The Lempert Report LIVE

Grubhub Sued, Meataverse, Lame Supermarket Ratings

March 29, 2022 Phil Lempert Episode 27
The Lempert Report LIVE
Grubhub Sued, Meataverse, Lame Supermarket Ratings
Show Notes Transcript

It’s a remarkable food holiday! It’s Cesar Chavez Day! A remarkable farm worker, labor leader and civil rights activist who co-founded what we today know as the United Farm Workers union. To quote President Obama who declared the national holiday “Chavez left a legacy as an educator, environmentalist, and a civil rights leader. And his cause lives on. As farm workers and laborers across America continue to struggle for fair treatment and fair wages, we find strength in what Cesar Chavez accomplished so many years ago. And we should honor him for what he's taught us about making America a stronger, more just, and more prosperous nation.” Cesar Chavez, all of us in the food world thank you and honor you. 

Today I just have to shake my head at what I’ll call “lame” supermarket ratings that continue to be meaningless, GrubHub gets sued, Applebee’s wants a face lift – but maybe they need a food-lift? Why flexitarianism IS the diet to watch today and in the future, the Mediterranean diet gets even better, Slim Jim joins the metaverse, you can’t blame that cow any more for climate change and breaking the myths on food processing.  One programing note – there will NOT be a TLR LIVE next week due to the RDBA Virtual Experience beginning on Tuesday April 5th. We will be back here same time on Monday April 11. 

Phil:

Welcome to The Lempert Report LIVE. It’s a remarkable food holiday! It’s Cesar Chavez Day! A remarkable farm worker, labor leader and civil rights activist who co-founded what we today know as the United Farm Workers union. To quote President Obama who declared the national holiday “Chavez left a legacy as an educator, environmentalist, and a civil rights leader. And his cause lives on. As farm workers and laborers across America continue to struggle for fair treatment and fair wages, we find strength in what Cesar Chavez accomplished so many years ago. And we should honor him for what he's taught us about making America a stronger, more just, and more prosperous nation.” Cesar Chavez, all of us in the food world thank you and honor you. Today I just have to shake my head at what I’ll call “lame” supermarket ratings that continue to be meaningless, GrubHub gets sued, Applebee’s wants a face lift – but maybe they need a food-lift? Why flexitarianism IS the diet to watch today and in the future, the Mediterranean diet gets even better, Slim Jim joins the metaverse, you can’t blame that cow any more for climate change and breaking the myths on food processing. One programing note – there will NOT be a TLR LIVE next week due to the RDBA Virtual Experience beginning on Tuesday April 5th. We will be back here same time on Monday April 11. Sally, let’s start the week by talking about supermarket ratings:

Sally:

Hi Phil for the second year in a row. The fresh market has topped USA. Today's best supermarket, best supermarkets in America list. And it's a really interesting list because about half of them are small format stores.

Phil:

So I'm not gonna take issue with the winners, fresh market hive , Aldi, Lidl, Stew Leonards, Market Basket, Publix, Wegmans, Trader Joe's, PCC Community Markets. What I will take issue with, or two things. Number one this sort of looks to me like a scam and I like USA today a lot. But number one is they sell a license. Once you, once you win one of these, these 10 supermarkets, they sell a license that you can use their logo. That's number one. Number two is the people who pick these. And they say that they have have consumers who actually vote on them, but nowhere could I find online any voting taking place and things like that, but what the judges that they assemble are lame. These , these are not supermarket people. They have Catherine Smith . Who's the Reader's Choice Awards production manager and social media director for USA today. Dean Sanderson, who is the creator of Napa food gal travels, a food wine and travel journalist and digital influencer, Kyle McCarthy, family travel forum Marla, Samini an award winning writer with passion for travel music, surfing and culinary adventures. And Robert Niles, the founder and editor of theme park insider. None of these are supermarket people. You know, I , I just find it to be lame. I , you know, and consumer reports have always taken issue with their ratings because again, what the problem is when these ratings come out, there is no one national supermarket chain. You could argue that Walmart is, but when you start putting the fresh market Israelis against other regional change , it just doesn't make sense for, for a national publication and national logo.

Sally:

Yeah. Or can we have two categories? You know, we can have our small format category and our large store category, but, you know, I think ultimately like, you know, that we wanna see I agree with you more industry people on the panels, but also just consumers voting.

Phil:

Yeah. I, I mean, this is not transparent at all. So USA today, shame on you. And you know, I hope you make a lot of money licensing your logo, but you know, as far as the value of it, and again, not to take any, anything away from these stores, these are all good stores, but it's lame how , how they got to be. So another lawsuit GrubHub is now being sued by the district of Columbia what's going on.

Sally:

Yes, they're being accused of deceptive trade practices. And, and apparently GrubHub is listing more than a thousand partner restaurants available for delivery in their app, but they don't, they don't have contracts with these restaurants. And so there, it what's happening is that they're posting out of date menu prices. There are typically higher prices for the people that are ordering. So there's a , a lot of gray area there and what's going on and how this third party platform is operating.

Phil:

Yeah. And those thousand restaurants you name that's just in, in Washington DC, you know so, you know, they don't have these deals. It's amazing to me. And also the other thing that the suit says that consumers have to pay various fees such as delivery fee, service fee, and a small order fee for purchases under $10, which just keeps getting that price up and up and up. This isn't the first time we've seen it . Chicago has done the same thing, San Francisco, there's a lawsuit against them . These, all these delivery services are really gonna come under a lot of scrutiny. I think over the next few months, as we are going back to who somewhat normal and less reliant on delivery as, as the pandemic eases up. So Applebees there's, there's this great story in Eater written by Amy McCarthy. Amy actually worked at Applebees for a brief time as a hostess. So she's able to give us a, a look behind the scenes, talk about the fact that, you know, all their foods are microwaved. They have announced that they're gonna add drive through windows to 15 locations. They've got over 1600 locations now. So the fact that they're , you know , 15 locations from a drive through, but really what she's talking about is the problem with Applebees is the quality of the food, but Applebees now has some hipness to it.

Sally:

Well, well , I don't know if you're familiar if you listened to mainstream pop country, but there was a song this past year that it was a smash h it by Walker Hayes called fancy, l ike, and t he, the gist of it is, is that, you know, the first verse, he talks about how, you know, his, his girl's not fancy and he takes her to Wendy's and she likes to get her fries there. A nd, but when he, you know, when they get fancy, they go to Applebees and it very much plays like an Applebee's commercial as if he was w riting an apple commercial. But I think we have to consider, you know, what our our younger generations are telling us and, and, you know, particularly we t alk about millennials a lot and what they want and that chain food. Is i t really cutting it for them?

Phil:

And is it the , the food food itself ? Is it the atmosphere? I mean, one of the, one of the things , and I've been to Applebees before, not a regular Applebee's guy. But I mean, all these chain restaurants look the same on the inside. And they're all kind of ugly.

Sally:

Yeah. I think that is definitely part of the problem is that there's no character or personality to these establishments, but also the food, you know, the , the , the interest in, in better quality food has been increasing, especially with the younger generation. And, you know, as, as the woman who worked at Applebees that wrote this article as talking about, you know, that they, they , you use a microwave to make food in Applebees. Yeah .

Phil:

Oh , well, well, and, and I think that, you know, they haven't kept up. In fact, there's a new study that came out that is found that over half of young Americans describe themselves as flexitarian. And I don't know how many flexitarian dishes there are at Applebees. Number one. but let's talk about this study 71% of Americans dabble and plant based , and what , what we're seeing, obviously we've seen it in fast food, KFC burger, king Starbucks, McDonald's they all have now some kind of plant based burger. And you know, when, when we look at the flexitarian diet, I think, and we've talked about this before, that to me is the, that it's not either extreme. It's not just people going for plant-based everything. We're gonna get to that in a second when we talk about the Mediterranean diet or just being an omnivore. So I think that people are looking for more of a balance. And again, with this study which we're age 24 to 39 year olds flexitarian is, is a real thing.

Sally:

Yes, it really is. The study says 47% described themselves as a flexitarian and that 63% would be willing to swap meat for a plant-based alternative. If it met a certain criteria. Now we're talking about, you know, the we'll eat, we'll eat fo meat, but we want it to taste really good. So that's why a lot of these companies are working really hard to create products that , that meet that, you know, the , the taste needs of people who are eating meat, but it is an interesting, it is an interesting thing to see. I think the younger generation is more concerned about the planet and how we eat for a better planet. I think they're more concerned about what they put in their bodies. And , so it's, it's something that, you know, supermarkets and, and the entire food industry will have to follow.

Phil:

See for me. And, and if we look at Beyond Meat, for example, last week, they lost 40% of their value. You know, their in their stock price. I think the number i s 40% and, you know, I , I still go back to, you know, one of my favorite things was the blend that the mushroom council worked on with the J ames B eard foundation, 50% mushrooms, 50% ground beef. You know, I actually think it tastes better than i t when it's a hundred percent ground beef because of the um ami f lavor and so on. So, you know, Flexitarianism is, is a real thing and it's gonna continue. But there's a study that and we all know the benefits of the Mediterranean diet , but there's a new study that's come out that says even there's a greener, Mediterranean diet, which eliminates all meat and provides even extra greens. And the health benefits are enormous by doing that.

Sally:

Yes, the study really shows , you know, like you said, we we've already seen for years and years, research has shown us that the, or told us that the Mediterranean diet was one of the best diets that you could follow out there. And , and that diet, that diet includes a lot of vegetables and seeds and a little bit of seafood and a little bit of meat. This alternative the green Mediterranean diet just takes the meat out completely. So this is a eating better for your body, but also eating better for the planet. And whether or not you are planning on going , you know, completely vegetarian or vegan. There are some things definitely, there are some takeaways from the study to learn about becoming, eating more plant based . And some of the things that I saw, you know, in this study that were most interesting to me is about brain a atrophy, sorry. This study showed that in subjects 50 years or old, both med diets were it , it was significantly reduced shrink shrinkage of the hippo Hammus , which is the part of our brain that helps us with our memory.

Phil:

What? I guess I have to worry about that once I'm over 50. But no, I , I think the, the study is really good. Really worth a look. One question I have, and I'm not able to figure this out. And I looked a number of times in the study, what they also a re doing is including walnuts in the diet. And I was searching to see whether or not the Walnut c ouncil or California walnuts or somebody was funding the, a study. I couldn't find it out but walnuts are a great, healthy way. Any nuts to, to add to your diet, whether it's almonds, which are r ich a nd calcium and, yeah. Fruits a nd nuts and vegetables important in all of our diets. And talking about , nuts , Slim Jim has decided to join the metaverse. Of course they did.

Sally:

Well. They had to, because they just had that name right there in front of them, the Meataverse, which they have now filed a trademark for the Meataverse, Slim Jim and long boy gang, a also , and they are looking to bring some virtual goods and virtual products and NFTs to the metaverse.

Phil:

Yep . I guess, I guess everybody's gonna be in the metaverse and Sean Conley , who's the CEO of ConAgra, ConAgra owns slim. Jim , you know, went out there and he said, yeah, we're gonna do some , some really cool things with, with slim gym and our other brands in the metaverse. So it'll be interesting to see what happens. He says that they're gonna allow people to browse. I don't know, browsing in a Slim Jim store, what that means , accumulate, buy and sell trade virtual food products. So I guess I could buy a virtual Slim Jim and not have to eat it.

Sally:

There you go.

Phil:

And now it’s time for The Lempert Report. Regenerative grazing practices are all the buzz these days – but the truth is that what initiated these practices was not about climate, or sequestering carbon – it was about farmers working hard to keep their farms profitable. When Gabe Brown first got into regenerative agriculture more than 25 years ago, he wasn’t trying to solve climate change. “I was just trying to keep the banker at bay and feed my family,” Brown told CNBC. Brown grew up in North Dakota and studied to be an agriculture professor. His wife’s family had a farm. So the newlyweds moved home to help on the farm, which used conventional farming practices for the time. 27 years ago - 1995 through 1998 Brown’s farm in North Dakota faced recurrent natural disasters: Three years of hail and a year of drought. Brown needed to figure out how to make his land profitable. Also, he didn’t have money to spend on fertilizer and chemicals. “It took me on a learning path. And I really became a student of nature and of ecosystems and how to natural ecosystems function,” Brown told CNBC. Today, Brown runs his 6,000-acre ranch near Bismarck with regenerative practices and helps run a consulting company, Understanding Ag, which consults with farmers managing 32 million acres across North America. Regenerative cattle grazing is a way of sequestering carbon dioxide, he says, a critical component of limiting global warming. Cattle who graze on the land eat plants that have absorbed carbon dioxide from the air. After grazing, the cows don’t graze the land for a long time, giving the roots a chance to grow another layer of leaves, capturing more carbon. The amount of carbon sequestered with regenerative grazing practices varies significantly, depending on how well a farmer is grazing the cattle and how diverse the plant species are in the land being grazed. The range is from between 2.5 and 7.5 metric tons of carbon per acre per year, according to Brown’s partner in Understanding Ag Allen Williams. To combat climate change we must turn to our farmers and ranchers to lead the way. And the good news is, they are. On Lost in the Supermarket. I spoke with Eric Decker, PhD , professor department of food science college of natural sciences at the university of Massachusetts and Amherst about the truth about food processing. He's listed as one of the most highly cited scientists in agriculture for the full episode, just log on to supermarket guru.com, click on the lost in the supermarket icon. Here's a preview of what he had to say. So first off, let's get some definitions here. What is food processing and how is food processing different from processed food?

Eric:

So food processing is really any changes that happen to the food once they leave the farm. So it could be as simple as peeling something or chopping something and food processing that's done in many times. It's not really different than what we, when we cook our food at home. So processing includes all different kinds of things that we do at home. Like when we cook our, our vegetables or we cook our meat and, and these same what we call unit operations and the industry are done in, but they're just done on a much larger scale. And many times they're , they're much more efficient than what we can do at home. So they're actually more sustainable than, than our home cooking ours

Phil:

On today’s Bullseye let’s talk about cryptocurrency. With all the news about Ukraine and Russia, a Supreme Court nominee and the apparent conflicts emerging about a different Supreme Court Justice; you might have missed what happened last Wednesday. President Biden signed an executive order to examine the risks and benefits of cryptocurrencies. The focus is on 6 key areas: consumer protection, financial stability, illicit activity, US competitiveness, financial inclusion and responsible innovation. Another aspect of this order is to explore a digital version of the US dollar. This is an important step in determining the future of NFTs and the Metaverse. BlockFi was fined $50 million by the US Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this year over violating SEC laws with its retail lending product. Other crypto firms are also facing scrutiny from the SEC. China has already banned cryptocurrencies as have Algeria, Bangladesh, Qatar, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, and yes, even Russia – more than 40 countries in all. The reality is that just writing out a check, putting it in an envelope, placing a stamp in the upper right corner and finding a mailbox to send it just doesn’t work any more. Even when I go to pay a bill through my bank there is a disclaimer that says using the post office to deliver their checks may take 5 to 7 days – wouldn’t I rather use Zelle or Venmo? As we witness the evolution of the Metaverse there is no question that there will be some type of electronic payment system needed. One that is easy, safe and doesn’t take the energy to create like it does for Bitcoin. Bitcoin is a decentralized digital currency without a central bank or single administrator that can be transferred from user to user on the Bitcoin network without the need for intermediaries. Bitcoin’s estimated power consumption in early 2022 was 138 terawatt hours – more than the country of Norway. Digiconomist estimates that the Bitcoin network is responsible for about 114 million tons of carbon dioxide per year. Why does this cryptocurrency require so much energy? Well, it’s from the tens of thousands of computers that are used to verify transactions. It is estimated that a single Bitcoin transaction uses 2,292.5 kilowatt hours of electricity – the equivalent of powering a typical US home for 78 days. To be fair, the banking industry consumes over double that amount of energy. For the metaverse to reach its true opportunity, we will have to figure out digital currency and soon.. Don't forget to join us on supermarketguru .com . Don't forget that next Monday. Should we're gonna be on hiatus, getting ready for the retail dieticians business Alliance, virtual experience. And we'll be back here a week from next Monday. Have a great two weeks .