain serves in school, lunch and breakfast each week must be whole grain, rich and sodium ,, not what I'd like to see, but the weekly sodium limit for school lunch and breakfast will remain at the current level for school lunch. Only there will be a 10% decrease in 2023 to 2024. Now these are just interim steps. Hopefully , the Biden administration is going to push it even further, go back to a lot of what Michelle Obama had structured and planned. And we can hopefully, you know, get our kids healthier in lunch. So it looks like I shouldn't be drinking red wine.

Sally:

Well, the world heart Federation says that no amount of alcohol is good for you. And I think what we're looking at here is that, like the message about alcohol maybe should be more like it is something that you enjoy in moderation, but it isn't really good for you. Even when we see headlines like this one that was all over the place. This study saying that one to four glasses of red wine a week could reduce your, your risk of getting COVID. I think it's really important to take a look at the flaws observational studies like this and that they don't actually paint a complete picture.

Phil:

Yeah. And, and they talk about white wine. They talk about alcohol and so on, but the bottom line is this one sentence, an increased risk of COVID 19 comes with the greater number of alcohol consumption, whether it's beer, whether or cider even , spirits, white wine, red wine. So if you wanna be smart and reduce your risk of COVID 19 , don't drink , Lowes food is opening up a new concept store. What I, what I really like about t his story is it has all d ay entertainment. Now store from Lowe's i s only 25,000 square foot, about half of what their stores normally are. So they have a second f loor mezzanine where you could book events like birthday parties, book clubs, celebrations, group meetings. They also are gonna be having events like floral arranging trivia n ights, b oard game tournaments, and beer and wine tasting. So if you're in Huntersville, North Carolina , check out the store, it opened February 18th. So check it out. We'd love to get some pictures. We'd love to get your response if you're going there. Well what Tim Lowe said. Who is the president? An interesting quote. We call this the Swiss army knife of grocery stores. We will have a tool for you for what you need to do. They've got a beer den, the low smokehouse bread crumb , which is a bakery Sammy's which sandwich or pizza Cakery , where people can watch the assembling of icing on square cakes. I don't get the square cake thing. Why it can't be a round cake, but Hey , square cake , the chicken kitchen and the divine cut. So Tim low good for you. Can't wait to see the store.

Sally:

So this is a wonderful story about this group of seniors that live in South Carolina in Myrtle beach, South Carolina, and they're called, they call themselves senior adventures in learning and salt. And they do all kinds of, of wonderful things. Since seniors have been kind of locked up during COVID. They have offered virtual ways for them to learn about all different types of activities and travel. And they, they go for, they go for outings, pottery, bowling, but what was so cute to me and so interesting was they recently took a trip where they went to a Thai, Buddhist monastery for a tour. Then they went to Wilmington for a waterfront lunch, and then they went to trader Joe's, which was 70 miles away from their home in Myrtle beach to, to , to shop and to stock up on frozen foods and snacks, because that's what they love to get there.

Phil:

So I guess what it says is , don't retire. You have too much time on your hands. I guess that's what I take away from that. There was a new survey that came out that showed that 55% of adults. We would be more loyal to a grocer if they perceived that business to be green. What else did retail insight find?

Sally:

Well, one of the things that was really interesting to me is they found out that 6% believe that their supermarket sustainability programs are not driven out of a genuine desire to help the planet. That was one thing I thought that was really interesting. And then there was also some good data showing that seven and 10 out shoppers said, food, re retailers still sell goods with excessive or unnecessary packaging. I find this frustrating all of the time with things that I get from the grocery store.

Phil:

I know know , and, you know, sustainability has become such a buzzword and everybody has it in their annual report. Everybody has it in their, you know , mission statements. But that doesn't mean that we have the reality , the thing that I really liked about this study is that 49% of people said they'd pay a premium for good, that were green and more than half 52% would be happy for the price of their weekly shop to be higher, if it meant helping the environment. Now, who knows if that's true or not, when you actually go into the store, people in surveys are always saying that they'd pay more for everything than they actually would. Let's head to the metaverse

Sally:

McDonald's has now filed a trademark for a restaurant in the metaverse and this, this happened on February 4th, and it's gonna cover a few different things. They're going to be able to use NFTs to sell virtual food and beverage products. Also they're going to operate an actual virtual restaurant that you can on , you can order online. So if you've got your headset on and you're in the VR world you can walk into the restaurant in order something to eat without even taking your headset off, and it will be delivered to you, but something else that's really great, I think is that they've also filed for a trademark to provide entertainment and events under the McDonald's brand. So these, these are really popular things that growing in the metaverse when they came out and launched, they have now since come gotten up to 300,000 followers in their event. Metaverse. And so that's just since December, that that's happened.

Phil:

And what I really like is the McDonald just saying that , okay, you're gonna put on your VR glasses you're going to visit McDonald's in the metaverse , but you can actually order real food that could then be delivered to you. So it's not just about fake food and, and pretending that you're eating a burger , or, or having, you know, a Coke , basic they're actually gonna deliver to. And they're not the only ones. Look at lunchbox , it's a $ 50 million s tartup, sorry, it's a s tartup that just raised another 50 million. And what they've done is t hey're funding new projects with 2 5 virtual restaurant brands by the mid 2 022. So I just have to wonder whether or not, we're all go nna b e just ordering our food, t hrough that way, versus just picking up our ce ll p h one a nd, you know, punching buttons, which I think to me i s p robably a l ittle easier. This isn't quite about the metaverse, but what I really like, and I think it's important to mention is DoorDash has now added financing to what they do for a living. And what they're doing is they provide access to capital for those restaurants that have approved and track record on DoorDash , reminds me when I was a kid , in New Jersey, all the d iners had little coffee cups that were Greek and it was blue and white, and t hey had, you know, the Greek buildings on it and stuff like that. And actually, you knew that they were buying coffee and tea from a company i n Philadelphia called Lakis coffee and Lakis coffee. Wasn't really in the coffee business, they were in the finance business. So what they would be doing is they'd be financing those d iners typically that were owned by Greeks. So it's the same thing, you know, some 2 0, 30, 40 years later,

Sally:

I love those coffee cups. I, we, we've never had 'em here in the south, but I've seen 'em in movies a lot. Yeah. Yeah .

Phil:

They always , they always have 'em in movies. You're right. Well , well , it's time for a new product review. So last week , I teased this product. Remember they gave me a bucket hat, a Coca Cola Starlight. I tasted it. Here's what I think first, I'm not a big soda drinker, so let me be fair. And I'm not a Coke , zero drinker. I've had it. Maybe once when it first came out , Starlight has a fruity flavor and it's very pleasant and refreshing. I was surprised by. It doesn't have a heavy Cola taste. Now I only had one bottle, so we can't do a complete review or give it a score, even though they sent me that bucket hat. But if you're a diet soda drinker, you might want to give it a try. And now it's time for our new product review this week, it's be on keto milk, chocolate drops. Let me start off by saying these candies are very tasty, a bit larger than M and M's, and they're nice and chocolatey. Their total score is 87. Now you can see the candies right through this window on the back. That's a cool idea. There are all kinds of claims on this package in the front, in the back. It's keto certified, no added sugars, five grams of net carbs, non GMO, no artificial flavors, but I want to be clear about something. Currently, FDA regulations do not dis allow the term net carbs or net impact carbs or net effect active carbs in order to describe the carb content on food labels, but they don't regulate them. Either. The net carb value is derived from a formula net carbs equal total carbs, minus dietary fiber minus sugar alcohols. A keto certified snack must limit carbs up to eight grams per serving according to the paleo foundation, but no government regulation on keto, either the keto certified logo is from a private organization and is a paid certification. I do like the fact that they make it simple to understand right here under the nutritional fax panel with that little chart . Now, these drops are sweetened with ISO malt, which is made from bee sugar and a hundred percent sugar free and Ure ETOL , which is a non nutritive sweetener. Ammonium phosphide is a vegetable based emulsifier and stabilizer. One ounce, a hundred calories, six grams of fat, no cholesterol, no sodium, one gram of protein with 20 grams of total carbs, which after the calculation equates to five net carbs, my recommendation try them, but don't need a handful. It's still candy. And it's expensive. 1399 for a bag product of Turkey today on the leper report, ARA mark launches, cool food meals at Florida state university to encourage students to make climate friendly meal choices. FSU is one of 10 universities who participate in the program. The world resources Institute measures the carbon footprint of various a Aramark meals, and then identifies the ones which meet the criteria of the cool food meals program based on the ingredients and the land used to make the ARA mark pro , if the carbon footprint of a dish falls below a specific threshold, it becomes approved as a cool food meal. The per meal threshold is based upon a maximum recommendation daily carbon footprint for a person's diet, which is 38% smaller than the current average, according to their website, right ? This is in line with what w I's research is found is needed by 2030 to help meet the Paris agreement on climate change. It also is interesting to note that today over 35% of the main dishes that the company serves on menus at workplaces hospital cafes, university dining halls here in the us are vegetarian or vegan. Now, if we could convince supermarkets to follow the same path for their prepared meals, wow, this week's modern shopper goes behind the scenes. As we talk to sine Perea CEO of mercats about how e-commerce should be a strategic pillar and not a secondary one to brick and mortar check out the complete episode@spoon.guru . So when I talk to retailers , this is probably pre pandemic to be fair. They thought of entering e-commerce for one simple reason. Amazon scared the hell outta them . Is that still a reality? Are retailers, you know, jumping ahead because of, of Amazon and, and their fear of Amazon?

sylvain:

I think the , the I'm used to hear the same thing. But I think that narrative has changed that the narrative has changed because we've not seen wild and crazy things come out of the acquisition of whole foods. And certainly I haven't you know , we were seeing some brick and mortar that is, you know, coming out , you know , various pockets in us , predominantly in California. And so on the bigger threat , to be honest , the one that is certainly one , the tip of everyone's time is Walmart.

Phil:

And now it's time for the bullseye. CVS is gearing up to make a change to almost all of its locations. And if you're a CVS customer, you may not like it. CVS just announced that customers will no longer be able to do one thing in its stores. Starting February 28th, CVS will no longer be allowing shoppers to visit its pharmacies. During certain times of the day, according to the walk Washington examiner, they will be adjusting its pharmacy hours to implement a prescheduled uninterrupted lunch break for its workers. According to CVS, most of its pharmacies will begin closing from one 30 to 2:00 PM to provide the time for lunch. Now there's no doubt in anyone's mind that the pandemic coupled with labor shortage has put many pharmacists under intense strain over the last two years. New York times reported that just about two weeks ago, disruptions and vaccine appointments, longer lines to pick up prescriptions and frustration in getting certain pandemic supplies like masks or at home COVID to ask have become the norm for many customers, according to a January survey from the American pharmacist association, 74% of pharmacy workers report, they no longer feel that they have sufficient time to safely perform patient care and clinical duties a major problem for, but I question whether closing the pharmacy for a half hour is gonna fix it. Having 30 minutes for lunch may be more stressful than staggering lunch breaks for an hour. I'm sure that CBS is also trying to exhibit to their employees, that they care about their health and their wellbeing, but for many people, especially for those who are in caregivers , situations that lunch break might be just the only time that they can get to CVS. I also think that other retailers, everybody from grocery stores to hardware stores to clothing stores are gonna be watching this carefully to see if this can help retain staff and prove morale. If it does look for more lunch breaks. So Sally got any questions or comments today.

Sally:

We do. We have a few , Joan viewager. I'm probably not saying her last name, right? I'm sorry about that, Joan. But she says, is there a place to find links to the studies referenced in today's session would love to read the details. Thank you. Yes. If you message me or Phil on LinkedIn, I will get those links to you. Anyone can ask for those at any time and we'll provide them. And then Frank Depasquale with inflationary pressures on a fixed reimbursement from the U S D a any suggestions on how to improve meals while containing cost .

Phil:

Well, I think , and, and Frank , makes a really good point and comes from a really good place to ask that question. Not only for about 15 years, was he the number two person at the national grocery association, but he also went on to be the CEO of the school nutrition association. So he knows from where he comes. And he probably knows the answer better than I, but I think what we really need to do is, is start from ground zero is to, from a clean slate. And , and certainly we wanna look at everything that Michelle Obama did, everything that the let's move program did. But the problem as Frankwell knows, is most of our schools in this nation don't have kitchens. That's the major problem. So, you know, they've got either slack off product. They don't have a full kitchen, like when I was growing up I grew up in, in Newark, New Jersey and the kitchen for school lunch was enormous. They must have had like four stoves and so on, you go into a school lunch program now and you're lucky if they have a stove. You know, so I think that, that's the first thing that we've gotta really do is look at what kind of a kitchen equipment is needed in order to prepare healthier foods at a fixed price to make it equitable for everybody and how we fund that. Well, that's another question, but maybe, you know, that's the first dollar that the government has to kick in is to get those kitchens up to speed.

Sally:

All right . Yes. And I wonder also, I would ask Frank this question too, if you know, if, if, if there have been any focus groups on, you know, let's check and see what these kids want to eat, what they will eat. And my other question is, is I wonder what the cost would be when you compare it to the healthcare costs that come out of this obesity issue that we have with children right now, maybe if we provide better food, then we're saving money on that end

Phil:

Excellent point , Sally, you know, we really have to look at , food, not only for kids and schools, but all of us , very holistically. And, you know, we have to look at the backend from health, with fitness. I mean, all that in order to really do it, cuz I'm frankly really tired when people say I can't eat healthy because it, it costs too much and they either live on fast food or highly processed food that are loaded with sugar and sodium. And then at the back end , you know, there's that cost of diabetes and , and heart disease that we've gotta deal with. So you're, you're definitely right. And instead of maybe a food pyramid, we need a food circle that includes healthcare costs in it as well.

Sally:

Yes. And John Pandol , he's got a great comment today for us on COVID wine , increased alcohol consumption equals higher COVID risks. I don't know, maybe alcohol consumption, correlates with social interaction, which leads to more infections. Could you imagine health advice? If you drink , drink alone,

Phil:

John, once again, you probably get the star for the day. Love that, love that. So with that again, just wanna remind you that next Monday, we at 12 noon Eastern time and 9:00 AM Pacific time will be broadcasting live from the category management Association's annual conference in Orlando, Florida. I'm gonna be walking around. I'm gonna be showing you stuff as we do the report and hopefully some new insights that we haven't thought of coming out of Orlando. Please visit us on supermarketguru .com for not only the transcripts and copies of today's episode, but also past episode. As Sally said, feel free to send us a question. If you want a particular link to a research study, we're happy to get it to you . And don't forget to sign up for our newsletters, have a great week , and we'll see you from Orlando on Monday .